Mumbai (Maharashtra) India, February 02, 2024: A century ago, a luminary was born to revive the fading light of Dhamma. This Sunday, February 4th, the torch he lit will blaze anew as the Global Vipassana Pagoda celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of Shri Satya Narayana Goenka, the principal Vipassana teacher of the modern age. Centenary events will also be held at multiple Vipassana locations globally, underscoring the widespread impact of Guruji’s teachings.
India is the ancestral land where the enlightened footsteps of Lord Buddha first walked this earth over two and a half millennia ago. Along the holy plains of the Ganges, the revered teacher revealed timeless truths that would ripple across humanity. His father’s kingdom lay in Piprahwa; under the Bodhi tree, he attained transcendent wisdom in Bodh Gaya. And through the villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he shared the sublime Dhamma for 45 blessed years.
Like pollen on the sweet breeze, Buddha’s teachings drifted across borders with the support of Emperor Asoka, spreading flowers of philosophical insight. Vipassana started to become a ‘way of life’ and brought India profound fame and fortune as the spiritual centre of the Eastern World. Yet the home soil from whence these gifts sprang would see the true teachings lost to time.
As centuries passed, the authentic techniques vanished from the land of their very birth. India found itself a servant to imposters—distorted practices and rituals masquerading as the Dhamma. Sectarianism crept like vines to choke the pure teachings, warping their universal spirit into yet another creed of division. A once-bright beacon dimmed into darkness as India’s transcendent treasures crumbled to dust.
The true art lived on only in the neighbouring country of Myanmar, far from its forlorn homeland. There, the pure art of Vipassana persisted through the ages, sequestered from the erosion of sects. Then, as India’s spiritual barrenness stretched into its second millennia, an ambitious crusader emerged to return the forgotten jewel to its rightful home at last.
Satya Narayana Goenka was born in Mandalay, Myanmar. Shri S.N. Goenka met the then-Accountant General of Burma, Sayagyi U Ba Khin. After this profoundly moving encounter, Guruji—as his mentees affectionately refer to him—spent 16 formative years under the guidance of his new master. After years of devoted training, Shri Goenka felt an urgent calling to bring the sublime art back to its native soil in India.
In 1969, this Vipassana crusader ventured to the shores of Mumbai and introduced 10-day meditation courses to help Indians reclaim their lost heritage. From those humble beginnings, Shri Goenka dedicated 58 years of his life to building a global Vipassana empire—brick by brick, student by student—until hundreds of centres and thousands of teachers proliferated across the continents. Under his guidance, the stunning Global Vipassana Pagoda was constructed—the largest stone monument in the world—to preserve the Buddha’s relics and honour the land of Myanmar for maintaining the purity of the practice.
His accomplishments represent the work of a lifetime, yet there is much still to be achieved in spreading equanimity worldwide. On February 4th, 2024, 8,000 to 10,000 old Vipassana meditators will gather for his centennial celebration. The Global Pagoda will be closed to visitors on February 3rd and 4th for this long-awaited event. The programme will be live-streamed worldwide on YouTube, so the entire global Vipassana community can take part in the commemoration. As thousands meditate together under the relics of the Buddha, they carry forward their teacher’s vision—a world transformed through inner peace.
The event’s schedule commences with a group meditation session from 9:00 am to 11:00 am, providing attendees with a shared space for deep reflection and practice. This is followed by a thoughtful discussion on the importance of the Centenary Occasion from 11:00 am to 11:45 am, highlighting the profound impact and enduring legacy of Shri S.N. Goenka. From 11:45 am to 12:00 pm, attendees will witness the Inauguration of an Immersive Museum at The Global Vipassana Pagoda, titled “Journey of Dhamma from Lord Buddha to Shri. S.N. Goenka (Chain of Teachers),” offering a unique historical perspective on the Vipassana tradition.
After a lunch break from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, the programme resumes at 1:00 pm with the release of Guruji’s Autobiography: “Let Us Walk the Path of Dhamma” (English) and “Chalein Dharma ke Panth” (Hindi), alongside the unveiling of a Coffee Table Book titled “Vipassana – Inner Peace for World Peace” and the release of a Souvenir Diary: “Life of Dhamma.” From 1:10 pm to 1:30 pm, a special film on Guruji’s life up to 1955 will be screened, providing an intimate look into his early years and spiritual journey.
The afternoon session from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm is dedicated to “Fulfilling the Vision of Guruji,” where speakers and practitioners will explore the future path of Vipassana meditation in line with Guruji’s teachings. This will be followed by the Samma Sankappo (Pledge) from 2:30 pm to 3:40 pm, marking a collective commitment on the occasion of Guruji’s birth centenary. The event will conclude with a Metta Session from 3:40 pm to 4:00 pm, where attendees will engage in loving-kindness meditation, embodying the essence of Guruji’s teachings on compassion and empathy.
This event is not just a commemoration of Shri S.N. Goenka’s centenary but also an homage to the enduring legacy of the Vipassana technique he passionately taught. The Centre looks forward to welcoming old students from around the world to partake in this special day, honouring a visionary teacher who helped revive the transformative practice of Vipassana. As thousands gather to meditate in harmony, they carry forward Guruji’s aspirational vision of shared peace and happiness for the entire world.