Vipassana guru S N Goenka dies

GoenkaDisciples and relatives at S N Goenka’s house in Mumbai on Sunday. Vasant Prabhu

Renowned spiritual leader and Vipassana guru Satya Narayan Goenka died due to old age on Sunday night. He was 89. The funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.

Born on January 30, 1924, in Burma (now Myanmar), Goenka learnt Vipassana, a meditation technique, there from Sayagyi U Ba Khin, an acclaimed teacher and administrator. He later moved to India and made the technique popular worldwide through a non-sectarian movement.

Goenka is survived by his wife Elaichidevi, also a co-teacher of meditation, and six sons.

Goenka, who was conferred the Padma Bhushan for social work last year, started teaching meditation to the public in India in 1969. In 1976, he set up the Vipassana International Academy — also known as Dhamma Giri — in Igatpuri, about 200 km from here in Nashik district.

The ancient technique was part of prison reforms carried out in Delhi's Tihar Jail in early 1990s and it was taught to inmates there. Later, several prisons in the country introduced Vipassana for inmates.

In 1982, Goenka began to appoint assistant teachers to help him meet the growing demand for courses.

In 2000, Goenka addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Besides India, Vipassana centres have come up in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Thailand under his guidance.

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