Founder: Most Ven. V. Dharmavara Mahathera

Most Ven. V. Dharmavara Mahathera founded Asoka Mission in 1948. The Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and other public men and scholars during the time supported Ven. V. Dharmavara Mahathera significantly. Most Ven. Dharmavara Mahathera left for USA in 1975. Asoka Mission was formally reorganized with Ven. Lama Lobzang as President.

Venerable V. Dharmawara Mahathera known to his friends by the simple epithet Bhante, was born in Cambodia. Though his full name was Samdach Vira Dharmawara Bellong Mahathera -- which combines his Buddhist names, his Buddhist rank and his family name of Bellong -- he was always called Bhante, a Cambodian Buddhist honorific.

He was well educated and became a lawyer, judge and provincial governor before he began studying Buddhism and became a monk in his 30's. Bhante practised in the Forest Tradition in Thailand before travelling through Burma and India, where he spent much of his life. He studied natural healing and became well known for his healing abilities, in recognition of which he was given the land on which to found The Asoka Mission in New Delhi by Jawarharalal Nehru, first Prime Minister of Independent India.

He was a gifted linguist - fluent in many tongues and able to use words very precisely as many of his friends and disciples will remember. He was a living example of a "homeless one" always travelling to teach meditation and healing to groups in many countries. He taught meditation, particularly on colour, every year to the students at Mr Bennett's Academy for Continuous Education in Sherborne, Gloucestershire.

Later, Venerable moved to USA and worked tirelessly to help settle the thousands of refugees who fled there from the war in Cambodia. He founded the first Cambodian Buddhist temple in America in Washington DC and later Wat Dharawararama in Stockton, California. He passed away on June 26th 1999, at the great age of 110. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people, spilling out the doorway of Wat Dharmawararam, his Buddhist temple in Stockton. They included Cambodian and other Southeast Asian laypeople, Western and Asian disciplesand Cambodian monks.

His ashes have been interred in a memorial at Asoka Mission in Delhi where a celebration of his life is held every year on his birthday, 12th February. Towards the end of a lifetime of Love and Compassion, he pronounced a simple message:

"You are what you think; you are what you eat and drink"

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