S.N. Goenka, or Goenkaji as he is widely and respectfully referred to, is well known in numerous countries of the world as a master teacher of meditation. He received the technique that he teaches in the 1950’s from Sayagyi U Ba Khin of Burma, who in turn received it from Saya Thet, who received it in turn from the venerable monk, Ledi Sayadaw, who in turn received it from his own teacher in a long line of teachers descended directly from the Buddha. The achievement of this line of teachers in preserving the technique through such a long period of time is extraordinary, and a cause for gratitude in those who practise it. Now, in a world hungry for inner peace, there has been an extraordinary spread of the technique in Goenkaji’s lifetime.
In spite of his magnetic personality and the enormous success of his teaching methods, Goenkaji gives all credit for his success to the efficacy of Dhamma itself. He has never sought to play the role of a guru or to found any kind of sect, cult or religious organisation. When teaching the technique he never omits to say that he received it from the Buddha through a chain of teachers down to his own teacher, and his gratitude to them for the benefits that he has personally gained in his own meditation is evident. At the same time, he continually emphasises that he does not teach Buddhism or any kind of "ism," and that the technique that he teaches is universal, for people from any religious or philosophical background or belief.
Although his family was from India, Goenkaji was brought up in Burma, where he learnt the technique from his teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin. After being authorised as a teacher by U Ba Khin he left Burma in 1969 in response to his mother’s illness, to give a ten-day course to his parents and twelve others in Bombay. The inspiration that he imparted and the extraordinary results of his teaching led to many more such courses, first in campsites around India and then later in centres as these began to spring up. From 1979 onwards he also started giving courses outside India, notably in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, France, England, North America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. All of these countries today have one or more centres.