Vipassana is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques. It was rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught during his forty-five year ministry. During the Buddha’s time, large numbers of people in northern India were freed from the bonds of suffering by practicing Vipassana, allowing them to attain high levels of achievement in all spheres of life. Over time, the technique spread to the neighbouring countries of Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand and others, where it had the same ennobling effect.
Five centuries after the Buddha, the noble heritage of Vipassana had disappeared from India. The purity of the teaching was lost elsewhere as well. In the country of Myanmar, however, it was preserved by a chain of devoted teachers. From generation to generation, over two thousand years, this dedicated lineage transmitted the technique in its pristine purity.
In our time, Vipassana has been reintroduced to India, as well as to citizens from more than eighty other countries, by S N Goenka.He was authorized to teach Vipassana by the renowned Burmese Vipassana teacher, Sayagi U Ba Khin. Before he died in 1971, Sayagyi was able to see one of his most cherished dreams realized. He had the strong wish that Vipassana should return to India, the land of its origin, to help it come out of its manifold problems. From India, he felt sure it would then spread throughout the world for the benefit of all mankind.
S.N. Goenka began conducting Vipassana courses in India in 1969; after ten years, he began to teach in foreign countries as well. In the thirty-five years since he started teaching, S.N. Goenka has conducted many ten-day Vipassana courses, and trained over 800 assistant teachers who have conducted many courses worldwide. In addition, many Centres have been established in India for the exclusive practice of Vipassana. Centres for exclusive practice have been established across the world as well. The invaluable gem of Vipassana, long preserved in the small country of Myanmar, can now be practiced in many places throughout the world. Today ever-increasing numbers of people have the opportunity to learn this art of living which brings lasting peace and happiness.
In the past, India had the distinction of being regarded as a World Teacher. In our time, the Ganges of Truth is once again flowing out from India to a thirsty world.