This joint seminar marks the publication of the Autumn 2010 special issue of Contemporary Buddhism (Vol. 11, no. 2) guest-edited by Alicia Turner, Laurence Cox and Brian Bocking on U Dhammaloka, The Irish Buddhist: Rewriting the History of Western Buddhist Monastics.
Conventional histories of Western Buddhist monasticism begin with a passing reference to Asoka (H. Gordon Douglas, ordained 1899, died 1900) and regard Ananda Metteya (Allan Bennett MacGregor, 1872-1923) as the first 'Western' Buddhist monk. Yet in 1902, the year Bennett became a novice in Burma, a Dublin-born Buddhist monk called U Dhammaloka who was already celebrated in Burmese Buddhist circles, was on his way to Japan where he was the only European monk invited to speak alongside Shimaji Mokurai and others at the high-profile September 1902 launch in Tokyo of the 'International Young Men's Buddhist Federation' (Bankoku bukkyō seinen rengōkai). This paper asks why Dhammaloka has been forgotten,not least within Buddhist Studies, and how the exploration of U Dhammaloka's extraordinary public career in Burma, Japan, Singapore, Siam and elsewhere at the turn of the 20th century challenges the `origin myth¿ of Western Buddhist monasticism by revealing a hitherto unknown world of early Western monastics.