Life of the Buddha
IV. Leaving Home
VI. First Endeavors
VIII. Making Known the Teaching
X. Sariputta and Moggallana
XII. Daily Life
XVI. The Kindness of the Buddha
About the Author:
Silacara: A Biography
In 1906 a Scotsman in his thirty-fifth year, known as J.F.
McKechnie, was admitted to the Sangha by the Thera U Kumara at Kyun Daw Gone Kyaung
(Temple), Kemmendine, Rangoon, Burma. He was given the Bhikku's name of Silacara.
The new monk had come to the country about the beginning
of this century, having, whilst in Glasgow, read about Buddhism in a copy of the magazine
//Buddhism// which he found in the public library, and answered an advertisement of its
editor the Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya (Alan Bennett, in lay life) for one with literary
ability to assist him in the editorial work in Rangoon. McKechnie remained with the
British Buddhist monk until the magazine ceased publication. Then, prior to his own
entering the Sangha as noted above, he taught for a year in the Buddhist boys' school of
Mme Hla Oung.
The future Bhikkhu was born in Hull, Yorkshire, on October
22nd, 1871. His father was a famous baritone singer, Sir Charles Santley, and his mother
was Caroline Mavis. After the years of schooling, till he was 21, he worked as apprentice
to the trade of Stock-cutter in a clothing factory, emigrating therefrom to America to
work for four years on a fruit and dairy farm.
The Bhikkhu Silacara worked untiringly, writing,
preaching, traveling. He once went on a mission to Sikkim, on the Maharajah's invitation,
but the mission bore hardly any fruit owing to the point of view of the lamas who thought
that pure Buddhism would be corrupted, if in the hands of the ignorant peasant. He broke
down in health, contracting nervous asthma, complicated with heart trouble, and on the
advice of the German Buddhist Dr. P. Dahlke, left the robes and for England late in 1925.
Here he worked with the Anagarika Dharmapala at the Mahabodhi Society's British branch,
lecturing and editing the //British Buddhist//. His health suffered again and in 1932 when
he had to leave London to live in Surrey. But he never ceased to work, for he wrote to
Buddhist Magazines in the country, in Ceylon, Burma, Germany, etc.
During World War II his little retreat Wisboro Green
having been sold, he entered an Old Persons' Home at Bury, where he, who had led the
austere life of a Buddhist monk, bore the hard way of a state charitable institution with
equanimity until his death three years ago.
Of the books on Buddhism which he wrote, those perhaps
best known to Ceylon Buddhists are //The Four Noble Truths//, //The Eightfold Path//,
//Kamma//, //Lotus Blossoms//. In the early twenties Ceylon readers of the //Buddhist
Chronicle//, a paper started by Mr. P. de. S. Kularatne, the Principal of Ananda College,
Colombo, were greatly encouraged by the vigorous contribution which the Bhikkhu made
regularly. The interest of these articles was heightened specially by the fact that there
was a controversy going on at that time, the leader on the Buddhist side being American
Buddhist Scholar of Mahayana, Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz //Buddhist Annual of Ceylon//.
The Bhikkhu also contributed a number of articles to the
//Buddhist Annual of Ceylon// an illustrated magazine of a high order which the firm
Messrs. W. E. Bastain & Co. of Colombo were publishing with great acceptance to places
and people all over the world wherever Orientalia found welcome, and these were a
formidable tally. For this Firm he specially wrote the //Young People's Life of the
Buddha// the popularity of which remains undimmed throughout the decades in which it is
Colombo, 15th January 1953
Copyright 1995 Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre
No. 11, Neo Pee Teck Lane
* * *
DharmaNet Edition 1995
Transcription: Bradford Griffith; Proofreading: Jane
Yudelman; Formatting: John Bullitt
This electronic edition is offered for free
distribution via DharmaNet by arrangement with the publisher.
P.O. Box 4951,
CA 94704-4951 - USA
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Update : 01-05-2002