Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - The Bodhgaya Restoration Movement of Anagarika Dharmapala and Japanese Buddhists

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Willow, First Floor

This paper will study the relationship between the Sinhala Buddhist activist Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933), who founded the Mahabodhi Society in 1891 and initiated the Buddhist revival movement in India between 1891 and 1910 by organizing the Bodhgaya restoration movement, and the Japanese Buddhists of that time, who supported that movement. Dharmapala’s call for revival of Buddhism in India and restoration of Bodhgaya received tremendous support from Japanese Buddhists and various Buddhist associations of Japan. Japanese monks such as Syaku Kounen and Tokuzawa Chiezo supported Dharmapala from the start of this movement. The statue of Buddha which Dharmapala tried to enshrine inside the Mahabodhi temple, and was severely opposed by the Hindu Mahants who controlled the temple, was donated by Japanese Buddhists.  


  After Dharmapala initiated the Buddhist revival movement, the visits by Japanese pilgrims to Bodhgaya also increased. Kawaguchi Ekai visited Bodhgaya in 1899 before he travelled to Tibet, and Dharmapala gave him Buddha’s relic for offering it to Dalai Lama. Otani Kouzui of the Otani Expedition made a pilgrimage to Bodh-Gaya in 1902, and he was also accompanied by Buddhist philosopher Inoue Enryou. Okakura Tenshin, accompanied by Swami Vivekananda, visited Bodh-Gaya in 1886 and 1902. The most important collaboration was when Dharmapala wanted to purchase the temple land from the Mahants, the Japan Buddhists constituted the ‘Association for the Restoration of Buddhist Sacred Places” and raised funds in Japan. They also organized an international Buddhists conference in Bodhgaya in October 1891 to garner international support for Dharmapala.

Masahiko Togawa

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS), Japan

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1 - The Bodhgaya Restoration Movement of Anagarika Dharmapala and Japanese Buddhists



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