Dharmapala – not an easy contemporary as well

When Dharmapala met William James:

When I was in Boston in December, 1903, I visited William James’s class at Harvard University. I tried unobtrusively to reach the back of the lecture-hall to hear the great teacher of psychology, but it is difficult for a man in a yellow robe to be inconspicuous in America. Professor James saw me and motioned or me to come to the front of the hall. He said: „Take my chair, and I shall sit with my students. You are better equipped to lecture on psychology than I am.“ After I had outlined to his advanced class some elements of Buddhist doctrine, he turned to his students and said, „This is the psychology everybody will be studying twenty-five years from now.“

(Return to Righteousness, 681)

Dharmapala and his women – an ongoing story…

Maybe Dharmapala himself was a bit of an annoying person:

For Dharmapala and his recently launched organization, the Great Case was in many ways a great failure. As the legal battle dragged on, Dharmapala (…) lost significant credibility among many of his Buddhist supporters and patrons, including high-ranking British officials, who began to view him as a religious fanatic and troublemaker aggravating communal sentiment in the area and beyond. In 1916-1917, for example, he was interned by the government of Bengal for „pestering the King of Siam,“ who now desired to be protected from Dharmapala’s „persistent annoyance“ (…).

(Geary, The Rebirth of Bodh Gaya. 2017)

But he has clear opinions on other „races“ and cultures:

I am old and physically feeble, and yet I am working hard in the hope of doing my bit to the welfare of the English people (…) Ceylon and England can never again be disunited. I shall therefore work for the welfare of the British people.

The British are an arrogant race, very selfish, and therefore I decided that I shall practice love, righteousness, generosity and truthfulness, and adopt the ethic of forgiving patience (…) where harsh cruel people dwelt.

(My Life Story, 71)

Japan is a kind of beacon-light to Asia, but the 799 millions of Asiatics are practically insane. (…) Asia is full of opium eaters, ganja smokers, degenerating sensualists, superstitious and religious fanatics.

(My Life Story, 41)
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