Buddhist Converts from Christianity; Christian Converts from Buddhism; Missionary Education
Ananda Metteyya (Charles Henry Allan Bennett 1872–1923), according to some representations of Buddhism's transmission to the West, was a respectable member of an elite group of converts to Buddhism at the beginning of the twentieth century, who, in effect, stole recognition from a non-elite group. Whilst not contesting this basic premise, I first suggest in this paper that Ananda Metteyya was neither elite nor always, at least in the eyes of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, ‘respectable’. In fact, he came to pose a threat to the identity that the Society sought to create for itself. I then turn to three contexts within which Ananda Metteyya placed himself: international networks for the spread of Buddhism; anti-missionary networks within Sri Lanka and Burma; antiimperialist networks. His main vehicle within the first was the Buddhasāsana Samāgama, the international Buddhist organisation he founded in 1902 and the journal that accompanied it, which was sent to between 500 and 600 libraries throughout the world. Also significant was Ananda Metteyya's call for five men from four countries to come to Burma to be trained for higher ordination. Ananda Metteyya's anti-missionary agenda was realized through the promotion of Buddhist education in Burma and through a ruthless written critique of Christianity and Christian proselytisation. An anti-imperialist agenda was implicit within this and is extended in his writing. This paper argues, therefore, that Ananda Metteyya was a central figure in the global networking of a substantial number of those interested in Buddhism in the early years of the twentieth century. He was also an early Engaged Buddhist, a critic of the West and a robust promoter of the East.
Allan Bennett’s life 81 Buddhist networks and Allan Bennett 83 The anti-missionary agenda 86 Imperialism 88 Concluding remarks 89 Acknowledgements 89 Notes 89 References 92