Munindra: A Teacher's Teacher with Mirka Knaster, Ph.D.

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Beginning in the 1960s, many young Western seekers in India met and studied with Buddhist meditation master Anagarika Munindra (1915 - 2003). At that time, they had no idea he would become a grandfather of the vipassana/mindfulness movement that spread from Asia to the West. Although an unassuming teacher who considered himself a "spiritual friend" rather than a guru, Munindra became a powerful messenger of Dharma for the last forty years of his life. Wanting to honor his life and legacy, Mirka Knaster wrote Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra, in collaboration with Robert Pryor. She interviewed some 200 people around the world, including such prominent teachers and writers as Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Ram Dass, Jack Kornfield, Daniel Goleman, and a host of others. In sharing this venerable teacher with all of us, they describe Munindra as a combination of authority, kindness, and depth, having "no props. He was not into any rituals and he went beyond any kind of structure. That meant you could practice anywhere. You didn't have to be in front of an altar. You didn't have to wear special clothes. . . Here was someone who said the most important thing was awareness, mindfulness." Knaster gives us a portrait of this revered master who was a teacher's teacher. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Mirka Knaster has a Ph.D. in Asian and Comparative Studies. She was born in Europe and educated in America. Through living and traveling in diverse areas of the world, and studying the traditions of different peoples, she brings a cross-cultural perspective to her research on women, the body, healing, and spiritual practice.

Knaster is the author of:

To learn more about the work of Mirka Knaster go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What was the early life of Buddhist Master Anagarika Munindra
  • How Knaster found and interviewed the many people who knew Munindra
  • Why Munindra wouldn't allow Westerners to be too serious about their practice
  • How Munindra advised a young boy who wanted to leave his body
  • Why was Munindra an important teacher
  • Why our spiritual practice should not be separated from everyday life
  • Why Munindra loved to shop
  • What was Munindra's relationship with women
  • What were Munindra's last days
Host: Michael Toms     Interview Date: 3/15/2011     Program Number: 3398