S.N. Goenka

Average: 3.8 (91 votes)
Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Satya Narayan Goenka, Goenkaji
Spiritual Teacher
Buddhism, Vipassana
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, all countries
Date of Birth: 
January 30, 1924
Place of Birth: 
Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
September 29, 2013
Descendant Gurus: 
Other Related Gurus: 
Sayagyi U Ba Khin (Goenka's Dhamma teacher)


Goenka was a noted Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassanā meditation. Born in Burma, he followed the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, under whom he trained for 14 years.

In 1969, he moved to India and started teaching the Vipassana meditation, and started a mediation center at Igatpuri, near Nashik in 1976.

In time, he became an influential non-sectarian teacher of the Vipassana movement and a pioneer of the Vipassana meditation in India. He trained more than 1300 assistant teachers and each year more than 120,000 people attend Goenka-led Vipassana courses.

The technique which S. N. Goenka teaches represents a tradition that is traced back to the Buddha. Goenka emphasizes that, "The Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma - the way to liberation - which is universal" and presents his teachings as non-sectarian and open to people of all faiths or no faith. "Liberation" in this context means freedom from impurities of mind and, as a result of the process of cultivating a pure mind, freedom from suffering.

Goenka calls Vipassana meditation an experiential scientific practice, through which one can observe the constantly changing nature of the mind and body at the deepest level, a profound understanding that leads to a truly happy and peaceful life.

He died from old age on September 29, 2013, at his home in Mumbai. He was survived by his wife Elaichi Devi Goenka, also a prominent meditation teacher, and six sons.


Ten-day Vipassana courses are held all over the world where students learn the technique while observing Noble Silence and following a strict moral code of conduct.

To quiet the mind during Vipassana courses, students are asked to have no contact with the outside world or other students, though they may talk to an assistant teacher about questions concerning the technique or to a student manager for any material problems. Mere observation of breath allows the mind to become naturally concentrated, a practice called Anapana. This concentration prepares one for the main part of the practice: observation of the reality of the present moment in the body and mind through body sensations. This is the Vipassana practice itself which involves carefully scanning the surface and later the interior of the body with one's attention and observing the body sensations with equanimity, becoming progressively more aware of their ever-changing nature.

Goenka explains in his talks that the practice of Vipassana is the essence of the path of Dhamma, the path to Truth. He does not claim that this Vipassana tradition is the only way to Truth, and constantly reminds students of the Universal and non-sectarian quality of this path. However he claims that an authentic tradition survived in Burma, passing from teacher to student in a long lineage from the time of the Buddha to his teacher, U Ba Khin, and now through himself, to the student.

In his courses and lectures Goenka describes Vipassana meditation as a scientific investigation of the mind-matter phenomenon.



The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses taking place in numerous Vipassana locations around the world. During these courses, participants learn the basics of the method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results.

There are over 100 locations around the world, both permanent Vipassana centers as well as non-center locations.

There are numerous Centers in India and elsewhere in Asia; ten Centers in North America; three Centers in Latin America; eight Centers in Europe; seven Centers in Australia/New Zealand; one Center in the Middle East and one Center in Africa.

Course structure and content is completely identical in all centers.

The main center and most impressive one is Dhamma Giri, located in Igatpuri, Maharashtra, India.

Daily Schedule & Opening Hours: 

4:00 am Morning wake-up bell
4:30-6:30 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
6:30-8:00 am Breakfast break
8:00-9:00 am Group meditation in the hall
9:00-11:00 am Meditate in the hall or in your room
11:00-12:00 noon Lunch break
12:00-1:00 pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00-2:30 pm Meditate in the hall or in your room
2:30-3:30 pm Group meditation in the hall
3:30-5:00 pm Meditate in the hall or in your own room
5:00-6:00 pm Tea break
6:00-7:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
7:00-8:15 pm Teacher's Discourse in the hall
8:15-9:00 pm Group meditation in the hall
9:00-9:30 pm Question time in the hall
9:30 pm Retire to your own room--Lights out

There is a well-defined code of discipline for the courses. The core percepts for the course are the following: All who attend a Vipassana course must conscientiously abstain during the course from killing any being, stealing, sexual activity, telling lies, all intoxicants. Old students (those who have completed a course with S.N. Goenka or one of his assistant teachers in the past) are expected also to abstain from eating after midday, sensual entertainment and bodily decorations, high or luxurious beds. Additional precepts include observing silence, Separation of men and women, avoiding physical contact. It might sound a bit frightening but you will be surprised to find out how easy it is to observe these rules within the framework of Vipassana. Plus, the teachers and the assistants are so compassionate and everything is done there with kindness and softness.
Prior registration is required. You need to check for courses scheduling in your preferred center and apply for the course by completing and submitting an application for a scheduled course. The schedules, forms and list of centers can be found in the link provided above.
Services in Location: 

All services needed including food, accomodation, cleaning materials etc. are provided in the center


Accommodation in center is provided for course participants.

Prices and Fees: 
There are no charges for the courses - not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to also benefit.
Maps and Pictures of Location: 

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Meditation Now: Inner Peace through Inner Wisdom

by S. N. Goenka


Celebrated Vipassana meditation teacher S. N. Goenka interprets the Buddha’s teachings in this collection of lectures, essays, and interviews. These writings provide insights into how one of the most influential contemporary Buddhist practitioners defines Vipassana and how he uses it to achieve peace of mind and lead a happy, useful life. Included are transcripts of recent talks given at the World Economic Forum in Davos and at the Millennium World Peace Summit, and a previously unpublished interview conducted by Alan AtKisson, former editor of In Context magazine.

Recommended DVD & Video: 
Cover image

S. N. Goenka: Inner Peace for World Peace

(VHS Tape)

Video tape containing two programs: 1.) An address at the UN by S.N. Goenka to spiritual and religious leaders of the world who were gathered for the Millenium World Peace Summit, August 29, 2000. (15:00 min.) Goenkaji participated in the Millennium World Peace Summit-a gathering of 1000 of the world's religious and spiritual leaders, held at the United Nations under the auspices of Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The purpose of the meeting was to promote tolerance, foster peace, and encourage inter-religious dialogue. With the many different viewpoints represented, the potential for disagreement was strong. In his presentation to the delegates, Goenkaji tried to highlight what they, and all spiritual paths have in common: the universal Dhamma. His remarks were received with repeated ovations. 2.) An interview with S.N. Goenka conducted by Zee TV at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, February, 2000 (15:20 min.) In this program, Goenkaji answers questions about the different aspects of Dhamma (Dharma).

Recommended Audio: 
Cover image

The Art of Living : Vipassana Meditation as Taught By S.N. Goenka (Audio Book) (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings)

by S. N. Goenka

(Audio Cassette)

The Art of Living is the definitive guide to the teaching of S.N. Goenka, the foremost living lay teacher of Vipassana meditation today. The print version has been translated into 15 languages.

This audio version offers an excellent way to gain or refresh an understanding of Vipassana, and to introduce the practice to others.

Vipassana practice is accurately described for a general audience and vividly conveys Goenkaji's inspiring teaching style, with original discourse stories from a ten-day meditation course told by him.

Pro Opinions

Great technique!

solo's picture

Don't ask why and how, just give it a try. It does miracles on your past conditionings...



your speaking is correct that don't ask why and how about the Vippasana techniques. Regarding the vipassana why and how can be understood unspeakably after doing sufficient meditation alongwith the code and conduct of Vipassana.
This can be understood only by those who have practised this Vipassana meditation perfectly according to rules and regulations of Vipassana. Wonderful technique which is very, very effective for the destruction of lust, lucre, anger, ego etc. and wonderfully this Vipassana gives the mental balance.

NIDHI PARKASH | Fri, 10/23/2009 - 14:45

Great master in the feild of meditation.

santthosh kumaar's picture

Sri,S.N. Goenkaji is a great master in Vipasana meditation. His selfless service to the humankind has to be appreciated. Vipsana is good for the beginners of spiritual pursuit.


best meditation

Certainly, Vipassan is the best technique of meditation but this needs great patience for continue practice.Spontaneous nature itself manifests when someone practices this meditation.

NIDHI PARKASH | Thu, 01/07/2010 - 18:11

Meditation, Helpful, Simple,

earthling's picture

Easy, Helpful, simple, Scientific, to learn about bliss, peace, solutions to life.

Basic operating technique to understand books about advaita, non dualism, life.

Metta ~Peace & Light for all.



Simply speaking; Vipasana is so much spontaneous meditative technique to achieve equilibrium at mental state when the persons find themselves ensnared in opposite kinds of qualities.

NIDHI PARKASH | Fri, 10/23/2009 - 16:27

Outstanding methodology of meditation


There are many religions, spiritual methods of practices and meditations, sciences of divinity and various techniques of knowledges giving studies about the soul and God etc.

Jai Shree Guru Dev

gora's picture

Respected Guru Jee

Accept my heartfelt Namaskar,



The great methodology of meditation which needs no deity, worship, flowers, candle-lights, mantras, other material of worshiping etc.
My precious brother you are absolutely accurate for conveying your salutations to H.H. S.N. GOINKA JI, AACHAARYA OF VIPASHYANAA.

NIDHI PARKASH | Fri, 10/30/2009 - 17:13

Vipassana is similar to Gestalt

Genevieve's picture

The focus is on the "NOW".

shond's picture

It's much more than that

Vipassana is much more than focus on the now, much more. Actually, the now stuff is marginal in that case.

The main and maybe the only theme of Vipassana and its uniqueness is the focus on body sensations. Suggesting that anything mental is mapped to body sensations (e.g. emotions, impressions, pains, pleasures etc.) the work in Vipassana is to observe body sensations in an unbiased way.

P.S As far as I know Gestalt is not concerned with focus on the now as well but more involved with generic patterns of phenomena.

shond | Sun, 03/14/2010 - 09:39

Con Opinions

Too narrow interpretation of Vipassana

avi's picture

Goenka (following his master and the Burmese tradition) took the Vipassana to a too narrow interpretation of only observing body sensations.

Quantum's picture

actually....I was starting to wonder that too..

That it is perfectly great in the beginning, it helps to quiet the restless mind.

But after a while, there has to be more, beyond, than just feeling....my feet.

Yes, I started to play with "Who Am I?", "I AM...not anything preceded by the word 'my'." And believe it or not, you nailed it...I sometimes only feel, and anchor at, the body as a whole, no specific part--just the while, while sometimes simultaneously playing contemplating "who am I" (i.e. Who is meditating?) And I "sit here", or go about my daily business 'watching' my emotions, as though..it's like there is more separation from them now.

Your post speaks more to me now than it did a few weeks ago.


Quantum | Tue, 12/15/2009 - 06:54

Vipassana leads to the interpreting of reality

No question of narrowness and broadness when coming to the practical aspect of Vipassana with patience to feel reality of the Self.

NIDHI PARKASH | Thu, 01/07/2010 - 18:36
Seeking's picture

About... Too narrow interpretation of Vipassana

I just completed the Vipassana course. I understand that the 10-day course is just the first level. There are further levels and as one progresses further, there is Goenka's Satipatthana course too. Maybe you should enquire about these courses and those might cover what you feel are missing.

Seeking | Wed, 01/19/2011 - 01:29

My Experience With Vipassana

Nathyogi's picture

I don't know about Shri SN Goenka and his Vipassana meditation.
I narrate my experience of Vipassana.

S.N. Goenka - Vipassana Discourse Summaries717.21 KB