Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (known to most as Ajahn Brahm) was born Peter Betts in London, United Kingdom on August 7, 1951. He came from a working-class background, and won a scholarship to study Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University in the late 1960s. At Cambridge he joined the university’s Buddhist Society and after a few weeks at the age of 18, he saw a monk for the first time. He knew then that was what he wanted to be. After graduating from Cambridge he taught in a school for one year before travelling to Thailand to become a monk and train with the Venerable Ajahn Chah Bodhinyana Mahathera.
Whilst still in his years as a junior monk, he was asked to undertake the compilation of an English-language guide to the Buddhist monastic code – the Vinaya – which later became the basis for monastic discipline in many Theravadan monasteries in Western countries.
After practising for nine years as a monk, he was sent to Perth by Ajahn Chah in 1983.
Ajahn Brahm has also been influential in establishing Dhammasara Nuns’ Monastery at Gidgegannup in the hills north-east of Perth to be a wholly independent monastery for nuns. In October 2009 he was instrumental in facilitating Bhikkhuni ordinations at this monastery. The selfless action of providing an authentic pathway for women to lead the Holy Life led to a reaction from fundamentalist monks within his original training Sangha who ‘excommunicated’ him. Large parts of the international Buddhist community have since rallied and campaigned in support of him. Ajahn Brahm continues to champion Gender Equality.
For more information, books and talks, visit https://bswa.org/teachers/ajahn-brahm/