Nyanaponika Thera (Germany, 1901-1994), born Siegmund Feniger, became interested in Buddhism as a teenager. In 1936 he traveled to Sri Lanka where he was ordained the next year as a Buddhist monk at the Island Hermitage, Dodanduwa, under the Ven. Nyanatiloka, also a German. During WWII both men were interned in India for five years by the British. While the world was embroiled in conflict, Ven. Nyanaponika quietly pursued his writings and studies of Abhidhamma with his teacher. Returning in 1946 to their prewar hermitage, they once again took up their monastic routine.
The two theras traveled to Burma in 1952 for consultations in preparation for the Sixth Buddhist Council. It was then that they first began discussing the possibility of propagating Buddhism in the West by publishing fresh translations of the Pali Canon in English. In 1954 Ven. Nyanatiloka and Ven. Nyanaponika attended the opening of the council, possibly the only monks of Western origin ever to participate in one of the major Buddhist councils
Four years later, in 1958, along with two enthusiastic Sri Lankan laymen, Ven. Nyanaponika cofounded the Buddhist Publication Society, intending to publish a limited series of English-language booklets on various aspects of Buddhism. He served as editor until 1984, and president until 1988. Fifty years later their modest endeavor has grown to be a significant resource for explication of the Theravada tradition.
A scholar, teacher, and writer, humble and exemplary monk, the Venerable Nyanaponika Mahathera was a major figure in the transmission of the Buddha's teaching to the modern world. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, in print since 1954, has achieved the status of a modern Buddhist classic.
The German-born Buddhist monk Ven. Nyanaponika was responsible for establishing and directing the Buddhist Publication Society, and served as its editor in chief from 1958 to 1984. His writings include The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, considered a modern classic, and numerous essays published in the BPS booklets, The Wheel and Bodhi Leaves.