The Greek Buddhist monk Nyanadassana or Ñāṇadassana has been a Senior (Mahāthera) monk of the ancient Buddhist Theravada tradition for 37 years and is based in Sri Lanka.
He was born in 1959, in Karperi, Serres, as Ioannis Tselios. He finished secondary school in Thessaloniki and studied sociology at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.
In 1981, aged 22, a trip to India was the turning point in his life: while looking at a tourist brochure, he read this memorable Buddha quote: “This is my last birth. I have crossed the ocean of existence.”
Pondering these words and determined to know more about the Buddha and his Teachings, he visited Kusinara, the place where the Buddha reached his final rest in Nibbana (parinibbāna). It was there that, under the guidance of an elder Indian Buddhist monk who was the Director of the Museum of Kusinara, Ioannis Tselios was not only trained in meditation, but he also read about Buddhism. More interested than ever, he decided to look for the original and authentic teachings of the Buddha, thus travelling to Sri Lanka.
In 1982, aged 23, he was ordained by Reverend Kaḑavedduve Shrī Jinavaṃsa Mahāthera, a scholar recognised by the state (rājakīya paṇḑita) as a teacher-inspector (upajjhāya) and he embraced the monastic life in order to study and practise. He practised for four years under the guidance of Reverend Mātara Ñāṇārāma Mahāthera, the scholar recognised by the state (rājakīya paṇḑita) and famous meditation teacher at Nissaraṇa Vanaya monastery, Meetirigala.
In 1986, he received the higher ordination (upasampadā) by the Reverend scholar Kaḑavedduve Shrī Jinavaṃsa Mahāthera, as a teacher-inspector. He then studied the ancient Indian language Pali (Pāḷi) and the Three Baskets of Sacred Buddhist Texts (Tipiṭaka), along with the Explanations and Commentaries, under the guidance of three learned Elder (Mahāthera) teachers at the monastery Gnānārāma Dharmāyatanaya, Meetirigala, where he stayed for 16 years.
In 1997, following a written and oral exam, he received the title of Vinayācariya (Professor of Monastic Education). Incited by his teacher, he began teaching the ancient Indian Pali language and the Three Baskets of Sacred Buddhist Texts for many years, while writing over ten books. From 2003 to 2007, he trained in meditation at the meditation centre Pa-Auk Tawya, Mawlayimine, Myanmar (Burma) and then, he returned to Sri Lanka. He has been repeatedly invited to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan to give lectures and courses on the Teachings of the Buddha and meditation.
He is a writer and translator of more than ten Buddhist books in German, English, Sinhalese and Pali, and he has a lot of experience in giving lectures in English and Sinhalese (the official language of Sri Lanka).