Ananda Maitreya was the first modern Westerner to become a Buddhist monk. Born as Allen Bennett in 1872, he first became interested in Buddhism when he read Edwin Arnold’s famous poem on the life of the Buddha, Light of Asia. He travelled first to Sri Lanka and then Burma where he was ordained in 1901 and was given the name ânanda Maitriya. Later, he started the first Buddhist organization in the West and also founded and edited a quarterly review called Buddhism. Afflicted by asthma all his life he eventually disrobed and died in 1923.