While I was in Sri Lanka and browsing bookshelves at the Buddhist Publication Society and the Buddhist Cultural Centre I found some books by Venerable Ñāṇavīra. He was mentioned during online discussions back in the early 1990s. I didn’t know much about him or his writings at that time. I did notice that some people seemed to admire him very much while others seemed to criticise his writings in very strong terms. Some people have fixed views about Sotapanna samapati (stream entry attainment), suicide and or attakatha (commentaries) and may reject Ven. Ñāṇavīra’s writing based on his reputation without reading his work.
In the early 1990s I read some excerpts of Ven. Ñāṇavīra’s writings available on the Internet but don’t recall forming a view one way or the other. I bought Clearing the Path Notes on the Dhamma and Clearing the Path Letters (1960-65) and read them both soon after returning to Perth a few months ago. I encourage you to read Notes on the Dhamma at least. I also found the letters from Ven. Ñāṇavīra to various people very interesting. Ven. Ñāṇavīra probably never thought they might be published as a book. I shall return to both books in future and may read them carefully several times while checking sutta references and so forth.
Further reading on this topic includes:
- Path Press might be a good place to find related material as well as possibly the best place to buy Ven. Ñāṇavīra’s books online.
- The main website with all the writings in HTML as well as writings by others who have been influenced by Ven. Ñāṇavīra: http://nanavira.xtreemhost.com
- Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi A Critical Examination of Ñāṇavīra Thera’s ‘A Note on Paṭiccasamuppāda’. Pa.ticcasamuppaada may be translated as “dependent origination” or “dependent arising”. A PDF version of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s paper may also be downloaded from one of the Path Press websites by clicking on the PDF icon on this page.
- Ven. Bhikkhu H. Ñāṇasuci’s excellent short article about Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s paper and Ven. Ñāṇavīra’s writings.
- The Akalika Forum (discussions about Ven. Ñāṇavīra) http://nanavira.top-talk.net/