Lokanatha was an Italian of well-to-do
parents who went at the age of three years to the United States.
He obtained a degree from an American College, majoring in chemistry.
He was a devout Roman Catholic. While working as a chemist in a
research institute, he began studying religions of the world through
books presented by his friends. One of those books was the Buddhist
Dhammapada which he found coincided with his own beliefs on spiritual
salvation of sentient beings. It inspired him to further study of
Buddhism for three years and becoming active in the Buddhist Society
in America. Without his parents' knowledge, he went to Sri Lanka
to be ordained as a monk, and after spending three months there,
he came to Burma where he was ordained by a leading abbot.
Contracting dysentery a few years before World
War II, he returned to Italy for treatment. He returned on foot
to the Burma, halting in India to visit places where Lord Buddha
had lived and preached. Later, leading a party of Thai monks he
revisited these places as well as Sri Lanka on foot. Postwar, the
Buddhist Association of Mandalay, sent him on a three-year tour
of the world to preach Buddhism. He preached in English and used
interpreters where necessary. During the war, the British interned
him in India. As a Buddhist monk he secured his release after a
96 day-fast in protest while in the prisoner-of-war camp.
May 1966 Ven. Lokanatha was preparing to go abroad
for treatment of cancer, when he died at the hill station of Pyin-Oo-Lwin
(Maymyo). His cremation was held with fanfare and ceremony befitting
a prominent Buddhist monk.
He has written many a treatise on Buddhism of which the most well
known internationally as well as in Burma are on the Dhammacakkappavattana
Sutta and the Anatta-lakkhana Sutta.
Ven. Lokanatha was a strict vegetarian and a strong voice for vegetarianism
from the Theravada tradition. On this subject he wrote "The
Crime of Killing"
For the Malayan Vegetarian Society he gave a talk on ahimsa and vegetarianism which you can download here.
also A. Rawlinson, The Book of Enlightened Masters, pp.615-616 (here