Goenka was born in Burma and was a businessman coming from a wealthy family of Indian extraction. After suffering from migraines, he discovered Vipassana and healed his migraines with this technique and became a teacher of the method himself after his teacher, U Ba Khin, trained him so he could spread the Vipassana method around the world. The center of Yangoon is the first center of Vipassana that was created by U Ba Khin and where Goenka first did his retreat.
The Vipassana method had been lost in India 500 years after Buddha's teachings. Only a few Burmese sages still practiced the method the way Buddha had taught it and retransmitted it from generations to generations until it reached Goenka. According to the prophecy, 2500 years after the Buddha teachings, a Man would bring the Vipassana method back to India. It is exactly this 2500th year, that Goenka received an Indian passport (a miracle ... or not ...) to bring back the Vipassana method in India. The first retreats attracted a few people and very quickly, more and more people presented themselves which resulted in creating more and more retreats, then more and more centers so that today Vipassana is generously offered in the whole world and participating in a Vipassana retreat is on donation.
There are also monasteries that offer Vipassana retreats (in Thailand in particular) or other structures called Vipassana, with a much lighter program, ability to speak, walking meditations etc.
Goenka’s Vipassana retreat is very intense, challenging (to say the least) and really pushes for introspection. I will share soon my Vipassana retreat impressions! Stay tune! xx