The Monks of Kauai's Hindu Monastery
Kauai Aadheenam is the spiritual home and theological seminary for 21 monks from five nations. They are the ministers of Saiva Siddhanta Church, overseeing an international religious mission while living a strict lifestyle of daily religious worship, meditation, yoga and service. Morning worship begins before dawn in the temple with rites to Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan and then Lord Siva.
Following the daily worship, at 6:00am the monks sit together for a one-hour guided meditation. This daily spiritual activity is the anchor for the coming day of service to dedicated spiritual seekers and the Hindu world at large.
The monks are involved daily with the Kadavul Hindu Temple, which is the center of their life, performing three-hour vigils 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in its sacred precincts since 1973. Classes, seminars and training take place throughout the week as they study together the philosophical and metaphysical teachings of the founder, chant Sanskrit mantras, sing traditional devotional hymns and celebrate the festivals of their lineage.
Self-sufficiency is a prime principle for Hindu monastics, and thus each monk is called upon to help with the daily chores of the monastery, whether in the kitchen, the gardens, the temple or the offices. Young, single men under 25 years of age who are interested in traditional Hindu monastic life can explore our How to Become a Monk page.
Now we introduce ever so briefly the founder of Kauai's Hindu Monastery and the twenty initiated monks who now carry on the spiritual work of his lineage.
For over five decades Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva, taught Hinduism to Hindus and seekers from all faiths. In the line of successorship, he was the 162nd Jagadacharya of the Nandinatha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara and the founding Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam (also known as Kauai's Hindu Monastery), a 363-acre temple-monastery complex on Hawaii's Garden Island. Gurudeva's mission, received from his satguru, Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, was to protect, preserve and promote the Saivite Hindu religion as expressed through its three pillars: temples, satgurus and scripture. That mission is now carried forward by his monastic and family communities. A longer biography of Gurudeva can be read here, and the full story of his life can be read in The Guru Chronicles.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami is Gurudeva's designated successor, having spent 37 years training and serving at Gurudeva's side. On November 13, 2001, he was installed as Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam and the 163rd preceptor of the Kailasa Parampara. Bodhinatha is the spiritual head of Saiva Siddhanta Church and Himalayan Academy and president of Hindu Heritage Endowment. As publisher of Hinduism Today magazine, he carries forward Gurudeva's vision to inform, strengthen and connect Hindus around the world. He travels frequently to be with and initiate members, to give lectures to Hindu groups, attend temple festivals and events and to oversee the mission in other nations. Read a thorough biography here.
Paramacharya Sadasivanatha Palaniswami is one of the stewards of Saiva Siddhanta Church, Himalayan Academy and Hindu Heritage Endowment. He is the leader of the Ganapati Kulam, the monastic team responsible for all book and magazine production, translations, artwork, our websites and Innersearch travel-study programs. He is intimately involved with the design and construction of Iraivan Temple, working with the master builders. Since 1979 he has been editor-in-chief of Hinduism Today magazine. He acts as the senior counselor to the monastic community and guides the monastery's relationships with other Hindu organizations and interfaith religious forums. On retreat days, he fulfills the monastery's vision of a sacred garden and tropical paradise by collecting, propagating and planting sacred, medicinal, culinary and tropical plants and trees around the monastery grounds.
Paramacharya Sivanatha Ceyonswami is a steward of Saiva Siddhanta Church, Himalayan Academy and Hindu Heritage Endowment. He is also the leader of the Lambodhara Kulam, the team which manages Kadavul Siva Temple, monastic health and welfare, the monastery kitchen and animal husbandry. He helps Bodhinatha in guiding members of Saiva Siddhanta Church through his extensive knowledge of Vedic astrology and acts as Publisher's Aide for Hinduism Today magazine. Sivanatha oversees fund-raising for Iraivan Temple. He is also our senior temple priest, performing the main 9am Siva puja in Kadavul Temple daily and overseeing all other sacred rites and temple festivals.
Acharya Kumarnathaswami is a member of the Ganapati Kulam and is responsible for the publication of Himalayan Academy's many books on the philosophy, culture and metaphysics of Hinduism. He is the Deputy Editor of Hinduism Today magazine in which role he edits all articles and oversees page layouts, typography and design. His research and design skills shine in each issue of the magazine, as he crafts the 16-page Educational Insight Sections on a wide variety of religious topics. Kumarnathaswami is a fine carpenter (specializing in hand tools and artisan skills) who remodels various rooms in the monastery in his spare time, using lumber milled he mills from island trees.
Acharya Arumuganathaswami, a member of the Ganapati Kulam, is the Managing Editor of Hinduism Today magazine, our internationally renowned religious journal. He coordinates dozens of journalists, photographers and writers around the globe, assigning their quarterly projects, assembling their writings and reports. Arumuganathaswami works to assure the purity of dharma and the protection of Hinduism in the media. He is currently working with priest schools in India to transcribe the Agamas and is developing illustrated books for Hindu teens, focusing on life lessons and moral learning. Acharya chants Sri Rudram during the sacred morning fire ceremony held weekly, attended by family members and pilgrims. He is instrumental in monastery construction projects and on retreat days oversees Himalayan Acres, our 312-acre agricultural lands on which we cultivate fruit trees, hardwoods, palms and specimen trees.
Sannyasin Muruganathaswami, a member of the Pillaiyar Kulam, assists with the bookkeeping for the several nonprofit corporations, monitoring our publication inventories and coordinating monastic travel. A senior monk skilled in Sanskrit, Muruganathaswami chants hymns from the Vedas during the sacred morning fire ceremony held weekly, attended by family members and pilgrims. He likes to get out in nature and take care of the monastery grounds on retreat days.
Sannyasin Brahmanathaswami, a member of the Ganapati Kulam is the Production Manager of Hinduism Today magazine and our other publications, working with our printers to produce the books, magazine and other literature. He also helps coordinate translations of Gurudeva's books and reprints done by publishers in India, Ukraine and Trinidad. He oversees website projects, including hired workers who are constantly keeping our web presence and functionality up to date. Swami is responsible for gathering and publishing the stories and photos on TAKA, the daily monastery blog which shares current events with digital pilgrims. His musical skills help him guide the audio resources on the monastery website, coordinating transcriptions and recordings of our gurus' inspired talks and bhajans. On retreats he loves to write code for digital tools and takes care of our hundreds of fruit trees, specializing in pruning and harvesting.
Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami is the leader of the Pillaiyar Kulam, the monastic team responsible for the administrative and business activities of the Church and Himalayan Academy. He oversees the distribution of our publications and Hinduism Today subscriptions, and manages all inventories and the many details of our Mini-Mela giftshop and visitor center. Swami oversees the $10 million Hindu Heritage Endowment and its website. Knowledgeable in the traditional Hindu sacred calendar, Swami has spent years writing and refining the program which creates this almanac, or panchangam, which guides the spiritual and practical life of the monastery and Church members. Swami travels frequently with Bodhinatha, coordinating events abroad and keeping an eye on regional outlets and inventories of our publications. He programs and supervises the database of members, students, book buyers and magazine subscribers and takes special joy in the care of our small herd of milk-producing cows.
Sannyasin Saravananathaswami is the leader of the Ekadanta Kulam, the monastic group responsible for nurture and outreach to members of Saiva Siddhanta Church and students of Himalayan Academy. He works closely with Bodhinatha to nurture members, coordinate Bodhinatha's travels, guide Master Course Correspondence students, and plan activities for our annual Satguru Purnima festival and Gurudeva mahasamadhi observances. He is one of the swamis who performs the weekly homa in Kadavul Temple. On retreats Saravananathaswami enjoys working on the many details of the private website he designed for members and students around the world, a public forum where people from many nations share their interests and activities.
Sannyasin Yoginathaswami is the leader of the Siddhidatta Kulam, the monastic group responsible for buildings, grounds and equipment maintenance, gardens and food production, festival preparations and the assembly of Iraivan Temple. His Tamil language skills help him coordinate the work of our team of Indian sacred sculptors, guiding the schedules and shipping of stones from Bangalore. He supervises contractors hired for various monastery construction and landscaping projects and communicates with young men interested in monastic life. Yoginathaswami is one of the monks who chant Sri Rudram in Kadavul Temple and especially loves to prepare for and perform the monthly Ardra Nataraja abhishekam. On retreats he is working with his team to renovate new offices for the kulam.
Sannyasin Senthilnathaswami, a member of the Ganapati Kulam, assists Bodhinatha, Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Acharya Kumaranathaswami in the editing, design and production of all our publications. He helps guide much of the technological advancement in the monastery, including our websites, our presence on social networks and other Internet initiatives, and manages computer hardware and software upgrades in collaboration with our professional IT consultants. Swami is responsible for the production of the monastery's videos. He writes and edits articles for Hinduism Today. He travels and works with Bodhinatha in coordinating with various Hindu college groups around the country. He is one of the swamis who performs the weekly homa in Kadavul Temple. On retreat days he loves to cook and bake, conduct hikes with the younger monks and spend time in his yoga practices.
Sannyasin Siddhanathaswami is our youngest swami, initiated into sannyas during the full moon of May, 2010. A member of the Pillaiyar Kulam, swami is the monastery's chief accountant, keeping the books for Himalayan Academy, Saiva Siddhanta Church and Hindu Heritage Endowment, filing tax forms, overseeing annual audits, all while managing budgets, financial transactions and reports to the stewards. His math and computer-script-writing gifts are keys to the monastery's efficiency. Swami is instrumental in managing the inventory for the Mini Mela gift shop, acquiring sacred items and cultural artifacts from India, and even making home-grown souvenirs on our laser etcher. He is one of the swamis who performs the weekly homa in Kadavul Temple. Swami helps take care of the monastery's herd of dairy cows, and on retreats loves to prepare special meals and creative hot sauces for his brother monks, not to mention his bread- and pizza-making gifts.
Nirvani Haranandinatha oversees all fund-raising for the Iraivan Temple as a member of the Lambodara Kulam. Reaching out to people all over the world, he inspires them to be part of this remarkable enterprise. He writes and manages the monthly Kauai Aadheenam newsletter, communicates with donors, keeps track of temple contributions and helps coordinate the annual dinner events for supporters. He also keeps track of archana requests and mailing out of vibhuti prasadam. Every month Sadhaka masterminds all the temple communications activities that the monks do as a team on the full-moon Iraivan Day. For years he has fulfilled Gurudeva's request to maintain the sanctity of the Svayambhu Lingam by performing the 9am puja at the site of the visions every day. He keeps our furry feline community happy and healthy and helps manage the kitchen inventory, often participating in our weekly trip to town to purchase supplies.
Nirvani Adinatha, a senior member of the Siddhidatta Kulam, works closely with Yoginathaswami in the many aspects of building and equipment maintenance, construction and groundskeeping. Experienced in all aspects of carpentry and building, he is instrumental in keeping the monastery fully functioning. He works with his brothers to manage our organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards (with an emphasis on bananas and papayas), building maintenance and construction, as well as our extensive waterways, farm equipment, vehicles and grounds. He oversees a hired grounds maintenance team. On retreats he takes delight in developing tens of thousands of hardwood trees, nurturing them from seed to readiness to plant in small groves of Koa, Milo, Honduran Mahogany, etc.
Nirvani Nilakanthanatha, a member of the Siddhidatta Kulam, assists with the growing of the monastery's food in our extensive organic gardens and fruit groves. His areas of service include the maintenance of the sacred meditation paths and grounds, buildings and vehicles. His knowledge of ayurveda is brought to bear in growing herbs and healing plants. He is one of the monks who performs the monthly chitra pada puja honoring Gurudeva's mahasamadhi. On retreats he cultivates culinary and medicinal herbs in a garden he designed near the kitchen, and cooks special meals for his brothers.
Nirvani Tejadevanatha, a member of the Siddhidatta Kulam, assists with the upkeep of the monastery buildings and grounds. He manages the planting and daily harvesting from our organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards, and works with professionals to keep all equipment and vehicles functioning. He is one of the monks who performs the monthly chitra pada puja honoring Gurudeva's mahasamadhi. On retreat days he works on small building projects, cooks for his brothers and spends time in his yogic sadhanas.
Sadhaka Nandinatha serves in the Lambodara Kulam as the monastery's main chef, preparing most of the meals for the monks. He also helps take care of our cows, cats, birds and koi fish, and serves as a coordinator of kitchen inventory, food purchasing and our weekly town trips. He coordinates special meals when supporters wish to feed the monks, and looks after all the gifts and donations offered in Kadavul Temple. Sadhaka also coordinates obtaining supplies for the temple, such as clothing for the Deities and puja implements. He is one of the monks who performs the monthly chitra pada puja honoring Gurudeva's mahasamadhi. He assists Senthilnathaswami with refining and exploring the Sanskrit rites of puja for use by the monks. On retreats, he enjoys making garlands for the Deities, practicing his chanting and working on his postulant sadhanas.
Sadhaka Rajanatha serves in the Siddhidatta Kulam, helping with the monastery's buildings and grounds and vegetable garden maintenance. He is talented in a variety of fields, including growing and harvesting the foods of the monastery and the construction craft. He operates the monastery's equipment (such as our Caterpillar skid steer, tractors, etc) and helps develop the gardens and grounds. He is one of the monks who performs the monthly chitra pada puja honoring Gurudeva's mahasamadhi. Sadhaka chants Sri Rudram during the weekly morning fire ceremony. On retreats he enjoys making home-style root beer, ginger ale and other beverages for his spiritual brothers to occasionally enjoy.
Sadhaka Mayuranatha serves in the Pillaiyar Kulam, where his math and computer skills help with monastery administration, finance, inventories and the database. Sadhaka helps keep our various equipment in shape, with his deft skills at small engine repair, and takes great joy on retreats milking our cows, cooking and helping in other departments.
Sadhaka Jayanatha, a member of the Ganapati Kulam, and our newest monastic, he has recently taken the formal two-year vows of the Postulant. He has been trained in the contemplative skills of meditation, philosophy and monastic protocols, as well as the practical skills of journalism, web design and coding, image manipulation and color correction, project management, construction and agriculture. His native art and and writing skills are also being honed while learning to write and edit articles for Hinduism Today.
Yogi Jothinatha, a member of the Pillaiyar Kulam, is our most senior postulant, having served Gurudeva's mission since 1967. He is now a yogi tapasvin, undergoing an intense period of training in his monastic life. He manages Hinduism Today's advertising department and writes several monthly email newsletters to keep everyone informed about monastery events and projects. His fluency in French, coupled with years of experience teaching Saiva Siddhanta philosophy and theology in Malaysia and Mauritius, allows him to bring Gurudeva's teachings into that language. He cultivates effective relationships with groups and individuals in many nations, facilitating their spiritual outreach with publications printed by Himalayan Academy. Yogi's green thumb shows on retreat days when he plants, trims and tends the monastery gardens, especially our collection of coleus, which he crosses and grows from seed.