How to Become a Monk
There are a few unusual young men who have had enough of the materialistic world and choose to dedicate their life to the spiritual goal of Self Realization while serving their religion as Saivite Hindu monks. Perhaps you are one of them.
There are one billion Hindus on the planet today, and by conservative estimate there are three million swamis, sadhus and satgurus in India alone. The Swaminarayan order has over 900; Ramakrishna Mission over 700; the Bharat Sevashram Sangh has over 500. Other organized Hindu orders range into the thousands. Temples to the Gods of Sanatana Dharma are estimated at 500,000—with 1,000 in the USA. The priests serving in these temples outnumber those in several of the world's other major religions. While our order of monks is small by comparison, its influence in the Hindu world is profound.
Guided by our satguru, Bodhinatha Veylanswami, successor to our founder, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, and headquartered at Kauai Aadheenam in Hawaii, our order ranks among Hinduism's foremost traditional monastic orders in the West. We accept candidates from every nation, young men considering life's renunciate path who believe they have found their spiritual life in Saiva Siddhanta.
We invite you, if you have chosen to follow an inner path of spiritual striving and religious service and are under age 24 (under 23 if outside USA), to consider joining the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order. (There are no exceptions to these age limits. If you are over our limit, please research other Orders with higher age limits such as Divine Life Society and Ramakrishna Mission.) Knowing God Siva and serving others is our only goal in life. Following the monastic traditions of South India and Sri Lanka, we live in monasteries apart from the world to worship, meditate, serve and realize the truth of the Vedas and Agamas, uplifting the world by our example.
The first step is to write to Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and share with him your spiritual experiences and intentions and a little about yourself. After Satguru Bodhinatha receives your email, one of the swamis will connect to arrange a first visit to the monastery. Please do not make plans to come until approval is given. You will be asked to fill out a simple "Getting to Know You" application and must be celibate for 30 days before visiting. During your days on the island, we will provide accommodations nearby and meals, and you will enter the monastery each day to serve alongside the monks, worship in our temple and meditate. After this initial visit, you would return home and think over the experience.
We encourage all candidates to enroll in the Master Course, which is a basic introduction to the teachings of our order. If you decide to pursue monastic life, upon returning to the monastery, simple premonastic pledges are given for six months at a time for the first year or two. After that, renewable two-year vows of celibacy, obedience, humility and confidence are given until final lifetime vows, Holy Orders of Sannyasa, including the vow of poverty, may be given after ten to twelve years of training.
As a way to learn about our spiritual lineage, you may find it helpful to read the history of our Nandinatha lineage in our book, The Guru Chronicles.
Since our small monastic order accepts men only, women interested in Hindu monastic life may google other orders or ashrams that are for or include women, such as Mata Amritanandamayi centers, the Sarada Convent in southern California, and the Svami Gitananda Ashram in Italy.
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Helpful information about Hindu monastic life
- Song of the Sannyasin by Swami Vivekananda
- Holy Orders of Sannyasa, Excerpts from a Saiva Swami's Diksha and Lifetime Vows of Renunciation
- Biography of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
- Biography of Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
- Meet the Monks of Kauai's Hindu Monastery
About the above painting
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001) and all the swamis, yogis and sadhakas have been captured in this Rajput-style painting by Vedasmriti Devi. The artist beautifully captured the monks at our Kauai monastery. We are all seated beneath the giant, 90-year-old banyan tree that stands just in front of our temple, listening attentively to the wisdom of our spiritual heritage. And, yes, we dress and work in Sri Lankan style handwoven cotton robes. Behind is the natural Nani Kaua pond and waterfall, among the most beautiful on the islands. Our cows, tropical plants, flowers and lotus ponds all share this special paradise. Aum Namasivaya!