Monastic Life

Madhuvan’s monastery is located in the center of its 150 acres of mountain jungle. Along with its temple and monastic residences, the monastery also includes Madhuvan’s organic gardens and a small dairy, which the monastics oversee as part of their spiritual discipline. Sri Sri Dauji Gopal—Madhuvan’s Deities of Rama and Krishna—have a big appetite, and they love milk and its byproducts produced within the context of genuinely caring for cows. Nothing is more basic to life than eating, and all of the food at Madhuvan is first offered to Dauji Gopal and only then tasted by their monastic sevaites.

We are what we eat and eating from God’s plate helps to make one Godlike.

Rising for the morning services—arati—of Dauji Gopal, the monastics along with other members of the community gather at 5:00 AM and sing poetry in praise of the Deities and contemplate the profound philosophical implications of its verse. This early morning service is followed by one hour of nama smaranam as the day’s cooking and milking begin.  Devotees gather again for breakfast and then disperse to engage in various services throughout the day: gardening, cleaning, publishing, and more cooking. After lunch is served, the monastics study the sacred texts and spend at least one more hour in nama smaranam before gathering again for the evening congregational arati services and nama kirtana followed by a philosophical discourse.

Monastics observe strict celibacy and each has his or her own residence. Madhuvan’s monastics include both senior ordained monastics and novices in training. Training involves gradually attaining a comprehensive, theoretical grasp of Gaudiya Vedanta as represented in the bhakti sastras, or sacred texts on the yoga of divine love. These texts were originally composed in Sanskrit and Bengali and thus in the context of their training, monastics become familiar with these languages. All of the monastery’s daily liturgy is in Sanskrit of Bengali. Such immersion in the underlying philosophical foundation of the ideal of Gaudiya Vedanta lends readily to a life of philosophically informed practice, and such well reasoned and steady practice leads naturally to deep spiritual experience and love of God. As such, Madhuvan’s monastery closely follows a tradition of spiritual practice with a history of many centuries stemming from the example of Sri Caitanya and his associates.

Our monastics also take part in sharing their tradition and their personal insights with the public. In conjunction with our retreat center, monastics have the ongoing opportunity to mix and meet with the spiritually interested public. Retreatants are encouraged to participate in the morning and evening services and serve alongside Madhuvan’s monastics in accordance with the level of their interest.  This makes for a good opportunity for both retreatants and monastics to share and grow together.


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