All About Kauai's Hindu Monastery - FAQ

When will Iraivan Temple be finished?

Every visitor asks this important question. We are not sure when Iraivan temple will be completed, as it depends on availability of craftsmen in India and the rate of donations. Following Gurudeva's vision and instructions, we are determined to create a spiritual gem to amaze and inspire the world. We are not in a hurry. A masterpiece like this cannot be rushed.

Do you have overnight facilities for visitors?

No, we don't, but visitors will find accommodations at nearby bed & breakfast facilities and seaside hotels.

Can I participate in the ashram's activities?

It's important to understand that this a monastery and not a modern style American ashram, where any and all devotees, including marriad couples, can take up residence. Only initiated monks and premonastics in training live here. As such, activities are restricted to resident monastics, members, students and those on formal pilgrimage.

What do the various colored robes mean?

Those dressed in orange are swamis under lifetime vows, ordained after a training period of eight to twelve years. Those in the latter half of that training wear yellow and are called yogis. Monks in white are sadhakas, who take vows two years at a time. All the monks wear green outfits when working on the grounds.

Why do the monks wear three white stripes and a red dot on their forehead?

These are the traditional sectarian marks of Saivite Hinduism. The three stripes, made with sacred ash, represent the three bonds of the soul--ego, karma and maya--which are destroyed by God's grace. The dot represents the third eye of spiritual insight.

Do the monks have jobs in the world?

No. They are fully occupied with their spiritual practices within the monastery. They are supported by donations from a global family of devotees.

Are the monks married?

No, they lead a strict, unmarried, celibate life.

Are they allowed to leave the monastery?

Yes. Monks go out as necessary in pairs to travel, purchase supplies and for occasionally recreational outings, such as to the beach or on a hike.

Why do the monks not answer personal questions?

Hindu monks traditionally never speak of their personal past.

Do any women live in the monastery?

No. Only men under vows live in the monastery. Ladies interested in monastic life are referred to women's ashrams in India. However, women devotees may help with mission work from home, or during the day at the monastery in hosting guests.

What is the structure of your organization?

There are several institutions that make up our organization. Saiva Siddhanta Church is the religious and spiritual body, Himalayan Academy runs our publishing and educational work, Hindu Heritage Endowment manages global support for Hindu groups, and there are still more.

Why is your organization called a church?

In America the term "church" has technical meanings when referring to an organization that do not relate to any particular religion. There are Buddhist churches and Muslim churches in the US. And there are Christian temples. We are the first Hindu church. The special uses of the word "church" can be explored here.

Can we have our wedding here?

The monastery does not conduct weddings. Couples from time to time are married by a Hindu priest brought to the island for the occasion and afterwards come to the temple for blessings. For more information on wedding options click here.

Meet the monks...

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