The Monks of Kauai's Hindu Monastery
Kauai Aadheenam is the spiritual home and theological seminary for a small band of monks, all under vows, from many 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 their 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 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 24 years of age (under 23 if outside USA) who are interested in traditional Hindu monastic life can explore our How to Become a Monk page.
Now we introduce briefly the founder of Kauai's Hindu Monastery and the dedicated band of 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 382-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 three 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 publication productions, translations, artwork, our websites and Innersearch travel-study programs. He is also intimately involved with the design and construction of Iraivan Temple. 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 and non-Hindu organizations. On retreat days he fulfills the monastery's vision of a sacred garden and tropical paradise by creating new landscapes, collecting, propagating and planting sacred, medicinal, culinary and tropical plants and trees around the monastery grounds. Paramacharya guides the several bronze masterworks that are being produced by the monastery, and oversees the stable of artists who illustrate our various publications. On retreats he can be found in Siva’s Sacred Garden.
Paramacharya Sivanatha Ceyonswami is a steward of Saiva Siddhanta Church, Himalayan Academy and Hindu Heritage Endowment. He is also the leader of the Lambodara 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. Sivanathaswami 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 senior 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 he mills from island trees. He also teaches Sanskrit chanting to young monastics.
Acharya Arumuganathaswami, a senior member of the Ganapati Kulam, is the Managing Editor of Hinduism Today magazine. He coordinates dozens of journalists, photographers and writers around the globe, assigning their quarterly projects and 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 to improve the presentation standards of India and Hinduism in US public schools and is also developing illustrated books for Hindu teens, focusing on life lessons and moral learning. Acharya chants Sri Rudram during our temple ceremonies. On retreat days he oversees Himalayan Acres, our 312-acre agricultural lands on which we cultivate fruit trees, hardwoods, palms and specimen trees. He is responsible for our Wailua River Noni Juice project and recently finished producing a five-part film series on "The History of Hindu India."
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, he helps maintain our puja booklets in Devanagari script. He likes to get out in nature and take care of the monastery grounds on retreat days.
Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami is the leader of the Pillaiyar Kulam, the monastic team responsible for the administrative, IT and business activities of the Church and Himalayan Academy. He oversees publication distribution and manages all inventories and details of our Mini Mela gift shop and visitor center. Swami oversees the $16 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 the almanac, or panchangam, guiding 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 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 Bengaluru. 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. He especially loves to prepare for and perform the monthly Ardra Nataraja abhishekam.
Sannyasin Saravananathaswami a member of the Ganapati Kulam Ganapati Kulam, the monastic group responsible for our magazine, books, art, web resources and more. He is one of the swamis who perform homas in Kadavul Temple, and he chants Sri Rudram. He regularly performs the 9am Siva Puja in Kadavul Temple. On retreats Saravananathaswami enjoys gathering Hindu music for the monastery and temple to enjoy, and planting/maintaining hibiscus flowers for temple pujas.
Sannyasin Siddhanathaswami, a member of the Pillaiyar Kulam, 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, and he is a member of our IT team. 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. 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.
Sannyasin Tillainathaswami a member of the Ganapati Kulam, is an assistant Editor of Hinduism Today magazine. He works in the areas of journalism, web design and coding, video, animation, image manipulation and color correction, project management, construction and agriculture. Swami is also the monastery's photographer, including drone photography. He manages the Hinduism Today and Himalayan Academy websites and is also one of the monks who occasionally serves on the Innersearch Travel-Study staff. Swami is responsible for creating many of the monastery's online videos and producing mobile apps. He is one of the monks who performs the morning Ganesha abhishekam in Kadavul Temple.
Sannyasin Kaivalyanathaswami, a member of the Pillaiyar Kulam, is one of our most senior monks, having served Gurudeva's mission since 1967. 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, allow 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. Kaivalyanathaswami's green thumb shows on retreat days when he plants, trims and tends the monastery's entrance garden, especially our collection of coleus, which he crosses and grows from seed.
Sannyasin Vishvanathaswami, 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. Vishvanathaswami 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 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 perform the monthly Chitra pada puja honoring Gurudeva's mahasamadhi. On retreat days he works on small building projects, cooks for his brothers, refines his welding skills and spends time in his yogic sadhanas, enjoying hatha yoga and Shum chanting.
Sadhaka Vatshalanatha, is our newest monastic, he currently assists with the upkeep of the monastery's green houses, helping with the planting and harvesting from our hydroponic system. He is actively learning equipment and vehicles maintainance, and is currently training for temple pujas. Sadhaka is one of the monks who assists weekly with Iraivan Temple ceremonies.
Yogi 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 the mailing out of vibhuti prasadam. Every month Yogi 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.
Yogi Dayanatha a member of the Siddhidatta Kulam, assists with the the upkeep of the monastery buildings and grounds, and with the growing of the monastery's food. Yogi manages the growing of organic vegetables in our hydroponic greenhouses. He is also instrumental in the care and upkeep of our Siva Pannai land, mowing grass and general land management. He is trained in the skills of construction and land surveying. On retreat days, he likes to make cookies and ice cream for the other monastics to enjoy. He is also one of the Sri Rudram chanters during our homas and monthly Ardra puja.