Monasticism in Hinduism


Almost every existing religion in the world has an element of monasticism. My grandmother is a Buddhist nun that went to live a monastic life at various temples and monasteries around the world. Living a monastic life means you live a simple life and keep yourself focused. In a sense, I live a somewhat a private and monastic life as there’s not that much to do in town. In turn, it keeps me focused on the bigger picture.

That is what monasticism is in almost any religion. Each faith will have their priests, priestesses, monks, and nuns. Catholic monasteries will have their priests and nuns. Protestant monasteries will have their priests, monks, and nuns. Shinto temples will have their priests and priestesses. Buddhist monasteries will have their priests, monks, and nuns. Hindu monasteries are no exception as they have monks and nuns.

A Hindu monk has several names: “sanyasi”, “sadhu”, or “swami”. A nun will be called: “sanyasini”, “sadhavi”, or “swamini”. Like other monastic versions of different faiths, they renounce selfishness and worldly possessions. They focus on something that cannot be obtained by physical or material means. This means they’re giving up the physical to ascend to the mental. From the mental, they ascend to spiritual. Monasticism means a form of ascension.

To ascend, one cannot be bound by earthly things.

But not all Hindus choose to take this path. The ones that do detach themselves from worldly or humanly pursuits. They abstain from drinking alcohol. They abstain from sex or do they give into sexual desires. Hindus that live a monastic life can either stay at a monastery or travel around.

The monks and nuns live a simple not caring about praise or blame as they are also worldly desires. They cannot own personal items unless it’s a simple bowl, something to drink out of, some clothes, and glasses should you need them. You can own only the simplistic items and nothing else.

A monk cannot have any contact with women. That includes looking at or thinking of women. When you think of the opposite gender, you’re going to get strong sexual urges and so forth.

You can’t eat for pleasure as you indulge in worldly desires.

You only eat when you’re hungry.

No touching or possessing money as it is one of the biggest worldly desires. Money and riches is one thing that one must walk away from in walking a path of monasticism. Monks and nuns of various faiths do the same thing.

You must sever personal ties as personal relationships are a worldly effect in an emotional form. It could be said that Hinduism is one of the biggest influences of the Star Wars franchise. The Jedi are supposed to live like monks and nuns. If not, they end up turning to the dark side and becoming a Sith. Anakin didn’t sever his personal relationship with his mother. His anger consumed him. In turn, it led Anakin to the dark side.

In Hinduism, any worldly effects can lead a person to the dark side. You’re supposed to ascend to a higher level of being. But worldliness will pull you to the bottom. That is what the path of monasticism is, to live simple and to go beyond human nature.

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