Kauai Aadheenam, also known as Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, is a traditional South-Indian style monastery-temple complex on the tropical Garden Island of Kauai in the Hawaiian chain in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The head of the monastery, called the Guru Mahasannidhanam, is Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001) founded the Saiva Siddhanta Church in 1949 and established this powerful spiritual sanctuary in 1970. It is the home of Bodhinatha and his order of swamis, yogis and sadhakas from different nations. The monastery is the headquarters and theological seminary of Saiva Siddhanta Church. It is also home to Himalayan Academy (1965), Hinduism Today magazine (1979) and Hindu Heritage Endowment (1995).
Two traditional Saivite Hindu temples are located on the monastery’s 382acres, Kadavul Temple and the San Marga Iraivan Temple, a rare, all-granite Chola-style temple currently being carved in Bangalore, India, and assembled on Kauai. The lush temple grounds are home to granite murtis of Dakshinamurti, Hanuman, Shanmugam, Narmada Lingam, Murugan’s Shakti Vel, Ganesha, Nandi, the Guru Parampara and more.
The core of the monastery is the renowned Kadavul Temple in which Lord Siva Nataraja is enshrined. The main puja is held at 9am. Visitors are welcome from 9am to noon every day. Hindu pilgrims have been coming to the temple from around the world for over 40 years to worship and seek audience and darshan with the Guru Mahasannidhanam. For special pilgrimage, please make arrangements in advance.
The monks live a strict lifestyle of daily religious worship, raja yoga sadhanas and service. Morning worship begins in the temple with aratis to Lord Ganesha, Lord Muruga and then Lord Siva, followed by yogic meditation led by the guru. This shared spiritual activity is the anchor for the coming day in which monks serve in one of five areas: temple and kitchen, members and teaching, administration and finance, grounds and maintenance, publications and media.
The monastery’s religious tradition is the Nandinatha Sampradaya, which follows the monistic school of Saiva Siddhanta. The lineage is known as the Kailasa Parampara. The philosophy is called Advaita Saiva Siddhanta or Advaita Ishvaravada, known in English as monistic theism or panentheism. Monistic theism simultaneously accepts that God has a personal form, that He creates, pervades and is all that exists and that He ultimately transcends all existence and that the soul is, in essence, one with God.
Aloha and namaste!
These sections are taken from our small booklet, All About Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. In it we explore the origins and mission of this monastery/temple complex known in India as an aadheenam describing its philosophy, temples and areas of service. The monastery’s guru lineage is rooted in the Tamil Saiva tradition of Sri Lanka and South India. This ancient spiritual path was brought to America by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (Gurudeva, 1927-2001) and continues today under his successor, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. The monastery is blessed with extraordinary beauty, even for Hawaii. It is also the site of intense activity and global religious outreach, where the resident monks wield the latest high-tech computing power to produce Hinduism Today magazine, books, websites, videos, teaching programs and Hindu Heritage Endowment. Its two temples, which you may visit, are dedicated to Lord Siva. Using the navigation links to the right, enjoy, now, a magical place blessed by God, Gods, guru and nature.
A South Indian Monastery
As you step onto these sacred grounds, let your everyday concerns drift away. Relax into the peace; absorb the sanctity. Let it pass through you like a purifying wave. This monastery spreads out over 382 acres of gardens, groves, paths, ponds, waterways and forests, all at the foot of an extinct volcano. It is a secluded, cloistered home and theological seminary to a small fellowship of dedicated monks from several nations who live and serve here full time, striving to fulfill the dual goals of selfless service and self-transformation through ashtanga (eight-limbed) yoga, which begins with good character and piety and leads to deep meditation and ultimate enlightenment. As you walk the grounds, you may feel the rarefied spiritual vibration created by the presence of our beloved Gurudeva, who lived here for 31 years, and by his monks’ decades of meditation, worship, one-minded harmony and mystic experiences. It was in 1970 that Gurudeva (1927–2001) founded this center. He had traveled the world over with his Innersearch Travel-Study programs, seeking the perfect place for his spiritual headquarters. In 1968 the group stayed for three weeks at the Tropical Inn resort, as this property was then called. He had found his ideal location. In the decades to follow the monastery developed and flourished, based on the time-tested culture of Hinduism. Today, even in India, it is counted among the world’s important Hindu holy sites. Dozens of temples and institutions around the world rely on the monastery for strength and guidance. The monks’ day begins with a 5:30am puja (worship service) in Kadavul Temple, followed by a one-hour yogic meditation guided by Satguru. Anchored by this contemplative discipline, they turn to their assigned duties: running two temples, caring for the property, publishing, construction, growing food, hosting pilgrims and guiding seekers around the world. All gather for a vegetarian rice-and-curry lunch at 1pm. After a brief siesta, work resumes at 3pm. At 6pm the monastics exercise or take a walk, have dinner and enjoy informal time together; bedtime is 9pm. More about the monastery…
Kadavul Hindu Temple
Ring the bell and say a prayer to Lord Ganesha at His little shrine as you enter the monastery. Proceed up the 300-foot pathway lined with ferns and flowering trees. Under the sprawling banyan tree stands Lord Shanmuga with His six faces and twelve arms. Leave the world behind as you encounter the massive 16-ton statue of Nandi the bull, carved from a single block of black granite. On watch at every Siva temple in the world, Nandi, which means joyous one, represents the perfect devotee, his eyes never veering from his Lord. Remove your shoes, dip your feet in the temple tank and step inside the sanctuary. Experience the darshan (sight) of the Gods and feel the blessed energy. In the center shrine stands the Divine Dancer, Supreme God Siva. To the left is the portly elephant-faced Ganesha, whom we greet first and pray to before every important task. To the right is Lord Karttikeya, God of yoga and spiritual striving. Directly in front of Siva is a 39-inch-tall crystal Sivalingam that will one day be the central icon in Iraivan Temple. The inner walls of the temple display 108 bronze statues of Lord Siva, each depicting one pose of His cosmic dance of creation, preservation, reabsorption and the paired graces which conceal and reveal. In the temple’s rear corner is a shrine featuring a gilded image of Gurudeva, where you can honor the great soul who founded the monastery. A temple is a meeting place of our physical plane and the invisible worlds of the Gods and angelic beings, or devas. The spiritual vibration is kept strong through the monks’ continual worship; they have performed the Sanskrit puja ritual every three hours around the clock without a single break since the temple’s inception in 1973. Kadavul is an ancient Tamil word for God, meaning “He who is both immanent and transcendent.” Mystically, Kadavul is a “fire temple,” with an intense, penetrating energy that breaks up old patterns and helps seekers begin new ones. The monastery allows public access to this private shrine for worship at the daily 9am Siva puja, as the monastic priest performs a centuries-old rite to invoke God Siva’s grace and blessings for all living beings. More about Kadavul…
Gazing across the valley of the Wailua River and its Nani Kaua Pond, you see the gold-leafed domes of Indian design shimmering in the sunlight, with majestic Mount Waialeale in the background. You are beholding the towers of Iraivan Temple, a pure and powerful white granite wonderment carved in India by hand and erected ten thousand miles away on this Garden Island by India’s master stonemasons.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims have stood in this same spot, marveling at the miracle before them. This is the crown jewel of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, being constructed first and foremost as a destination for devotees on annual pilgrimage. Now is a highly auspicious time to be here, for the temple is actually being created in your presence. As you tread the garden paths leading to the temple, you may hear the steady “chip, chip, chip” of hammers and chisels in the hands of resident artisans from India, fitting one of the 3,000+ blocks of stone, erecting an edifice according to ancient Agamic mystical injunctions to connect the Divine and the material, the spirit and the body, Heaven and Earth. Stand in awe before this monument of sacred art and ancient architecture, designed to stand for ten centuries and more. Walk ’round the sanctum. Send blessings to your loved ones. Hindus revere a sanctified edifice like Iraivan not only as a temple, but as the very body of God. Iraivan is an ancient Tamil word for God, meaning “He who is worshiped.” This temple was inspired by a series of mystical visions of Siva that came to Gurudeva early in the morning of February 15, 1975, in which he saw Lord Siva seated on a large boulder that was later discovered on the then overgrown property. These visions inspired him to begin this exquisite temple, unlike any in the world. Since that day, pujas have been held daily at that swayambhu (self-created) Lingam (mark of God), which will one day be sheltered within an elegant open-air pavilion. More about Iraivan…
Our Spiritual Lineage
It is said in scripture that more precious than gold, and far more rare, is finding a satguru who can lead one to God Siva within. The holy gurus, the scriptures and the sacred temples are revered as Hinduism’s three pillars of faith. Of these, the guru is paramount. The word guru simply means “teacher;” but in religious life, a satguru is a spiritual guide, an illumined mentor for devotees, the remover of darkness, a great being who lives in close communion with God, who has attained the deepest realizations and is able to lead others along the path. One of the distinctive and potent features of this monastery is its noble lineage of self-realized masters who know God and hold Truth in the palm of their hand. Most Hindu institutions are founded by an illustrious saint or yogi who brings light and wisdom to the world but ordains no successor to carry on his work after his death. Those that endure the centuries, like ours, have an established succession of leadership, with the mantle of authority passed from one guru to the next, generation after generation. It was through the spiritual authority of his master, Satguru Yogaswami of Sri Lanka, that Gurudeva established this monastery and set in motion its many dynamic forms of service. Yogaswami was an enlightened sage and preceptor of the line of masters known as the Kailasa Parampara. In 1949, at age 77, he ordained Gurudeva as his successor in the lineage, which extends back over 2,200 years to Maharishi Nandinatha and his eight disciples—Sanatkumara, Sanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Sivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Tirumular. The first known satguru of this lineage in recent history was the Rishi from the Himalayas (ca 1770–1840). From him the power was passed to Siddha Kadaitswami of Bangalore (1804–1891), then to Satguru Chellappaswami (1840–1915), then to Siva Yogaswami (1872–1964), then to Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001), who ordained Bodhinatha Veylanswami (1942–) to carry forth the mission. As there have been countless gurus of this lineage in the past, so there will be many in the future who see God everywhere and light the way for seekers of truth. More about our lineage…
The Founder of the Monastery
Exploring Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, you will hear about Gurudeva, the brilliant soul who established this sanctuary and enriched uncounted lives. He was a shining example of awakening and wisdom, recognized worldwide as one of Hinduism’s foremost masters. His prodigious genius, flair and inspiration permeate this spiritual oasis and continue to guide the lives of those he trained and initiated. Gurudeva was born in California and grew up near Lake Tahoe. Orphaned at age 11, he was raised by a family friend who had spent years in India and who brought him into the culture and beliefs of Hinduism. Trained in classical Eastern and Western dance and in the disciplines of yoga, he became the premier danseur of the San Francisco Ballet at age 19. At the height of his career he renounced the world, and in 1947 he sailed to India in quest of his spiritual master. In a remote Sri Lankan cave, he fasted and meditated until he burst into enlightenment. Soon after, he met Siva Yogaswami, who gave him the name Subramuniya and initiated him into Hindu monasticism. From then on, the great truths flooded through him like a torrent. The nature of reality, metaphysical principles and methods for facing life’s challenges were obvious to him. What philosophers struggle to explain in complex theories, he articulated in simple language from his own experience. Ultimately, the cream of his inspired talks became the 3,000-page trilogy of Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva, the first cogent, comprehensive expression of monistic Saiva Siddhanta in the English language. A powerful purpose drove his every effort like the rhythm of a vigorous dance. He traveled widely to uplift Hindu communities on every continent, represented his religion at global conferences and helped establish 37 temples worldwide. An extraordinary mystic, Gurudeva had many visions of the Deities. He read clairvoyantly from inner-plane scriptures and created his own language, Shum, to map for others the profound states he encountered in meditation. Gurudeva was loved by all who met him—Hindus, leaders of all lineages, island neighbors and ordinary folks. He saw the Divine in every person and taught them to see the Divine in themselves. To devotees everywhere, the graceful, six-foot-two, white-haired guru was the embodiment of Lord Siva Himself. From the inner world, Gurudeva continues to guide, in magical ways, all who embrace his teachings. His light lives on in their spirit and their striving for Truth. More about Gurudeva…
Our Guru and Monastic Order
What makes the monastery so special is that it is the home of an illumined satguru and his tireless monks committed to a selfless life of worship, meditation, service and self-transformation. This is not an ashram or public temple; its rules are stricter, and it is not open all day. You may see some of the monks, dressed in yellow, white or orange robes. Only celibate monks (all men) live here. Men and women from our community of initiated family people volunteer during the day. ¶The guru and abbot of this monastery is Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami (explore his teachings and writings at www.bit.ly/BODHI). When not traveling, Satguru trains the monks, leads the pre-dawn meditation, presides at the weekly fire ritual, gives initiation to monks and members, gives a weekly inspired talk in the Kadavul Temple and receives visitors. Hindu families come from all over the world for his darshan. The monastic order is organized in five groups, covering our basic areas of service: 1) temples and kitchen, 2) teaching and administration, 3) finance and business, 4) buildings and grounds and 5) websites and publishing. They live a strict, joyous life under vows of celibacy, humility, obedience and confidentiality. The lifetime renunciates, called swamis, also take a vow of poverty. The monks’ lives revolve around Kadavul Temple, where they perform morning disciplines and hold rotating three-hour vigils, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Religious gatherings are held to study Gurudeva’s teachings, chant mantras, sing devotional hymns and learn meditation techniques. ¶The monks grow much of their own food and keep a small herd of cows for milk, butter, ghee, yogurt and cheese. Their wood creations are made from island trees. They manage a nursery to propagate plants for the monastery’s lush gardens and hardwood forests. Working in one-minded harmony, this accomplished, high-tech order of monks, each with his Mac and iPhone, serves the island in many ways while strengthening Hinduism worldwide. More about the monks…
Coming on Pilgrimage
“Our family returned home with such clarity of faith in Hindu Dharma. Our children can’t stop talking about the visit. Now they are proud to be Hindus.” “I finally understood so many things, renewed my spirit and uncovered a new vision for my future.” “It is such a place of peace and beauty—no one could believe it without seeing for themselves.” “All the troubles in my mind just dissolved.” “It is amazing to see Hindu monks in the middle of the Pacific uplifting global Hinduism through information technology and publications.” These are testimonies from families who have made prearranged special pilgrimages to the monastery, a practice that many perform yearly for worship, sadhana (spiritual disciplines) and retreat from day-to-day concerns. Hindus may email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance to arrange their visit and receive a Pilgrim’s Sadhana Guide. Such serious seekers prepare well in advance to reap the life-changing benefits of this sanctuary. In the weeks before their journey they perform additional study and disciplines, and on the flight to Hawaii they remain focused on the lofty intent of their journey. Many choose a special occasion for their pilgrimage, such as a wedding anniversary, birthday or new beginning in life, and seek blessings at our weekly 6am fire ceremony. ¶Pilgrims can perform many sadhanas at the monastery, including meditating on the banks of the Wailua River, walking the Straight Path to God, attending the morning puja at the Swayambhu Lingam, performing abhishekam to the Narmada Lingam on the Path of the Saiva Satgurus, meditating atop Muruga Hill, wandering through the sanctuary, studying The Master Course and attending puja in Kadavul Temple. Young people love mornings at the temple and afternoons at the beach. Pilgrims wishing to have darshan with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami should request this in advance when arranging a pilgrimage. More about pilgrimage…
Sacred Temple Gardens
It is traditional for Hindu temples to cultivate beautiful garden grounds, resplendent with flowers to be offered in holy ceremony, as well as fruits and even medicinal resources. Kauai’s Hindu Monastery has exceeded such aspirations. Over the decades, this oasis four miles from the sea has been transformed from an overgrown jungle to a tropical paradise. It all started with Gurudeva’s 1975 vision of Lord Siva blessing pilgrims amid beautiful groves and gardens. The monks have been working hard ever since to manifest that vision. As the construction of Iraivan Temple progresses, the surrounding groves, gardens and ponds are maturing, with hundreds of blossoming trees, exotic tropical flowers exploding with color and majestic bamboos soaring to 100 feet. Pilgrims may sit and meditate by the 180-foot-wide natural-rock river pond or wander through many discrete mini-environments—the Straight Path to God, Rishi Valley, Bali Hai Falls and the West’s only Rudraksha forest. Walking the Path of the Saiva Satgurus, they encounter eight larger-than-life granite statues of our spiritual preceptors. The gardens are a wonderland of scented plumeria, konrai groves, hibiscus fields, fruit orchids, palm groves, tree ferns, breadfruit, taro, fragrant vines, luscious lilikoi, native species, mosses and ferns, waterfalls, massive banyans and redwood pavilions. Sacred and ayurvedic plants from India and Sri Lanka—bilva, neem, amla, curry leaf, rudraksha, betel, champaka and areca nut—have been brought to the island, along with other important specimens from our culture such as palmyra, sandalwood, durian, mangosteen, chiku, lichee, mango, plantain and jackfruit. The Narmada Stream meanders through the monastery, creating beautiful ponds, falls and secluded marshes, providing refuge for birds and a playground for pastel water lilies and sacred lotuses. Tropical flowers here include 300 varieties of heliconia and ginger, 250 kinds of ti plants, hundreds of exotic palms, a copious collection of aroids and bromeliads—and even, not far from the wettest spot on earth, an arid garden with cacti, agaves and desert succulents. View the Gardens
Nestled within the monastery’s luxuriant greenery is another world, a high-tech media workshop where dedicated monks use state-of-the-art computerized publishing to craft our books, courses, videos, communications and websites. Each monk, in his hand-spun cotton robes, works at his late-model Macintosh with widescreen display—writing, editing, designing and directing by email a skilled international cadre of journalists, artists and photographers who help create our renowned quarterly magazine, Hinduism Today. Publishing this journal is a joyful, inspired work—a labor of love distributed to 62 nations and treasured by 100,000 readers around the globe. Not merely a source of news, the magazine is a forum of spiritual sustenance and timeless wisdom, a lifeline of dharma, a family album proudly chronicling 21st-century expressions of the world’s oldest living faith, one billion strong and growing. Since 1979, Hinduism Today has provided a candid inside view of the Hindu way of life, clearly articulating Hindu culture and philosophy in modern English. The magazine has been instrumental in dispelling myths and misinformation about Hinduism while strengthening the religion worldwide by providing news about all sects and lineages. Known for its aesthetic, full-color graphics and you-won’t-find-this-anywhere-else features, Hinduism Today is also available as a free app and web edition, complete with video featuring Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami reading his Publisher’s Desk column. To supplement the in-depth magazine articles, the monks broadcast a daily news feed called Hindu Press International, summarizing a constant stream of short news stories about Hinduism from the world press. Many orders of Hindu monks perform public service by running schools, hospitals or orphanages. Gurudeva ordained that the public-service focus of his Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order would be to support and encourage all traditional Hindu lineages through Hinduism Today—seldom telling our own story, but rather fostering Hindu solidarity by focusing on the people, events, philosophy, culture and traditions of the broader Hindu world. More about our publications…
America’s Only Rudraksha Forest
The only Rudraksha grove in the Western world is here at the monastery. In 1984 Gurudeva planted 108 trees with his own hands. He dedicated this forest to pilgrims and all Kauaians, inviting them to sit among the sacred trees anytime from 7am to 4pm each day, to rest, meditate, have a picnic or tell stories to their children. Today the trees are fifty feet tall and produce hundreds of thousands of fruits each year. The English name is Blue Marble tree, since the one-inch diameter fruits are a rare cobalt blue. Their unusual color was written about in a Scientific American article. It seems there are two, and only two, living species on the Earth that create color using refraction and not reflection: a deep-sea crustacean and Eleocarpus ganitrus, the Rudraksha tree. Underneath the blue skin is a thin layer of flesh which is edible, but not too tasty. In Ayurveda, Rudraksha seeds, ground with healing herbs, are given to patients of heart disease to strengthen the cardiac muscle. The wood is also unusual. Almost white in color, it is said to have been the wood of choice in World War I for making airplane propellers; and in India the trees practically became extinct when they were chosen as the timber for railroad ties.
There are countless legends about the Rudraksha. One is that God Siva looked down upon the Earth and, seeing the sorrowful plight we humans had created for ourselves, wept a single tear. The tear fell from His cheek and upon hitting the ground created the first Rudraksha tree (the word rudraksha means the eye or tear of Siva). Hindus wear the beads for protection. They remind us of God’s compassion for our predicament. ¶Rudrakshas suitable for export are available in our gift shop. If you collect beads from the forest, be aware that you may not be allowed to take them out of Hawaii. Asked if it is safe to wear the beads, Gurudeva responded, “Yes, it’s fine to wear Rudraksha all of the time. It’s also beneficial for children as well. In our Rudraksha Forest here on the beautiful garden island of Kauai, pilgrims have been finding eight-faces, sixteen-faces, two-faces, six, all kinds.” The Rudraksha Forest, located at 7345 Kuamo’o Road, is a one-minute drive from the monastery entrance. A stone Ganesha will greet you just inside the gate.
Wisdom to Live By
Here at the monastery, the monks share a positive, buoyant spirit about life. The reason for that is found in the teachings they live by—the treasury of Hindu scriptures, particularly the works of our own Gurudeva. A brilliant teacher and orator, he spoke eloquently about virtually every aspect of life—from ultimate reality to household harmony, from kundalini yoga to adolescent angst. In his latter years, he and his monastic publishing team assembled the essence of his fifty years of ministry in the three large volumes of The Master Course. Dancing with Siva is a contemporary catechism, outlining in question-and-answer form the basics of Saivite Hinduism. In Living with Siva, Gurudeva focuses on living a truly spiritual life, sharing insights on how to approach family, money, relationships, technology, food, worship, yoga, karma and more. Merging with Siva consists of 52 of Gurudeva’s inspired talks on raja yoga, God Realization, the clear white light, the states of mind, dreams, the nature of thought, the chakras, auras, death and dying, the guru-disciple relationship and more. Our other books include How to Become a Hindu, a guide for seekers wishing to enter or rededicate themselves to this venerable faith; Weaver’s Wisdom, a superb translation of the South Indian ethical masterpiece Tirukural; and Loving Ganesha, a charming text dedicated to the benevolent Lord of Obstacles who is worshiped by all Hindus. Yoga’s Forgotten Foundation discusses Hinduism’s code of conduct, the yamas and niyamas, as the first two limbs of ashtanga yoga—a necessary prerequisite to other yogic practices. Lemurian Scrolls explores Hindu monastic life and the origins of humanity. What Is Hinduism? presents the many facets of the family of faiths called Hinduism in a comprehensive and contemporary way while authoritatively answering the questions everyone asks about our complex faith. The Guru Chronicles, replete with eyewitness stories, is an illustrated spiritual biography of our lineage beginning over 2,200 years with the first known satguru, Maharishi Nandinatha. Books for children include Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth, A History of Hindu India and Growing Up Hindu. More about our publications…
Many seeking to deepen their spiritual life study Gurudeva’s trilogy on Hindu philosophy, culture and metaphysics as daily lessons drawn from the three books—ideally during their regular daily period of worship and meditation. There are 365 lessons in all, one for each day of the year. Most choose to receive the lesson of the day via e-mail, by sending a request to subscribe to that free service (see page 47). The daily lesson is also available on our website. Others prefer to read the lesson of the day in the physical books, where they can enjoy the printed word and colorful artwork. Those seeking a more formal study are invited to enroll in Master Course Self-Evaluation Study. It includes a series of daily and weekly practices to help students apply Hinduism’s mystical teachings to their everyday lives. For more information, all of our study options
An adventurous way to discover the teachings of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery is to join Satguru and the monks on one of their travel-study programs. We call these journeys “Innersearch,” because each one is a pilgrimage to the Divine inside of you. The beauty, color and grandeur of the outer voyage—to exotic places like India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Australia and Mauritius—is but a reflection of the bliss and richness of the inner exploration. A typical day includes morning explorations into the vast realms of meditation, instructional satsanga on how to live a spiritually dynamic life, and special visits to holy men and women, ashrams and temples. There are hatha yoga classes, question-and-answer sessions and lots of time for informal sharing with the monks as seekers delve within through worship, yoga and fellowship. Innersearch is a cultural safari, a travel adventure combining Hindu spirituality with a high-minded retreat from your day-to-day routine. It can be a life-changing experience like none other. More about Innersearch…
Our Global Congregation
Though remote, Kauai’s Hindu Monastery is a spiritual lighthouse for tens of thousands of people around the world—Hindus of all denominations, members of other faiths and seekers of varying commitments and interests, including those with no formal faith at all. Uncounted numbers find solace and guidance in Gurudeva’s teachings, in print and through our website and apps. Hindu families make regular annual visits that often begin as vacation pilgrimages and soon become pilgrimage vacations. Even casual one-time guests hold the monastery in their heart for the rest of their life, harkening back to its peaceful, untroubled energies when things get rocky back home. During Satguru’s frequent travels to temples across North America, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, hundreds come for his darshan, thereby forming an initial tie with this ancient guru lineage. Through daily worship, meditation and study of The Master Course, ardent seekers become initiated devotees of Satguru and, when qualified, members of his Saiva Siddhanta Church; some young men may go on to qualify for monastic initiation. The Church fellowship, made strong by members’ daily disciplines and formal pledge of loyalty, sustains the organization’s presence worldwide. Church members tithe to support the monastery and its works, and give generously of their time in selfless service. Their shared strengths, bolstered by regular religious gatherings with other members in their area, uplift families and help them stay firmly on the path. Such groups are most numerous in the US, Malaysia and Mauritius. In that island nation we have a seven-acre parcel of land dedicated as a Spiritual Park, where thousands of Hindus convene each month for worship and spiritual fellowship and annually to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi. A small group of dedicated Church members live near Kauai’s Hindu Monastery and help with monastery activities, such as hosting visitors in Kadavul Temple, leading tours, staffing the Mini Mela and arranging festivals. Read more about Saiva Siddhanta Church.
A Bird’s-Eye View of Hinduism
Hinduism, also known as the Sanatana Dharma, “Eternal Way,” is our planet’s original and oldest living religion, with over one billion adherents. Today it has four main denominations: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism, each with hundreds of lineages. They represent a broad range of beliefs, practices and mystic goals, but virtually all concur on certain bedrock concepts. All Hindus worship one Supreme Reality, though called by different names. Hinduism has no eternal hell, no damnation, no intrinsic evil, no satanic force that opposes the will of God. Hindus believe the universe is a manifestation of God, the genderless Supreme Being—that He/She is form, pervades form, and yet transcends all form, manifesting, sustaining and reabsorbing the universe, only to recreate it again, in unending cycles. Devotion, austerity, meditation, yoga and selfless service further the soul’s evolution, and each Hindu soul is naturally drawn to one of these. Hinduism’s three pillars are temple worship, scripture and the guru-disciple tradition. Hinduism declares that there are three worlds of existence—physical, astral and spiritual—and myriad Gods and devas residing within the inner worlds. Festivals, pilgrimage, chanting of holy hymns and home worship are dynamic practices. Family life is strong and precious. Love, nonviolence, good conduct and the law of dharma define the Hindu path. Hindus respect and honor other faiths. Hinduism explains that the soul reincarnates again and again until all karmas are resolved and God Realization is attained—and that this is the destiny of all souls without exception. This is a mystical religion, leading devotees to personally experience its eternal truths within themselves, finally reaching the pinnacle of consciousness where man and God are forever one. Hindus prefer cremation of the body upon death rather than burial, thereby freeing the soul to continue its process of reincarnation. While we have many sacred scriptures, all sects ascribe the highest authority to the Vedas and Agamas. Hinduism has tens of thousands of holy temples and shrines, mostly in India, but now located around the world. Its spiritual core is its holy men and women who have dedicated their lives to full-time service, devotion and God Realization, and to proclaiming the eternal truths of the Sanatana Dharma. More about Hindu basics…
Our ancient monistic school of Saiva Siddhanta of Saivite Hinduism possesses a rare synthesis of devotional theism and uncompromising nondualism. In fact, our theology is called monistic theism. It equally exalts heart-melting temple worship and mind-transcending yogic revelation. It teaches that God is both within us and outside of us, the Creator and the creation, immanent and transcendent. Gurudeva summarized our theism beautifully, “Being the first and perfect form, God Siva—the Primal Soul, the manifest and personal Lord–naturally creates souls in His image and likeness. To love God is to know God. To know God is to feel His love for you. Such a compassionate God—a being whose resplendent body may be seen in mystic vision–cares for the minutiae such as we and a universe such as ours.”
Gurudeva also knew the great truth of monism, that man is not apart from God: “God Siva is everywhere. There is no place where Siva is not. He is in you. He is in the temple. He is in the trees. He is in the sky, in the clouds, in the planets. He is the galaxies swirling in space and the space between galaxies, too. He is the universe. His cosmic dance of creation, preservation and dissolution is happening this very moment in every atom of the universe.” He explained, “The primary goal of monistic Saivism is realizing one’s identity with God Siva, in perfect union and nondifferentiation. This is termed nirvikalpa samadhi, Self Realization, and may be attained in this life, granting moksha, permanent liberation from the cycles of birth and death. A secondary goal is savikalpa samadhi, the realization of Satchidananda, a unitive experience within superconsciousness in which perfect Truth, knowledge and bliss are known. Deep within our soul we are identical with God this very moment, for within us are the unmanifest Parasiva and the manifest Satchidananda. These are not aspects of the evolving soul, but the nucleus of the soul, which does not change or evolve. They are eternally perfect and one with God Siva. We are That. We do not become That. Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami taught us, ‘You are Siva. I am Siva. All are Siva. Even as Siva is immortal, so too are we.'” Read more about Hindu philosophy in Dancing with Siva.
The Hindu Heritage Endowment
The aadheenams (spiritual centers) of South India have traditionally supported Hindu organizations such as temples, orphanages and priest training schools. In ancient times, farmlands and shops owned by these monastic-run institutions supplied the revenue for their charitable work. Today, aadheenam endowments include stocks and bonds. The charitable activities of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery, more global than local, are responsibly overseen by a separate organization, Hindu Heritage Endowment (HHE), which Gurudeva founded in 1994. HHE’s numerous funds provide income in perpetuity to Hindu institutions such as temples, festivals and feedings, orphanages, children’s retreat camps, youth education, ashrams and mathas, religious publications, pilgrimage sites, priest training centers, support for pundits, shelters for sadhus, elderly homes, scriptural and philosophical research centers, ayurveda and jyotisha, the missions of various swamis and institutes for music, art, drama, dance and yoga. A Hindu organization in any country worldwide can create an HHE fund to sustain its mission. Contributions to an HHE fund become forever a part of its principal, which can never be removed, but perpetually yields annual grants, generated by investment gains, that can be used only for the fund’s stated purpose and are regularly distributed to the beneficiaries to further their goals. HHE now comprises over 75 funds, totaling over $14 million. These assets are professionally overseen by Halbert, Hargrove LLC of Long Beach, California, respected for their utilization of multi-manager institutional mutual funds. Individuals can donate to existing funds or create new funds for their favorite Hindu charities or causes. Contributions to an HHE fund can be made through an outright gift of cash, securities or real estate, a bequest through a will or living trust, life insurance or a gift through a life income plan, such as a charitable remainder trust or gift annuity. All contributions to HHE funds are tax-deductible in the US, while the beneficiaries can be anywhere in the world. More about Hindu Heritage Endowment…
Mini Mela Library
You won’t want to miss our Mini Mela Gift Shop and Visitor Center. Located just off the entry pathway, it is open on most days between 9am and noon. The Mini Mela displays Gurudeva’s and Satguru’s books, scriptural works in our tradition, and other carefully selected books, including vegetarian cookbooks, Vedic astrology, health and children’s books. We also offer Hindu Deity murtis of various sizes in granite, semiprecious stone and brass, all imported from India, and many items using the rudraksha prayer beads grown at the monastery and prepared by temple devotees to support Iraivan Temple. There are also altar supplies, crystals, greeting cards, quality incense, posters, jewelry, music CDs, DVDs and a variety of gift items. Go to minimela.com
Hours are 9am to 12pm. Worshipers may attend the daily Siva puja in Kadavul Temple by makign a reservation here. The Rudraksha Forest, at 7345 Kuamoo Road, is available for meditation from 9am to 4pm. Please bring an umbrella (rains can be sudden and torrential) and wear modest clothing—no shorts, short dresses, T-shirts or tank tops. Polo shirts are okay. Hindu dress is ideal. And remember, it’s always prudent, even in paradise, to not leave valuables in your car. More about visiting…
Our Free Mobile Apps
We are steadily building a suite of apps and upgrading our websites to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile generation who are using small devices as their primary tool for all manner of requirements in their lives. Using these tools, you can keep our publications and learning resources close at hand and track your daily spiritual practice. All free of charge, our apps include:
Gurudeva App: Celebrating Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s life in photos, quotes and audio. Use the Gurudeva App to give you strength when you don’t have it and don’t even want to have it. To give you hope when the world says there is none. Twentieth-century Hindu leader Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, known as Gurudeva, attained mahasamadhi on November 12, 2001. This app serves to bring his darshan and teachings to today’s spiritual practitioners.
Hinduism Today: Keep in touch with the global Hindu experience with the digital edition of Hinduism Today, the flagship journal for the world’s oldest living faith. Get in-depth feature stories of Hinduism’s key institutions, leaders and issues. The same stunning visual graphics found in the print edition, with portrait and landscape, single- or double-page views. All searchable. Zoom in for razor-sharp, easy-to-read text and high-quality graphics.
Spiritual Workout: Today nearly everyone appreciates the need for daily physical exercise to stay fit and healthy, but many don’t realize the benefits of maintaining a balanced spiritual life through daily sadhana. This app is designed for those who want to maintain a daily spiritual practice, but who might not have time. The Spiritual Workout app focuses on four areas: worship, introspection, affirmation and study.
There is also a Virtual Tour app giving visitors a rich visual tour of this property, a SivaSiva app providing immediate access to the monastery’s considerable literature, resources and art, a Hindu Lexicon app for learning Hindu words and their meanings and an app for accessing our collection of Hindu spiritual art. Find an up-to-the-minute listing of apps HERE
Hindu History Movie & Schoolbooks
In response to a global lack of authentic material to teach Indian history and Hinduism to youth, the staff of Hinduism Today magazine, in collaboration with renowned historian Professor Shiva Bajpai, produced The History of Hindu India in 2011. This 128-page illustrated account of Indian history and religion from ancient to modern times was written for middle-school students but is also used for high-school world religions courses, advanced placement classes and even in college. The book begins with the threads of Hindu practice evident in the Indus-Sarasvati civilization, the largest and in many ways the most advanced of the world’s ancient cultures. From there it traces the development of Hinduism through India’s early empires, a time of great advances in science, architecture, art and literature. It documents the centuries of trial by foreign invaders, followed by British colonization and, finally, the era of independence. Throughout these periods, the book highlights the people, philosophical ideas and religious practices that are key to understanding the Hindu religion today. All five of the book’s chapters have been produced as 15 to 20-minute documentaries available on YouTube. Narrated by Raj Narayan, they are colorful, informative and entertaining presentations of Indian history that appeal to children and adults alike. The first three parts have collectively passed three million hits on YouTube. Subtitles are available in Spanish, French, German, Russian and Tamil. The first video is at bit.ly/history-india-1; links to the others are provided in the description.
Also available at bit.ly/history-india are extensive free resources for teachers and parents, including lesson plans, a list of endorsements by leading scholars and educators and links to various resources on teaching Hinduism in public schools. The history book itself can be downloaded for free in several epub formats.
All About Kauai’s Hindu Monastery – FAQ
When will Iraivan Temple be finished?
Progress depends on the rate of donations. We have a few more years before the temple is completed, while the reception center and ancillary shrines will take years longer.
Do you have overnight facilities for visitors?
Not in the monastery. Visitors can 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 is a monastery, not an ashram. 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.
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 soul’s three bonds—ego, karma and maya—which are ultimately removed 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 in the monastery and 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 in pairs to travel, purchase supplies and for occasional recreational outings, such as to the beach or on a hike.
Why do the monks not answer personal questions?
Hindu monks traditionally never dwell upon or 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 and Italy. However, many women devotees help with mission work from home, or help host guests at the monastery during the day.
Can we have our wedding here?
Weddings are not conducted at the monastery. Couples may bring a Hindu priest to the islands for their wedding ceremony and come to the temple afterwards for blessings For more information on wedding options click here.
Free Resources on Hinduism
Today at Kauai Aadheenam, TAKA, is our monastery’s daily chronicle of activities in words, pictures and videos. If you want to follow our temple progress, see who’s visiting or just check in on what’s happening.
Browse through our audio library of over 800 talks given by Gurudeva and Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. Listen to talks on family, personal transformation, yoga, relationships and more. Monthly news updates and educational videos are also available.
On our publication resource page you will find Gurudeva’s legacy of spiritual teachings, 3,000 pages of the Master Course Trilogy, children’s courses, Vedic quotes and more.
Our international magazine Hinduism Today
Films and videos can be found on our two YouTube channels:
Resources straight to your inbox on Hindu culture, scripture, endowments, contemporary happenings and metaphysics are available: Click here to subscribe
- The Master Course daily lesson
- Inspiring daily verses from the Vedas, mankind’s most ancient scripture
- Verses from the Tirukural, one of the world’s greatest ethical scriptures
- Hindu Press International, a daily news summary for journalists, educators, researchers, writers, religious leaders and interested Hindus worldwide
- Kauai’s Hindu Monastery Monthly Newsletter
- Hindu Heritage Endowment News
To get to the monastery: 1) Take the 25-minute inter-island flight from Honolulu to Kauai. From Lihue Airport, drive 1/10 mile to Highway 51 and turn right. 2) Drive approximately six miles. After you cross the Wailua River bridge, turn left on Kuamo’o Road (Hwy. 580). 3) Drive 4.25 miles and turn left on Kaholalele Road. 4) Go one block to the end of the road, then continue right on Temple Lane and park in one of the marked spaces. 5) Walk toward the gazebo, greet Lord Ganesha at His little shrine and proceed through the large stone gate.