Monastery
Overview
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 (e.g. an oratory
Oratory (worship)
An oratory is a Christian room for prayer, from the Latin orare, to pray.-Catholic church:In the Roman Catholic Church, an oratory is a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass...

) as well as the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monastics
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

, whether monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s or nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s, and whether living in community or alone (hermits).

Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only a one senior and two or three junior monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s or nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds.
Encyclopedia
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 (e.g. an oratory
Oratory (worship)
An oratory is a Christian room for prayer, from the Latin orare, to pray.-Catholic church:In the Roman Catholic Church, an oratory is a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass...

) as well as the domestic quarters and workplace(s) of monastics
Monasticism
Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

, whether monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s or nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s, and whether living in community or alone (hermits).

Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only a one senior and two or three junior monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s or nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge or a brewery.

In English usage, the term "monastery" is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. The name convent
Convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

tends to be used (inaccurately) for the buildings accommodating female monastics (nuns). It may also be used to reflect the Latin usage for houses of friar
Friar
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

s, more commonly called a friary, or for communities of teaching or nursing Religious Sisters
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

. Various religions may use these terms in more specific ways.

In most religions the life inside monasteries is governed by community rules that stipulates the sex of the inhabitants and requires them to remain celibate
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 and own little or no personal property. The degree to which life inside a particular monastery is socially separate from the surrounding populace can also vary widely; some religious traditions mandate isolation for purposes of contemplation removed from the everyday world, in which case members of the monastic community may spend most of their time isolated even from each other. Others focus on interacting with the local communities to provide services, such as teaching, medical care, or evangelism
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

. Some monastic communities are only occupied seasonally, depending both on the traditions involved and the local weather, and people may be part of a monastic community for periods ranging from a few days at a time to almost an entire lifetime.

The life within the walls of a monastery may be supported in several ways: by manufacturing and selling goods, often agricultural products, by donations or alms
Alms
Alms or almsgiving is a religious rite which, in general, involves giving materially to another as an act of religious virtue.It exists in a number of religions. In Philippine Regions, alms are given as charity to benefit the poor. In Buddhism, alms are given by lay people to monks and nuns to...

, by rental or investment incomes, and by funds from other organizations within the religion, which in the past formed the traditional support of monasteries. There has been a long tradition of Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 monasteries providing hospitable, charitable and hospital services. Monasteries have always been associated with the provision of education and the encouragement of scholarship and research, which has led to the establishment of schools and colleges and the association with universities. Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 monastic life has adapted to modern society by offering computer services, accounting services and management as well as modern hospital and educational administration.

Etymology

The word monastery comes from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 word μοναστήριον, neut. of μοναστήριος - monasterios from μονάζειν - monazein "to live alone" from the root μόνος - monos "alone" (originally all Christian monks were hermits); the suffix "-terion" denotes a "place for doing something". The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the 1st century AD Jewish philosopher Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 in On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.

In England the word monastery was also applied to the habitation of a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 and the cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 who lived apart from the lay community. Most cathedrals were not monasteries, and were served by canons secular
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

, which were communal but not monastic. However some were run by monastic orders, such as York Minster
York Minster
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

. Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 was for a short time a cathedral, and was a Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 monastery until the Reformation
English Reformation
The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church....

, and its Chapter
Chapter (religion)
Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

 preserves elements of the Benedictine tradition. See the entry cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

. They are also to be distinguished from collegiate churches, such as St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Terms

In most of this article, the term monastery is used generically to refer to any of a number of types of religious community. In the Roman Catholic religion and to some extent in certain other branches of Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, there is a somewhat more specific definition of the term and many related terms.

Buddhist monasteries are generally called vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

(Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 language). Viharas may be occupied by males or females, and in keeping with common English usage, a vihara populated by females may often be called a nunnery or a convent. However, vihara can also refer to a temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

. In Tibetan Buddhism, monasteries are often called gompa
Gompa
Gompa and ling are Buddhist ecclesiastical fortifications of learning, lineage and sadhana , located in Tibet, India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

. In Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

 and Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, a monastery is called a wat
Wat
A wat is a monastery temple in Cambodia, Thailand, or Laos. The word "wat" means "school".- Introduction :...

.

A monastery may be an abbey (i.e., under the rule of an abbot
Abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

), or a priory
Priory
A priory is a house of men or women under religious vows that is headed by a prior or prioress. Priories may be houses of mendicant friars or religious sisters , or monasteries of monks or nuns .The Benedictines and their offshoots , the Premonstratensians, and the...

(under the rule of a prior
Prior
Prior is an ecclesiastical title, derived from the Latin adjective for 'earlier, first', with several notable uses.-Monastic superiors:A Prior is a monastic superior, usually lower in rank than an Abbot. In the Rule of St...

), or conceivably a hermitage
Hermitage (religious retreat)
Although today's meaning is usually a place where a hermit lives in seclusion from the world, hermitage was more commonly used to mean a settlement where a person or a group of people lived religiously, in seclusion.-Western Christian Tradition:...

(the dwelling of a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

). It may be a community of men (monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s) or of women (nun
Nun
A nun is a woman who has taken vows committing her to live a spiritual life. She may be an ascetic who voluntarily chooses to leave mainstream society and live her life in prayer and contemplation in a monastery or convent...

s). A charterhouse is any monastery belonging to the Carthusian
Carthusian
The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

 order. In Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 a very small monastic community can be called a skete
Skete
A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

, and a very large or important monastery can be given the dignity of a lavra
Lavra
In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

.

The great communal life of a Christian monastery is called cenobitic
Cenobitic
Cenobitic monasticism is a monastic tradition that stresses community life. Often in the West, the community belongs to a religious order and the life of the cenobitic monk is regulated by a religious rule, a collection of precepts...

, as opposed to the anchoretic
Anchorite
Anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life...

 (or anchoritic) life of an anchorite
Anchorite
Anchorite denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life...

 and the eremitic life of a hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

. There has also been, mostly under the Osmanli occupation of Greece and Cyprus, an "idiorrhythmic" lifestyle where monks come together but being able to own things individually and not being obliged to work for the common good.

In Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 monasteries are called matha
Matha
A matha ) is a term for monastic and similar religious establishments of Hinduism and Jainism. A matha is usually more formal, hierarchical, and rule-based than an ashram.-Advaita Mathas:...

, mandir, koil
Koil
Koil or Kovil "King's House" is the Tamil term for a distinct style of Hindu temple with Dravidian architecture.The koil in Tamil Nadu and kovil of Ceylon has a long history and has always been associated with the ruler of the time. Most kings patronised temple building in their kingdom, and...

, or most commonly an ashram
Ashram
Traditionally, an ashram is a spiritual hermitage. Additionally, today the term ashram often denotes a locus of Indian cultural activity such as yoga, music study or religious instruction, the moral equivalent of a studio or dojo....

.

Jains
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 use the Buddhist term vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

.

Buddhism

Buddhist monasteries, known as vihara
Vihara
Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

, emerged sometime around the 4th century BC, from the practice of vassa
Vassa
Vassa , also called Rains Retreat, or Buddhist Lent, is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners...

, the retreat undertaken by Buddhist monks and nuns during the South Asian rainy season. To prevent wandering monks from disturbing new plant growth or becoming stranded in inclement weather, Buddhist monks and nuns were instructed to remain in a fixed location for the roughly three month period typically beginning in mid-July. Outside of the vassa period, monks and nuns both lived a migratory existence, wandering from town to town begging for food. These early fixed vassa retreats were held in pavilions and parks that had been donated to the sangha
Sangha
Sangha is a word in Pali or Sanskrit that can be translated roughly as "association" or "assembly," "company" or "community" with common goal, vision or purpose...

by wealthy supporters. Over the years, the custom of staying on property held in common by the sangha as a whole during the vassa retreat evolved into a more cenobitic lifestyle, in which monks and nuns resided year round in monasteries.

In India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Buddhist monasteries gradually developed into centres of learning where philosophical principles were developed and debated; this tradition is currently preserved by monastic universities of Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

 Buddhists, as well as religious schools and universities founded by religious orders across the Buddhist world. In modern times, living a settled life in a monastery setting has become the most common lifestyle for Buddhist monks and nuns across the globe.

Whereas early monasteries are considered to have been held in common by the entire sangha, in later years this tradition diverged in a number of countries. Despite vinaya
Vinaya
The Vinaya is the regulatory framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha, based in the canonical texts called Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Buddha, or Buddhadharma can be divided into two broad categories: 'Dharma' or doctrine, and 'Vinaya', or discipline...

prohibitions on possessing wealth, many monasteries became large land owners, much like monasteries in medieval Christian Europe. In China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, peasant families worked monastic-owned land in exchange for paying a portion of their yearly crop to the resident monks in the monastery, just as they would to a feudal landlord. In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, the ownership of a monastery often became vested in a single monk, who would often keep the property within the family by passing it on to a nephew who ordained as a monk. In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, where civil authorities permitted Buddhist monks to marry, being the head of a temple or monastery sometimes became a hereditary position, passed from father to son over many generations.

Forest monasteries – most commonly found in the Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 traditions of Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka – are monasteries dedicated primarily to the study of Buddhist meditation
Meditation
Meditation is any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit....

, rather than scholarship or ceremonial duties. Forest monasteries often function like early Christian monasteries, with small groups of monks living an essentially hermit-like life gathered loosely around a respected elder teacher. While the wandering lifestyle practised by the Buddha and his disciples continues to be the ideal model for forest tradition monks in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 and elsewhere, practical concerns- including shrinking wilderness areas, lack of access to lay supporters, dangerous wildlife, and dangerous border conflicts- dictate that more and more 'meditation' monks live in monasteries, rather than wandering.

Tibetan Buddhist
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 monasteries are sometimes known as lamaseries and the monks are sometimes (mistakenly) known as lama
Lama
Lama is a title for a Tibetan teacher of the Dharma. The name is similar to the Sanskrit term guru .Historically, the term was used for venerated spiritual masters or heads of monasteries...

s.

Some famous Buddhist monasteries include:
  • Jetavana
    Jetavana
    Jetavana was one of the most famous of the Buddhist monasteries in India. It was the second monastery donated to Gautama Buddha, after the Veluvana in Rajagaha. Jetavana is located just outside the old city of Savatthi...

    , Sravasti
    Sravasti
    Śrāvastī or Sāvatthī , a city of ancient India, was one of the six largest cities in India during Gautama Buddha's lifetime. The city was located in the fertile Gangetic plains in the present day Gonda District of Uttar Pradesh near Balrampur some 120 km north of Lucknow...

  • Nalanda
    Nalanda
    Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

    , India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

  • Shaolin, China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

  • Donglin Temple, Jiangxi
    Jiangxi
    ' is a southern province in the People's Republic of China. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to...

    , China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

  • Tengboche
    Tengboche
    Tengboche is a village in Khumjung in the Khumbu region of northeastern Nepal, located at . In the village is an important Buddhist monastery, Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. The structure was built in 1923. In 1934, it was destroyed by an earthquake but...

    , Nepal
    Nepal
    Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...


A further list of Buddhist monasteries is available at the list of Buddhist temples

Christianity

Main article: Christian monasticism
Christian monasticism
Christian monasticism is a practice which began to develop early in the history of the Christian Church, modeled upon scriptural examples and ideals, including those in the Old Testament, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules Christian...


According to tradition, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 monasticism began in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 with St. Anthony
Anthony the Great
Anthony the Great or Antony the Great , , also known as Saint Anthony, Anthony the Abbot, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius , and Father of All Monks, was a Christian saint from Egypt, a prominent leader among the Desert Fathers...

. Originally, all Christian monks were hermit
Hermit
A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

s seldom encountering other people. But because of the extreme difficulty of the solitary life, many monks failed, either returning to their previous lives, or becoming spiritually deluded.

A transitional form of monasticism was later created by Saint Amun
Saint Amun
Ammon or Amun was a saint and hermit of Egypt. He was one of the most venerated ascetics of the Nitrian Desert, and Saint Athanasius mentions him in his life of Saint Anthony...

 in which “solitary” monks lived close enough to one another to offer mutual support as well as gathering together on Sundays for common services.

It was St. Pachomios
Pachomius
Saint Pakhom , also known as Pachome and Pakhomius , is generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism. In the Coptic churches his feast day is celebrated on May 9...

 who developed the idea of having monks live together and worship together under the same roof (Coenobitic Monasticism). Soon the Egyptian desert blossomed with monasteries, especially around Nitria, which was called the "Holy City”. Estimates are the upwards of 50,000 monks lived in this area at any one time.

Hermitism never died out though, but was reserved only for those advanced monks who had worked out their problems within a cenobitic monastery.

The idea caught on, and other places followed:
  • Saint Eugenios
    Mar Awgin
    Mar Awgin , also known as Saint Eugenios, founded the first cenobitic monastery of Asia.Originally, Saint Eugenios was a pearl-fisher from the island Clysma or Kolzum near Suez in Egypt. After having worked for 25 years, he joined the monastery of Pachomius in Upper Egypt, where he worked as a baker...

     founded a monastery on Mt. Izla above Nisibis
    Nisibis
    Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

     in Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

     (~350), and from this monastery the cenobitic tradition spread in Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia
    Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

    , Persia, Armenia
    Armenia
    Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

    , Georgia and even India and China.

  • Saint Saba
    Mar Saba
    The Great Lavra of St. Sabbas the Sanctified, known in Arabic as Mar Saba , is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley in the West Bank east of Bethlehem. The traditional date for the founding of the monastery by Saint Sabas of Cappadocia is the year 483 and today houses around 20...

     organized the monks of the Judean Desert
    Judean desert
    The Judaean Desert is a desert in Israel and the West Bank that lies east of Jerusalem and descends to the Dead Sea. It stretches from the northeastern Negev to the east of Beit El, and is marked by terraces with escarpments. It ends in a steep escarpment dropping to the Dead Sea and the Jordan...

     in a monastery close to Bethlehem
    Bethlehem
    Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central West Bank of the Jordan River, near Israel and approximately south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism...

     (483), and this is considered the mother of all monasteries of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

  • St. Benedict of Nursia
    Benedict of Nursia
    Saint Benedict of Nursia is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no...

     founded the monastery of Monte Cassino
    Monte Cassino
    Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about southeast of Rome, Italy, c. to the west of the town of Cassino and altitude. St. Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery, the source of the Benedictine Order, here around 529. It was the site of Battle of Monte Cassino in 1944...

     in Italy (529), which was the seed of Roman Catholic monasticism in general, and of the order of Benedict in particular.

  • The Carthusian
    Carthusian
    The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

     Order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne
    Bruno of Cologne
    Saint Bruno of Cologne , the founder of the Carthusian Order, personally founded the order's first two communities...

     in the 11th century as an eremitic community with La Grande Chartreuse as the mother house.

Western Medieval Europe

The life of prayer and communal living was one of rigorous schedules and self sacrifice. Prayer was their work, and the Office prayers took up much of a monk's waking hours - Matins
Matins
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...

, Lauds
Lauds
Lauds is a divine office that takes place in the early morning hours and is one of the two major hours in the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, it forms part of the Office of Matins...

, Prime
Prime (liturgy)
Prime, or the First Hour, is a fixed time of prayer of the traditional Divine Office , said at the first hour of daylight , between the morning Hour of Lauds and the 9 a.m. Hour of Terce. It is part of the Christian liturgies of Eastern Christianity, but in the Latin Rite it was suppressed by the...

, Terce
Terce
Terce, or Third Hour, is a fixed time of prayer of the Divine Office of almost all the Christian liturgies. It consists mainly of psalms and is said at 9 a.m. Its name comes from Latin and refers to the third hour of the day after dawn....

, daily Mass, Sext
Sext
Sext, or Sixth Hour, is a fixed time of prayer of the Divine Office of almost all the traditional Christian liturgies. It consists mainly of psalms and is said at noon...

, None
None (liturgy)
None , or the Ninth Hour, is a fixed time of prayer of the Divine Office of almost all the traditional Christian liturgies. It consists mainly of psalms and is said around 3 p.m...

, Vespers
Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

, and Compline
Compline
Compline is the final church service of the day in the Christian tradition of canonical hours. The English word Compline is derived from the Latin completorium, as Compline is the completion of the working day. The word was first used in this sense about the beginning of the 6th century by St...

. In between prayers, monks were allowed to sit in the cloister and work on their projects of writing, copying, or decorating books. These would have been assigned based on a monk's abilities and interests. The non-scholastic types were assigned to physical labour of varying degrees.

The main meal of the day took place around noon, often taken at a refectory table
Refectory table
A refectory table is a highly elongated table used originally for dining in monasteries in Medieval times. In the Late Middle Ages the table gradually became a banqueting or feasting table in castles and other noble residences. The original table manufacture was by hand and created of oak or...

, and consisted of the most simple and bland foods i.e. poached fish, boiled oats. Anything tastier, which appeared on occasion, was criticized. While they ate, scripture would be read from a pulpit above them. Since no other words were allowed to be spoken, monks developed communicative gestures. Abbots and notable guests were honoured with a seat at the high table, while everyone else sat perpendicular to that in the order of seniority. This practice remained when monasteries became universities after the first millennium, and can still be seen at Oxford University and Cambridge University.

Monasteries were important contributors to the surrounding community. They were centres of intellectual progression and education. They welcomed aspiring priests to come study and learn, allowing them even to challenge doctrine in dialogue with superiors. The earliest forms of musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 are attributed to a monk named Notker of St Gall
Notker of St Gall
Notker the Stammerer , also called Notker the Poet or Notker of Saint Gall, was a musician, author, poet, and Benedictine monk at the Abbey of Saint Gall in modern Switzerland...

, and was spread to musicians throughout Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 by way of the interconnected monasteries. Since monasteries offered respite for weary pilgrim
Pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system...

 travellers, monks were obligated also to care for their injuries or emotional needs. Over time, lay people started to make pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

s to monasteries instead of just using them as a stop over. By this time, they had sizeable libraries that attracted tourist. Families would donate a son in return for blessings. During the plagues, monks helped to till the fields and provide food for the sick.

A Warming House is a common part of a medieval monastery, where monks went to warm themselves. It was often the only room in the monastery where a fire was lit.

Catholic religious orders

A number of distinct monastic orders developed within Roman Catholicism.
  • Canons Regular
    Canons Regular
    Canons Regular are members of certain bodies of Canons living in community under the Augustinian Rule , and sharing their property in common...

     ('The Black Canons'), which evolved from the Priests Canon
    Canon (priest)
    A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

     who would normally work with the Bishop: now living together with him like monks under St. Augustine
    St. Augustine
    -People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...

    's rule
  • Benedictine monks
    Benedictine
    Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

     ('The Black Monks'), founded by St. Benedict, stresses manual labour in a self-subsistent monastery. See Cluniac Reforms
    Cluniac Reforms
    The Cluniac Reforms were a series of changes within medieval monasticism of West focused on restoring the traditional monastic life, encouraging art, and caring for the poor. The movement is named for the Abbey of Cluny in Burgundy, where it started within the Benedictine order. The reforms were...

    .
  • Cistercian monks ('The White Monks') / *Trappist
    TRAPPIST
    TRAPPIST is Belgian robotic telescope in Chile which came online in 2010, and is an acronym for TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope, so named in homage to Trappist beer produced in the Belgian region. Situated high in the Chilean mountains at La Silla Observatory, it is actually...

  • Camaldolese
    Camaldolese
    The Camaldolese monks and nuns are part of the Benedictine family of monastic communities which follow the way of life outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict, written in the 6th century...

  • Bridgettine sisters
  • Carthusian monks
    Carthusian
    The Carthusian Order, also called the Order of St. Bruno, is a Roman Catholic religious order of enclosed monastics. The order was founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in 1084 and includes both monks and nuns...

  • Gilbertine
  • Passionist
    Passionist
    The Passionists are a Roman Catholic religious order founded by Saint Paul of the Cross . Professed members use the initials C.P. after their names.-History:St...

  • Poor Clares
  • Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
    Byzantine Discalced Carmelites
    The Byzantine Discalced Carmelites are a community of cloistered nuns of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Church living committed to a life of prayer, according to the eremitic tradition and lifestyle of the Discalced Carmelites....

  • Premonstratensian canons
    Premonstratensian
    The Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré, also known as the Premonstratensians, the Norbertines, or in Britain and Ireland as the White Canons , are a Catholic religious order of canons regular founded at Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Saint Norbert, who later became Archbishop of Magdeburg...

     ('The White Canons')
  • Tironensian monks
    Tironensian
    The Tironensian Order or the Order of Tiron was a Roman Catholic monastic order named after the location of the mother abbey in the woods of Tiron in Perche, some 35 miles west of Chartres in France)...

     ('The Grey Monks')
  • Valliscaulian monks

Orthodox Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, both monks and nuns follow a similar ascetic discipline, and even their religious habit
Religious habit
A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been worn by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform...

 is the same (though nuns wear an extra veil, called the apostolnik
Apostolnik
An apostolnik or epimandylion is an item of clerical clothing worn by Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic nuns. It is a cloth veil that completely covers the head , neck, and shoulders similar to the hijab worn by Muslim women, it is usually black, but sometimes white...

). Unlike Roman Catholic monasticism, the Orthodox do not have separate religious orders, but a single monastic form throughout the Orthodox Church. Monastics, male or female, live away from the world, in order to pray for the world. They do not normally run hospitals and orphanages, they do not consider teaching or caring for the sick a part of their vocation, though they are obligated by Christian charity to provide help when needed.

Monasteries vary from the very large to the very small. There are three types of monastic houses in the Orthodox Church:
  • A cenobium is a monastic community where monks live together, work together, and pray together, following the directions of an abbot and the elder monks. The concept of the cenobitic life is that when many men (or women) live together in a monastic context, like rocks with sharp edges, their “sharpness” becomes worn away and they become smooth and polished. The largest monasteries can hold many thousands of monks and are called lavra
    Lavra
    In Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities Lavra or Laura originally meant a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center...

    s
    . In the cenobium the daily office, work and meals are all done in common.
  • A skete
    Skete
    A Skete is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but alsoallows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection...

     is a small monastic establishment that usually consist of one elder and 2 or 3 disciples. In the skete most prayer and work are done in private, coming together on Sundays and feast days. Thus, skete life has elements of both solitude and community, and for this reason is called the "middle way".
  • A hermit
    Hermit
    A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament .In the...

     is a monk who practises asceticism but lives in solitude rather than in a monastic community.


One of the great centres of Orthodox monasticism is Mount Athos
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

 in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, which, like the Vatican State, is self-governing. It is located on an isolated peninsula approximately 20 miles (32.2 km) long and 5 miles (8 km) wide, and is administered by the heads of the 20 monasteries. Today the population of the Holy Mountain is around 2,200 men only and can only be visited by men with special permission granted by both the Greek government and the government of the Holy Mountain itself.

Oriental Orthodox Churches

The Oriental Orthodox Churches, distinguished by their Miaphysite
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 beliefs consist of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (whose Patriarch, is considered first among equals for the following churches), as well as the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Indian Orthodox Church
Indian Orthodox Church
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, also known as the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church centred in the Indian state of Kerala. It is one of the churches of India's Saint Thomas Christian community, which traces its origins to the evangelical activity of Thomas...

, and the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 of Antioch. The now extinct Caucasian Albania
Caucasian Albania
Albania is a name for the historical region of the eastern Caucasus, that existed on the territory of present-day republic of...

n Church also fell under this group.

St. Anthony's (Deir Mar Antonios
Monastery of Saint Anthony
The Monastery of Saint Anthony is a Coptic Orthodox monastery standing in an oasis in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, in the southern part of the Suez Governorate. Hidden deep in the Red Sea mountains, it is located southeast of Cairo. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, together with...

) is the oldest monastery in the world and under the patronage of the Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Other Christian communities

The last years of the 18th century marked in the Christian Church the beginnings of growth of monasticism among Protestant denominations. The centrus of this movement was in the United States and Canada beginning with the Shaker Church, which was founded in England and then moved to the United States. In the 19th century many of these monastic societies were founded as Utopian communities based on the monastic model in many cases. Aside from the Shakers, there were the Amanna, the Anabaptist
Anabaptist
Anabaptists are Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation of 16th-century Europe, and their direct descendants, particularly the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites....

s et al. Many did allow marriage but most had a policy of celibacy
Celibacy
Celibacy is a personal commitment to avoiding sexual relations, in particular a vow from marriage. Typically celibacy involves avoiding all romantic relationships of any kind. An individual may choose celibacy for religious reasons, such as is the case for priests in some religions, for reasons of...

 and communal life in which members shared all things communally and disavowed personal ownership.

In the 19th century monasticism was revived in the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, leading to the foundation of such institutions as the House of the Resurrection, Mirfield
Mirfield
Mirfield is a small town and civil parish within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England. It is located on the A644 road between Brighouse and Dewsbury...

 (Community of the Resurrection
Community of the Resurrection
The Community of the Resurrection is an Anglican religious community for men. It was founded in 1892 by Charles Gore with Walter Howard Frere and four others....

), Nashdom Abbey (Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

), Cleeve Priory (Community of the Glorious Ascension
Community of the Glorious Ascension
The Community of the Glorious Ascension is an Anglican monastic community in the United Kingdom, co-founded in 1960 by twin brothers Michael Ball and Peter Ball. It was founded in Stratford Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and the priory is now at Lamacraft Farm, Start Point, near Kingsbridge in...

) and Ewell Monastery (Cistercian), Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 orders, Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 orders and the Orders of the Holy Cross, Order of St. Helena. Other Protestant Christian denominations also engage in monasticism, particularly Lutherans in Europe and North America. For example, the Benedictine order of the Holy Cross at St Augustine's House in Michigan is a Lutheran order of monks and there are Lutheran religious communities in Sweden and Germany. In the 1960s, experimental monastic groups were formed in which both men and women were members of the same house and also were permitted to be married and have children—these were operated on a communal form. The Jewish Kibutz is a form of monasticism operating on a communal basis.

Hinduism

From the times of the Vedas people following monastic ways of life have been in existence in the Indian sub-continent. In what is now called Hinduism, monks have existed for a long time, and with them, their respective monasteries, called matha
Matha
A matha ) is a term for monastic and similar religious establishments of Hinduism and Jainism. A matha is usually more formal, hierarchical, and rule-based than an ashram.-Advaita Mathas:...

s. Most famous among them are the chatur-amnaya mathas established by Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara Adi Shankara Adi Shankara (IAST: pronounced , (Sanskrit: , ) (788 CE - 820 CE), also known as ' and ' was an Indian philosopher from Kalady of present day Kerala who consolidated the doctrine of advaita vedānta...

 which formed the nodal centres of under whose guidance the ancient Order of Vedantic monks were re-organised under ten names Dashanami Sampradaya
Dashanami Sampradaya
Dashanami Sampradaya is a Hindu monastic tradition of Ekadandisannyasins [1][5][7] generally associated with the Advaita Vedanta tradition...

, Ashta matha (Eight monasteries) of Udupi founded by Madhvacharya
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

 (Madhwa acharya) a dwaitha philosopher.

Recent trends

The number of dedicated monastics in any religion has waxed and waned due to many factors. There have been Christian monasteries such as "The Cappadocian Caves" that used to shelter upwards of 5,000 monks, or St Pantelaimon's on the "Holy Mountain
Mount Athos
Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

" in Greece, which had 3,000 in its heyday. Today those numbers have dwindled considerably. Currently the monasteries containing the largest numbers are Buddhist: Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery ,, located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet...

 in Tibet housed around 10,000 monks prior to the Chinese invasion. Today its relocated monastery in India houses around 8,000 - nearly four times the current monastic population of the entire Holy Mountain.

On the other hand, there are those among monastic leaders that are critical of monasteries that are too large. Such become institutions and lose that intensity of spiritual training that can better be handled when an elder has only 2 or 3 disciples. There are on the Holy Mountain areas such as the Skete of St Anne, which could be considered one entity but is in fact many small "Sketes" (monastic houses containing one elder and 2 or 3 disciples) who come together in one church for services.

Additionally, there is a growing Christian neo-monasticism, particularly among evangelical Christians. Established upon at least some of the customary monastic principles, they have attracted many who seek to live in relationship with other, or who seek to live in an intentionally focused lifestyle, such as a focus upon simplicity or pacifism. Some include rites, noviciate periods in which a newly interested person can test out living and sharing of resources, while others are more pragmatic, providing a sense of family in addition to a place to live in.

See also

  • Dissolution of the Monasteries
    Dissolution of the Monasteries
    The Dissolution of the Monasteries, sometimes referred to as the Suppression of the Monasteries, was the set of administrative and legal processes between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England, Wales and Ireland; appropriated their...

  • Religious order
    Religious order
    A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...

  • Ecovillage
    Ecovillage
    Ecovillages are intentional communities with the goal of becoming more socially, economically and ecologically sustainable. Some aim for a population of 50–150 individuals. Larger ecovillages of up to 2,000 individuals exist as networks of smaller subcommunities to create an ecovillage model that...

  • List of abbeys and priories
  • List of Buddhist temples
  • Krishnapura matha
    Krishnapura matha
    The Krishnapura Matha is a Madhwa Vaishnava monastery. It is one of the Ashta Mathas of Udupi founded by Dvaita philosopher Madhvacharya of Udupi. Krishnapura Monastery is currently headed by Vidyasagara Thirta.. The first swami of this monastery was Janardhana Thirta, who was one of the direct...

  • Monasticism
    Monasticism
    Monasticism is a religious way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work...

  • Mount Athos
    Mount Athos
    Mount Athos is a mountain and peninsula in Macedonia, Greece. A World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Spiritually, Mount Athos comes under the direct jurisdiction of the...

  • New Monasticism
    New Monasticism
    New Monasticism, or Neomonasticism, can refer either to a modern movement within Evangelical Protestant Christianity modelled on a monastic way of life in a contemporary context or a movement within Roman Catholicism to expand the way of life of traditional monastic communities to lay...

  • Pilgrimage
    Pilgrimage
    A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

  • Rota (architecture)
    Rota (architecture)
    The rota or "turn" is a cylinder, open on one side, that is built inside a wall of a monastery, nunnery or foundling hospital. It was used for exchanging mail and food with cloistered clergy, being their only communication with the world. It is usually about 50 centimeters wide by 30 centimeters...

  • Shivalli
  • Taoism
    Taoism
    Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

  • Thomas Merton
    Thomas Merton
    Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was a 20th century Anglo-American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion...

  • Vihara
    Vihara
    Vihara is the Sanskrit and Pali term for a Buddhist monastery. It originally meant "a secluded place in which to walk", and referred to "dwellings" or "refuges" used by wandering monks during the rainy season....

  • Wudangshan

External links

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