Monasticism

Monasticism

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Monasticism is a religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 way of life characterized by the practice of renouncing worldly
World (theology)
-Christian views on the World:In Christianity, the concept connotes the fallen and corrupt world order of human society. The world is frequently cited alongside the flesh and the Devil as a source of temptation that Christians should flee...

 pursuits to fully devote one's self to spiritual work. The origin of the word is from Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, and the idea originally related to Buddhist monks in 550 B.C.

In the 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...

 tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

, males pursuing a monastic life are usually called 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
, brethren
Brethren
Brethren is a name adopted by several Protestant Christian bodies which do not necessarily share historical roots. As classified in The Pilgrim Church by EH Broadbent, the earliest primitive churches to Paulician Brethren, to Bogomil Brethren, to Anabaptist and to Moravian Brethren were historical...

or brothers, and females 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
or sisters. Both monks and nuns may also be called monastics. Some other religions also include monastic elements, most notably Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, but also 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...

 and Jainism
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...

, though the expressions differ considerably.

Buddhist monasticism



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...

 or community of ordained Buddhist bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

s (similar to monks) and original bhikkhuni
Bhikkhuni
A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

s (similar to nuns) was founded by Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 during his lifetime over 2500 years ago. This communal monastic lifestyle grew out of the lifestyle of earlier sects of wandering ascetics
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

, some of whom the Buddha had studied under. It was initially fairly eremetic or reclusive in nature. Bhikkhus and bhikkunis were expected to live with a minimum of possessions, which were to be voluntarily provided by the lay community. Lay followers also provided the daily food that bhikkhus required, and provided shelter for bhikkhus when they were needed.


After the Parinibbana (Final Passing) of the Buddha, the Buddhist monastic order developed into a primarily 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...

 or communal movement. The practice of living communally during the rainy vassa
Vassa
Vassa , also called Rains Retreat, or Buddhist Lent, is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada practitioners...

 season, prescribed by the Buddha, gradually grew to encompass a settled monastic life centered on life in a community of practitioners. Most of the modern disciplinary rules followed by bhikkhus and bhikkhunis — as encoded in the Patimokkha
Patimokkha
In Buddhism, the Patimokkha is the basic Theravada code of monastic discipline, consisting of 227 rules for fully ordained monks and 311 for nuns . It is contained in the Suttavibhanga, a division of the Vinaya Pitaka.- Parajika :...

 — relate to such an existence, prescribing in great detail proper methods for living and relating in a community of bhikkhus or bhikkhunis. The number of rules observed varies with the order; Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 bhikkhus follow around 227 rules. There are a larger number of rules specified for bhikkhunis (nuns).

Buddhist monasticism, with its tradition of councils
Buddhist councils
Lists and numbering of Buddhist councils vary between and even within schools. The numbering here is normal in Western writings.-First Buddhist council Lists and numbering of Buddhist councils vary between and even within schools. The numbering here is normal in Western writings.-First Buddhist...

 and missions, spread from India to the Middle East and eventually west. It proved to be a significant force for literacy wherever it spread. Christian monasticism followed in its footsteps in the areas where Emperor Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 sent missions.

The Buddhist monastic order consists of the male bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

 assembly and the female bhikkhuni
Bhikkhuni
A bhikkhuni or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic. Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the vinaya...

 assembly. Initially consisting only of males, it grew to include females after the Buddha's stepmother, Mahaprajapati, asked for and received permission to live as an ordained practitioner.

Bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are expected to fulfill a variety of roles in the Buddhist community. First and foremost, they are expected to preserve the doctrine and discipline now known as Buddhism. They are also expected to provide a living example for the laity, and to serve as a "field of merit" for lay followers—providing laymen and women with the opportunity to earn merit by giving gifts and support to the bhikkhuss. In return for the support of the laity, bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are expected to live an austere life focused on the study of Buddhist doctrine, the practice of meditation, and the observance of good moral character.

A bhikkhu (the term in the Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 language) or Bhikshu (in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

), first ordains as a Samanera (novice). Novices often ordain at a young age, but generally no younger than eight. Samaneras live according to the Ten Precepts, but are not responsible for living by the full set of monastic rules. Higher ordination, conferring the status of a full Bhikkhu, is given only to men who are aged 20 or older. Bhikkhunis follow a similar progression, but are required to live as Samaneras for longer periods of time- typically five years.

The disciplinary regulations for bhikkhus and bhikkhunis are intended to create a life that is simple and focused, rather than one of deprivation or severe asceticism. However, celibacy is a fundamental part of this form of monastic discipline.

Christian monasticism


Monasticism in Christianity provided the origins of the words "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...

" and "monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

" which comprises several diverse forms of religious living that are in response to the call of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 of Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

 to follow him. It began to develop early in the history of the Church, modeled upon Old and New Testament examples and ideals, but not mandated as an institution in the scriptures. It has come to be regulated by religious rules (e.g. the Rule of St Basil, the Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

) and, in modern times, the Church law of the respective Christian denominations that have forms of monastic
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...

 living.

The Christian monk embraces the monastic life as a vocation for God. His goal is to attain eternal life in his presence. The rules of monastic life are codified in the "counsels of perfection"
Evangelical counsels
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty , and obedience . As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels , they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect"...

. In his exposition of the Beatitudes
Beatitudes
In Christianity, the Beatitudes are a set of teachings by Jesus that appear in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The term Beatitude comes from the Latin adjective beatus which means happy, fortunate, or blissful....

 (the right way of living according to the law of God) during his Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount is a collection of sayings and teachings of Jesus, which emphasizes his moral teaching found in the Gospel of Matthew...

, Jesus exhorted the large crowd listening to him to be "perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" . When speaking to his men, Jesus also extended an invitation to celibacy to those "to whom it has been given" ; and when asked by a wealthy man what else is required in addition to observing the Commandments
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

 to "enter into eternal life", he advised to sell all earthly possessions in favour of the poor and to follow him, "if you wish to be perfect" (cf. = = ).

Already in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 there is evidence of Christian monastic
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...

 living, namely the lives of service rendered by the Widows and the Virgins. In the beginning, in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and then 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...

, Christians felt called to a more reclusive or eremitic
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...

 form of monastic living (in the spirit of the "Desert Theology" of the Old Testament for the purpose of spiritual renewal and return to God). Saint Anthony the Great
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...

 is cited by Athanasius as one of these early "Hermit monks". Especially in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, eremitic monasticism continued to be common until the decline of Syrian Christianity in the late Middle Ages.

The need for some form of organized spiritual guidance was obvious; and around 318
318
Year 318 was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Licinianus and Crispus...

 Saint Pachomius
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...

 started to organize his many followers in what was to become the first Christian cenobitic or communal monastery
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

. Soon, similar institutions were established throughout the Egyptian desert as well as the rest of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. Notable monasteries
Monastery
Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 of the East include:
  • Monastery of Saint Anthony
    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...

    , one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world.
  • Mar Awgin
    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
    350
    Year 350 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Sergius and Nigrinianus...

    ), and from this monastery the cenobitic tradition spread in Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, Georgia and even India and China.
  • St. Sabbas the Sanctified
    Sabbas the Sanctified
    Saint Sabbas the Sanctified , a Cappadocian-Greek monk, priest and saint, lived mainly in Palaestina Prima. He was the founder of several monasteries, most notably the one known as Mar Saba...

     organized the monks of the Judean Desert 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), now known as Mar 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...

    , which is considered the mother of all monasteries of the Eastern Orthodox
    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,...

     churches.
  • Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
    Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
    Saint Catherine's Monastery lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

     was founded between 527 and 565 in the Sinai desert by order of Emperor Justinian I
    Justinian I
    Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

    .


In the West, the most significant development occurred when the rules for monastic communities were written, the Rule of St Basil being credited with having been the first. The precise dating of the Rule of the Master
Rule of the Master
The Regula Magistri or Rule of the Master is an anonymous sixth-century collection of monastic precepts. It was probably used by Benedict of Nursia as source material for his own Rule of Saint Benedict. It is no longer in active use by any monastic community.-See Also:*Rule of Saint Benedict*Rule...

 is problematic; but it has been argued on internal grounds that it antedates the so-called Rule of Saint Benedict created by 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...

 for his monastery in 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...

, Italy (c. 529
529
Year 529 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Decius without colleague...

), and the other 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...

 monasteries he himself had founded (cf. Order of St Benedict). It would become the most common rule throughout the Middle Ages and is still in use today. The Augustinian Rule, due to its brevity, has been adopted by various communities, chiefly the 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...

. Around the 12th century, the 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....

, Carmelite, Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

, Servite Order
Servite Order
The Servite Order is one of the five original Catholic mendicant orders. Its objects are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. The members of the Order use O.S.M. as their post-nominal...

 (see Servants of Mary) and Augustinian mendicant orders chose to live in city 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...

s among the people instead of being secluded in monasteries.

Today new expressions of Christian monasticism, many of which ecumenical, are developing in places such as the Bose Monastic Community
Bose Monastic Community
The ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose was established by Catholic layman Enzo Bianchi in 1965 at Bose, a frazione in the commune of Magnano ....

 in Italy, the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem
Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem
The Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem were founded in 1975 by Brother Pierre-Marie Delfieux with the aim of promoting the spirit of the monastic desert The Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem were founded in 1975 by Brother Pierre-Marie Delfieux (currently prior general) with the aim of promoting...

 throughout Europe, and the Taizé Community
Taizé Community
The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of about 100 brothers who come from Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic traditions. The brothers come from about 30 countries across the world. The monastic order has a strong...

 in France, and the mainly Evangelical Protestant 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...

 movement of America.

Hindu monasticism



In their quest to attain the spiritual
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 goal of life, some Hindus choose the path of monasticism (Sannyasa
Sannyasa
Sannyasa is the order of life of the renouncer within the Hindu scheme of āśramas, or life stages. It is considered the topmost and final stage of the ashram systems and is traditionally taken by men or women at or beyond the age of fifty years old or by young monks who wish to renounce worldly...

). Monastics commit themselves to a life of simplicity
Simplicity
Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. It usually relates to the burden which a thing puts on someone trying to explain or understand it. Something which is easy to understand or explain is simple, in contrast to something complicated...

, 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...

, detachment from worldly pursuits, and the contemplation of God. A Hindu monk is called a sanyāsī, sādhu, or swāmi. A nun is called a sanyāsini, sadhavi, or swāmini. Such renunciates are accorded high respect in Hindu society, because their outward renunciation of selfishness and worldliness serves as an inspiration to householders who strive for mental renunciation. Some monastics live in monasteries, while others wander from place to place, trusting in God alone to provide for their physical needs. It is considered a highly meritorious act for a lay devotee to provide sadhu
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

s with food or other necessaries. Sādhus
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

 are expected to treat all with respect and compassion, whether a person may be poor or rich, good or wicked. They are also expected to be indifferent to praise, blame, pleasure, and pain. A sādhu
Sadhu
In Hinduism, sādhu denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. Although the vast majority of sādhus are yogīs, not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa , the fourth and final aśrama , through meditation and contemplation of brahman...

 can typically be recognized by his ochre-colored clothing. Generally, Vaisnava monks shave their heads except for a small patch of hair on the back of the head, while Saivite monks let their hair and beard grow uncut.

A Sadhu's vow of renunciation typically forbids him from:
  • owning personal property apart from a bowl, a cup, two sets of clothing and medical aids such as eyeglasses;
  • having any contact with, looking at, thinking of or even being in the presence of women;
  • eating for pleasure;
  • possessing or even touching money or valuables in any way, shape or form;
  • maintaining personal relationships.

Islam and monasticism


Islam does not allow the practice of monasticism. The stand of Islam is, on the one hand, against sexual license; consequently it prohibits fornication and adultery, and blocks all ways leading to them. On the other hand, Islam is also against suppressing the sexual urge; accordingly, it calls people toward marriage, prohibiting renunciation and castration.

As long a Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 possess the means to marry, he is not permitted to refrain from marriage on the grounds that he has dedicated himself to the service or the worship of Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 and to a life of monasticism and renunciation of the world.

It has been reported that Abu Qulabah narrated;

"Some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) decided to relinquish the world, forsake their wives, and become like monks. The Prophet (peace be on him) told them with asperity, People before you perished because of their asceticism; they made excessive demands on themselves until Allah brought hardships on them: you can still see a few of them remaining in monasteries and temples. Then worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, perform the Hajj and the ‘Umrah, be righteous, and all affairs will be set right for you." (Reported by ‘Abdur Razzaq, Ibn Jarir, and Ibn al-Mundhir)

Abu Qulabah said the following verse was revealed concerning them:

"O you who believe! Do not make haram
Haram
The Arabic term has a meaning of "sanctuary" or "holy site" in Islam.-Etymology:The Arabic language has two separate words, and , both derived from the same triliteral Semitic root . Both of these words can mean "forbidden" and/or "sacred" in a general way, but each has also developed some...

 (forbidden) the good of things which Allah has made halal
Halal
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law...

 (Lawful) for you, and do not transgress; indeed, Allah does not like transgressors." (Surah 5: Verse 87)

In another narration we read that one day the son of 'Uthman ibne Maz'un died which so aggrieved him that he declared his house to be a mosque and (abandoning all other work) engaged himself in worship. When the Noble Prophet (S.) came to know of this, he summoned him and said: يَا عُثْمَانَ بْنَ مَظْعُونٍ إِنَّ اللٌّهَ لَمْ يَكْتُبْ عَلَيْنَا الرَّهْـبَانِيَّةَ إِنَّمَا رَهْـبَانِيَّةُ أُمَّتِي الْجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللٌّهِ

“O 'Uthman! Surely, Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted has not ordained monasticism for us; monasticism of my ummah is only jihad in the way of Allah.”

In at least one other place The Quran forbids Monasticism explicitly and states it is an invention and Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 did not prescribe it to the Muslims.

"Then We caused Our messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow, and gave him the Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. But monasticism they invented - We ordained it not for them - only seeking Allah's pleasure, and they observed it not with right observance. So We give those of them who believe their reward, but many of them are evil-doers" ( Surah 57: Verse 27)

The famous expression "لاَ رَهْبَانِيَّةَ فِي الإِسْلاَمِ" “There is no (room for) monasticism in Islam”, is witnessed in numerous Islamic sources.

Judaism and monasticism



Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 does not encourage the monastic ideal of celibacy and poverty. In fact, the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and various corresponding Judaic philosophies encourage the pursuit of permitted physical pleasures as a means to "serve God with joy" (Deut. 28:47).

However, until the Destruction of the second temple, about two thousand years ago, taking Nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

 vows was a common feature of the religion. Nazirite Jews (in Hebrew: נזיר) abstained from grape products, haircuts, and contact with the dead. However, they did not withdraw from general society, and they were permitted to marry and own property; moreover, in most cases a Nazirite vow was for a specified time period and not permanent. In Modern Hebrew, the term "Nazir" is most often used to refer to non-Jewish monastics.

Unique among Jewish communities is the monasticism of the Beta Israel
Beta Israel
Beta Israel Israel, Ge'ez: ቤተ እስራኤል - Bēta 'Isrā'ēl, modern Bēte 'Isrā'ēl, EAE: "Betä Ǝsraʾel", "Community of Israel" also known as Ethiopian Jews , are the names of Jewish communities which lived in the area of Aksumite and Ethiopian Empires , nowadays divided between Amhara and Tigray...

 of Ethiopia, a practice believed to date to the 15th century.

A form of asceticism was practiced by some individuals in pre-World War II European Jewish communities. Its principal expression was prishut, the practice of a married Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 student going into self-imposed exile from his home and family to study in the kollel
Kollel
A kollel is an institute for full-time, advanced study of the Talmud and rabbinic literature. Like a yeshiva, a kollel features shiurim and learning sedarim ; unlike a yeshiva, the student body of a kollel are all married men...

 of a different city or town. This practice was associated with, but not exclusive to, the Perushim
Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

.

The Essenes
Essenes
The Essenes were a Jewish sect that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests...

 (in Modern but not in Ancient Hebrew: , Isiyim; Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: Εσσηνοι, Εσσαιοι, or Οσσαιοι; Essēnoi, Essaioi, Ossaioi) were a Jewish sect
Sect
A sect is a group with distinctive religious, political or philosophical beliefs. Although in past it was mostly used to refer to religious groups, it has since expanded and in modern culture can refer to any organization that breaks away from a larger one to follow a different set of rules and...

 that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE which some scholars claim seceded from the Zadokite priests. Being much fewer in number than the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 and the Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

 (the other two major sects at the time), the Essenes lived in various cities but congregated in communal life dedicated to asceticism
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

, voluntary poverty, daily immersion, and abstinence from worldly pleasures, including (for some groups) marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

. Many separate but related religious groups of that era shared similar mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

, eschatological
Jewish eschatology
Jewish eschatology is concerned with the Jewish Messiah, afterlife, and the revival of the dead. Eschatology, generically, is the area of theology and philosophy concerned with the final events in the history of the world, the ultimate destiny of humanity, and related concepts.-The Messiah:The...

, messianic
Jewish Messiah
Messiah, ; mashiah, moshiah, mashiach, or moshiach, is a term used in the Hebrew Bible to describe priests and kings, who were traditionally anointed with holy anointing oil as described in Exodus 30:22-25...

, and ascetic
Asceticism
Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

 beliefs. These groups are collectively referred to by various scholars as the "Essenes." Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 records that Essenes existed in large numbers, and thousands lived throughout Roman Judæa
Judaea (Roman province)
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

.

The Essenes have gained fame in modern times as a result of the discovery of an extensive group of religious documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

, which are commonly believed to be Essenes' library -- although there is no proof that the Essenes wrote them. These documents include preserved multiple copies of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 untouched from as early as 300 BCE until their discovery in 1946. Some scholars, however, dispute the notion that the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. Rachel Elior
Rachel Elior
Rachel Elior is an Israeli professor of Jewish philosophy and mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Jerusalem, Israel.-Academic career:...

, a prominent Israeli scholar, even questions the existence of the Essenes.

Jain monasticism



Jainism
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...

 has two branches, each with differing views of monasticism. Digambara
Digambara
Digambara "sky-clad" is one of the two main sects of Jainism. "Sky-clad" has many different meaning and associations throughout Indian religions. Many representations of deities within these traditions are depicted as sky-clad, e.g. Samantabhadra/Samantabhadrī in Yab-Yum...

 monks do not wear clothing
Clothing
Clothing refers to any covering for the human body that is worn. The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic and is a feature of nearly all human societies...

, symbolic of their refusal to give in to the body's demands for comfort and private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

. But only Digambara ascetics are required to forsake clothing. Digambara ascetics have just two possessions: a peacock feather
Feather
Feathers are one of the epidermal growths that form the distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on birds and some non-avian theropod dinosaurs. They are considered the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates, and indeed a premier example of a complex evolutionary novelty. They...

 broom
Broom
A broom is a cleaning tool consisting of stiff fibers attached to, and roughly parallel to, a cylindrical handle, the broomstick. It is thus a variety of brush with a long handle. It is commonly used in combination with a dustpan....

 and a water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

 gourd
Gourd
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

. They also believe that women are unable to obtain moksha
Moksha
Within Indian religions, moksha or mukti , literally "release" , is the liberation from samsara and the concomitant suffering involved in being subject to the cycle of repeated death and reincarnation or rebirth.-Origins:It is highly probable that the concept of moksha was first developed in...

. As a result, of the total of approx. 6000 Jain monks, barely 100 are Digambaras. The Shvetambaras are the other main Jainist sect. Svetambaras, unlike Digambaras, neither believe that ascetics must practice nudity, nor do they believe that women are unable to obtain moksha. Shvetambaras are commonly seen wearing face masks so that they do not accidentally breathe in and kill small creatures.

Monasticism in other religions

  • Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga
    Ananda Marga, organizationally known as Ananda Marga Pracaraka Samgha , meaning the samgha for the propagation of the marga of ananda , is a social and spiritual movement founded in Jamalpur, Bihar, India in 1955 by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar .Ánanda Márga followers describe Ánanda Márga as a...

     has both monks and nuns (i.e. 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...

     male and female acharya
    Acharya
    In Indian religions and society, an acharya is a guide or instructor in religious matters; founder, or leader of a sect; or a highly learned man or a title affixed to the names of learned men...

    s or missionaries
    Missionary
    A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

    ) as well as a smaller group of family acharyas. The monks and nuns are engaged in all kinds of direct services to society, so they have no scope for permanent retreat. They do have to follow strict celibacy, poverty and many other rules of conduct during as well as after they have completed their training.
  • Bön is believed to have a rich monastic history. Bön monasteries exist today, and the monks there practice Bön-Buddhism.
  • Manichaeism
    Manichaeism
    Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

     had two types of followers, the auditors, and the elect. The elect lived apart from the auditors to concentrate on reducing the material influences of the world. They did this through strict celibacy, poverty, teaching, and preaching. Therefore the elect were probably at least partially monastic.
  • Scientology
    Scientology
    Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

     maintains a "fraternal order" called the Sea Organization or just Sea Org
    Sea Org
    The Sea Organization or Sea Org is an association of Scientologists established in 1968 by L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of Scientology. Its members are found in the central management organizations of the Church of Scientology as well as in individual churches...

    . They work only for the Church of Scientology
    Church of Scientology
    The Church of Scientology is an organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system. The Church of Scientology International is the Church of Scientology's parent organization, and is responsible for the overall ecclesiastical management, dissemination and...

     and have signed billion year contracts. Sea Org members live communally with lodging, food, clothing, and medical care provided by the Church.
  • Sikhism
    Sikhism
    Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

     and the Bahá’í Faith both specifically forbid the practice of monasticism. Hence there are no Sikh or Bahá’í monk conclaves or brotherhoods.
  • The Transcendental Meditation movement
    Transcendental Meditation movement
    The Transcendental Meditation movement is a world-wide organization, sometimes characterised as a neo-Hindu new religious movement, founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s...

     sponsors two monastic groups: the Thousand-Headed Purusha for men and the Mother Divine for women. The US residences for the groups were in Heavenly Mountain, North Carolina. There is also a Purusha program at 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....

     in Uttarkashi
    Uttarkashi
    Uttarkashi, meaning Kashi of the north, is a holy town in Uttarakhand, India. It is the district headquarter of Uttarkashi district. Uttarkashi is situated on the banks of river Bhagirathi at an altitude of 1352 m above sea level. Uttarkashi is home to a number of ashrams and temples and also to...

    , 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...

    . The Global Mother Divine Organization is described as the women's wing of the Global Country of World Peace
    Global Country of World Peace
    The Global Country of World Peace was declared by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder and guru of the Transcendental Meditation movement, on Vijayadashami , October 7, 2000. He described it as "a country without borders for peace loving people everywhere"...

    .
  • Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism
    Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

     holds that active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaotic influences at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster
    Zoroaster
    Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

    's concept of free will
    Free will
    "To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

    , and Zoroastrianism rejects all forms of asceticism
    Asceticism
    Asceticism describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals...

     and monasticism.

See also

  • Carmelite Rule of St. Albert
    Carmelite Rule of St. Albert
    The eremitic Rule of St. Albert is the shortest of the rules of consecrated life in existence of the Roman Catholic spiritual tradition. St. Albert Avogadro, a priest of the Canons Regular and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, wrote the Rule in the early 13th century. The Rule is directed to Brother...

  • "Into Great Silence
    Into Great Silence
    Into Great Silence is a documentary film directed by Philip Gröning that was first released in 2005. It is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks of the Grande Chartreuse, high in the French Alps . The idea for the film was proposed to the monks in 1984, but the...

    "- Documentary of life within the Carthusian monastery of La Grande Chartreuse by Philip Groning.
  • 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:...

  • Order (religious)

Further reading

  • Fracchia, Charles. Living Together Alone: The New American Monasticism. Harper & Row, 1979. ISBN 0060630116.
  • Gruber, Mark. 2003. Sacrifice In the Desert: A Study of an Egyptian Minority Through the Lens of Coptic Monasticism. Lanham: University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2539-8
  • Johnston, William M. (ed.). 2000. Encyclopedia of Monasticism. 2 vols., Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers.
  • Knowles, David. Christian Monasticism. London: World University Library, 1969
  • Lawrence, C. H. 2001. Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages (3rd Edition). New York: Longmans. ISBN 0-582-40427-4
  • Zarnecki, George.
    George Zarnecki
    George Jerzy Zarnecki, CBE, FBA, FSA was a Polish-English Professor of Art history. He was a scholar of Medieval art and English Romanesque sculpture, an area of study where he did pioneering research....

    1985. "The Monastic World: The Contributions of the Orders". Pp. 36–66, in Evans, Joan (ed.). 1985. The Flowering of the Middle Ages. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd.

External links