Become A Monastic

     Many devotees who come across the inspiring life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, and Swami Vivekananda feels an urge to embrace monastic life in the Ramakrishna Order. For others, the urge to renounce the world may come as a result of their watching/listening to inspiring talks on spiritual aspects of Hinduism. Disillusionment with worldly attainments and relationships also drive quite a few to the doors of a monastery. Whatever may be the immediate inspiration, they need to carefully consider quite a few factors before joining the monastery. To help such would-be monastics to arrive at the right decision, here is a set of Frequently asked Questions and Answers.


     It means to leave behind one’s family and friends, profession and attainments, all worldly interests, pleasures and concerns, and embrace the monastic life. This person will henceforth live in a monastery of The Vedanta Society of Southern California, devoting his life exclusively to spiritual pursuits and selfless service. In course of his monastic life he has to take up vows of Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Sannyasa (monkhood) which will be the cornerstone of their monastic life. The Ramakrishna Order is a well-defined body of monastics which owes its origin to Sri Ramakrishna and his eminent disciples headed by Swami Vivekananda. Our monks and nuns are members of the Ramakrishna Order of India headquartered in Calcutta, India.

     Applicants must be under 35 years old. The reason for this age limit is that the rigors of this lifestyle requires mental and physical adjustments which is more likely to be accomplished by a younger person. The actual age limit, however, depends on that particular person. Applicants must also have at least a high school diploma, be reasonably healthy and pass a physical exam. Six months of celibacy and abstinence from all illegal substances and intoxicants are required before joining, applicants should be free from debts. For more details contact us at

     Our monastery here in Trabuco Canyon are for men only, however we have convents in other locations in which women will be able to join. For more information contact us at

     No, only unmarried men are allowed to join. A person who had married but now divorced is not eligible either.

     It is strongly recommended that you continue your studies and finish the course which you have started. You may join the Order soon after that. Don’t let that discourage you from joining!

     Persons with a major physical or mental disorder are not allowed to join the Order. As part of the joining process, candidates need to compulsorily undergo a physical exam. In order to take on the rigors of monastic life, aspirants must be reasonable healthy.

     Candidates, in general, are expected to have finished their formal education before entering the monastery.

     It is not advisable for you to join immediately. Please make some time to read at least a few important books of Ramakrishna–Vivekananda literature. The life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda are the foundation of the spiritual life of the entire Order. The joining of a person who has not read the basic literature is not advisable.

     The Ramakrishna Order is open for people of all religions, nationalities and ethnic groups. It is but necessary to accept Sri Ramakrishna as a divine incarnation and believe his grace to be of supreme importance in one’s spiritual well-being and spiritual goal.

     You are welcome! If you have respectful regard for Sri Ramakrishna and his teachings and are convinced that he is the embodiment of all gods and goddesses, you can join the Order.

     You have to contact our authorities and freely discuss the matter if you feel it is going to affect your future life. The authorities will guide you further.

     Only in rare cases do parents encourage their child to become a monastic. But most candidates need to face the opposition and even wrath of their parents for cherishing monastic aspiration.
     A child with monastic inclination need to explain their stand to their parents and try to win them over. They should also make, as far as possible, suitable arrangements to at least take care of their basic needs for the rest of their lives.

     A renunciate by definition can’t own personal properties. You need to dispose of your movable and immovable assets, including bank accounts, before joining or immediately after that.

     A monk is required to dissociate himself from all of his pre-monastic life. Since this is something that can’t be achieved overnight, the spirit of detachment is to be cultivated by tapering off all worldly relationships.
     During the initial years, a novice is allowed to talk to their parents occasionally and inquire about their well-being.

     The monastic members receive a nominal amount of allowance per month. Monastic life is not like working at a job in expectation of salary. Here you give, voluntarily and entirely, your body and mind, your talents and capacities without expecting any material gain.

     The Order will take care of you and support you in every way. There is no need to worry on that account.

     The members of the Order usually wear a kurta-like shirt (loose & collarless), dhoti (cloth tied around waist extending up to the feet) and uttariya (cloth wrapped around the upper part). The colour of these garments would be either white (in case of novices or Brahmacharins) or ochre/gerua (in case of Sannyasins).

    It will take a minimum of nine years. This is the period allowed for a candidate to prepare themselves to receive the final monastic vows. Seeing their life and conduct the authorities will take the ultimate decision regarding their sannyasa.

     For the rest of your life, you will immerse yourself in japa, meditation, prayer, worship, chanting of hymns, singing of bhajans, study of sacred literature, work and other spiritual practices. Some of these you will do on your own, while others, in the company of monastic members in the ashrama. The nature, time and duration of work will be decided by the authorities and will have to be diligently followed with a worshipful outlook.
     Through all these, you will strive to grow in the qualities of a monastic such as purity, devotion, detachment, unselfishness, truthfulness and Brahmacharya (celibacy), which are essential to realize God.

     The fundamental spiritual practices will be told to the aspirant by their Guru during their Initiation. They themselves practise and struggle for spiritual perfection. In case of need, guidance by senior monks will always be available.

     The essence of spiritual life in the Ramakrishna Order is love and devotion to the spiritual ideal which is Sri Ramakrishna, and worshipful service to Him. The combination of the four yoga’s- Jnana (Knowledge), Bhakti (Devotion), Karma (Detached work) and Raja (Meditative Practices) yoga- find ample expression in this ideal. Pursuing any one yoga to the exclusion of others is not encouraged in our Order.

     Yes, a number of opportunities are available in the Order to study Vedantic scriptures such as the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita etc. Every novice, after about three years of joining, has the oppurtunity to undergo a two-year rigorous course at our seminary – the Probationers’ Training Center (TC for short) in Belur Math – where a number of subjects are taught.

     With the exception of a few, most of our centers will admit novices. However a person may be sent to a particular center based on the center’s needs.

     Belur Math is the heart of the Ramakrishna Order where the central monastery is located. Because of its sacred associations, some wish to begin their monastic life here. For such people, there is the Pre-Probationers’ Training Center (PPTC) in Belur Math. After keeping the new entrants in PPTC for six to twelve months, they are posted to different branch centers.

     Not all Ashramas bearing the name of Sri Ramakrishna or Swami Vivekananda are our branches. So please check if the particular Ashrama you are referring to is a recognized branch of ours. The list of our official branches can be had from the Belur Math website

     This is mainly based on the the needs of the Society and whether or not it would be beneficial for the aspirant to stay or move to another location. 

     You may or may not. The authorities will decide on whom to send to foreign countries, and they do so after considering a number of factors. It is best to join the Order in a spirit of self-surrender to the Lord giving up expectations.

     Yes, you can quit at any point in your monastic life. People enter this life of their own accord and can also step out of their own accord. No legal obligations on either side!

     This is a matter which you alone have to decide. Study your own mind to understand where your real interest lies. You may consult wise people and seek their advice in the matter, but the final decision should come from within YOU. If you are still interested in joining, please email us at