Since long before modern recorded history, human beings have used diverse spiritual practices to elevate their consciousness and gain full realization of the Supreme Being, the source of existence, referred to variously in different languages according to culture and tradition.
At Popular Vedic Science, we partner with a number of centers around the world that train young men and women in the practice of bhakti-yoga, a devotional approach to self-realization and God consciousness. Traditionally, all boys and girls in India received this basic spiritual training in their youth, and some went on to pursue a lifetime of celibacy and spiritual practice. However, more commonly, they would eventually graduate from full-time spiritual training and take up the responsibilities of marriage and family life.
We strongly encourage all interested students to explore the programs featured below and sign up for at least a three-month term. This spiritual immersive experience is transformative, and it will provide you with life-changing skills, wisdom, and compassion.
Common elements across all centers include:
- Textbooks: The Bhagavad-gita As It Is, The Srimad Bhagavatam, Sri Isopanisad, the Nectar of Instruction, the Nectar of Devotion.
- Daily Meditation Practice: Approximately 1.5 hours of daily mantra meditation using the ancient Sanskrit mahā-mantra, or “great mantra,” also known as the Hare Krishna mantra.
- Spiritual Habits: Students are required to abstain from the following — eating meat, fish, or eggs; using alcohol or other mind-altering substances, including marijuana, coffee, and cigarettes; gambling; and all forms of sexual activity, including the use of pornography.
- Service: At the heart of the practice of bhakti-yoga is the service of others, culminating in the service of the Supreme Other, Krishna. Students will participate in a variety of daily and weekly services that contribute to their local community and enable them to put into practice the principles learned in the above-mentioned texts.
Become a Monk in 6 Steps
Here we walk through a step-by-step process for anyone to try out monk life. In Vedic culture, all men and women went through a period of spiritual training during their student years which is similar to the kind of training you get as a monk. Most monk students would eventually get married, but the experiences in their training prepared them to be responsible and spiritually strong role models for their children, as well as valuable members of society.
Step One: Think About What You Value Most
The first step in dedicating yourself to spiritual practice is to understand what is really valuable in life. All our material assets and accomplishments will eventually fade away. However, when we develop our consciousness through the practice of yoga, we get to carry that spiritual growth forward into our next life. This spiritual development builds up over the course of many lifetimes, until we eventually attain spiritual perfection, or Krishna prema, pure love for Krishna in spiritual enlightenment.
Is spiritual perfection something you would like to experience in this lifetime? If so, then the bhakti path is right for you.
Step Two: Explore the Path of Bhakti-yoga
The most important text for beginners in bhakti-yoga is the Bhagavad-gita. The Bhagavad-gita covers many topics in spiritual understanding, including the nature of the soul, the identity of God, God’s relationship with the world, the nature of this material reality, karma, and more. As you learn more about bhakti, you will naturally find it more and more appealing. All religious paths teach bhakti in some way, shape, or form.
Step Three: Try Mantra Meditation
As you learn about the science of bhakti and how you can transform your perception of reality through Krishna consciousness, you can also begin a daily practice of mantra meditation with the Hare Krishna mantra. It’s very easy — anyone can do it:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Simply repeat this mantra quietly to yourself for 10-20 minutes, or even up to an hour or more. Hare Krishna monks regularly meditate for approximately two hours every day. It is a powerful practice that unlocks the transcendental pleasure that is stored within your own soul.
Step Four: Connect with Other Practitioners
The next step in becoming a Hare Krishna monk is to look for other practitioners in your area. Whenever you want to learn a new skill, it is helpful to find others who are more advanced. For example, if you want to improve your soccer skills, you can join a soccer league. Or if you want to learn how to invest your money, you can join an investing club. This same principle applies in the realm of spirituality. On our own, it is difficult to stay motivated in our practice, and we may come up against obstacles that we didn’t expect and don’t know how to deal with. When we make friends with other practitioners, we can learn from them and save ourselves the time and trouble of having to figure it all out on our own.
Step Five: Visit a Bhakti-yoga Center
When you feel ready to commit to a period of serious full-time practice of bhakti-yoga, you can research different centers that offer residential training and visit one to see how it feels and to meet the people there. We highly recommend visiting a center in person numerous times before making plans to move in. That way you will set yourself up to have a positive experience, and you’ll know what to expect when you finally enter the ashram as a student monk.
Step Six: Make a Commitment
Although the path of bhakti is a lifelong journey, not everyone needs to spend the rest of their life in a monastery, temple, or ashram. You can also practice bhakti yoga in the comforts of your own home, while keeping up relationships with your family, friends, and community members, working a job, and so on. Bhakti is so versatile a path that it can be applied in any circumstance of life. With that being said, it is still a very valuable experience to dedicate some time to a spiritual immersive experience in an ashram setting. Whether you choose to do this for a few months, or a few years, or even more, it will prove to be a foundational and transformative experience that will have tremendous benefits for your entire life ahead.
Rupanuga Vedic College, Kansas City, Missouri (USA)
- Website: https://rvc.edu
- Application deadline: Rolling admissions — apply anytime.
- Cost: All students receive free room and board. Students must pay for their transportation to and from the college.
Learn more by checking out the information page on the RVC website.