The Aloka Vihara sisters are a community of bhikkhunis (fully-ordained nuns) dedicated to practicing the Buddha’s teaching in the style of the Theravada Forest Tradition. Their practice emphasizes simplicity, renunciation, service and an orientation towards learning from the natural world – all held within the context of the Buddha’s teaching. The sisters are embracing and integrating the realities and challenges of contemporary society into their practice.
Ayya Anandabodhi first encountered the Buddha’s teachings in her early teens, igniting a deep interest in the Buddha’s Path of Awakening. She lived and trained as a nun in the Forest Tradition at Amaravati and Chithurst monasteries in England from 1992 until 2009, when she moved to the US to help establish Aloka Vihara, a training monastery for women.
Her practice and teaching are guided by early Buddhist scriptures and through nature’s pure and immediate Dhamma. In 2011 she took full Bhikkhuni Ordination, joining the growing number of women who are reclaiming this path given by the Buddha.
Ayya Santacitta was born in Austria and has a multifaceted background in hotel management, cultural anthropology and avant-garde dance theatre. Her first teacher was Ajahn Buddhadasa, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She has practiced meditation for over 25 years and trained as a nun in both the East and West since 1993, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah. Since meeting Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in 2002, she also integrates Dzogchen teachings into her practice.
Ayya Santacitta is co-founder of Aloka Vihara, where she resides since 2009 and received bhikkhuni ordination in 2011. She is particularly interested in learning from nature and bringing faith traditions to the climate movement.
Sister Jayati was born in England in 1974. She first encountered the Buddha’s teachings at the age of twelve while attending a retreat with the F.W.B.O. (Friends of the Western Buddhist Order). She felt a deep sense of resonance with the teachings on Metta and made a commitment to cultivating this in her life. Since 1986 she has continued attending retreats and developing a meditation practice which increasingly became the most important reference point in her life. This eventually led to her decision to ordain as a novice nun at Amaravati Monastery in 2007, in order to fully devote her energy to the practice.
After spending three and a half years in training at Amaravati and Chithurst Monasteries she decided to join Ayya Anandabodhi and Ayya Santacitta in the work of developing a Theravadan Buddhist monastic community for women. Having respectfully taken leave of the Siladhara Sangha, she moved to the U.S. in June 2012. In 2014 she was then given bhikkhuni ordination at Aloka Vihara with Ayya Tathaaloka Theri as preceptor.
Becky – Vihara Steward
~ Becky’s bio is coming soon.