When Swami Prabhavananda founded the Vedanta Society of Southern California, 1930, women expressed the desire to devote themselves to the realization of the Divine Presence, and to serve this Presence within others and the wider community. The trustees of the Ramakrishna Order gave the Swami permission to accept, train, and ordain women with sannyasa, full monastic vows.
The Sarada Convent is set quietly in the foothills of Hollywood, close to the temple, and paradoxically not far from the heart of the entertainment industry. Here women born outside of India can receive monastic training under the guidance of monastics of the Ramakrishna tradition.
Our life is centered around daily meditations, ritual worship, classes, and scriptural study. In harmony with our ideal of service, our work is primarily encouraging and supporting people’s spiritual growth, no matter what their religious tradition.
We perform the daily temple worship and assist at the special annual religious celebrations, teach Sanskrit chanting, lead devotional singing groups, and provide support to the sick, the troubled, and the grieving.
Also we conduct retreats and deliver spiritual talks and scriptural classes. Members of the Convent participate as Hindu representatives in various inter-religious dialogs and interfaith programs, seminars and presentations at special events and academic institutions in the United States and abroad.
Several of our nuns run the Vedanta Bookshop, a resource to spiritual seekers. Others contribute to the growing body of Vedanta literature by writing, translating, and editing books in English and Japanese. Since 2006 we have started Sarada Ma Publishing as part of our Spanish ministry.
Since the 1990’s lay devotees throughout the United States requested Swami Swahananda, and now Swami Sarvadevananda, for monastics to develop the Vedanta work at their locations. The Swami responded by sending nuns from the Hollywood convent to serve as residential ministers at the Vivekananda Retreat at Ridgely Manor, New York and the fledgling centers of Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas.
Young women who would like to explore a monastic vocation in the Ramakrishna-Vedanta tradition are welcome to make retreats with us. And students who are interested in Hindu spiritual practices or philosophy may enjoy our student program. Women who are interested in deepening their own spiritual practice are warmly invited to share our lifestyle by making short retreats in the Sarada Convent, Hollywood.
Vedanta Society of Southern California