Student Program

Experience a retreat of up to six weeks at a Vedanta Monastery.

Here is an opportunity for you to:

  • Experience the lifestyle and routine of monastic living.
  • Reflect on the meaning of life.
  • Study religion and philosophy, perhaps as an independent study course from your school.
  • Focus on the inner world of the spirit.

We supply:

  • Room and board for up to six weeks
  • Arrangements for transportation to and from the plane, train, or bus station in Los Angeles
  • Use of the library
  • Advice and help with the area of study where possible and supervision of independent study if not done through a college or university
  • Individual instruction on meditation if desired
  • An atmosphere conducive to spiritual study and practice

For those interested in a program of study here are some examples of areas of concentration:

  • Vedanta Philosophy
  • Hinduism
  • Traditional Scriptures
  • Comparative Religions
  • Meditation
  • Mysticism
  • Religious Music
  • Science and Religion
  • Mythology
  • Women’s Studies
  • The influence of Eastern Philosophy’ in the West
  • Monastic Life
  • Sanskrit
  • Sri Ramakrishna
  • Sri Sarada Devi
  • Swami Vivekananda
  • Spiritual writings of authors such as Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, or Joseph Campbell

For a complete program of classes, lectures, and events offered at the Hollywood Temple, see our Calendar.

Please note: There are fewer classes or special activities during July and August.

College Credit:

Students interested in college credit for their independent study program should find out the requirements from their college or university.

About the Vedanta Society

The Vedanta Society of Southern California was founded in 1930 and incorporated as a non-profit religious corporation in 1934 by Swami Prabhavananda. Swami Swahananda was the Head from 1976 to 2012. Swami Sarvadevananda is the current head. We are spiritually affiliated with the Ramakrishna Order of India. Our purpose is to promote the harmony of religions, the study of Vedanta Philosophy, and to provide facilities for both monastics and lay members to pursue spiritual practices leading to Self-Realization or God-Realization.

Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu religious leader to come to the West. In 1893, he spoke at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. After a pilot program in 1991 we began this Monastic Experience program in late 1992 as a way of commemorating his efforts at promoting harmony and understanding among the various faiths.

The Hollywood center, the hub of the Vedanta Society, is an active center with book publishing, distribution, and selling, and many classes, lectures, and programs for the public. The center is located in the residential hills just a few blocks from Hollywood and Vine. There is a monastery on the grounds with nine monks, and a block away, there is a convent with nine nuns.

The Trabuco Monastery, with five monks, has a more traditional monastic atmosphere with less public contact. The area is one of rolling hills and oak trees bordering a large park and overlooking the growing suburbia of South Orange County.

The Santa Barbara convent is in a rural area, surrounded by mountains and overlooking the ocean. Presently there are four nuns in this convent.


Men would probably spend one or more weeks at our Hollywood Monastery and the remainder of their stay at our Trabuco Canyon Monastery.

Please write William Scott at the above address for an application or print out the form below and return it by mail to the address above. Finalists may be contacted by phone for an interview. You will be notified in writing if you are accepted for the program.


Please email the Convent Guest Coordinator for an application or print out the online application form and return it by mail (see address). Those who qualify for the Student Program will be notified in writing and contacted by phone for an interview.

More about the Hollywood convent


You must be between 18 and 33 years of age, enrolled in a college or university, making a minimum C grade point average or equivalent, and be in good health.

You must provide us with proof of medical insurance, a completed application form, a recent photo of yourself or a photo copy of your driver’s license or ID, and one letter of recommendation.

You must provide your own transportation here and back to your city of residence or college. You must have enough spending money for personal expenses (toiletries, study supplies, clothing, phone calls, etc.) and medical expenses not covered by insurance.

You will be expected to join in the regular monastic routine of meditation, classes, and chores. There will be at least 3 hours a day left for study. Abstinence from sex and substance abuse is required.

If for any reason the visitors or the monastics feel it necessary to cut the visit short, the Vedanta Society is not responsible for any extra travel expense should the visit be ended early.

Please bring shoes, work clothes, and regular street clothes. Participation in meditation and classes is expected. Whenever possible, meals must be taken at the regular times and help with clean-up is expected.

Anyone with a previous history of substance abuse should have a minimum of one year free from use. Smoking is not allowed inside any of the buildings. Those who are selected for the program are expected to have good habits of cleanliness and to show common sense and consideration in areas such as the following: not leaving candles or incense burning unattended or while you are sleeping; being conservation-minded in the use of water, electricity, and gas; keeping your room, bathroom and kitchen in a neat and tidy condition; and returning all library books.


Please ask one professor or spiritual mentor to write a letter of recommendation and ask him/her to mail it directly to us at least four weeks prior to the beginning of the period for which you are applying.

Application for Student Program (pdf)