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A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place reserved for prayer which may be a chapel, church, or temple, and may also serve as an oratory, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks or nuns, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds. A monastery complex typically comprises a number of buildings which include a church, dormitory, cloister, refectory, library, balneary and infirmary. Depending on the location, the monastic order and the occupation of its inhabitants, the complex may also include a wide range of buildings that facilitate self-sufficiency and service to the community. These may include a hospice, a school, and a range of agricultural and manufacturing buildings such as a barn, a forge, or a brewery.

In English usage, the term monastery is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. In modern usage, convent tends to be applied only to institutions of female monastics (nuns), particularly communities of teaching or nursing religious sisters. Historically, a convent denoted a house of friars (reflecting the Latin), now more commonly called a friary. Various religions may apply these terms in more specific ways.

Etymology

The Plan of Saint Gall, the ground plan of an unbuilt abbey, providing for all of the needs of the monks within the confines of the monastery walls

The word monastery comes from the Greek word μοναστήριον, neut. of μοναστήριοςmonasterios from μονάζεινmonazein "to live alone"[1] from the root μόνοςmonos "alone" (originally all Christian monks were hermits); the suffix "-terion" denotes a "place for doing something". The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the 1st century AD Jewish philosopher Philo in On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.

In England, the word monastery was also applied to the habitation of a bishop and the cathedral clergy who lived apart from the lay community. Most cathedrals were not monasteries, and were served by canons secular, which were communal but not monastic. However, some were run by monasteries orders, such as York Minster. Westminster Abbey was for a short time a cathedral, and was a Benedictine monastery until the Reformation, and its Chapter preserves elements of the Benedictine tradition. See the entry cathedral. They are also to be distinguished from collegiate churches, such as St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Terms

The term monastery is used generically to refer to any of a number of types of religious community. In the Roman Catholic religion and to some extent in certain branches of Buddhism, there is a somewhat more specific definition of the term and many related terms.

Buddhist monasteries are generally called vihara (Pali language). Viharas may be occupied by men or women, and in keeping with common English usage, a vihara populated by females may often be called a nunnery or a convent. However, vihara can also refer to a temple. In Tibetan Buddhism, monasteries are often called gompa. In Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, a monastery is called a wat. In Burma, a monastery is called a kyaung.

A Christian monastery may be an abbey (i.e., under the rule of an abbot), or a priory (unde

In English usage, the term monastery is generally used to denote the buildings of a community of monks. In modern usage, convent tends to be applied only to institutions of female monastics (nuns), particularly communities of teaching or nursing religious sisters. Historically, a convent denoted a house of friars (reflecting the Latin), now more commonly called a friary. Various religions may apply these terms in more specific ways.

The word monastery comes from the Greek word μοναστήριον, neut. of μοναστήριοςmonasterios from μονάζεινmonazein "to live alone"[1] from the root μόνοςmonos "alone" (originally all Christian monks were hermits); the suffix "-terion" denotes a "place for doing something". The earliest extant use of the term monastērion is by the 1st century AD Jewish philosopher Philo in On The Contemplative Life, ch. III.

In England, the word monastery was also applied to the habitation of a bishop and the cathedral clergy who lived apart from the lay community. Most cathedrals were not monasteries, and were served by canons secular, which were communal but not monastic. However, some were run by monasteries orders, such as York Minster. Westminster Abbey was for a short time a cathedral, and was a Benedictine monastery until the Reformation, and its Chapter preserves elements of the Benedictine tradition. See the entry cathedral. They are also to be distinguished from collegiate churches, such as St George's Chapel, Windsor.

Terms

The term monastery is used generically to refer to any of a number of types of religious community. In the Roman Catholic religion and to some extent in certain branches of Buddhism, there is a somewhat more specific definition of the term and many related terms.

Buddhist monasteries are generally called vihara (Pali language). Viharas may be occupied by men or women, and in keeping with common English usage, a vihara populated by females may often be called a nunnery or a convent. However, vihara can also refer to a temple. In Tibetan Buddhism, monasteries are often called gompa. In Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, a monastery is called a wat. In Burma, a monastery is called a kyaung.

A Christian monastery may be an abbey (i.e., under the rule of an abbot), or a priory (under the rule of a prior), or conceivably a hermitage (the dwelling of a hermit). It may be a community of men (monks) or of women (nuns). A charterhouse is any monastery belonging to the Carthusian order. In Eastern Christianity, a very small monastic community can be called a skete, and a very large or important monastery can be given the dignity of a lavra.

The great communal life of a Christian monastery is called cenobitic, as opposed to the anchoretic (or anchoritic) life of an anchorite and the eremitic life of a hermit. There has also been, mostly under the Osmanli occupation of Greece and Cyprus, an "idiorrhythmic" lifestyle where monks come together but being able to own things individually and not being obliged to work for the common good.

In <

In England, the word monastery was also applied to the habitation of a bishop and the cathedral clergy who lived apart from the lay community. Most cathedrals were not monasteries, and were served by canons secular, which were communal but not monastic. However, some were run by monasteries orders, such as York Minster. Westminster Abbey was for a short time a cathedral, and was a Benedictine monastery until the Reformation, and its Chapter preserves elements of the Benedictine tradition. See the entry cathedral. They are also to be distinguished from collegiate churches, such as St George's Chapel, Windsor.

The term monastery is used generically to refer to any of a number of types of religious community. In the Roman Catholic religion and to some extent in certain branches of Buddhism, there is a somewhat more specific definition of the term and many related terms.

Buddhist monasteries are generally called vihara (Pali language). Viharas may be occupied by men or women, and in k

Buddhist monasteries are generally called vihara (Pali language). Viharas may be occupied by men or women, and in keeping with common English usage, a vihara populated by females may often be called a nunnery or a convent. However, vihara can also refer to a temple. In Tibetan Buddhism, monasteries are often called gompa. In Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, a monastery is called a wat. In Burma, a monastery is called a kyaung.

A Christian monastery may be an abbey (i.e., under the rule of an abbot), or a priory (under the rule of a prior), or conceivably a hermitage (the dwelling of a hermit). It may be a community of men (monks) or of women (nuns). A charterhouse is any monastery belonging to the Carthusian order. In Eastern Christianity, a very small monastic community can be called a skete, and a very large or important monastery can be given the dignity of a lavra.

The great communal life of a Christian monastery is called cenobitic, as opposed to the anchoretic (or anchoritic) life of an anchorite and the eremitic life of a hermit. There has also been, mostly under the Osmanli occupation of Greece and Cyprus, an "idiorrhythmic" lifestyle where monks come together but being able to own things individually and not being obliged to work for the common good.

In Hinduism monasteries are called matha, mandir, koil, or most commonly an ashram.

Jains use the Buddhist term vihara.

In most religions, the life inside monasteries is governed by community rules that stipulate the gender of the inhabitants and require them to remain celibate and own little or no personal property. The degree to which life inside a particular monastery is socially separate from the surrounding populace can also vary widely; some religious traditions mandate isolation for purposes of contemplation removed from the everyday world, in which case members of the monastic community may spend most of their time isolated even from each other. Others focus on interacting with the local communities to provide services, such as teaching, medical care, or evangelism. Some monastic communities are only occupied seasonally, depending both on the traditions involved and the local weather, and people may be part of a monastic community for periods ranging from a few days at a time to almost an entire lifetime.[citation needed]

The life within the walls of a monastery may be supported in several ways: by manufacturing and selling goods, often agricultural products, by donations or alms, by rental or investment incomes, and b

The life within the walls of a monastery may be supported in several ways: by manufacturing and selling goods, often agricultural products, by donations or alms, by rental or investment incomes, and by funds from other organizations within the religion, which in the past formed the traditional support of monasteries. There has been a long tradition of Christian monasteries providing hospitable, charitable and hospital services. Monasteries have often been associated with the provision of education and the encouragement of scholarship and research, which has led to the establishment of schools and colleges and the association with universities. Christian monastic life has adapted to modern society by offering computer services, accounting services and management as well as modern hospital and educational administration.[citation needed]

Part of Ganden Monastery, Tibet in 1921. Tsongkhapa's tomb is in the center left.

  • Buddhist monasteries, known as vihāra in Pali and in Sanskrit, emerged sometime around the fourth century BCE from the practice of vassa, a retreat undertaken by Buddhist monastics during the South Asian wet season. To prevent wandering monks and nuns from disturbing new plant-growth or becoming str

    Buddhist monasteries, known as vihāra in Pali and in Sanskrit, emerged sometime around the fourth century BCE from the practice of vassa, a retreat undertaken by Buddhist monastics during the South Asian wet season. To prevent wandering monks and nuns from disturbing new plant-growth or becoming stranded in inclement weather, they were instructed to remain in a fixed location for the roughly three-month period typically beginning in mid-July.

    These early fixed vassaThese early fixed vassa retreats took place in pavilions and parks that wealthy supporters had donated to the sangha. Over the years, the custom of staying on property held in common by the sangha as a whole during the vassa retreat evolved into cenobitic monasticism, in which monks and nuns resided year-round in monasteries.

    In India, Buddhist monasteries gradually developed into centres of learning where philosophical principles were developed and debated; this tradition continues in the monastic universities of Vajrayana Buddhists, as well as in religious schools and universities founded by religious orders across the Buddhist world. In modern times, living a settled life in a monastery setting has become[when?] the most common lifestyle for Buddhist monks and nuns across the globe.

    Whereas early monasteries are considered[by whom?] to have been held in common by the entire sangha, in later years this tradition diverged in a number of countries. Despite vinaya prohibitions on possessing wealth, many monasteries became large landowners, much like monasteries in medieval Christian Europe. In Chinese Buddhism, peasant families worked monastic-owned land in exchange for paying a portion of their yearly crop to the resident monks in the monastery, just as they would to a feudal landlord. In Sri Lanka and in Tibetan Buddhism, the ownership of a monastery often became vested in a single monk, who would often keep the property within the family by passing it on to a nephew ordained as a monk. In Japan, where civil authorities permitted Buddhist monks to marry, the position of head of a temple or monastery sometimes became hereditary, passed from father to son over many generations.

    Forest monasteries – most commonly found in the Theravada traditions of Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka – are monasteries dedicated primarily to the study of Buddhist meditation, rather than to scholarship or ceremonial duties. Forest monasteries often function like early Christian monasteries, with small groups of monks living an essentially hermit-like life gathered loosely around a respected elder teacher. While the wandering lifestyle practised by the Buddha and by his disciples continues to be the ideal model for forest-tradition monks in Thailand and elsewhere, practical concerns - including shrinking wilderness areas, lack of access to lay supporters, dangerous wildlife, and dangerous border conflicts - dictate that increasing numbers of "meditation" monks live in monasteries, rather than wandering.

    Tibetan Buddhist monasteries or gompas are sometimes known as lamaseries, with their monks sometimes (mistakenly) known as lamas. Helena Blavatsky's Theosophical Society named its initial New York City meeting-place "the Lamasery".[2]

    Famous Buddhist monasteries include:

    For a further list of Buddhist monasteries see list of Buddhist temples.

    Trends

    Buddhist monasteries include some of the largest in the world. Drepung Monastery in Tibet housed around 10,000 monks prior to the Chinese invasionDrepung Monastery in Tibet housed around 10,000 monks prior to the Chinese invasion[3][4][dead link] in 1950-1951. As of 2020 the relocated monastery in India houses around 8000.[citation needed]

    Christianity

    A number of distinct monastic orders developed within Roman Catholicism: