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Buddhist Monastery

Buddhism is a religion which was originated by Gautam Buddha in India and thereafter it spread its wings round the world, especially in the eastern countries. The term monastery is derived from the Greek word ‘monasteriona’ and the word means the habitat and workplace of a community of monks or nuns. A Buddhist monastery is also known as Vihara or Gompa which is believed to have emerged around the fourth century BC. The inspiration behind building the monasteries of Buddhism is said to have been the practice of Vassa, the retreat opted by Buddhist monks and nuns.

History of the Creation of Buddhist Monastery :

As per an age old tradition the wandering Buddhist monks and nuns use to take shelter during the monsoon season and lasting approximately for three months. This was a common practice in order to prevent upsetting new plant growth which might cause due to walking in the fields or becoming stranded in the storm. These settings were maintained by the wealthy supporters in the form of large pavilions donated to the sangha. As the time passed these vassa retreats became an austere style of living for the nuns and monks thereby causing the creation of numerous Buddhist monasteries in India.

Advent of Buddhist Monasteries :

These Vassa later developed into permanent residence of monks and nuns as they started living at these monasteries as a Sangha (a group) round the year. The next change that followed was the origin of nunneries for nuns. Now nuns started residing aloof from the monks at these nunneries. The Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India further developed into places of learning where philosophical principles were debated and developed.

In some of the regions the Buddhist monasteries became landowners as well and the peasant families worked on their land. These families therefore started giving the monks a portion of their yearly crops. In some other cases these monasteries were owned by a single monk, who passed it on to the later generations. In some traditions one can also find forest monasteries devoted to the study of Buddhist meditation.