Resident Community at Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery
The Aloka Vihara nuns are a community of bhikkhunis and samaneris 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 nuns 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 did her graduate studies in Cultural Anthropology, focusing on dance, theatre and ritual. She also worked in avant-garde dance theatre as a performer and costume designer. In 1988 she met Ajahn Buddhadasa in southern Thailand, who sparked her interest in Buddhist monastic life. She trained as a nun in England and Asia from 1993 until 2009, primarily in the lineage of Ajahn Chah, and has practiced meditation for over 30 years. Since 2002, she has also received teachings in the lineage of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Ayya Santacitta co-founded Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery in 2009 and received Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2011. She is committed to Gaia as a living being and particularly interested in bringing wisdom traditions to the environmental movement. Since 2020 she also offers teachings in German, her mother tongue. Currently Ayya Santacitta is on sabbatical in Vienna, Austria, returning to Aloka Vihara after the annual Winter Retreat.
Ayya Ahimsa was born in Vancouver, BC in 1959. Her first career was as an orchestral clarinetist. Then, in order to be at home more when her two children were young, she taught preschool music. When her children were in elementary school she herself returned to university to obtain a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology which enabled her to work with children with developmental differences.
She began to meditate in 2006 and soon after knew she wanted to completely devote her life to training the mind and purifying the heart. In 2008 she was first introduced to monasticism through visiting Ajahn Sona at Birken Forest Monastery. Due to aging parents and teenagers still at home she was not able to leave the householder life and go forth until 2012. Ayya Ahimsa took Anagarika Precepts in January 2012 and then Samaneri Precepts in September 2013 with Ayya Medhanandi at Sati Saraniya Hermitage near Perth, Ontario. In June 2016 she joined the nuns’ community at Aloka Vihara and was given Bhikkhuni Ordination in August 2017 with Ayya Gunasari Theri as her preceptor.
Before becoming a monastic, Ayya Niyyanika balanced life in Minnesota between work as an ontology consultant for building management and emergency response systems, and practicing with the Common Ground Meditation community.
She received her initial training with the Dhammadharini community from 2014 through 2019 and is currently practicing with the Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery community. Niyyanika Bhikkhuni gratefully practices monastic life within community and, through learning from the teachings and monastic discipline established by the Buddha, works for their own development on the path and the development of others.