The Carolina Buddhist Vihāra was informally founded in the early 1970s with a small core group of about 40-50 members from the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee who met once a month in the various homes of members. On occasion, monks from New York would visit to lead the members in spiritual meditation and retreats. For these special occasions attendance at the meetings could reach upwards of 60-70 individuals. One of these New York monks, the Venerable Bhante Dhammaloka Thero, saw the need for the presence of a monastic in a fixed location in the Carolina region.
The present group of members steadily increased in numbers until December of 2000 when enough donations and funding were received in order to establish a formal center of worship in Mauldin, SC, on the outskirts of Greenville. At this time, two ordained monks, Bhante Dhammaloka Thero and the Venerable Bhante Jagara Dhamma took up residence at the Vihāra.
In the summer of 2002, shortly after the departure of Bhante Dammhaloka Thero, and Sri Lankan monk (the Venerable Bhante Rathanapala) came to reside at the Carolina Buddhist Vihāra. Bhante Jagara Dhamma and Bhante Rathanapala lead a congregation of over 100 followers from four states.
Leadership of the Carolina Buddhist Vihāra was later passed on to two female Bhikkhunis. In July 2003, the first female Bhikkuni came to reside at the Vihāra, Ven. Sudhamma Bhikkhuni. From Charlotte, NC, she became a novice nun in 1999 at the Bhavana Society under Bhante Gunaratana and was ordained in early 2003 in Sri Lanka.
In 2004 Ven. Sudhamma Bhikkhuni was joined at the Vihāra by Ven. Sucinta Bhikkhuni, from Germany. Ven. Sucinta Bhikkhuni took initial vows in 1991, later becoming a novice also under Ven. Bhante H. Gunaratana at Bhavana Society in WV, USA. In 1998 she received ‘higher ordination’ in Bodh Gaya, India, becoming one of the first modern Bhikkhunis of the Theravada school of Buddhism.
In 2011, Venerable Sucinta Bhikkhuni left the Vihara after experiencing a calling to establish new temples elsewhere. Venerable Sudhamma Bhikkhuni resided as the sole resident nun at the temple until 2012 when she departed to take up residence at the Santi Forest Monastery in Australia.
In November of 2012 Venerable Sudinna was invited to serve the community at the Vihāra where she has been and is currently conducting all religious activities.
The membership of the Carolina Buddhist Vihāra is diverse. It consists of Sri Lankan, Indian, Burmese and American followers. All individuals who wish to learn about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha are welcome to attend. The main languages spoken include Pali, Sinhala and English.
The Carolina Buddhist Vihāra is located in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Greenville (Mauldin). It is a single-family, ranch-style home with a lotus flower painted on the front door. Members enter through a side kitchen door where they proceed to take off their shoes. Upon entering the kitchen, the shrine room is located immediately to one’s right in what would be a dining or family room. In this shrine room, there is a five-foot statue of the Buddha elevated on a platform. Toward the back of the room and on the right are a series of shelves which contain a small library filled with books that any member of the Vihāra can check out. Behind the Vihāra is a large yard which includes a walking meditation path that all followers are able to use.
The resident monastic(s) is entirely supported with donations from the laity, whether in the form of money to pay facility expenses or for food and other basic necessities.
While use of the facility (house) was generously given there are recurring expenses, maintenance and updating that are required with any home or piece of property. Financial donations from the laity along with time and energy given to maintain the grounds and fix things that break, are greatly appreciated.
Members of the Vihāra even transport the Bhikkhuni and visiting monastics to and from any destination that is not within walking distance.
Visitors to the Vihāra are always welcome, but as a courtesy, please call the Vihāra beforehand so the monastics will be able to prepare for your visit properly. We humbly request that you review the Visitor Etiquette information prior to your visit.