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Dhammadharini Vihara is a Buddhist monastic retreat (vihara) for women in the Niles District of Fremont, California. Dhammadharini opened its doors in August 2005, with room for three resident nuns. The name, "Dhammadharini," is interpreted as, a "holder" or "upholder" of the Buddhadhamma as a "flowing" or "streaming" reality, teaching and practice ~ in the feminine tense." [1] A "Vihara" is a monastic residence, refuge and center of practice." [2]

Dhammadharini is most notable as the first Theravada monastery for women in the Western United States.[3] Women's Buddhist monasteries are rare. When Dhammadharini was founded, it became the third in the entire United States.[4] A focus of Dhammadharini's mission is to support bhikkhunis, fully ordained Buddhist nuns. The Vihara observes the Theravada (mostly southern Asia) Thai Forest Tradition, including annual Vassa. The Abbess and founder, Ayya Tathaaloka, has trained in several Buddhist traditions and has welcomed Vihara visitors from others. [5] Dhammadharini has been home to several renunciates (women training for ordination) as of 2008. The physical building is currently a small, leased condominium, paid for by the supporting Dhammadharini Foundation. Vihara residents rely on the support of the lay community, often walking the neighborhood for almsmeals and accepting what food is offered. The supporting community provides the rent, as well as other requisites described in the Vinaya. The Vihara offers Dhamma teachings, Sutta discussions and the opportunity for individually arranged lay retreat.

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