About the Sitagu Dhamma Vihara

Sitagu Dhamma Vihāra means literally “The 'Moon' Dharma Monastery,” in which Dharma is what we call the teachings of the Buddha. We are a temple in the Burmese Buddhist tradition, serving many of the functions of a church and a community center, as well as providing a residence for monks. We are also home to a spectacular replica of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar.

A monastery (or vihara) is technically a residence for a community of Buddhist monks or nuns (the Sangha), who choose to live apart from the contingencies of normal worldly life, following the monastic discipline established by the Buddha, in order to pursue an undisturbed spiritual life of study, beneficial action, meditation and quiet contemplation in accordance with the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. In almost all Buddhist countries a monastery commonly serves also as a center of social and religious life for the broader community.

The Sitagu Dhamma Vihara is a Buddhist monastery located in Chisago City, in the lake country of rural Minnesota about 35 miles northeast of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Its mission is to support spiritual well-being and growth through meditation, Dharma study, community and personal guidance, for ethnic Buddhists and “western” Buddhists alike. Additionally it supports classes in Burmese language and culture, as well as in meditation and Dharma, for children and adults. It also sponsors community and cultural events for Burmese and non-Burmese alike, and provides large public meeting spaces, a library, and is engaged in the publication and free distribution of books on Dharma.

Although our roots are Buddhist, we welcome and respect people of all faith (or non-faith) traditions as brothers and sisters. Although we provide an entry and continued support for those professing interest or engagement in the Buddhist way of life, we do not proselytize nor attempt to “convert.”


The Theravada Buddha Sasana ‘Nuggaha (TBSN) was founded on May 2nd 2004 (1367 Burmese era on Kasone full moon Buddha Day), primarily through efforts of lay devotees U Aung Koe and Dr. Aung Than and through the enthusiasm of Buddhists of many different ethnic groups living in Minnesota. Guidance of the Sangha was provided at the beginning byVen Sayadaw U Thondara and U Visaccana, abbot of Dhamma Rakkhita Monastery in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Soon after TBSN was founded, support was elicited from Sitagu Sayadaw Ashin Nyarnissara, an important and influential monk in Myanmar, to lead TBSN’s team in spreading Theravada Buddhism in MN through speech and publication. Sitagu Sayadaw visited St. Paul in 2005 on September 18th , 2005, and gave a very important sermon to all TBSN members.

In October 1st 2006, the monastery was named the Sitagu Dhamma Vihara, becoming the second Sitagu center, after the Sitagu Buddha Vihara in Austin, TX, and before the Sitagu Sangha Vihara in West Palm Beach, FL. At its original location at 1519 County Road C East, Maplewood, MN 55109, Sayadaw U Mahosaddha Pandita and U Eindasara (Baltimore) led Theravada Buddhist activities at the SDV. Sayadaw U Mahosaddha Pandita, Sitagu Sayadaw’s right hand venerable, was a well learned writer in Buddhism and also a principle leader of newly established monasteries across the States at that time. On the basis of his experience as a leader of various monasteries, he drew up the manual of rules and regulations for the abbot and for visiting monks.

In 2007 October, Ashin Nayakalankara, who then was studying for an M.A degree at New Daley, India, arrived in Minnesota and took over the duties at SDV as abbot, assigned by Sitagu Sayadaw. He worked very hard for three years in support of SDV while dealing with unfortunate disharmonies during his stay in MN. Ashin Nayakalankara left for India in March 2010 to work on his Ph. D thesis and Ashin Dr. Cintita, an American monk who had been ordained by Sitagu Sayadaw the previous year, stayed for several months to lead SDV. He taught meditation to those who wanted to learn at the monastery, and many Americans in the Twin Cities became aware of SDV, joined in us for Buddhist events and learned about Buddhism.

In 2011, the third under the name of Sitagu Sanga Vihara. Sitagu Sayadaw assigned Dr. Ashin Candasiri as an abbot of the SSV. With three main Sitagu Buddhist Centers in United States, representing all jewels of the Triple Gem, Sitagu Sayadaw asked that they share common standards. Accordingly, TBSN amended its constitution in 2011 to changd its name to TDSM (Theravada Dhamma Society of Minnesota) in conformity with the TDSA (for America) in Austin and TDSF in Florida.

On December 29th 2010, Ashin Taikkhanyarnalankara arrived at the SDV under the invitation of U Aung Koe and U Aung Than’s personal private sponsorship as abbot. With an expanding base of Buddhist immigrants, and in the spirit of promoting Theravada Buddhism in MN in accordance with Sitagu Sayadaw’s international promotion efforts, we bought a building on 23.3 acres of land at 32500 Lofton Ave., Chisago City, MN 55013 at the end of January 2014 at a cost of $265,000.00, and relocated SDV to the new site. This property is zoned of religious purposes by the Chisago County and now we can build according to the precedent of Sitagu Buddhist Vihara, Austin, TX under a Conditional Use Permit. We plan to begin building a pagoda, a Dhamma hall and other structures in the near future.

In 2014 Sitagu Sayadaw asked Ashin Dr. Osadhasara of Vezianta Monastery in Baltimore to come to Minnesota in April of 2015 to serve as abbot of the Sitagu Dhamma Vihara. Dr. Osadhasara brings with him a level of seniority and experience well suited for the anticipated future growth of the monastery and its expanding mission.

Resident Monks

A vihara is a monastery, which by definition is a residence for monks or nuns. The monks serve as teachers and exemplars of the Buddhadhamma, provide pastoral care and engage in public service. They are also engaged in many practical tasks like running this Web site. At the same time they live in a vulnerable position of dependence on the laity, not allowed a livelihood, nor to even cook for themselves, according to the Buddha’s instructions. This entails a special kind of symbiotic relationship between monk and laity that colors the Buddhist community.