The Ganapati Kulam is hard at work on the July/August/September, 2009, edition of Hinduism Today. This issue's feature article will be about Iraivan Temple. It is a beautiful, colorful article penned by our correspondent Lavina Melwani in New York. The worshipful image of Iraivan Temple, the maha sphatika Sivalingam, figures prominently. Out of our archives we dug this image, painted by artist Manivelu in Chennai, updating it with Photoshop magic to show the avudaiyar (base of the lingam) in panchaloka, a special type of bronze that is a blend of five metals prescribed in the Agamas for certain temple murtis. As you have seen on TAKA recently, this massive, 10,000-pound metal base has recently been cast by sthapatis in Swamimalai, Tamil Nadu. It is now getting its final touches before it is shipped to Kauai.
The letter "Ya" in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya, stands for the soul. Bodhinatha uses the Panchakshara Mantra to show how the soul is initially drawn by Siva's veiling grace, which leads the soul to maturity through experience in the world. Then comes Siva's revealing grace. When we've had enough of the world, Siva's grace pulls us toward God. The mantra also has the simple, two-syllable form. Si- Reflecting on God the Transcendent Absolute, Va-God as the All Pervading Consciousness