In November 2005, Saiva Siddhanta Church sishya Potriyan Sivanathan came from Malaysia to participate in our "task force" program. Living at the monastery and following the daily routine, he helped the monastics with their service, or "seva". On this visit to our land across the river he took the opportunity to pose with this young mahogany tree (Swietenia macrophylla).
Potriyan has returned to our task force program and took the opportunity to visit his mahogany tree friend on Himalayan Acres. Both Potriyan and the tree have grown and matured! Mahogany is highly valued, not only for its beauty and durability, but also for its natural stability as a wood. Many woods will warp and change size as they encounter differences in their environment, such as a change of humidity. Not so wood from this variety of tree. As a result you find many antiques made of this wood that have lasted hundreds of years without deteriorating.
A tree that produces a beautiful red hardwood is the national tree of the Philippines known as Narra or Padauk (Pterocarpus indicus). Unlike almost any other tree, a large log of Narra, when placed in the ground, can sprout into a new tree. These Narra logs were planted during Potriyan's 2005 visit. Some were eight inches in diameter.
Not only did they sprout but they have grown into the beautiful small grove of trees shown here with Potriyan and Sadhaka Rajanatha.
When we first obtained the land we call Himalayan Acres, Gurudeva dreamed of planting hardwoods as a way of giving back to the earth and at the same time creating an endowment for the Aadheenam. One of the first steps was the planting of windbreaks from ironwood trees (Casuarina cunninghamiana), In the summer of 2005, Sannyasin Arumugaswami posed with this windbreak to show how much it had grown.
Waist deep in guinea grass, Potriyan stands before the same trees four years later.
Our very first hardwoods planted on Himalayan Acres, these Koa trees (Acacia koa), had grown above the guinea grass by the summer of 2005.
Long treasured by the Hawaiians, Koa produces a wood of unequaled beauty. Dr. Thiagarajan admires the growth of this Koa during his visit to Himalayan acres.
Potriyan and Sadhaka Rajanatha admire a teak tree (Tectona grandis). One of the great challenges to our forestry efforts is the grass that you see here, known as guinea grass. It has a tendency to grow over small trees, slowing their growth and even killing them. Teak trees, however seem to love the grass. These teak trees were two or three inches tall when they were planted in July 2006 by task force members Maruthu Dharmalingam, Kartikeya Katir and Seiyonne Suriyakumar.
"Stand strong for Saivism." The nature of life for Saivites is to turn work into worship, to turn the secular into the sacred. Each day give a little extra warmth, humanness and upliftment to others. Every day is a holy day, all day long. We want to follow our religion even in our dreams. If we help someone, we're worshiping. Wherever we are, that's a place of worship. "To the Saivite Hindu all of life is sacred. All of life is religion."