Our Innersearch journalists report on June 20, 2010:
Another day full to the brim with activities. Each day brings its surprises--we all wonder how a new day will unfold. And as it unfolds, we marvel at the extraordinary events that we are blessed to witness and participate in. Our hearts are full of gratitude for the wonderful organisation of the monks. It feels like they have invited us into their home for this very special Innersearch.
Day 9 begins with pada puja to our beloved Gurudeva, a silent and moving puja as we again feel the presence of the founder of this sacred place. After breakfast, we met with the swamis in the Guru Pitham for a question and answer session. Each swami spoke of their duties and responsibilities, including their hobbies and pets. It was great to learn more about the work that is performed and the lives that "our" swamis live. The swamis then answered questions that had been submitted during the previous days. Our youngest Master Course student--Pooja, who is 13 years old--screened and selected the questions and chose an Innersearcher to read each one. There were great questions, many about karma such as, "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
Palaniswami then took us into the Aadheenam grounds near Rishi Valley to plant two trees. Several of us had never planted a tree before, and so got to hold the trees as they were placed in the ground. Arati to the trees was performed by Arumugaswami and these blessings together with the tropical Kauaian weather will ensure that the trees grow well.
We moved from there to the Rainbow Amphitheater for an Odissi dance performance by Sri Vishnu Tattva Das, a talented and powerful Odissi dancer and teacher. The Innersearch organising team had sought out Vishnu to perform for us, and asked him to research and perform traditional dances for Siva, though he is personally a Vaishnavite. He enjoyed this very much and, upon arrival at the Aadheenam, commented how wonderful it was to have a dancing guru leading devotees to a dancing God.
The Rainbow Amphitheater was magnificent, surrounded by Rainbow Gums still glistening from the morning rain. Gurudeva wanted this space to be instrumental in bringing dance back into the temple, and he danced here himself. Vishnu performed a transcendent dance program that brought tears even to the eyes of those who had seen hundreds of Odissi dances. The dappled light from the trees and the refracted light from the white stage added to the wonder of the performance. The program included Mangalacharam (Invocation to the Lord of the Universe), Siva Panchakshara Stotram (an offering of salutations to Lord Siva), Ardhanarishwara Stotram (a 16-minute performance depicting Siva and Shakti), and Moksha (an incredible dance in which the dancer elevates himself to a state of ecstasy and bliss).
As if that was not enough (!) many of us took the opportunity to take a helicopter ride over the island. It was an incredible trip. After the thrill of takeoff, we relaxed into a contemplative state, letting the rivers and waterfalls, the impossible green that is the interior of Kauai surprise as and then, as if floating, pass by us. We rode the ridges and floated into valleys. Music tailored to the ride and suiting the sights was played into our headphones.
To end the day, we changed into our finery for a semi-formal dinner. Our entertainment for the night was Larry Rivera and his family. Larry performed at the Tropical Inn (on the same site as the current Aadheenam) in the late '60s during Innersearch, prior to the purchase of the site by Gurudeva. It was wonderful that he could complete the circle and play for us this night, some 42 years later.
Aum Namah Sivaya.
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"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta