Amongst everything else, something very interesting and quite momentous has been happening quietly behind the scenes at the monastery the past few weeks. A devotee has come forward to inspire us to have an audiobook created for The Guru Chronicles.
There is something about hearing stories being read to you, hearing teachings being taught to you. We knew the book was important and would have a positive and important effect on the world, especially to the children and grandchildren of Yogaswami devotees worldwide who have struggled for the past half century to grasp who Yogaswami is, and now to the students coming forward seeking membership in Saiva Siddhanta Church and even to enter the renunciate life at Kauai Aadheenam, but who did not know Gurudeva in person. What we didn't know was that there was a missing piece, that an audiobook would make the circle complete. As the project has begun to develop, it has thoroughly inspired Bodhinatha and our publications kulam. Gurudeva's energy is clearly behind it.
When we initially put the call out through a few different channels to find just the right person to voice the text, we were skeptical that we would find someone who could fit the bill. It would, of course, have to be just the right person, with just the right voice and vocal capabilities. We wanted a male voice, raised if not born in America, but of Sri Lankan or Indian descent, with some accent, but not a lot, an approachable voice that is easy to listen to, having the ability to pronounce Sanskrit and Tamil words and names properly and with ease. It seemed a bit of a long-shot to us! We couldn't think of anyone amongst the folks we know, and we know a lot of folks.
Then we got an email back from a pandit who has done some writing for Hinduism Today in the past. He runs a philosophical mailing list. The pandit had received some useful advice from the monastery and sought to give back in some way. He helped by announcing our call on his mailing list. A recipient of the list forwarded the message to one Raj "Roger" Narayan, who immediately wrote to us expressing great interest in the project. We had no idea who he was. When we looked him up, we discovered that he is a Hollywood actor with quite a bit of experience in mainstream and independent TV and movies, and we even recognized him from a few of his roles. It was only after we initially got in touch with him that we then went back over his resumé and noticed something that was masked from our view initially: that his latest project was a lead role in "Clay," a beautiful short film by Sushma Khadepaun-Parmar, a gifted, award-winning indie writer-director who literally had just finished a project for us the same week. She did the new "Introduction to the Monastery" video on our site. What synchronicity?
Raj is young and so full of inspiration for this project. As we have gotten to know him, we have discovered that he is from a traditional Indian Tamil background, born in Sri Rangam and raised in Bangalore and the San Francisco Bay Area. In fact, while working as an engineer in the Bay Area before pursuing his acting career, he occasionally visited our temple in Concord as well as singing and dancing arangetrams of some of our members' children. All this time, it turns out, he has known of the monastery from a distance. It seems that Ganesha and Gurudeva have been drawing him toward the monastery, perhaps for the divine work of voicing The Guru Chronicles audiobook, for many years.
Amazed and inspired by the book, he recorded an audition, reading a selection of pages that we proposed, so we could get a feel for what it would sound like. You can listen to his audition below. Can you imagine hearing the entire book read like that, with such professional skill? With a little guidance, his voice and storytelling abilities will let us all feel like we are sitting around a campfire with him as he tells us the stories, becoming each of the characters in the book, transitioning skillfully from one to the other. The impact that the audio edition of this book will have for generations to come is only something we can imagine as we embark on this project.
This week Raj, his wife Rama and four-month-old son Pratim came to Kauai to meet Bodhinatha and the monks in person, visit Gurudeva's temples, speak with the authors of the book, walk the land that is such an integral part of the book, meditate here and there and absorb the feelings of these real places and stories. It has been an intensive week of conversations, walks, more conversations, test recordings and feedback sessions, all to help him prepare to read the book in his professional home studio in Los Angeles over the next few months.
We hope you all enjoy his audition and look forward to the audiobook edition of The Guru Chronicles as much as we do. Aum Namah Sivaya.
Use the controller below to play the audio.
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