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.
Today the monks held a early morning puja at the Swayambhu Lingam in honor of Gurudeva's Vision of Siva 38 years ago.
Today is Founder's Day, marking 38 years since that historic morning when Siva came in a vision to Gurudeva, a hallowed moment that was the birth of Iraivan Temple. Today, interestingly enough, is also Sivaanbu Day celebrated all over America (and even in India we are told). Yes, Valentine's Day. It is the day set aside for people to openly express their love for a tiny part of Sivaness, and look forward to the day when that love will grow, expand and be felt for every creature, every atom in the cosmos. Happy Sivaanbu Day, everyone!
Here is how Gurudeva described that sacred morning:
"San Marga was established as a result of a three-fold vision that came to me early one morning in 1975. I saw Lord Siva walking in the meadow near the Wailua River. Then His face was looking into mine. Then He was seated upon a great stone. Astonished, I was seated on His left side. Upon reentering earthly consciousness, I felt certain the great stone was somewhere on our land and set about to find it. Guided from within by my satguru, I hired a bulldozer and instructed the driver to follow me as I walked to the north edge of the property that was then a tangle of buffalo grass and wild guava. I hacked my way through the jungle southward as the dozer cut a path behind me. After almost half a mile, I sat down to rest near a small tree. Though there was no wind, suddenly the tree's leaves shimmered as if in the excitement of communication. I asked the tree, "What is your message?" In reply, my attention was directed to a spot just to the right of where I was sitting. When I pulled back the tall grass, there was a large rock, the self-created Linga on which Lord Siva had sat. The bulldozer's trail now led exactly to the sacred stone, surrounded by five smaller boulders. San Marga, the straight or pure path to God, had been created. All this happened February 15, 1975. Worship of the sacred stone with water and flowers was commenced immediately through daily puja rites, and a master plan was unfolded from the devonic worlds."
We created a special PDF file this morning so you could see the nine astonishing vision paintings done by our Kerala artist, Suresh Mutthukulam, art which depicts the three visions above and Gurudeva's subsequent unfolding of Iraivan's destiny. Here you can also learn of the timeline for the temple's history. Download here It is a large PDF so we suggest you right/control-click and "Save Link As" to be sure the file is saved to your hard drive.
The swamis met under a holy Rudraksha tree with Martin Mosco and Pradeep Chand, mapping strategies for stockpiling large boulders for Iraivan landscaping.
The rocks are so heavy, it requires us to strengthening the entry road to handle 80-ton trucks (stone and trailer combined), and we have to widen the road in two places for these big rigs. Two special ramps will be constructed by Pradeep for safe offloading of boulders. Lots of talk about rigging, safety, stone care and handling. Great session.
Pradeep is immersed in a water department project for two weeks, then will orchestrate the test runs.
Martin is continuing the model making for Rishi Valley and the main waterfall. He has commissioned me to find a way to put in two footings in the marsh for a little bridge that takes pilgrims past the waterfall. Herewith photos from the meeting just ended and my latest ontological quip:
In life: Nothing is misshapen, mishappening, mistaken, mistimed, misguided, mismanaged, miscarried, misplaced or missing.