The Five Powers of Siva

We unpacked the five bronzes of God Siva yesterday, revealing their astonishing detail. No wonder it took years for the craftsmen in South India to makes these murthis. Five forms each in five metals, to be placed in five niches on the outisee of the Iraivan garbhagriham.

Meantime, we thought you would love to see them, to enjoy the high level of sculpting that was achieved and a few words about this traditional depiction of divinity.

Most Saivites understand that Siva has five powers: creation, preservation, dissolution and the dual graces, concealing and revealing. Those who read our philosophically rich July, 2012, Insight Section, "Five Powers of Siva, Sadasiva in the Agama Scriptures," will have encountered the profundity of this understanding of God (bit.ly/Panchasiva). In Iraivan Temple, these five powers are enshrined as five forms of Siva in bronze, two-foot-tall statues installed in niches around the outside of the central sanctum: Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Ishana. 

Sadyojata, "quickly birthing" is Brahma, element earth, color white and denoted by Na in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya. Vamadeva, "pleasing," is Vishnu, element water, color saffron and letter Ma. Aghora, "non-terrifying," is Rudra, element fire, color blue-black and letter Si. Tatpurusha, "supreme soul," is Maheshvara, element air, color gold and letter Va. Ishana, "ruler," is Sadasiva, element akasha, color crystal and letter Ya.

These bronzes were commissioned from Ganapati Sthapati's Mahabalipuram worksite and took several years to complete under his careful direction. They finally and somewhat magically arrived on Kauai in November, 2014, right at the conclusion of the Mahasamadhi observances for Gurudeva. 

Media Studio Wainscoting and Lava Rocks

With the bulk of the Media Studio having been completed, a few final detailed projects remain. Though the list is short, these to-do's require ample time and skill to come to fruition. Two such projects are now wrapping up, and they happen to be some of most noteworthy additions to the building's near-finished look and feel: the mango wainscoting on the north wall and the entryway's lava rock.

With help from master-carpenter Jeff, the wainscoting on the north wall was fully created, assembled and finished in the woodshop, before being carried over the the building for a quick and easy installation. This is the mango wood from the tree that had to be cut down outside the Media Studio. It will live on as one the the space's most stunning features.

It has been a long process to properly prepare the entryway walls for the placement of lava rock. The two massive doors on either side had to be engineered to hold hundreds of pounds of weight. The left-side door leads to Arumuganathaswami's office and the right-side door leads to the building's restroom. Both doors are designed to blend into the lava rock walls. Brad, a master stoneworker, has been hired to fit the stones to perfection. He is creating beautiful seams in the doors and a balanced look around the two wooden shrines of both Gurudeva and Ganesha.

Entryway Vents

Today the two aluminum green vents arrived for the media studio's entryway. They sit on either side of the door for natural ventilation. A big thanks to Kanda Alahan for his work in fabricating these quarter inch pieces. The Indian tribal designs were etched with high-pressure water jets and then powder coated green

Iraivan Temple Carving

Here are some more recent photos from Jiva in Bengaluru, depicting the hand carving that is nearing completion. These are some of the final hand carved pieces of the main temple structure. Any surrounding work, such as the perimeter wall, is including machine carved work, making for a much faster process.

Media Studio Landscaping

There begins the work of making the outside of the Media Studio more in tandem with the inside. As part of the landscaping, Holika and his team of Tongans have been working on repainting a large wall on the South side. They are painting it with two shades of green, the lighter of which is a pattern taken from nature, the amazing leaf of the tropical plant Monstera deliciosia. This giant vine has a 34-inch leaf with deep lobes and holes in the leaves. A native of south Mexico and Panama, it produces an edible fruit that tastes just like a pineapple, hence it's common name, Fruit Salad Tree. The wall will soon be planted with the vine and in five years all of the paint will be covered by the living plant itself.

Meantime the Tongans also poured concrete for the entry path to the Media Studio portico, using the same quartzite as the other paths have and creating an inviting entry access.

The final photo here is Jeff working on one of the massive rock doors.

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