Swami Aksharananda Visits Kauai

swami visits
With great enthusiasm, the monastery welcomed the two-day visit of Swami Aksharananda of Guyana. Swami has mixed with us at the annual HMEC meetings in the US and recently at the World Hindu Congress in New Delhi.

Swami came with a mission, to help the  500 students in his school. He is eager to engage them more in Hindu studies and finds the Himalayan Academy books and resources the best out there for this work. Swami also has formally invited Bodhinatha to come to Guyana, meet his teachers and students, give talks and uplift the 300,000 Hindus in the nation.

Swami told the monks during lunch that they probably do not know how deeply their work and life here affects the wider world. He said Gurudeva’s ashram is unique in all the world, both for keeping the H-word in its vocabulary and for genuinely embracing and supporting all of the sampradayas in a truly universal spirit. We could add that Swami’s own heart is of that same spirit.

Swami Aksharananda is a key figure in the Hindu community of Guyana. As a Hindu scholar and Prinicipal of the Saraswati Vidya Niketan (SVN) High School, he was honored by Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra and Keshav-Srishti on Friday January 4, 2008 during a ceremony at the Alkesh Mody Auditorium, Kalina Campus, Mumbai. Swami was honored for his work in the areas of education and social service in Guyana. He has an MA in Sanskrit from Banaras Hindu University and PhD in Hindu Studies from the University of Madison, Wisconsin.

Ganapati Kulam Helpers

Today the Ganapati Kulam's morning meeting was joined by two extra helpers. Haran Kandadas is here for about a month making progress on some of the few remaining projects for the Media Studio's interior. Sivarathna, here for six months, just finished a month working in the Pillayar Kulam and has now joined the Ganapati Kulam for a month, thus giving him a unique understanding of the inner-workings of the monastery's many areas of service.

New Kauai Map

It took a full day but this Kauai Map and pedestal now grace the Living Garden near the flagpole where pilgrims gather for darshan of the Holy Siva Shrine.

The map arrived last year, but the base just came in the last shipment. It is a testament to the craftsmanship of our team in India. They are capable of the finest granite stone art in the world, and this is proof. It took several years to complete following my designs which were nothing more than pencil scratches on paper. From that, they created this!

Both the map and the base are of rose granite, some of course highly polished to give the powerful contrast of forms. The circular map was tremendously challenging, as the silpis worked from a USGS plastic extruded map we sent them which was topographically accurate. But we did not want simple accuracy. To further challenge them, we asked for the height to be exaggerated 500%.

Why? At this scale, which is 32 inches in diameter, the mountains at the center would only be one inch high, and that seemed a little pitiable. We wanted to show the island in full relief, as we see it in our mind's eye, not in reality. So, they had to extrude each cliff and valley and volcano.

The edge of the map is, of course, water. Reminding us of Gurudeva's oft-told joke when he was explaining to people where he lived. Without breaking a smile, he would say, "I live on a Pacific Ocean island, a beautiful island that's completely surrounded by water." He loved the subtle moment (often delayed several seconds) when people got the point, that all islands are surrounded by water.

The map has water flowing at its edges and sea creatures swimming in the tides. The base picks up this theme and celebrates the island's living species: whales, dolphins, turtles and tropical fishes navigating the coral reefs. And the whale is singing aloha to three tropical birds in the sky.

A Phase Ending

Today is the last day of this phase before the monks take a three day retreat. The Aadheenam is quiet, with a gentle breeze and cloudy skies. A good way to end the first week of Sadhu Paksha. The monks will have one more phase of this observance, spending their morning hours away from their usual routine, walking the sacred gardens or perhaps just meditating at one of the Monastery's many smaller shrines or sacred statues.

“Those who are near me do not know that you are nearer to me than they are
Those who speak to me do not know that my heart is full with your unspoken words
Those who crowd in my path do not know that I am walking alone with you
Those who love me do not know that their love brings you to my heart”

― Rabindranath Tagore

Bodhinatha Returns

Yesterday morning, Bodhinatha and Shanmuganathaswami returned from their two week journey to Malaysia and Singapore. All the monks stopped their work to walk down and meet them at the monastery entrance, offering a flower to their satguru and their traveling swami.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

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