Sadasivanathaswami and Yoginathaswami
Off for Month-long India Mission

Paramacharya Sadasivanathswami and Sannyasin Yoginathaswami departed for India today for a 30-day mission. They are going the long route via San Franscisco, New York to Delhi. The primary goal of the trip is to take Bodhinatha's place for an invitation sent to him to attend a giant conclave of Hindu religious leaders at the Shri Pathmedha Godhaam which is a giant (thousands of acres) cow protection site. Yoginathaswami also needed to visit the Iraivan temple carving site, so both of these missions were added to the trip. Then, an additional invitation was sent for us to join the World Hindu Council event gathering in New Delhi. Along the way the two swamis will meet with many of our key associates in India. It is an action packed trip! Stay tuned... hopefully we will get images from the team on the road.

Off to the Airport!

Yesterday evening, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami and Sadhaka Mayuranatha left for the airport. The team is flying to Missouri and then to Texas. They will be returning October 13th.

Northern California

Off we went to a little redwood forest in Soquel, California, to spend a few hours at the home of Thamby and Mala Kumaran, who live in a little Hobbit-grove. It was our first-ever visit after many decades, and we were thrilled to see their home surrounded by forest at the end of a long and winding road. It reminded us of the Italian ashram in its remoteness.

Mala prepared a delightful lunch using some of the heirloom tomatoes that Deva Rajan brought, a meal enjoyed also by Haran Sivadas and Hara, Thamby's son. The tomato chutney was so savory, swami asked for the recipe so it could be added to The Monks' Cookbook

Thamby took the swamis to a screen hooked to his Mac, to present his latest 3-D sketches of the future Swayambhulingam Mandapam, beautiful designs that are taken from the shape of the Golden Roof at Chidambaram. These drawings will be important when Sadasivanathaswami sits down with Selvanathan Sthapati on November 8th in Bengaluru to evolve the designs for this important nexus of Gurudeva's 1975 visions.

Then off to Rocket Science (of which a report is awaiting some photos) and then Quad Graphics. Bodhinatha had met with Shawn Pye months ago, and wanted the Ganapati Kulam to meet him and discuss app development. Rebecca Scales flew in from Southern California for the meeting in their San Francisco offices.

And a surprisingly useful meeting it was! There global team is fully capable of producing the app we have longed for these past few years, at a reasonable cost and with even more features than we had hoped for. It seemed at the end of the meeting our relationship is destined to go far into the future of futures.

Then off to our final meeting at the Museum of Performance and Design, where we met with the archivist to see if we could capture more of Gurudeva's early history for our archives. The 3.5 million piece museum was founded on the collection of Russell Hartley (1922-1983). A dancer and designer for San Francisco Ballet in its formative years, Hartley's burgeoning interest in the history of dance and the performing arts led him to collect materials on the subject, particularly as they related to the city. By 1947, his collection was large enough that he formally established the San Francisco Dance Archives--a private collection available to the public, housed in his home.

It turned out we did find some fascinating things there. Among them a little painting by Hartley of a dancer, yes, Robert Hansen. And a postcard dated 1952 from Gurudeva to Hartley, written from Chicago in beautiful handwriting. And a little biography of Gurudeva that Hartley kept up to about 1977, with an amazing (albeit short) description of Gurudeva's dancing skills. There was more, and we will post some of it in the days ahead.

By 3pm we were dropped at the airport by Easan Katir for our flight to our lovely island home and to tell Bodhinatha of our journey's many lights and layers.

Yosemite National Park

"When I entered the sublime wilderness the day was nearly done, the trees with rosy glowing countenances seemed to be hushed and thoughtful, as if waiting in conscious religious dependence on the sun, and one naturally walked softly and awe stricken among them. I wandered on, meeting nobler trees where all are noble, subdued in the general calm, as if in some vast hall pervaded by the deepest sanctities and solemnities that sway human souls."
John Muir

After the intensity of Orlando, Boston and Loveland, we two wandering sadhus were hosted for a day at America's First National Park, Yosemite, decreed as such in 1864 by Abraham Lincoln. The geology was a combination of the uplifting of the Sierras some ten million years ago, followed one million years back by glaciers (up to 4,000 feet thick) which carved the valleys as they moved.

It's an amazingly beautiful area, startlingly so. We camped with simple tents and were kept warm by a small campfire that Sadasivanathaswami tended, with all gathered around to keep the cold at bay.

How cold? We were at 9,000 feet elevation and it snowed on this last day of the 2014 camping season. The ten-year-old twins had seen snow but never been in a snow storm, and Mayuresh had not seen or touched snow before. He made his first snowball, as you can see below.

Dasan Mahadevan was our hero and Noble Leader, bringing important survival gear and guiding us along all the best trails, including along the mountain river.

Chandran and Sahanadevi Param drew on their many camping years, and created foods more like a gourmet restaurant than a forest dwelling. Their boys, Bhajana and Jeyendra, provided stability and the spirit of helping others, while young Bodhi and Bela, just turned ten, gave the joy and wonder to the adventure.

Ravi Visswanathan and son Mayuresh were on their first camping outing ever, and so every part of the experience was new. Ravi, especially, proved a strong right hand for any task that needed to be done.

Note to self: Take more than tropical sandals when camping above 8,000 feet in the fall, and maybe even think of packing gloves and a jacket.

Thank you, everyone, for a quiet moment in the midst of our busy mission on the Very Big Island. Off next to San Francisco.

Off to Colorado

The traveling monks felt much smarter following a short visit to Harvard University, where we were taken into a vast genetics laboratory where advanced research is being done to make the world a healthier place. We would explain just what the scientists and technicians were doing, but that would require us to understand the things they told us.

Next, we crossed the plains to Loveland. Colorado. Loveland? That's right. This little town an hour north of Denver is America's foremost sculpting and bronze casting region. There are over 300 sculptors here, five major foundries and dozens of teams of craftsmen. So, it is not surprising that this is where our Iraivan Temple Builders' Tribute is being made.

Rajkumar Manickam drove up from Eagle, Colorado to spend the days with us, and Rushika Suriyakumar flew in from Concord, California, and Holly Young flew in from the Big Island to meet the team. Together we all took a day-long tour of the four major shops that are involved in the making of the bronze statues.

First, Page Bronze where Bobby and Kathy Page showed us the wax model of Holly's next masterpiece, two silpis sitting back to back on a stone, one doing the rough cutting and the other smoothening the stone. Kathy had duct-tapped the pieces together, so we could review the sculpture. It's amazing, a powerful depiction of the silpi arts. Rushika was conscripted into placing a square, hammer and several chisels which will show visitors in the future the different types of chisels used for different tasks.

Then off to the foundry, where Chris took us into a never-never land of 2000 degree metals. He had arranged for a pour to coincide with our visit, so we saw the whole thing.

Next, we stopped at Debbie Bakels Patina shop where the all-important colors are added to the metal. Debbie gave us a Chemistry 101 course during which we learned that she makes her own iron oxide with rusty nails that she rusts herself. Seems the store-bought iron oxide does not bond as well with the copper in the bronze. Finally, we visited another Debbie, who crates and ships the statues.

That evening we all came together at a local restaurant for a Celebratory Dinner. This team which works so closely still had never gotten together socially, and the presence of Holly and Rushika made it an historic dinner. Sadasivanathaswami had prepared a 20-minute slideshow summarizing the past accomplishments (we have finished five masterworks) and looking to the work ahead (we have three to go)

Each one of the craftsmen was called to the podium to speak of her or his experiences in making the works (especially Gurudeva's), and their stories were remarkably similar and surprisingly spiritual. Seems their lives and even their businesses have been transformed in the past four years as they work on the tribute pieces. It was a delightful gathering to be remembered far into the future of futures.

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

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