Chidambaram Kumbhabhishekam

Above are some recently received these photos of the completion of the Chidambaram Sri Nataraja Maha Kumbhabishekam

Bearing Ganga on spreading, matted locks, the forehead eye sparkling, the breath spirating as tempestuous wind, the immaculate form shining radiant as the clear sky, the holy feet stretching to the ends of Earth, the blemishless heart serving as pedestal, the Vedas chanting aloud of themselves, the right hand that grants refuge and the left hand that grants favors both appropriately gesturing, the nada sound of drum filling the air all around--thus Siva dances.
Tayumanavar 15.4-5.

A Master Carver

Two days back, while going through our archives, we came across these photos of Neelamegham, the master carver who created Kadavul's Nandi, Ganesha and Murugan. Back in the late 1970s he also carved our statues of Saint Tirumular and Tiruvalluvar. His work was historic for the Aadheenam, and set a high bar for black granite murtis at Kauai's Hindu Monastery.

He was a powerful force in the silpi community during his life, but physically lithe and thin, his body contrasting strongly with his prodigious skills and massive creations. He once told the monks that the 16-ton Nandi he did for Gurudeva was one of the most difficult carvings of his life, not because of the intricacy of detail but because at that scale it was difficult to keep a three-dimensional picture in the mind while working on one side, not seeing the other.

One day the King of Nepal visited his carving site near Mahabalipuram and saw the 6-foot-tall Murugan that was almost finished, commissioned by Gurudeva for Kadavul Temple. The King fell instantly in love with the murti, understood the incredible art that sat before him and asked for a price. Neelamegham Sthapati said it was not for sale, that it was being carved for a Guru's temple in Hawaii. The King then told Neelamegham that he would pay twice what the Hawaii swami was offering. Neelamegham explained that he could not disappoint a holy man, and thus he disappointed a Hindu King.

That same murti profoundly impressed another man, our own Shanmuga Sthapati who spent two years on Kauai assembling Iraivan. One day, during a Skanda Shashti puja, the monks were doing abhishekam and had just poured milk on Murugan's head and face. Sthapati was standing before the shrine, and began to weep. Sadasivanathaswami later asked him about the tears of joy, and Sthapati explained, "It was such a profound darshan, seeing the milk on the face. The way the milk flowed down the stone revealed the perfection of Neelamegham's carving. One can work lifetimes and not achieve that perfection, and seeing it brought a feeling of wonder. It is a divine face, without a flaw."

Today we honor Neelamegham Sthapathi and thank him for his amazing and sacred works of artistry.

Mission Work Continues…

This time its Acharya Arumuganathaswami and Sadhaka Jayanatha heading to California. Acharya will be spreading awareness on the effort to update the chapter on Hinduism in school textbooks. More to report on in the days ahead, stay tuned...

Nepal’s Earthquake: Satguru’s Perspective of Disasters

From an article written by by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, following the Asian Tsunami of 2004: On the philosophical level, major disasters in the world cause everyone to stop and think--think about ourselves, our family, friends, community, nation and the world itself. If our faith is not strong, our thoughts can be of a negative nature. You have heard people wondering aloud why God would allow such a thing to happen, why good people are suffering so, how can there even be a God if such tragedy can occur on Earth? However, if our faith is strong, then our reflections and our reactions remain positive.

From the Hindu point of view, questions of blame and punishment do not arise. God does not punish, does not visit terrible things upon the Earth. It is, after all, His creation. He did give the natural forces on this Earth immense power, yet even these are forces of change and evolution.

For Hindus the most terrific of disasters is not some cosmic chastisement, but the rightful unfolding of dharma and destiny. For the devout Hindu, loss and even death, while difficult, are not beyond our ability to accept. After all, our soul is eternal and through its many lives on Earth undergoes a variety of experiences, many joyful, others sorrowful, but it benefits spiritually from all experience, whether seemingly good or bad.

However, as Gurudeva, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, said, "Because the fear of death is so much a part of social consciousness today, as ignorance prevails in these matters, sorrow rather than joy is often experienced. In not understanding life in its fullness, many cannot help but misunderstand death. The attitude should be one of joy based on beliefs that come from the knowledge of karma and samsara. Experience of joy and a total release of the loved one would come from a pure understanding of the processes of life. A better word than death is transition, passing into a new form of life--life into life."

My guru's guru, Siva Yogaswami of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, many years ago foresaw the difficult times the peoples of his country have faced for the past two decades of civil war and the loss of 60,000 lives. Now his nation has suffered in one day, December 26, the loss of over 30,000 lives, with one million, fully five percent of the nation, left homeless. This great sage counseled how to cope with such horrific situations in his Natchintanai hymn, "Nalluran Tiruvadi:" "Even if war and famine come and the world is burnt to ashes, shall we know any fear, O Parrot? Arumugam is our refuge."

In other verses Yogaswami stresses that the atma, our soul, is eternal, that Lord Murugan is our protection, and clinging to His holy feet will cause all distress and anguish to disappear. Yogaswami's sagely advice is clear--difficulties are a part of life on this planet and the sorrow they bring can be overcome through the worship of God and the Gods.

In these times, we find solace in the words of the illumined satgurus, whose vision is wider and deeper than our own. Pramukh Swami Maharaj of BAPS counseled his followers in the aftermath of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake: "Natural calamities like earthquakes have been affecting mankind since time immemorial. It is a natural phenomenon, like rain. It is not the wrath of God.

So, whatever has to happen, happens. The good and the painful all are a part of life, and we should accept both with equanimity. When people are facing difficulties and sorrows, our Indian tradition is to offer them solace. We feel that by serving the human beings we serve the Lord Himself." Read the full Article here.

Orchid’s View

A CyberCadet sends this digital painting today, the view of monks in procession on the Great Path as seen from high above by an orchid.

"All men are beautiful walking flowers. Instead of remaining as a witness and enjoying all this, man suffers through being possessed by the disease of 'I' and 'mine.' It is God who sees as the eye behind our eye. Brahman fills us entirely." Siva Yogaswami

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

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