Acharya Arumuganathaswami and Sadhaka Jayanatha On the Road

Our California team arrived Los Angles a few days ago. The plane landed in the late evening, and they quickly proceeded to a place to stay the night in the giant city. As many know, the weather has brought rain, wind and even a small tornado (fairly close to where our monks were staying) to this usually dusty, concrete jungle. The next day our monk drove along the 70mph freeways for hours, darting in and out of traffic, blinded by the constant mist which sprayed from beneath every vehicle on the flooded speedways. They had several meetings with university professors to discuss the text book issue which we now face, and to get some insight for the upcoming structural quality commission which the monks will be attending, and where our list of recommended edits to the California textbook narrative will come up for review. You can view the proposed document here. That evening the team met with several parents and school children to discuss the issue and get some firsthand accounts of the 6th and 7th grade presentation of Hinduism. That was followed by a short Satsang at the home of Mayuran and Amanda Muttulingam.

Our monks left LA the following morning at 6am and made their way up the interstate to Fremont, California. The two worked their way up the the grapevine, experiencing miles and miles of flatland, replete with, you guessed it, grapevines, but also citrus fruits, almonds, and many other fields of trees which would actually be producing fruit if they had water with which to do it. in an odd juxtaposition to the dead, brown trees, the ground had received a few days of heavy rain allowing for the grass throughout the fields to glow bright green in the morning sun. A thick fog played over most of i-5 as the morning sun evaporated the plentiful groundwater.

The two travelers had been invited to attend the Chinmaya Mission events in Fremont, San Jose and San Ramon. Acharya Aramuganathaswami gave his talk to parents at each group, explaining the issue with the current texts book standards, giving ideas as to how parents can participate, and getting feedback and personal testimony from parents about their child's education. Today is the final of these three events in San Jose.

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. 

A Panchaganapati Story

ganesha Dear swamis of Kauai Aadheenam! Last night Savitri and I stepped outside to watch the Geminid meteor shower and, indeed, saw a few nice ones. This morning at breakfast, we told our 5-year-old daughter, Meena, about it and she literally broke down crying. With tears streaming down her face she timidly said that she has never seen one in her "whole life"! I told her we will go out tonight when it's dark and look for them. Of course, the Geminids would have already past and at the time before she goes to bed, Gemini will have barely risen. Nonetheless, as promised, this evening, we went outside at 6 pm and sat on the bench looking at the skies in the direction of Gemini, begging the sky for a shooting star. Twenty minutes passed in the freezing cold with no shooting stars. Then I said, "I know, let's ask Ganesha." Meena turned her head back to the house in the direction of the shrine room and softly called "Ganesha"  looking up in the sky in the opposite direction of Gemini. Instantly, a spectacular meteorite shot high in the sky lasting over two seconds. We both gasped! Later, Meena kissed the ornament on the Panchaganapati shrine with Ganesha's image and said, "thank you."  We thought you would all appreciate our holiday story. Jaya Ganesha!

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.

Monks Educational Mission To California

monks leave for Ca

Acharya Arumuganathaswami and Sadhaka Jayanatha leave home today for the open road of California's educational highway. The primary goal of their trip is to meet the Sacramento Instructional Quality Commission to discuss the standards for presenting Hinduism in California schools. Stay tuned for more updates...

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