Repairing Redwood in the Courtyard

Over the last few days, Dasan Mahadevan has been working tirelessly to repair the termite-damaged pillars in the monastery's courtyard. The courtyard is where the monks have lunch everyday and much of it's woodwork dates back to the early 1900's. The redwood pillars suffered termite damage to their surfaces long ago and have since been in need of a touch-up. Dasan has been filling the holes, artfully scraping the white filler to match the wood, and then he has painted them with a final coat of paint.

A New Laser Printer

Recently, the Pillayar Kulam received and installed their new laser printer. For a number of years, the kulam has been using a smaller laser printer primarily to cut and etch wooden products for the Mini Mela gift shop. This new laser printer can cut much thicker, broader and longer pieces, making for a wider variety of potential uses.

Our Visit to Kailash Ashram

[Seeking forgiveness for the typing here, as the post was composed on an Indian road in sometimes wild traffic]

The family gathers at dawn in the shrine room for a short tutorial by Yoginathaswami, who gives them detailed insights into the Atmarta Puja which they perform each day as part of their diksha sadhanas. The puja follows and a true South Indian breakfast.

Off for a day and night at Kailash Ashram and our dear brother Shree Jayendrapuri Swami, successor to the great guru and Maha Swami, Trichyswami, whom Gurudeva loved so deeply. We are greeted with such love and taken on a long tour, shown the new Rajagopuram work, the Trichyswami Temple of Health (an amazing pyramidal healing center they are building), and more. Swami is erecting a pyramid shaped building which will serve his medical center. It is exactly 1/5 the size of Egyptian pyramid, 151 feet on a side and 90 feet tall. Inside the ashram he is building and has almost completed another smaller (45 feet on a side) pyramid for meditation within the monastery. 

We are then taken to the head of the ashram, Jayendrapuri Swami, whose love of his Guru is legendary and who is masterfully evolving every aspect of the ashram. We are a bit stunned by the scope of the work they have undertaken and the commitment to perfection in every detail.

Swami has responded to our call for help, with the design and fabrication of a golden crown for the Swayambhu Spatika Lingam, and introduces us to Alagapa Raja and his father. Raja has been a devotee and jeweler for the Ashram for 30 years. Swami directs us to adjourn to our cottage and work out the details for the crown, which we do.

The moment I present the vision, Raja pulls a pair of scissors from nowhere and cuts a shape which becomes the crown, proceeding immediately to draw the designs. We tell him which gems are Agamically associated with which of Siva's faces, and he masterfully incorporates it. Amazing to see such a gifted artist at work. I give him the title of Gold Sthapati and he smiles appreciatively.

We are called back to Swami. He wants to see and approve the drawing, and then he himself hands over the first offering of gold for the project. He approves, and Raja is thrilled that within an hour we have accomplished such a complex task together.

Swami suggests we rest a bit (translation, we take time for catching up with email). Around 5 pm we meet Swami again, then attend his daily evening puja to Shree Rajarajeswari. Afterwards we are entertained by padashala boy performing a tabla and flute concert! (they were actually practicing). Swami joined us to enjoy the concert. At the end, Swami and boys chanted Siva Mahima Stotra beautifully!

We had dinner with Swami and retired. In the morning we again are invited to his private nitya puja, performed with such grace and detail. Two boys, ages 7 and 10, perform a virtual dance as they assist Swami with the many details of this two-hour puja to Sri Chakra. After breakfast, Swami take us up to the top of the buildings, to show his solar field and his steam-producing system (four giant mirrors) that provide all the steam for cooking. He is setting high standards here. With arms filled with gifts and hearts filled with shared purpose and Swami's blessings, we set off, with Senthil and Thurai, for the four-hour drive to Vellore, where the famed Golden Temple awaits us.

Jai Gurudeva! Jai Trichyswami!

Wingbeans and Double Digging

With the extra help from taskforcers and karma yogis, the Siddidatta Kulam has been making steady progress in a variety of areas, including the upper and lower gardens. On Sun 1, the team did their weekly upkeep of the garden and then proceeded to weed the wingbean fence, which has started its abundant cycle of production. Another important project they've been working on is the preparation of our newest raised garden beds. While having raised beds has proven to be one of the most effective gardening techniques for use in our environment, it can have issues. When heavy rains fall, the beds have the potential to fill up with water, unless the hard clay beneath them has been properly broken up. We call this clay-breaking-up process "double digging." It is an excellent way to get your day's exercise.

"What is Saivism? We are devotees of Lord Siva and we are doing Sivathondu--that is Saivism" Yogaswami

Siddhaganga Mutt

The Rajasankara family has a beautiful shrine room which follows Gurudeva's ideals: a central room decorated better than any other in the home, kept pure and immaculately clean. They asked Yoginathaswami to hold the morning atmarta puja, which he did for two days. There were leisurely moments each day for the swamis to "talk story" with the family and share informally, interspersed with Kanmani's world-class cuisine.

The first afternoon five Master Course students came to the home to meet for two hours with the swamis to talk about the spiritual path. Lots of good questions came, questions about commitment, about affirmations, about meditation. I showed the 15-minute Keynote that will be presented on November 21st at the World Hindu Congress in New Delhi, a rehearsal that proved useful as several little errors were discovered.

On November 8th we drove to the Siddhaganga Mutt, a 1,200-year-old monastery that today is a strong educational institution, with over 10,000 students, several colleges and technical schools.

This is the home of our 2013 Hindu of the Year, and we have come to personally hand the Renaissance Award to Siddhaganga Swami. It's a great privilege, especially since swami is 107 years old (108 in April we are told). Swami is seated in a small office right off the road, bent with age but alert and radiant.

We offer a large tray containing 18 kinds of flowers that Jayendrapuri Swami has sent with us, and give Swami the plaque and a copy of the magazine. To our amazement he opens it and begins to read the articles, without glasses!

We tour the complex and meet the successor. See details in the photo captions.

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

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