The unfolding story of Hawaii’s San Marga Iraivan temple,
America’s only all-granite Hindu sanctuary
Kauai photographer LakshmiGrace Phoenix has taken a number of creative shots of Iraivan and the Aadheenam grounds, including this wide-angle of the main mandapam from the southwest corner
Iraivan Temple 2016-2017 Fund-Raising Appeal
The Unfolding Story Of Hawaii's San Marga Iraivan Temple, America's Only All-Granite Hindu Sanctuary
Satguru Sivaya, Subramuniyaswami (1927-2001), founder of the temple
In 2001, Gurudeva said: "When you begin the pilgrimage to Iraivan Temple, you drop off and dissolve the karmas of the past. Then, because of the direction the temple is facing, the temple gives a new start, a new impetus for a wonderful future. It is a boon-giving temple, a gift-giving temple, a life-giving temple, a wish-fulfilling temple."
Gurudeva's Sacred Vision
Located in the heart of a traditional Hindu monastery complex reminiscent of ancient mathas and aadheenams of India, Iraivan is more than a temple; it is a pilgrimage destination, a place of sadhana and spiritual rejuvenation. Iraivan Temple is a living edifice that brings ancient tradition into the 21st century, a stable anchor sustaining and strengthening Hindu dharma for our children, their children and generations to come.
Our Fund-Raising Goal for September 2016 to August 2017
The amount needed to keep this sacred project funded in both India and Hawaii is $65,000 per month, or $780,000 for the year.
Namaste and Aloha!
Thanks to generous donations for the last twelve months from our global family of temple builders there were sufficient funds to cover the higher carving costs in Bengaluru plus the significant cost of packing and shipping containers to Kauai. Only because so many temple builders have been consistently donating for decades can we do this historic work together. Of the many new visitors who come to Kauai Aadheenam each month, a number are inspired to contribute to Iraivan's building fund. As more discover Gurudeva's vision, our family of temple builders increases. Last years' fund-raising goal was $780,000 ($65,000 per month) while actual donations were a little more: $799,872.40 The goal will stay the same for the coming twelve months, which will allow the project to move ahead at a moderate pace. Many temple building projects move swiftly by incurring debt. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami set a firm rule that no loans can be taken to move the project ahead faster. It therefore proceeds at the speed allowed by current contributions.
It is not only Iraivan's traditional Chola architecture that new visitors find inspiring but also the idea of a temple in which God Siva is the only Deity. For Hindus whose focus is on God Siva, this is an ideal combination. Also the inner power that they feel when attending pujas in the monastery's Kadavul Temple gives them a sense of what Iraivan temple will feel like after its pujas have been conducted for a few years. Many devotees especially enjoy the monthly abhishekam to Lord Nataraja in Kadavul Temple on Ardra nakshatra. On these twelve days of the year a powerful connection to the Sivaloka is created through which abundant blessings flood out to those physically present and to those who are mentally tuning in.
Many of our temple builders are participating in Gurudeva's vision of a temple built on sadhana by pilgrimaging here regularly. Some families have been so inspired that they plan to come on pilgrimage every year. Others join with friends and pilgrimage as small groups on a regular basis. Many follow the suggestions in our e-pub "Sadhana Guide for Pilgrims." It includes twenty-one sadhanas to perform on the monastery property, six exercises in claiming your spiritual identity, twelve meditations in the Shum language as well as pre-trip and post-trip sadhanas. It is on our website at:
With blessings for a bountiful family life and spiritual progress
—Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami
Annual Progress Report
A recent panorama of the Chola Garden surrounding Iraivan Temple, which sits on top of the knoll at the center. On the right are the Narmada Stream and its several waterfalls.
This last year has again been one of steady progress: on Kauai of landscaping around the temple and, in India, of steady production of the perimeter wall stones and decorative pots. In addition, the remaining stones required to complete the Nandi Mandapam (save two) are on Kauai now. As you can see from the panorama photo above Satguru's letter, the landscaping of the east side of the temple—named Chola Garden—has been substantially finished over the last year. The ponds, waterfalls and foot bridges of the adjacent ponds are done, and what has been a construction site for nearly two decades is beginning to look like a suitable tropical setting for America's most traditional Siva temple. Thousands of ground covers, small plants and trees have been brought to the island and put into the garden where they will slowly, over the decades to come, mature into what one visitor calls "Siva's Living Temple."
Between the Rishi Valley pond in the foreground and the temple lies Chola Garden with its strategically placed boulders and young plantings.
Shipments from India
We were delighted to receive in July four containers carrying 158,000 pounds of stone. Most of that was 73 panel and pillar sections of the second prakaram wall. Included with the shipment were the bases for the satguru statues of Saint Tirumular, the Rishi from the Himalayas, Kadaitswami and Chellappaswami and a huge 12,000-pound raw block of granite measuring 114" by 40" by 36"upon which the statues of Gurudeva and Ganapati Sthapati will stand in the Silpi Memorial.
In May silpis load one of four containers bound for Kauai.
That particular block flummoxed the customs officials in India for they had no category of product for a simple uncarved rock. Statues, temple columns, grinding stones, kitchen granite mortar and pestles—yes, but a huge stone straight from the quarry had never been exported. This was finally allowed to pass after its use was painstakingly explained to the concerned officials.
In Bengaluru, the total focus is on the perimeter wall. All the necessary stones for the wall and pots have been acquired over the last few years. As of August, 2016, 137 wall panel and pillar sections were in various stages of completion at the work site. Of the pots, three are complete, 28 are carved and ready for polishing, while the remaining 19 have been lathed to their basic shape, and await decorative carving, after which they will be polished.
(above) in August Satguru visited the worksite and gave gifts to all the carvers; (left) Satguru stands among a collection of finished pieces for the perimeter wall; (below) finishing carving of one yalli side of the entrance steps.
Site Drainage Works
On Kauai, one unseen but critically practical aspect of the temple was finished this summer—installation of the drainage system. The temple floor slopes out in all directions from the sanctum, so that water flows into long drains along the edge of the main mandapam handrail. Similar drains will be installed in the second prakaram to catch water flowing off the roof. The almost daily rain water will be channeled into large pipes embedded in the foundation wall and then to 12-inch underground pipes that carry the water a hundred feet away where it daylights, as the contractor called it, in the adjacent sloped garden and flows into the Rishi Valley stream. It is critical, as you might imagine, that the flow of water off the temple (once every decade or so we can get a foot of rain in a single day) not cause any erosion, which could potentially destabilize the foundation.
Another practical issue solved this year has been dealing with the leeching of calcite by rain water from the lime mortar in the joints of the temple stones, creating little white stalactites hanging from the ceiling and oozing onto various vertical surfaces. The calcite, though quite hard, can be removed without eroding the even harder granite. This is done by air blasting the surface with sodium bicarbonate, basically ordinary baking soda.
Bronze Silpi Memorial Nearly Complete
Holly Young continues with her masterful artistic bronze work on the Temple Builders' Memorial. Her current project is of Selvanathan Sthapati marking the designs to be carved into one of the temple pillars along with a nearby silpi executing that design with hammer and chisel.
The latest finished bronze, that of two silpis moving a heavy granite block by hand, arrived on Kauai a few months ago and is on display with the others as a series in the Banyan Mandapam. An inquiry with the sculpture and bronze artisan community in the US indicates that this set of eight sculptures is unique. They could think of no other group of sculptures, especially life-size, created to depict a complex process.
Progress has also been made in planning out the floor stones for the second prakaram, which will include large kolam designs carved into several of them.
Finishing and then shipping the remaining carved granite stones to Kauai remains the singular focus of our Bengaluru team. The last portion of the perimeter wall and the rose granite pots which ultimately sit on the wall are the current emphasis at the worksite. Once that work is almost complete, we will fly the next and final team of silpis to Kauai to put it all together. We expect to ship three more containers in 2017, with three remaining after that. Holly Young's work on the Temple Builders' Memorial continues at a steady pace, while the landscaping work on Kauai is proceeding as the weather allows. The next sacred garden area to be created is the Southern entrance leading up from the Wailua River to Iraivan's entrance.
Let's Work Together To Complete Iraivan
With the main edifice nearing completion, Iraivan Temple needs your support now more than ever. Be generous and send your special year-end contribution today.
Click Here to Donate Now!
Personal checks in certain currencies can be accepted by our bank (Euros, Pounds, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand dollars.)
Iraivan Temple is a punya tirtha, a sacred destination for devout pilgrims. The vision of Lord Siva on San Marga that Gurudeva was blessed with in 1975 is sustained and made manifest by the daily sadhanas of 21 resident monastics from five nations. Kadavul Hindu Temple and the many sacred areas of San Marga are available to Hindus for worship, meditation, japa and quiet reflection. It is best, if you are planning to come to visit us, to email us in advance to make sure the days of your visit coincide with our open times. And, if you want to have darshan with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, to check if he is in residence and to make the necessary appointment. Please see our visitor information pages for more details.
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