Somehow this post slipped through the cracks. Consider it a little Deutsch Retrospektive.
Sadasivanathaswami and Senthilnathaswami stepped into Germany in the
big city of Berlin, greeted by long-time sishyas Kulapati
Veeragathiyar, Kulamata Puvanesam, their daughter Sivapprintha and her
daughter Gajanani, and our student Niraj Thaker, who had flown down
We took the afternoon off to explore Berlin on our own. The city's difficult history revealed itself to us when we
realized at one point that we were walking on a permanently marked
strip of ground that denotes the path of the infamous Berlin Wall. We
didn't visit Checkpoint Charlie, where a section of the wall is
permanently memorialized, but it was tempting. It just didn't seem
necessary, we thought; "Let's leave the past in the past."
Saturday morning was filled with temple visits. First we were taken to
the Sri Mayoorapathy Murugan Temple on Urbanstrasse. This small temple
in the basement of an unassuming residential building is a center for
the Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants in this city, most of whom came as
refugees during the civil war in their country. It was powerful, due
in large part to the young, inspired priest, who is a force goading
the community forward in getting more solidly established in their new
They are now in the process of building a full size temple on a
corner in a much nicer part of town. They took us there, and it was
quite a sight to behold. After a tour of the inside, where the plaster
has been finished on the shrines, awaiting painting in beautiful
colors, we were taken to the roof where one group of shilpis was
painting the vimanam and another was putting finishing touches on the
plasterwork of the rajagopuram.
Next stop was the famous Ganesha Temple of Berlin. Surprised we were
to find it in a hundred-year-old warehouse-style structure right next
to the beautiful Hasenheide Volkspark.
The site had been given to the
immigrant Indian community (not the Sri Lankan community, as we had
thought) by the Mayor of Berlin. The elders shared with us their plans to build a
formal temple, and then took us to the site, right next
to the existing structure, which will later serve as a cultural hall. At their request we blessed the site (which has some beginning concrete foundations and pillars) for a swift manifestation of their shared dreams.
The park directly adjacent this temple makes it a very sweet location,
surrounded by trees and open grass where the local folks enjoy
relaxing on sunny summer afternoons.
Taking advantage of the hot summer days is actually something we saw
all over the continent. Winter ended late here this year, only in
April, and the spring was quite cold as well, so everyone is squeezing
as much as they can out of the few summer months that are available
before the weather cools once again. This is also an important time
for agriculture, and in every country, driving or riding on trains
through the countryside from city to city, village to village, we
noticed that virtually every square meter is planted with one crop or
another--happy crops, too. All the things you would expect in Europe:
grapes, tomatoes, wheat, barley, vegetables of all kinds, and a
hundred different things that were challenging to identify at the high
speeds of the trains and the autobahn.
Our last activity in Berlin was a satsang with our kulamata and
kulapati and their family and close, pious friends. It was a sweet
time spent with long-time devotees who have not seen any of the monks
since Gurudeva visited here last in August of 2001.