We began or first morning in Bengaluru with a meeting with long-time journalist R. Kesava Mallia who has written for Hinduism Today since 2002. It was only our second meeting in all those years, and much was discussed about articles for the future. He is a life-coach for major Indian institutions, and a Vedanta teacher as well.
One of our primary tasks here in India is to visit the Iraivan carving site and work with Jiva our manager, Selvanathan, our master builder, and the silpis. Several hours were spent on the projects, which include our Perimeter Wall (the most time-consuming part of Iraivan still to do), and smaller works.
Details were discussed about the panels that will display scripture, the history of the temple and Gurudeva quotes and insights. This is a happening place, with remarkable talent. It is, we are told, the one place in all of India where the highest quality granite carvings are found.
After a seven-course lunch prepared by Kanmani, Swapna and Nisha, we were off to Chunchunagiri Mutt, amazed by the fine roads here in Karnataka, as good or better than California's small highways.
The new head of the mutt is Shree Swami Nirlalanandanatha, successor to Balaganganathaswami who was so close to Gurudeva and such an essential supporter of Iravan.
We were not prepared for the magical evening that unfolded. Turned out (we were not aware) this was Purnima, and on this full-moon night each month Swami does a Siva Puja and Homa and then leads a massive procession around the mountain, fully four kilometers. Most go on foot, but we were invited to sit in Swami's seven-steed silver chariot. Drums and nagaswarams played all the way, boys danced furiously and all enjoyed darshan of their Satguru. We were taken to the Bhairava Temple (Bodhinatha and I were here for the Kumbhabshikam years back), and had sweet moments with Swami afterwards in his private quarters. We took note that the silver throne we had made for Balaganganathaswami in Nepal was his favorite chair.
Swami is the leader of one of the nation's most important maths, and one can see by all of the construction underway here that he is dynamically building the institution. A residential school for an additional 5,000 students (free to the poor) was just being painted and readied for the next semester.
Quite an adventure for Yoginathaswami and I, both a bit overwhelmed by it all.
Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.