Today we observe the mahasamashi day of Kadaitswami, the dynamic kailasa satguru who revived Saivism in Catholic-dominated Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in the 1800's. Kadaitswami was described as lean and tall, dressed in a dark veshti, carrying an umbrella under his arm. They say he was six feet four inches tall, had curly hair, piercing eyes and a long, pointed nose; his body was gangly, but well formed and of charming appearance. His upadeshas about the greatness of Saivism inspired renewed devotion in the people, who were accustomed to hearing sermons only from the Christian fathers seeking to convert them. Not for a long time had someone stood so boldly in public and said what was in their heart of hearts. Kadaitswami became the voice of their heritage, the protector of Saiva dharma, as he boldly reminded them of the beauties and potencies of their born faith. Over the years, tens of thousands heard him speak from the Vannarpannai platform, and large numbers of those were reinspired to hold fast to their ancient ways of Saivite Hindu life.
During the last few years of his life, Kadaitswami took a liking to a small, privately owned temple to Lord Nataraja in Neeraviady, a few kilometers from the marketplace. A hut was built for him in the compound behind the temple, where he stayed. This became his domain, a place of solitude and communion. He declared to his followers, “This is Chidambaram.”
It was at this spot, on October 13, 1891, Shatabhishak nakshatra, that Kadaitswami made his Great Departure from this Earth plane. Kulandaivelswami was with him in those final moments. He had instructed his shishyas to inter his body in a crypt, as is often done with illumined souls. Kulandaivelswami oversaw the samadhi ceremony and entombment at the site of his hut. Soon afterwards, a large stone was placed on the spot, and pujas to it were regularly conducted by devotees. A year later, in 1892, in keeping with Swami’s orders, a sizable temple was built enshrining a Sivalingam from Benares, India, which took the place of the large stone.
Nearly a century later, when the samadhi temple had fallen into disrepair, a group of boys who played cricket nearby began having dreams about a tall, slim man who told them they should restore the structure. When the parents heard about the dreams, they realized it was Kadaitswami the boys had seen and told them not to play there anymore. The boys rallied together, involved the Chettiar community and in the early 1980s began renovating the temple.
In 1983, during Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s last visit to Jaffna, the Kadaitswami Temple committee, mostly youth, invited him to set the first stone for a new tower above the sanctum. He climbed a rickety, bamboo ladder to the top, set the stone and a small puja was performed. The renovations continued and the final consecration ceremony was held in 1985.
Learn more about this famed siddar in this chapter of The Guru Chronicles
To celebrate the day, Chinnu prepared a special feast for the monks, which included papadams, vadai, and payasam:
During their lunar retreats (something akin to a weekend), the monks break from their routine meals of lentils, curries, chapatis and chutneys, and branch into other cuisines for their evening meals. Once a month they make some of the best wood-fired pizza in the western hemisphere and the next week you might find them trying to construct the perfect taco. Over this last retreat, everyone enjoyed some vegetable-rich vegetarian sushi. This slideshow gives you a quick introduction to how our monks make their sushi. Try not to get too hungry!
Aum Namah Sivaya
Yesterday the monks observed their monthly puja and abhishekam to Lord Nataraja during the Ardra Nakshatra. This day marks a lunar alignment with Ardra, a massive star in Orion and one of twenty-seven nakshatras or lunar mansions. During this time, Lord Nataraja's energies are potent and easily felt. This short article from Hinduism Today explains more about this special celestial body:
Ardra, the Dancing Star
Ardra is the star that names one of the nakshatras, the 27 lunar mansions of Hindu astrology. It is known as Siva's star, a cosmic representation of His third eye, red and intense.
Called Betelgeuse in the West (a medieval Arabic name), it fascinates and consternates modern astronomers. Though it is one of the most studied of suns, it defies description, as it changes in brightness, size and even shape with rythmic gusto.
Scientists call Ardra "mysterious" and "elusive" in their published works, informally calling this massive orb "the dancing star." Hindus might find the name apt--after all, Siva is Nataraja, King of Dance.
Ardra is part of the constellation of Orion, shining as the brightest red star in the sky. Because of its blazing choreography, there is no certainty about how far it is from Earth, but the latest calculations point to around 725 light-years. Siva's star is colossal. For sake of comparison, if it were the size a football stadium, Earth would be a spec of dust, and the Sun no larger than a mango.
Ardra is nearing a transitional point in its evolution. Tomorrow, perhaps, or several thousand years from now--it will enter a supernova stage. In that act, marking the height of this cosmic performance, Ardra will convert most of itself into light and cosmic rays, sending its energy out to the universe in a blinding flash. When that happens, it will outshine the full moon in our sky for months and be visible even during the day.
After that, Ardra will be a small neutron star, unimaginably dense, spinning incredibly fast. Just a cup of matter from a neutron star's core weighs more than all the mountains of the Himalayas combined.
This week the monks acquired a second Electric Cushman Utility vehicle. This is part of our ongoing process to sell many of our older UTV's and replace them with newer ones that are easier and less expensive to maintain. Like all our electric vehicles, this one will be predominantly charged from our solar electricity. Though it looks very similar to the new Cushman UTV that we bought last month, this one is actually a few years older. It has some new tires and new batteries and it was well cared for on a drier area of our island. This morning some of the monks performed a short blessing for the new vehicle. Aum.
Today is the last day of our monks' 5-day, lunar phase. Tomorrow we enter into an ever-auspicious, 3-day, full moon retreat. Here we'd like to bring you some progress observed around the Aadheenam this week, including our happy new tomato plants, the construction project on our Pillaiyar Kulam's office, and a look at a blooming wonder of nature. Aum.
This week, Satguru and many of our monks gathered at Iraivan Temple for an official farewell for three of the silpis who have been here with us for the past few years. Following this photo, they headed to the airport to board their flights home, having masterfully completed their work here. By now they have made their way back to India and to their loving families, who haven't seen them in quite some time. Chinnu will remain here longer as the Aadheenam's chef, and the three remaining siplpis will continue to work on various projects around the temple. As for now, we admire the amazing progress that has taking place during their two-years-plus on the island. Much of itis visible in this one photo. They completed the Nandi Mandapam, they assembled the entire 485-foot-long perimeter wall, and they created these beautiful steps upon which this group photo was taken. Aum Namah Sivaya.
We are now officially in the Jivana Ritau, our late summer and fall—a season of abundance. Please enjoy these belated photos of our flag raising on the 20th. If you missed the live stream of the Siva Homa or Satguru's Upadesha, you'll find them on a previous post.
Excerpts from the Saiva Dharma Shastras:
Beginning with Hindu New Year in mid-April, three seasons of the year divide our activities into three great needs of humankind–the learning of scripture in the first season, Nartana Ritau; the living of culture in the second season, Jivana Ritau; and the meditating on Siva in the third season, Moksha Ritau. Thus we are constantly reminded that our life is Siva’s life and our path to Him is through study, sadhana and realization. In ritau one, we teach the philosophy; in ritau two, we teach the culture; and in ritau three, we teach meditation.
During Jivana Ritau, the rainy season, from mid-August to mid-December, Living with Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Culture is the primary text. The key word of this season is work. The colors are rust, copper-maroon and all shades of red–rust for earthy preservation, copper-maroon for fulfillment and red for physical energy. The Aadheenam’s 60-foot flag pole flies the rust-colored dhvaja, symbolizing environmental care. Copper-maroon and all shades of red adorn our smaller flags. This is the season of honoring and showing appreciation for those in the vanaprastha ashrama, life’s elder advisor stage.
The focus is on preserving what has been created, manifesting goals and fulfilling plans made in the past. Inwardly the emphasis is on direct cognition and caring for the practical details of the external world. Practicality is a word much used this season. In the monasteries and the missions, there is a big push on studying the sutras of Living with Siva and these Saiva Dharma Shastras. The format of the mission satsanga changes into one that in fact helps everyone live and breathe with Lord Siva through personal adjustment to the aphorisms of Living with Siva, which define tradition, culture and protocol.
It is a time of building and repairing and caring for what has been built, planted or created in any realm of life. It is a physical time, of exercise and exertion in the Bhuloka, a magnetic time for action and willpower, of finishing all jobs started since the first ritau. On the farm, there is harvesting of the land’s fruits as we celebrate abundance.
Aum Namah Sivaya
This week we welcome William Hamrick, our new taskforcer from the West Coast. William is inspired to try out the life of a monastic, worshiping and working alongside the monks throughout each day. He arrived on the island well in advanced, ensuring he could go through the necessary quarantine period before arriving at the monastery. William begins his journey spending time in the Ganapati Kulam, learning about our publications and digital ventures. Welcome to Kauai Aadheenam William!
"As a man at the helm of a ship attends to other things, while holding the rudder, and yet brings the ship safely into harbor, so the desire for self-knowledge (atma jnanam) is enough. Like the rudder, the desire for self-knowledge will keep you on the right course and take you to your goal. You don't need to worry about acquiring 'this' or getting rid of 'that.' You must meditate in the morning and evening and at night before you go to bed. Just pronounce the name 'Siva,' and sit quietly for about two minutes. You will find everything in your life falling into place and your prayers answered." - Siva Yogaswami
Aum Namah Sivaya
This morning the monks gathered in Kadavul Temple for a Siva Homa and a talk by Satguru. Today marks the beginning of our new season, the Jivana Ritau. The event was live streamed for those unable to attend. You might have to turn up the sound quite a bit as it was a fairly quiet recording, but remember, it gets pretty loud for the final arati. Also, Satguru's talk will be going online in a higher quality version soon.
August 21st at 3:00PM (Kauai Time) we will be live streaming our abhishekam for Ganesha Chaturthi on our youtube channel. Check back for updates.
Aum Namah Sivaya!
Happy Ardra Nakshatra!
Today our monks celebrated Siva's most beloved star with our monthly abhishekam to Nataraja in Kadavul Temple. We are also about to change our seasons from the Nartana Ritau to the Jivana Ritau, which happens in the next few days. Thanks to the generosity of a wonderfully devotional devotee in Chicago, Satguru's lion's seat in the Guru Pitham has a new change of coverings for the cushions, pillows and bolsters. Today our monks made that change, installing these bright oranges and yellows to be enjoyed throughout the late summer and fall. Aum.
Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.