Jai Ganapati! Please enjoy this stream of our 2018 Ganesha Chaturthi abhishekam in Kadavul Temple.
At this auspicious time, just before we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi, our monks joined Satguru in the inner sanctum of Iraivan Temple for the placement of the stones which support the crystal lingam's bronze avudaiyar. There is a hole beneath the stones which travels all the way down to the ground. During the ceremony Satguru blessed and lowered to the ground, a copper wire that has silver and gold spun around it. This wire then connects the avudaiyar to the earth. For the final arati after the placement of everything, the lights went out unexpectedly and only the beautiful glow of the camphor flame was left to complete the ceremony. Iraivan is now another step closer to completion. Aum Namah Sivaya. Sivaya Namah Aum
Our 3am vigili captured Ganesha's glory for the month of August, 2018. This should hold you over while the monks break from their intense work week and head into a two day retreat. Aum Namasivaya.
When Nandi the Bull was installed at Kadavul Temple in 1985 there was a major story on Honolulu's KRON TV channel. They sent a film crew to Kauai and the famed Joe Moore opened the evening news (remember those days?) with the headline "16 Tons of Bull." You have to grab your audience, right? And he does weigh 32,000 pounds.
It was a marvelous accomplishment for the monastery, a monolithic bull kneeling before Siva day and night, the symbol of strength humbling itself before God. We managed to bend a giant crane while lifting it onto its peedam.
But when the dust settled, Gurudeva confided to the monks that he loved the Nandi but was disappointed in the base. It was without ornamentation, just plain raw stones. Gurudeva called it "A pile of rocks." And he softly indicated that one day, perhaps, we could make it right.
So last year we had Selvanathan Sthapati draw a proper Chola base design. Yesterday we received the first series of photos from Jiva and his sons in Bengaluru showing the progress, which is significant as the photos show.
In the not too distant future, Gurudeva's wish will come true, and Nandi will be seated atop an intricate base worthy of His devotion.
Today our master sculptress, Holly young, sent photos of the stanchions (small posts) that will hold the three giant stone chains. As you may recall, these 10-foot-long chains will be a kind of handrail out at the Temple Builders' Pavilion, not far from Iraivan Temple. Holly is going to Colorado to fine tune the part that attaches to the chain, since that is mission critical. One more step toward perfection. Wait a minute! It's already perfect, and getting better.
The silpis are making swift progress at Iraivan temple, specifically the Nandi mandapam and the perimeter wall. Here are a few updates on the wall that we haven't published before.
Every month our silpi stone carvers go about town with two of the monks, and sometimes with an island member, to stretch their legs, enjoy the sights and do some American shopping. Their most recent experience is today's featured slideshow.
On July 13 artisans, supporters and devotees assembled in Loveland for the Big Day, when Hanuman would be transformed from golden bronze to deep green jade. This is some, not all, of the group posing at the end of the day, after celebrating an amazing accomplishment.
As today's slideshow reveals, we all came to witness the magic of Patrick Kipper, America's foremost patineur, that community of experts who put the final finish, color and texture on bronze statues. Patrick, who basically wrote the journeyman's Bible for this craft, had agreed to personally apply the patina to Hanuman, and we were delighted.
What he does is suspiciously close to alchemy. Alchemy? Yes that medieval forerunner of chemistry which seeks to transform matter, particularly to convert base metals into gold, or in our case into the mineral jade.
As you will see, we had chosen a patina that looks exactly like deep green jade, one that Patrick invented and the monks had seen last year on a Cambodian Buddha he owns. Seeing that Buddha made the decision for Hanuman easy.
The day began early with a simple arati. Yoginathasweami placed a 9-foot-long garland made of Hanuman's favorites: red and yellow. After the arati we called Patrick forward to bless the work he will do today, gave him the traditional shawl and dakshina, and all applauded.
Patrick took Hanuman through a number of stages, working hard hour after hour to clean and polish the surface of the metal, spray on a sulfuric compound to turn the metal black, then rubbed that back to a deep cocoa brown with a Scotch pad, then layers of splattered green followed by 350 degrees of heat with a hand-held torch. This is hard work and hot.
At one point Bobby Page offered a blue ice pack for Patrick's head, which he soon abandoned. Clearly, he is accustomed to these extreme conditions. But we are not, so we retreat to a tent that Rajkumar had set up under the trees outside. Or we climbed a flight of stairs to a room that Kathy and Rajkumar had turned into a little conference space. Here Paramacharya Sadasivanatha shared Gurudeva's vision of Hanuman, spokes of His importance as a model of loyalty, strength and service to God. He also shared that this particular form is from the Chola empire, one of the reasons it is so graceful. That also makes it artistically similar to Iraivan Temple. Paramacharya played a few short videos and slideshows he had prepared to tell the amazing tale that has brought us all to Colorado and to Page Bronze's remote workshop--then mentioned that President Obama always carried a 2-inch bronze Hanuman in his pocket for strength and protection.
Lunchtime comes and we adjourn to the front foyer where Kathy and Rajkumar have laid out a catered feast which all enjoy. Then back to our favorite activity of the day, watching Patrick work his magic. Another layer and another. Each time the artisan has to cover the entire body of Hanuman, all the sides and shapes, all the nooks and crannies.
As we watched, the tones of Hanuman have gone from bright gold to black, then to brown and shades of splattered green. Now it all begins to melt and merge into the metal, so much so that the metal disappears before our eyes. In its place stands Hanuman seemingly carved from the world's largest jade. It is a marvel. But more layers are ahead. Patrick adds them with amazing focus and enthusiasm, then sprays the whole murthi with lacquer, and two layers of wax. The wax will protect from Kauai's tropical sun and rains, and will be refurbished each year or so. As he works, we all watch in wonder.
While we all go off to a dinner together, Patrick informs us that he cannot join, since the heat he has built us in the metal would dissipate and the colors would be less than perfect. We all drive to PF Changs for a veggie Chinese meal and talk of Hanuman and his big day. In the end Hanuman stands: imposing, artful, poised, His might mace ready to protect all devotees, His left hand holding Iraivan Temple, which He has carried all the way from India to the Garden Island. We leave full and overfull with blessings and appreciation to the 29 artisans in the USA and 25 more in India who made this possible. Next stop for Hanuman: Kauai island!
After accepting the astonishing fact that Hanuman had split in half, the senior monks met to determine how to make what seemed like a disaster into a boon, something Gurudeva was always modeling and teaching to us--see Siva's Will in all that happens, the good as well as the bad.
In consultation with the Sivacharyas of Tamil Nadu, the temple sthapati Selvanathan Sthapati and the great Pundit Sabharatnam of Chennai, we devised a plan that would meet Gurudeva's wish.
The plan called for capturing the artistry and darshan of the stone and turning it into bronze. It is revealed that the broken stone is a gift, because the bronze Hanuman that will rise in its place is even more remarkable. The stone Hanuman was quite similar to the stone Dakshinamurthi, both 13 feet tall. Having Dakshinamurthi in granite and Hanuman in bronze makes each one more special. And, bronze will also last for 1,000 years. Plus the bronze will have more delicate details, details that were impossible in the granite sculpting. Holly added refinements impossible to achieve with a hammer and chisel. A masterpiece of this scale, in bronze, will be a marvel far into what Gurudeva liked to call "The future of futures."
We flew the master sculptress Holly Young to the island twice. The first visit Holly molded the granite stone on the front side. In April of 2017 she returned after we had hired a giant crane to turn Hanuman over, so Holly could capture the back side. It's a tedious task, requiring extremely careful work so all the future metal parts will fit right. It also requires much chemical and materials knowledge, layers and layers of painting on various coats of goo and waiting for the layer to dry before the next one goes on.
In all Holly made 65 molds which were sent to Loveland, Colorado to a team that is arguably America's greatest bronze experts. That story in Chapter Five.
Enjoy the sight and sound of stones being chipped and placed for Iraivan Temple and its Nandi Mandapam
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