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Iraivan Temple First Anniversary Puja Preparations

Preparations have been in full swing for Iraivan Temple's first anniversary pujas on April 11-12. From husking coconuts for kumbhas, to securing tents, to installing sitting platforms, a temporary homa kunda and hanging tombai decorations, these photos show a small portion of the details involved to get ready.

Piping Continues, and Preparations for Iraivan Anniversary

Trenching for water piping and optical fiber continued from the San Marga parking lot corner down the pasture slope and to the edge of our water ditch winding through our property and feeding the ponds. The second photo shows the ditch, and Pradip, our contractor, is going to dig a tunnel underneath the ditch to sending the piping through. Then he will continue trenching parallel to the San Marga Path.

The third photo shows a just-painted pyramid structure that will hold about 130 small kumbhas for the first annual Iraivan Temple anniversary pujas on April 11-12. More preparatory photos will come soon.

Dancing for Siva

It is said the greatest offering to God Siva is our love and gratitude, both of which are embedded in the traditional Bharatanatyam dance, offered for thousands of years in Hindu temples (with about 90 years hiatus when the British colonials banned it). Kadavul Temple and devotees were blessed to have such an offering, performed by Fenulla Jiwani during the alankara. She shopped at the Kapaa Farmers' Market the following day and prepared an Italian pasta dish and fresh salad for the monks.

One of the unique features of her dance is this: the last time she performed it in public was 23 years ago. And she still soared. Enjoy the short slideshow.

Monthly Krittika Puja at Iraivan Temple

Here are a few photos of last week's Krittika Puja (the final portion) taken by taskforcer Rajen Manick, with a few pilgrims attending.

Happy Mahasivaratri!

Iraivan Temple celebrated Mahasivaratri for the very first time on March 7th evening into the next morning.

From Dancing with Siva--
"Mahivartri is the night before the new-moon day in February-March. We observe it both as a discipline and a festivity, keeping a strict fast and all-night vigil, meditating, intoning iva's 1,008 names, singing His praise, chanting r Rudram, bathing the ivaliga and being near thevairgsas they strive to realize Paraiva."

We began with singing by devotees, then chanting Sri Rudram, followed by Satguru's upadesha on spiritual unfoldment through the four purusharthas, goals of life. The Pravin Kumar Gurukal performed homa, followed by the first kala abhishekam which ended about midnight.

After midnight, Gurukal continued with three more kala abhishekams, decorating Mahalingesvara sphatikalinga in a different manner each time, ending around 5am.

Iraivan Bronze Bas-Relief Panels

Recently the massive project of creating and installing 35 bronze panels around Iraivan Temple's perimeter wall was completed. Each Panel measures 14" by 47" and encapsulate a distilled library of information for future pilgrims. They include the history of the temple, from vision to chisel; the founder and architect; the simple technology used; the story of Mahalingeshvara; the monastery and its Satguru and monks; the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta represented by the temple; the scriptures and beliefs in multiple languages, and more.

On many of the panels you'll find a bas-relief, sculpted by Holy Young, and later cast in metal. Rajen Manick was asked to photograph the panels for our digital archival use. Here are his first batch of photos.

Iraivan Perimeter Wall Final Three Panels Installed

A long project full of love and thoughtful effort has come to a close. A team from Pacific Concrete, Cutting & Coring came up some days ago to install the final three metal panels on the perimeter wall of Iraivan Temple. They are:
#7-- The Panchabrahma Mantra
#27-- A Saiva Siddhanta Creed in Sanskrit
#30-- Verses From the Vedas

The panels gleam in the afternoon sun today. Another stage of the temple structure is complete. Aum Namasivaya.

Discovery of Mahalingesvara, Iraivan’s Crystal Sivalingam

More and more pilgrims are standing before the amazing crystal Gurudeva brought to Kauai as the murti for Iraivan Temple. Many don't know the story of how it was found, so we give it here, in photos and text (from Chapter 28 of "The Guru Chronicles") For the first time ever, we show a photo of James Coleman, the miner who found it and his little shop where even today we acquire small crystals from the same mine for the MiniMela. Enjoy the story:

In the spring of 1987, Gurudeva's vision for Iraivan Temple was evolving from a mystical revelation to a real-world plan. Working with sacred architects in South India, he was defining its physical form, establishing the principles of its creation, and considering the style of the massive stone edifices built during South India's Chola Dynasty a millennium ago. The big question was still pending: What form of Siva would inhabit the inner sanctum? It was a meditation that continued for months, for he knew the relevance of this decision. It would define the temple more than any external style. It would be its life and essence, the most holy and powerful force around which all else would circle.

A Clear Crystal Vision
One day, in an early morning vision in his private quarters, Gurudeva saw the future, as he would later say. In fact, he often said, if you want to know what you should do, do this: In your mind, travel into the future, and from there look back and witness what happened. The present-day decision will be obvious.

In this vision of the yet-to-be, Gurudeva saw a massive crystal Sivalingam shining brightly in the sanctum of Iraivan Temple, radiating out to the world. It was a titan among crystals. In fact, it seemed in this first seeing impossibly large, fantastical, and beyond reality. Perhaps, he thought, it is merely the spiritual form of the Sivalingam and not the physical one.

Downstairs a few hours later, he shared this vision with the monks, letting them know he had his answer as to which form of Siva that Iraivan Temple would embody. It would be a crystal Lingam, known in Sanskrit as sphatika Sivalingam. In the ancient texts, it is said that a Lingam, which is the aniconic form of the Creator-Preserver-Destroyer of the universe, is the highest of worshipful icons. It represents That which is beyond representation, beyond form and even imagination. It is the All in all, the Self beyond time, form, space, and cause.

The Agamas say one can worship this Great God Siva in the form of a Lingam made of mud or sand, of cow dung or wood, of bronze or black granite stone. But the purest and most sought-after form is the quartz crystal, a natural stone not carved by man but made by nature, gathered molecule by molecule over hundreds, thousands, or millions of years, grown as a living body grows, but infinitely more slowly. Such a creation of nature is itself a miracle worthy of worship. The monks were delighted to hear of their guru's revelation and imagined the meanings behind it. Kadavul Temple already housed God Siva as Nataraja, the divine dancer who creates and inhabits every atom of the cosmos, and Iraivan Temple would host Siva as the transcendent Beyond, immanent and transcendent, form and formless. It was perfect. But the monks were not at all prepared for what would happen next.

Gurudeva paid a visit the next day to the Crystal Journey shop at Kilohana on Kauai. He was there looking at the wares, asking the proprietor about crystals, looking for a large one he had visualized. She did not have such a crystal, but eagerly shared her own similar vision of a giant crystal. Some weeks later, she called requesting to meet with Gurudeva, arriving at the monastery mid-morning. She was a kind of mythical character, a child of the 70s, a cherubic, intelligent lady about 40 years old. In her long dress, looking a bit Roma, her round cheeks pink with the pleasure of her visit, she shared that she had an important message for him. She was taken to Gurudeva's office, where he listened to her tale. "Gurudeva, I had a dream last night. In my dream, I saw, even more clearly than before, a giant crystal. Very tall and perfectly formed, just like the one you described. Not only that, I saw where it is. If you will allow me, I want to go there. I want to find the crystal and bring it to you. Will you buy me a ticket?"

Never in his life had Gurudeva bought a ticket for a near stranger on a dream-induced mission. But this was different. Gurudeva then told the visitor of his own dream that same morning, of how he had seen the giant crystal too, but never imagined someone else might have the same dream at nearly the same time. He took it as a sign, and did the unthinkable--bought her a round-trip ticket to Arkansas, the Natural State. Soon she was on a crystal quest. Having never visited Arkansas, she took the logical course and began visiting the various mines in the area. Along with Brazil, Arkansas is the world's most productive crystal source, and there were dozens of mines to be tracked down at the end of long, unpaved roads. Ultimately she found the crystal at the mines of one James Coleman, a hard-scrabble man dressed in denim with a scrappy beard and callused hands, whose father and grandfather had mined crystals and who knew the business like none other.

Ambling to his Jeep, the taciturn miner motioned to her to get in. Off the two drove, about a mile on a pitted coral path some called a road that ended at an old wooden warehouse. Getting down, Coleman walked through the double doors and headed to the back of the open space, stopping at a pallet in a dark corner. On it was a musty mattress, worn and worthless, rolled in a circle and tied with a hemp rope. Without so much as a word, Coleman cut the rope with a pocket knife and threw open the mattress. There lay the huge, milky white, quartz crystal. It was a marvel to behold, a perfect thing that could be an artifact in a museum of art or a masterpiece in the foyer of a billionaire's mansion. But it was here, not far from nowhere. His customary reticence overcome by the urgent need to relate his story, Coleman turned to the woman, who stood speechless, with happy tears washing down her cheeks.

He said, "In 1975, my brother and I were digging for crystals. Below these hills, there are honeycombs of caves where our rocks are harvested. We were 65 feet under that day when we found our way into a new cave. Nothing unusual about it at first; it was some twenty feet across and five feet high, all dark and dank. But then our light fell on this crystal. It had fallen and lay on its side, broken away from the cave floor. Around it on three sides was a colony of smaller crystals, ten or so, which were all still intact and growing. This one had stopped growing, of course. As you can see, it has six sides and is perfectly pointed, and its surface feels like cool ice, day and night. We went up to get the mattress and wrapped the crystal in it, dragging it inch by inch to the surface. Took all day. It was, to both of us, an amazing discovery. Though our family has been mining crystals for three generations, no one ever heard of such a gem. My brother and I knew it was one of a kind, and we both sensed it had a destiny, though we didn't know what that might be. Something extraordinary. We kept it in the mattress and brought it here, out of sight, vowing not to tell a soul about it. But somehow you saw it. How else would you know? We figured that one day we would learn what the crystal was meant for. I think it was meant to go with you, to Hawaii, and to be with that holy man who saw it. The crystal has been waiting, and I'm glad you came to get it."

The crystal seeker was exultant. She called Gurudeva, who asked for photos to be sent. When he saw them, he said, "Yes, that's it!" She arranged for the purchase and packing of the crystal, then flew home. The 700-pound, 39-inch-tall sphatika Sivalingam arrived at the monastery on August 14 and was formally installed in front of Lord Kadavul Nataraja two days later, awaiting the day Iraivan Temple would be completed. Gurudeva's morning vision had manifested in a magical way. One afternoon years later, a deva with whom Gurudeva often communicated signaled that he was present and asked if there were any questions. The monk with him asked about the significance of the huge crystal. With the same ease that ordinary people listen to a friend speak, Gurudeva clairaudiently heard the inner-plane deva's answer and dictated it, in two- and three-word volleys, to his amanuensis of the day.

"Now, the large crystal we have is very special, having been especially prepared for its mission as a relay station for peace on Earth, harmony, contentment, healing and patience, freedom and goodwill and close cooperation among the life forms and human beings on this planet. It is at this very moment relaying trillions of messages through every crystal on this planet, energizing and educating even the smallest insect."

Mondo Grass Isn’t a Grass?

That's right, Mondo Grass is actually a lily, native to Japan, Korea and China. It's real name is Ophiopogon japonicus and it is a high-end ground cover in the right climates. For years, many years, we have been planning to install Mondo Grass around Iraivan Temple, to create a kind of green-sea effect, since it gets long enough to wave in the tropical breeze and when that happens looks like dark green ocean water.

Planting has begun, but last week we came to an area where the ground was rock hard, and we knew mondo would not be happy there. So today we took Rajendra (the name of our mini-excavator) and deep tilled the hardpan, adding some rich compost to the mix. When done, the swath of mondo will be on the outside of the narrow stone path that surrounds the temple, serving as a simple setting for Iraivan's classic architecture. It will take some months to complete the project.

Associated Press Story Goes Global

Meet the Associated Press (arguably the world's largest provider of news) described as: "The AP has a vast global reach, distributing news in multiple languages, reaching audiences across diverse cultures worldwide."

In July they sent a journalist (Deepa Bharat) and a photographer (Jessie Wardarski) to Kauai to do a story on Iraivan Temple. They work together as a special team, traveling internationally to cover specifically spiritual stories for the Associated Press. They spent three days on the island and later created an article and a 4-minute video, both very authentic and tasteful. Deepa is a Tamil woman, so she was deeply familiar with the subtleties of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy which would have escaped others; plus she could interview Pravinkumar in Tamil, who said some sweet things (watch the film). This morning we are getting messages from around the world asking if we saw this? Yes, and helped create it!

You can enjoy the video and the story here (and share it freely):

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