In early October, Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Yogi Jayanatha traveled from Canada down to Southern California. There, they visited members' homes and had satsang. This was their final stop before returning to Kauai from their 25 day journey on October 6th. Aum.
At the end of September, Paramacharya Sadasivanathswami and Yogi Jayanatha traveled up from Tucson to Canada. While there their primary hosts were the Pillay family, who first took them for a quick visit to one of Canada's most beautiful national parks, Banff in Alberta. Following their exploration of Canada's natural beauty, they then traveled to the city of Victoria, British Columbia. While there, they visited the Pillay's home and and event was held for Paramacharya to give a public talk to more than 100 seekers and devotees. Paramacharya's talk was focused on the intricacies of meditation and on the complexities of karma. The talk was deeply appreciated by those who attended.
Aum Namah Sivaya
Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami have been actively making their way through California, Arizona and Texas. Here are a few photos of their adventure.
On September 23 and 24 something unexpected and quite inexplicable took place.
Natalie took Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Yogi Jayanatha to the foundry to work with the team in applying the patina to Natalie's bronze Siva. This is the surface color and texture created with heat and chemistry. Under high heat, various chemicals like sulphur and cupric bond permanently to the molecules in the metal.
We performed a simple arati to bless this final and oh-so-important stage. We decided on a dark patina with subtle blue inclusions, meant to make the metal look like stone instead of steel.
It went well for couple of hours, but then the chemist working on the piece became overly enthused and began adding more and more cupric, more and more blue.
The day ended and we left.
Both Natalie and Sadasivanathaswami kept revisiting the color that had been achieved, and both were concerned it was excessively blue.
After consulting, they decided to cancel a mountain trek and return to the foundry and ask the team to redo the statue. It would require them to sandblast off the blue patina, and reapply a new one more link what we had all agreed on.
Reaching the foundry, they were greeted by Paul who said,"You must come and see what happened overnight!"
He took us back to the Sadasiva, and to our astonishment, the metal was no longer bright blue. It had changed overnight, despite the fact that it had been heavily lacquered and also given two layers of clear wax to keep out the humidity.
Paul was amazed. In his ten years of patina work he had never seen anything like this. Not only had the color changed, but it changed to exactly match what was originally asked for. Paul had never seen this happen, and called it a miracle (see his several short videos trying to explain the inexplicable!)
For Natalie, it seemed as if Siva Himself had taken charge of the patina. She hired a photographer, Robin, to capture the final murti, then set in motion the crating and shipping to Kauai.
Thank you, Jim and Natalie, for an amazing gift to the monastery, full of art and spiritual meanings to last 1,000 years. We believe this may be the first traditional Sadasiva murti every made in the West.
Natalie Reflects on the Murti
"A big challenge for me in sculpting Hindu deities in clay was to conform to a template for creating a traditionally proportioned murti which followed a precise representation of divine proportion and sacred geometry, rather than follow my own free spirited intuitive approach. Deeper understanding required increased study of Hinduism and Indian art, as expressed in the cultural gods and goddesses.
"I had to be creative within the context yet honor the traditional form rich with symbolism, inherent in this kind of imagery. And more than that, I needed to breathe life into the sculpture so that Sadasiva's essence could be felt by all.
"Surrender to the Divine" was my mantra for 2 years not only was it an incredible focus of my love and devotion, but the spiritual gifts received from being of service to Siva and the divine dimension of Love, enriched my life in innumerable ways. These are gifts of melting our ego.
"I am grateful for this experience and honored to be of service to the divine through my art."
With the small maquette of the Five-Faced Siva done, Natalie turned to the harder task of moulding the full sized murthi. Every step was exacting, even demanding. Imagine, for instance, how one puts five arms and shoulders together on one side, and making them look natural. It's impossible, but Natalie make it work. She went through one style and another. Now the hands, then months on the ornaments, now the all-important faces and their expressions, each different to convey Siva's powers and moods. Months of effort on the implements and the fingers of each hand, and working so that it looks equally natural from the side as from the front. Emails back and forth to Kauai. Hundreds of emails, with attachments, "Swami, does this shape of the hand look better? Or this one? Now about this?"
Natalie met technical challenges at every turn. Scanners. Printers. Mould makers. Meeting one, two more arose. Throughout she chanted sacred slokas and mantras. She studied our Insight section in the magazine, sensing that the more she understood Siva the better the sculpture would be. Day followed day, month followed month, with nary a day off. Finally, the moulds went to the foundry and the metal casting began.
Natalie shares her experience: "I got super charged midway through the sculpting process when Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Sannyasin Yoginathaswami made a stop in Tucson to check my progress on the murti. Their inspired guidance called for another style of headband on each of the 5 faces that involved small protruding beads rather than the indented style of beads I had created, and between each lotus petal along the headband defining a tiny row of vertical beads ascending in size, adding small vertical lines on the crown's jata, and lastly, enhancing the detail on all of the 10 objects that represent Siva's powers, referencing a style on the Nataraja and Sivas of antiquity that the Swami's wanted me to capture.
"These decorative changes made it so much richer! By fixing the headbands, all the faces needed to be re-sculpted again! (due in part from the clay I was using which had become too soft from continuous use of smoothing additives, which had caused a slight breakdown in the clay integrity, rendering the clay more difficult to achieve the desired firmness required to hold the precise detail.)
"Yoginathaswami shared with me the sacred sloka for Sadasiva and I began chanting it to invoke the murti into the form. Performing aarti with the sloka made for a transcendent work environment. I felt Siva's presence even more profoundly enabling me to bring the murti into completion.
"One noticeable grace I received after completing the murti, was that every creative project I did benefitted from this experience: my drawing and painting became enhanced, I saw more, I perceived more, and I had more patience and compassion than ever before. I felt deeper with a heightened sense of my own soul power, enriched with an experience that went way beyond space and time."
About three years back, Jim and Natalie Levin approached the monastery with their hope to create something extraordinary for the Aadheenam. Their plan was to sculpt a 4-foo-tall bronze of Siva in His form as Sadasiva, with five heads and ten arms. They knew Gurudeva back in the late 90s and have continued to admire and support his mission under Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami. Permission was given and an amazing process began. A series of sketches were made by Selvanathan Sthapati to guide her hand and make the work authentic. To begin, Natalie spent about a year sculpting a small version, called a maquette. This 14-inch high piece was easier to make changes on and resolve major engineering issues. About two years ago the Levins invited us to their home in Arizona and presented the finished maquette. With that approved, Natalie moved on to the full size sculpture, working closely with Sadasivanathaswami at each stage.
Natalie Speaks of Her Process:
"The process of creating the Murti of Sadasiva was to strip myself bare and lay vulnerable to the powers of Divine direction. The process took me to places of sublime ecstasy experiencing a divine love so profound and soul changing. But the 2-1/2 year process was not without wrestling with my own insecurity, self-doubt, worry, steep learning curves, and lastly, a sense of victorious accomplishment knowing I stayed the course and did not give up when so many forces seemed as major roadblocks to its completion.
"I knew in my heart of hearts, that if I stayed pure and did puja before showing up for sculpting that perhaps the presence of Siva would help me and provide direction on how to do this supremely complicated form. Nightly, I called upon the devas and Gurudeva asking for their guidance in the deva loka. In daily puja, Id call upon Ganesha to clear away all obstacles and to make the energy free from all interference, as I needed all the help I could get!
Slowly the murti emerged."
Bodhinatha and Shanmuganathaswami left yesterday for a 13-day trip to San Francisco, Phoenix, Dallas, Midland, TX returning Kauai on 15th.
After their quick stop in New York, Sadasivanathaswami and Yogi Jayantha made their way over to New Jersey to participate in this year's Hindu Mandir Executives' Conference. Upon arriving in New Jersey, they first stopped by Robbinsville to visit an up-and-coming project by the BAPS Swaminarayan order. Once complete, their "Akshardam West" will be considered the largest Hindu Temple in the United States. After the morning's temple visit our team traveled to the conference. Many representatives from North American Hindu temples were there. This year's theme revolved around how temples can better provide information for both their own communities and also their surrounding communities at large, in order to minimize misunderstandings and hopefully prevent issues like vandalism or hate crimes. It was also a way for temple leaders to network and for new ideas to be shared. Paramacharya gave a talk on different tools that temples can utilize for spreading information, all of which the Aadheenam uses. These include things like information boards, online videos, apps, virtual tours and more. The following day Yogi Jayanatha gave a short presentation offering some ways that Mandirs could upgrade and maintain their online presence. All in all it was a successful event. Aum Namah Sivaya.
After their stay in Boston, Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Yogi Jayanatha and were joined by the Boston team for a train ride to Manhattan. Our monks next destination would be New Jersey, so this was a nice stop along the way. A chance to explore a bit of this lively city together.
On September 14th, our monks touched down at the next stop on their journey. They were greeted in Boston with much love and care and were given a wonderful tour and introduction to the city. Part of that included a short boat boat ride out in the harbor on an old sailing ship. While there they also visited several places associated with Rudy Tanzi's important Alzheimer's work, and also had an opportunity to visit the tanzi home for satsang and worship and meditation in their shrine room. Miraculously, Shanmuga Shivacharya from Chennai happened to be in Boston for a few days, so our monks also had a chance to sit down with him. Aum Namah Sivaya
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