Iraivan Update – May 15th

This week the siplis have been working on Iraivan Temple's Nandi Mandapam, particularly the stones that sit around the base of the Kodimaram. They're also just completing the steps that lead up the north side of the structure. Aum Namah Sivaya.

Growing a Greenhouse

Recently our monks of the Siddhidatta Kulam have been making progress on the creation of the Aadheenam's next large greenhouse. This greenhouse is rated for higher winds and is being constructed and laid out with the wisdom gained from building and operating our initial greenhouse. A few days ago the team worked to install these main support beams on the foundation. Soon the monastery will have the space it needs to produce crops with longer growing times, along with the regular production of many greens and, of course, bright red tomatoes! Jai Ganesha!

The Significance of Holy Ash

A talk by Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami

"One of the songs of Thirugnanasambandar that I am familiar with is the one praising Lord Siva at Madurai Temple which he refers to as

திருவாலவாய் கோயில்

The song extols the greatness of Thiruneeru, or vibhuti, which refers to the holy ash worn by Saivites.

In Tamil the first verse reads:

மந்திர மாவது நீறு
வானவர் மேலது நீறு
சுந்தர மாவது நீறு
துதிக்கப் படுவது நீறு
தந்திர மாவது நீறு
சமயத்தி லுள்ளது நீறு
செந்துவர் வாயுமை பங்கன்
திருஆல வாயான் திருநீறே.  1

And the English translation reads:

The sacred ash has mystic power, 
  'Tis worn by dwellers in the sky. 
The ash bestows true loveliness,
  Praise of the ash ascends on high.
The ash shows what the Tantras mean
  And true religion's easeness tells
The ash of Him of Alavay, 
  In whom red-lipped Uma dwells. 

Hymns of the Tamil Saivite Saints
Authors: F. Kingsbury and G.E. Phillips

In the most general sense, holy ash is a symbol for purity and is a reminder of the temporary nature of the physical body and the urgency to strive for spiritual attainment and closeness to God.

In a more specific sense, it is often worn on the brow in three stripes which is called a tripundra.

I was in Jaffna in March of this year and one of the unique sights there is to see many of the young school children wearing a tripundra. I have not see this elsewhere.

The tripundra relates to the concept of pâsam. In its common meaning pâsam is a rope. However, as a philosophical term it is a bond, or the obstructive principle, which hinders the souls from finding release in union with Šiva,

There is a verse from Yogaswami’s sayings in 'Words of Our Master' about pâsam. “Let go the rope! Just go about here and there. See everything. Be a witness. "Die before you die!' (Devotee.What is the rope?) Pasam is the rope.”

The nature of pasam is threefold and consists of anava, karma and maya. The three lines of the tripundra therefore represent the burning away of the triple-fold bondage of anava, karma and mâyâ.

Said another way, we are reminded of a core concept regarding the Saiva spiritual path just by reflecting on the Tripundra.

Anava, karma and maya are also called the three malas, meaning impurities.

Tirumular’s Tirumantiram comments on this in verse ???, 'When the soul attains Self-knowledge, then it becomes one with Siva. The malas perish, birth's cycle ends and the lustrous light of wisdom dawns.' (DWS Lesson 29)

Let’s take a brief look at each of these three concepts.

Anava ஆணவ is that which makes the soul think that it is an individual separate from God and separate from all other individuals. An analogy I like to use is taking a bucket and dipping it into the ocean. The water in the bucket then becomes separated from the water of the ocean. The bucket represents anava, that which causes a sense of separateness.

Karma is a principle all Hindus are familiar with. It is an automatic system of divine justice. By this law, what we sow, we will reap. Good, helpful thoughts, words and deeds bring good karma to us in

the future. Hurtful actions bring back to us painful karma. Doing bad is like planting poison ivy. Doing good is like planting delicious mangos.

The term mâyâ in Hindu philosophy is sometimes used to mean illusion or to say that something is unreal. That is not the sense it is used in Saiva Siddhanta. In Saiva Siddhanta, maya refers to all of creation and can be rendered simply as “the world.”

My guru had a simple way of explaining the relationship between these three aspects of bondage. He stated: 'Maya is the classroom, karma the teacher, and anava the student's ignorance.'

To elaborate on Gurudeva’s statement, the world of maya is a classroom where we experience the consequences of our actions. We are treated by others as we treated others in the past. If we swindled money from a business associate in the past, we will someday have that same experience—not immediately, but in time. The karmaphala, what the youth might call comeuppance, forces us to experience what the victims of our actions felt when we mistreated them. Such a realization can be seriously upsetting and disruptive, motivating us to never swindle others again. In this way, karma is our teacher. It teaches us to better understand the consequences of our behavior and, if we are attentive, improve it.

This process also works for dharmic actions as well. We are helping out as a volunteer at the temple in teaching children’s classes once a month. We like the feeling it gives us of helping others in a meaningful way and decide to help out every week and even participate in the meetings which plan out the classes. We are doing a selfless action and the reaction it has on us is to feel more inner joy. Therefore the jnana is to decide to do even more of it and thus feel more joyful. We have again improved our behavior.

To conclude, here is a quote from Gurudeva on the importance of learning from our experiences: 'The basic laws of life are so simple that many people don’t heed them. Why? Generally because the opportunities afforded us to fail these tests are so plentiful that we generate very good reasons for not paying attention to our lessons. Shall we say it is normal to fail some of these tests? Yes, isn’t this like getting a failing grade on a report card in school, not passing some of the tests and having to take a course over again? We must learn from our experiences or find ourselves repeating them again and again.'”

Malaysia Events Continue

Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami continue their adventure through Malaysia. Several evenings ago they attended the book launch for Guru's Wisdom. An unusually large number of VIPs from other Hindu groups attended and the Kalmandapam auditorium was filled with maybe 600 people, with some guests standing in the back and sides.

The program began around 7:00pm with Devaram singing by a children's group and an adult group who were both trained by a professional oodhuvar. There was short introductory speeches by the previous president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam and the current one, a dance, and then a 35-minute keynote about the book by Satguru. Next was a ceremonial book release and each VIP came forward and received a complimentary copy. To finish the evening Satguru give vibhuti blessing and signed books late into the night.

The two also enjoyed a morning visit to the headquarters of the Malaysia Hindu Sangam and an afternoon satsang with members, students and devotees at Iraivan Illam in Klang. The satsang included one samaya diksha, one vidya sishya pledge and two brahmacharya vratas.

Entering Into a Two-Day Retreat

Aum Sivaya. The monks are finishing up their week and entering their retreat. Enjoy your weekend! You'll hear from us again in a few days.

“You are beyond everything. You are the whole world. You are beyond explanation. No one can explain. Don't go halfway to meet difficulties. Face them as they come to you; God is always with you-and that is the greatest news I have for you. Through love you can see God.” - Yogaswami

Mauritius May Ganesha Homa

Click here for more photos of the May Ganesha homa at our Spiritual Park

Recent Visitors

London and Malayasia

This week, Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Sannyasin Shanmuganathaswami have been traveling, first to London and then to Malaysia.

Yesterday they enjoyed a morning visit to the Siddhar Jeganatha Temple in Tapah which is a two-hour drive from Petaling Jaya. The Malaysia Hindu Sangam president, Dato Mohan Shan, and some of his local leaders greeted them there to show them around the temple construction site, which includes a full five acre property.

Chola Style Stanchions

This morning Bobby and Kathy Page sent photos of the almost-completed stanchions being made in Colorado in their bronze shop. The posts were designed by Selvanathan Sthapati, our master builder in India, and sculpted by Holly Young. They are designed to hold the remarkable 10-foot-long black granite stone chains. They will serve as handrails on the perimeter of the Temple Builders' Pavilion near Iraivan Temple. Future visitors will stand in awe that these chains are rock, made from a single stone (very carefully!). It changes one's idea of stone to hold these chains and see the working links. Jai to the silpi artisans who can do such magical things with their hands and hearts.

Archives are now available through 2001. Light colored days have no posts. 1998-2001 coming later.

September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
Subscribe to RSS Feed