Top to bottom: Kumar Naganathan Gurukkal performs arati after the final padapuja during the Mahasamadhi Observances; blessings radiate at the height of the Skanda Shashthi puja; Bodhinatha conducts a seminar for the Mahasamadhi Observance attendees; Yoginathaswami guides the delivery of the avudaiyar and other precious items for Iraivan Temple; Martin Mosko and Dante Ortiz present their completed landscape plan for the area surrounding Iraivan Temple; participants in the windbreak tree planting at Himalayan Acres; admiring the bright, new, laser-cut aluminum panels that highlight the entryway to the Media Studio.
Iraivan Temple Progress
On the final day of our four-day Gurudeva Mahasamadhi observances, two 20-foot shipping containers from India brought us many precious items for Iraivan Temple, including the five-ton bronze avudaiyar, the four-foot stone Nandi, important sculptures for the Nandi Mandapam and the five metal Sadasiva bronzes that will be installed on three sides of the temple's sanctum tower. The containers also held the black granite statues of Maharishi Nandinatha, Gurudeva, Bodhinatha and other items. Martin Mosko and his landscaping partner Dante Ortiz were here to not only develop and finalize the landscape planning, but to start moving earth. With the hiring of an excavator, a good deal of work has been done to sculpt the hillsides surrounding the temple in preparation for the placement of boulders that have been delivered from the quarry on the west side of our island. Bronze artisan Holly Young spent a few days on Kauai to do a photo shoot for the next bronze statue in the Temple Builders' Tribute. This one will show two silpis moving a massive stone using metal pry bars. At the Bengaluru carving site the workers gathered on the last day of Navaratri for the annual Ayuda Puja, ceremonial blessing of the tools of their trade, including hammers and chisels, machine tools and vehicles. All the carvers received gifts of appreciation at the end of the ceremony.
This month we celebrated Bodhinatha's 72nd Jayanti with a padapuja and surprised him with a helicopter ride around our beautiful island. At Diwali time we observed the 13th anniversary of our Gurudeva's passing into the inner worlds. Many of the pilgrims who came to honor Gurudeva and receive his blessings stayed on for six days of Muruga worship and the final Skanda Shashthi abhishekam.
At month's end Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami and Sannyasin Yoginathaswami departed for a month of activity in India. They had been invited to attend a giant conclave of Hindu religious leaders at the Shri Pathmedha Godhaam, a huge (thousands of acres) cow protection sanctuary in Rajasthan. Earlier in October, Bodhinatha, Shanmuganathaswami and Sadhaka Mayuranatha traveled to Missouri and Texas. In College Station, Texas, the monks took part in a seminar on dairy cow herd management. This was followed by a visit to the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands, where Bodhinatha gave a talk and presented our Hindu History documentary. Sadhaka Mayuranatha took advantage of the visit to get some quadcopter aerial video of the temple grounds to add to the The Woodlands Temple page at our Hindu Heritage Endowment website. Two weeks later, Shanmuganathaswami and Siddhanathaswami flew to San Antonio, Texas, for training in new web developments of 4D, the computer program we use for the Hinduism Today address data base, member and student information, monastery accounting, astrology material and Gurudeva's Shum language.
Publications and Other Activities
During October the swamis completed work on the January/February/March 2015 edition of Hinduism Today magazine. The Guru Chronicles Audio Book, nearly two years in the making, was released during Gurudeva's mahasamadhi observance. Acharya Arumuganathaswami has been working for some months with Dr. Shiva Bajpai to write a paper on the treatment of Hinduism in public school textbooks in California. This has involved a complex analysis of the "Framework for History-Social Studies," which lays out how these subjects are taught from kindergarten through high school. The conclusion of the paper is that the Framework reflects the 19th-century colonial view of India. The school textbooks focus intensely on caste, for example. The next step in this process is to provide a series of suggestions for the Framework, which is now up for revision. This may actually result in a change in the textbooks. At the monastery's Himalayan Acres farm, the monks, assisted by devotees here for the mahasamadhi observances, planted 2,100 trees to create a windbreak nearly one mile in length to protect groves of other trees. Our five-acre medicinal noni orchard has become much more productive over the last few months. During the last harvest, we gathered over a ton of noni in just an hour and a half, and that was picking only one third of the field. With the recent purchase of an 80-gallon press and rented time at a local commercial kitchen, we are getting close to having our first bottling of noni juice for sale in stores—all with proper organic certification and Department of Health permits. One step closer to the fruition of Gurudeva's vision of a sustainable agricultural endowment for the monastery.