When the temple work had just started, Gurudeva once asked me to accompany him to Edmonton Temple, Canada for fund-raising for Iraivan. I was very happy to go along.

At the gathering, Gurudeva kept talking about the temple there. He told me to get a pot and started a collection on the spot, by taking out his wallet and making the first contribution into the pot. I had to take this pot around and collect the funds for that temple. Not for Iraivan, which is what I had come for!!



When the silpis were hired and carving work began, Gurudeva did not want to be the last of the slave owners. For such a skilled job, they would be paid about $2 a day. That was the going rate then. Gurudeva wanted to pay more. But, that attracted a lot of flak from other carvers. So, we kept the wages the same and improved their benefits. They have a pension plan, the first of its kind. But, these silpis were saving up and setting aside an amount each month for Iraivan! They were helping to build the temple, they were building!!

I was boiling inside. Later, I did not even want to count what had been collected. I was not interested! At mealtime, all kinds of wonderful dishes were made. But, this sneaky anger prevented me from eating also! I was pouting the whole time.

Gurudeva asked me if something was wrong. I told him about being disappointed that he had not talked of Iraivan at all. "It is all one temple," he said. But I did not understand what he meant. Young and arrogant, I thought, "Oh yeah ...  all one!"

Realizations come late. Only when the Trustees started sending in donations for Iraivan, I realized what Gurudeva had meant years earlier. Many temples are doing this now.  At the Abhirami Amman Temple, in Brande, Denmark, there are 2 Hundis kept.- one for that Temple and one for Iraivan.

In Gurudeva's mind, it is just "One Temple!"

Sadhaka Thondunatha
Acharya Palaniswami