We built Kadavul Temple for ourselves. That is a very powerful place. It is a life-changing temple. That temple may not last another 500 hundred years, we don't know, because it is built of concrete bricks. Iraivan is built in the Vastu, Agamic way with granite stone. Granite has been around for many thousand years already! Granite itself is not going to go anywhere. So, Iraivan Temple is being built for our future generations, a place for pilgrimage, not really a place for going to everyday. Those who live in Kauai, many will go everyday. But, it is a place of pilgrimage. As Gurudeva says, at least once a year, you make a pilgrimage, where you can go to be renewed, where you can get your perspective on life, get the overview on life. You go above your daily worries and routines and helps you get a mountain-top perspective.
So, that is the quick story of Iraivan Temple, very special for us. Recently, this year we have finally started to put Iraivan up, physically. We have been carving now, for 10 years in Bangalore and for the first time, we have started to put those granite blocks up on the site. So, beginning in May, we brought 7 silpis, and they have been chiseling away at their hammer and chisel. Started off pretty smooth and the workflow and everything was going along fine, remarkably fine. We expected more of things to come up to be sorted out. But, there really wasn't anything. It has been going on fine, except we weren't too happy with some of the joints in between the stones. They were not exactly what we had expected, though they were really good, compared to what is being done now in India. The space between one stone and another, for some, maybe it is a quarter-inch joint, or a little less. But, the joints were supposed to be what they call 'paper joints'. That is, if you had a piece of paper and tried to put that in between the stones, it would not go in. It would be so tight, so well fitted. Ganapathy Sthapathi told us that this was possible. So, we were expecting that. In the first 2 courses, we weren't really achieving that. So, just 5 days before we were departing for Europe, we wanted to make sure that while we were gone they would not be putting the stones with these quarter-inch joints but paper joint. We had some back and forth with Shanmuga Sthapathi, who is the resident sthapathi on Kauai and Ganapathi Sthapathi, our Chief Sthapathi. The day before we left, we went to the work site to say goodbye to the silpis. Shanmuga Sthapathi brought us over to the stones saying, "I will show you something," He pulled out one of Gurudeva's business cards and he tried to stick it in between the joints. "This is the best I can do!" He could not get in there. He said, "You try it!" and it would not fit in there! Remarkable! He had achieved 'paper joint'!
We were very satisfied that now, we were going to go along and Iraivan was going to be what we had envisioned. As you know, everything that Gurudeva does, he does his very best. 'Hinduism Today' is a marvelous publication. It has to be the best that we can do. The 'Master Course', the very best. Iraivan also, has to the very best that can be done. The silpis are not always used to doing this kind of caliber of work. But, they have come to know that Gurudeva will not settle for anything but the very best that they can do. If they do something and it is not quite right, they are going to have to do it over or continue till he achieves the very best. That is another way that makes Iraivan different from other temples in India. Sthapathi is saying that nowhere in India, will you find paper joints.
So, all over Europe, we were looking at joints. Saying, "Look at those joints! How big they are!" We will go back with a new appreciation for what they are doing.
This last month they focussed on what we call a 'course'. Each level is called a 'course'. Course number 3 is one of the most ornate in terms of carving, because it has all the 'bhootha' stones. 'Bhootha' are little, dancing, elemental beings, holding up the temple, playing instruments. So, all around this course, you see these little beings, very ornately carved, with joyous faces, chubby, smiling. They have done even better than 'paper joints', they say. I don't know how they can do better. Because the joints have a certain overlap, you cannot even see a joint. Though it is only the 3rd course, when you are standing on ground level, it comes just to your eye-level, because the foundation is 4 feet high. So, you are looking at all these little menuhuins just at eye-level. It is really neat to see! Come to Kauai and see what is happening there, really!
So, we have a new need now that the silpis are actually on Kauai. We have 7 workers, here. That requires new financing. Myself and Thondunatha are responsible to generate that through fund-raising. The need basically is another $17,000 a month that we have to bring in. This is apart from the money that is brought in every month for Bangalore for the fifty-plus carvers there. So, we have enough money to keep the work going for approximately 6 months, from the surplus that we have built up from last year. Our goal when we go back to Kauai is to generate more donations, find new donors, and get the message across about Iraivan. Gurudeva has given a new focus for the Golden Gate Mission to help with this fund-raising. Bring in donors. This is really important because we don't want to send our silpis back to India. This is the first time some of them have been out of India. It is big experience for some of them. They have adjusted very well. They still like to wash their dhotis down in the river! They won't use the washing machine. So, every week we allow them to go down the river and they are washing their dhotis on the rocks and having fun!
We heard that just yesterday another 4 containers of stones were shipped from Bangalore. This will keep them going for another 5 months before we run out of the over 6 courses of stones that were brought over in May. We will have all these completed by end of January. Probably sooner, October/November. We need to get new stones to keep them at work. Four containers will have probably 5 courses of stone. With that, they will go till January. It is the goal of Shanmuga Sthapathi to complete these 11 courses. Then, he needs to go back to India to do the marriage of one of his children. So, after a month then, he will come back to Kauai.
Completing these 11 courses, there is a significance. At certain levels, there is a special ceremony. Like the door frame has the 'garbanyasa', which is similar to a ceremony that is done for a woman during her pregnancy. The temple is looked at as a being. The same samskaras are performed as it comes up. So, after the 6th course, we will do this special ceremony. A secret little silver box will be placed in a wall that will have these 9 compartments. Each compartment will have one herb. These herbs are those given to a lady in her pregnancy. For some mystical reason, they do this to the temple also. 9 compartments, 9 herbs.
We mentioned last month to those who were here, how you can help in small ways in fund-raising.
Every little bit of energy helps.