The unfolding story of Hawaii’s San Marga Iraivan temple,
America’s only all-granite Hindu sanctuary
Iraivan is our Sivalingam temple, currently under construction. It began with Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's vision of God Siva in 1975; carving began in India in 1990; and assembly at Kauai's Hindu Monastery began in 2001.
A painting of Gurudeva in the midst of his vision, with the lineage of gurus depicted above him.
Artist — Suresh Muthukulam
Iraivan Temple 2015-2016 Fund-Raising Appeal
Namaste and Aloha!
This is our twenty-fifth year of carving a sacred masterpiece that brings the best of Indian temple architecture to the West in the form of a unique, hand-carved Chola-style granite temple that has no peer in this country. I often share that Gurudeva insisted on hand carving so that devotees could see, feel and enjoy the craftsmanship that existed in India a thousand years ago, and which this project helped keep alive in this century. Every week we take Hindu families out to Iraivan to show them the carvings and allow them to worship in the outer chamber, or mukhamandapam (illustration below), of the sanctum. Here, where sound resonates magnificently, many are inspired to chant and sing devotional songs.
I also stress that God Siva is the only Deity in Iraivan Temple, a sharp contrast with most temples being built in the US, which often house the entire North and South Indian Saiva and Vaishnava pantheon. At Iraivan, even the traditional Saivite shrines for Lord Ganesha and Lord Murugan will be outside the main temple. Gurudeva decreed we follow this age-old strictness to focus all attention on God Siva.
After so many years, it is most inspiring and energizing to have just one part of Iraivan Temple left to carve—the perimeter wall. The end of carving and shipping is definitely in sight! As I always say, exactly how long this will take depends on our flow of donations. Our monthly goal of $65,000 allows us to move forward at a moderate pace. If we were to receive $125,000 a month, we could move the project ahead significantly faster.
Thanks to the generous donations of our global family of temple builders, a lot was accomplished in the last twelve months. Last year’s goal was $780,000 ($65,000 per month) while actual donations were a little more: $790,242. We will keep the goal the same for the coming twelve months.
I will conclude with an inspiring quote from the monastery’s Iraivan Temple affirmation: “We see Iraivan as Gurudeva’s legacy to the world, a fulfillment of parampara, scripture and temple: the three pillars of Saivism. Gurudeva declared it the journey’s end for those seeking Siva’s darshan, a place where you do not have to invoke God, for God is here, for this is where heaven meets the Earth.”
With blessings for a bountiful family life and spiritual progress,
Our Fund-Raising Goal for September 2015 to August 2016The amount needed to keep this sacred project funded in both India and Hawaii is $65,000 per month, or $780,000 for the year.
Gurudeva's Sacred Vision
Located in the heart of a traditional Hindu monastery complex reminiscent of ancient mathas and aadheenams of India, Iraivan is more than a temple; it is a pilgrimage destination, a place of sadhana and spiritual rejuvenation. Iraivan Temple is a living edifice that brings ancient tradition into the 21st century, a stable anchor sustaining and strengthening Hindu dharma for our children, their children and generations to come.
Let's Work Together to Complete Iraivan
With the main edifice nearing completion, Iraivan Temple needs your support now more than ever. Be generous and send your special year-end contribution today.
Iraivan Temple Fund
107 Kaholalele Road
Kapaa, Hawaii 96746–9304 USA
808–822–3012, ext. 237
The Unfolding Story of Hawaii's San Marga Iraivan Temple,
America's Only All-Granite Hindu Sanctuary
The recent acquisition of a 19-acre parcel (center bottom on the map below, with the rows of trees), inspired us to have a new map. Local landscape designer Hiroko Letman created this new map of Kauai Aadheenam showing the entire 70-acre property, including Iraivan Temple at upper left and the future visitors’ center at upper right. It includes the new land, all our buildings and the streams, ponds, trees and other plantings as conceived in our landscaping plan. For the first time we have a complete picture of the Aadheenam’s 70-acre property.
On the Eastern side of Iraivan, giant boulders are being placed to create gardens and sacred spaces, and thousands of plants are finding homes. Giant excavators and hand-held shovels have teamed up to create a stunning setting for the Iraivan Temple gem. Rishi Valley has come to life with stone bridges across the stream, new waterfalls and exotic botanical creatures. This last year, in anticipation of major planting needs in newly developed areas, the monks brought in some 10,000 plants, mostly as tissue culture. This is a frugal and efficient way of propagation, allowing us to acquire a tiny plant costing 30-60¢ and grow it up into a two-year-old specimen worth $15 to $35.
Though the newly-worked terrain looks rough and a bit barren as we near the end of 2015, in two years this section of the land will be green and lush. One visitor said he senses that the stone temple embodies the masculine energy of Siva—strong, rigid, immovable—and the gardens hold Siva’s feminine energy—soft, nurturing and healing. With the two together the sanctuary is complete and balanced. Gurudeva would enjoy that interpretation of Iraivan.
Iraivan, an ancient Tamil word meaning “He who is worshiped,” is being built upon the site where Siva appeared to Gurudeva in a series of early morning visions on February 15, 1975. These visions inspired him to begin this exquisite temple, unlike any in the world. He named the 10-acre complex San Marga, san meaning “good or straight” and marga, meaning “spiritual path.”
In a joyous fulfillment of fifteen years of design, carving and installation, the eight murtis of our satgurus have been installed on the Path of the Saiva Satgurus, a 1,350-foot walkway that winds around seven ponds that are alive with lotuses, water lilies and waterfalls. Now pilgrims can sit near each bigger-than-life sculptures, read about the satguru’s life and teachings, meditate on his inner presence and connect personally with the Kailasa Parampara.
With the carving of the Nandi Mandapam finished, work in Bengaluru is focused entirely on the perimeter wall. As you know, this work is being done with power tools, a change from the temple proper, which was entirely carved by hand. Here is a nutshell overview of where we stand. The 485-foot-long wall comprises 248 stones, including 198 white granite pillars or panels and 50 red granite pots. All of these have been acquired and are either in rough form or cut to their basic size. Three of the red pots are finished and 47 have been cut and lathed into a round shape, ready for carving and polishing. Of the 198 pillars and panels, 111 are complete, with 87 left to do, many with intricate carving. In terms of progress, our team estimates the wall to be roughly 60 percent finished.
This work is much more repetitive and thus faster than the main temple was, where many parts of the design called for unique sculpturing. In the case of the perimeter wall, there are only four different designs. While most silpis work on the white granite wall segments, one team is crafting the rose-colored granite pots that sit upon it to hold ornamental plants.
We expect to ship several containers from India to Kauai in early 2016. They will include the balance of the Nandi Mandapam stones, the remaining black granite stones of the 30-foot wide steps at the temple’s south entrance, the remaining four bases for the satguru statues, Lord Hanuman’s massive base, the bronze memorial bases and an initial shipment of perimeter wall stones.
With the carving steadily moving forward in Bengaluru, we made important preparations for the next group of silpis to come to Kauai. Months were spent on the Silpi House, as we call it (located across Kuamoo Road from the beginning of the San Marga path), cleaning, fixing, painting, tiling floors and installing new kitchen cabinets and appliances. With successive silpi crews having used the house for some ten years, it was in need of serious TLC. We also acquired a crucial new piece of equipment, a Genie boom lift capable of reaching 50 feet in the air, intended primarily for the regular cleaning of the temple’s higher reaches.
On the Big Island, Holly Young continues to make steady progress on the Temple Builders’ Memorial. The piece featured in last year’s report of two silpis shaping a rough stone is now at the monastery, and the next piece—two silpis moving a stone with lever bars—was just sent to the foundry in Colorado.
We are often asked, “When will the next team of silpis come to Kauai?” The thought behind the question, of course, is if the silpis are working here the temple will be finished sooner. But, actually, the crucial factor is the carving in Bengaluru. The massive task of carving the perimeter wall needs to be nearly complete before we bring the silpis here to assemble it. And the last pieces need to arrive on Kauai at just the right time for the silpis to wrap up their work—not too soon, not too late. We know that won’t happen in 2016; beyond that we are not yet able to determine their arrival.
On Kauai, the landscaping continues at a steady pace as weather permits. In general, we are using the drier months to move dirt and set stones, and the wetter months for planting. The Temple Builders’ Memorial, a spectacular project in itself, will continue to move forward. The sculpture of two artisans marking a pillar for carving (depicted on the right in the image below) will be Holly Young’s next masterwork.
A Productive Year: Images of 2014-2015
In 2001, Gurudeva said: “When you begin the pilgrimage to Iraivan Temple, you drop off and dissolve the karmas of the past. Then, because of the direction the temple is facing, the temple gives a new start, a new impetus for a wonderful future. It is a boon-giving temple, a gift-giving temple, a life-giving temple, a wish-fulfilling temple.”
Top to bottom: Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami and Shanmuganathaswami with our team of craftsmen in Bengaluru pose in September with the newly carved perimeter wall sections; silpis in Bengaluru work on the wall panels; some of the wall pillars ready to be crated; placing Gurudeva’s statue on the Path of the Saiva Satgurus; new landscaping along Iraivan’s eastern side; two months ago these were tiny plants; shortly they will be large enough to put in the ground.
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Iraivan Temple is a punya tirtha, a sacred destination for devout pilgrims. The vision of Lord Siva on San Marga that Gurudeva was blessed with in 1975 is sustained and made manifest by the daily sadhanas of 21 resident monastics from five nations. Kadavul Hindu Temple and the many sacred areas of San Marga are available to Hindus for worship, meditation, japa and quiet reflection. It is best, if you are planning to come to visit us, to email us in advance to make sure the days of your visit coincide with our open times. And, if you want to have darshan with Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami, to check if he is in residence and to make the necessary appointment. Please see our visitor information pages for more details.
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