Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kauai's Hindu Monastery

A few weeks back, Jessica and I went to a Hindu Monastery with our good friends Chris and Megan. They give a guided tour once a week where a young monk shows your their beautiful grounds and gives you insight into Hinduism. We've always wanted to go so this was the perfect opportunity. We didn't know what to expect but it's safe to say than any expectations were vastly exceeded.

The Monastery was founded in 1970 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and it sits on 458 acres. It is part of the Saiva Siddhanta Church, founded in Sri Lanka in 1949. Its spiritual heritage derives from the Nandinatha Sampradaya, which goes back to 2,200 bce. If you think I actually memorized these facts, you are out of your mind.

Here are some pictures of the grounds.

There are 20 monks that live here and while most have devoted their entire lives to the monastery (they wear an orange robe), some give 2 years at a time and wear a white robe, as our guide did. He was an incredibly bright and interesting young fellow with a great sense of humor. He gave us an overview of the history of this particular monastery and gave us an overview of what the monks do on a day to day basis. The monks do a lot of praying and meditating but they are also tech-savvy and they produce a number of books and even a magazine called Hinduism Today.

Here is a picture of Megan and Chris. See if you can notice the resemblance between these two shots.

I'm pretty sure that Jessica's favorite part of the trip was the fact that I had to wear a sarong. They asked that anyone wearing shorts or a skirt to put one on while in the temple. The minute I heard this, I knew I would be forced to post a pic on the blog.

The main attraction is the new temple that they are building. It is built by hand and not a single machine will be used at any point during its construction. All of the granite stone is shipped directly from India and there are stone smiths on site that complete the finishing touches. There is no concrete used as the stones interlock perfectly. A leading Hindu architect from California designed the temple and it should last at least 1,000 years. Our guide told us that this is the way temples have been built for thousands of years. We even got to see the stone smiths at work with hammers and chisels.

They started construction in 1991 and hope to complete the project by 2010. What's interesting is that they rely solely on people's charity as they don't want to take any loans from banks. The founder of this monastery wanted it to be built from the love and good nature of its guests.

After the tour ended at the new temple, most of the tourists left. We were one of the select few that was invited down the hill to see what our guide described as his personal sanctuary. He definitely has good taste because it was a small waterfall leading into a bubbling brook. After that he allowed us to sit and meditate in the original temple. All in all, an enlightening experience.

1 comment:

Emma said...

Conor, are you trying to tell us something? Your gender identity is highly suspect now that you wear skirts and write passionate blogs about your favorite flip flops. Glad you are having fun though.