When we return to the California,the first thing we do is to head to Santa Cruz and the SAT temple (their website is here). In addition to being the place where our teacher Nome gives satsang and spiritual instruction, they offer us a room to stay in. It is always such a pleasure to return.
The temple is barely visible from the road. There is a small sign.
And if you look carefully through the trees, you can see a small octagonal tower rising from the rear of the building. That is the satsang hall.
We go up a verdant walkway to get to the temple.
Approaching the entrance.
Looking in through the entrance doors.
Inside we see the new construction. For many months they have been working on a new Mandiram, pillared hall, that will greet people as they enter the temple.
The basic construction has been done. They have laid marble tile. Now they are building platforms for the murtis.
Two people are working today, both volunteers from the SAT membership. Scott, in the foreground, is working on the tile for the main platform.
Tim is polishing tile.
Inside the Lotus Room, downstairs from the satsang hall, are all the new murtis, and a spiritual mural being painted on the wall, all the work in progress.
The painting is a big one, maybe 20 feet wide by ten feet high. Siva is in the center.
Beautifully detailed work will fill the painting.
Next to the painting is the temporary home of the new murtis.
Here is Ganesha.
This lingam will be in the center of the platform.
Murugan will be on one side of the lingam, Ganesha on the other.
Here is Nandi.
Two smaller figures will also be on the platform. Parvati will be next to the lingam.
This figure is Chandikesha, who holds a palm-leaf book in his hand, keeping track of your punya (merit) and papa (demerits).
Chandikesha is found in Siva temples usually in a small shrine faced into the inner sanctum, the garbha graha or womb-chamber, of the primary deity. He is usually on the north side of the inner chamber. One claps into this shrine to show that you leave the temple empty handed. Chandikesha is the last god carried in the Arunachala Deepam Festival on the night of the silver chariots. I have read that Chandikesha is called the “Lord of the Forces.” In a Siva temple, Chandikesha will be passed at the end of Pradakshina around the inner chamber. It will be like this when performing pradakshina of the lingam in the Mandiram at the SAT temple, too.
I don’t know anything about Chandikesha, and cannot find much with Google, If you know more, can you make a comment?
Leaning against the wall are a number of carved tiles.
There will be put onto the pillars and the wall. These carved tiles on temple pillars are a familiar feature in the temples of Tamil Nadu. Now we will have them in Santa Cruz as well. Each has a story (most of which I don’t know).
Here is Dakshinamoorthy.
I walk upstairs, to sit in the satsang hall. First I stop at the Ramana Maharshi Shrine.
When I enter the meditation hall, it is set up for the regular Wednesday night program, Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam): theDevotional chanting of stotrams and bhajans.
In the rear of the hall stand the existing murtis. Here are Ardhanarishvara and a Lingodbhava.
There is a beautiful Siva Nataraja.
Also a magnificent bronze Dakshinamoorthy.
The evening program starts in front of the new murtis.
Aarti being offered to each murti.
Then we head upstairs. First to stop by the Ramana Shrine.
People sit, ready for the chanting. In front of them are four different books from which we will be chanting.
In a special place of honor in the hall is another picture of Ramana Maharshi. He looks over all that happens in the hall.
Nome rings a chime to start the session.
He reads us a few verses. Because of his Parkinson’s Disease, his wife, Sasvati, has to hold the book for him. We are so glad that he still is able to offer satsang and these evening events.
People chant, reading from the books.
Sasvati leads a number of the chants.
There are several people playing instruments to accompany the voices.
Kids accompany the adults. They find ways to amuse themselves.
The attendees are about half Indians and half Westerners.
Another kid playing, climbing through the back of a chair.
At the end, light is offered to Ramana.
Then others take the light.
Afterward a nice vegetarian potluck meal is served.
Nome and Sasvati sit and wait for the others to join them.
Now we all enjoy a meal together before we leave.
It is a joy to be back in the USA and at SAT. Friday night there is a program. This week is reading from Ramana’s Talks, accompanied by the deep and clarifying comments of Nome. Sunday at 10 AM will be Satsang. We are happy to be back in our spiritual home.
The work being done for the new Mandiram is great. What a wonderful addition to the temple this will be. And it is an enormous project for this small temple. If you asked them about it, they would probably say that it is all the grace of Ramana.
Here are a number of posts from the SAT blog that have been made about the construction of the new Mandiram: