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.
After hearing from readers, I think this is Chitragupta, who records all deeds of a person and at death determines whether they go to heaven or hell. Fro Wikepedia:
Chitragupta (Sanskrit: चित्रगुप्त, ‘rich in secrets’ or ‘hidden picture’) is a Hindu god assigned with the task of keeping complete records of actions of human beings on the earth. Upon their death, Chitragupta has the task of deciding heaven or the hell for the humans, depending on their actions on the earth. Chitragupta Maharaj (Chitragupta the King) is the patron deity of Kayasthas, a Hindu caste of India. He is the son of Lord Brahma, the ultimate lord of the Universe, and holds a fairly special place in the Hindu pantheon because of the order of his birth.
Lord Brahma had many various sons and daughters in various myth structures, including many seers born of his mind, such as Vashishta, Narada, and Atri, and many sons born of his body, such as Dharma, Delusion, Lust, Death, and Bharata. The story of the birth of Chitragupta is related in different ways, but he is nearly always delineated differently from the other children of Lord Brahma, and a common thread is that he is born directly of Lord Brahma’s body.
In one popular version of the creation myth of Chitragupta, it is said that Lord Brahma gave the land of the dead over to the god Yama, also known as Dharamraj or Yamraj. Yama would become confused sometimes when dead souls would come to him, and would occasionally send the wrong souls to either heaven or hell. Lord Brahma commanded him to keep better track of everyone, and Yama declared that he could not reasonably be expected to keep track of the many people born of the eighty-four different life forms in the three worlds.
Lord Brahma, determined to solve this problem for Yama, sat in meditation for many thousands of years. Finally he opened his eyes, and a man stood before him with a pen and paper. As Chitragupta was born of Lord Brahma’s body, or kaya in Sanskrit, Brahma declared that his children would forever be known as Kayasthas. As he was first conceived in Brahma’s mind, or chitra, and then made whole in secrecy, or gupta, away from the other gods, he was named Chitragupta.
Chitragupta is sometimes also referred to as the first man to use letters, and is hailed that way in the Garud Puran. He is known as being incredibly meticulous, and with his pen and paper he tracks every action of every sentient life form, building up a record of them over the course of their life so that when they die the fate of their soul can be easily determined. These perfect and complete documents are referred to in mystical traditions as the Akashic records, and as they contain the actions of each person from birth to death, they can be said to contain every action taken in the universe.
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.
People chant, reading from the books.
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: