Kauai – where the Soul & the Senses merge

There cannot be a better tropical Island that has so much to offer to the Soul & the Senses than Kauai – aptly described by many as “The paradise”. We spent Seven Days Six Nights in Kauai. This might sound like the title of a Hollywood movie, Six Days Seven Nights starring Harrison Ford & Anne Heche. Coincidentally, I learnt that this movie was also filmed in Kauai.
For a person who had not visited any of the Hawaiian isles before, I had my own imagination of it to be a perfect place of natural beauty with great sights, beautiful landscapes, beaches, excellent climate etc. It was one destination on our “To go” wish list but not a lot of thought had gone into planning or choosing the islands to visit. A recent visit to Kauai by our beloved Divine family friends – Sanjai & Priya inspired us and laid the foundation for our visit. It made a lot of things easier for us as we simply followed their footsteps. When we normally travel to home (India), we’ll always feel relaxed. The air travel is the tedious part but once we land in India we don’t have to worry about many things like place to stay, food to eat, things to do etc. We felt the same way in Kauai and it was possible because of the love and support of our Divine family friends.
kuai
Kauai is a small island but it has great diversity. Sample this – It has a rain forest/ wettest point on earth & also a desert/canyon; there are more than a dozen rivers and many more streams with most of them showcasing their splendor through waterfalls. There is lush greenery every where with varieties of plants & trees. Due to frequent rains & fertile soil; one could smell the aroma of soil in the air – something that I have not experienced in California. One could spot Roosters everywhere in the Island, and plethora of peacocks at Smith Tropical Paradise near Kapa’a. On a spiritual note the Island of Kauai resembled the abode of Lord Muruga.
murugan_hill
We planned our trip from May 12 to May18 with our desire to visit Kauai Hindu Monastery on May 13, which also happens to be my wife’s birthday. After landing at Kauai, we realized that tourism is a big industry there and we got the feeling that we will be expected to pay more $$$ for any services that we may avail there. We stayed at the same hotel that our beloved friends Sanjai & Priya stayed – Courtyard Marriott at Coconut Beach near Kapa’a. At the Hotel we learnt that it was taken over by a new management recently (Marriott) & so there were some upgrades going on at some part of the complex. This did not affect us in any way but the Hotel authorities were very kind and gracious enough that they offered us a free Breakfast Buffet for our entire stay as well as free parking permit. Beach is just a stroll outside our building and it was such a nice setting that we spent the evening (dusk) on most days on the beach. The hotel room was big enough for a family of 3 with all the amenities that we needed. The location was very close to the downtown Kapa’a and convenient for food, shopping etc. We could not have wished for a better arrangement for lodging. With heavy breakfast, we headed out of hotel every morning full of energy to explore the beauty of Kauai.
Our first visit to Kauai Hindu Monastery was very special. We contacted the monastery about our stay at Kauai and requested for a convenient day to meet with Satguru Bodinatha and get a tour of the Monastery. To our delightment, we were asked to come on May 13th. Like I mentioned earlier; this was the date that we also wanted to visit as it was my wife, Aparna’s birthday. Mother Nature played a perfect host for us on the way to the Monastery; we were greeted by Wailua River, Opaeka Falls & majestic mountain ranges along the highway. We reached the Hindu Monastery around 9am to participate in the daily Archana & Aarti. The Hindu Monastery was the Heaven in the Paradise. Words and pictures would not do justice; it is a place to be witnessed; all senses will come to full life and will merge with the Soul. Such will be the experience. For details – there are 2 temple shrines in the Monastery. The first one is Kadavul temple which is open to public every day from 9am to noon where Lord Nataraja (Dancing Shiva) is the primary deity with Lord Ganesha & Lord Muruga on either side. The energy of the temple is maintained by constant chanting of mantras and performing pujas through out the day and for every single day in a year for the last 30 or more years.  We prayed at Kadavul temple and attended the puja and aarti. The experience of being at the place was profound. As I closed my eyes in meditation, I felt inner peace and joy. My daughter Sahana was playful and tired but she could also sense the energy that she frequently sat in Lotus pose for prayer. After attending the puja and getting the prasadam; we headed out to visit the second temple with long time devotee Shyama. Iraivan Temple is being built in South Indian style and is an architecture marvel. The Temple is completely hand carved with the help of sculptors from India and is built to last for more than 1000 years. Each pillar in the temple has a unique message. The Shiva linga is a single white Crystal which is in the Kadavul temple where abishekam is done every day. The aavudayar (or the lower part) is assembled in India and will arrive in Kauai soon. The temple is expected to be ready by 2017.
bodhinata_swami

              It was time for us to meet with Satguru Bodinatha Velyanswami and we were taken to the room where we will meet him. As we were sitting there; Sanyasin Saravanathaswami walked in and enquired us about our sojourn so far. He quietly reminded us that we could ask any questions we may have to Satguru when we meet Him. Few minutes later, Satguru Bodinatha Velyanswami walked in with a blissful face. We offered our salutations to Satguru and conveyed our thankfulness and pleasure in coming to Kauai Monastery.  After offering my salutations; I kindly requested Satguru to dispel the darkness in my mind on the following questions –

1.         We have a group of like minded friends who actively study Holy Scriptures (Bhagavad Gita) & try to practice dharma living in our day to day life. In doing so; I get great understanding of life, I get clarity & confidence in performing any actions and I realize my higher purpose of life.  But some times I feel guilty of not spending time with my family (wife & kid). On the other hand; if I skip attending spiritual Satsang’s I feel guilty of not taking care of my spiritual life. This had been bothering me for a while and how to overcome this state of mind?
Satguru smiled at me and said – Why do you think you are not learning anything in your family life? Both spiritual Satsang & Family Satsang teaches you invaluable things. You are learning in both. If you think this way; there is no feeling of guilt.
2.         After hearing Satguru’s words; I started to feel a new energy flowing in me. I put forward my next question.  I have a deep interest in reading the Holy Scriptures and spending time with like minded friends. But my wife’s interests are not similar. In such case; what is your advice for us so that we could pursue the interests without hurting each other.
Satguru looked at me and said – There is no perfect recipe. My advice would be that you communicate with each other before hand of any plans. Some times you both might agree and it might work out. Some times it might not. The key is to not get stuck when you disagree. Move on and understand that is reality. It might take some compromise from both sides and be willing to do that.
3.         Each word from Satguru struck me deeply. I realized that it is the cluttered mind that restricted me from thinking about the same suggestions that Satguru gave. Few minutes of Satguru’s presence cleared my mind and I was able to absorb His wisdom. My last question was on how to raise the kids in U.S in Hindu tradition.
Satguru said that Kids follow and absorb what happens around them. If parents follow & live according to Hindu tradition; Kids will definitely absorb them. Even though some kids do not show them explicity; it will be in them. Once they begin to lead their life on their own; they will draw from this experience. So during the young age i.e. until age of 12; try to expose your kids to the Hindu values and cultures constantly. Do not confuse them by teaching a lot about other religions at this age.
We thanked Satguru again and wished that we would want to come back to monastery again. Before we left the temple for that day – Sanyasin Saravananathaswami offered us food to eat for lunch which was prepared by the Monks themselves and offered to Lord Nataraja as prasadam. We felt extremely elated. Everything that we wished for and the ones we not even thought of were happening.We had only stayed for 3 hours in the monastery and our experience were beyond description.  Sanyasin Saravananathaswami offered to take us on a tour again if we wish to come back. We were very happy to come back the next day.
We came back the next day and visited the Iraivan Temple again. We also saw the Sacred Forest – Rudraksha Forest and tasted the Rudraksha fruit. Sahana had developed cold and cough due to change in weather pattern. We had bought her some medicine which we gave every night. She was very enthusiastic and ate 3 Rudraksha fruit which was said to be of high medicinal value. After that the regular medicine was not needed in the night for her and she slept well in the night.
rudraksha
 
            We planned our rest of the stay in Kauai by covering each shore (North, East, West, South) each day. Though we went out from 8am to 6pm every day we never felt tired. As my 3 ½ year old daughter summed it up nicely that she visited the house of Lord Shiva (various mountains in Kauai is analogous to Kailash mountain); the house of Lord Vishnu (Ocean) and the house of Lord Brahma (Clouds analogous to Akasha) by visiting Kauai.
Mahalo!
- Shankar

5 Responses to “Kauai – where the Soul & the Senses merge”

  1. Venugopal Says:

    Dear Shankar,

    Fantastic !! Fantastic !! and Fantastic !!

    It is really a remarkable representation of your complete experience. We can use this article as a guide to our Kauai tour (if we happen to visit). Such was the depth of details you gave about each and every thing about this place, starting with Roosters to stay to your spiritual experience. Talking about spiritual experience, the way you described your feelings was really nice. It was as if you are standing before me and telling what is on your mind. So crystal clear it was and i felt you have literally wrote all your thoughts at that moment of time, which is really an art in writing. Not many can do that successfully. But you are an example. And it incidentally struck me that both the temples (Kadavul & Iraivan) have Nataraja/Shiva idols, which is also your name (first & last names) “Shankar Natarajan”. May be that is the reason you are able to express your experiences so clearly? My comments won’t be complete if i don’t express my shock on the questions you had asked. They were exactly the same i’m having on my mind too, and you got answers from Satguru Bodinatha Velyanswami. Also these questions are very practical ones, which i do encounter too.

    BTW, also i wanted to mention couple of expressions in your article made me think the most:

    “The Hindu Monastery was the Heaven in the Paradise”
    - Heaven itself is the abode of God. Heaven in the Paradise expression itself shows me how much you would like to convey the important of this temple.

    “..all senses will come to full life and will merge with the Soul.”
    - This cannot be written unless some one feels it, which you did. A truly experience filled statement.

    Overall an excellent and i must say, when reading this article i literally felt the joy you have experienced.

    Wonderful article. Overall hats off to your effort, time, sharing your experience, more importantly narrating in a pleasant way.

    Thank you, Thank you and Thank you..

    -Venu

  2. Darshan2Divinity Says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Priya Says:

    Dear Shankar,

    This article is so wonderful that it would inspire everyone who reads to look at things not through their eyes but through their soul. This is what I felt when I was reading it. Though Sanjai and myself have visited Kauai twice, I don’t think we could have expressed the way you have. Thank you for sharing your questions and Satguru’s answers with us. This is going to help lot of people.

    Satguru says “Kids follow and absorb what happens around them. If parents follow & live according to Hindu tradition; Kids will definitely absorb them”.
    I can see this in Sahana with the experiences you have shared.
    “As I closed my eyes in meditation, I felt inner peace and joy. My daughter Sahana was playful and tired but she could also sense the energy that she frequently sat in Lotus pose for prayer”.
    “As my 3 ½ year old daughter summed it up nicely that she visited the house of Lord Shiva (various mountains in Kauai is analogous to Kailash mountain); the house of Lord Vishnu (Ocean) and the house of Lord Brahma (Clouds analogous to Akasha) by visiting Kauai”.

    Thank you Shankar for sharing your experiences with us.

    -Priya

  4. Sanjai Says:

    Dear Shankar,
    You are amazing! Most amazing Modesty, Humility. How true is Priya’s comment about they way you have expressed your experience. The title is super! This article also shows how truly you involved in anything you do. You go deep but yet stay practical. Thank you.

  5. Sriram Says:

    Dear Shankar,
    It was a wonderful article. It takes the reader to Kuai and see your experiences along with you. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    -Sriram

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