Insuring the Future of Kauai's San Marga Sanctuary
When Deva and Gayatri Rajan talk of "insuring the future of the San Marga Sanctuary" on Kauai, they are speaking literally.
Three years ago, the Rajans created the San Marga Sanctuary Development Fund. They make annual contributions to the fund, requesting that the Hindu Heritage Endowment use their contributions to fund a $750,000 last-to-die life insurance policy. The policy will provide cash to the fund at the death of the surviving spouse. "We know that the policy will pay off well after the construction of the Iraivan Temple," Deva says.
"Gayatri and I saw the building and maintenance of the Iraivan Temple as covered by the current drive," Deva added. "We were concerned about the future of the other property needs." The Kauai temple will be the centerpiece of a twenty-acre spiritual sanctuary and visitor center. The Rajans felt that while they were relatively young and insurable they could make sure that the pilgrimage facilities surrounding the temple were as well-cared-for as the temple itself. The Rajans, Hindu-Americans who were attracted to Gurudeva in the late 60s, felt it was easier to raise funds to build a temple than provide for the construction and long-term maintenance of its pillared festival hall, stone paths, ponds, the Ganesha bridge, botanical gardens and visitors' center. So, they decided to begin funding the harder part with an insurance policy.
Deva sold his California-based construction company five years ago. He worked for two years in the early 70s on Kauai heading a team of carpenters to transform the quaint Tropical Inn resort into a monastery for Gurudeva and his monks. "It was wonderful," he recalls. Living with the monks and enjoying the daily meditations and teachings brought him a depth of religious experience and theological reflection that he felt had been missing from his life. Gayatri, following a similar path, was a devotee of Gurudeva as well. The Rajans married in 1981 and now have two adult children.
Deva, a master builder with forty years of experience, continues in retirement to assist temple construction by overseeing shipments of materials to Kauai while he and Gayatri maintain a daily practice of puja and meditation at their California home and Kauai cottage.
"I am grateful for the moral training my family gave me, but I missed the philosophical profundity of Eastern religion," he said. "Exploring the nature of God and finding the Divine within everything, these are the kind of subjects Hindus love to discuss. And so do I."
Gayatri, an artist and writer, is author and illustrator of a children's book called The Story of Santoshi Devi, which tells of a little girl's personal relationship with Lord Ganesha. She is currently working on a book on the nature of the inner, metaphysical worlds.
The Rajans share a vision of the completed Iraivan Temple as a jewel in a crown of a flowering tropical garden, including 350 varieties of Heliconia, a collection of rare palm trees, and other ornamental and medicinal plants from all over the world. They have made annual pilgrimage part of their life and see the Kauai temple and sanctuary as a world-class destination.
"A big part of what I'm able to practice in retirement is service to others," Deva shared. "I have the freedom to devote myself to the Iraivan Temple construction. It is very, very rewarding."