'Lotus of peace' blooms in Santhigiri Ashram
Posted on: 26 May 2010
Thiruvananthapuram: A 91-foot high full-bloom lotus in pristine white marble, symbolising universal peace, spirituality and fraternity, is nearing completion at the Santhigiri Ashram at Pothonkode near here,founded by spiritual leader late Karunakara Guru.
The structure is built around the 'Parnasala,' the final resting place of the Guru, resembling the famed Bahai Mandir
in New Delhi and serves the purpose of a spiritual abode and a functional monument.
The imposing structure, rising to a height of 91 feet and with a radius of 84 feet, is scheduled to be dedicated to the
world on September 12 this year on the 84th birthday of Karunakara Guru, an ashram spokesperson told PTI.
Made of white marble brought from Rajasthan and special black granite from Karnataka,the Parnasala is a visual wonder.
It has 21 marble overlaid petals – 12 facing upwards and nine downwards.
Almost 100,000 square feet of marble, transported from Makrana in Rajasthan, was cut into even sized tiles by workers
at the Ashram before being cemented onto the RCC petals.
The edifice is supported on 21 carved pillars. The 'Baalalayam' or the elevated platform meant for conducting
ceremonies, is decorated with intricate wood carvings.
At the heart of the structure is 'Sarakoodam', a 27 feet-high teak wooden enclosure in the shape of a lotus bud
with a marble cask inside. Atop the cask 11 steps lead to a pedestal, where a life-size gold sculpture of Guru will be
Karunakara Guru's followers included former President late K R Naryanan, who donated his ancestral house at Uzhavoor in
Kottayam district to the Shanthigiri Ashram. The ashram was visited by UPA chairpserson Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader L K
Advani. According to Sreekumaran Nair, structural consultant for the project, the shaping of the lotus petals took a lot of
effort and skill as the curves had to be executed perfectly and evenly. Construction of each petal took almost six months
and fixing of the marble tiles another three years, he said.
'Thinking up petal work was the toughest. We managed it without using heavy machinery. We used wooden moulds to give
it the desired shape'.
'The columns had to be built simultaneously so as not to tilt the balance,' said project architect K Sukeshan. The
project is estimated to cost Rs 30 crore.Landscaping, library, lecture hall and other infrastructure would cost another Rs 20
crore, he said.
The monument was entirely designed under the direction of Janani Amritha Jnana Thapaswini, the Guru's foremost disciple
and spiritual successor.
Guru had a universal message–'God is the same for everyone, everywhere, and is not particular about being worshipped. If
you do worship, do it correctly. A human birth is a precious opportunity to gain salvation. Make the most of it. Do not get
lost in dogmas and rituals from the past which hold no relevance in the new era - the Kali Yuga. Live as per the
dharma (ethics) of the new age'.
Not only did Guru give a radical new message, the Ashram that he set up provided a practical platform for his followers
to work out their 'karma' and evolve in both spiritual and material terms.