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Radha's Life of Service XI

July 18, 2008 by Lightwaves

Turning Swami Radha’s dream of the Temple of Divine Light into a reality took a lot of dedication. Read about this and other construction projects in this month’s issue.

In the last issue of Lightwaves we focused on some of the building and renovations that were taking place in the early days of the Ashram. During this time a location for the site of the Temple of All Religions was found.

Reading the Newsletters I pick up on a thread of enthusiasm, dedication, and sincerity in the Ashram residents’ desire to work on the Temple project. But planning a project this size takes experience and time, and the practical issue of money is a key necessity. It turned out that the actual construction was not able to keep up with the resident’s hopes and desires. However, the decision was made to finish the concrete floor of the temple foundation in 1967.

Newsletter #48 June 1967

“Premananda is once again busy working on the temple construction. He is currently building forms for the outer walls, corner pillars, and the main floor. We hope to be ready for concrete pouring by September. However, purchase of lumber and steel has drained our Temple fund…..it now stands at $1400….Your donations will be welcomed and appreciated.”

Newsletter #50 Aug.-Sept./67

This Newsletter reports that progress had been made since June and that “…..half the floor of the temple proper will be poured in the next few days.”

We have a photo of Swami Radha helping with this phase of the work. She is in the foreground and Stan Hutchinson is at the other end of the leveling board. This shows that she contributed to the work when she was not traveling to give workshops that helped bring in more funds. In fact it was in May of 1967 that I took my first workshop with her in Virginia Beach in the U.S.

When I finally got to the Ashram in 1978 I remember walking down a short driveway across from the garden and seeing a large concrete base covered with huge tarps protecting objects stored underneath them. This was the Temple foundation, waiting for the completion of the Temple. I wondered what had happened to create a delay of so many years?

The Ashram Newsletter does not give the details but we have other sources of information. In a recording, made in the early 1980’s, Swami Radha talked about the early years of the Ashram. She had to give up her space in Main House to make room for guests. She moved into Beach Cabin, which had the prayer room added in 1964.

Swami Radha said, “There was no door in between my apartment and the (entrance to) the Prayer Room . I had a curtain, and I had two big safety pins and a couple of nails, and I hooked the safety pins (in the curtains) to the nails, for some privacy. Now of course Shalom, our huge dog, could go underneath, [chuckles], and wanted to sleep on my bed.

“I lived down there for seven or eight years, having only (the outhouse)……. We had an old bathtub that we put in there, and that was all I had. The water had to be hauled up (from the lake)…

“And then I had the wood furnace put in. One night… a piece of coal fell on the lever and opened the door, and the burning wood fell out. And I woke up and there was a fire! I had to run to the lake. I usually had a bucket of water there, because the stove would get too hot. (The walls are just logs, lined on the inside with a bit of cardboard.) So then we put some electric heating in, because it was just too much pressure on me, with all the other problems I had and not being able to sleep at night.”

This gives an idea what Swami Radha went through in those years.

In the March 1968 Newsletter #55 there is a section with the following heading:


“For several years Swami Radha has had to live and function in very inadequate quarters at the Ashram and now at last we are in a position to build a new house for her. The new building will be located at the edge of the orchard overlooking Kootenay Lake. It will contain complete living quarters for her, a large lounge for special gatherings, facilities suitable for teaching and counseling by Swami Radha, a studio for sound recording and for the preparation of movie films, an extra guest room and other facilities.

“There is a great need for all that this building will provide, and we have not limited its function only to furnishing living quarters for Swami Radha but rather we have expanded its scope to include several functions which constitute important aspects of Swami Radha’s work.” At some point the house was called Many Mansions, taken from either the Edgar Cayce work or from the Gospel of John in the New Testament.

Newsletter #57 May 1968


“We are about ready to commence the construction of the house. Well, almost. We have had some problems chiefly because the site of the house is on solid bedrock and since we wish to put in a basement, we have been hard at it drilling holes, filling them with dynamite and blasting so as to obtain a level area for the foundation. Even after several blastings, the rocks remain too big for our bulldozer to handle without breaking them down further. So we keep on going—drilling and blasting.

“One day our faith was tested when after the fuses had been lit and an explosion was imminent, a small boat came into our bay rather too close for comfort. There was some frantic yelling and waving but to no avail. When the first blast went off and the rocks started flying, the people in the boat realized what was going on and turned their boat away to safety before other blasts went off. Life is full of surprises!

“Actual construction on the concrete foundation of the house is due to begin about the 1st of June and we expect to see the house up within 5 to 6 weeks after that. It will be by no means finished but at least it will be closed in from the weather and interior finishing can go ahead as we are able to manage it.”

It is amazing how much the few young men who lived at the Ashram were able to accomplish. During the previous winter they were also working on the lower floor of Siva Hall. This space was being adapted for a print shop with a separate light-proof photography room. Their first publication, ‘Random Selections from a Yogini’s Album,” was a 36 page booklet with photographs of Swami Radha’s travels in the east, including Sivananda’s Ashram.

With all of this they continued to do more design work on the Temple and waited until enough funds were donated for the construction.

The Ashram was growing and more building projects were taking place. Stay tuned for the next stage of activities.

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