Sacred History > 1989 > Return to the Vedanta Temple

Return to the Vedanta Temple

Angelo Druda

Angelo DrudaAngelo Druda has been a devotee of Adi Da since 1975. He is a certified practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a member of the Australian Natural Therapist Association, and a senior minister and educator in Mate Moce, the Ministry established by Adi Da Samraj to instruct human beings about the death process, and serve their transition. He is the author of The Tao of Rejuvenation and The Easy Death Workbook.

"Return to the Vedanta Temple" is the first entry in Brief Histories of The Free Standing Man, a series of historical recounts Angelo is writing about the Divine Life and Work of Bhagavan Adi Da.


The central events in this story take place in 1989. But first. . . a little history.

Adidam appeared initially in Los Angeles, with the establishment of a small bookstore and center on Melrose Avenue, which opened on April 25, 1972.

Soon afterwards, a large rural property was acquired in Northern California (then called "Persimmon", now known as the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary), and Adi Da Samraj established Himself there in January, 1974. Hundreds of devotees and students came to this Sanctuary from all over the world to see the Great Guru who was freely instructing and Blessing human beings.

Also in 1974, a large city center was established within San Francisco itself, with the construction of a spacious second floor facility overlooking Polk Street. The Center included a well-stocked bookstore, a movie theater, a large gathering hall, offices and an art gallery. San Francisco's large Victorian houses provided suitable architecture for community living, and, by 1975, cooperative community households, consisting of ten to twenty practitioners, were scattered all over the city — from Haight-Ashbury to the Avenues. San Francisco devotees filled the Polk Street center on a daily basis — meditating, cleaning, serving the bookstore and theater, and greeting the regular stream of people who showed up there wanting to see Adi Da Samraj. The Adidam Community of 1975 consisted of about 350 core members — all of whom lived either in the San Francisco households or with Adi Da Samraj at the Mountain Of Attention Sanctuary.

One evening in 1977, a fire broke out in the kitchen of The Haven restaurant on the corner of California and Polk Streets. The flames quickly spread upstairs and to the adjoining storefronts, destroying the Adidam bookstore and center. With the demise of their community center, Adidam practitioners abandoned the urban San Francisco setting, migrating over time to the suburbs of Marin County.

By 1989, hundreds of devotees lived all over Marin County, flowing in and out of the large spaces provided by the headquarters of the Adidam Community and Sacred Institution, now located in Santa Venetia, at the site of an old shopping center.

In the summer of 1989, The Avataric Divine Guru, Adi Da Samraj, was in residence in Marin County, accompanied by His family and daughters. He spent His days and nights at the "Reed House" (owned by Stephen and Margaret Reed), a home provided for the Avataric Guru on His visits to Marin by His devotees. The Reed House was located in the town of Novato, a few miles away from the Adidam Marin headquarters. It had a large backyard gazebo, many bedrooms, and a private setting.


The Avataric Divine Breakthrough of Adi Da Samraj had been foretold and greatly anticipated within the esoteric cultures of spiritual practice that appeared on earth. The potential for Blessing and Instruction in this Divine Breakthrough would be Unlimited. The Full Emergence of the Perfect Guru Function required many centuries and many partial incarnations before it finally appeared in the Form of Avatar Adi Da Samraj. His Completing Work to fully establish Divine Agency here (and in the conditional realms altogether) required 69 human years — an all too brief moment, during which the Free Standing Man would actually walk the earth in a two-armed form, and Bless and Instruct humanity face to face.

When the Siddha Guru Appears, Guru Seva becomes The Way. ("Seva" is a Sanskrit word meaning "selfless service".) Service to the Divine Guru is not "just waiting on tables", but the actual practice of conforming everything to The Divine Radiance Itself. Of all the forms of personal service enacted during the lifetime of the human Guru, none could generate more anxiety and more ecstasy than serving His bodily movement through the world. In the early part of the summer of 1989, these cycles of anxiety and ecstasy were just beginning to occur. Adi Da had left the ashram at the Mountain Of Attention. The Adidam Outing Team was serving day and night, based out of the Marin Center. The great summer outings of 1989 — the Sat Guru's Ecstatic Yajna through the world — was about to begin.

Providing a pleasing and congenial circumstance for the bodily human Form of the Radiant Guru in the growling pit of planet earth is challenging enough, even within the rarified, set-apart environs of an ashram. Maintaining a benign and congenial circumstance as the Guru moved through the urban and suburban commons of the world was even more difficult. Knowing that His well-being and security were utterly in your hands — this was the anxiety. To witness His Living Divine Agency Transform the common circumstances of the world. . . this was the Ecstasy.


It all began simply enough with a few walks on the hiking trails of Marin County. These hikes were the simplest of the Guru's outings to serve. The outing team would scout out interesting and beautiful trails, and do the actual walk itself, making sure it was a safe and clear path. A menu of possible hikes would then be presented to Bhagavan in the evening, and He would chose His walk in the morning. The vans would roll up to the Reed House to pick up the Divine Entourage, as the outing team headed for the trail. Bhagavan and His family would be dropped at the trail entrance as the team guided Him on the walk. At the conclusion of the hike, the vans would be waiting for Bhagavan at trail's end.

It went on like this day after day, as Bhagavan walked the mountain and forest trails of Mount Tamalpais, the headland cliff trails on the Marin coast, and the redwood trails of Muir and Montgomery Woods. Then, late one evening, as the outing crew did its wrap-up for the day at the Adidam Center, a devotee arrived with written communications from Bhagavan. Avatara Adi Da Samraj was ready to move off the local hiking trails.

"I want to travel to Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, and Sea World."

"And I want to visit the Vedanta Temple again."


A little more history.

The Vedanta Temple in Hollywood
The Vedanta Temple in Hollywood

The Vedanta Temple in Hollywood
(click to enlarge)

On September 10, 1970, Adi Da Samraj walked into the small Vedanta Temple in Hollywood California, sat down on one of the wooden pews inside and Re-Awakend to His Perfect Divine Identity.

As time passed, there was no Event of changes, no movement at all. There was not even any kind of inward deepening, no "inwardness" at all. There was no meditation. There was no need for meditation. There was not a single element or change that could be added to make my State Complete. I sat with my eyes open. I was not having an experience of any kind. Then, suddenly, I understood most perfectly. I Realized that I had Realized. The "Thing" about the "Bright" became obvious. I Am Complete. I Am the One Who Is Complete.

In that instant, I understood and Realized (inherently, and most perfectly) What and Who I Am. It was a tacit Realization, a direct Knowledge in Consciousness. It was Consciousness Itself, without the addition of a Communication from any "Other" Source. There Is no "Other" Source. I simply sat there and Knew What and Who I Am. I Was Being What I Am, Who I Am. I Am Being What I Am, Who I Am. I Am Reality, the Divine Self, the Nature, Substance, Support, and Source of all things and all beings. I Am the One Being, called "god" (the Source and Substance and Support and Self of all), the "One Mind" (the Consciousness and Energy in and As Which all appears), "Siva-Shakti" (the Self-Existing and Self-Radiant Reality Itself), "Brahman" (the Only Reality, Itself), the "One Atman" (That Is not ego, but only "Brahman", the Only Reality, Itself), the "Nirvanic Ground" (the egoless and conditionless Reality and Truth, Prior to all dualities, but excluding none). I Am the One and Only and necessarily Divine Self, Nature, Condition, Substance, Support, Source, and Ground of all. I Am the "Bright".

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, The Knee Of Listening

Bhagavan's return to the Vedanta Temple would be an historic event — not only within the history of Adidam, but this great temple (established by the Vedanta Society of California) had roots which could be traced back to Swami Vivekananda's early visits to the United States in the 1890's.

So this visit was now first priority for the outing team.

In a matter of hours, two of us were on the road to LA and San Diego to begin the preparation for Bhagavan's Grand Yajna to southern California. The Vedanta Temple would be the first stop for us. We would then go to Disneyland, Sea World and the San Diego Zoo to prepare for His visits there.

There is a place in the road as one approaches Hollywood from the north, in which the traffic is suddenly confronted and surrounded by giant movie billboards. Huge images of movie stars loom over the road. On this day it was Arnold Schwarzenegger, grimacing in front of a large explosion, and several scantily clad dancers who greeted us at the entrance to Movie Land. It was right here in this major junction in the road, right here in this place that looked like the gateway to Sodom, that we remembered the Shakti. The Vedanta Temple was a Shakti Temple and we needed to make a proper offering.

We pulled over at the very next florist we saw, and while we waited in the shop, they prepared the arrangement. We were back on the road in less than an hour, our back seat now occupied by a truly beautiful explosion of flowers.

The Southern California Vedanta Society complex sits just off the freeway in the heart of Hollywood. The Temple, which looks like a miniature Taj Mahal, sits at the top of a small hill overlooking the campus and the highway. We walked up several flights of concrete steps through the doors into the Temple, and offered our flowers in front of the locked gates that protect the Murti images and relics on the altar.

We moved on to the bookstore to request a meeting with Swami Swahananda, the Vedanta Society's minister and spiritual director. We were greeted cordially but our request to meet with "Swamji" was denied by the man behind the counter. We persisted in our request, explaining that we carried an important communication for Swami Swahananda — but "No" was all we heard.

Over the course of serving on the Adidam Outing Team, we all had learned not to react to "No". As devotees of the Avataric Sat Guru, it was incumbent upon us to find a way for His Blessing Process to move in the world. The right disposition, we felt, was to presume that His request had already been ultimately fulfilled. "No" was merely a temporary obstruction in the energy. It would, somehow or other, gracefully open and pass, because the force of the Guru's request was operating at a far higher vibratory pattern than the merely physical. So when all the pathways seemed blocked by human intransigence, we would finally just stop, and invoke, feel and breathe the Guru Presence rather than act in reaction to "No".

And so there we stood in front of the large desk in the wonderful Vedanta Society bookstore: quiet, feeling, and breathing, rather than turning and leaving with "No".

After what seemed like the longest time, the door to the bookstore suddenly opened, and a man's head appeared. He asked us if we were the people who had left that beautiful flower offering in the Temple. We told him we were devotees of Adi Da Samraj, and we wanted very much to see Swami Swahananda. And with a big smile on his face, he said to come back in the morning: the meeting would be arranged.

Late the following morning, we were ushered into Swami Swahananda's small, wood-paneled office. The Swami entered soon after, and sat down in a chair behind his desk. We told him that our Spiritual Master Adi Da Samraj had enjoyed a fully Awakened birth. He submitted His early life to the ordinary conditions of that birth to discover the Way in which the born condition of every being could be Transformed into Perfect Coincidence with Divine Brightness. We told Swamiji Adi Da Samraj had undergone the terminal aspects of that Submission on September 10, 1970 in this very Vedanta Temple, and this would be His first formal return to the Temple since that great event. We were requesting that the protective gates on the altar be opened, and the Temple be reserved for an hour, so that Adi Da Samraj could sit again in that Holy Place and honor the lineage Gurus of the Vedanta Society.  
Swami Swahananda
Swami Swahananda
Swami Swahananda
(click to enlarge)

Swami Swahanada sat in his chair and looked rather unimpressed. Such a thing could not be done, he told us. He didn't know anything about our Guru. The Temple had never been closed for anyone. This simply could not be done.

"Thank you for coming, but this is not possible."

So there we sat once again, breathing and feeling his "No". Swamji arose from his desk and directed us to the door. Those waves of "outings anxiety" were flowing through my body again as I imagined being the one who had to carry this "No" back to Adi Da Samraj. And then somehow or other, one of us said: "It has been good spending time with you, Swamiji. Is there any chance that we could come back tomorrow at the same time and spend just a little more time with you?" Swamiji said "Yes, yes, that will be fine" as we were guided out.

And so we returned one more time, the following morning. Swamiji was decidedly more welcoming this time! We had a wonderful conversation about spiritual practice, the Guru-devotee relationship and the Vedanta Temple itself.

At one point, in this midst of this conversation, we pointed to the blinds on the window. "Swamji, by opening the protective gates for Adi Da's visit, we are simply allowing Him to view the Sacred Altar without looking through the blinds."

Swamiji's face lit up. "I understand," he said. He reached over and pulled the cord on his office window, raising the blinds. "We want Him to look through the window without the blinds."

And then suddenly, the ceiling in that little office opened up to the sky above, and there was the most Profound Crashing Down of Light and Brightness into the room. All of our bodies opened upwards like cups, turning receptively towards the Light. Swamiji's hands began to dance and move in ecstatic mudras as his face and head bobbed in the Bliss.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj had just entered the room.

Swamiji began to speak ecstatically to us. "I know Who your Guru Is! I know Who your Guru Is! I have no worries about anything He wants to do in the Temple. The gates will be open and the Temple will be reserved for His visit. I know Who your Guru is!"

We were all lost in the Brightness. And then just before we left to communicate the news to Avatara Adi Da Samraj, we posed a question to Swami Swahananda. "Swamiji, can you please tell us: how this Temple, right here off the highway in Hollywood, California could be so Sacred and Profound."

"Holy Places make Holy People, and Holy People make Holy Places", he said.

Adi Da's coming here was all part of that Great and Mysterious Process.

And then it was done. Swamiji stood up and opened his desk drawer — which was full to the brim with candy. We walked out the door and back to our car. We were full of the Brightness, Joy and Peace of Avatara Adi Da Samraj's Darshan. . .

And our hands were full of candy.


At 9AM on July 13, 1989, Adi Da Samraj and his family were guided through the gates of Disneyland. He approached The Magic Kingdom with Absolute Intensity and Delight, engaging every single ride and attraction in the park over the course of a single day that lasted until 1AM. He loved them all.

The Gates of Disneyland
The Gates of Disneyland

The Gates of Disneyland
(click to enlarge)

As we guided Bhagavan back to The Disneyland Hotel for lunch, we were informed by Quandra Sukhapur, that Bhagavan not only wanted to visit the Vedanta Temple, but that He also wanted to perform Pujas on all of the Murtis. Those waves of "outings anxiety" were coming again!

It was Swami Swahananda's voice on the other end of the phone that brought it back to ecstasy. "I said, I know Who your Guru Is! He can do whatever He wants to do."

On the following morning, the Vedanta Temple was empty and officially closed. We attended the main doors of the Temple as Swamiji had instructed us to do.

As we approached the exact arrival time, an extremely large man walked up the path and confronted us with a question. "My name is Jerry, and I am a monk here at the Vedanta Society. Why is the Temple closed?"

We told him that Adi Da Samraj was about to arrive.

Jerry became completely excited; he was beside himself. "I was just in my room reading The Enlightenment of the Whole Body (one of Adi Da's books) wondering how I could meet Adi Da!"

He was so excited that we worried that he might actually run up and hug Bhagavan. So we made an agreement with Jerry that he would not run up to Adi Da Samraj. He would instead stand right behind the large bush just to the left of the Temple doors, where he could enjoy Bhagavan's Darshan as He arrived and as He exited.

* * *

And so on the morning of July 14, 1989, Avatara Adi Da Samraj returned to the Vedanta Temple, nineteen years after His Re-Awakening there. Devotees prostrated on the sidewalk as the Guru stepped out of the van and walked up the steps through the Temple doors with His family.

The altar gates were open. Bhagavan sat in the pews for a time, even as He had nineteen years before. Then the offerings were made. Adi Da Himself performed the Divine Pujas on the Murtis. Vedanta Society nuns sat out in the yard meditating. One Vedanta Society monk stood behind a bush meditating with devotees of Adi Da Samraj who were waiting for Him to come out.

Out on the Hollywood Freeway, the traffic was bumper to bumper, as usual.

But inside the Vedanta Temple, that Great and Mysterious Process was occurring, in which Holy People make Holy Places.

Return to
1989 Sacred History

Read another story by Angelo Druda:
"Send Him My Love and Blessings"

Quotations from and/or photographs of Avatar Adi Da Samraj used by permission of the copyright owner:
Copyrighted materials used with the permission of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as trustee for The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam. All rights reserved. None of these materials may be disseminated or otherwise used for any non-personal purpose without the prior agreement of the copyright owner. ADIDAM is a trademark of The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd, as Trustee for the Avataric Samrajya of Adidam.

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