The California Heritage Council honored the Vedanta Society of Northern California with an award certificate in appreciation for the restoration and preservation of the Vedanta Society’s Old Temple, the first Hindu Temple in the western world. This original temple is deemed to be one of the most notable buildings in San Francisco, equivalent to a landmark building, because of its unique architectural design, which features a number of symbolic towers on its roof structure. Each of these towers recalls the distinctive features found in the sacred monuments of diverse religions. The building’s design, with all these symbols gathered together on one building, proclaims the special message of the unity of the various spiritual paths.This Original Temple has been blessed by two of the direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna: Swami Trigunatitananda Maharaj whose conception and design it was, and who lived in it for almost nine years, and Swami Abhedananda Maharaj, who visited it on his sojourns in San Francisco.
The California Heritage Council is a long established California corporation committed to promoting the preservation of the unique architectural character of San Francisco and all of California. Ms. Nyla Moore, one of the directors of this organization, nominated our building for this award, which was transmitted to the Vedanta Society at a formal dinner and reception. Over seventy people, including the directors of the Council, attended this event. The award was presented to Swami Tattwamayananda, the minister-in-charge, who responded with an acceptance speech.
The awards program also featured a photographic slide presentation to illustrate the various phases of the construction process, including photographs showing the whole building supported on temporary steel beams which were held up on temporary wooden towers while structural concrete foundations were poured underneath.
In his acceptance speech, Swami Tattwamayananda addressed the foundation issue at a spiritual level by quoting Swami Trigunatitananda ji’s comment during the original dedication of this Temple: “Believe me, believe me, if there is the least tinge of selfishness in building the temple, it will fall, but if it is the Master’s work, it will stand.” It may be remembered here that the temple that miraculously withstood the great San Francisco fire and earthquake of 1906 did not have a formal foundation. But its foundation was stronger than any built of concrete, mortar or granite. Swami Trigunatitanandaji’s faith in God and his guru Sri Ramakrishna was the real foundation of the temple. The Swami also stressed the fact that the temple was dedicated to the ideal of interfaith harmony, which is the hallmark of Vedanta philosophy taught by Sri Ramakrishna.
Restoration of Old Temple at San Francisco