Padmashri Muthiah Sthapathi,
The Master Shilpi
The Design Architect of the Hindu Temple of Minnesota - Written by Mr. Swami Palanisami, PE
The first time I met Thiru Muthiah was in Houston in 1980 for the design of Sri Meenakshi Temple. It was the first USA temple design project for Muthiah and the first ever temple project with me. Our company had a branch office in Houston at that time under the direction of Mr. Shanmugam, who prepared the structural drawings for the Houston Temple. Byron Byraiah, HSMN construction committee member approached me in 1998 to find a Hindu Temple design architect. I immediately called Muthiah in Chennai, India and requested him to visit Minneapolis during his next visit to USA. He came to Minnesota in June 1998 and prepared the first HSM Temple drawing in my office. He worked very late in to the night to prepare a beautiful plan for the presentation to HSMN leadership next morning. That exact date of his presentation is June 11, 1998. That impressive initial presentation prompted us to have him as the designer and builder of the temple. That journey would conclude finally in October 2009.
He has a passion for his work as Hindu Temple designer in accordance with ancient religious scripts which are beautifully documented in the Hindu Shilpa Shastra. As the stone sculptor of Hindu Religious Icons in accordance with Shilpa Shastra, he gives credit to his father and grandfather who passed on to him invaluable wisdom that only comes through the life time of work in this very profession. Mr. Muthiah was born on December 14, 1941 at Eluvankottai, Ramnad District, Tamil Nadu, India. He received formal training in the art of sculpting, temple design and town planning in the Mamallapuram Sculpture School from 1957 and 1961.
Muthiah has designed 32 temples in USA. The Hindu Temple in Minnesota is his 25th on the list and exactly 25 years after the first Hindu Temple (Meenakshi) in Houston. He has received numerous awards and honors from various temple and government organizations. The highest civilian award “Padmashri” was awarded to Mr. Muthiah in 1992 by the President of India. He has designed temples in many European and Asian countries as well. He has been working as Advisor Sthapathi in the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department, Government of Tamil Nadu in the cadre of Superintending Engineer.
Every time Muthiah visits the Temple Construction site he takes time for all Shilpis. They all look up to him as a father figure who not only employs them but nurtures and educates them. The only reason our temple interior design and decorations are so outstanding is that all the shilpis are experienced and have learnt the practical science of the execution of the Shilpa Shastra from the tireless teacher in Muthiah. Regularly there are more than 100 interns who are under training at his sculpture shop in Chennai and more than 300 well trained shilpis work under his direction at various sites around the globe in addition to his Chennai sculpture shop. He has built several beautiful temples around the world. Some of his notable projects are;
• Design and construction of Arupadai Veedu Temple complex in granite stone at, Chennai.
• Design and construction of Sri Meenakshi Sundareswra Temple, Uttaraswami Malai, New Delhi
• Design and construction of Sri Utthara Chidambara Nataraja Temple, Satara, Maharashtra
• Carving of 60 ft. high Sri Krishna in granite, Birla Museum, Calcutta
• Carving of 70 ft. high Buddha vigraham, Sri Lanka
• Deign and construction of temples in USA at Houston, Los Angles, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Boston, Atlanta, New York, Moundsville, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma, Memphis, Dallas, Poughkeepsie and now in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
When I asked him as to what specifically he liked about the Minnesota Temple, he answered in one word, "INCLUSIVENESS" He felt that our community was very inclusive and built an extraordinarily beautiful temple with 21 Mini Temples which represent different regions from all parts of India in one hall. He thought that the construction of these Mini temples under a solid structural roof as we have, provides much needed weather protection, which should result in less maintenance and that the community would be able to enjoy the beauty of the temple over several decades.
He has two sons and two daughters and not surprisingly his sons are following in his footsteps.
On behalf of the Hindu Society of Minnesota I want to formally thank Mr. Muthiah and all his talented shilpis for their outstanding temple design and construction work. We wish all of them a very happy, healthy and long life for their life long service to GOD—ISHWAR---BHAGAWAN.
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