a poet of the 13th century once wrote:
"Be a man of heart, or at least be a servant of such a man..."
Ildar Khanov is a renowned monumentalist sculptor in Tatarstan. He graduated from the Kazan School of Arts in 1960, and from the Surikov Moscow State Institute of Arts in 1968. Khanov is a member of the Union of Artists of Russia. He is also the creator of more than seventy sculptures and other decorative works. He was given Gabdulla Tukay State Award of the Republic of Tatarstan in 2010.
Ildar Khanov is an altruistic and talented artist. In April of 1994 he saw Jesus during one of his meditations. Jesus told him to get up at six o'clock in the morning and start digging a foundation for a new temple. Ildar tried to argue by saying that he did not have either money or the building materials to start such a construction project. Jesus replied: "Just start building. People will believe you and they will help". Early the next morning Ildar started to dig the still frozen ground. Though already fifty four years old, he was physically strong and he was digging fast.
After a short while an SUV stopped by his house. He heard a familiar voice asking, "What are you digging, uncle Ildar?" "I have started building a temple", replied Ildar. "Why didn't you tell me? I will bring you fifteen masons to work". The next day a whole crew of men was working in Ildar's courtyard. They finished digging the foundation in one day. One night Khanov woke up because of some loud noise outside. He looked through the window and saw three trucks unloading bricks. Many years have passed since then but the temple is continuing to be built. Thousands of volunteers help him in the construction. Day and night, there is always somebody working on the construction site. Sometimes it can be up to fifty or even a hundred people working at one time. I saw two elderly women bringing a heavy sack. "We've heard that you are building a hall for Jesus Christ so we've brought you some bricks."
They say that if we you are doing something with pure motives, if you are following the right path, then the universe, with all of its forces will help you. The walls were being built inch by inch. Ildar Khanov never asked for loans. He never begged the government officials or private investors to help his construction financially. He just kept working. In the daytime he worked as a healer. At night he worked as a sculptor and artist. He used the money he earned from healing for the construction project. Ordinary people accepted the idea of a Universal Temple, or The Temple of the Soul. The artist never heard people criticizing him, neither the Tatars, nor the Russians, nor anybody else. People helped him with eagerness. When you do something good you get joy and happiness in return. So many people had been transformed during the construction of the Universal Temple. The temple does not consist of mere walls. It is also the hearts of the thousands of builders and helpers. It is also the warmth and love poured into the project by the enthusiasts and the altruists. Ildar Khanov is an altruistic, creative and kind man himself. This is what inspires the people around him as well. People say that Khanov's eyes are as clear and innocent as those of a child, and are as kind and warm as those of a mother. He is a very talented and bold man. Despite the public recognition and awards, he remains a humble man, full of quiet dignity and love for people. He attracts everybody with his personality, from the very young to very old. He has many friends and he sees a unique quality in each one of them. He sincerely considers everyone of them a genius.
Ildar Khanov was a unique man ever since his childhood. When he grew up he could not fit into the propagandistic reality of the day. His works did not fit the mold of socialist realism. Only the support of the famous artists from all over the world was able to rescue him from the persecution in the Soviet Union. The world famous Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros said that Khanov's style of painting was very close to him. Famous artist Svyatoslav Rerikh knew the dreams and the plans of Ildar. He approved and supported Ildar. Rerikh wrote to Ildar in a letter: "Dear Ildar, I was very glad to meet you in person. Getting to know you helped me to see your multi faceted talent. Your art is mighty and beautiful. It carries a mysterious primal beauty. Your gift of a yoga healer has very deep and divine roots. May God give you enough health and strength to complete the project of the Universal Temple, the temple of the soul's unity. May your path be bright!"
Ildar Khanov was drawn to the world's cultures from his early youth. He studied various philosophical teachings, he exercised yoga, and he traveled and met many interesting and famous people. This is when the idea of a Universal Temple first appeared in his head.
Many years passed before this project started to come about. Today, when you approach the city of Kazan on the train from Moscow you can see a set of buildings with pretty and exceptionally bright domes and little towers of the Universal Temple. Something bright and cheerful sparks from within when you look at them.
The Universal Temple is not just another place for religious rituals and services. It is an observatory, an arts school, a children's theater for plays in different languages, and a contemporary art exhibition. According to the architect's plan, the temple will have all the colors of the rainbow and all the colors of music. The Temple has a Roman Catholic hall with a real pipe organ. It also has a Baha'i hall, a hall of the ancient Assyrian religion, a mosque, a synagogue, and an Orthodox hall. A special place is reserved for Buddha's hall, a place for meditations. When the Orthodox chapel was still being built, a local priest came to Ildar asking when the chapel would be finished. The priest was in a hurry to start using the chapel for infant baptisms.
All of these halls are coming to life today. Different sculptures and icons, different paintings and mosaics are being placed all over the temple.
Ildar Khanov thinks in the planetary categories. His main desire is to spread goodness and kindness all over the world. He wants to extinguish all wars. He wants man to develop in a harmonious way. Religion and arts must serve the unity of the soul. The artist thinks that if the religious leaders from all over the world gathered together, they would be able to agree among themselves much better than the politicians ever would. We build unnecessary barricades between us. Everyone who serves the Light must confront the "Divide and conquer" principle in politics. On October 27, 1986 Pope John Paul II invited the world's religious leaders for a common prayer. This is when the first Worldwide Day of Prayer for Peace was proclaimed. Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and one hundred and sixty leaders of different religions were present there, including Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews, animists, Shintoists, Zoroastrians, Baha'is, and others.
All religions in the Universal Temple are situated under the same roof with multi-colored domes. However, every hall has its own entrance. The temple serves the philosophy of humility and unification of the world's cultures. The architect told The Golden Plaza magazine that he did not attempt to unify religions. For him, the Universal Temple is an architectural symbol of the dialogue of civilizations. There is the hall of Genghis Khan with decorated wooden panels. There is the hall of Mother Theresa decorated with the portrait of the founder of the Order of Mercy. This hall was built as a place of reverence for the Woman-Mother figure. Women play a very important role in Ildar Khanov's art.
"Love everybody and serve everybody" is the motto of the artist's life. Ildar wants to build another compound for children not far from the Universal Temple, on the bank of the Volga River. "We always have to start with children", says Khanov. The next project consists of an environmental school, a sea club, a patriotic war memorial, a planetarium, and a drug rehab center for young people.
Ildar Khanov is the Prometheus Man. He looks ahead with hope and he hurries to finish everything while he still has physical strength left.
His friends call him "the furious one" like Michelangelo. Ildar Khanov is not only an artist and a sculptor; he is also a poet, an architect, and an engineer. He is a man of a great talent and of a colossal strength. This is seen in his incredible ideas, in his architectural know-how, in his artistic fury and the spirit of self-expression. In his Creative Maniphesto, Ildar Khanov wrote: "My goals in life are spiritual practice, healing people, making earth a more humane place, finishing the Universal Temple, living on the edge of my creative abilities". He is a quiet and happy man. "Any kind of weather is beautiful! Man is like an entire universe, an entire galaxy. Any human being, no matter how young or how old, can bring joy, a new revelation, and a sense of newness. All I have to do is to help them to realize their own greatness, to push a child in the right direction, and to comfort an adult."
For an ordinary man it seems impossible to have so much inspiration, so much patience, so much mental and physical strength, and so much understanding. Why are some people able to be like that? Amma, a spiritual guru from India who embraced and comforted over thirty million people from all over the world, explained this phenomenon with the following words: "Where there is love, everything can be done with ease. The world must know that a love filled life, committed to serve others is possible".
By Dina Gizyatova