Retired professor opens local Hindu temple

This will be the closest temple for over 400 students to pray at



Sarangamat Gurusiddaiah, former WSU professor and founder of Pullman Ashram, says he wanted to create a space for people in the Indian community to gather for activities, educational purposes or to practice thier spirituality on Sunday in Pullman Ashram.

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Evergreen reporter

The outskirts of Pullman are isolated, yet scenic and tranquil. Among the small neighborhoods, auto repair shops and rolling hills is the only Indian Hindu temple in Pullman.

The founder of this hall, Sarangamat Gurusiddaiah, former WSU professor, walked around the gathering space with open arms and a smile on his face. He said he does this often because he has a lot of free time.

“When you’re retired, every day is a holiday,” he said. “I have a lot of freedom.”

However, despite his retiree status, Gurusiddaiah has been busier than ever – especially with the construction of his beloved ashram.

He said he began building the center shortly after his retirement in 2007. The process involved many trips to banks, various meetings with landscapers, and finding enough workers to complete the job, Gurusiddaiah said. He is still adding the final touches.

During Gurusiddaiah’s residence on the Palouse, he and his family participated in Indian events, gatherings and worship, yet recognized something was missing. He said the Indian community did not have a social hall to gather for activities, educational purposes or to practice their spirituality.

Gurusiddaiah said there are about 400 to 500 people of Indian origin in the Palouse, most of whom practice Hinduism. He added that it was sad they did not have a place near their home to worship. Gurusiddaiah wanted to accommodate his community’s spiritual and social needs, which led to his inspiration to develop the ashram.

“This temple doesn’t only belong to Hindus,” he said. “This is a temple to recognize a communion of God in its many forms.”

Gurusiddaiah said he spends so much time in the temple that his wife teases him for it. His contribution was not unnoticed, as members of the community reached out to him after the construction of the temple.

In a letter to Gurusiddaiah, a woman named Satya expressed that she was amazed to finally see an ashram in Pullman. She said the “feeling of India” became present in her heart as she sat outside the building, according to the letter, and she was happy to see it represented on the Palouse.

Aside from the construction of the Pullman Ashram, Gurusiddaiah has always been a moving force acting with the intention to benefit those around him.

Gurusiddaiah wanted to help his community overcome famine in southern India, which led him to study antibiotics, he said. After receiving multiple degrees of science in India, he immigrated to the U.S. to study and conduct research in microbiology, biochemistry and biotechnology.

Through this research, Gurusiddaiah discovered chemicals to combat diseases in animals, humans and plants. He said he also contributed to more than 60 scholarly articles in scientific journals.

Nowadays, he can be found tending to vegetables, fruits and flowers in the garden outside Pullman Ashram, adding the final touches to the hall.