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Monday, February 16, 2015

Intrinsic nature of Shiva


भगवान शिव त्याग, तपस्या, करूणा व वात्सल्य की मूर्ति है, जो अपने भक्तों पर जल्द प्रसन्न हो जाते हैं। वे मनोवांछित फल देने वाले प्रभु के रूप में भी माने जाते हैं

~~ ॐ नमः शिवाय ~~

शिव अनादि हैं,

अनन्त हैं,
विश्वविधाता हैं|
सारे संसार में एक मात्र शिव ही हैं जो जन्म, मृत्यू एवं काल के बंधनो से अलिप्त स्वयं महाकाल हैं| शिव सृष्टी के मूल कारण हैं, फिर भी स्वयं अकर्ता हैं, तटस्थ हैं|
सृष्टी से पहले कुछ नहीं था – न धरती न अम्बर, न अग्नी न वायू, न सूर्य न ही प्रकाश, न जीव न ही देव। था तो केवल सर्वव्यपी अंधकार और महादेव शिव। तब शिव ने सृष्टी की परिकल्पना की.           
The image of the Dancing Lord immediately conveys the dynamic motion of reality and nature.  However, in the midst of his furious dance of creation and dissolution, Shiva remains in a state of elegant serenity.  Just as in the sculpture of the Eternal Shiva of Elephanta, his expression is undisturbed by the qualities of existence, for he is eternally absorbed in the Infinite Brahman.  His attention is not directed outward, but inward, towards the inner Self (Atman) which resides deep in the heart of all things.  The place where the Shiva’s dance is performed is known as Chidambaram, which refers to the heat of the individual and the heart of the Universe.  “This is His Dance. Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place within the heart and the self.  Everywhere is God: that Everywhere is the heart.” 

 The Atman is the eternal soul which is never born, never suffers, and can never be destroyed.  Atman and Brahman are one.  Abiding in the eternal bliss of the all-knowing Self, Shiva’s dances creates the illusion of Maya, yet he is never distracted from the inner light of Brahman-Atman.

“His form is everywhere:
All-pervading in His Shiva-Shakti:
Chidambaram is everywhere, everywhere His dance:
As Shiva is all and omnipresent,
Everywhere is Shiva’s gracious dance made manifest.” 

           Shiva’s dance represents the source of all existence (Brahman) dancing playfully with it’s Self (Atman).  The figure embodies five major attributes of the Infinite Being: creation and evolution (sristi), preservation and support (sthiti), destruction (samhara), veiling and illusion (tirobhava), and release and grace (anugraha).  The purpose of the dance is to release the souls of the illusioned by awakening the infinite spirit, which is the frequency of infinity.  Shiva’s divine light penetrates the darkest realms of Maya.  The source of this light is Chidambaram, within the Heart.

“Amid the flowers of His creation (prakriti),
Blinded by their beauty, He rushes, He frolics, He dances, He whirls.
He is all rapture, all bliss, in this play (lila).
In consciousness alone, in love alone,The Spirit learns the nature of His divine being.
Divinely playing in the multiplicity of forms, He comprehends Himself.” 

           It is often difficult for some to understand this playful side of Shiva.  Indeed, because Shiva is known primarily as The Destroyer, his presence is often terrible and horrific to those who do not recognize their own Self.  Shiva’s dance creates the illusion of Maya which bewilders the ego-self and causes forgetfulness of the Absolute Truth.  However, all existence is finite, and whatever has been displayed will be dissolved back into the divine essence of Brahman.  At the end of each Universal Cycle, called the Mayayuga or the Great Eon, Shiva destroys all that has been created.  However, his furious destruction of the Universe ultimately releases all souls into Brahman; thus, there is no reason to fear Shiva’s gruesome appearance as Death.

           Indeed, Shiva is known as Yamantaka, which means The Destroyer of Death.  Shiva ultimately conquers Yama, the God of Death.  Shiva is Kala, which means Time.  However, Shiva is also known as Maha-Kala, which means Great Time, Eternity, the swallower of time, and the swallower of all the ages and cycles of ages.  Shiva is the destroyer of time (kalasamhara). 

           Shiva is definitely characterized by his wild, unpredictable, destructive aspect.  As the Lord of Dance, Nataraja, Shiva performs the tandava, which is the fierce, violent dance in which the Universe is destroyed.  “In descriptions of this dance, Shiva’s whirling arms and flying locks crash into the heavenly bodies, knocking them off course or destroying them utterly.” 

Through Shiva’s transcendental movements, everything is destroyed at the end of Time, only be re-born again at he beginning of the next Mahayuga.  In addition to Shiva’s tandava dance, which is explosive and overwhelming, he also performs the lasya, which is a gentle dance full of emotions of tenderness and love.  Shiva is the master of both the tandava and lasya forms of dance.

           An essential key that can be used to unlock the mystery of Shiva lies in understanding that the Infinite Being represents the union of all polarities, which is why Shiva appears so paradoxical to the rational mind.  The Infinite Being is infinitely small and infinitely large, everywhere and nowhere, good and evil, positive and negative, hot and cold, as well as violent and peaceful.  We’ve already seen that the universe is the result of interacting polarities, such as the male and female heads of the Eternal Shiva.  In the same context, the God and Goddess, yin and yang, are the first born manifestations of the Absolute.  The Absolute is beyond the differentiating qualities of sex, and at the same time the Absolute is both male and female.  In order to explore this idea, let’s consider the tradition of Shakti-Shiva.

           In general, all male gods possess an inherent power with which they are able to express their creative energy.  This power is known as shakti, and is always personified in the form of a goddess.  Shakti not only represents the consort of a deity, but it represents the deity’s embodied power.  In a less patriarchal sense, God and Goddess are equal and together they represent the Divine Couple.  The male and female qualities of Godhead are unified by their transcendental love for each other, and together they are responsible for the creation of the all existence.

           Shiva, the Infinite Being, and Shakti, his consort, can be understood in terms of the concepts of purusa (pure spirit) and prakrti (nature).  In this context, Shiva is the essence of Brahman and Shakti is the life force which underlies and pervades the entire natural world.  Although Shiva and Shakti may appear as opposites, they are in essence one.  One cannot exist without the other.  “Gazing with a deep and everlasting rapture, they are imbued with the secret knowledge that, through seemingly two, they are fundamentally one.” 

 Many popular traditions in India hold the perspective that the Universe is created as a result of the eternal lovemaking of Shakti and Shiva.  Shakti is known as The Fairest of the Three Worlds (tri-pura-sundari), and is also referred to as the most beautiful woman in the Universe.

           The Universal power of Shakti is often identified with the Goddess Parvati, Shiva’s second wife. Shiva’s first wife was a goddess named Sati.  Sati, it is said, committed suicide when her father, Daksa, insulted Shiva by not inviting him to a great sacrifice that was being performed.  Parvati is generally considered to be the reincarnation of Sati.  Parvati is a name which means “she who is of the mountains.”  If Parvati is the earth, then Shiva is the sky.  If Parvati is the light, then Shiva is the sun.  If Parvati is the embodiment of all individual souls, then Shiva is the soul itself.  Shiva and Parvati live on Mount Kailasha and spend much their time making love, which is so intense that it shakes the cosmos.

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