Lord Shiv(a), the deity
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What is Lord Shiv?
Shiva is boundless yet all-pervading, formless yet in every form, the source, yet also the one who annihilates it all! In the trinity of creation, sustenance and destruction, Shiva is hailed as the force of destruction, although in essence it is the same force which creates, sustains and destroys all manifestation.
From Shiva descended the Ganga of knowledge of ultimate reality , the liberating wisdom of `Shiva Tattva', the real Self ever-truthful, ever-conscious, ever-blissful, omniscient Existence.Often portrayed as a yogi deep in blissful meditation, with matted locks, sculpted body and radiant countenance, Shiva symbolises Pure Consciousness.
Shiva is Maha-Kaal, the Lord of Time, Vanquisher of Death, the ever-blissful Eternal One. Therefore he is revered as Adi Yogi, the first Yogi, Adi Guru, the first Guru, who is the primordial source, the divine origin of all yogic sciences, all spiritual practices, all paths to Selfrealisation be it dhyana, jnana, bhakti, yoga. The embodiment of non-duality , Shiva is adored as the epitome of compassion and quintessence of love. He is the Cosmic Dancer, the Supreme Fountainhead from where flows all knowledge of dance, music, and all art.
According to legend, Parvati (Shakti) did intense penance to please Shiva and the great occasion of Maha Shivaratri celebrates their `wedding'. The symbolic union carries a deeper connotation; it depicts the meeting of Shiva and Shakti. In yogic context, the dwelling place of Shiva is Sahasrar Chakra whereas that of Shakti is Mooladhara Chakra, and all yogic practices are preparation Now Shakti is lying dormant at Mooladhara; it is as if Shakti has been estranged from her consort Shiva. It is only when the aspirant with unswerving resolve, goes through the meticulous adherence of disciplined practice of the eightfold path of yoga that the dormant Kundalini Shakti gets awakened and starts ascending via the Sushumna Nadi to meet Shiva. And their communion at Sahasrar is what is meant by Samadhi.
Once Shakti unites with Shiva, she never descends alone but always with Shiva, for their meeting is eternal. In Sankhya philosophy , Prakriti and Purusha are always together, complementing and completing each other. It also means that now should the aspirant engage in interaction with the world, it is from an enlightened perspective. One then knows that all this is a play of Purusha and Prakriti; that life a play. This is what is essentially meant by realising the Shiva Tattva.
If your mind is focussed on the Truth, then you are on the path of realising Shiva Tattva within, and if you are ignorant of Shiva Tattva then know that it won't be long before your ephemeral body , mind, intellect, the I, becomes a Shav corpse. The seeker will choose whether to evolve, realise and be established in his inherent Shiva Tattva or to simply lead a corporeal existence and ultimately end up as Shav.
Vedanta proclaims that `I am Shiva', which in essence means you are the Truth, pure consciousness, ever-blissful one. To know the true nature of Self, Shiva Tattva, who `I' am, in essence, is the aspiration of the seeker who under the guidance of the master, then undertakes austerities and practices for this realisation.
During the night of Maha Shivaratri, when the aspirant performs his disciplines with tenacity , devotion and dedication, it is bound to have a tremendous, long-lasting impact on his journey to becoming Shiva.
Adiyogi, the source of yoga
One of the many names associated with Shiva is Triambaka, the three-eyed one. Because of the Third Eye, he perceives “that which is not“. “That which is“ is physical manifestation “that which is not“ is non-physical. Right now, what you cannot perceive through your five senses is not in your experience. If willing to strive, a human being can see that which is not physical, that is, Shiva.
Today, the human aspiration to be something more than what they are right now has put the planet itself in danger. Gathering money, property, relationships or whatever else, may make you feel like you are something more but only in comparison with someone. But by yourself, nothing of you will be enhanced. Only when your perception is enhanced, will you find yourself an enhanced life.
Source of yoga
Adiyogi the source of yoga ought to become an iconic presence in the world so that people understand that only enhancement of perception ultimately enhances life. The 112-foot tall face of Adiyogi was unveiled on Mahashivaratri this year, on February 24. The number is both symbolic and scientifically significant for our existence because he opened up 112 possibilities for human beings to reach their ultimate nature, and there are 112 chakras in the human system with which you can work. This image of Adiyogi will be the largest face on the planet. The idea is not to build one more monument but to use it as a galvanising force to transform the world from a mass of believers to individuals who seek the truth of life and beyond a shift from religion to responsibility.
All conflicts on the planet though some would like to project it as good versus evil is essentially one man's belief versus another man's belief. The moment you believe something, you become blind to everything else. For belief systems to work, you need a flock.If you apply your own intelligence and think for yourself, your belief will collapse. Seekers, not believers
Believing means assuming certainty about dimensions of which you have no clue. This will give you confidence with out clarity , which is disastrous.
It is very important today that the next generation is of seekers, not believers; that they do not believe in some imaginary heaven for which they only after death. This is what qualify after death. This is what believing does it makes you dead sure about things you know nothing about.
The most important thing is to build a culture of individual seeking, not religion, for mass persuasion. The good thing about seekers is that they are joyfully confused. When you are seeking, you have something to strive for, but nothing to fight for. The world needs this badly . The way human beings are empowered today , we have phenomenal ability to create and destroy . When we are striving, we try to create. When we are fighting, we destroy .
A new awakening
Adiyogi is significant to start a new awakening in the world, where instruments of self-transformation will be common. As most people know how to brush their teeth, they should know how to keep themselves peaceful and joyful, and manage their body and mind.If this happens, human beings will become a tremendous potential and possibility .
Shiva: The eternal mystic
By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
The occasion of Magha Triyodashi is celebrated all over the world as Mahashivratri. The 14th night of the month of Phalgun is the ideal time to experience Shiva Tattva. Up North in Kashi, the city of learning, Shiva is the bestower of salvation while in the South he is the respite of Rama by the tranquil waters of Indian Ocean.
Almost all villages in India have at least a dozen kids who are named after Shiva. You can read about Shiva in the internet or in books, but only in the presence of a Master can these words translate into experience.
We are so fortunate today that our beloved Master is there to guide us on this mystical journey into the space of Shiva. we would like to begin this journey with an auspicious invocation in the ethereal voice of Bhanu Didi, sister of Poojya Gurudev.
Shiva, the only reality
Kashmir Shaivism describes Shiva as Nirapeksha, the Absolute Being, the one without a second. The term ‘absolute’ is understood in two different ways: basically, it means that which exists by itself and needs no other support for its existence. The term relative, in contrast, refers to that which depends on some support.
Shiva, the absolute, is unborn and without beginning. As against this the world is relative, for it is dependent upon Shiva not only for its existence but also for its sustenance. The absolute thus is independent, while the relative is dependent.
Shiva is the absolute not only by virtue of being existent but also by being known. Awareness, is the very nature of Shiva, for Shiva is Consciousness. Insentient matter does not have the power to know, whereas ‘to know’ is the natural quality of consciousness. And part from knowing other things, consciousness also knows itself; it is svaprakasha, self-illumined. Thus, Shiva is both self-existent and self-illumined.
Absolute is also that which is all-pervasive. In Kashmir Shaivism, everything that exists is called Shiva. There is no ‘other’ in Shiva; it encompasses everything; the entire universe is a selfmanifestation, an extension of Shiva. There is no duality in consciousness.
The non-dual characteristic of Shiva is thus a natural corollary of its basic nature – absolute independence. Had there been a reality apart from Shiva, this reality would naturally impact the absolute nature of Shiva – the independence of Shiva would be restricted by this other reality. Thus, in order to remain truly independent, Shiva ought to be devoid of any duality. Shiva is therefore absolute, both in the sense of being perfectly independent and also in being a non-dual reality that encompasses everything in the universe, including the so-called insentient objects. There is thus no reality other than Shiva.
Non-duality does not mean the total absence of apparent duality; what it means is that the one and the same reality manifests itself in different forms. This can be substantiated by the example of the myriad diversities projected in the dream-world – though appearing to be different, they are in reality a part of the dreamer himself. This is because the dream objects are nothing but thoughts projected as things. In the same way, the universe, which is a projection of Shiva, is substantially one with Shiva. It would thus not be wrong to say that the world of duality is nothing but Shiva manifesting in different forms.
Though the absolute being, Shiva, is devoid of all diversities, yet all diversity emanates from him. The example of the liquid present in peacock’s egg, which is colourless, illustrates this. It is rather ironical that though the liquid is colourless yet all the colours of the peacock’s plumes come out of it.
Thus, Shiva, in the process of enacting his drama of manifestation as the wondrous universe with myriad names and forms, sheds his undifferentiated state and accepts differences of his own volition; hence his unlimited powers appear to have shrunk. Shiva thus is free to manifest the way he likes; he is also free not to manifest at all. Manifestation of the world is an act of absolute freedom on the part of Shiva. Creation is merely Shiva’s ‘lila’ (sportive activity), spanda – a free and spontaneous act without any determining factor from within or without.
Shiva, The Ultimate Outlaw
By: Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
Shiva has such an impossible character; all contradictions included. In acceptance of this character one will have no issue with anyone in the world including oneself. The idea is to show divinity as all inclusive no one against the other, as in identifying good and bad we also divide the world and make the ultimate union unattainable.
When we say “Shiva,” there are two fundamental aspects that we are referring to. The word“Shiva” literally means “that which is not.” Today, science is proving to us that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. The basis of existence and the fundamental quality of the cosmos is vast nothingness. The galaxies are just a small happening, a sprinkling. The rest is all vast, empty space, which is referred to as Shiva. So Shiva is described as a non-being, not as a being.
At another level, when we say “Shiva,” we are referring to the Adiyogi or first yogi, who is the basis of yogic science. Yoga does not mean standing on your head or holding your breath. Yoga is the science and technology to know the essential nature of how this life is created and how it can be taken to its ultimate possibility.
This being who is a yogi, and that non-being which is the basis of existence, are the same, because a yogi is someone who has experienced the ultimate union – who has experienced existence as himself. To contain the existence within you even for a moment as an experience, you have to be that nothingness. Something can never hold everything. Only nothingness can hold everything. When we talk about Shiva as “that which is not,” and Shiva as a yogi, in a way they are synonymous, yet they are two different aspects. India is a dialectical culture, so we shift from one aspect to another effortlessly.
Transmission of yogic sciences happened on the banks of Kantisarovar, a glacial lake a few miles beyond Kedarnath in the Himalayas. This predates all religion. Shiva started a systematic exposition of yoga in a scientific manner to seven disciples, the saptarishis. He explored every nut and bolt of creation and brought forth yoga as a technology with which every human being can evolve consciously. This is a way of stepping beyond the limitations that physical laws impose upon us.
Physical nature has set laws within which all life needs to happen. But the fundamental nature of a human being is always longing to go beyond those limitations. Spiritual process is about breaking the laws of the physical. In that sense, we are all outlaws. And Shiva is the ultimate outlaw. You can’t worship him, but you are welcome to join the Gang.
If you wish to join the Gang, there is no better time than tonight, the night of Mahashivaratri. Planetary positions on this unique night are such that there is a natural upsurge of energy in the human system. This process of raising your energies to their ultimate pitch, to dissolve yourself and become a part of cosmic oneness, has happened in abundance on this night.
A nightlong festival has been established in tradition to make use of this possibility by remaining awake and keeping one’s spine erect. May this Mahashivaratri be not just a night of wakefulness, but a night of awakening.
Tryambakam, Shiva with the three eyes
Nobody wants to die. Everyone wants to be immortal. Yudhishtira, questioned by a yaksha on the greatest wonder in the world, answered, “Day after day, countless people die. Yet people live as though they are never going to die.” The famous Mahamrityunjaya Mantra – Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pustivardhanam urvarukam iva bandanan mrtyor mukshiya maamrutat – teaches us the secret of immortality.
All mantras have power in their mere chanting; each has a specific vibration; each has a devata who reveals its true essence. Here, the devata is Tryambakeshvar; the mantra drashta is Sage Vasishta; and the shakti is Devi Amrutesvari.
Through this mantra, we worship Tryambakam, Shiva, the one with the three eyes of justice, compassion and wisdom. With the eye of justice, He is the karma phala data; He gives the results of our actions. In addition, He is an ocean of compassion who has the discrimination and wisdom to know when, what and how to give us. A true sign of wisdom is fearlessness. By acknowledging His presence in our lives, we need not worry about anything!
Tryambakam also refers to the Lord of the three worlds – bhur, bhuvaha and suvaha, besides earth, heaven and patalam. He is the Lord of the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep; the Lord of the gross, subtle and causal bodies; the Lord who wields the three shaktis – jnana, iccha and kriya.
In yajamahe, the word ‘yaj’ means to worship and invoke. We worship someone whom we love, respect and adore. By constant remembrance, devotion and admiration of the Lord, and gratitude in our hearts, we can invoke His divine qualities in ourselves and easily achieve His divine state.
Sugandhim is one who is fragrant and well-remembered. The Lord is well-remembered because one can see His beauty, power and presence all around us. His glory, spread everywhere, indicates that He is all-pervading.
Pushti vardhanam means one who nourishes growth and sustains our life; ensures our welfare and wellbeing. He facilitates the realisation of our Infinite nature.
Urvarukam iva bandanan mrityor mukshiya maamrutat – we pray to Him to free us from this bondage of death and limitation, just as a ripe cucumber or a pumpkin effortlessly detaches itself from its creeper. This is symbolic of dispassion. We need to give up the temporary for the permanent.
Through the proper performance of our duties, in a spirit of worship, our mind gives up its sense of doership and does everything without attachment. This is dispassion. Knowledge is possible only through dispassion; and only through knowledge can we gain liberation. Thus, like a matured melon detaching itself naturally from its creeper, we too should gain the maturity of mind to effortlessly detach from the world and be uplifted to the supreme state of Realisation.
Change is also death. When change is not conducive, we experience sorrow. Sorrow is as good as death. Living in suffering, living in constant physical illness, living with loss of fame and so on, are as good as near death. This mantra gives us the strength of mind to overcome fear of all changes and unfavourable situations in life. It removes mental depression; it bestows a life of inspirational, dynamic productivity; it inspires our spiritual growth. (The writer is global head, Chinmaya Mission)
Swamiji will discourse on the ‘Yoga of Meditation’ from February 14-19 at Chinmaya Mission, 89 Lodhi Road
The Universal Benefactor
The Times of India Feb 16 2015
B K Brijmohan
Shivaratri is celebrated at midnight to celebrate Shiva. Why at night? That is because Shiva comes to this world when it is enveloped in the darkness of igno rance when everyone has forgotten their true identity as souls and instead believe that they are bodies. This body-consciousness gives rise to vices such as lust, anger and greed, which are the root causes of all human suffering. Shivaratri thus stands for not just one night but the entire Kaliyug period of ignorance and unrighteousness that is brought to an end by Shiva. The incorporeal Shiva enlightens ignorant minds by giving spiritual knowledge and instilling virtues in humans. He performs this task through a human medium remembered as Brahma. This is alluded to in the Shivapurana, which says that Shiva, the Jyotirlinga, the column of divine light, had mercy on all beings of the world and appeared in the forehead of Brahma and recreated the Satyug world through him. Shiva reminds humans that they are spiritual and not physical beings, and that purity, peace, truth and love are their original qualities. In this way, Shiva creates a new consciousness that is the seed from which emerges a virtuous and righteous world order. Following this process of creation, the old, unrigh teous order gets destroyed, subtly as well as physically. As evil reaches extreme proportions, misguided human intellects devise deadly weapons of mass destruction and man's rapacious plunder of nature triggers devastating `natural' calamities that clean out the world to enable man and nature to make a fresh start.
Shiva, whose name literally Shiva, whose name literally means benefactor, then nurtures the new world order through those who imbibe His teachings and spread His light in the world. The `tripundi' the three lines on the Shivalingam which is one of the forms in which Shiva is represented signifies this threefold task of creation, sustenance and destruction performed. Since His divine intervention delivers all humans from suffering and ushers in a new era of peace and happiness, Shiva is remembered in various forms by people of different cultures and faiths.
Shiva's incorporeal form is universally represented by light. The 12 famous Shi va temples in India are known as Jyotirlinga Math signifying His divine light form. The eternal light that hangs above the ark in every synagogue, altar lamps in churches, and light symbols associated with Egyptian, Babylonian, Druid, Norse gods and the Donyi-Polo faith of Arunachal Pradesh corroborates to the widespread belief in the divine light as the image of one, incorporeal, supreme being. In Japan, members of a messianic Shinto group called Ananai kyo meditate on a round, black stone similar to a Shivalingam that they call `Chinkon Se ki', which means one who bestows peace.
In addition, various names of God, such as `Shiun' in Babylon, `Seva' or `Sevajya' in Syria, Egypt and Fiji, and `Jehova' bear a similarity to the Sanskrit word Shiva, which is derived from two phonetic parts, `shi' and `va', meaning redeemer and liberator.
Shivaratri thus commemorates a momentous occasion, marking the beginning of a new cycle of time, when the world passes from the Iron Age or Kaliyug into the Golden Age or Satyug, when the negative give way to the positive.
In a world where levels of corruption, crime and violence are ringing alarm bells, it is becoming clear to more and more people that we are lost in the darkness of ignorance. We can help dispel the gloom by carrying out in our personal life what Shivaratri commemorates that is, destroying negative ways of thinking and nurturing a positive attitude to illuminate our lives with Truth.
The Times of India, May 02 2016
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
For many, `Shiva' evokes a highly coloured calendar art image. While the image is not without its own charm, reducing this sophisticated conception of the divine to a single rudimentary form is tragic. Shiva should not be named because to name him is to curtail him. And yet, his innumerable names point to the many indescribable mysteries of creation. Of his varied manifestations, Kala is particularly significant, not just for metaphysical reasons, but scientific ones.Both science and mysticism are fuelled by the same spirit of wonder. At one time, it seemed like they ran on parallel tracks.But today , the growing convergences could mean a tremendous step ahead for humanity .
Scientists have recently recorded gravitational waves on the fabric of spacetime a confirmation of the Einsteinian idea that our experience of the physical world is relative. This also confirms a time-honoured yogic insight that sees time as the fundamental basis of creation.Time is always ticking away , but cannot be pinned down. It is this powerful, ineffable dimension that holds the entire universe together. We called this dimension Kala.
One aspect of time is the result of the cyclical movement of physical reality: a single rotation of Earth being a day ,a revolution being a year, etc. From the atomic to the cosmic, everything physical is in cyclical motion. But time is, fundamentally, Kala, which also implies darkness or space. Only in time, space is possible; so, space is seen as a consequence of time. Be cause of space, form is possible.Because of form, all physical reality becomes possible. And so the yogic tradition has the same word for time and space: Kala. Even gravity is one small by-product of time. It is a force that manages the time-space relationship, and allows Kala to find expression. When the dark no-thingness of Kala reverberates and takes form, physical existence begins.
Indian culture realised that when we speak of a dimension beyond logical perception, it is best to speak dialectically. So, we personified a complex existential reality and called it “Shiva“.This is not religion; this is mysticism, a subjective science. Shi-va literall means `that which is not' or no-thing. The hyphen is impor tant. It is in the lap of vast no-thingness that creation has happened. Over 99% of the atom and the cosmos is, in fact, emptiness simply no-thing. This dark aspect of Shiva was personified as Kala Bhairava a dimension potent with life, uncannily similar to the dark energy of modern-day physics. Kala Bhairava is a vibrant state of darkness, but when he becomes absolutely still, he turns into Mahakala, the ultimate time machine. The Mahakala temple in Ujjain celebrates its Simhastha Kumbha Mela this year. An incredibly consecrated space, this powerful manifestation is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Raw and forceful, it is available for all those seeking ultimate dissolution the annihilation of time as we know it.
The spiritual process anywhere in the world is always about transcending the physical, because form is subject to cycles. Kala Bhairava is seen, therefore, as the Destroyer of Ignorance: he who shatters the compulsive cycles of birth and death, being and non-being.
When the boundaries of time and space are transcended, and the limitations of form shattered, the seeker wakes up to the truth that the mystics of the world have always known: that access to the beyond is to be found in the here and now. When the last vestige of ignorance is annihilated, all that remains is Mahakala, the ultimate nature of existence, infinite darkness, an eternity.
No Gender Stereotypes
Namaste. With this simple gesture, folded hands and head bowed towards each other’s true nature, you recognise and celebrate the soul in another. And honour the place in the other that exists within us, thereby recognising value in diversity and synergy in difference.
In Hindu philosophy, the soul is interpreted as being without gender. The reason being that the soul is eternal and exists beyond the realm of human form. The soul, therefore, keeps evolving by taking either the masculine or feminine human form. And at times, it manifests as a combination of the two energies. This philosophy envelops my life, especially as a transgender woman.
In the present world, with the political climate being charged and the narrative being extremely male-oriented with little or no focus on women, sustenance of the woman’s movement becomes very challenging. Far too often, we hear sexist, crude and insensitive barbs being hurled at women. Shiva, the icon of masculinity, blended his identity so seamlessly with the sensibilities of the feminine, when he reveals himself to be half-man, halfwoman, as Ardhanarishvara. Here, the masculine and feminine principles are inseparable. In fact, the female form is Shakti, the active force and the male form is Purusha, passive energy.
In ancient Chinese philosophy, the concept of entwined dual energy, called Yin and Yang, reflects how seemingly contrarian forces are actually complementary, interdependent, even symbiotic, in the natural world, wherein these forces rise up to each other while sustaining each other’s energies. Yin and Yang find their parallel in the coexistence of Shiva and Shakti or Parvati, Prakriti and Purusha.
With increasing number of incidents of violence against women and the girl child, it is rather disconcerting that we have scant respect for the ideology of man and woman rising above carnal instincts and serving as a symbol of hospitality and parenthood. Transgender women should be accorded the dignity of Ardhanarishvara and valued for their skills and talents. Ridicule should be replaced with respect as we endeavour to progress towards a more harmonious society.
In a pantheon of over 33 million Hindu gods, the union of Shiva and Shakti signify the tallest and mightiest of energies because of the perfect fusion of male and female energy in equal strength.
Shiva and Shakti, as Ardhanarishvara, represent the attributes of both male and female energies in such an exquisite union that it is a force to reckon with, embodying the very act of creation itself; each one wielding limitless powers while working for the benefit of the Universe.
The western world recognises this dual energy today, as ‘transgender’. Since ancient times, in Indic temple art and sculpture, the Ardhanarishvara (transgender) motif makes its unique presence felt in myriad ways, its majestic image infusing the stone or wall art with its quiet strength as the confluence of male energy complemented and channelised to the maximum by the softer female energy.
Achieving the right to legal gender recognition is crucial to the ability of trans-people to leave behind a life of marginalisation and enjoy a life of dignity. For this, all religiously charged leaders need to hark back to our scriptures and read up on Shiva and Shakti, and the significance of their manifestation as Ardhanarishvara.
Dance of consciousness
Shiva as a supreme consciousness is in everyone. He throbs in each and every atom thus accentuating His Mastery over Universe. Shiva dissipates darkness from inner being of individuals similar to the morning Sun rays which eliminates darkness from physical world. This phenomenon is akin to Nataraja dance which is synchronous with universal activity and is aesthetically symbolized into an exquisite sculpture of Nataraja by the master sculptors of yore in India.
Nataraja stands as Nata – Nautch, dancer and Raja – The King. Hence Nataraja stands for King of The Dance, the master dancer. Under whose guidance this cosmic inertia comes into rhythmic motion. Shiva is believed to dance at heights of Kailash where all other deities are in full attendance surrounding him. The other famous dance of Shiva is in cremation grounds accompanied by Bhairavi and capricious imps. This dance is also referred as Tandava.
But the significant dance of Shiva is Nataraja which infuses momentum into the Universe. The legend goes that Shiva was meditating in the forest and in the same forest some rishis having quarrel amongst themselves directed their anger towards Lord. In first of this they created a tiger by the power of their mantras which was let loose on Shiva. The Lord ripped the tiger and wore his skin as his hide. The Rishis then sent cobra to disturb the Lord which was worn as adornment by Lord. Not buoyed by failures Rishis then created a dwarf monster Muyalaka upon which Lord stood up to dance and then pressed his tip of the toe on the spine of dwarf and broke his back. This dance is exquisitely captured in the image of Nataraja displaying Shiva dancing having four hands, with braided jeweled hair. Cobra, skull, and mermaid figure as Ganga, crescent, cassia leaves on his matted locks. Lord wears man’s ornaments on right side and woman’s ornaments on left side representing Uma the consort of Shiva. The ornaments include earrings, anklets, bracelets, finger and toe rings. The dress includes breeches, scarf and sacred thread.
The right upper hand holds drum which signifies that Lord’s power of creation the first Spanda or the motion.
The right lower hand is in varad mudra signifying to the myriad souls not to fear as He is the eternal protector.
The left upper hand has fire pot which signifies the Lord’s power of destruction.
The left lower hands points towards dwarf laying at Lord’s foot which signifies that Lord is capable of punishing those who create turbulence, disturbance or contemptable acts.
The left foot is raised signifying that Shiva grants eternal bliss who beseech him.
The right foot on ground implies that He is the only worthy of refugee for the tired souls struggling in the world of causality.
This symbology denotes fivefold acts of Shiva. These acts as per Kashmiri Shaivism are creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealing and revealing. The later two are referred as Triyodhana and Anugreh respectively.
Shiva loves to do Tandava dance in burning grounds of crematorium. But the significance of this act is that he dances to burn the negative impressions or the malas on consciousness so as to remove the fetters of illusion and vanquish evil and to thrust the soul into eternal Bliss. The burning ground is the body and this dance takes place within self and Shiva as a supreme consciousness constantly awakens the individual self to get realized hence the analogy.
The celebrated mystic scholar of Kashmiri Shaivism Utpaldev says in Shivstotravali that Lord Shiva is also capable of giving two kinds of rewards. One is known as Iham the materialistic wish and the other as Param the Bliss of the attachment to the lotus feet of Lord also referred as Mukti. Utpaldev prays to the Lord to decide what best suits for him.
The iconography of Nataraja has an Arch emitting fire and touched by hands and feet of Shiva which represent that cosmic existence comes into play only when Shiva Wills and creates his first movement as a creator which in turn becomes the source of expansion.
No sooner does the Shiva dance that inert matter dances with Him setting things into motion. This rhythmic dance pulsates from micro to macro. From atom to cosmos thus underlining the existence of dance of consciousness.
Dance of Shiva: Universe as divine sport
The Times of India, Mar 04 2016
The four terms used to describe Shiva in the tantras are: purnatva perfection, svatantrya freedom, bhuma infinitude, and ananda bliss. These four terms, mean more or less the same thing Pure Consciousness. Perfection is a state of complete enrichment where nirasana prevails, a state of no desires. A question that is often raised is: If Shiva is free from desires, why does he feel the urge to create the world? Human beings perform actions with the purpose of satisfying some desires. But why should a perfect Being, who lacks nothing, do anything, that too, the gigantic task of creation? In Kashmir Shaivism, Creation is not understood as an act where voluntary or wilful effort is made to fulfil a want; rather, it is a natural activity spanda of Shiva. The activity of Creation is not a necessity for Shiva; nor is it a mechanical activity of a routine nature; it is in fact a completely free activity that has the merit of being absolutely spontaneous. It is the natural effulgence of Shiva. The universe is the result of the sportive activity , lila, of Shiva; indeed it is the blissful dance of Nataraja that spontaneously gives rise to the wondrous universe with myriad names and forms.
Nataraja the dancing Shiva symbolises the real nature of Shiva as Creator in a most appropriate manner which suggests that Creation is not `for' joy but `from' joy. This is not to suggest that Shiva is looking for joy and that in order to get it he indulges in the lila of Creation. Shiva is already full of supreme joy that begins to overflow in the blissful activity of Creation.
Spanda thus is the throb of the ecstasy of Shiva, Divine creative pulsation, the ceaseless force, from which emanates the universe.According to John Woodroffe, spanda is the dynamic power that pours out the potentialities held in the infinitude of Shiva and throws up forms out of the formless depths of the Eternal Being.
Swami Muktananda says: “Though Shiva is nothing, He becomes everything necessary at the proper time. He holds without hands, walks without feet, sees without eyes, and hears without ears. He is neither man nor woman, yet conducts the workings of the world taking the form of man and woman.“
The question that now arises is: Why is Shiva not affected by his Creation and by the things and events of this world? This can be illustrated by the example of an actor in a movie. While enacting his character in the movie, the actor simultaneously continues to retain his original identity . The actor undergoes no change; he is not impacted by the occurrences in the movie. In the same way , Shiva is not in the least affected by Creation.
This is in contrast to milk that is transformed into ice-cream. On becoming ice-cream, milk loses its identity . But in the case of Shiva taking the form of the world, He does not lose his identity of being a supremely pure Being.
Thus, Creation is not a change of Shiva; rather it is an extension, prasara, of Shiva. Just as a clear mirror, while reflecting huge and diverse objects in itself, retains its clarity without undergoing even a minute change in its nature; Shiva, the Eternal Being, despite the projection of the variegated cosmos, does not suffer the least diminution of His perfection and continues to retain His transcendental aspect.
As the curtain is pulled back to reveal the inner sanctum, one is drawn into the world of Nirakara Shiva, beyond even the physical symbolism of a Linga, where the vast expanse of the sky above and the ether zone are mirrored in the `Akasha Linga' of Chidambaram.Shiva takes his devotees into an interiorised world of consciousness, mapping out the Akasha or sky-ether of the mind, beyond the noumenal world of names and forms.
But is it as abstract as it seems, i wonder, for the Thillai (mangrove) forest ground of the Chidambaram temple is witness to the ananda tandava dance of Shiva, in one of his most beautiful forms as Nataraja, the fountainhead of the creative impulse.Traditional lore views Chidambaram as the site of the original Cosmic Linga, an ellipsoid around which the rest of the universe rotates. This dance of creative bliss is said to have been performed by Shiva for the two sages, Vyghrapada and Patanjali, who had asked for the boon to witness the dance.
Which one is the more seminal attribute of Shiva, i wonder is it the ascetic yogic aspect of Shiva characterised by dispassionate withdrawal and penance, or is it the creatively pulsating energy of Shiva, which calls for an active engagement with the world, in the realisation that the outer embodied universe reflects the disembodied One, that the materiality is also actually spiritual only? As i move into the main dance hall of the Chidambaram complex, i marvel at the persona of Shiva, where different attributes complement each other, not contradict. His all-encompassing compassion and love for devas and asuras alike, without discriminating between the two, reveals a Being in love with creation, not a destroyer.Perhaps what he seeks to destroy is the negativity and the baser elements of our nature.
John Marshall saw a Proto-Shiva in the famous Pashupati seal of Mohenjodaro where four wild animals tiger, buffalo, elephant and rhinoceros surround the yogi-God sitting in the meditation pose, the three faces representing Time in its past, present and future dimensions.
The Mahakal, Controller of Time, the Rudra, God of wild beasts and Yogeswara, the Supreme Yogi aspects of Shiva appear to coalesce in this Indus seal. Other traditions like the Tevaram hymns and the Tirumurai compendium of songs in Tamil eulogise the Ashutosh svarupa of Shiva the God who melts at the call of a sincere prayer.
The Tirumurai tradition maps out the philosophy of Shaiva Siddhanta , with its formulation of three eternal entities of God, soul and bondage Pati, pasu and pasam. The Shaiva Siddhanta states that God is One, souls are many and bondage happens because of the three impurities of anava which causes the negativity of soul karma, the law of action-reaction and Maya the cause of all materiality . Maya is real in Shaiva Siddhanta and not an illusion as in Vedanta. Shiva's Grace alone can help in breaking this bondage and evolution of the Soul to an understanding of the relationship between the Nirakara aspect of the Self and the dynamic aspect of the Self 's energy as it manifests .
They say that Shiva is finally within only . But the inscrutable and beautiful outer form of Shiva gives as much solace.
Shrines of Lord Shiv
In Jammu province
Lord Shiva has cast his spell on people in this country from times immemorial. Representations of the Lord Shiva have been traced on the carved seals unearthed at Mohenjo-Daro, thus making him one of our oldest gods in the Indian civilization.
Jammu can boast of a number of Lord Shiva cave shrines and one such natural cave is situated in idyllic surroundings at Jakhole panchayat of Kathua District. To reach it we have to break off from the National Highway (Jammu–Pathankot) at Rajbagh (Ujh). A further twelve Km drive ahead to the north eastern side crossing Jasrota, Dhanni and Bakhta villages, one reaches village Jakhole and after that 5 km on foot on a path having panoramic view of its surroundings one can reach the 150 years old famous natural Shiva cave which is famously known as Mahanal. It is about fifty minute’s journey from Lakhanpur and thirty five minutes journey from Rajbagh to village Jakhole.
Shiva is associated with truth (satyam), goodness (shivam) and beauty (sundaram) and has his mystical abode in a cave at Mahanal. The most distinctive feature about this abode is that it does not contain a man-made image. On the contrary, the sacred image in this cave is svayambhu Shiva lingam. So great is the attachment of the devotees to this natural cave that this sacred place is called as Chotta Amarnath (Mini Amarnath) by sages and people alike.
The natural cave of Shiva at Mahanal is rich in legendary lore. According to one such legend approximately 150 years back, milk used to ooze from rocks and fall on the natural Shiva lingam which was noticed by the villagers. They started worshipping the place since then. But one day a woman of nomadic community collected milk from this pious place and used it for its own benefit. Since then milk stopped oozing from the roof of the cave and water started dripping over the lord Shiva‘s sanctum sanctorum.
According to another legend, a sage meditated there for many years. He had prohibited locals from visiting the place as he wished to meditate in glory of Lord Shiva at a secluded place. However, after many years, a curious lady of the area went there only to find a human skelton in meditation posture chanting loudly “Om Namah Shivaye”. The lady got scared and fainted on noticing a skeleton meditating. After sometime, she regained consciousness only to find that, the skeleton had turned into a human being chanting Om Namah Shivaye, which after sometime disappeared and then changed into a Natural Shiva Lingam inside the cave- nearer to the meditation site. Not to be beaten in their love for the Immortal God (Amarnath) the locals have named it Chotta Amarnath (Mini Amarnath), due to its resemblance to the famous shrine of the same name in Kashmir.
At Mahanal there is a big cave and inside the cave a natural lingam exists which as per legends dates back to centuries. The cave opening is narrow and only one person can enter the cave at a time to reach the sanctum sanctorum and have darshans of Lord Shiva. The idols of Ganesh, Nandigan and Kaal -Bhairav at the entrance of Mahanal cave adds to the piousness of the area. Another small cave lies on other side of the main cave where the devotees have now constructed small temples dedicated to nine goddesses. A seasonal waterfall lies in between both the caves where devotees can be seen bathing before offering prayers. However in summers, the waterfall dries up and devotees use water from the resultant water-body (Bowli) that exists near the shrine.
In 1980, an ascetic by the name of Baba Hari Giri Ji made this place his abode and started meditating here and large number of locals started visiting him. The place started catching attention during his time. He stayed there for ten years and in 1991 he attained Samaadhi.
The devotees from within and other states of the country throng this place throughout the year. However, heavy rush is seen on Ist day of the year, Mondays, Mahashivratri, Naagpanchmi and in the holy month of Shravan which coincides with the annual pilgrimage of Shree AmarNathji. Local residents and other devotees organize langars (community kitchens) there every year. Devotees consider it as a very sacred Place of Lord Shiva and where wishes of Pilgrims are fulfilled whoever offers prayers at the shrine.
Road Connectivity, Drinking Water facility and Electricity supply are required to be improved. Efforts need to be made to bring this holy cave on the religious tourist map of the state similar to Jasrota Mata Temple at Jasrota, Sukrala Mata Temple at Billawar, Mata Bala Sundri at Nagri and Jorian Mata Temple at Bani, so that the inherent pilgrim potential of the place is explored and utilized to the maximum possible extent.