Shiva and Philosophy of
by Ravindra Ravi
believe that our ancestors came into the Peninsula from the north, across the
mountain-passes of the Himalayas and that the present religion of the people has
grown since they crossed the mountains. In the beginning they had no images,
there were no temples. People would gather to perform firescarifies in open
spaces, because space has no limit, no boundary, no frontier. The fire was made
of wood. Priests recited chants and were paid for it. If we recapitulate the
past, we realize that the Hindus have always believed that if a man wanted to be
religious, he must devote his whole life to it. A good man may manage a home and
a family and business. But to become religious, the Hindu would send a man into
the forest ! It was expected that there in the jungle, he would live in a cave
or under trees. He would eat wild roots and fruit. You see the idea was that a
great part of religion consists in quietening the mind and living alone in
solitude, without any extra needs, which would be of great help in the quest. An
aspirant's hair would grow longer. It would grow thick and unkempt. It could be
coiled up on the top of the head. He may bathe also, but he cannot spare time
from meditation to make it beautiful. These men are usually seen in great
numbers in some forest, or beside a sacred river. You might have understood what
the religious men of early Aryan times looked like.
Fire sacrifices, with
crowds of people worshipping around it had been performed. Amid chanting of
Mantaras, offerings were made into it, one or two forest saints mingling with
the people to join in the devotion. Only white wood-ashes remain back. People go
home, the place looks deserted. A hermit comes forward and takes up a handful of
ash and rubs it all over his body. If we see one of these hermits from a
distance, we would notice first his whiteness. If they rub themselves all over
with ashes, they can become white. Thus the apartheid based on colours would
automatically disappear. That complete holiness and this whitenes--, would
always go together. Now you can imagine, the Himalayas and the snow-clad
mountains, which are as white a snow. In India, we take the river Ganga as our
mother and the Sun, as the kind and loving God Vishnu. Even hills and plants
have distinct characteristics. The Aryans, who loved India, talked about
fire-worship. The Himalayan snow peaks became the central object of their love.
A great monk, clothed in ashes, lost in meditation, silent and alone, like these
snowy heights, is adored as the Shiva-Shanker Bhagwan.
At this thought, the Hindu
mind began to work out all sorts of symbols. The mountain, the ash-clothed
hermit, the snow - all contributed to the complete picture of Shiva. Shiva
possesses a bull on which he rides. As the moon shines above mountains, so he
bears on His forehead the new moon. Fresh water, a few grains of rice and two or
three green bel-leaves are the whole offering in the daily worship of Shiva. To
show how easily Shiva can be pleased, there is a telling story.
Arjuna, one of the
principal heroes of the great Mahabharata war, had gone up to the mountains to
spend three months in worshipping Shiva and invoking His blessings. Suddenly,
one day, as he was praying before the lingam and offering flowers, the sound of
horns rang. The next moment the snow-King and Queen rode into view at the head
of their retinue and came sweeping down the ravine in pursuit of a poor panting
boar that ran upto Arjuna for protection. The hero, roused from his worship,
showed the boar a way of escape and stood up to meet the challenge of the King.
The next moment the whole hunt had come to a stop before him. "The quarry
was mine!" cried the King and his voice sounded like winter blasts amongst
the mountains. "How dare you touch it ?" At this address, Arjuna
blazed with anger and picking up the bow and arrows he had thrown aside be fore
commencing the worship, challenged the King to dismount and fight.
"Accepted" said the snow-king and the combat began. But to the hereo's
dismay, it seemed to him that he was attacking some terrible phantom, for one
after another his good stout arrows disappeared into the person of the king,
doing him no harm.
"Let us wrestle then
!" Shouted Arjuna. And casting aside his bow, he flung himself upon his
foe. He was met by the quiet touch of a hand on his heart and fell to the ground
stunned. "Well, come on!" said the King, as Arjuna recovered himself a
minute later and turned aside from the contest. But he seemed almost
intoxicated. "I must finish my worship first", he said in a thick
voice, taking up a garland of flowers to fling round the Shiva Lingama. The next
moment the eyes of Arjuna were opened, for the Snow-King towered above him,
blessing him. And the flowers were round his neck. "Mahadev ! Mahadev cried
the aspirant flinging himself on the ground to touch with his head the feet of
Lord Shiva. But already the hunt had swept on, down the valley and the Snow-King
had disappeared. This was a story told about Shiva, who is so deeply loved by
Lord Shiva represents the
destructive aspect of Brahman. He is the all-pervading Ishwara. With Parvati. He
becomes the Saguna Brahman for the purpose of pious devotion of his devotees.
Lord Shiva is the Lord of ascetics and the Lord of yogins. He is robed in space,
Digambara. His Trisul, Trident, that is held in His right hand, represents the
three Gunas, Sat-Raj-Tam. That is the emblem of sovereignty. The Damaru in His
left hand represents the Shabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all
languages orginate. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru
beats. The crescent Moon indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly.
The flow of the Ganges, represents the nectar of immortality. The elephant
represents, symbolically, Pride Siva's wearing the skin of an elephant denotes
that He has controlled pride. The tiger represents lust ; Shiva's sitting on, a
tiger-skin indicates that. He has conquered lust. His wearing of serpents
denotes wisdom and eternity. He is Trilochana, the three-eyed one, in the centre
of Whose forehead is the third fire, the eye of wisdom.
The serpent is the Jiva or
the individual soul which rests upon Shiva, the Paramatma or the supreme soul.
The five hoods mean the five senses or the five Tattvas viz., earth, water,
fire, air and ether. The five hoods or the five serpents represent the five
Pranas, which hiss in the body like the serpent. The inhalation and exhalation
are like the hissing of the serpent. The individual soul enjoys the worldly
objects through these Tattvas. When the individual attains knowledge through
control of these senses and mind, he finds his eternal resting abode in Lord
Shiva, the supreme soul. This is the esoteric significance of Lord Shiva's
wearing the snake on His body. Lord Shiva wears serpents as omaments on His
body. This indicates that Lord Shiva is absolutely fearless and immortal.
Generally serpents live for hundreds of years. Thus wearing of serpents by Lord
Shiva signifies that He is eternal.
is the Mantra of Lord Shiva. Na represents earth and Brahma ; Ma represents
water and Vishnu ; Si fire and rudra ; va represents vayu and Maheshwara ; ya
Akasa and Sadasiva. Lord Shiva has white complexion. This signifies that people
should have pure hearts. Lord Shiva has three white lines of Bhasma on His
forehead. This unfolds that a man should destroy the three impurities viz ego,
expectation of fruits and illusion and three desires. Nandi or the bull
represents the attendant of Lord Shiva.
He is the vehicle of Lord
Shiva. He represents satsang. There is a famous saying, "If you have
association with sages you are sure to attain Godrealisation. Sages will guide
you. They will remove the snares that lie on your path. There is no other safe
boat than satsang to take one to the other shore, of fearlessness and
immortality, Lord Shiva represents the destructive aspect of the Godhead. He is
seen absorbed in meditation on the mountain peak of the Kailash. He is an
embodiment of serenity, renunciation and indifference to the world. The deer
represents the Vedas, its four legs are the four Vedas, Lord Shiva is holding
the deer in His hand. This indicates that he is Lord of the Vedas. He has a
sword in one of His hands. This signifies that He is the destroyer of births and
deaths. The fire in one of His hands shows that He protects the Jivas by burning
all that binds.
Shiva Linga is also a
symbol. The literal meaning of the word Linga is "visible sign of something
invisible". This Shiva Linga is of an ellipsoid shape. Linga denotes
something, which has neither any beginning nor an end. It is unlimited and
never-ending. The Shiv Linga is the symbol of Shiva in the act of creation. Here
is a hyman on the greatness of Shiva There is no God better than Shiva, there is
no hymn better than the hymn on the greatness of Shiva, there is no sacred word
better than the name of Shiva.
OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI
SAMACHAR. Son of the Late Sarvanand Premi, the author is a noted writer, living