Shiva - The Supreme Divine Master
by Gregorian Bivolaru
Shiva, the power of dissolution that brings multiplicity to primordial unity, presides the different paths that liberate the individual soul (jivatma) from the conditionings of the incarnated existence and re-unifies it with the original Source, Paramatman.
He is considered the teacher of the four disciplines that lead to the union with the Ultimate Reality:
metaphysical knowledge (jnana), the science of language, music and Yoga, or the experimental method. Shiva, the Divine Guru, is known as Dakshinamurti, “The one facing South”, as the myth says that he was facing South when he revealed these teachings to the rishis, the ancient wise-men.
Consequently, Shiva is “the chosen divinity” (ishtadevata) of the yogis. Yoga – dakshinamurti presents him exposing the science of yoga, sitting in a yoga posture (often svastikasana), or with one leg supported by a meditation belt (yoga-patta). He is himself the archetype of the yogi (Mahayogi), represented by a nude ascetic, “dressed in space” (digambara), with the body covered with ashes, with braided hair (jatamandala), and practicing severe austerities, immobile and centred within Himself.
In the same time, this Ineffable is the source from where comes every existence, the power that sustains every existence and the end in which every existence is resorbed (janmadyasya vatah); this means that he posses the three functions of creation, preservation and dissolution of the phenomenal world.
In the following, we will present you a few meaningful Indian stories that reveal the master-disciple relationship between Shiva and His devoted worshippers and the way in which Shiva, as the Absolute, takes any form or shape in order to guide His true devotees towards the supreme communion with Him.
Shiva - Lingam of fire
SHIVA MANIFESTED AS A LINGAM OF FIRE – from SHIVA PURANA
In Hindus mythology there are many legends in which SHIVA plays a central role. From the many aspects and manifestations of Shiva, his manifestation as a lingam of fire is one of the most novel and mysterious ones. The immemorial legend, which makes accessible for us fundamental spiritual teachings, is written in the chapters 7-9 of the sacred text SHIVA PURANA. Here it is described the divine intervention of Shiva in the fight for supremacy – fight that seems endless and which destroyed the entire world – between Brahma, the creator of the Universe, and Vishnu, its keeper.
(In order to enter the intimacy of the myth, we give you a few details. Brahma is the masculine aspect (+), Vishnu is the feminine aspect (-) and Shiva is the transcendent aspect, neutral (0), which allows both the entering into manifestation as well as its transcendence. This neutral force which is invisible, because it never manifests directly, produces and reabsorbs both the plus and the minus, at the same time integrating them in a unitary whole; nothing can exist in its absence.)
Here is the fragment from SHIVA PURANA in which the manifestation of Shiva as a lingam of fire is described.
“On the battle field, Brahma and Vishnu continued to fight to death, waiting for the result of the confrontation of their supreme weapons, maheshvara and pashupata, which they had projected. The flames caused by the battle between the two armies were burning all the three worlds. Seeing this impending destruction of the universe, which would have been premature and would have come in an inappropriate moment, Shiva’s invisible presence took the terrifying form of a huge column of fire that appeared between the two divine aspects. Thus, the two armies caught in the flames of war, which were enough to burn the entire universe, were absorbed into the huge column of fire. Seeing this amazing phenomenon which neutralized their weapons, the two fighting Gods asked each other: “What is this amazing appearance? What is this column of fire that has risen between us? It is beyond our sensorial perception. We must find its end and its beginning; we must find where its basis and its top are!”
Agreeing about this decision, the two heroes proud of their courage immediately started to investigate.
“There will be no positive result if we stay together”, said Vishnu and, taking the form of a wild boar, went downwards, to find the foundation of the column of Light. At his turn; Brahma took the form of a migrating bird (hamsa) and flew towards the sky, to find the top of the column.
Crossing the inferior worlds and going very far downwards, Vishnu did not succeed to find the foundation of the huge column of fire. Completely exhausted in his form as a wild boar, he came back to the battle field.
Brahma also could not find the top of this column and he returned to the starting point.
Then Shiva, full of compassion, manifested as a divine being, revealing His presence in that infinite column. This is what He spoke (chapter 9):
“I have two aspects: one manifested and one not manifested. None else has these two aspects; therefore no one else can be the Supreme Master of the Universe. My nature is not manifested when I am seen as Supreme reality, and it is manifested when I am seen as Sovereign of the Universe.
This infinite column of fire suggests my supreme impersonal nature. This lingam will be my symbol and you all will worship it forever. My dear sons, from now on, this column of fire, without beginning and without end, can be represented in a smaller form, out of necessity for ordinary perception and its adoration. This symbol of the lingam will bring to the wise one the state of beatitude. Its adoration is the best way to obtain endless happiness in this world as well as ultimate spiritual perfection. He will be able to remove all the possible obligatory rebirths in the sphere of illusion and ignorance of any incarnated human being.
Respecting the spiritual ceremonies, bringing offerings and praying, any spiritual practice related to this symbol will be a million times more efficient then the practice not related to it.
If I will be adored in My supreme form as a lingam and if in this relation to the lingam all the other spiritual ceremonies and procedures will be performed, the five forms of liberation (known in the Indian tradition) will be certainly achieved: to live in the same divine world with Me – salokya, to be always close to Me – samipya, to be completely like Me – sarupya, to reach the same divine powers as Mine – sarishti and to be completely identified with Me – sayujia.
In this way all of you will be able to obtain the fulfilling of all your desires!
The symbol of the lingam and Myself, which is thus symbolized, are not two different entities. The Lingam is my Absolute Being. It allows My worshipers to come close to me. Thus, it is always and completely worthy of being worshipped."
The wise man Brinji was one of the fervent worshippers of Shiva. But he used to worship only Shiva, deliberately neglecting to worship Shakti. Through his spiritual practice, Brinji was focused exclusively on transcending the existential aspects and this is why he believed it was correct to worship only Shiva, in his mind separating Shiva from His manifesting feminine energy, Shakti. In reality, Shiva was not separated from Her and he is never separated from Her. Once upon a time, the Gods and the wise men went and stayed around Shiva and his lover Parvati, in order to remain there, full of veneration and adoration.
They resided in the mountain Kailasa. But the fanatic worshiper of Shiva, called Brinji, insisted, saying that if they truly worship only Shiva, they have to stay only around Shiva. Excluding completely Shakti, the feminine energy, from his prayers towards Shiva, Brinji renounced, without knowing, his supporting vital feminine energy, which in reality came from Shakti and which always supported him in his worshipping action. In order to offer him a spiritual lesson, meant to pull him out of the state of limitation and stupidity in which he was, Parvati made the fanatic worshipper Brinji to come and stay in a physical bodily state in which he was just flesh and bones. His entire feminine energy, Shakti, which he constantly rejected with crazily fervour, left his body completely and because of this, the wise Brinji soon became very weak, lacking all trace of energy.
In this way, he became unable to make even the smallest movements. But he stubbornly continued to pray only to Shiva. Full of endless compassion, Shiva offered to his fanatical worshipper a stick, to support him. Taking it full of veneration, Brinji became so attached to his stick that it soon became like a third leg for him. Having this new support from Shiva, Brinji continued to worship only Shiva, still not understanding the meaning of this spiritual lesson he was given. In order to help him understand the inseparability between Shakti and Shiva, Shiva’s lover asked her divine master Shiva to take a certain form for his worshipper in which she was one with Shiva and which to express in a very obvious way the inseparability between Shiva and Shakti. In this situation Shiva took the aspect of Ardhanarishvara.
It is said that in an era from the past, Shiva often took the kind form, most loved by his worshippers, and thus he appeared unexpectedly in front of those who loved him and who worshipped him constantly and frantically. At that time, the great God Daksha, the first son of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe, was very perseverant in performing the worshipping rituals consecrated to Shiva, as he had learned them from his Father Brahma, the Creator of the Universe.
Following her father’s example, his daughter Daksha Yani, also prayed to Shiva many times, full of love and fervour, having a very pure soul and a heart full of love for Shiva. She wanted very much to become Shiva’s divine lover and in this way to never be separated from the mysterious and gigantic being of Shiva. Being enchanted by the purity and the love of Daksha’s daughter, Shiva accepted her as His lover. He appeared suddenly in front of her, when she was together with her worldly father, Daksha, telling him that soon He will take his daughter with Him, in the holy place in the Kailasa mountain. Full of happiness, Daksha Yani was immediately ready to go together with Shiva. But her father, Daksha, did not realize that his daughter’s heart, which was full of love, was already immersed into Shiva’s divine heart. He believed that first it was necessary to perform a certain ritual, according to the tradition. Shiva did not say anything, but he disappeared suddenly. Understanding wrongly the instant disappearance of Shiva, as a confirmation of the necessity to start the preparations for the ritual, Daksha immediately started to prepare it.
But Daksha Yani, whose being was already full of Shiva’s divine spirit, due to the endless love she felt for him, understood immediately Shiva’s secret message. Thus, she realized that in fact Shiva does not want people offering Him formal sacrifices, but first of all He wants their genuine love for Him, which they have to awaken in their heart. Being already in unison with Shiva, due to the state of spiritual fusion established before, Daksha Yani was inspired by Shiva to give him an appropriate spiritual lesson. Then, she deliberately ignored Daksha’s preparations, whose state of spiritual vigilance had weakened considerably. This is why he ended up being extremely concerned with the external aspect of the spiritual practices, instead of the genuine sublime experience, which should have come first. Without realising at all the poor state he was in, due to his persistence in this mistake, Daksha revolted inside of him because Shiva decided to marry his daughter without taking part in all external ceremonies, which he considered to be indispensable.
He continued the preparations for performing the ritual, inviting all the celestial beings, without considering the fact that Shiva was not present. All the beings that were invited received all the gifts offered by Daksha. But as Shiva’s mysterious presence did not support this ceremony, the general feeling of it became more and more heavy and dull. A great wise man, Dadiki, who had a certain spiritual common sense, noticed Daksha’s mistake and advised him to stop acting in this way, because if he continues to act in this stupid way, he will hurt himself, first of all. Daksha ignored the old man’s wise advice and he continued to perform the sacrificial ritual, being convinced that only by respecting rigorously the ritualistic ceremony he will convince Shiva to manifest again. Thus, Daksha was convinced within himself about the superiority of the ritualistic actions and in the same time he was intrigued that Shiva did not respect it and He did not take part in it. He noticed that also his daughter, Daksha Yani, did not respect what had already been established. Having more common sense then her worldly father, his daughter Daksha Yani asked Shiva in her heart to help Daksha to correct himself, as it was clear that he was making mistakes, being stuck in the rigorousness of the ritualistic procedures.
Having a sudden inspiration from Shiva, she threw herself into the ritualistic fire lit by Daksha and, by the secret power of Shiva, her body turned into a mysterious all encompassing brilliant presence. She instantly became Shiva’s cosmic bride. Through this sacrificial action, she completely eliminated her connection with Daksha; this connection motivated him to stubbornly perform an action that was completely against Shiva’s Will. With his heart blinded by ignorance, Daksha saw only the disappearance of his daughter’s body and did not understood much. Moreover, a great revolt against Shiva was built inside of him. Full of love for Daksha, Shiva considered it necessary to offer him a more severe lesson, in order to pull him out of the state of deep darkness in which he was. Through the mysterious power residing in his third eye, Ajna chakra, Shiva manifested as a devouring flame, which soon took the shape of a frightful being – Shiva Virabdhra. Together with His secret terrible energy, manifested as Badra Kali, Shiva Virabhadra instantly stopped the ritualistic ceremony that Daksha had started. He stormed on the body of each participant, making them feel a devouring fire in their entire being, which was causing them intense suffering.
Nobody could stop Shiva from His terrible manifestation. The devouring fever that appeared instantly made most of them understand that they were wrong accepting the formal offerings, and forgetting about Shiva, the one who is eternal, alive and real. Out of all present there, Daksha alone was not touched in any way by the intense suffering that Shiva Virabhadra caused in their bodies by his devouring flames. He fooled himself to such an extent, that he did not even recognize Shiva in this terrible aspect. Noticing how great was the darkness in the mind of this beloved worshipper Daksha, Shiva Virabhadra instantly cut off his head, in order to allow him to renew his faith, which was just a formality.
Finally, all the beings present at the ceremony gave obeisance to Shiva and they all understood their mistake. They humbly asked Shiva for forgiveness. Shiva, full of compassion, forgave all of them. To Daksha he gave back his life, offering him, instead of the chopped head, the head of a ram – the mysterious symbol of the pure energy of the beginning and of the rebirth within his being of a new, more pure faith. With the new head he had received from Shiva, Daksha regretted his mistake and ever since he became the most fervent worshipper of Shiva
Shiva Kalayana Sundara
Parvati was the young beautiful daughter of Mount Himalaya and of his wife Mena. As a young maid, Parvati was not interested in playing with other children. Since she was little she had the tendency to make profound meditations upon the Supreme Shiva, periodically going into retreats in the mountains. She wanted very much to be Shiva’s spiritual bride and lover. For this, she started a retreat in order to meditate uninterruptedly in the snowy mountains of Himalaya. Her parents hesitated to give her permission to do that, but the determination of the young girl, who was also extremely beautiful, sensual and full of vitality, convinced her parents. Then, Parvati went to an ashram in the mountains, doing all the meditations and tapas consecrated to Shiva.
Shiva, delighted by the extraordinary firmness and aspiration of this young girl, came Himself to the place where she meditating profoundly, in order to test the fervour of her devotion. Taking the form of an old aspirant, He approached the young girl. The young Parvati treated Him with all the respect due to an old man devoted to worshipping her beloved Shiva. Immediately, the old man told her that it is useless to waste her young years and energy doing all those severe austerities, and that it would be better if she married, since she was so young, so sensual and so beautiful. Moreover, the old man suggested that it would be best if she married him, who was a great worshipper of Shiva. What was the point, he added, to desire Shiva, the one dancing in graveyards and carrying bones and skulls for jewellery?
Parvati, who did not realize in the beginning that in the form of that old man was her beloved Shiva, became very angry at his words. Revolted, she told the old man that so far she had treated him with respect only because he seemed to be an honest worshipper of Shiva, but now he wants to distract her from her spiritual practice, therefore from that moment on she does not wish to hear any more blasphemies from him regarding Shiva. With a very firm and authoritative voice, she told the old man to leave that place immediately.
Delighted by the unshakable faith that the young beautiful Parvati had in worshipping Him, Shiva revealed Himself to her in the aspect already familiar to her. Parvati was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected apparition and apologized immediately for not recognizing Shiva in the old man. Shiva told her that He accepted her rebuke as an honest and profound call that expressed the longing of the young beautiful girl to embrace Him full of love. Was not that rebuke actually coming from a profound love for Shiva? Then, Shiva decided to offer to the young and beautiful Parvati the priceless gift that she strongly desired - to become His lover.
The royal family of the girl from Himalaya was delighted to find out that their beautiful beloved daughter was going to get married. The entire region was beautifully decorated and started to prepare for the celestial ceremony, full of bright divine rapture. Close to her ecstatic fusion with Shiva, Parvati was adorned and she radiated an unequalled divine happiness. Shiva was expected.
At the wedding ceremony, Shiva came riding a bull, with skulls and bones hanging on His body, for jewellery, and having a tiger skin around his waist. His wedding suite was made of a few cohorts of phantom spirits – Bhuta Gana – of the dead. Seeing this, the mother of the young bride fainted instantly, being very resentful at the thought that the groom of her sweet daughter, who was full of sensuality and more beautiful then any flower on Earth, looked so terrifying.
Reaching the wedding place, the divine groom Shiva immediately transformed His ascetic look and appeared to those present with an extremely beautiful face and clothes, full of brightness and wearing priceless jewellery, and wonderful garments. When the mother of the daughter, Mena, recovered from fainting, she was delighted by the appearance of her daughter’s groom and now she was very happy to see that He was most appropriate for her beloved daughter.
In the end she realized that Shiva’s mysterious divine game is unlimited. In this case, initially the mother of young Parvati could only see the exterior, apparent aspect of Shiva, but in reality no other being could see in advance the greatness and splendour of the divine groom Shiva and the glory that emanates continuously from His divine being, except His lover Parvati. The charming Shiva in His wedding gown married the daughter of the mountains, Parvati, and ever since His beautiful form, that was seen by people on His wedding day was called Kalayana Sundara.
Initially, Chandesha’s name was Vichara Charmar. He was the son of a farmer called Ecadatan. One day, the man who was grazing the cows was found to often beat and torture them. Chandesha, who had a heart full of love and compassion for all beings, could no longer accept this situation and
replaced the violent shepherd, taking his place. As he was an ardent worshipper of Shiva, he would take the cows to the fields early in the morning, and during the day he took them to places where the grass was abundant. While the cows were eating, he meditated. When the evening came, Chandesha took the cows back; they were very well fed and very happy.
In this way, on the days when Chandesha grazed the cows they started to give a lot of milk. When Chandesha was meditating upon the Almighty Shiva, the cows used to come near him silently. After he ended his meditation and later on, when he milked the cows, they gave him more milk. Afterwards, Chandesha made a small altar, in the shape of a lingam, made of sand, and he started to make a secret ritual for worshipping Shiva – Shiva Puja, using the milk from the cows (which they offered to him in abundance and full of love) in order to oil the symbol of Shiva – Shiva Lingam.
One day an ignorant passed by Chandesha and without understanding anything of what Chandesha was doing, he foolishly thought that the young man was milking the cows and then just throwing away the milk onto the sand. He immediately went to Chandesha’s father and told him all that he thought he had seen, warning him that his son was wasting the milk of the cows of the village.
Revolted by what the stranger had told him, the next day his father snuck after Chandesha and without him knowing it, he watched him from behind of a bush. As usual, the cows came near Chandesha to offer him their milk. Shortly before he started the ritual for worshipping Shiva – Shiva Puja, Chandesha milked the cows, put the milk in a few pots and started to worship Shiva, putting the milk on Shiva’s symbol – Shiva Lingam, which he had built from sand, with his heart full of love, Bakhti, for Shiva.
Without realizing that his son was full of adoration for Shiva and that he was making a secret ritual for worshipping Shiva, his father started to beat Chandesha with a stick, thinking that in this way he would stop his son from wasting the milk from the cows. But Chandesha was so completely absorbed in worshipping Shiva full of love, that he did not even feel the beating from his father.
Ecadatan went towards the pots full of Milk, preventing Chandesha from using the milk, which was actually destined to oil the divine symbol of Shiva – Shiva Lingam. Seeing that the ritual for worshipping Shiva was about to be interrupted by the stupid action of an ignorant, Chandesha, in a state of beneficial trance, chased away Ecadatan, who he did not even recognize as being his father. Being completely submerged in his state of complete surrendering to Shiva, Bhakti, and with a complete state of balance in the mind, and even of inner neutrality, Chandesha sent away his father, as if he was any other unwelcome being.
Shiva was very content with his worshipper’s surrender and with his determination and appeared before him, wearing on his head a garland made of wonderful fresh flowers, a symbol of the priceless gifts of the love of his worshippers. Enchanted by the exemplary rapture, focus and intensity of the worshipping manifested by the young Vichara Charmar, Shiva called him Chandesha and honoured him by placing on his head the flower garland that He was wearing, as a sign of divine blessing, at the same time touching the top of his head with His hand.
It is said that Daksha, the son of Brahma, creator of the universe, had 27 daughters, and all of them looked like stars. All of them were in love with the young, brilliant and beautifulChandra. They all decided to marry Chandra. Nevertheless, of all his wives, Chandra was most attracted to Rohini, whom he loved more then the others. The other wives complained to their father Daksha that they were not loved equally and that they were not treated properly by their husband Chandra.
Daksha punished Chandra by condemning him to a gradual weakening, which was going to last for 15 days. In this time, his light would fade more and more everyday. Soon, the moonlight started to wane and in the 15th day disappeared almost completely. Afraid and ashamed, Chandra hid in the ocean.
But many plants needed the light, influence and subtle, vitalizing energy of the moon, in order to grow and develop harmoniously. Without the beneficial influence of the moon, many of them would have been destroyed, therefore their life was already in danger. In the darkness created by the mysterious absence of the Moon, the world started to suffer. In order to solve this problem wisely, the celestial beings advised the Moon to seek refuge immediately in Shiva’s Supreme Being.
Having little left of her last day, Kala, the Moon – Chandra, asked Shiva for refuge. With endless love and grace, the almighty Shiva placed the Moon on his divine forehead, making its brightness increase during the following 15 days.
Full of gratitude, Chandra asked Shiva that from now on the every 28th night would be consecrated entirely to Shiva and it would be called Shivaratri. The night when the Moon – Chandra found divine refuge in Shiva’s being became a holy night. It is the night when Shiva offers to the beings that deserve it the grace to find a divine refuge in his eternal being. Ever since, Chandra continued to increase and decrease his light, cyclically. Ever since, Shiva Chandrasekara is that aspect of Shiva – the protector of the beings which are ready and full of aspiration and pray deeply to him in the night of Shivaratri. Through this aspect, Shiva manifests as a divine supporter of Nature’s mysterious rhythms and as a protector of the cyclic life of any plant or living being in nature.
Published by Natha.net