Happy Maha Shivaratri!!
Today is a very special and ancient holy day known as Maha Shivaratri. Around the world hundreds of millions of people are remembering and worshipping Lord Shiva today! Anyone can receive infinite blessings and success in any area of their life by simply hearing about the pastimes of Shiva, observe a fast in his honor, sing kirtans/bhajans and hymns to Shiva, or simply taking Shiva prasad (sacramental offerings).
Maha Shivaratri is Shiva’s most holy night and devotees stay up all through the night to sing his praise, tell of his mystical stories and pastimes and dance ecstatically in oneness with His presence. The 13th (or 14th) night in the dark half of every lunar month is said to be a Shivaratri – the holy night of Shiva. The greatest of these nights, the Maha Shivaratri, comes in the month of Magh, February-March, when the mists of winter make way for spring. This day is the anniversary of Shiva’s marriage to Parvati, when the hermit became a householder and became part of the cycle of life.
Shiva is one of the few gods in the Hindu pantheon to be worshipped in the dark half of the lunar month. This period when the moon wanes and the gods are weak is believed by many to be inauspicious. Demons and ghosts dominate the cosmos. Only Shiva can restrain their diabolical powers. And so the devout offer special prayers to Shiva on every Shivaratri, when the moon takes a crescent shape.
During Maha Shivaratri, devotees stay awake all through the night singing bhajans and kirtans, to the glory of Shiva. They do not eat or drink, nourishing themselves by telling each other tales of Shiva, of his marriage and of his many heroic deeds. Cool and perfumed water is poured over the Linga and offerings of bel leaves, bhang, milk and sweetmeats are made.
It is said that on one Shivaratri, a tribal man lost his way in the jungle. He took shelter on top of a bel tree. The cries of wild animals, jackals, and cheetahs rent the air; they kept him awake all through the night.
To divert his attention he kept breaking twigs of the bel tree. These fell on a small Linga located at the base of the tree. The tribal man had inadvertently worshipped Shiva – he had stayed awake all through the holy night, without food or drink and had offered bel leaves to the Lord. For that act of piety Shiva assured him salvation. As he is pleased so easily, Shiva is known as Asutosh. Every devotee seeks Shiva’s grace on Shivaratri.
There is a book by Wolf-Dieter Storl about Shiva which really inspired me and helped me many years ago when I first read it.. to overstand the mystical, symbolic and archetypal depth and meaning that is Shiva. Below is an excellent summary of the book by Susie Pedigo. I know that if you read it you will enjoy and just maybe some of the mystic secrets of Shiva will be revealed to you as well.
Shiva is transcendent and at the same time the Self of each individual. In southern India to worship Shiva one must first purify the body with water before entering the sacred space.
One must then present Shiva with beautiful things that symbolize one’s heart and soul. The presents can be incense, flowers or anything of beauty.
The presents must include a ripe coconut which the priest dashes against a stone surface spilling its contents in front of the lingam or idol(Shiva’s sign). The nut represents the human skull, the home of the hardened ego. So the act of dashing the coconut represents the sacrifice of the ego to the greater self.
Because the ego strongly defends itself, ego-centered individuals avoid Shiva who demands this sacrifice. Indeed, they may see Shiva as a Devil.
The gods and goddesses, demons and demonesses of India are innumerable. The myths about them are even greater in number. Shiva is outside this polytheistic background.
His worship enables his worshiper to explore their innermost nature and understand the wisdom of ancient history. Carl Gustav Jung might have called Shiva a unique image of the Eurasian collective unconscious.
Shiva is a power capable of shaking lives by sending intuitions, subconscious images from depths beneath our rational consciousness. Shiva is an archetype that works on many levels.
The first image of Shiva is man’s recognition of his humanity. That image became the ruler of all other archetypes. It is the key to the mystery of humanity. The West celebrated the Light, the path to liberation, as Christ.
However, the Indians call the present time period in the West the Dark ages because Europe, The United States and other Western nations appear to have lost the understanding of the images, rituals and expressions of the archetype.
Westerners have become too involved with consumerism and so depression, anxiety befogs our understanding of our essence.
In India the archetype is remembered and more easily accessed. The West can relearn the understanding of God and Self, Shiva, the gracious one. By studying the Indian worship of Shiva. India is a living collection of the stages humanity has traversed.
At the beginning are thirty to sixty million hunters and gatherers called adavasi who live in ancient ways in the jungles and mountains. They conjure spirits and dance shamanic dances.
Next come swiddle and hoe farmers who worship the Great Mother of fertility which bloody animal sacrifices are given to the earth to create fertility. In remote provinces there are still reports of child sacrifice where the body is dismembered and bits buried in different fields to increase crops.
The dominant culture has evolved from Indo-European tribes of cattle herders how conquered India five thousand years ago. These Aryans were patriarchal warriors. They brought horses, horse sacrifice, worship of fire, sun and holy cows and a language kin to the European tongues with them.
The wisdom of this tradition was eventually recorded in the Vedic scriptures . Aryan domination lasted without major threat until the twelfth century. At that point Muslim fanatics attempted to invade India. They were eventually absorbed although their culture has been preserved in Muslim ghettos of India’s cities.
Zarathustrian fire worshipers fled from Persia to India. Jews came to India when the Romans’ destroyed the temple at Jerusalem. The Portuguese brought Christianity to Goa. The British dominated India for two hundred years and left well trained officials, cricket, teatime, Hindu English. All the emigration and invasion left a trace on India.
Each culture had some part in forming the current version of the Archetype. The Shamanistic hunters provided the base in Shiva who trance dances, who has horns and is the lord of the animals and the guardian of the soul. They called him Pashupati.
The matriarchal planters made the Great Goddess his companion who represented magical powers. She was called Shakti. They also connected him to the fertility symbol, the phallus, serpents and bulls. The Aryans turned him into a fire god, Agni and introduced soma (an intoxicating drink), into the worship.
They also connected him to the howling storm god, Rudra. Zarathustrian who believed in one God who is God of Gods the people of India accepted, as Shiva. Shiva is the Great God. All other gods are part of Shiva or masks of Shiva.
Gods that were once powerful are demoted to background roles. For example, Agni becomes the wheel of fire in which Shiva dances the act of creation and destruction.
Because the Hindus have no problem worshiping God in female form, Shiva can be worshiped as a female, or as male and female at the same time.
Shaivites and Sadhus generally see Shiva in male form. They do however recognized that he exists only through the grace of Shakti a female ground of being.
Wandering Shiva Sadhus still perform rituals outdoors; however after the invasion of Alexander the Great rectangular stone temples were built. The interior contains a small stone shrine to Shiva with a phallic stone, lingam signifying Shivas presence.
Above the sacred spot of the shrine a tower rises which is decorated with gods symbolizing the center of the universe. The assembly hall faces the shrine with its roof supported with many stone columns.
The temple represents the sacred physical presence of the god. The doorway is feet, the shrine his heart, and the tower is his head and neck.
The Syrian Christians led by the apostle Thomas settled in India. They gave Shaivism a different turn. The bhakti school preached by Tamil saints depicted Shiva the dancing god and the God of Love, similar to Christ.
God’s love is found in the devotee’s heart. The Llingayat sect believes that gaining god within comes not through good works but out of Shiva’s great gift toward humanity. So Shiva is seen as a savior who brings the human being to safety without the human having to do anything.
Shiva drank the world’s poison created by the other gods churning the primal ocean. To these worshipers, Shiva is both a caring mother and a good shepherd.
Even Western psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology has influenced the modern worship of Shiva by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s reinterpretation
Some Indian scholars have tried to interpret Shiva historically. They claim that Shiva is a real person who lived five thousand years ago and invented tools, speech, fire, music and human civilization.
He is also the father of human kind with his three wives. Gauri was the mother of the white race; Durga was the mother of the yellow race; and Parvati was the mother of the black race.
Some even go so far as to see the rounded cement core of an atomic energy plant as a lingam and the terrifying energy of atoms as potential Shakti power.
Usually pictured as a naked god with matted hair and a trident in his hand, Shiva is unattractive. He is danger; bestiality. Civilized man attempts to proclaim him dead, but this Archetype is till capable of shaking us.
The flower children of the sixties who visited India brought Shiva, Kali, and Krishna back with them. The practice of Yoga spread in the United States. Shiva is Mahayogi, the lord of yoga.
The drug culture knows Siva as Aushadhisvara, lord of herbs and drugs. Rastafarians with dreads even looks like an African version of the Shiva sadhu.
The romantic natural man who can talk to animals and make passionate love to his companion is again the archetype of Shiva as Pashupati. Tarzan is a literary creation that fits this pattern.
Human beings are able to think about themselves. This thinking usually takes one of two forms factual/scientific and fictional/mythic. An example of this is the scientific field of archeology’s discovery of a hearth that is dated five hundred thousand years old.
Mankind had some control of fire or at least their fear of fire that long ago. Myth deals with mankind’s discovery of fire through light bearers like Prometheus and Lucifer.
In India fire plays a part in most rites. Women baking bread will flick bits of dough into the fire and call the gods names. The dead are burned so that their earthly bodies are diffused into Brahmin or to rise as smoke to be absorbed by water vapor and returned to earth as rain. Heroes are sometimes born of fire as Shiva’s son Kartrikeya was.
Scientists too are haunted by the image of light. The scientific theory of evolution uses cosmic radiation and electrical lighting being discharged into the see as the spark of life.
Nearly every culture has had a god of fire. For example, the Norse have the god Loki, The Baltic people had Perkun ,and in India it was Agni and then Shiva. There is a basic connection between stone, fire making and fertility.
The flint starts the fire and is the image of a phallus though which life fire is passed. It becomes associated with thundering god of heavens who impregnates the Mother Earth with lightening.
To primitive humans heat of fire, of sex by physical effort of dance, hunt, battle, all came from same source, the cosmic spirit of fire. Ascetic practices make one holy because it traps the heat unspent in sexual acts.
Because of their fiery holiness the fakir or shaman can walk on coals sit naked in the cold, and spread heat into souls not as warm as their own. The word “shaman” refers to an ascetic who tries ardently. Ashrams are a place to heat up or where heated work is done.
Siva is the lord of all ascetics, fakirs, and shamans. He contains the heat of the universe in the lingam. At the end of time Shiva’s heat will destroy creation just as it generated creation and will regenerate it.
Ancient societies around the world set up boulders megaliths, styles, and minhirs as a center for religious activity. Freud interprets such stones as phalluses. They are gateways to other worlds. In India these became temple lingam and are washed with coconut juice or Ganges water.
The heat of the flame is dialectically opposite to water. It melts ice to water. Life arises from such opposition. Water is the feminine counterpart of masculine fire. It heals, cleans, and gives birth.
Many religions combine the imagery of fire and water. Christianity says that those engulfed by the fire of the Holy Spirit will seek to be baptized in holy water. A fever is the conflict of the two. Heat causes sweat which baths the victim.
Creation of artificial fever in the sweat lodge in an old Shamanistic technique. It purifies body and soul to enable communication with the gods. Shiva who combines all opposites is Lord of the fever.
While Shiva’s name is not mentioned until well after the Paleolithic age, his presence is there. Shiva is all, but predominantly Lord of the Fire. Early myths depict him at the beginning of creation as a pillar of fire from which the world came.
In Benares a column of light, divine lightning is revered. The natives worship Kashi nicknamed the shining one. Benares is also called the great funeral pyre, and in the mystic geography of India Benares is the blazing third eye of Shiva.
Legend says that the fire used to kindle the cremation pyres has never been restarted since it came from the first fire on earth. In the cremation process if the skull does not explode in the fire one of the attendants must break it open with a bamboo pole so the soul can leave the body as a miniature Shiva.
The departing soul dances like Shiva and the demons and goblins which accompany it represent the sins of the corpse.
In the birth of the Savior Karttikeya sired by Shiva and borne by the Goddess combines the opposites fire and water.
The story says that Shiva and the Goddess made love for ten thousand years while the spirits in heaven were oppressed by Tataka, a demon. Agni the fire god was sent to remind Shiva and the Goddess that sex is not meant for pleasure only and that they should create progeny.
As a turtledove Agni interrupted the lovemaking and caused Shiva to spill his seed through the air and into the beak of the dove. The Goddess cursed the bird and the spirits who had sent him. Agni tumbled back to the hall of Brahma.
The river goddess Ganga thought her water would be cold enough to cool down the got seed so Agni gave her the seed. After ten thousand years she had exhausted herself in trying to cool it off. Brahma told her to leave the brining seed in the reeds by the river.
In ten thousand years a child will be born. She did and all the animals, human beings and vegetation in the area looked like hammered gold. Eventually a baby came and the six Pleaders who were playing on that shore found the baby.
Karttikeya grew six heads so he could nurse each of them simultaneously. So the son of Shiva, the conqueror of demons was born. His mother was part The Goddess Earth, part Agni or fire, part Ganga or water and part the Pleaders or air and cosmic space.
Everyone has a primitive hunter and a shaman in their soul. In hunting tribes animals are the primary concern. Furs, fangs claws become decoration fro the human body. Children are named animal names, and frequently ancestry is traced to a totem animal.
Which are celebrated annually in rites of increase. These rites include dancing, drumming, fasting, self-inflict ed pain, the use of mind altering drugs. The goal was for the individuals to contact the animal spirits that were their guardians.
When an anthropologist is introduced to Shiva he will probably identify him as a super Shaman. After all in one of his incarnations he is depicted with a drum in one hand and fire in another. The drum is a universal symbol for Shaman.
Shiva is Lord of the ecstatic dance. Incarnated as Rudra he transcends logic, he is wild. As Ardharnari he is androgynous as were many shaman who considered themselves the brides of some god.
Shamans allow no cutting of the hair because each hair is an antenna in contacting the gods. So the matted hair of Shiva is shown as uncut.
Shiva is said to have 1008 names. Pashupati or Lord of Animals is one of the most commonly used. In this form he is the guardian of the farmers animals and keeper of souls.
Sharva another of his names is the hunter. In one legend Sharva appears to Arujuna in as a savage of the jungle or even a were-tiger or a feral human being living outside civilization.
Shiva’s scepter is the spear, a hunting weapon, but the tip has been multiplied by three to make it a trident. Frequently the trident by itself acts as a symbol for Shiva. He may have two, four, eight, ten or thirty-two hands.
He may carry the ax, the hand drum, the staff, the bow and arrow, a simple spear, a sling and a divining rod. Other objects frequently shown in his hand include a dear, a string of beads, a discus, a skull a lotus, or as sword.
He is comparable to Apollo in the ability to shoot fever and disease to his enemies with his bow. He and his dogs are frequently linked to the constellation Westerners call Orion and the star Sirius.
The noose is also part of a hunter’s bag of tricks. It can also be a symbol of universal law, which binds all to follow right. Odin carried a noose and sacrifices were hung on trees to him. Shiva uses his noose to tie his followers into the discipline of yoga.
In the form of Bhairava, Shiva rides a black dog. Dogs were probably the first domesticated animals. As predators they became associated with war, violence, battles. If Shiva takes the form of a dog and eats a corpse it is to free the soul.
Cerberus the Greek conveyor of souls to the underworld was pictured as dog faced. Goethe used this archetype in his Faust when he has Satan appear as a black poodle.
As God of the dead Shiva is surrounded by drunken, dancing people who take animal form, vampires, ghosts, flesh eating ghosts, evil dwarfs, elves and witches.
Techniques to induce ecstasy or trance are taught in torturous initiations. South Asia has Shiva Mahayogi the patron of self-discipline as the enabler that helps man step into another dimension of reality. Odin inspired asceticism. His legend includes hanging upside down for nine days to get the Runes of wisdom. Eight legged animals represent a bier carried by four mourners. Shiva sometimes shows up as a Sphinx with eight legs. In another connection to death devotees of Shiva attempt to envision themselves as skeletons.
This vision is connected to Shiva’s mother, Punitaviti. She married and the young couple enjoyed giving food to the poor disciples of Shiva. One day a wondering monk gave two ripe mangos to the husband who gave them to Punitaviti to store.
He left on business and a hungry beggar knocked on the door. Punitaviti gave one of the mangos to him. Her husband returned ate the first mango, wanted the second, so Punitaviti prayed for one and it dropped into her lap. Her husband thought it was delicious.
When her husband asked her about whether the fruit was what had been given to him that morning, Punitaviti confessed. Her husband requested more fruit and more fruit for which she prayed repeatedly and each time received.
Suddenly the husband realizes what he has become, greedy and decides he is not fit to be married to a holy woman, so he disappears. Eventually she discovers him in another city remarried and with children, so she shakes the flesh off her bones and goes looking for Shiva.
When she arrives at holy ground, afraid to touch it with her feet she inverts herself and goes the mountain head first, as a child enters the birth canal.
Shamanistic initiations occur at night in graveyards where Shiva and his ghouls love to dance. The initiate puts aside his regular clothing and dresses in unstitched orange cloth representing the flames. He is dead to the world as the corpses burning in the graveyards.
He smears himself with ashes from the corpses. The grounds of cremation become a symbol of the illusion of existence, which the shaman is leaving behind through asceticism. Tourists sometimes observe such initiations in Benares.
They are not allowed to take pictures and are told to look at the bits and pieces of the corpses or the vultures and jackals. The idea is that they learn the ephemeral nature of human existence, especially their own and thus earn magical powers or even freedom from illusion from Shiva.
Shivas ugliest embodiment is Bhairava has sixty-four manifestations which have female consorts. The manifestations include ” the skull carrier,” “one with black limbs,” “destruction,” “the howler,” “the wild one,” “the angry one, ” “the insane one,” and” the black one.”
“The howler” is like Odin in his frenzied state. In central and Northern Europe November storms are associated with Odin just as in India, violent storms are associates with Bhairava in his howler manifestation.
Shivatari or Shiva’s night is celebrated in India in February is not very different from fool festivals, carnivals and masked dances around the world. It is kin to Mardi Gras.
In Indian cities, the gods and goddesses flourish in posters and handbills that plaster the walls. In addition gods have become the main characters in the biggest film industry in the world.
The names of the gods are also used to guarantee the quality of objects for sale. India’s most popular rock group is called Shiva. City walls also have signs and symbols like the swastika decorating them. The swastika is a symbol of the sun, an indication of good luck.
It connects with the discus of Vishnu. Its four arms represent the four worlds of the gods, the humans, the animals and the demons. It is the wheel of the universe where Shiva dances. The pranava or symbol of OM also appears frequently.
It drives evil spirits away and works off the results of Karma that still affect the present. On the flags, money and walls of buildings the World Wheel appears with eight spokes. Associated with Vishnu it has become the symbol of eternal or divine law.
The Lingam Yoni is another symbol of importance. It is a smooth, highly polished egg-shaped stone that stand in an oval flat receptacle. The stone is the lingam; the receptacle is the Yoni.
The lingam contains all things that are were or will be. It is the gateway to both life and death. The Hindu see the lingam as Shiva and as the bridge between ephemeral and eternal.
The lingam is like the prehistoric minhirs, dolmens, and monoliths. Sometimes they are seen as the navel of the universe. All cultures and religions seem to have had or still have stones that are viewed as sacred:
Muslim – Ka’aba in Mecca
Greek – tombstone of the sacred python at Delphi. Christians – rock of ages
The Shiva lingam comes from the same archetype. Out of a lingam, Shiva can become a personal God for the worshippers and the form the manifestation takes depends solely on the personality and spiritual development of the worshiper.
The lingam began as a phallic symbol celebrating procreation. The Yoni it rests in represents the vulva of the Great Goddess. The union of the two reconciles all dichotomies and disharmonies, just as Shiva embodies the primal oneness of the divine and demonic.
Myth says that in the first age of the world the lingam was pure light; in the second age it became pure gold, in the third age it was silver, and today they are just stone.
While the lingam began as a representation of an erect male member, the Arabs during the twelfth century persecuted what they saw as lewd, idolatrous art. At that time the Brahmins defended the lingam as a symbol of a transcendent God who has no image.
It has no concrete associations. When Christian missionaries appeared, followed by the British Victorians, the Brahmins repeated the argument that the lingam is no longer a phallic symbol but an object to concentrate the sprit during meditations.
The Aryan Vedas do condemn the pre-Aryan worship of the phalli. Orthodox Hindus today reject the implication that sexual organs are worshipped in the lingam and Yoni.
The conflict between these two points of view has existed for a long time. Opinions also vary about where the original fiery lingam appeared. Many say Benares, but the Nepalese say it was the Katmandu Valley. Some say that anyone who searches for this lingam will find it very close to home.
The Shaivites see a holy trinity of gods: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva as three parts of the super god Shiva. The Vishnu claim that Vishnu is the one God and all others are partial aspects of him. Shiva and Vishnu are about equally worshipped in India. Brahma has no temples and no offerings.
Icons or sacred images are part of Hinduism. Shiva has many icons but there are three very popular ones. The first is of Samara an ascetic in deep peaceful meditation. He is covered in ashes and sits in a snowy mountainous land.
The second is Nataraja who dances in the middle of a circle of flames. He beats out the rhythm of life on a hand drum. The third shows Shiva and Parvati with their children on the mountains in the spring.
Samara with his snow-white body is the embodiment of the peace achieved through the dissolution of desire and passion. His athletic build speaks of the potential for action. His messy hair is held in a topknot by a hissing cobra.
The Ganges spouts from the cobra. On the left side of his forehead shank wears a delicate silver crescent representing the new born moon, min, measuring, memory and time. Soma is the name of the moon as well as of the drink of the gods.
Shankar wears necklace of skulls that his devotees imitate by wearing a necklace of acorn sized shriveled Rudra beads. Victors in spiritual battles against vices wear undertakes beads to indicate the conquering of desire.
These seeds are classified by size, color number of wrinkles. Most of the time these beads have five wrinkles. A two faceted bead or Shiva-Shakti guarantees the possessor that all his wishes will come true. A single meeting with a single faceted bead guarantees that the soul is freed form all sins.
Trauma is another of Shiva’s names. Tryambaka has a third eye in the middle of his forehead. It must remain closed for the beam from it can annihilate everything that comes within its range.
In Indo-European traditions the number three represents wholeness. Even Christianity kept the symbolism in the Trinity. Lord Shiva’s three eyes are connected to all trinities: creation, preservation, destruction; Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva; past, present, future; and on and on.
Shankara has three stripes of white ash smeared across his forehead. Shiva’s disciples wear these three stripes. The disciples of Vishnu wear a vertical V or U with a red dot in its middle. The ashes must be from a holy fire or a funeral pyre.
In order to wear the ashes, the devotee must rise each day before dawn, bathe, recite the Vedic Gayatri Mantra. Then he may apply the ashes using three fingers of his right hand.
He must then drink some ash dissolved in water of the Ganges. If he fails to perform any part of the ritual, he is considered unpure and must purify himself.
Shankara has a blue neck. As a consequence of an encounter with the churning ocean of milk. The sea is a symbol for meditation; the oceanic depths, the unconscious mind.
For westerners much of this is interpreted as parables and archetypes. Hindu peasants regard them as literally true. All experiences are real and natural and illusory and supernatural. They make no separation.
Buddha, Siddhartha Gotama, was at one point a Shaivit ascetic like Shankara. He sat at the base of the cosmic tree, the axis of the world, the bridge between heaven, earth and the underworld.
While sitting he watched the chain of karma die out and so reached nirvana and became the Enlightened one.
Shankara’s trident represents the cosmic tree and he too has reached nirvana.
Like Shiva Buddha was itinerate dressed in the saffron robes of a begging monk. He belonged to a group of sadhus devoted to Shiva led by Makkhali Gosala. Both Buddha and Shiva have elongated ear lobes.
Buddha’s indicate his noble caste; Shankara’s indicate the yogic ability of clairaudience. They are both connected to resting deer often used to indicate a calm mind.
The stories of Shankara Shiva are much older than those of the historic Buddha or Mahvir, founder of the Jains In Brahamanda Purana, Shiva appears in the fist age as a yogi, in the second age he is Krau, in the third age doomsday fire, and in the present age he became Buddha.
In India historical facts rapidly become transformed into myth. Mahatma Gandhi, India Gandhi, and Subhas Chandra Bose are becoming part of the Hind pantheon.
While the Aryan invaders were patriarchal and substituted the male gods for the earlier female gods, in India goddesses became important again in the Hindu culture. Particularly in the Bengali Mother cult and the Shakti cult.
In those cults the Mother becomes the universe, Maya(the illusion of variety in the creation) and kalla( the illusion of time coming and going) “Shakti” means energy. Shiva is the consciousness of self; Shakti is being or essence.
Monism demands that there be only a single transcendent truth. So Shiva and Shakti are not two entities, but one. He is the peaceful center; she is the energy radiating from that center.
Saravasti is the White goddess who rides a swan. In India she is the inspiration or energy of the artist, writer, healer. Lakshmi is the red goddess and the faithful wife of Vishnu. She represents good luck.
The two goddesses jealous of each other often fight. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the artists’ poverty and the rich man’s insensitivity to beauty. Devi or the radiant one is the other half of Shiva.
No god can be without his Shakti or other half. Yet Parvarti is Shiva’s wife. Shaktis have good and bad sides and Durga is Shiva’s dark Shakti. She is a royal amazon. She is also the nemesis of all who attempt to avoid their dharma or duty.
Probably Kali is the darkest of the Shakti’s. She represents the night, fertility, the abyss of life before and after life. She destroys all and is especially the enemy of the ego who wishes to create a monument for itself.
She is sometimes described as a devoted mother her destroys the monster of egoism. Calcutta is Kali’s city. The peasants there saw Mother Theresa dressed in white, the color of death, as Kali because of her interest in the dieing.
One of Kali’s cults were the thugees from which English gained the word thugs. When Kali sent good omens, the thugs would rob and kill tourists and pilgrims. They always strangled their victims because in one battle Kali created two men from her sweat to kill the monsters she was battling.
She admonished them to strangle the monsters because every drop of monster blood that hit the ground created another monster. It wasn’t until a British officer discovered their cult that anyone attempted to end their killings.
He had hundreds of them hanged. One interesting point that the officer discovered was that many of the thugs were originally Muslim. They saw Kali as Fatima, Mohammad’s daughter.
Dacoits were another group of armed peasants that operated as a cult of Kali. They terrorized rural areas until the 1980’s.
Other shaktis or goddesses include Annapurna the goddess of abundance usually pictured with a bowl and spoon. Ganga is the purest of the river goddesses and the Ganges is her river.
She is another wife of Shiva and the sister of Parvarti. Ganga means unlimited flow and constant motion. She represents the flow of life or energy. She also represents the flow of consciousness. At Kashi, Ganga’s holy city, the Ganges River is a place of meditation.
The river reflects the archetypes to the visionaries’ third eyes. Because the Ganges is shallow and filled with sandbars, steamships cannot travel on it. So it remains a place for reflection. Once you have visited Kashi, it will always be with you.
Shiva-Nataraja is the dancing Shiva. He is the elements of nature mixed. All of nature is dance. It is the almost simultaneous loss and regaining of balance. Shiva’s liberated souls are berserks and dervishes.
The shaking of his drum was the first sound of creation. The drum represents the constant process of creation, But the god also stands for preservation, and destruction as well as grace.
The dance is the dance of creation and destruction of the universe. He dances in a fiery ring that represents our hearts. He is The Self.
Shiva’s family consists of Parvarti his wife and her son Karttikkeya, and Ganga his second wife and Ganesha the second son. Actually The other gods afraid of the combined power of Shiva and Parvarti, got Shiva to agree that they would not have children.
Parvarti in her anger at this news cursed the wives of the heavenly beings so that they could not have children either. As a result all children of gods are magically created rather than being physically conceived and born.
Karttikeya is also known as Skanda., Gangeya, or Agnibhu. He represents the heroism of the soul triumphing over egoism, illusion and anger.
He has six heads which represent the five senses and discrimination. Six rays shoot from him representing wisdom, objectivity, wealth, strength, fame and power.
Ganesha is the most popular of the Hindu gods. He is worshipped all over Asia. He has an elephant head and is overly fond of sweets. The Hindu version of the tortoise and the hare fable casts Skanda as the hare and Ganesha as the tortoise.
He is the guardian of the threshold, beginnings, scholars, and writers. He also acts somewhat like the gods of mischief in other cultures in that he represents obstacles and also as the remover of obstacles.
He is the alpha and omega of creation. His offerings are incense, red flowers and sweets.
The mounts of the gods are often seen as the negative side of the deities’ personality. By taming and riding them the god overcomes his lower nature.
Ganesha’s mouse represents the nervous intellect, Parvati’s lion is cruelty, Skanda’s peacock is vanity, and Shiva’s white bull is sexuality.
Shiva becomes Mahadev the God of Gods. He is absolute being. All oppositions come to rest in him. As Mahadev he is not jealous of other gods. Shiva is pleased by all forms of religion.
They simply reflect a stage of growth in the spirituality of the believer. Since each individual is Shiva, whoever the individual is praying to is Shiva praying to Shiva.
Zarathustra experienced a vision nearly three thousand years ago that has affected Western religions ever since. While the Eastern religions see both good and evil as part of the grand illusion, Zarathustra saw them as absolute opposites who were antagonistic.
In the East Shiva can be both God and Devil. The westerner has a hard time explaining evil in connection to God. God is totally good. In the East, whether Shiva is seen as a God or the Devil is more a reflection on the believer than on the God.
Zarathustra introduced the idea that the universe is divided into light/dark, good/evil, and God/Satan. There is no compromise between the two sides. Each individual must make a choice between the sides. God’s (Ahura Mazda) creation is perfect.
Angra Mainyu (Spirit of Evil) threatens the creation by spreading lies and illusion. Zarathustra condemned the worship of older gods, especially, Shiva. They equated Shiva with Lucifer. Zarathustra also introduced the concepts of hell and heaven, demon and angels.
Many of the views of Zarathustra were introduced in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today, Jimmy Falwell, Billy Graham, Osama Ben Laden are all modeled on the prophet, Zarathustra. They struggle to purify the people and refuse to compromise with Satan.
In the East there is a recognition that evil cannot exit without good. They are the same coin, just different sides. As long as the good people struggle against evil, evil will exist. It must exist, if good exists.
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh came to America in the 1980’s and attempted to teach a form of Shaivite tantra and humanistic psychology. A primitive energy is pictured as the Kundalini-serpent that resides in the gut.
When awakened the serpent bends to rise and transform into a goddess. It unites with consciousness and creates a state of bliss. Anyone who attempts to fight the rise of the serpent(dark desires) will turn the energy against himself and must fail.
Repressing forbidden desires results in creating a fatal obsession. Rajneesh advised his followers to accept the dark desires or shadows that exist in the believers’ souls because they too were Shiva.
He was deported from the United States. Shiva exists in all and to understand him one must go past the division of the universe into good and bad.
In the fifth Veda, Shiva revealed the “weavings” or tantras. Many ancient taboos and traditional laws are violated there. Naturally this upsets many of the more conservative Hindus.
Instead of repressing the dark desires, tantra attempts to make them sacred The tantra masters believe this is the only approach appropriate for this age.
Classical Hinduism is monist. That is it states that there is really only one ultimate reality despite the appearance of diversity in the material world. Maya or a veil of illusion creates the diversity and hides the unity.
Part of that illusion is that each of us is a separate individual and therefore competition evolves. The only escape from the illusion is to reject the world and withdraw his five senses from the world.
Tantrism on the other hand celebrates the diversity and joyously affirms life. It too is monist, but sees that the unity includes the Maya, the diversity. Maya is lila Shiva’s game, the spontaneous overflow of his energy.
One should accept it and enjoy it, but without the involvement of ego attachment. When one accepts that there is no I and other, the soul loves and accepts all as self (Shiva) Everything is divine, but there is no compulsion to worship anything.
Sickness, war, poverty and death are not to be lamented but accepted as part of the divine mother. To see the world as unjust or unfair. Does not fit the tantric belief. To call the world bad is to call Shiva bad is to call one’s very Self bad.
Tantrism teaches that all we see all we experience is Self. For example accepting one’s sexuality does not mean raping, indulging in pornography, or adultery. Instead, sex is seen as holy as part of the divine.
The struggle against ego is the only battle an individual must undertake. The ego sees everything in relation to itself. It projects itself onto things, distorting reality and entangling the individual in loneliness and fear.
In order to battle the ego, the repression must end and the darkness of Self be acknowledged. Then quiet meditation must be undertaken often with the physical discipline of hatha yoga.
In meditation one gives oneself to recognition that all is one. Oppositions and differences disappear. Sigmund Freud sensed this in his thoughts on the libido. The libido cannot be suppressed it must be transformed.
The most heretical point that the tantrists make is that an enlightened soul can remain fully involved in the world. He can act as he pleases without piling up further karma that will have to be dissipated in yet another life.
He does not become attached because there is no one there to become attached. He is God-realized; he never abandons his state of union with All with Shiva.
He will accept all as pure and without problem because they are part of the whole, part of Shiva and that makes them holy.
Carried to extremes the tantric idea of accepting the libidinal urges and acting on them to make them holy can result into a slide into crime, insanity, drug abuse or spiritual vacuity.
There are three methods of approaching secret knowledge depending on the three types of human beings. This Sattva are holy spiritual beings, the divya are heroic action figures and the pashu whose lives are made up of boring routines.
The spiritual man can omit external ritual He already understands that the forbidden wine, food, sex are symbolic of ecstasy, self sacrifice, the illusion created by the five senses.
To this person the magical gestures of ritual are natural expressions of doing the appropriate thing at the time. Sexual intercourse is symbolic of the union of disparate parts, thought and action, spirit and soul.
The holy person therefore does not need sexual ritual to convert sexuality, for they are already open to the cosmos.
The hero has left fear behind but maintained virtue. Because he isn’t wise, he doesn’t understand social conditioning or the cultural modeling of reality. In order to understand he must experience concrete references.
He confronts the taboo aspects of existence and then accept them and integrate them into the whole. To these people the taboos are the five M’s of drinking wine, eating fish, eating meat, taking on magic postures and engaging in sexual intercourse.
The common man is still striving for survival and the satisfaction of his needs. The experience of the taboos will confuse him or cause addiction. The tantric ritual is modified.
Coconut milk stands for wine, white beans stand for meat, radishes stand for fish, sprinkling roasted sees is the magical gestures and submission at the feet of a statue of the Goddess is the equivalent of sexual intercourse.
This is as effective as the other methods because the archetypes, the gods dwelling in his soul are responsive to these actions.
There are many books published in the west on tantric sexual postures. This is the result of the confusion between the sexes in the west.
Shiva worship is practiced at sunrise, noon, and sunset. Monday Shiva is closest to his followers. The Hindus observe the double month of waning and waxing moon.
The night of the thirteenth and the day of the fourteenth day of the waxing moon is most auspicious for Shiva devotions. Each day is dedicated to a particular deity aspect.
The fourth day of waxing moon is Ganesha’s. The eighth day is Durga’s and so on. Each day is a meditative stage toward the realization of Shiva.
The soul is God’s garden. The flowers used to honor the lingam are a sign of what is growing in the soul. They must be fresh, produced by the individual’s own hand. One mustn’t smell their fragrance.
Every flower has a meaningful purpose and time to be offered. White blossoms are offered to achieve peace, red give strength and energy, dark ones help raise the dark desires. Each month has a prescribed plant.
May/June is lotus blossoms. The wood apple tree is often planted next to Shiva’s shrines. It has a threefold leaf, a symbol of the triune good, universe. An oath sworn on the leaf is like one sworn on a bible.
In India psychedelic plant drugs are available for those who have renounced the world and the elderly who are preparing their souls for death.
Hemp, bhang, ganja, and datura or Jimson weed may be smoked, eaten in sweets or drunk in milk or rose water.
To order this book from Amazon.com.. Click Here!
Shiva is invoked before taking the first puff of ganja by shouting one of many chillam-mantras:
Alakh! Bam Bam Bholenath!
Om Shiva Shankara Hara Hara Ganga!
Om Nama Shivaya!
Jai Shiva Shankar!
Hara Hara Mahadev!
I hope you got lots of VALUE from this post! If you have questions or comments, please share your comments below! Thanks for visiting my blog!
Ps. Get Access Now to my FREE Ebook! How I use Law of Attraction to Travel the World and Live my Dreams!