Thursday, 14 July 2011

Lord Shiva

Shiva means the supreme one, the auspicious one, the pure one and for me the beloved one. Shiva means "the One who is eternally pure" or "the One who can never have any contamination of the imperfection of Rajas and Tamas" Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme Being that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe. Lord Shiva is absolute which does not have any parents which never takes birth which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self. God is the only one who is dependable for anybody / anything to surrender to as it is the only perennial Being. Hence God is the Lord of all creatures (lives/souls). For this reason the Lord is hailed as Pashupati (Lord of living beings). Whether it is devas or asuras or humans or other creatures all are pashus.

Lord Siva is popularly known as Shankara. The word Shankara is made up of two words, namely "shanka" and "hara". Shanka means doubt and hara means dispeller or destroyer. The word "Shankara" thus means He who dispels or destroys doubts. dispels or destroys all doubts. He rules over our disbeliefs and hesitations and establishes firm faith in us through his compelling nature. By dispelling our doubts and establishing faith, He destroys all our bondage.

Shankara or Sankara can also mean sankata + hara, that is he who destroys or ends all difficulties. Sincere prayers to Shankara can be very effective. The Lord is easily pleased with pure devotion and responds immediately. Siva is known for his boon giving nature, which at times causes trouble because when he is pleased he can be very generous even to the evil characters.

At the beginning of creation, there was nothing in the universe. There was water everywhere. Lord Vishnu manifested himself in his great form and slept on the water. While Vishnu was sleeping, a lotus flower (padma) sprouted from his navel. It had many petals and its stem shone like a thousand suns. From the cells of the lotus Brahma was born. He began to wonder, There seems to be nothing around except for this lotus. Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do? Whose son am I ? Who made me?
Brahma thought he might find the answers to these questions if he explored the lotus a bit. Perhaps he ought to try and find the centre of the lotus. Brahma descended down the stem of the lotus and wandered around for a hundred years. But he could not find the flower's centre. He then decided that he might as well go back to the cell from where he had been born. But despite wandering around the stem for another hundred years, Brahma could not find the cell. By then he was so tired that he gave up and rested.
Suddenly he heard the words, Brahma, perform tapasya (meditation).Brahma meditated for twelve years. When the twelve years were over, the Vishnu appeared before Brahma. Brahma didn't know who this person was and he asked,
Who are you? Vishnu didn't directly answer the question. Instead, he replied, Son, the great Lord Vishnu has created you.
Who are you to call me a son? Demanded Brahma.
Can't you recognize me? came the reply. I am Vishnu. It is from my body that you have been created. But Brahma was not convinced. He began to fight with Vishnu.

Shiva then assumed the form of a great pillar of fire (light linga) and appeared between the two fighting gods. Seeing this immense shaft of light stunned Brahma and Vishnu and they were quiet for a moment, wondering what such an unknown and mighty force might be.
They then heard an asariri (a disembodied voice) from the sky commanding them to listen. The voice then continued to say that the dispute of the two gods would be settled if one of them was able to ‘see’ the top or the bottom of the pillar of light before them.
At once, it was decided that Brahma would go up (towards the sky) and try to find the head of this pillar of Light (Shiva) and Vishnu would go down (under the earth) to find the foot of Shiva. It was agreed that whoever was able to find the limit (the head or the foot) would be superior to the other. Brahma then assumed the form of a swan and began his journey into the sky. Vishnu on the other hand, assumed the form of Varaha (wild boar) and bored through the earth to descend into the very depths of the world. The two of them went thus on their quest for thousands of years and even still could find no end to the pillar of light (as light has no limit). After proceeding in their quest for so long, the two of them began to tire and realize that they cannot find out end of this filler. This realization began to humble their ego and their arrogance.

Vishnu decided to end his search (becoming humbled) and proceed back to the earth. At the same time, Brahma saw a Ketaki flower slowly wafting downwards from the sky. He stopped the flower on its way down and asked it where it was coming from. On being questioned by the creator, the flower replied that it had been placed at the top of the pillar of fire and had fallen from there. Unable to find the head of the pillar, Brahma decided to end his search and instead use the ketaki flower as evidence of him having reached the head.Both Brahma and Vishnu came back to the earth in the end and when asked, Vishnu replied truthfully that he had been unable to find the feet of the fiery pillar even after a very long search going to the very ends of the universe. Brahma on the other hand lied by saying that he had in fact reached the head of the pillar of fire and that he had brought the ketaki flower from the top as proof of having reached there. This false claim angered Shiva and he revealed his true form & said, We are all three parts of the same entity and have been divided into three. Brahma is the creator. Vishnu is the preserver and I am the destroyer…

We three represent the three fundamental powers of nature which are manifest in the world viz. creation, destruction and maintenance. These powers exist perpetually. Creation is going on all the time. So is destruction and maintenance. All three powers are manifest at all times. We are inseparable.

Brahma that he would have no one to be worship as he was undeserving (as a result of his falsity) and ketaki flower that henceforth she shall not be used in the worship of Me (as she had given false testimony when questioned).

Brahma said to Shiva, Please forgives me!

All right, I forgive you, Shiva agreed. Still Brahma was not fully satisfied. He said to Shiva, You have to prove that you have forgiven me.

What kind of proof do you want? Asked Shiva.

You have to take incarnation in my family, declared Brahma. You have to take birth as my son.
Fine, fine, said Shiva. I shall take incarnation in your family. I will be your son.

Brhama He started meditating. So Brahma prayed to Shiva for five thousand years, but Shiva did not appear at all. One day, Brahma began shedding bitter tears because Shiva had failed to keep his promise. Brahma said, I cannot go on in vain. Even after seeing my tears, Shiva is not coming. I am crying like an infant, but he is deaf to my prayers. I have now decided to commit suicide. Shiva is a liar. He is not going to come. So the best thing is for me to immolate myself. After saying these words, Brahma committed suicide. As soon as he had done so, Shiva came out of Brahmas mouth. While coming out, Shiva was crying and crying, and at the same time Brahma was revived. Brahma was so happy to see his son. When he noticed Shivas tears, Brahma became very concerned. Why are you crying, why are you crying, my child? he asked.
Shiva said that he was crying while taking human incarnation because he was entering into world-ignorance. For this reason Brahma gave him the name Rudra, meaning he who cries pitifully.
At the beginning of every cycle Brahma is enjoined to create the worlds but his mind-born creation had failed and he fell into great sorrow. At that time he heard a voice form the heavens that said,

"Create through the union of Man and Woman." But he did not have the power to create Woman. Thinking that only through the grace of Shiva would he succeed, he resolved to gain the favor of Mahadeva through strenuous tapa.

Favoring His earnest bhakta, Shiva quickly appeared before him in the form of Ardhanarishwara.

Shiva said:

"My child, oh my fortunate, dear son Pitamaha, I have instantly understood your hearts desire. For the increase of progeny you have until now performed tapa and thereby pleased me. I will grant your wish."

Speaking thus, Shiva manifested the godess Shivaa from His left side. His soul gladdened to its core.

Brahma said:

Oh Shivaa, Your husband the God of Gods has protected me. Through His blessings I was brought forth to create. Time and time again I have created the Gods and sages from the power of my mind. But they do not follow my wishes and thus my creation has not flourished. Now I wish to create a Maithuni creation that will grow and flourish. But that creation will need the presence of Woman and for that my shakti is insufficient. All shaktis have you alone as their source so Sarveshwari I beseech You, give me the power to create Woman. Oh Jagannmata! I bow to you again and again. And I have one more wish, oh Ambika who dwells within all. Through Ishwara alone does the world moving and still grow and prosper so become the daughter of my son Daksha.

Hearing this prayer of the noble Brahma, Parameshwari Devi said "so be it" and gave Brahma the power to create Woman. Seeing Jagannamayi Shivaa Devi bring forth that shakti from between Her eyebrows, the best of gods, Shiva ocean of mercy laughed and said

" Oh Devi, Parameshthi Brahma has pleased you with his tapa. quickly and lovingly fulfill his request and be born as the daughter of Daksha. "
After that, Brahma powers of his meditation, he created several sages (rishis). Kardama, Daksha and Marichi were among them. Marichi's son was Kashyapa. Daksha had sixty daughters and thirteen of them were married to Kashyapa. The children of Kashyapa and these daughters became adityas (gods), daityas (demons), danavas (demons), trees, birds, snakes, mountains and creepers. Thus was the world populated.

Meanwhile, there was water everywhere. In the water, Vishnu created a huge egg (anda). He then himself entered the egg in his huge form.

Twenty-seven of Daksha’s daughters were married to the moon-god Chandra. One of these wives was named Rohini and Chandra loved Rohini more than he loved the other wives. The other wives felt neglected and they complained to their father. Daksha repeatedly warned his son-in-law to devote himself equally to all twenty-seven wives. But Chandra was in no mood to listen. Daksha thereupon cursed Chandra that he would gradually fade away. Chandra didn’t know what to do. He went and sought advice from Brahma and Brahma told him that the only rescourse was to pray to Shiva. Chandra went to Prabhasa tirtha and made a linga on the banks of the river Sarasvati. He prayed to Shiva for six months.
At the end of the tapasya Shiva appeared before Chandra and offered to grant him a boon. Chandra explained what the problem was. Well, said Shiva, Daksha’s curse cannot be entirely ignored. Let us have a compromise. During krishnapaksha you will wane. And during shuklapaksha (the bright part of the lunar fortnight) you will wax. Finally, Shiva put him on his head.

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