Shiva – The God of De­struc­tion

Business Sphere - - FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HIEF - (G.R. KHAT­TAR) Web­site: www. busi­ness­

He who is with­out be­gin­ning and with­out end, the Cre­ator of all, of man­i­fold form, the One em­bracer of the uni­verse… by know­ing Him, one is re­leased from all fet­ters.


Shiva lit­er­ally means “aus­pi­cious­ness, wel­fare”. He is the third god of the Hindu Triad and he is the god of de­struc­tion. He rep­re­sents darkness , and it is said to be the “an­gry god”. The term de­struc­tion as it re­lates to Shiva’s cos­mic du­ties can be de­ceiv­ing. Of­ten Lord Shiva de­stroys neg­a­tive pres­ences such as evil, ig­no­rance, and death. Also, it is the de­struc­tion cre­ated by Lord Shiva that al­lows for pos­i­tive re­cre­ation. For ex­am­ple, an ar­ti­san may melt down (i.e., de­stroy) old pieces of metal dur­ing his process of cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful piece of art. It is for this rea­son that Shiva holds a com­ple­men­tary role to Brahma, the god of cre­ation. Shiva pro­tects souls un­til they are ready for re­cre­ation at the hands of Brahma. Be­cause of his con­nec­tions with de­struc­tion, Lord Shiva is one of the most feared and heav­ily wor­shipped deities in Hin­duism. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Hin­duism, cre­ation fol­lows de­struc­tion. There­fore Shiva is also re­garded as a re­pro­duc­tive power, which re­stores what has been dis­solved. As the one who re­stores, he is rep­re­sented as the linga or phal­lus, a sym­bol of re­gen­er­a­tion.


In the be­gin­ning noth­ing ex­isted, nei­ther the heaven nor the earth nor any space in be­tween. So non-be­ing, hav­ing de­cided to be, be­came spirit and said: “Let me be­come!”. He warmed him­self, and from this was born fire. He warmed him­self fur­ther still and from this was born light. He is the never-cre­ated cre­ator of all: He knows all. He is pure con­scious­ness, the cre­ator of time, all-pow­er­ful, all-know­ing. He is the Lord of the soul and of na­ture and of the three con­di­tions of na­ture. From Him comes the trans­mi­gra­tion of life and lib­er­a­tion, bondage in time and free­dom in eter­nity. Some know him as Shiva the Benef­i­cent. Oth­ers praise him as the De­stroyer. For some he is Shiva the Ascetic, wan­der­ing the world. And for oth­ers still he is the Great Lord, king of all cre­ation. But it is as the Lord of the Dance that all his as­pects come to­gether in one hor­rif­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant form. Nowhere else in the hu­man world is there a clearer sym­bol of what a god is and does. He has a 1,008 names, in­clud­ing Ma­hadeva (the great god), Ma­hesh, Ru­dra, Neelka­n­tha (the blue-throated one), and Ish­war (the supreme god). He is also called Ma­hayogi, or the great ascetic, who sym­bol­izes the high­est form of aus­tere penance and ab­stract med­i­ta­tion, which re­sults in sal­va­tion. Shiva has a thou­sand names, and a thou­sand faces. Shiva is the essence of the Vedas, and the source of the World. He is in­ex­tri­ca­bly wo­ven into all that the eye can see. He is the first among the gods of this world, who made the world so that oth­ers could make the things in it. En­ergy is his name, and he moves through all things, never static. All that is made, ev­ery gen­er­a­tion of life, all the won­drous forms that fill our world, all flow from his danc­ing loins. He is not male, nor fe­male. He is nei­ther hu­man nor in­hu­man. He has four arms, and he has none. Shiva’s na­ture at once tran­scends and in­cludes all the po­lar­i­ties of the liv­ing world.


Shiva is be­lieved to ex­ist in many forms. His most com­mon de­pic­tion is as a dark-skinned ascetic with a blue throat. Usu­ally seated cross-legged on a tiger skin, Shiva’s hair is mat­ted and coiled on his head, adorned with a snake and a cres­cent moon. Ganga is al­ways de­picted flow­ing out of his top­knot. Shiva has four arms and three eyes. The third eye, in the mid­dle of his fore­head, is al­ways closed and only opens to an­ni­hi­late an evil doer. A gar­land of skulls, rudrak­sha beads, or a snake hang from his neck. Shiva also wears snakes as arm­lets and bracelets. The ser­pent race, de­spised and feared by all other crea­tures, found a place of

honour on Shiva’s sa­cred per­son, sim­ply be­cause he was moved by their plight. In one hand, Shiva holds his tr­ishul, the Pinaka. The tr­ishul usu­ally has a ‘damru’ or waist drum tied to it. In an­other hand, he holds a conch shell, and in the third, a rudrak­sha rosary, a club, or a bow. One hand is usu­ally empty, raised in a ges­ture of bless­ing and pro­tec­tion. The other points to his feet, where the devo­tee is as­sured of sal­va­tion. He wears a tiger or leop­ard skin around his waist, and his up­per body is usu­ally bare, but smeared with ashes, as be­fits an ascetic. His third eye is be­lieved to have ap­peared when Par­vati ( Par­vati, the god­dess of power, is Shiva’s cos­mic con­sort), in a play­ful mood, cov­ered his eyes with her hands. Im­me­di­ately, the uni­verse was plunged into darkness and there was chaos. To re­store or­der, Shiva formed an­other eye on his fore­head, from which emerged fire to re­store light. The light from this eye is be­lieved to be very pow­er­ful, and there­fore de­struc­tive. Shiva opens his third eye only in anger, and the of­fender is burnt to cin­ders. Ac­cord­ing to the Shiva Pu­rana, Shiva is said to have five faces, cor­re­spond­ing to his five tasks, the pan­chakriya: cre­ation, es­tab­lish­ment, de­struc­tion, obliv­ion, and grace. His five faces are as­so­ci­ated with the cre­ation of the sa­cred syl­la­ble Om.


Shiva is said to live on Mount Kailash, a moun­tain in the Hi­malayas. His ve­hi­cle is Nandi the bull and his weapon, the tr­ishul. Shiva’s con­sort is Par­vati, who is also be­lieved to be a part of Shiva. One of the most pop­u­lar forms of Shiva is that of Ard­ha­narish­vara. Ac­cord­ing to a story in the Pu­ranas, Brahma was un­suc­cess­ful at cre­ation. He pro­pi­ti­ated Shiva who took this form and sep­a­rated Par­vati from his body. Par­vati has many in­car­na­tions, like Kali, Durga, and Uma. Their sons are Kar­tikeya and Gane­sha. Shiva is be­lieved to have a large num­ber of at­ten­dants, called ganas. These mytho­log­i­cal be­ings have hu­man bod­ies with an­i­mal heads. Shiva’s son Gane­sha is the leader of the ganas. Across the Hindu coun­try, there are hun­dreds of tem­ples and shrines ded­i­cated to Shiva. He is usu­ally wor­shipped in the form of a shivalinga. He is wor­shipped by of­fer­ing flow­ers, milk, and san­dal­wood paste. There are many sto­ries in the Pu­ranas about the ori­gin of Shiva. Ac­cord­ing to the Vishnu Pu­rana, at the be­gin­ning of this kalpa Brahma wanted a child and med­i­tated for one. Presently, a child ap­peared on his lap and started cry­ing. When asked by Brahma why he was cry­ing, the child replied that it was be­cause he did not have a name. Brahma then named him Ru­dra, mean­ing “howler”. How­ever the child cried seven more times and was given seven more names. Shiva there­fore has eight forms: Ru­dra, Sharva, Bhava, Ugra, Bhima, Pashu­pati, Ishana, and Ma­hadeva, which, ac­cord­ing to the Shiva Pu­rana, cor­re­spond to the earth, water, fire, wind, sky, a yogi called Kshetragya, the sun, and the moon re­spec­tively. Dur­ing the ‘sa­mu­dra man­than’, when poi­son was churned out of the ocean, Shiva is said to have swal­lowed it to save the world from de­struc­tion. As he drank the poi­son, Par­vati clasped his throat tightly so that the poi­son re­mained there and dark­ened his neck. Be­cause of this, he is known as Neelka­n­tha, the blue­necked one.


Shiva is the cre­ator of dance and of the first 16 rhyth­mic syl­la­bles ever ut­tered, from which the San­skrit lan­guage was born. His dance of anger is called the Roudra Tan­dava and his dance of joy, the Ananda Tan­dava. All the gods and sages were present when he first danced the Nadanta Tan­dava, a char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally vig­or­ous dance, and they begged him to dance again. Shiva promised to do so in the hearts of his devo­tees and in a sa­cred grove in Tamil Nadu, where the great tem­ple of Chi­dambaram was built, the only one in all In­dia ded­i­cated to Shiva as Nataraja, the lord of dance. It is be­lieved that on the 13th day of each bright lu­nar fort­night (see Hindu Cal­en­dar), af­ter 6 o’clock in the evening, falls a sa­cred hour called Pra­dosha. Wor­ship­ping Shiva at this time is akin to wor­ship­ping all the pow­ers of Shiva, for this is the time when all the gods are be­lieved to have as­sem­bled on Kailash to lose them in the ec­stasy of Nataraja’s dance. He dances the dance of cre­ation, the dance of de­struc­tion, the dance of so­lace and lib­er­a­tion. Be­neath his left foot ig­no­rance is crushed; from his head springs the life­giv­ing wa­ters. His are the flames, the moon, the drum, and the lo­tus. His mount is the white bull, and the tiger has given its skin to gird his loins. Ser­pents coil about his limbs, and from his right hand flows the prom­ise of re­lease. This dance is not just a sym­bol. It takes place within each of us at the atomic level at ev­ery mo­ment. The birth of the world, its main­te­nance, its de­struc­tion, the cov­er­ing of the soul and its rev­e­la­tion… these are the five acts of this dance. All that has been made will be un­made, and all that has been de­stroyed will be res­ur­rected.

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