Mar 3, 2011

Shiva the Auspicious One ::: om namah shivaya

Today is Shiva-ratri, a special day to remember Shiva. In the Vaishnava tradition, which is what I'm into, Shiva is appreciated as one of the foremost devotees of Vishnu or Krishna.

Shiva has many names but one of them (and my favorite) is Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. Literally nataraja means 'the king of dance'. Under the supervision and maintenance of Vishnu, Brahma cyclically creates the material universe and Shiva destroys it. That is Shiva's service, kind of a thankless task I guess.


"Wearing matted locks of disheveled hair, and eager to conceal his actual nature, he staggers about like a madman. On his head he happily carries the Ganges, which has washed the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. When he dances he destroys the universe." Brihad-Bhagavatamrita 

Yes, the Ganges actually flows from the galaxy first down on Shiva's head, who is situated in the Himalayas, and only then down on earth. Because of this Shiva is the greatest yogi, in constant meditation on Krishna.


Another name of Shiva is Asutosha, 'easily pacified'. This means that Shiva also gets angry easily. That's why worshiping Shiva can be tricky business. Better be careful if that's what you want to do! :) 

He is also known as Bhutanatha, 'the lord of ghosts'. This shows Shiva's super compassionate nature. In case you didn't know, ghosts are real. There are people whose activities were so ignorant and degraded that after death they do not karmically qualify for another human body, so they stick around. Not in their physical bodies obviously, but disembodied, or in their "astral" body. Shiva sees the sad situation of the ghostly individuals and allows them to worship him so they can be gradually guided toward a path of self-realization. He's kind to the ghosts and eventually places them in human wombs. (As a side note, before you make babies, make a prayer or two to have a nice soul be placed into you/your lady's womb.)

 

Shiva apparently lives in the mode of ignorance like his companions (covers his body with ashes, wears animal skins) but inside he's on the highest platform of goodness. That's why he's bewildering to the mundane and inspiring to the transcendentalist. 

Shiva is also known for ganja smoking (ganja is Sanskrit for cannabis). My spiritual master A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada once said that it's not our place to imitate Shiva though and smoke pot like him unless we can do other things Shiva does, such as drink an entire ocean of poison. (Hear the story of Shiva and poison)

 
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Shiva lives on the Kailash mountain. There is a beautiful description of it in the 4th canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, beginning here

"There are many waterfalls, and in the mountains there are many beautiful caves in which the very beautiful wives of the mystics are found. On Kailash Hill there is always the rhytmical sound of the peacocks' sweet vibrations and the bees' humming. Cuckoos are always singing, and other birds whisper amongst themselves." Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.6.11-12



One more name of Shiva is Rudra. Rudra is a fierce and powerful aspect of Shiva. You can feel Rudra's spirit when you get angry or when it's very windy out. It's the Rudra principle acting. Stormy sea water or blazing fire are also representations of Rudra. (read more about Rudra here)

Shiva and Parvati actually got married on this day. Below Shiva instructs her. I just love that picture. Shiva's feminine energy is also known as Shakti, Durga, Kali and Devi. Shiva's followers (Shaivites) have a clay marking of three horizontal lines on their foreheads like Shiva has here.
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Alrighty I think I've told you just about everything I know about Shiva :) If you want, some time today you can chant this mantra for him: om namah shivaya, which means that you're offering him your respects.

5 comments:

spin gypsy said...

Beautiful, Bhakti. Thank you for sharing this very interesting look into your philosophy. Om namah shivaya is one of my favorite mantras.

Today is the most perfect day (at least here) for this day of praise, worship, and recognition of the Rudra aspect of Shiva; it has been extremely blustery and windy. The nature here must have been building up in order to celebrate Shiva-ratri with the wind this week.

Many blessings to you today and vandanam to Lord Shiva. <3

Hitesh said...

Great post...do you have high resolution image of Shiva and Shakti painting shown above?

suman said...

idiotic post! shiva never meditates on krishna. shiva is the highest form in itself, he doesnt need to meditate, he stays in nirvana all time!

Bhakti Omwoods said...

Suman, since all information about Shiva, Krishna, and Hinduism in general comes from the Vedas, I base my understanding on the Vedas.. And it's stated quite clearly that Shiva meditates on Vishnu/Krishna/Rama (same supreme person).

For example:

svapne jagarane sasvath krsna dhyana ratah sivah..

"Sleeping or awake, Siva is constantly absorbed in meditation on Krsna." (Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Prakriti Khanda 2.56.61)

and:

sri rama rama rameti rame rame manorame
sahasra nama tat tulyam rama nama varanane

Lord Siva speaking to Parvati: "O Delight of my heart, o beautiful-faced lady! I myself constantly enjoy the supreme bliss chanting the divine Name of my beloved as 'Sri Rama, Sri Rama' which is equal to reciting one thousand Names of Lord Visnu, Sriman Narayana. (Brhad Visnu Sahasra Nama stotra, Padma Purana, Uttara khanda 72.335)

Alekananda Shanti said...

Thank you for you informative and insightful post about the Lord's best devotee.

Hari Bol,