Om Namah Shivay

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"The Dynamos of progress (Eternal Life)"
Om Namah Shivay

iv Wathoo*Viv Wathoo
Om Namah ShivayA powerful mantra whose literal meaning is ‘I bow in obeisance to the Lord that resides within my heart’
Hinduism, the name by which it is known in the modern day world, is an all encompassing way of God- realization. Right through the ancient scriptures, it accepts all paths leading to the same goal. It accepts the concept of the Formless and with Form. Who can expect to catch the infinite with this limited human intelligence? And then why so? When you go to a Tavern its enough to get your pint of lager; why would you want to bother with how many barrels they have in the Tavern. And how is it possible for man to say whether God is with form or without form. If He is formless does He not know that the devotee child is calling him through a manifestation? God is not the scheming owner of a toll road concerned that all the traffic be funneled down one and the same thoroughfare while He sits at his gatehouse and exacts the identical three farthings from all. Those who claim there is only one path to God insult His all-encompassing wideness. The decision to take which path is not as formidable as it may appear at first. Fortunately for us, a wide variety of roots have been carefully charted by previous generations of aspirants, so it is possible now for anyone with a reasonable knowledge of his or her own capacities to find an appropriate way.

Before we get into the whole concept of Shiva we need to digress a bit…

Who has seen God to say what he looks like? Some say he has no form and some say he has form. Faith is a pre-requisite if one wills to see Him. But He does manifest Himself through different ways and man itself is the greatest manifestation of God.

From the great sages, I will borrow an analogy which will explain why people who try to reason over it (a consequence of modern education) struggle with faith. Some of the great sages who saw the Supreme without form, which is described as the state of Brahman attained after reaching the deepest ends of meditation, explained the Truth to a few who wrote it down in the sacred Vedas which are as old as mankind itself. It is a clear case of trying to write down in two-dimension what one has seen in three dimensions. Now if someone were to ask you to explain how a kiwi fruit looks like to a person who has not seen it…For the latter to visualize the Kiwi fruit based on what he has heard would probably be tougher than scaling the Everest. This path of reaching the formless Absolute, known as the Yoga of Knowledge, is extremely strict and unique. It involves dissolution of the ego and or the ‘I-Thou’ relationship and leads to the oneness where one sees everything as God itself. It affirms “I am He” but this is a steep and abrupt path suitable only for a born spiritual warrior like Swami Vivekananda. For most, it is an inappropriate, even a dangerous, path. To repeat “ I am He” while still to some degree identifying with that “I”, with the limited body and personality through which it expresses itself, easily leads to the very egotism spirituality aims to undermine. At the very least, it can produce a crippling confusion in those lacking the discriminating sharpness of intellect to distinguish in practice between the larger Self, which is identical with God, and the smaller self (the body that we feel as “I”), which is a barrier to God-consciousness. There is no denying the utility of this path know as the Yoga of Knowledge for those who are temperamentally suited to its rigors.

The various paths are to suit one’s temperament. Just like a mother who has potatoes to cook for her children, she might make some spicy chips for a child who has a stronger stomach, a bland one for a sensitive stomach or even boiled & mashed ones for someone who wants to avoid oil-fat and soup for a baby.

The aim of any religion remains realization of the Self, meaning discovery of the Lord within us and as a consequence of that realization in everyone and everything around us. To reach a state of true Consciousness where everything you see is full of Consiousness.

(Yoga of Bhakti devotional love)- To make it easier for the masses in general and for the benefit of mankind, the path of devotional surrender is recommended. It involves the “I-Thou” relationship in which one feels that “I am Thou machine and Thou are my Operator”, or “I am Thy child; Thou are my Mother”, or “ I am Thy servant; and Thou are my Master”. The concept of “I am the doer” gets replaced by “Thou are the doer". The little ego that remains is of that of a servant or a child or the ego of a devotee. The ego once scaled down, desires and attachments removed and pure love for God in the individual’s choice of form be it Kali, Shiva, Krishna or Jesus this path leads to the same result of Self realization.

Hinduism traditionally sees the Supreme formless God manifests himself in 33 million forms. In one of the paths of Bhakti, the ones who control the show at the top are the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu) and the destroyer (Shiva). It is like in a modern sense a division of labor. All exist within us.

The creator is within us with the power to reproduce. The preserver is within us with the power to take care of people around us and the ability to rear families.

And Shiva the destroyer plays within us when He destroys all the food we eat and converts it into energy for all the beings to function.

Shiva’s form as in the Shivalingam shows him with Sakti (the Primordial power) and it points to the oneness of everything which is the Ultimate.

In this manifestation of the Divine, Shiva is God as power, God as shining, transcendent purity.

He is pictured wielding a trident (trishul) as emblem of His mastery over the three worlds, (the heavens, the earth and nether world), the three states of consciousness (waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep) and the three divisions of time (past, present and future). Shiva is portrayed as perpetually in Samadhi (deepest meditation in which there is no metabolism at all in the body), at once beyond creation and the source for all creation. He is seen wearing serpents and bones for necklaces and has ash all over his body to show the level of renunciation and the lordship over any form of lust or greed. The matted hair locks with white foam spewing over them is the sacred river ganga sprouting through the Lord’s Holy grace. And when we pray to him following the rituals laid down by tradition/scriptures we hope to invoke the great Lord within us. We certainly can but it requires the guilelessness of a child and a pure mind to see Him. When a child gets bored playing with toys he immediately starts crying for his mother. Even if you give him another toy he will not have anything to do with it and will only cry aloud for his mother. Then his mother would leave all work and come to cajole him. Same goes for God. The moment our yearning for him reaches those proportions we will see Him.

Even while carrying out worldly work we have to make sure our mind is fixed on our God. This is the way of the path of devotion. It is more suited to a modern man’s rigors. Just like a tortoise, while in the sea her mind is still fixed on her eggs in the sand; our mind has to be fixed on God even while we carry out our worldly work. The main barrier in this materialistic world is lust and greed.

For the great majority of us, however, God (unlike wealth, position, children and creature comforts) remain a vague and elusive entity. If we do not weep for Him, it is because we do not feel His existence the same way we do for a child, a spouse, or a job. Part of our difficulty comes from the utterly transcendent nature of the Divine. To attempt to look straight at the Divine is self-defeating. It is to be blinded by an amorphous brilliance without scale or shape, to be forced to look away. And this is where Shiva comes in- and any of the forms of God we envisage such as Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and all the myriad other forms in which men have conceived the Absolute.

So who is Shiva? We might say He is a catalyst, a way station between us and the inconceivable Godhead, between the limited and illimitable. However, if we were to stop there, Shiva would remain an abstraction at best. And that Shiva is not. On the other hand, there is the opposite danger that we will take Him too literally and look only at the external form the He displays to the world. It is important to understand these forms we see and let Him guide us to His true nature. Reemphasizing, nothing is possible without faith and complete surrender.

To the confused (who seek a false security in the worldly things He has created) Shiva appears as the scary destroyer but to those who are His friends, He becomes a doting Father whose sole concern is their ultimate well-being. The dynamics of this transformation are nicely captured by this analogy. So long as we pursue the things of the creation for their own sake, they will remain frustratingly elusive like a shadow that is always ahead and out of reach. However the moment we wake up from our folly of trying to grasp the ungraspable and turn around to face the sun of the Creator, rather than the shadow of the creation, the shadow itself follows dutifully along like the tail of a dog.

This metaphor captures the experience of devotees in many traditions who affirm that nature itself becomes a vehicle of grace, a friend and collaborator working vigorously to clear the path and speed the progress toward spiritual fulfillment the moment a person sincerely turns toward God, the master of nature. This principle of spiritual life is suggested in Christ’s enigmatic saying from the book of Mathew: “To him that hath much, much shall be given. But verily from him that hath little, that little shall be taken away”.

Expedia.comWe will borrow a divine song here describing how near the God is to us,

Drinking the Bliss of Shiva from the cup of love,
O Sage, be intoxicated!
Childhood you spent crying and youth in women’s control;
Now, in your old age, full of phlegm and wind,
You wait for the funeral couch to bear you to the cremation ground.
Within the musk-deer’s navel the fragrant musk is found;
But how can you make it understand?
Without the proper teacher to guide him on his way,
Man, too, is blindly roaming through the world,
Deluded as the foolish deer that wanders round and round the woods.

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Mahendranath Gupta
A prophet for the New Age, Richard Schiffman
Excerpts taken from various monks of the order of The Ramakrishna Mission.

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