In Me alone the whole subsists;
In Me it is lost—Siva,
The Timeless, it is I Myself,
Sivoham! Sivoham! Sivoham!
Salutations to Lord Siva, the vanquisher of Cupid, the bestower of eternal bliss and immortality, the protector of all beings, destroyer of sins, the Lord of the gods, who wears a tiger-skin, the best among objects of worship, through whose matted hair the Ganga flows.
Lord Siva is the pure, changeless, attributeless, all-pervading transcendental consciousness. He is the inactive (Nishkriya) Purusha. Prakriti is dancing on His breast and performing the creative, preservative and destructive processes.
When there is neither light nor darkness, neither form nor energy, neither sound nor matter, when there is no manifestation of phenomenal existence, Siva alone exists in Himself. He is timeless, spaceless, birthless, deathless, decayless. He is beyond the pairs of opposites. He is the Impersonal Absolute Brahman. He is untouched by pleasure and pain, good and evil. He cannot be seen by the eyes but He can be realised within the heart through devotion and meditation.
Siva is also the Supreme personal God when He is identified with His power. He is then omnipotent, omniscient active God. He dances in supreme joy and creates, sustains and destroys with the rhythm of His dancing movements.
He destroys all bondage, limitation and sorrow of His devotees. He is the giver of Mukti or the final emancipation. He is the universal Self. He is the true Self of all creatures. He is the dweller in the cremation-ground, in the region of the dead, those who are dead to the world.
The Jivas and the world originate from Him, exist in Him, are sustained and rejected by Him and are ultimately merged in Him. He is the support, source and substratum of the whole world. He is an embodiment of Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Bliss. He is Satyam, Sivam, Subham, Sundaram, Kantam.
He is the God of gods, Deva-Deva. He is the Great Deity—Mahadeva. He is the God of manes (Prajapati). He is the most awe-inspiring and terrifying deity, Rudra, with Trisul or trident in His hand. He is the most easily pleased (Asutosha). He is accessible to all. Even the untouchable Chandalas and the illiterate rustics can approach Him.
He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He is an ideal Yogi and Muni. He is the ideal head of an ideal family with Uma as His devoted wife, Lord Subrahmanya, the brave general of strength and courage, Lord Ganesa, the remover of all obstacles.
At the end of Pralaya, the Supreme Lord thinks of re-creation of the world. He is then known by the name Sadasiva. He is the root-cause of creation. From Sadasiva creation begins. In Manusmriti He is called Svayambhu. Sadasiva is unmanifested, He destroys the Tamas caused by Pralaya and shines as the self-resplendent light bringing forth the five great elements, etc., into being.
The Siva Purana says that Siva is beyond both Prakriti and Purusha. Siva is Mahesvara. He is the witness, well-wisher and nourisher of all beings. The Gita says: ‘Upadrashtanumanta cha bharta bhokta mahesvarah’.
Mahesvara conducts the work of creation according to His will and pleasure. The Sruti says, ‘Mayam tu prakritim viddhi mayinam tu mahesvaram’. Know Prakriti to be Maya and Mahesvara to be the wielder of Maya or Prakriti. The Sakti of Siva works in two different ways. Mula Prakriti and Daivi Prakriti. Mula Prakriti is Apara Prakriti from which the five elements and other visible objects and the Antahkarana are evolved. Para Prakriti is Chaitanya Sakti which converts the Apara Prakriti and gives name and form to it. Apara Prakriti is Avidya and Para Prakriti is Vidya. The controller and dispenser of these two Prakritis is Lord Siva.
Siva is distinct from Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra.
Lord Siva is the Lord of innumerable crores of Brahmandas or worlds. Isvara united with Maya gives rise to Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra out of Rajas, Sattva and Tamo Gunas respectively, under the command of Lord Siva. Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are the trinities of the world.
There is no difference among the trinities, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. By the command of Mahesvara these three do the creative, preservative and destructive duties of the world. The work of all the three deities is done conjointly. They all have one view and one definite purpose in creating, preserving and destroying the visible universe of names and forms. He who regards the three deities as distinct and different, Siva Purana says, is undoubtedly a devil or evil spirit.
The Lord who is beyond the three Gunas, Mahesvara, has four aspects: Brahma, Kala, Rudra and Vishnu. Siva is the support for all the four. He is the substratum for Sakti also. Siva is distinct from the Rudra included in the trinities. Rudra is really one though according to the different functions He is considered to have eleven different forms.
The first face of Siva does Krida or play, the second does penance, the third destroys or dissolves the world, the fourth protects the people and the fifth, being knowledge, fully covers the entire universe by its power. He is Isana the creator and promoter of all beings, from within.
The first form of Siva is the enjoyer of Prakriti as Kshetrajna Purusha. The second is Tatpurusha resting in Sattva-guna, rooted in Bhogya-Prakriti, the Prakriti-enjoyed. The third is Ghora rooted in the eightfold Buddhi like Dharma, etc. The fourth is Vamadeva rooted in Ahankara and the fifth is Sadyojata, the presiding deity of the mind. The eight forms of Siva are Sarva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugra, Bhima, Pasupati, Isana and Mahadeva, rooted respectively in earth, water, fire, air, ether, Kshetrajna, sun and moon.
Brahma was unable to create and bring forth creatures from his mental creation. To know the method of creation he did Tapas. As a result of his Tapas Adyasakti arose in Brahma’s mind. Through the help of Adyasakti Brahma meditated upon Tryambakesvara. Pleased by the penance of Brahma, Lord Siva appeared in the form of Ardhanarisvara (half male and half female). Brahma praised Ardhanarisvara. Lord Siva then created from His body a Goddess by name Prama-Sakti. Brahma said to the Goddess: “I was not able to bring forth creatures by my mental creation. Though I created the Devatas yet they could not multiply. Therefore, I wish to bring forth creatures by intercourse. Before Your appearance or till now, I was not able to create the endless female species. Therefore, O Devi, be merciful and take birth as the daughter of my son, Daksha.”
The most auspicious and useful work beneficial to mankind ever carried out by Lord Siva, is to impart the knowledge of Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana, etc., to the world. He blesses those deserve His grace and who cannot get out of Samsara without His grace. He is not only the World-Teacher but also an ideal example to the Jivanmukta or sage. He teaches by His very actions in His daily life.
Uniting the self with the true Siva Tattva by the control of the senses is real wearing of Bhasma, because Lord Siva through His third eye of wisdom burnt passion to ashes. The meditation of Pranava should be done through Japa. One should attain the real Jnana, Yoga and Bhakti by steady practice. In the heart, there is a ten-petalled lotus. It has ten Nadis. It is the Jivatma’s abode. This Jivatma lives in a subtle form in the mind and it is Chitta or Purusha itself. One should ascend to the moon by cutting open or transcending the Dasagni Nadi by the regular practice of Yoga as instructed by the Guru and practising dispassion, righteousness and equality. The moon then gradually attains fullness, as it gets itself pleased with the Sadhaka on account of his regular application in Yoga and purification of Nadis. In this state, the Sadhaka overcomes waking and sleeping state and through meditation merges himself in the object meditated upon in this waking state itself.
Satyam Sivam Subham Sundaram Kantam
The Saiva Siddhanta system is the distilled essence of Vedanta. It prevailed in Southern India even before the Christian era. Tinnelvelly and Madurai are the centres of Saiva Siddhanta school. Saivites elaborated a distinctive philosophy called the Saiva Siddhanta about the eleventh century A.D. Even Saivism is a very popular creed in South India. It is a rival school of Vaishnavism.
Tirumular’s work—Tirumantram—is the foundation upon which the later structure of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy was built. The twenty-eight Saiva Agamas, the hymns of the Saiva saints form the chief sources of Southern Saivism.
In the books which treat of Saivism, there is a reference to four schools, viz., Nakulisa-pasupata, the Saiva, the Pratyabhijna and Rasesvara.
Lord Siva is the supreme Reality. He is eternal, formless, independent, omnipresent, one without a second, beginningless, causeless, taintless, self-existent, ever free, ever pure. He is not limited by time. He is infinite bliss and infinite intelligence.
Lord Siva pervades the whole world by His Sakti. He works His Sakti. Sakti is conscious energy of Lord Siva. She is the very body of Lord Siva. The potter is the first cause for the pot. The stick and the wheel are the instrumental causes. The clay is the material cause of the pot. Similarly Lord Siva is the first cause of the world. Sakti is the instrumental cause. Maya is the material cause.
Lord Siva is the God of love. His grace is infinite. He is the saviour and Guru. He is engaged in freeing the souls from the thraldom of matter. He assumes the form of a Guru out of the intense love for mankind. He wishes that all should know Him and attain the blissful Siva-Pada. He watches the activities of the individual souls and helps them in their onward march.
In the Saiva Siddhanta, there are 36 Tattvas of which 24 are known as Atma Tattvas, 7 as Vidya Tattvas, and the remaining 5 as Siva Tattvas. The 24 Atma Tattvas are the 5 elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth; the 5 Tanmatras, sound, touch, form, taste and smell; the 5 sense-organs, ear, skin, eye, palate and nose; the internal organ; the 5 motor organs, speech, hand, foot, anus and the generative organ; and Ahankara, Buddhi and Guna. The 7 Vidya Tattvas are Purusha, Raga (love), Vidya (knowledge), Kala (art), Niyati (order), Kaala (time) and Asuddha (impure) Maya. The 5 Siva Tattvas are Suddha Vidya, Isvara, Sadasiva, Sakti and Siva.
Maya evolves into the subtle principles and then into the gross. The individual soul experiences pleasure and pain through Vidya. Siva Tattva is the basis of all consciousness and action. It is undifferentiated (Nishkala) Suddha. Maya, the Sakti of Siva starts her activities. Then Siva becomes the experiencer. Then He is called Sadasiva known also by the name Sadakhya, who is not really separate from Siva. The Suddhamaya becomes active. Then Siva, the experiencer becomes the Ruler. He is then Isvara, who is not really separate from Sadasiva. Suddhavidya is the cause of true knowledge.
The five activities (Pancha-Krityas) of the Lord are Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirobhava (veiling) and Anugraha (grace). These, separately considered, are the activities of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesvara and Sadasiva.
In the five-lettered Mantra (Panchakshari) ‘Namassivaya’, Na is the screening power of the Lord that makes the soul to move in the world, Ma is the bond that binds him in the Samsaric wheel of the births and deaths, Si is the symbol for Lord Siva, Va stands for His grace and Ya stands for the soul. If the soul turns towards Na and Ma he will be sunk in worldliness. If he associates himself with Va he will move towards Lord Siva.
Hearing the Lilas of Lord Siva and the significance of Panchakshara, is ‘Sravana’. Reflection on the meaning of Panchakshara is ‘Manana’ or ‘Chintana’. To develop love and devotion for Lord Siva and meditate on Him, is ‘Sivadhyana’. To become immersed in ‘Sivananda’, is ‘Nishtha’ or ‘Samadhi’. He who attains this stage is called Jivanmukta.
‘Pati’ is Lord Siva. It is the object of all the Vedas and the Agamas to explain the concepts of Lord (Pati), bound souls (Pasu) which really means cattle, and bondage (Pasa). Lord Siva is infinite, eternal, one without a second. He is changeless and indivisible. He is the embodiment of knowledge and bliss. He energises the intelligence of all souls. He is beyond the reach of mind and speech. He is the ultimate goal of all. He is smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest. He is self-luminous, self-existent, self-contained and self-delight.
‘Pasus’ are the individual souls who are sunk in the quagmire of Samsara. They assume bodies to work out their good and evil actions and are born as lower and higher beings according to their nature of Karma. They do virtuous and vicious actions in the course of experiencing the endless fruits of their Karma and have countless births and deaths. Ultimately they attain the grace of Lord Siva through meritorious acts and their ignorance is dispelled. They attain salvation and become one with Lord Siva.
‘Pasa’ is bond. The web of bonds is distinguished into Avidya or Anavamala, Karma and Maya. Anavamala is egoism. It is the taint due to the false notion of finiteness which the soul has. The soul imagines itself to be finite and confined to the body and of limited knowledge and power. It erroneously identifies itself with the perishable body and mistakes the body for its reality. It has forgotten its essential divine nature.
‘Karma’ is the cause of bodies and manifold bodily experiences and births and deaths. It is beginningless. It is the cause of the conjunction of the conscious soul with the unconscious body. It is an auxiliary of Avidya. It is done through thought, word and deed. It takes the form of merit and sin and produces pleasure and pain. It is subtle and unseen (Adrishta). It exists during creation and merges into the substratum of Maya during Pralaya. It cannot be destroyed. It must work out its results.
Maya is the material cause of the world. It is unconscious or unintelligent, omnipresent, imperishable. It is the seed of the world. The four categories, viz., Tanu, Karana, Bhuvana and Bhoga beginning with the bodies, spring up from Maya. It permeates all its developments and causes perversion in the Karmic souls. During Pralaya it is the basic resort of all souls. It is itself a bond for the souls. All these processes in it are due to the energising influence by Lord Siva. Just as the trunk, the leaf and the fruit grow from the seed, so also the universe from Kala to earth, springs from Maya.
The real Nada, the root of sound is evolved from pure Maya by the will of Lord Siva. From Nada, the real Bindu springs up. From it, the real Sadasiva originates and gives birth to Isvara. Suddha Avidya is developed from Isvara. The world originates from Bindu and develops into various forms.
One will develop love and devotion for Lord Siva if he is freed from egoism. Chariyai, Kiriyai, Yoga and Jnana are the four Sadhanas or steps to kill egoism and attain Lord Siva. Erecting temples, cleaning them, making garlands of flowers, singing Lord’s praises, burning lamps in the temples, making flower gardens constitute Chariyai. Kiriyai is to perform Puja, Archanas. Yoga is restraint of the senses and contemplation on the internal light. Jnana is to understand the true significance of Pati, Pasu, Pasa and to become one with Siva by constant meditation on Him after removing the three Malas, viz., Anava (egoism), Karma (action) and Maya (illusion).
The worship of the all-pervading, eternal Supreme Being through external forms, is called Chariyai. The requisite initiation for this, is Samaya Diksha. The worship of the cosmic form of the Eternal Ruler of the universe externally and internally, is called Kiriyai. The internal worship of Him as formless, is called Yoga. For Kiriyai and Yoga, the requisite initiation is called Visesha Diksha. The direct realisation of Lord Siva through Jnana Guru, is called Jnana. The initiation that leads to it, is called Nirvana Diksha.
The aspirant should free himself from the three kinds of Mala, viz., Anava, Karma and Maya. Then only he becomes one with Lord Siva and enjoys ‘Sivanandam’. He should thoroughly annihilate his egoism, free himself from the bondage of Karma and destroy the Maya which is the basis of all impurities.
Guru or the spiritual preceptor is very essential for attaining the final emancipation. Siva is full of grace. He helps the aspirants. He showers His grace on those who worship Him with faith and devotion and who have childlike trust in Him. Siva Himself is the Guru. The grace of Siva is the road to salvation. Siva lives in the Guru and looks with intense love on the sincere aspirant through the eyes of the Guru. Only if you have love for mankind, you can love God.
If the aspirant establishes a relationship between himself and Lord Siva, he will grow in devotion quickly. He can have the mental attitude or Bhava—Dasya Bhava or the relationship of master and servant which Tirunavukarasar had, or the Vatsalya Bhava wherein Lord Siva is the father and the aspirant is the child of Lord Siva which Tirujnanasambandhar had, or the Sakhya Bhava or the relationship of friend (Lord Siva is regarded as the friend of the aspirant) which Sundarar had, or the Sanmarga wherein Lord Siva is the very life of the aspirant which Manikkavasagar had, which corresponds to the Madhurya Bhava or Atma Nivedana of the Vaishnavites.
The devotee becomes one with Siva, like salt with water, milk with milk, when the three Malas (Pasa) are destroyed, but he cannot do the five functions of creation, etc. God only can perform the five functions.
The liberated soul is called a Jivanmukta. Though he lives in the bogy, he is one in feeling with the Absolute. He does not perform works which can produce further bodies. As he is free from egoism, work cannot bind him. He will do meritorious acts for the solidarity of the world (Lokasangraha). He lives in the body, until his Prarabdha Karma is exhausted. All his present actions are consumed by the grace of the Lord. The Jivanmukta does all actions on account of the impulsion of the Lord within him. Glory to Lord Siva and His Sakti!
Siva is spoken of as being in eight forms (Ashtamurti). The eight forms of Siva are the five elements, the sun, the moon and the priest who performs sacrifice.
Vishnu appeared in the Mohini form after the churning of the milk-ocean. Siva embraced Vishnu in that form. Sasta is the offspring of Siva and Mohini. Sasta is called also by the name Hari-Hara-Putra or the son of Hari and Hara.
Appar wanted all Saivas to regard Vishnu as only another aspect of Siva.
According to Appar, there are three aspects of Siva. (1) The lower Siva who dissolves the world and who liberates Jivas from their bondage. (2) The higher form is called Parapara. In this form Siva appears as Siva and Sakti (Ardhanarisvara). It has the name Param-Jyoti. Brahma and Vishnu were not able to comprehend this Jyoti. (3) Beyond these two forms is the Param, or the ultimate being from whom Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra originate. It is purely the Saiva form. It is formless. It is the Sivam of the Saiva Siddhanta. It is Para Brahman of the Upanishads and Vedantins.
The Mahavishnu of Vishnu Purana corresponds to Param of Saiva Siddhantins. Narayana or the higher Vishnu corresponds to the Param-jyoti of Appar or Saiva Siddhantins. The lower Vishnu does the function of preservation. He corresponds to the lower Siva.
What is the inner meaning of all the Saiva allusions about Vishnu worshipping Siva and all the Vaishnava allusions about Siva worshipping Vishnu? The lower Siva must take Narayana, the Parapara or Param-jyoti as his Superior. The lower Vishnu must take Param-jyoti or the Parapara as his Superior. The higher Vishnu and higher Siva are identical. They are inferior to Param, the Highest.
In that highest condition called Siva Mukti, there is no duality. No one can see anything. One merges himself in Sivam or the Highest. If you wish to see, you will have to come to the stage immediately below the Highest.
The Siva Murti or manifestation is inferior to the real ‘Sivam’ which is formless.
According to the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, the Tattvas are reckoned as ninety-six. They are as follows:
24 Atma Tattvas, 10 Nadis, 5 Avasthas or conditions, 3 Malas or impurities, 3 Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas), 3 Mandalas (Surya or the sun, Agni or the fire and Chandra or the moon), 3 humours (Vata, Pitta and Sleshma), 8 Vikaras or modifications (Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Matsarya, Dambha and Asuya), 6 Adharas, 7 Dhatus, 10 Vayus, 5 Koshas and 9 doorways. The twenty-four Tattvas are the 5 elements (Bhutas), 5 Tanmatras (Sabda, etc.), 5 Jnana-Indriyas, 5 Karma-Indriyas and 4 Karanas (Manas, Buddhi, Chitta and Ahamkara). All these 96 relate to the body. Over and above these 96, there are the 5 Kanchukas or coverings. They are Niyati, Kaala, Kala, Raga and Vidya. The five enter the body and cause weariness to the Tattvas of the body and afflict the body.
The Suddha Saiva does not attain the final emancipation by Kriya (Kiriyai) alone. He attains only Salokya. Jnana in Kriya leads to Salokya, the world of Siva. Jnana in Charya (Chariyai) leads him to Samipya (proximity to Siva). Jnana in Yoga bestows on him Sarupya (likeness in form). Jnana in Jnana leads him to Sayujya, merging or absorption.
‘Ambalam’ means ‘open space of the heart’ or Chidakasa or Chidambaram.
And Lingam is the Visvarupa or the God’s form of the Universe.
He who brings about the destruction of the world is Siva or Rudra. That is the reason why He is held superior to Brahma and Vishnu.
The Siddhantins divide Jivas or Pasus into three orders, viz., Vijnana Kalar, Pralaya Kalar and Sakalar. Vijnana Kalar have only the Anava Mala (egoism). Pralaya Kalar have Anava and Maya. Sakalar have all the Malas, Anava, Karma and Maya. The Malas affect only the Jivas and not Siva. Those who are freed from the Malas or impurities become identical with Siva. They are Siddhas or perfected beings.
Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of Brahman. That portion of Brahman that is enveloped by Tamo-Guna-Pradhana Maya is Lord Siva who is the all-pervading Isvara and who also dwells in Mount Kailas. He is the Bhandara or store-house for wisdom. Siva minus Parvati or Kali or Durga is Nirguna Brahman Himself. With Maya-Parvati He becomes the Saguna Brahman for the purpose of pious devotion of His devotees. Devotees of Rama must worship Lord Siva for 3 or 6 months before they take to worship of Rama. Rama Himself worshipped Lord Siva at the famous Ramesvaram. Lord Siva is the Lord of Ascetics and Lord of Yogins, robed in space (Digambara).
His Trisul (trident) that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of Sovereignty. He wields the world through these three Gunas. The Damaru in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all languages are formed. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru.
The crescent moon indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly. The flow of the Ganga represents the nectar of Immortality. Elephant represents symbolically pride. His wearing the skin of the elephant denotes that He has controlled pride. Tiger represents lust; His sitting on tiger’s skin indicates that He has conquered lust. His holding a deer on one hand indicates that He has removed the Chanchalata (tossing) of the mind. Deer jumps from one place to another swiftly. His wearing of serpents denotes wisdom and eternity. Serpents live for a large number of years. He is Trilochana, the three-eyed One, in the centre of whose forehead is the third eye, the eye of wisdom.
‘Hoam’ is the Bija Akshara of Lord Siva.
He is Sivam (auspicious, Subham), Sundaram (beautiful), Kantam (effulgent). “Santam Sivam Advaitam” (Mandukya Upanishad).
I bow with folded hands crores of times at the lotus-feet of that Lord Siva who is non-dual, who is the Adhishthana, or support for the world and all minds, who is Sat-Chit-Ananda, who is the Ruler, the Antaryamin, the Sakshi (silent witness) for everything, who is self-effulgent, self-existent and self-contained (Pari-purna), who is the remover of the primitive Avidya and who is the Adi-Guru or Parama-Guru or Jagad-Guru.
That Lord Siva I am in essence. Sivoham, Sivoham, Sivoham.
Serpent is the Jiva or the individual soul which rests upon Siva, the Paramatman or the Supreme Soul. The five hoods mean the five senses or the five Tattvas, viz., earth, water, fire, air and ether. They also represent the five Pranas, which hiss in the body like the serpent. The inhalation and exhalation are like the hissing of the serpent. Lord Siva Himself became the five Tanmatras, the five Jnanendriyas, the five Karmendriyas and other groups of five. The individual soul enjoys the worldly objects through these Tattvas. When the individual attains knowledge through control of the senses and the mind, he finds his eternal resting abode in Lord Siva, the Supreme Soul. This is the esoteric significance of Lord Siva wearing the snake on His body.
Lord Siva is absolutely fearless. Srutis declare, “This Brahman is fearless (Abhayam), Immortal (Amritam).” Worldly people are afraid even at the very sight of a snake but Lord Siva is wearing serpents as ornaments on His body. This indicates that Lord Siva is absolutely fearless and immortal.
Generally serpents live for hundreds of years. Wearing of serpents by Lord Siva signifies that He is Eternal.
Namassivaya is the Mantra of Lord Siva. ‘Na’ represents earth and Brahma; ‘Ma’ represents water and Vishnu; ‘Si’ fire and Rudra; ‘Va’ Vayu and Mahesvara; ‘Ya’ Akasa and Sadasiva and also the Jiva.
Lord Siva has white complexion. What is the significance of white colour? He teaches silently that people should have pure heart and entertain pure thoughts and should be free from crookedness, diplomacy, cunningness, jealousy, hatred, etc.
He wears three white-lined Bhasma or Vibhuti on His forehead. What is the significance of this? He teaches silently that people should destroy the three impurities, viz., Anava (egoism), Karma (action with expectation of fruits), and Maya (illusion), and the three desires or Eshanas, viz., desire for landed property, desire for woman, desire for gold, and the three Vasanas, viz., Lokavasana, Dehavasana and Sastravasana, and then attain Him with a pure heart.
What does the Balipitha or altar which stands in front of the sanctum sanctorum of the Siva’s temple represent? People should destroy their egoism and mineness (Ahamta and Mamata) before they attain the Lord. This is the significance.
What does Nandi or the bull which is in front of Sivalinga represent? Nandi is the attendant or doorkeeper of Siva. He is the vehicle of Lord Siva. He represents Satsanga. If you make association with the sages, you are sure to attain God-realisation. Sages will show you the way to reach Him. They will remove pitfalls or snares that lie on your path. They will clear your doubts and instil in your heart dispassion, discrimination and knowledge. There is no other safe boat than Satsanga to reach the other shore of fearlessness and immortality. Even a moment’s Satsanga or association with the sages, is a great blessing to the aspirants and the worldly-minded persons. They get firm conviction in the existence of God through Satsanga. The sages remove the worldly Samskaras. The company of sages is a formidable fortress to protect oneself from the temptations of Maya.
Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of the Godhead. He is seen absorbed on the mountain peak of Kailas. He is an embodiment of serenity, renunciation and indifference to the world. The third eye in the centre of His forehead represents His destructive energy which when let loose destroys the world. Nandi is His favourite. He is the door-Keeper. He is seen hushing all nature, so that the Lord may not be disturbed in His Samadhi. The Lord has five faces, ten hands, ten eyes, two feet.
Vrishabha or the bull represents Dharma Devata. Lord Siva rides on the bull. Bull is His vehicle. This denotes that Lord Siva is the protector of Dharma, is an embodiment of Dharma or righteousness.
Deer represents the Vedas. Its four legs are the four Vedas. Lord Siva is holding the deer in His hand. This indicates that He is the Lord of the Vedas.
He has sword in one of His hands. This signifies that He is the destroyer of births and deaths. The fire in one of His hands shows that He protects the Jivas by burning all fetters.
Salutations and adorations to the blissful Lord Siva, the lover of Uma or Parvati, the Lord of all beings (Pasupati).
“Alankarapriyo Vishnuh, Abhishekapriyah Sivah—Lord Vishnu is very fond of Alankara (fine dress, beautiful ornaments, etc.); Siva is fond of Abhisheka.” In Siva temples, a pot made up of copper or brass with a hole in the centre is kept hanging over the image or Linga of Siva, and water is falling on the image throughout day and night. Pouring over the Linga, water, milk, ghee, curd, honey, cocoanut water, Panchamrita, etc., is Abhisheka. Abhisheka is done for Lord Siva. Rudra is chanted along with the Abhisheka. Lord Siva is propitiated by Abhisheka.
Lord Siva drank the poison that emanated from the ocean and wore the Ganga and moon on His head to cool His head. He has the fiery third eye. Constant Abhisheka cools this eye.
The greatest and the highest Abhisheka is to pour the waters of pure love on the Atmalinga of the lotus of the heart. The external Abhisheka with various objects will help the growth of devotion and adoration for Lord Siva and eventually lead to internal Abhisheka with pure abundant flow of love.
Abhisheka is a part of Siva Puja. Without Abhisheka, worship of Siva is incomplete. During Abhisheka Rudra, Purushasukta, Chamaka, Maha-mrityunjaya Japa, etc., are chanted in a particular rhythm and order. Monday is very important day for Lord Siva and the thirteenth day of the fortnight (Pradosha) is very sacred. On these days, devotees of Siva worship Him with special Puja, Abhisheka with Ekadasa-Rudra, Archana, offering plenty of Prasad, and illumination.
In Ekadasa-Rudra Abhisheka, every Rudra is chanted with distinctive articles for Abhisheka. Ganga water, milk, ghee, honey, rose-water, cocoanut water, sandal paste, Panchamrita, scented oil, sugarcane juice and lime juice are made use of for Abhisheka. After every Abhisheka, pure water is poured over the head of Siva. When Rudra is repeated once, the different articles of Abhisheka are made use of after every stanza of the Rudra. The Abhisheka water or other articles used for Abhisheka are considered very sacred and bestow immense benefits on the devotees who take it as the Lord’s Prasad. It purifies the heart and destroys countless sins. You must take it with intense Bhava and faith.
When you do Abhisheka with Bhava and devotion, your mind is concentrated. Your heart is filled with the image of the Lord and divine thoughts. You forget your body and its relation and surroundings. Egoism gradually vanishes. When there is forgetfulness, you begin to enjoy and taste the eternal bliss of Lord Siva. Recitation of Rudra or Om Namassivaya purifies the mind and fills it with Sattva.
If you do Abhisheka with Rudrapatha in the name of a person suffering from any disease he will be soon freed from that disease. Incurable diseases are cured by Abhisheka. Abhisheka bestows health, wealth, prosperity, progeny, etc. Abhisheka on Monday is most auspicious.
By offering Panchamrita, honey, milk, etc., to the Lord, thoughts of your body diminish. Selfishness slowly vanishes. You derive immense joy. You begin to increase your offerings unto the Lord. Therefore, self-sacrifice and self-surrender come in. Naturally, there is an outpouring from your heart, “I am Thine, my Lord. All is Thine, my Lord”.
Kannappa Nayanar, a great devotee of Lord Siva, a hunter by profession, did Abhisheka with the water in his mouth for the Linga at Kalahasti in South India and propitiated Lord Siva. Lord Siva is pleased by pure devotion. It is the mental Bhava that counts and not the outward show. Lord Siva said to the temple priest: “This water from the mouth of Kannappa, my beloved devotee, is more pure than the water of the Ganga”.
A devotee should be regular in doing Abhisheka for the Lord. He should get by heart Rudra and Chamakam. Ekadasa Rudra is more powerful and effective. In Northern India, every man or woman takes a lota of water and pours it on the image of Siva. This also causes beneficial results and brings about the fulfilment of one’s desire. Abhisheka on Sivaratri day is very effective.
May you all recite Rudrapatha which describes the glory of Lord Siva and His manifestations in every living being, in every animate and inanimate being! May you do Abhisheka daily and thus obtain the grace of Lord Siva! May Lord Visvanatha bless you all!
Chamaka is divided into eleven sections. Each of these is then combined with Namaka (Rudra) and repeated. This is called Rudra. Eleven such Rudras make one Laghu Rudra. Eleven Laghu Rudras make one Maharudra. Eleven Maharudras make one Atirudra.
Rudra is to be repeated after performing the initial Sankalpa, Puja, Nyasa, Anga. Panchamritasnana and Dhyana. The fruit of Rudra Japa is stated as shown below:
No. of Japa
Fruit of Japa
Freedom from Bala graha (diseases common to children).
Freedom from imminent difficulties with which one is faced.
Freedom from the evil effects of certain planets occupying unfavourable positions.
Freedom from great fear.
The fruit of one Vajapeya sacrifice; and also attainment of peace of mind.
Getting the favour of kings and great wealth.
Attainment of wishes for objects and having no enemies.
Enjoyment of great happiness.
Attainment of son, grandson, wealth, grain, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha and freedom from death.
Attainment of the favour of kings and becoming the Lord of great wealth.
Fulfilment of impossible tasks.
Acquirement of vast lands.
Attainment of the seven worlds.
Freedom from births and deaths.
Materials for Abhisheka: Pure water, milk, sugarcane juice, ghee, honey, waters of sacred rivers, sea water.
For getting rain, Abhisheka should be done with pure water. For freedom from diseases, and for begetting a son, Abhisheka should be done with milk. If Abhisheka is done with milk, even a barren woman begets children. The person also attains plenty of cows. If Abhisheka is done with Kusa water, one becomes free from all diseases. He who desires wealth, should perform Abhisheka with ghee, honey and sugarcane juice. He who desires Moksha, should do Abhisheka with sacred waters.
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pàdasyàvirbhavantãmavanatimavane rakùataþ svairapàtaiþ
saükocenaiva doùõàü muhurabhinayataþ sarvalokàtigànàm |
dçùñiü lakùyevu nograjvalanakaõamucaü badhnato dàhabhãte-
rityàdhàrànurodhàt tripuravijayinaþ pàtu vo duþkhançttam ||
The Tandava or celestial dance of Lord Siva is extremely thrilling and charming, exquisitely graceful in pose and rhythm and intensely piercing in effect.
Nritya or Tandava is an inseparable, sacred movement of the various limbs of the body in accordance with the inner divine Bhava. Nritya is a divine science. The Adigurus for this celestial Nritya were Lord Siva, Krishna and Mother Kali. In Nritya, the six Bhavas, viz., Srishti, Samhara, Vidya, Avidya, Gati and Agati are demonstrated.
The dance of Lord Siva is for the welfare of the world. The object of His dance is to free the souls from the fetters of Maya, from the three bonds of Anava, Karma and Maya. He is not the destroyer but He is the regenerator. He is the Mangala Data and Ananda Data, bestower of auspiciousness and bliss. He is more easily pleased than Lord Hari, He grants boons quickly, for a little Tapas or a little recitation of His five letters.
‘Aghada Bhum’ is His song of dance. When Siva starts His dance Brahma, Vishnu, the Siva Ganas and Kali with Her bowl of skull, join Him. Have you not seen the picture of Pradosha Nritya? It will give you an idea of the dance of Siva.
Kali was very proud of Her ability in dancing. Siva started dancing to quell Her pride. He danced very beautifully, very artistically. Kali had to put Her face down in shame.
Lord Siva wears a deer in the left upper hand. He has trident in the right lower arm. He has fire and Damaru and Malu, a kind of weapon. He wears five serpents as ornaments. He wears a garland of skulls. He is pressing with His feet the demon Muyalaka, a dwarf holding a cobra. He faces south. Panchakshari itself is His body. Lord Siva says: “Control the five senses which are hissing like serpents. The mind is jumping like a deer. Control the mind. Burn it in the fire of meditation. Strike it down with the Trisula of discrimination. You can attain Me”. This is the philosophical significance of the picture of Lord Siva.
You can witness the dance of Siva in the rising waves of the ocean, in the oscillation of the mind, in the movements of the senses and the Pranas, in the rotation of the planets and constellations, in cosmic Pralaya, in epidemics of infectious diseases, in huge inundations and volcanic eruptions, in earthquakes, landslips, lightning and thunder, in huge conflagrations and cyclonic storm.
As soon as the Guna Samya Avastha, wherein the three Gunas exist in a state of equilibrium, is disturbed by the will of the Lord, the Gunas manifest and quintuplication of elements takes place. There is vibration of Omkara or Sabda Brahman. There is manifestation of primal energy. This is the dance of Siva. The whole cosmic play or activity or Lila is the dance of Siva. All movements within the cosmos are His dance. He gazes on Prakriti and energises Her. Mind, Prana, matter begin to dance. When He begins to dance, the Sakti Tattva manifests. From Sakti, Nada proceeds and from Nada, Bindu originates. Then the universe of names and forms is projected. The undifferentiated matter, energy and sound become differentiated.
The burning grounds are the abodes of Siva. Rudra is the destructive aspect of the Lord. Lord Siva dances in the crematorium with Kali, in His ten-armed form. The Siva Ganas also join with Him in the dance.
Nataraja of Chidambaram is the expert dancer. He has four hands. He wears the Ganga and the crescent moon on His matted locks. He holds Damaru in His right hand. He shows Abhaya Mudra to His devotees with His raised left hand. The significance is: “O devotees! Do not be afraid. I shall protect you all.” One left hand holds the fire. The other right hand points down on the Asura Muyalaka who is holding a cobra. He has raised the left foot in a beautiful manner.
The sound of the drum invites the individual souls to His feet. It represents Omkara. All the Sanskrit alphabets have come out of the play of the Damaru. Creation arises from Damaru. The hand which shows Abhaya Mudra gives protection. Destruction proceeds from fire. The raised foot indicates Maya or illusion. The hand which points down shows that His feet are the sole refuge of the individual souls. Tiruakshi represents Omkara or Pranava.
Chidambaram is a sacred place of pilgrimage in South India. All the Tamil saints have sung hymns in praise of Nataraja. There is Akasa Linga here which indicates that Lord Siva is formless and attributeless. The popular saying goes: “He who dies in Banares with Ramanam in his lips and heart, attains salvation. He who remembers Arunachalam or Tiruvannamalai attains Mukti. He who gets Darsana of Nataraja attains final emancipation.” Real Chidambaram is within the heart. Nataraja dances in the hearts of devotees who have burnt egoism, lust, hatred, pride and jealousy.
He dances quite gently. If He dances vehemently the whole earth will sink down at once. He dances with His eyes closed, because the sparks from His eyes will consume the entire universe. The five activities of the Lord, Panchakriyas, viz., Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirobhava (illusion) and Anugraha (grace), are the dances of Siva.
May you all comprehend the true significance of the dance of Siva. May you all dance in ecstasy in tune with Lord Siva and merge in Him and enjoy the Sivananda, the final beatitude of life!
Lord Siva is an embodiment of wisdom. He is the Light of lights. He is Paramjyoti or supreme Light. He is self-luminous or Svayam-Jyoti. The dance of Siva represents the rhythm and movement of the world-spirit. At His dance the evil forces and darkness quiver and vanish.
In the night of Brahma or during Pralaya, Prakriti is inert, motionless. There is Guna-Samya Avastha. The three Gunas are in a state of equilibrium or poise. She cannot dance till Lord Siva wills it. Lord Siva rises from His profound silence and begins to dance. The undifferentiated sound becomes differentiated through the vibration set up by the movements of His Damaru or drum. Sabda Brahman comes into being. The undifferentiated energy also becomes differentiated. The equipoise in the Gunas becomes disturbed. The three Gunas Sattva, Rajas and Tamas manifest. All the spheres, the atoms and the electrons also dance rhythmically and in an orderly manner. Atoms dance in the molecule and molecules dance in all bodies. Stars dance in time and space. Prakriti also begins to dance about Him as His glory or Vibhuti. The Prana begins to operate on Akasa or subtle matter. Various forms manifest. Hiranyagarbha or the golden egg or the cosmic mind also manifests.
When the time comes, Lord Siva destroys all names and forms by fire while dancing. There is stillness again.
This is the symbolism involved in the form of Nataraja. The deer in the hand of Siva represents Asuddha Maya. The axe represents knowledge which destroys ignorance. The drum, the outstretched arm that carries fire, the water (Ganga), the hand with the axe, the foot standing on the Asura Muyalaka, are the formless or Sukshma Panchaksharas.
Srishti (creation) is in the drum; Sthiti (preservation) is in the Abhaya hand; Samhara (destruction) is in the hand that holds the axe; Tirobhava (veiling) is in the pressing foot; and Anugraha (blessing) is in the uplifted foot.
There are various kinds of dances of Siva. There are the Samhara dance, the five dances, the six dances, the eight dances, the Kodu Kotti dance, the Pandam dance, the Kodu dance. The Kodu Kotti is the dance after the destruction of everything. Pandam is the dance after the destruction of the three cities, wearing the ashes of those cities. Kodu or Kapalam is the dance holding Brahma’s head in the hand. Samhara is the dance at the time of dissolution or Pralaya.
Srishti, Sthiti, Samhara, Tirobhava and Anugraha, and also Muni-Tandava, Anavarata Tandava and Ananda Tandava constitute the eight dances. Sivananda dance, Sundara dance, the golden city dance, the golden Chidambaram dance and the wonderful dance form the five dances. The five previous dances and the Ananda dance in the end form the six dances.
Lord Siva is the only dancer. He is the Master or expert dancer. He is the King of dancers. He quelled the pride of Kali. Lord Siva’s destruction is not a single act, but is a series of acts. There is a different kind of dance at every stage.
May Lord Nataraja, the great dancer help you in the attainment of Sivanandam or the eternal bliss of Siva!
‘Ya’ in Namassivaya represents Jiva or the individual soul. The Panchakshara Namassivaya forms the body of Lord Siva. The hand that wears fire is ‘Na’. The foot that presses the demon Muyalaka is ‘Ma’. The hand that holds Damaru is ‘Si’. The right and left hand that move about are ‘Va’. The hand that shows Abhaya is ‘Ya’.
Once upon a time, a group of Rishis abandoned their faith in the true Lord and took to the worship of false deities. Lord Siva wanted to teach them a lesson. He stirred in them strange passions. The Rishis became very furious. They created many evils through their power of penance and let them loose upon Siva. Lord Siva overcame them and finally defeated the great Kali, a creation of the Rishis, by the cosmic dance.
At the time of Sri Nataraja’s dance, Patanjali Rishi and Vyaghrapada were witnessing the dance and enjoying it. They were standing on either side of the Lord. Even in paintings and sculpture of the Nataraja’s Murti, you will find the figures of Patanjali and Vyaghrapada on either side of Nataraja. The lower part of the body of Vyaghrapada will resemble that of tiger and the corresponding part of Patanjali that of the serpent.
The most wonderful dance of Nataraja is the Urdhva Tandava. In this dance the left leg is lifted up and the toe points to the sky. This is the most difficult form of dance. Nataraja defeated Kali by this pose in dancing. Kali successfully competed with Nataraja in all other modes of dance. Nataraja lost His earring while dancing. He succeeded by means of His toe, in this form of dance, in restoring the ornament to its original place without the knowledge of the audience.
Nataraja danced with His right leg lifted upwards. This is the Gajahasta pose in dancing or Nritya. He danced continuously without changing His legs once.
There is another dance pose of Siva on the head of an elephant. In this form, Lord Siva is known as Gajasana Murti. At the foot of Lord Siva, there is the head of an elephant monster. Lord Siva has eight hands. He holds the trident, the drum and the noose in His three right hands. He holds the shield and the skull in His two hands. The third left hand is held in Vismaya pose.
An Asura assumed the form of an elephant to kill the Brahmins who were sitting round the Linga of Visvanath in Banares, absorbed in meditation. Lord Siva came out suddenly from the Linga and killed the elephant-monster and used the skin as His garment.
Was horrible in Rishikesh
It carried away many Mahatmas and Sadhus
This is the dance of Siva.
The impetuous Chandrabhaga
Turned its course in 1943
People crossed it with difficulty
With the help of elephant
This is the dance of Siva.
In the morning of eleventh January 1945
There was fall of snow
On the surrounding Himalayas
The chill was terrible
This is the dance of Siva.
Lord Visvanath dwells now
In a place where there was forest.
He pleases the whole world.
He bestows health and long life.
This is the dance of Siva.
Forests become Ashrams,
Islands become an ocean,
Ocean becomes an island,
Cities become deserts,
This is the dance of Siva.
Siva gazes His Sakti
Then there is the atomic dance
There is the dance of Prakriti
Lord Siva merely witnesses
This is the dance of Siva.
Then Prana vibrates, mind moves,
Senses function, Buddhi operates,
Heart pumps, lungs breathe,
Stomach digests, intestines excrete,
This is the dance of Siva.
This is a world of change
A changing thing is perishable
Know the Imperishable
Which is changeless
And become Immortal.