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Books > Hindu > Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara
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Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara
Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara
Description
Preface

While writing this preface to Professor R. C. Hazra’s posthumous publication of the Rise of Epic and Purnica Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara, his benign face suddenly flashes up in my mind. I saw him last perhaps some three decades ago, along with my late wife, Sbani, who was his direct student, first in the 1940s at Dacca University and then afterwards in the early 1950s at the Sanskrit College in Kolkata. Whenever we paid a visit to him, the professor would always treat me with a beam of smile, which was so loving and pleasant. I cherish it even now. Unfortunately for me, after demise of my wife, I could not avail of a chance to see Professor Hazra any more, which I regret ever so much from the depth of my heart.

But the intentions and the ways of providence are difficult to understand. A few years ago, by some strange coincidence, day I suddenly realized that a close friend of mine, Dr. Sudhai Biswas, retired Additional Director of Agriculture Government of West Bengal, happened to be me son-In-law of Professor R.C. Hazra. Then I was told for the first time by Dr. Biswas and his wife, Jayanti, that Professor Hazra (1905-1982) left some unpublished manuscripts and notes, which they had been trying to get printed, but without any success so far. They requested me to see if these could now be brought out by some means. Their earlier attempt to get some of these papers punished through the good offices of an erstwhile colleague of e late Professor did not bear any fruit. As I thumbed through these valuable scholarly papers, which in the meanwhile have mined yellow and brittle, with the ink fast fading away, I strongly I that it was high time to get these printed off. Otherwise, the Scholarly studies of Professor Hazra would be lost for good.

Luckily, after some effort and by the grace of god, I could gets to certain sources that could be entrusted with the task of bringing them out. Now, as a result, this current treatise is seeing light of the day under the auspices of the publishers, Sadesh. • what I am afraid of is that the task of editing and seeing it through the press devolved on a totally incompetent person like r who had not even a nodding acquaintance with the subject dealt with in the current volume. Due to my total incompetent Person like me who had not even a nodding acquaintance with the subject matter dealt with in the current volume. Due to my total inadequacy, I had to slowly labour through the manuscripts to figure out the significance and meanings of the scholarly text. ft was exciting to edit the text as best as could be possible on my part, and then to see through several rounds of proofs before finally printing it off in the present shape. It is needless to say that I carried out only a minimal amount of editing on this scholarly writing, hut I have added an introductory note on the concept of Siva Mahevara, supposedly for convenience of some readers. Unfortunately, some of the footnotes - - which were originally attached to the text - - could not be retrieved from the bundle of manuscripts available to us. However, the damage done has been rather small, for luckily, the main text part was found in tact as has been printed here. 1 am happy to tell here that this small publication is just a precursor of a much larger volume, entitled, Rudra in the Rg -Veda, to he brought out soon under the auspices of Jadavpur University.

I take this opportunity to profusely thank Mrs. Basanti Hazra, wife of the late Professor R. C. Haira and their daughter, Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, for having deposed on me profound confidence and the great responsibility of bringing out this scholarly work of Professor Hazra. But perhaps this was the only way left for me to ultimately repay the debt of the Siksa-guru on my behalf and more so on behalf of my wife, Dr. Sibani Das Gupta, who is no more here to perform this duty of hers, living it to me to carry it out as her poor substitute.

In bringing out this treatise, first of all, I would like to give full credit to the typesetters, who spared to no pains to carefully decipher the writings and correctly pick up the diacritical marks from the handwritten and very much friable press copy. In this connection, I must thank Sri Debashis Bhattacharya, for having gladly come forward to bring out the volume on behalf the publishers, Sadesh and the distributors, Sri Balaram Prakashani. Without the active help and intervention Debashis Bhattacharya, it could not have been possible to see the book brought out so speedily. If the current production is liked by the experts and by the general reading public, I shall consider my labour of love not entirely lost.

Introduction to the Concept of Siva Mahevara

Over a long period of time, the originally fearful Vedic god was included as one of the most important and popular members of the pantheon in the Indian subcontinent for daily worship. The Vedic Rudra (meaning, a terrifying ‘howler’) had been imported all the way from ancient Assyria and Babylonia of West Asia and had been pictured as an extremely malevolent god, prone to destroying Vedic sacrifices. In the circumstances, the eventual conversion of Rudra into Siva (meaning the ‘auspicious’ one) and the evolution of the concept of Siva Mahevara (‘auspicious great lord’) through the epic and purãnic period in the cultural history of ancient India had been highly complex and fascinating.

Siva is now one of the gods of the holy Trinity of India, comprising three aspects namely, Brahmã, Visnu and Siva Mahevara. Siva Mahevara is said to be the god of dissolution (pralaya). In the Trinity, Brahma is the god of creation (srsti)) and Visnu is the god of maintenance (sthiti). The three gods represent the three fundamental powers of nature which are manifest in the world namely creation, maintenance and dissolution. These powers exist perpetually in the godhead. Creation (si:yii) is going on all the time. So are dissolution (pralaya) and maintenance (sthiti). All these three fundamental processes are manifesting at all times. Being in a chain of cyclic system, these processes are inseparable from each other. Creation and dissolution are like two sides of a coin. And maintenance is an integral part of the processes of creation and dissolution. To indicate that these three processes are one and the same, the three gods of the Trinity are combined in one form of Lord Dattatreya.

The Siva Mahevara aspect is united with the goddess Umä or Pärvati. Uma represents the /rakrti, which means the perishable matter. Siva’s union with Uma signifies that the power of dissolution has no meaning without its association with the perishable matter. Dissolution manifests itself only when there is perishable matter. Lord Siva sits in a meditative (yogic) posture against the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Kailãs in Tibet. The quiet yogic posture of his symbolizes perfect inner harmony and poise. For he is thereby rooted in consciousness. He revels in the bliss of the transcendental Reality. Nothing can disturb him, as it were. The vicissitudes of nature, the challenges of life, the trials and tribulations of the material world do not affect him at all. He maintains perfect serenity, equanimity and tranquility in all environments and circumstances.

The whole world is believed to sleep or reside in Siva after destruction until the next cycle of creation begins. Siva is worshiped in the liñga form in temples. His pictures and images in the human form are found everywhere. He is snow-white in colour or white as camphor. He has three eyes the third eye being on the forehead between the eyebrows. The three eyes represent the sun, the moon, and fire, that is, the three sources of energy that is light, life, and heat. The third burning eye also represents the light of knowledge and wisdom. He also uses the third eye as a terrible weapon against enemies. By focusing the third eye on the enemy, Siva can destroy them with blazing fire. He wears tiger skin and elephant skin, the former symbolizing the complete mastery over desire, while the latter symbolizes animal power. He is shown as having four hands — one holding a trident (trisüla) , which is a symbol of lightning. This is why he is known as the god of storms. The second hand holds a drum ((damaru). The other two hands are in the posture of offering protection (abhaya) and boon (varada). Triü1a, the weapon of offense and defense, stands for the three gunas (forces) as well as the three processes of creation, preservation and destruction. The janaru, producer of sound, symbolizes the rhythm of life, the alphabets, grammar or the language itself.

He is depicted as having a crown of long matted hair from which the river Ganga flows down. In Indian mythology, Siva has been described in a number of benevolent roles. In one instance, the Ganges , which winds around Mount Meru in the Himalaya, falls in great torrents. Siva, in order to break the fall, stands beneath the water making it fall on his matted locks and divide the water into seven holy streams. Another puranic story is perishable matter. Dissolution manifests itself only when there is perishable matter. Lord Siva sits in a meditative (yogic) posture against the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Kailas in Tibet. The quiet yogic posture of his symbolizes perfect inner harmony and poise. For he is thereby rooted in consciousness. He revels in the bliss of the transcendental Reality. Nothing can disturb him. as it were. The vicissitudes of nature, the challenges of life, the trials and tribulations of the material world do not affect him at all. He maintains perfect serenity, equanimity and tranquility in all environments and circumstances.

The whole world is believed to sleep or reside in Siva after destruction until the next cycle of creation begins. Siva worshiped in the liñga form in temples. His pictures and images in the human form are found everywhere. He is snow-white in colour or white as camphor. He has three eyes -- the third eye being on the forehead between the eyebrows. The three eyes represent the sun, the moon, and fire, that is, the three sources of energy that is light, life, and heat. The third burning eye also represents the light of knowledge and wisdom. He also uses the third eye as a terrible weapon against enemies. By focusing the third eye on the enemy, Siva can destroy them with blazing fire. He wears tiger skin and elephant skin, the former symbolizing the complete mastery over desire, while the latter symbolizes animal power. He is shown as having four hands — one holding a trident (trisula) , which is a symbol of lightning. This is why he is known as the god of storms. The second hand holds a drum (damaru). The other two hands are in the posture of offerinz protection (abhaya) and boon (varada). Trisüla, the weapon oI offense and defense, stands for the three gunas (forces) as well as the three processes of creation, preservation and destruction. The damaru, producer of sound, symbolizes the rhythm of life. the alphabets, grammar or the language itself.

He is depicted as having a crown of long matted hair from which the river Ganga flows down. In Indian mythology, Siva has been described in a number of benevolent roles. In one instance. the Ganges river, which winds around Mount Meru in the Himalaya, falls in great torrents. Siva, in order to break the far.. stands beneath the water making it fall on his matted locks are divide the water into seven holy streams. Another puranic story that of Siva performing a vital role during the churning of the ocean of milk (arnrla — ambrosia) so that this amrta could be extracted so as to strengthen the gods in their struggle against the demons. During the churning process, the serpent Väsuki, acting as the churning rope, vomited out poison that was going to contaminate the ambrosia. Siva came forward and caught the position in his mouth, drank it off and held it in his throat. This turned his throat black. Hence he is known as Nila-kantha (black- throated).

Siva wears the crescent moon on his forehead symbolizing the time in days or months. Serpents are found all over his body forming the necklace, the girdle, the yajnopavita (sacred thread) and arm-bracelets. He has been variously described as Aghora or the ‘terrible’, Candra-sekhara or the ‘moon-crested’, Gangadhara or the ‘bearer of the Ganga’, Girisa or the ‘mountain lord’, Mahesa or the ‘great lord’, Mrtyuñjaya or the ‘vanquisher of death’, Pau-pati or lord of animals, Sañkara, Sarva, Sadaiva, or Sambhu, ‘auspicious’, Tryambaka or the ‘three-eyed’, Vivanãtha or the ‘lord of all’ and so on. In the Mahabharata as many as one thousand and eight different names of Siva have been listed in a prayer addressed to him.

On the auspicious occasion of Mahã Siva-rãtri, Siva performs the ecstatic and cosmic dance of realization. In the dance pose Rudra-Siva is known as Natarãja (‘lord of dance’). The dance symbolizes the thrill of god-realization. Beyond the realms of the waking, dream and deep-sleep states of consciousness, beyond the experiences of the body and its perception, the mind and its feelings, its intellect and beyond its thoughts lies the bliss of godhood. Siva reaches this state of consciousness and godhood and he dances with the intoxication of the supreme bliss. According to Ananda Coomaraswamy (The Dance of Siva 1924), “the Indian Nalaraja may well be claimed as the clearest, most logical, and impassioned statement of the conception of life as an eternal Becoming.” The Nalaraja aspect of Siva Mahesvara typifies the cosmos in the action of creation and dissolution. “This is his dance in the last night of the world when the stars fall from their courses and all is reduced to ashes. to be ever rekindled, ever renewed by the boundless power of the Lord The Dionysian frenzy of his whirling dance presents affirmation of the eternal, unseen spectacle of the dynamic disintegration and renewal, birth and death, of all cosmic matter in every second as in every kalpa of time.

According to metaphysical interpretation, Siva’s cosmic (lance represents the vibrating universe. On the Night of Brabma, Nature is supposedly inert, and cannot move or dance till Nataraja Siva wills it. He rises from his stillness, starts dancing, and sends through the material world pulsating waves of awakening sound, proceeding from the drum (damaru), held in his hand. Then in the fullness of time, still dancing, He destroys all names and forms by the cosmic fire, and then there is now the time for rest. Thus the Time and the Timeless are reconciled by the conception of phase alternations extending over the vast areas of space and the great tracts of time. The orderly dance of the spheres, the perpetual movement of atoms, evolution and involution, are the conceptions that have at all times recurred to the human mind. But to represent them in the visible form of Natarãja’s cosmic (tãiy4ava) dance is a unique and magnificent achievement of the India’s cultural adventure.

Naaraja’s cosmic (tãndava) dance with different movements, like the nadanta, the Indian mind personification of the universal forcus nature, the pulsation of electronic energy within the In the nadanta dance, Naaraja personifies the kinetic or dynamic aspect of his divinity, the elemental force through the power of which the whole universe created, sustained and ultimately destroyed. According to Havell, the image of Siva as the dhyani or the meditating Buddha is only the static centre round which the forces of the cosmos revolve, like the electrons whirling round the static nucleus of the atom. Siva is the Supreme Intelligence, the Divine Spirit, dancing the dance of Karma. “They never see rebirths who behold the mystic dance” of Naaraja Siva.

Siva’s third eye is also known as the jñana caksu. The term, jñana caksu literally means the ‘eye of wisdom’. It is the eye whose vision reaches beyond that of the two mortal eyes. The idea of the third eye is not to be taken literally to mean that a third fleshly organ exists in Siva. It only means that Siva has a divine vision of the highest Reality. Siva is also known as Mahesvara, the great Lord, Mahädeva, the great God, Samhhu, Hara, Pinikadhrk, bearer of the axe and Mrtyunjaya, the conqueror of death. He is the spouse of Sakti, the goddess. Mahãkãla and Bhairava, the terrible, as well as many other forms also represent him, including the terrifying one, that is, Rudra. Siva is often pictured as holding the (lamaru, an hourglass-shaped drum, along with his trila. His usual mantra is on nameh Sivaya.

He is the Lord of yoga. On his matted locks there is a beautiful crescent moon, from which streams down the river Gañga. Around his neck and arms are serpents, while he also wears necklaces and armlets made of rudrãksa beads, which are sacred to him. He is besmeared with ash, as that is all that remains after the dissolution of the universe, which he presides over. This dissolution of the universe comes when his third eye opens, the whole metaphor referring to the realization of one’s own consciousness, which is Siva. His right hand shows the mudrã (sign) dispelling fear, while in his left he holds the trident, symbol of the three worlds, on which is bound the damaru. He sits on a tiger skin and on his right is a water pot.

Siva is also pictured as a five-faced (pancanana) godhead, the five aspects being Bãna, Tat-purusa, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyo-jata. Again he is also eightfold (aa-mãrti), representing the eight directions. As iva-Sakti, he also has a form, called Ardha-narisvara (half-goddess and half-god) with a meditating image showing the devi (goddess) as a red coloured divinity, forming one half of the body, along with the deva (god) as the other half, having a terrifying and fierce aspect.

Mahãdeva Siva is also the lord of all beings of the underworld, including the bhãtas (the elementals), the pretas (ghosts), the pisãcas (flesh eaters) and the like. He is sometimes pictured as a god riding on a horse, followed by his retinue of siddhas (accomplished ones), bhairavas (terrifying forms of Siva), yogins and the rest. As Rudra, he is identified with the star Sirius, and is the supreme hunter.

The lingam used in worship of Siva is made of different materials. While the Todala Tantra recommends lingas made of clay, they are also fashioned from quartz, stone, and in the case of the Mãtrikãbheda Tantra, from a mercury amalgam. In the temples devoted to Siva, the lingam, very often associated with a yoni as its base, is generally placed before n image of Nandin, the bull, his vehicle or vahana. Before bowing to the liñgam itself, the worshiper touches the bull, which sits facing the lingam. Often, the liñgam is part of a combined yoni-lingam symbol, representing the male and female principles. Flowers and liquids are poured over the liñgam and yoni emblem. Ahhinava Gupta, in his Tantrdloka, refers to Siva as the “Mother and the Father of the Universe”. Siva is the seed, or the origin of the muli-dimensional universe, giving rise to all other ontological categories. Yet, there is no duality in Siva, because he is all the while completely immersed in blissful union with Sakti.

Thus, Siva, the universal masculine principle, may assume different forms and faculties in order to fulfill the aspirant’s and the devotee’s most ardent and profound desires. Nonetheless, in the tãntric view, iva does not remain distant, somewhere in the clouds, looking down onto his devotees. He is to be found in the very heart of every human being, in every act of compassion, learning, right guidance, and ardent aspiration towards spiritual perfection. And moreover, he is not at all limited to all these only. The tãntric devotee finds in Siva the Deity of love, living and vibrant reality, full of spontaneous energy, a divine force whose presence he perceives directly, but whom he considers as a person close to himself.

Siva’s names are endless. So is His popularity. Even as early as the 2nd Century AD, Siva’s fame spread beyond the boundaries of the Indian Subcontinent and spread to Central Asia on the north. As the Indian culture spread to the Far East, iva temples were built in His honour in many places like Java (Indonesia), Campa (Indo-China), Kimbhoja. (Cambodia) and in the adjoining areas. Some of these temples of Siva were built there as early as the 5th Century AD. Saivism is an important cult of Hinduism, with several sub-sects within, like Kashmiri Saivism, Vira Saivism, the Pãsupata cult, the Natha cult and so on.

Contents

1 Preface. I
2 Introduction to the Concept of Siva Mahesvara by the EditorIII
3 The Text of the Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara1
5 Foot Notes and References46
6 Plates69
7 Abbreviations77
7 Index79

Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara

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2003
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Preface

While writing this preface to Professor R. C. Hazra’s posthumous publication of the Rise of Epic and Purnica Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara, his benign face suddenly flashes up in my mind. I saw him last perhaps some three decades ago, along with my late wife, Sbani, who was his direct student, first in the 1940s at Dacca University and then afterwards in the early 1950s at the Sanskrit College in Kolkata. Whenever we paid a visit to him, the professor would always treat me with a beam of smile, which was so loving and pleasant. I cherish it even now. Unfortunately for me, after demise of my wife, I could not avail of a chance to see Professor Hazra any more, which I regret ever so much from the depth of my heart.

But the intentions and the ways of providence are difficult to understand. A few years ago, by some strange coincidence, day I suddenly realized that a close friend of mine, Dr. Sudhai Biswas, retired Additional Director of Agriculture Government of West Bengal, happened to be me son-In-law of Professor R.C. Hazra. Then I was told for the first time by Dr. Biswas and his wife, Jayanti, that Professor Hazra (1905-1982) left some unpublished manuscripts and notes, which they had been trying to get printed, but without any success so far. They requested me to see if these could now be brought out by some means. Their earlier attempt to get some of these papers punished through the good offices of an erstwhile colleague of e late Professor did not bear any fruit. As I thumbed through these valuable scholarly papers, which in the meanwhile have mined yellow and brittle, with the ink fast fading away, I strongly I that it was high time to get these printed off. Otherwise, the Scholarly studies of Professor Hazra would be lost for good.

Luckily, after some effort and by the grace of god, I could gets to certain sources that could be entrusted with the task of bringing them out. Now, as a result, this current treatise is seeing light of the day under the auspices of the publishers, Sadesh. • what I am afraid of is that the task of editing and seeing it through the press devolved on a totally incompetent person like r who had not even a nodding acquaintance with the subject dealt with in the current volume. Due to my total incompetent Person like me who had not even a nodding acquaintance with the subject matter dealt with in the current volume. Due to my total inadequacy, I had to slowly labour through the manuscripts to figure out the significance and meanings of the scholarly text. ft was exciting to edit the text as best as could be possible on my part, and then to see through several rounds of proofs before finally printing it off in the present shape. It is needless to say that I carried out only a minimal amount of editing on this scholarly writing, hut I have added an introductory note on the concept of Siva Mahevara, supposedly for convenience of some readers. Unfortunately, some of the footnotes - - which were originally attached to the text - - could not be retrieved from the bundle of manuscripts available to us. However, the damage done has been rather small, for luckily, the main text part was found in tact as has been printed here. 1 am happy to tell here that this small publication is just a precursor of a much larger volume, entitled, Rudra in the Rg -Veda, to he brought out soon under the auspices of Jadavpur University.

I take this opportunity to profusely thank Mrs. Basanti Hazra, wife of the late Professor R. C. Haira and their daughter, Mrs. Jayanti Biswas, for having deposed on me profound confidence and the great responsibility of bringing out this scholarly work of Professor Hazra. But perhaps this was the only way left for me to ultimately repay the debt of the Siksa-guru on my behalf and more so on behalf of my wife, Dr. Sibani Das Gupta, who is no more here to perform this duty of hers, living it to me to carry it out as her poor substitute.

In bringing out this treatise, first of all, I would like to give full credit to the typesetters, who spared to no pains to carefully decipher the writings and correctly pick up the diacritical marks from the handwritten and very much friable press copy. In this connection, I must thank Sri Debashis Bhattacharya, for having gladly come forward to bring out the volume on behalf the publishers, Sadesh and the distributors, Sri Balaram Prakashani. Without the active help and intervention Debashis Bhattacharya, it could not have been possible to see the book brought out so speedily. If the current production is liked by the experts and by the general reading public, I shall consider my labour of love not entirely lost.

Introduction to the Concept of Siva Mahevara

Over a long period of time, the originally fearful Vedic god was included as one of the most important and popular members of the pantheon in the Indian subcontinent for daily worship. The Vedic Rudra (meaning, a terrifying ‘howler’) had been imported all the way from ancient Assyria and Babylonia of West Asia and had been pictured as an extremely malevolent god, prone to destroying Vedic sacrifices. In the circumstances, the eventual conversion of Rudra into Siva (meaning the ‘auspicious’ one) and the evolution of the concept of Siva Mahevara (‘auspicious great lord’) through the epic and purãnic period in the cultural history of ancient India had been highly complex and fascinating.

Siva is now one of the gods of the holy Trinity of India, comprising three aspects namely, Brahmã, Visnu and Siva Mahevara. Siva Mahevara is said to be the god of dissolution (pralaya). In the Trinity, Brahma is the god of creation (srsti)) and Visnu is the god of maintenance (sthiti). The three gods represent the three fundamental powers of nature which are manifest in the world namely creation, maintenance and dissolution. These powers exist perpetually in the godhead. Creation (si:yii) is going on all the time. So are dissolution (pralaya) and maintenance (sthiti). All these three fundamental processes are manifesting at all times. Being in a chain of cyclic system, these processes are inseparable from each other. Creation and dissolution are like two sides of a coin. And maintenance is an integral part of the processes of creation and dissolution. To indicate that these three processes are one and the same, the three gods of the Trinity are combined in one form of Lord Dattatreya.

The Siva Mahevara aspect is united with the goddess Umä or Pärvati. Uma represents the /rakrti, which means the perishable matter. Siva’s union with Uma signifies that the power of dissolution has no meaning without its association with the perishable matter. Dissolution manifests itself only when there is perishable matter. Lord Siva sits in a meditative (yogic) posture against the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Kailãs in Tibet. The quiet yogic posture of his symbolizes perfect inner harmony and poise. For he is thereby rooted in consciousness. He revels in the bliss of the transcendental Reality. Nothing can disturb him, as it were. The vicissitudes of nature, the challenges of life, the trials and tribulations of the material world do not affect him at all. He maintains perfect serenity, equanimity and tranquility in all environments and circumstances.

The whole world is believed to sleep or reside in Siva after destruction until the next cycle of creation begins. Siva is worshiped in the liñga form in temples. His pictures and images in the human form are found everywhere. He is snow-white in colour or white as camphor. He has three eyes the third eye being on the forehead between the eyebrows. The three eyes represent the sun, the moon, and fire, that is, the three sources of energy that is light, life, and heat. The third burning eye also represents the light of knowledge and wisdom. He also uses the third eye as a terrible weapon against enemies. By focusing the third eye on the enemy, Siva can destroy them with blazing fire. He wears tiger skin and elephant skin, the former symbolizing the complete mastery over desire, while the latter symbolizes animal power. He is shown as having four hands — one holding a trident (trisüla) , which is a symbol of lightning. This is why he is known as the god of storms. The second hand holds a drum ((damaru). The other two hands are in the posture of offering protection (abhaya) and boon (varada). Triü1a, the weapon of offense and defense, stands for the three gunas (forces) as well as the three processes of creation, preservation and destruction. The janaru, producer of sound, symbolizes the rhythm of life, the alphabets, grammar or the language itself.

He is depicted as having a crown of long matted hair from which the river Ganga flows down. In Indian mythology, Siva has been described in a number of benevolent roles. In one instance, the Ganges , which winds around Mount Meru in the Himalaya, falls in great torrents. Siva, in order to break the fall, stands beneath the water making it fall on his matted locks and divide the water into seven holy streams. Another puranic story is perishable matter. Dissolution manifests itself only when there is perishable matter. Lord Siva sits in a meditative (yogic) posture against the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Kailas in Tibet. The quiet yogic posture of his symbolizes perfect inner harmony and poise. For he is thereby rooted in consciousness. He revels in the bliss of the transcendental Reality. Nothing can disturb him. as it were. The vicissitudes of nature, the challenges of life, the trials and tribulations of the material world do not affect him at all. He maintains perfect serenity, equanimity and tranquility in all environments and circumstances.

The whole world is believed to sleep or reside in Siva after destruction until the next cycle of creation begins. Siva worshiped in the liñga form in temples. His pictures and images in the human form are found everywhere. He is snow-white in colour or white as camphor. He has three eyes -- the third eye being on the forehead between the eyebrows. The three eyes represent the sun, the moon, and fire, that is, the three sources of energy that is light, life, and heat. The third burning eye also represents the light of knowledge and wisdom. He also uses the third eye as a terrible weapon against enemies. By focusing the third eye on the enemy, Siva can destroy them with blazing fire. He wears tiger skin and elephant skin, the former symbolizing the complete mastery over desire, while the latter symbolizes animal power. He is shown as having four hands — one holding a trident (trisula) , which is a symbol of lightning. This is why he is known as the god of storms. The second hand holds a drum (damaru). The other two hands are in the posture of offerinz protection (abhaya) and boon (varada). Trisüla, the weapon oI offense and defense, stands for the three gunas (forces) as well as the three processes of creation, preservation and destruction. The damaru, producer of sound, symbolizes the rhythm of life. the alphabets, grammar or the language itself.

He is depicted as having a crown of long matted hair from which the river Ganga flows down. In Indian mythology, Siva has been described in a number of benevolent roles. In one instance. the Ganges river, which winds around Mount Meru in the Himalaya, falls in great torrents. Siva, in order to break the far.. stands beneath the water making it fall on his matted locks are divide the water into seven holy streams. Another puranic story that of Siva performing a vital role during the churning of the ocean of milk (arnrla — ambrosia) so that this amrta could be extracted so as to strengthen the gods in their struggle against the demons. During the churning process, the serpent Väsuki, acting as the churning rope, vomited out poison that was going to contaminate the ambrosia. Siva came forward and caught the position in his mouth, drank it off and held it in his throat. This turned his throat black. Hence he is known as Nila-kantha (black- throated).

Siva wears the crescent moon on his forehead symbolizing the time in days or months. Serpents are found all over his body forming the necklace, the girdle, the yajnopavita (sacred thread) and arm-bracelets. He has been variously described as Aghora or the ‘terrible’, Candra-sekhara or the ‘moon-crested’, Gangadhara or the ‘bearer of the Ganga’, Girisa or the ‘mountain lord’, Mahesa or the ‘great lord’, Mrtyuñjaya or the ‘vanquisher of death’, Pau-pati or lord of animals, Sañkara, Sarva, Sadaiva, or Sambhu, ‘auspicious’, Tryambaka or the ‘three-eyed’, Vivanãtha or the ‘lord of all’ and so on. In the Mahabharata as many as one thousand and eight different names of Siva have been listed in a prayer addressed to him.

On the auspicious occasion of Mahã Siva-rãtri, Siva performs the ecstatic and cosmic dance of realization. In the dance pose Rudra-Siva is known as Natarãja (‘lord of dance’). The dance symbolizes the thrill of god-realization. Beyond the realms of the waking, dream and deep-sleep states of consciousness, beyond the experiences of the body and its perception, the mind and its feelings, its intellect and beyond its thoughts lies the bliss of godhood. Siva reaches this state of consciousness and godhood and he dances with the intoxication of the supreme bliss. According to Ananda Coomaraswamy (The Dance of Siva 1924), “the Indian Nalaraja may well be claimed as the clearest, most logical, and impassioned statement of the conception of life as an eternal Becoming.” The Nalaraja aspect of Siva Mahesvara typifies the cosmos in the action of creation and dissolution. “This is his dance in the last night of the world when the stars fall from their courses and all is reduced to ashes. to be ever rekindled, ever renewed by the boundless power of the Lord The Dionysian frenzy of his whirling dance presents affirmation of the eternal, unseen spectacle of the dynamic disintegration and renewal, birth and death, of all cosmic matter in every second as in every kalpa of time.

According to metaphysical interpretation, Siva’s cosmic (lance represents the vibrating universe. On the Night of Brabma, Nature is supposedly inert, and cannot move or dance till Nataraja Siva wills it. He rises from his stillness, starts dancing, and sends through the material world pulsating waves of awakening sound, proceeding from the drum (damaru), held in his hand. Then in the fullness of time, still dancing, He destroys all names and forms by the cosmic fire, and then there is now the time for rest. Thus the Time and the Timeless are reconciled by the conception of phase alternations extending over the vast areas of space and the great tracts of time. The orderly dance of the spheres, the perpetual movement of atoms, evolution and involution, are the conceptions that have at all times recurred to the human mind. But to represent them in the visible form of Natarãja’s cosmic (tãiy4ava) dance is a unique and magnificent achievement of the India’s cultural adventure.

Naaraja’s cosmic (tãndava) dance with different movements, like the nadanta, the Indian mind personification of the universal forcus nature, the pulsation of electronic energy within the In the nadanta dance, Naaraja personifies the kinetic or dynamic aspect of his divinity, the elemental force through the power of which the whole universe created, sustained and ultimately destroyed. According to Havell, the image of Siva as the dhyani or the meditating Buddha is only the static centre round which the forces of the cosmos revolve, like the electrons whirling round the static nucleus of the atom. Siva is the Supreme Intelligence, the Divine Spirit, dancing the dance of Karma. “They never see rebirths who behold the mystic dance” of Naaraja Siva.

Siva’s third eye is also known as the jñana caksu. The term, jñana caksu literally means the ‘eye of wisdom’. It is the eye whose vision reaches beyond that of the two mortal eyes. The idea of the third eye is not to be taken literally to mean that a third fleshly organ exists in Siva. It only means that Siva has a divine vision of the highest Reality. Siva is also known as Mahesvara, the great Lord, Mahädeva, the great God, Samhhu, Hara, Pinikadhrk, bearer of the axe and Mrtyunjaya, the conqueror of death. He is the spouse of Sakti, the goddess. Mahãkãla and Bhairava, the terrible, as well as many other forms also represent him, including the terrifying one, that is, Rudra. Siva is often pictured as holding the (lamaru, an hourglass-shaped drum, along with his trila. His usual mantra is on nameh Sivaya.

He is the Lord of yoga. On his matted locks there is a beautiful crescent moon, from which streams down the river Gañga. Around his neck and arms are serpents, while he also wears necklaces and armlets made of rudrãksa beads, which are sacred to him. He is besmeared with ash, as that is all that remains after the dissolution of the universe, which he presides over. This dissolution of the universe comes when his third eye opens, the whole metaphor referring to the realization of one’s own consciousness, which is Siva. His right hand shows the mudrã (sign) dispelling fear, while in his left he holds the trident, symbol of the three worlds, on which is bound the damaru. He sits on a tiger skin and on his right is a water pot.

Siva is also pictured as a five-faced (pancanana) godhead, the five aspects being Bãna, Tat-purusa, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyo-jata. Again he is also eightfold (aa-mãrti), representing the eight directions. As iva-Sakti, he also has a form, called Ardha-narisvara (half-goddess and half-god) with a meditating image showing the devi (goddess) as a red coloured divinity, forming one half of the body, along with the deva (god) as the other half, having a terrifying and fierce aspect.

Mahãdeva Siva is also the lord of all beings of the underworld, including the bhãtas (the elementals), the pretas (ghosts), the pisãcas (flesh eaters) and the like. He is sometimes pictured as a god riding on a horse, followed by his retinue of siddhas (accomplished ones), bhairavas (terrifying forms of Siva), yogins and the rest. As Rudra, he is identified with the star Sirius, and is the supreme hunter.

The lingam used in worship of Siva is made of different materials. While the Todala Tantra recommends lingas made of clay, they are also fashioned from quartz, stone, and in the case of the Mãtrikãbheda Tantra, from a mercury amalgam. In the temples devoted to Siva, the lingam, very often associated with a yoni as its base, is generally placed before n image of Nandin, the bull, his vehicle or vahana. Before bowing to the liñgam itself, the worshiper touches the bull, which sits facing the lingam. Often, the liñgam is part of a combined yoni-lingam symbol, representing the male and female principles. Flowers and liquids are poured over the liñgam and yoni emblem. Ahhinava Gupta, in his Tantrdloka, refers to Siva as the “Mother and the Father of the Universe”. Siva is the seed, or the origin of the muli-dimensional universe, giving rise to all other ontological categories. Yet, there is no duality in Siva, because he is all the while completely immersed in blissful union with Sakti.

Thus, Siva, the universal masculine principle, may assume different forms and faculties in order to fulfill the aspirant’s and the devotee’s most ardent and profound desires. Nonetheless, in the tãntric view, iva does not remain distant, somewhere in the clouds, looking down onto his devotees. He is to be found in the very heart of every human being, in every act of compassion, learning, right guidance, and ardent aspiration towards spiritual perfection. And moreover, he is not at all limited to all these only. The tãntric devotee finds in Siva the Deity of love, living and vibrant reality, full of spontaneous energy, a divine force whose presence he perceives directly, but whom he considers as a person close to himself.

Siva’s names are endless. So is His popularity. Even as early as the 2nd Century AD, Siva’s fame spread beyond the boundaries of the Indian Subcontinent and spread to Central Asia on the north. As the Indian culture spread to the Far East, iva temples were built in His honour in many places like Java (Indonesia), Campa (Indo-China), Kimbhoja. (Cambodia) and in the adjoining areas. Some of these temples of Siva were built there as early as the 5th Century AD. Saivism is an important cult of Hinduism, with several sub-sects within, like Kashmiri Saivism, Vira Saivism, the Pãsupata cult, the Natha cult and so on.

Contents

1 Preface. I
2 Introduction to the Concept of Siva Mahesvara by the EditorIII
3 The Text of the Rise of Epic and Puranic Rudra-Siva or Siva Mahesvara1
5 Foot Notes and References46
6 Plates69
7 Abbreviations77
7 Index79
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