Sunday, September 23, 2007

Shiva Sahasranama

Sahasranama means thousand (sahasra) names (nama), and Sahasranama Stotra is a hymn eulogizing the Lord by recounting one thousand of His names. As the various sects of Hinduism (Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism) grew and spread, it must have become extremely popular to write hymns of a thousand names for the primary Deity of worship. There are various Sahasranama Stotras, but obviously here we concentrate on the Shiva Sahasranama Stotra.

What makes the Shiva Sahasranama Stotra unique is the number of times and variations of the hymn that are found in ancient texts. The appearance of the Shiva Sahasranama Stotra in at least 18 different texts is a testament to the fact that Shaivism in various forms was once immensely popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. In fact, Shaivism was the most widespread and influential form of Hinduism prior to 1200 CE (before the beginning of the Islamic era and the pan-Indian Vaishnava devotional movements).

Below is a list of the texts in which Shiva Sahasranama Stotras are found.

1. Mahabharata (Anushasanaparva version)
2. Mahabharata
(Shantiparva version)
3. Linga Purana
(version 1; chapter 65)
4. Linga Purana
(version 2; chapter 97)
5. Shiva Purana (Kotirudra Samhita)
6. Vayu Purana

7. Brahmanda Purana

8. Devi Mahabhagavata Upapurana
9. Padma Purana
10. Skanda Purana
11. Vamana Purana
12. Markandeya Purana
13. Saura Purana
14. Bhairava Tantra
15. Bhringiridi Samhita
16. Rudrayamala Tantra
17. Shiva Rahasya Itihasa
18. Akasa Kalpa Tantra

Using the reductionist approach, we arrive at four different major variants of the Shiva Sahasranama:

1. Mahabharata (Anushasanaparva version)
2. Mahabharata
(Shantiparva version)
3. Shiva Purana
4. Rudrayamala Tantra

The two Mahabharata versions were copied into most of the Puranas, including the Linga Purana, with minor variations. An exception is the Shiva Purana version which appears to be original. Another original version is found in the Rudrayamala Tantra, which was later copied into the Shiva Rahasya Itihasa. If we were to hazard a guess as to which school the Shiva Sahasranama Stotras came from, it would be fairly reasonable to say that the Mahabharata (and most Purana) versions belong to the Smartas, the Shiva Purana version belongs to the Pashupatas, and the Rudrayamala Tantra version belongs to the Tantrik Shaivas.

The most ancient form of the Shiva Sahasranama Stotra is found in the Anushasanaparva book of the Mahabharata, wherein Shiva is eulogized by Krishna. The next most ancient version is likely the one found in the Shantiparva book of the Mahabharata, which is thought to have been inserted later into the book, and not found in standard critical editions of the Mahabharata. The 1000 names given below are from the Linga Purana and are probably based on the Shantiparva book of the Mahabharata with some variations. In the Linga Purana, it is not Krishna, but Vishnu who eulogizes Shiva.

It is important to remember that in any given Sahasranama, several names are repeated more than once, and in most there are actually more than 1000 names. Given below are only the first 1000 names as found in the Linga Purana.

[© Agnideva, 2007]

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Shiva Sahasranama
1000 Names of Shiva from the Linga Purana

Bhava; Shiva; Hara; Rudra; Purusha; Padmalochana; Arthitavya; Sadachara; Sarva; Shambhu; Maheshvara; Ishvara; Sthanu; Ishana; Sahasraksha; Sahasrapada; Variyana; Varada; Vandya; Shankara; Parameshvara; Gangadhara; Shuladhara; Pararthaikaprayojana; Sarvajna; Saradevadi; Giridhanva; Jatadhara; Chandrapida; Chandramouli; Vidvana; Vishvamareshvara; Vedantasarasarvasva; Kapali; Nilalohita; Jnanadhara; Aparichedya; Gouribharta; Ganeshvara; Ashtamurti; Vishvamurti; Trivarga; Svargasadhana; Jnanagamya; Dridaprajna; Devadeva; Trilochana; Vamadeva; Mahadeva; Pandu; Paridrida; Vishvarupa; Virupaksha; Vagisha; Shuchi; Antara; Sarvapranayasvadi; Vrishanka; Vrishavahana; Isha; Pinaki; Khattangi; Chitravesha; Chirantana; Tomohara; Mahayogi; Brhamangahrita; Jati; Kalakala; Krittivasa; Subhaga; Pranavatmaka; Unmattavesha; Chakshushya; Durvasa; Smarashasana; Dridayudha; Parameshthiparayana; Anadimadhyanidhana; Girisha; Girivandhava; Kuberavandhu; Shrikantha; Lokavarnottamottama; Samanya; Deva; Kodandi; Nilakantha; Parashvadhi; Vishalaksha; Mrigavyadha; Suresha; Suryatapana; Dharmakarmakshama; Ksehtra; Bhagavan; Bhaganetravida; Urga; Pashupati; Tarkshya. (100)

Priyabhakta; Priyasvada; Dantodayakara; Daksha; Karpadi; Kamashasana; Shmashananilaya; Suksha; Shmashanastha; Maheshvara; Lokakarta; Bhutapati; Mahakarta; Mahoushadhi; Uttara; Gopati; Gopta; Jnanagamya; Puratana; Nita; Sunita; Shuddhatma; Soma; Somavrita; Sukhi; Somapa; Amritapa; Mahaniti; Mahamati; Ajatashatru; Aloka; Sambhavya; Havyavahana; Lokakara; Vedakara; Sutrakara; Sanatana; Maharshi; Kapilacharya; Vishvadipti; Trilochana; Pinakapani; Bhurdeva; Svastida; Sadasvastikrita; Tridhama; Soubhaga; Sarvasar-vajna; Sarvagochara; Brahmadhrika; Vishvasrika; Svarga; Karnikara; Priya; Kavi; Sahakhavishakha; Goshakha; Shiva; Naikya; Kratu; Gangaplavodaka; Bhava; Sakala; Supatisthira; Vijitatma; Vidheyatma; Bhutavahana; Sarathi; Sagana; Ganakarya; Sukirti; Chhinnasamshaya; Kamadeva; Kamapala; Bhasmodvulitavigraha; Bhasmapriya; Bhasmashayi; Kami; Kanta; Kritagama; Samayukta; Nivrittatma; Dharmayukta; Sadashiva; Chaturmukha; Chaturvahu; Duravasa; Durasada; Durgama; Durlabha; Durga; Sarga; Sarvayudhavisharda; Sutantu; Adhyatmayoganilaya; Tantuvarddhana; Shubhanga; Lokasagara; Amritashana; Bhasmashuddhikara. (200)


Meru; Ojasvi; Shuddhavigraha; Hiranyareta; Bharani; Marichi; Mahimalaya; Mahahrada; Mahagarbha; Siddharvrindaravandita; Vyaghracharmadhara; Vyali; Mahabhuta; Mahanidhi; Amritanga; Amritavapu; Panchayajna; Prabhanjana; Panchavimshatitattvajna; Parijataparavara; Sulabha; Suvrata; Shura; Vangmayanidhi; Nidhi; Varnashramaguru; Varni; Shatrujita; Shatrutapana; Ashrama; Kshapana; Kshama; Jnanavana; Achalachala; Pramanabhuta; Durjneya; Suparna; Vayuvahana; Dhanurddhara; Dhanurveda; Gunarashi; Gunakara; Anantadrishti; Ananda; Danda; Damayita; Dama; Abhivadya; Mahacharya; Vishvakarma; Visharada; Vitaraga; Vinitatma; Tapasvi; Bhutabhavan; Unmattavesha; Pracchanna; Jitakama; Ajitapriya; Kalyana; Prakriti; Kalpa; Sarvaloka; Prajapati; Tapasvitaraka; Dhimana; Pradhana; Prabhu; Avyayaya; Lokapa; Antarhitatma; Kalpadi; Kamalekshana; Vedashastrarthatattvajna; Nityama; Niyamashraya; Chandra; Surya; Shani; Ketu; Virama; Vidruchhavi ; Bhaktigamya; Parabrahma; Mrigavanarpana; Anagha; Adrirajalya; Kanta; Paramatma; Jagadguru; Sarvakarmachala; Tvashta; Mangalya; Mangalarata; Mahatapa; Dirghatapa; Sthavishtha; Sthavira; Dhruva; Ahaha; Samvatsara. (300)

Vyapti; Pramana; Tapah; Samvatsarakra; Mantra; Pratyaya; Sarvadarshana; Aja; Sarveshvara; Snigddha; Sarvadi; Agnida; Vasu; Vasumana; Satya; Sarvapapahara; Hara; Amritashashvata; Shanta; Banahasta; Pratapavana; Kamandaludhara; Dhanvi; Vedanga; Vedavit; Muni; Bhrajishnu; Bhojana; Bhokta; Lokaneta; Duradhara; Atindriya; Mahamaya; Sarvavasa; Chatushpatha; Kalayogi; Mahanada; Mahotsaha; Mahabala; Mahabuddhi; Mahavirya; Bhutachari; Purandara; Nishachara; Pretachari; Mahashakti; Mahadyuti; Anirdeshyavapu; Shrimana; Sarvaharyamitagati; Vahushruta; Vahumaya; Niyatatma; Bhavodhava; Narataka; Ojastejodyutikara; Sarvakamaka; Nrityapriya; Nrityanritya; Prakashatmapratapa; Buddhaspashtakshara; Mantra; Sammana; Sarasamplava; Yugadikrita; Yugavarta; Gambhira; Vrishavahana; Ishta; Vishishta; Shishteshta; Sharabha; Sharabhadhanusha; Apangnidhi; Adhishtanavijaya; Jayakalavit; Pratishthita; Pramanajna; Hiranyakavacha; Hari; Virochana; Suragana; Vidyesha; Vibudhashraya; Valarupa; Balonmathi; Vivarta; Gahanagruru ; Karana; Karta; Sarvavandhavimochana; Vidvattama; Vitabhaya; Vishvahbarta; Nishakara; Vyavasaya; Vyavasthana; Sthananda; Jagadadija; Dundubha. (400)

Lalita; Vishva; Bhavatmatmasthita; Vireshvara; Virabhadra; Viraha; Virabhrida; Virata; Virachudamani; Vetta; Tivrananda; Nadidhara; Ajnadhara; Trishuti; Shipivishita; Shivalaya; Valakhilya; Mahachapa; Tigmamashu; Nidhi; Avyaya; Abhirama; Susharanya; Subrahmanya; Sudhapati; Maghavana; Koushika; Gomana; Vishrama; Sarvashasana; Lalataksha; Vishvadeha; Sara; Samsarachakrabhita; Amoghadandi; Madhyastha; Hiranya; Brahmavarchasi; Paramartha; Paramaya; Shambara; Vyaghraka; Anala; Ruchi; Vararuchi; Vandya; Ahaspati; Aharpati; Ravivirocha; Skandha; Shasta; Vaivasvata; Ajana; Yukti; Unnatakirti; Shantaraga; Parajaya; Kailasapati; Kamari; Savita; Ravilochana; Vidvattama; Vitabhaya; Vishvaharta; Nitya; Anivarita; Niyatakalyana; Punyashravanadkirtana; Durashrava; Vishvasaha; Dhyeya; Duhsvapnanashana; Uttaraka; Dushkritiha; Durddharsha; Duhsaha; Abhaya; Anadi; Bhu; Bhulakshmi; Kiriti; Tridashadhipa; Vishvagopta; Vishvabharta; Sudhira; Ruchirangada; Janana; Janajanmadi; Pritimana; Nitimana; Naya; Vishishta; Kashyapa; Bhanu; Bhima; Bhimaparakrama; Pranava; Saptadhachara; Mahakaya; Mahamadhanu. (500)

Janmadhipa; Mahadeva; Sakaalagamaparaga; Tattvatativavivekatma; Vibhushnu; Bhutibhushana; Rishi; Brahmanavida; Jishnu; Janmamrityujaratiga; Yajna; Yajnapati; Yajva; Yajnanta; Amogha; Vikrama; Mahendra; Durbhara; Seni; Yajnanga; Yajnavahana; Panchabrahmasamutpatti; Vishvesha; Vimalodaya; Atmayoni; Anadyanta; Shadavimsha; Saptalodhaka; Gayatrivallabha; pramshu; Vishvavasa; Prabhakara; Shishu; Girirata; Samrata; Sushena; Surashatruha; Aristamathana; Mukunda; Vigatajvara; Svayamjoti; Anujyoti; Atmajayoti; Achanchala; Kapila; Kapilashmashru; Shastranetra; Trayitanu; Jnanaskandha; Mahajnani; Nirutapatti; Upaplava; Bhaga; Vivasvana; Aditya; Yogacharya; Brihaspati; Udarakirti; Udyogi; Sadyogi; Sadasanmaya; Nakshatramali; Narakesha; Sadhishtana; Shadashraya; Pavitrapani; Papari; Manipura; Manogati; Hritpundarikasina; Shukla; Shantavrishakapi; Vishnu; Grahapati; Krishna; Samartha; Arthanashana; Adharmashatru; Akshashya; Puruhuta; Purushtuta; Brahmagarbha; Vrihadagarbha; Dharmadhenu; Dhanagama; Jagatahitaishi; Supata; Kumara; Kushalagama; Hiranyavarna; Jyotishmana; Nanbhutadhara; Dhvani; Aroga; Niyamadhyaksha; Vishvamitra; Dvijottama; Vrihajyoti; Sudhama; Mahajyoti. (600)

Anuttama; Matamaha; Matarishva; Nabhasvana; Nagaharadhrika; Pulastya; Pulaha; Agastya; Jatukarna; Parashara; Niravarana; Dharmajna; Virincha; Vishtarashrava; Atmabhu; Aniruddha; Atrijnanamurti; Mahayasha; Lokachudamni; Vira; Chandasatya; Parakrama; Vyalakalpa; Mahavriksha; Kanadhara; Alankarishnu; Achala; Rochishnu; Vikramottama; Vegi; Ashushabdapati; Plavana; Shikhisarathi; Asamsrishta; Atithi; Shatrupramthi; Papanashana; Vasushrava; Kavyavaha; Pratapta; Vishvabhojana; Jarya; Jaradhishamana; Lohita; Tananapata; Prishadashva; Nabhahyoni; Supratika; Tamisraha; Nidaghatapana; Megphapaksha; Parapuranjaya; Mukhanila; Sunispanna; Surabhi; Shishiratmaka; Vasanta; Madhava; Grishma; Nabhasya; Vijavahana; Angira; Muni; Atreya; Vimala; Vishvavahana; Pavana; Purujita; Shatru; Trividya; Naravahana; Manovriddhi; Ahamkara; Kshetrajna; Kshetrapalaka; Tejonidhi; Jnananidhi; Vipaka; Vighnakaraka; Adhara; Anuttara; Jneya; Jyestha; Nihshreyasalaya; Shaila; Naga; Tanu; Deha; Danavari; Arindama; Charudhi; Janaka; Charuvishalya; Lokashalyakrita; Chaturveda; Chaturbhava; Chatura; Chaturapriya; Amnaya; Samamaya. (700)

Tirthadevashivalaya; Bahurupa; Maharupa; Sarvarupa; Charachara; Nyayanirvahaka; Nyaya; Nyayagamya; Niranjana; Sahasramurddha; Devendra; Sarvashastraprabhanjana; Munda; Virupa; Vikrita; Dandi; Gunottama; Pingalaksha; Haryaksha; Nilagriva; Niramaya; Sahasrabahu; Sarvesha; Sharanya; Sarvalokbhrita; Padmasana; Paramjyoti; Paravara; Paramophala; Padmagarbha; Vishvagarbha; Vichakshana; Paravarajna; Vijesha; Sumukhasumahasana; Devasuragurudeva; Devasurananmaskrita; Devasuramahatra; Devadideva; Devarshidevasuravaraprada; Devasureshvara; Divya; Devasuramaheshvara; Sarvadevamaya; Achintya; Devatatma; Atmasambhava; Idya; Anisha; Devasimha; Divakara; Vibudhagravarashreshta; Sarvadevottamottama; Shivajnanarata; Shrimana; Shikhishriparvatapriya; Jayastambha; Vishishtambha; Narasimhanipatana; Brahmachari; Lokachari; Dharmachari; Dhanadhipa; Nandi; Nandishvara; Nagna; Nagnavratadhara; Shuchi; Lingadhyaksha; Suradhyaksha; Yugadhyaksha; Yugavaha; Svavasha; Savamsha; Svargasvara; Svaramayasvana; Vijadhyaksha; Vijakarta; Dhanakrita; Dharmavardhana; Dambha; Adambha; Mahadambha; Sarvabhutamaheshvara; Shmashananilaya; Tishya; Setu; Apratimakriti; Lokottara; Sfutaloka; Tryamabaka; Andhakari; Makhadveshi; Vishnukandharapatana; Vitadosha; Akshayaguna; Dakshari; Pushadantahrita; Dhurjati; Khandaparashu. (800)

Saphala; Nishphala; Anagha; Adhara; Sakaladhara; Mrida; Pandurabha; Nata; Purna; Purayita; Punya; Sukumara; Sulochana; Samageya; Priyakara; Punyakirti; Anamaya; Manojava; Tirthavara; Jatila; Jiviteshvara; Jivitantakara; Nitya; Vasureta; Vasukiya; Sadgati; Satkriti; Sakta; Kalakantha; Kaladhara; Mani; Manya; Mahakala; Sadbhuti; Satyaparayana; Chandrasanjivana; Shasta; Lokaguda; Amaradhipa; Lokavandhu; Lokanatha; Kritajnakritibhushana; Anapayakshara; Kanta; Sarvashastrabhutasvara; Tejomayadyutidhara; Lokamaya; Agrani; Anu; Shuchismita; Prasannatma; Durjaya; Duratikrama; Jyotirmaya; Nirakara; Jagannatha; Jaleshvara; Tumbavini; Mahakaya; Vishoka; Shokanashana; Trilokatma; Trilokesha; Shuddha; Shuddhi; Rathakshaja; Avyaktalakshana; Avyakta; Vishampati; Varashila; Varatula; Mana; Manadhanamaya; Brahma; Vishnu; Prajapalaka; Hamsa; Hamsagati; Yama; Vedha; Dhata; Vidhata; Atta; Harta; Chaturmukha; Kailashashikharavasi; Sarvavasi; Satamgati; Hiranyagarbha; Harnia; Purusha; Purvajapita; Bhutalaya; Bhutapati; Bhutida; Bhuvaneshvara; Samyogi; Yogavida; Brahmanya; Brahmanapriya. (900)

Devapriya; Devanatha; Devajna; Devachintaka; Vishamaksha; Kaladhyaksha; Vrishanka; Vrishavardhana; Nirmada; Nirahamkara; Nirmoha; Nirupadrava; Darpaha; Darpita; Dripta; Sarvartuparivartaka; Saptajihva; Sahasrachi; Snigddha; Prakritidakshina; Bhutabhavyabhavanatha; Prabhava; Bhrantinashana; Artha; Anartha; Mahakosha; Parakavyaikapandita; Nishkantaka; Kritananda; Nirvyaja; Vyajamardana; Sattvavana; Sattvika; Satyakirti; Stambhakritagama; Akampita; Gunagrahi; Suprita; Sumukha; Naikatmanaikakarmakrita; Sukshma; Shukara; Dakshina; Skandhadhara; Dhurya; Prakata; Pritivarddhana; Aparajita; Sarvasaha; Vidagddha; Sarvavahana; Adhrita; Svadhrita; Sadhya; Purtamurti; Yashodhara; Varahashringavrika; Vayu; Valavana; Ekanayaka; Shrutiprakasha; Shrutimana; Ekavandhu; Anekadhrika; Shrivallabha; Shivarambha; Shantabhadra; Samanjasa; Bhushaya; Bhutikrita; Bhuti; Bhushana; Bhutavahana; Akaya; Bhaktakayastha; Kalajnanai; Kalavapu; Satyavrata; Mahatyagi; Nishthashantiparayana; Pararthavritti; Varada; Vivikta; Shrutisagara; Anirvinna; Gunagrahi; Kalankanka; Kalankaha; Svabhavarudra; Madhyastha; Shatrughna; Madhyanashaka; Shikhandi; Kavachi; Shuli; Chandi; Mundi; Kundali; Khadgi. (1000)


Aum Namah Shivaya.


Related post: Shiva Sahasranama II.
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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jai Shiv Omkara

Jai Shiv Omkara is a hymn in the Hindi language addressed to Shiva, and is often termed Shivji ki Arati because it is sung during arati ritual in temple as part of Shiva puja. It is a well-known hymn throughout the north of India. It is written by a monk called Swami Shivananda (not to be confused with the famous Swami Sivananda of Divine Life Society) probably in or around the city of Varanasi. In the late nineteenth century, Swami Vivekananda heard this hymn being recited in Varanasi, and then brought it back to the Belur Math (headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission) in Bengal.

Of all the arati hymns, this one is unique because although it is addressed to Shiva and is Shaivite in nature, it brings out the idea that Shiva is to be realized as the Self of all, and in Shiva oneness of the so-called Triumvirate of Creator-Sustainer-Dissolver is realized. Shaivism teaches that the so-called Triumvirate or "Hindu Trinity" exists only in a matter of speaking. In reality, there is only that One, Shiva, who in different capacities maybe called Creator, Sustainer, and Dissolver. Shaivism, therefore, is not the religion of the Dissolver God, even if this is a popular understanding among many.

The Shaivite idea of oneness comes through fully in the Shiva Lingam, the aniconic formless form of Shiva, of which one part is considered Brahmā, one part Vishnu, and one part Rudra. Yet another way of describing the oneness is by relating the doctrine (as is done in the below hymn) that Shiva is Omkareshvara, the full embodiment of Omkara (the syllable Aum), where A is Brahmā, U is Vishnu, and M is Rudra. Thus Shiva is all three, and one at the same time. Jai Shiv Omkara means victory to Shiva who is in the form of Omkara (the syllable Aum). The hymn takes the popular (puranic) images of Brahmā, Vishnu and Rudra as three separate entities, and speaks of them as one within Shiva.

There are several variants of Jai Shiv Omkara. What follows is the most popular version and my free rendition of its meaning. Please note that many-a-times, the repeating stanza jai shiv omkāra is replaced with har har har mahādev.
[© Agnideva, 2007]

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Jai Shiv Omkāra

aum jai shiv omkārā svāmī jai shiv omkārā
brahm
ā vishnu sadāshiv ardhāngī dhārā
aum jai shiv omkārā

Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara, victory to Shiva,
To Brahmā, Vishnu and Sadashiva, partial holders of one body.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

ekānan chaturānan pañchānan rāje
hansānan garudāsan vrishavāhan sāje
aum jai shiv omkārā

To the one-faced, the four-faced, the five-faced,
To the One whose mount is the swan, the eagle, the bull.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

do bhuj chāru chaturbhuj dash bhuj te sohe
teeno r
ūp nirakhtā tribhuvan man mohe
aum jai shiv omkārā

To the One with two shoulders, four shoulders, ten shoulders,
The three worlds take delight in seeing Thine three forms.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

akshamālā vanmālā rundamālā dhārī
chandan mrigamad sohe bhāle shashidhār
ī
aum jai shiv omkārā

To the One garlanded in rudraksha beads, in forest flowers, in skulls,
Anointed with chandan and musk, forehead adorned with the crescent-moon.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

shvetāmbar pītāmbar bāghāmbar ange
sanakādik brahmādik bhūtādik sange
aum jai shiv omkārā

To the One clad in white robes, in yellow robes, in tiger skins,
Worshipped by the Devas, the sages and all beings.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

kar ke bīch kamandal chakra trishul dharatā
jag karatā jag hartā jag pālan kartā
aum jai shiv omkārā

To the One who holds the waterpot, the discus, the trident,
The Creator, the Sustainer and Dissolver of the world.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara

brahmā vishnu sadāshiva jānat avivekā
pranavākshar ke madhye yeh t
īno ekā
aum jai shiv omkārā

The non-discriminating know Brahmā, Vishnu and Sadashiva
Are indeed one within the holy syllable Pranava (Aum).
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

triguna svāmījī kī āratī jo koī jan gāve
kahat shivānanda svām
ī manavānchhit phal pāve
aum jai shiv omkārā

Whosoever should sing this hymn of the three-fold Lord,
Says Swami Shivananda, he shall receive whatever he wishes.
Aum, victory to Shiva-Omkara.

Aum Namah Shivaya

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ganapati Atharvashirsha

Today (Sep 15, 2007) is the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, a special day to honor Lord Ganesha, the Remover of all obstacles. In honor of this festival, I am posting a video link. The audio is called the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad and is recited in temple on this festival during the abhishekha (ablution) ceremony. The Ganapati Atharvashirsha is believed to have originated with a sect called the Ganapatya, which worshipped Ganesha as the Supreme Reality. Over the centuries, however, this sect became absorbed by Shaivism. The Ganapati Atharvashirsha is, therefore, now considered one of the fourteen Shaivite Upanishads. Despite the absence of the formal Ganapatya sect, Ganesha is still extremely popular and worshipped in most branches of Hinduism, and also by some Buddhists and Jains.

A translation of the Ganapati Atharvashirsha Upanishad follows the video.




The Ganapati Atharvashirsham in translation:

Om Lam I bow to Ganapati. [1]

You clearly are the tattva. You alone are the Creator. You alone are the Maintainer. You alone are the Destroyer. Of all this you certainly are Brahma. You plainly are the Essence. [2]

Always I speak amrita. The truth I speak. [3]

Protect me. Protect the speakers. Protect the hearers. Protect the givers. Protect the holders. Protect the disciple that repeats. Protect that in the East. Protect that in the South. Protect that in the West. Protect that in the North. Protect that above. Protect that below. Everywhere protect! Protect me everywhere! [4]

You are speech. You are consciousness. You are Bliss. You are Brahman. You are Being-Consciousness-Bliss. You are the Non-Dual. You are plainly Brahman. You are knowledge. You are Intelligence. [5]

You create all this world. You maintain all this world. All this world is seen in you. You are Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Aether. You are beyond the four measures of speech. You are beyond the three Gunas. You are beyond the three bodies. You are beyond the three times. You are always situated in the Muladhara. You are the Being of the three Shaktis. You are always meditated on by Yogins. You are Brahma, You are Vishnu, You are Rudra, You are Agni, You are Vayu, You are the Sun, You are the Moon, You are Brahma, Bhur-Bhuvah-Svar. [6]

'Ga' the first syllable, after that the first letter, beyond that 'm', then the half-moon all together. Joined with 'Om', this is the mantra form. [7]

Letter
Ga
the first form, letter a the middle form, m the last form. Bindu the higher form, Nada the joining together, Samhita the junction. This is the vidya of Lord Ganesha. [8]

Ganaka is the seer, Nricad-Gayatri the metre, Sri Mahaganapati the god. "Om Ganapataye Namah." [9]

Let us think of the one-tusked, let us meditate on the crooked trunk, may that tusk direct us. [10]

One tusk, for arms, carrying noose and goad, with His hands dispelling fear and granting boons, with a mouse as His banner. [11]

Red, with a big belly, with ears like winnowing baskets, wearing red, with limbs smeared with red scent, truly worshipped with red flowers. [12]

To the devoted a merciful Deva, the Maker of the World, the Prime Cause, who at the beginning of creation was greater than nature and man. [13]

He who always meditates thus is a yogin above yogins. [14]

Hail to the Lord of Vows, hail to Ganapati, hail to the First Lord, hail unto you, to the Big-bellied, One-Tusked, Obstacle-Destroyer, the Son of Shiva, to the Boon-Giver, hail, hail! [15]

He who studies this Atharva Shira moves towards Brahma. He is always blissful. He is not bound by any obstacles. He is liberated from the five greater and the five lesser sins. Evening meditation destroys the unmeritorious actions of the night. At both evening and morning he is liberated from the bad and he attains Dharma-Artha-Kama and Moksha. [16]

This Artharva Shira should not be given to those not pupils. If from delusion a person so gives, he is a bad person. [17]

He who wants something may accomplish it by 1000 recitations of this. He who sprinkles Ganapati with this becomes eloquent. He who recites this on a 4th day becomes a knower of Vidya. This an Artharva saying "He who moves towards Brahma Vidya is never afraid." He who worships with fried grains becomes famous and becomes intelligent. He who worships with sweet-meat (modaka) gains the desired fruit. He who worships with samit and ghee by him all is attained, all is gained by him. He who makes eight brahmanas understand this becomes like the sun's rays. In a solar eclipse, in a great river, or in front of an image having recited (this) he gets accomplished in the mantra. He becomes liberated from great obstacles. He is freed from great misfortunes. [18]

Aum Gam Ganapataye Namah
.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Kaivalya Upanishad II

The entire text of the Kaivalya Upanishad was previously posted on this blog, but no introduction or commentary was made on it. Today's edition will be the background and commentary on this great Upanishad.

The Vedic canon of Sanatana Dharma ends with the body of texts known as Upanishads, which are philosophical treatises on the Vedas. In total, there are more than 210 Upanishads in existence. Of these 108 Upanishads are mentioned by the Muktika Upanishad, which "officially" puts an end to the growing Vedic canon (the rest presumably came into existence after the Muktika). These 108 Upanishads are divided into seven branches depending on the school of thought to which they belong. The seven branches are: (1) Principal Vedic, (2) General Vedanta, (3) Yoga, (4) Sannyasa, (5) Shaiva, (6) Vaishnava and (7) Shakta.

Of these seven branches, the Kaivalya Upanishad is listed as one of the fourteen Shaiva Upanishads. This Upanishad belongs to the Krsna-Yajurveda, although some internet sources incorrectly attribute it to the Atharvaveda. It is fairly safe to assume that the Kaivalya Upanishad is probably one of the older Shaiva Upanishads. It is said that the celebrated teacher of Advaita Vedanta, Adi Shankara, considered it an important Upanishad despite not having commented upon it. The term Kaivalya is derived from kevala (aloneness), and indicates the state where one is absolutely free of all binds. In both Sanatana Dharma and Jaina Dharma, the term Kaivalya is a technical term for moksha (liberation).

For the sake of our brief overview of the Kaivalya Upanishad, only a few salient points need highlighting:

The Upanishad begins with the theme of Sage Ashvalayana approaching Brahmā seeking the knowledge of the Absolute. Brahmā begins teaching the sage of the nature of the Absolute Brahman, the means to realization and the practice of yogic meditation (verses 1-6).

In verse 7, we find that the Absolute Brahman is identified with Shiva allied with Uma (Shakti) – this is why it is considered a Shaiva Upanishad. And in verses 8-10, He is described as all and in all, and that realization is impossible without realizing this oneness.

In verse 11 we come upon a famous analogy also used in other Upanishads – the self is to be used as a lower fire stick and Aum as the upper stick. Rubbing the two together (mediation upon the Aum) one produces the flame of realization.

Verses 12-14 explain the basic Vedanta philosophy of the nature of the three ordinary states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and deep sleep. These verses elaborate that the experiencer of all these conditions is the one indivisible consciousness.

In verses 15-16 we come upon the teaching that all things have emerged from Brahman, and indeed “Thou art That” (tat tvam asi). The Atman is indeed Brahman – this one of the four great statements of Vedanta non-dualism, which we find repeated in the Kaivalya Upanishad (originally it is found in the Chandogya Upanishad).

Once this great statement is established, the theme of the Upanishad changes. All of a sudden, the Upanishad changes from being a conversation between Ashvalayana and Brahmā to one of self-realization. The subject is now “I”, indicating the cosmic I, the non-dual consciousness (verses 17-24). These verses go on to describe the nature of this non-dual existence.

The final two verses (25-26) speak of this Upanishad and its fruits, technically called a phala-shruti, and identify the present teaching as the way to attain Kaivalya (liberation). Also, verse 25 by the mere mention of the Shatarudriya hymn clearly tags this Upanishad to the Yajurvedic tradition.

The Kaivalya Upanishad, though short, is brimming with non-dualistic Shaivite teaching aligned with Vedantic philosophy. Apart from the Shvetashvatara and Mandukya, the Kaivalya can probably be considered the most important of Upanishads for Shaiva non-dualists.

Click here to read the entire text of the Kaivalya Upanishad.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Shiva Chalisa

Shiva Chalisa (Śiva Chālīsā) is a hymn of Shiva written in the middle Hindi dialect called Avadhi. Chalisa is derived from the word chalis (chālīs) which means forty in Hindi, as it contains forty verses. Many different chalisas have come into existence over the past 500 years addressed to various Deities. The original chalisa, however, was probably the Hanuman Chalisa written by the Vaishnava saint-poet Tulsidas. The theme of chalisas is very simple: they are devotional hymns written in the language of the common man recounting the Puranic mythology of the Deity interspersed with a little theology and philosophy. The chalisas are prayers beseeching the Deity to help the devotee in need.

The Shiva Chalisa follows all the above themes. It was written by a saint-poet called Ayodhyadas, and invokes Shiva as the only one who can help the devotee. It praises Shiva by recounting various Puranic legends, and promises that whoever should read it shall certainly win over Shiva's blessings. Like the other chalisas, the forty verses of Shiva Chalisa are written in poetic meters called chaupais. The first and the last invocatory verses are longer meters called dohas, and they are not counted as part of the forty. There are at least two versions of the Shiva Chalisa with minor differences. Below is a free translation of the version with which I am more familiar.

Shiva Chalisa
शिव चालीसा

Hail to Ganesha, the Son of Girija, worshipped at all auspicious occasions,
Ayodhyadas beseeches You to grant him the boon of fearlessness.

Victory to the Girijapati, the ever compassionate Lord,
Who ever looks after and protects His devotees. ||1||

Who is adorned with the moon upon His forehead,
And whose ears are decorated with coiled serpents. ||2||

To Him who is fair-complexioned, from whom the Ganga flows,
Who wears a garland of skulls, and whose body is smeared with ashes. ||3||

Who wears the skin of a tiger around His waist,
Whose countenance is charming even to the Nagas. ||4||

To Him on whose left is seated His beloved,
The darling Daughter of Maina (Parvati). ||5||

Whose arms hold the trident so grave,
With which all enemies are ever destroyed. ||6||

To Him who is accompanied by Nandi and Ganesha,
Just as Lake Manas is ever with blossoms of lotus flowers. ||7||

Served by the dark-complexioned Kartikeya and Ganesha,
Who is of such countenance that none could describe. ||8||

To Him, the One who is called upon by the Devas,
Who always resolves their distress within an instant. ||9||

When the demon Taraka created great havoc,
The Deva delegation called upon You for help. ||10||

At once You sent Shadanana (Kartikeya),
And in no time was the demon destroyed. ||11||

You slew the demon Jalandhara,
Your good glory throughout thus spread. ||12||

You fought the demon Tripurasura,
And mercifully saved the Devas and all. ||13||

King Bhagiratha had performed severe penance,
And by Your grace alone, His wishes were fulfilled. ||14||

You are the greatest of all Givers with no equals,
And Your servants ever sing Your praises. ||15||

Though the Vedas sing of Your name and glory,
It is impossible to fathom the incomprehensible, the beginningless. ||16||

When the churned cosmic ocean produced a poisonous flame,
All the Devas and Asuras feared being scorched. ||17||

You came to their aid with great compassion,
Drank the deadly poison and gained the name Nilakantha. ||18||

As Ramachandra worshipped You with offerings,
He won over Lanka, and gave it to Vibhishana. ||19||

A thousand lotuses were offered to You (by Rama),
But You decided to test his faith, O Purari. ||20||

When You hid from him one of the lotuses,
He offered to You in place his lotus-like eye. ||21||

So pleased were You by his devotion, O Shankara,
That You granted Him with the boon of his choice. ||22||

Victory, victory, victory to the Infinite, the Indestructible,
Shower Your grace on all, O all-pervading One. ||23||

Troubled am I always by the wicked,
Distressed is my mind, and never peaceful. ||24||

Pray protect me Lord, I cry in distress,
Come, lift me out of my troubled times. ||25||

With Your trident do slay my enemies,
And release me from the torture of delusion. ||26||

Mother, father, brothers and all though I may have,
In times of trouble, none can truly help me. ||27||

O Master, I have but one desire,
That You come and relieve me of my pains. ||28||

You bestow riches upon the poor,
And always bless us with our desired fruit. ||29||

I know not of another way to beseech You,
O Lord, do forgive me for any mistakes on my part. ||30||

O Shankara, You are the Destroyer of pains,
The cause of auspiciousness, the obliterator of obstructions. ||31||

All the sages and yogis meditate upon You,
Sharada and Narada bow in reverence to You. ||32||

I chant and chant now ‘Namah Shivaya’,
Even Brahmā and the Devas can not fathom Your glory. ||33||

Whosoever should read this prayer with full devotion,
He shall certainly be helped by Lord Shambhu. ||34||

Blessed and prosperous indeed are those,
Who with deep devotion chant these verses. ||35||

One who is without any issue and wishes for children,
Shall certainly be blessed with offspring by Shiva. ||36||

He who with a priest on the thirteenth day of the moon,
Performs a homa ritual with full devotion, ||37||

And keeps a fast on the thirteenth day of the moon,
Will certainly be blessed with health and prosperity. ||38||

He who offers unto Him incense and lighted lamps,
Shall at the end ascend to the abode of Shiva. ||39||

Says Ayodhyadas -- your wishes too will be fulfilled,
Know that He will resolve all our worldly pains. ||40||

Every morning with devotion do I regularly read this Chalisa,
That You, O Lord of the universe, should fulfill my wishes.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

For Shiv Chalisa in Hindi, click here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Triad Impurities (Mala Traya)

The Shaivite system of thought tells us that the individual is kept from realizing the universal because of the triad impurities (malas) – the impurity of anava, the impurity of karma, and the impurity of maya.

Anava comes from the word anu (atom) and implies the idea of an atomic self (the small self or ego), the individual entity. The very idea that you are an individual entity or an individual packet of consciousness separate from everything else is in itself an impurity. Shrouded by anava, one forgets one's true self as none other than Shiva, and sees oneself as distinct – the small self – as opposed to the true Self (universal Self).

The next impurity is karma, the impurity of cause and effect. The impurity of karma keeps us bound to the world, to causes and effects, to actions and reactions, to the cycle of desire and dejection. The impurity of karma keeps our consciousness engaged in worldliness and activity, and away from the primal silence, the realization of oneness.

Next is the impurity of maya. Maya in the Shaivite system is not treated as illusion, per se, but as mirific energy. Maya creates worlds of opposites, of happiness and sadness, of beauty and ugliness, of fear and fearlessness, of divine and demonic, of births and deaths. Therefore, maya is the basis of all duality. Engaged in a dualistic reality, our consciousness fails to grasp the unity that lies behind it all, that which is beyond the grasp of the senses.

Such are the triad impurities as revealed to us by the Shaivite system of thought. The impurities are not to be taken in a negative sense, but used as stepping stones to hop beyond them. To paraphrase Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the impurity of maya is the classroom, the impurity of karma is the teacher, and the impurity of anava is the student’s ignorance. So, the impurities themselves exist for the sole purpose of instruction, and as a means to understand the truth behind them. Or, as the saying goes, 'one must know what is darkness, before one can understand what is light'.

Dualistic Shaivism begins with the premise that individual souls are shrouded beginninglessly by these three impurities. And creation is an act of compassion on the part of Shiva to free these souls from the triad impurities by allowing them a chance to realize Him. Monistic Shaivism, on the contrary, teaches that Shiva has willed these impurities onto Himself through His sovereign will (svantantrya-shakti). Outflow of creation is an act on the part of Shiva, a singular effort to understand Himself by Himself.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

In the Morning


In the morning I saw Him, my resplendent Creator
Brighter than the first rays, closer than my heartbeat
The fragrance of the chandan paste reminded me, O Lord-Creator
Of Your infinitely permeating Grace
For all that is beautiful and ugly to my sight
Indeed all this is Your creation, ever so magnificent.

At high noon I saw Him, my eternal Sustainer
The air that sustains my body, the water and the nourishment
And the warmth of the sun
All emerge, O Lord-Sustainer, out of Your Divine Potency
What is there in this world created that You do not possess
Yet what is there that You possess which You desire.

At twilight did I see Him, my Lord-Dissolver
More beautiful than the autumnal moon
And kinder than the setting sun
Magnificent as the supernovae that end the lives of stars
Bringing them back to their very origin
What is there that is beyond Your reach,
Beyond Your divine Grace?
There is naught that You do not pervade.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

© Agnideva, 2007. All rights reserved.

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