Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thou art music

Thou art music, O Shiva; Thine Shakti is melody!

Thou art the Sun, O Shiva; Thine Shakti is its luster!

Thou art soul, O Shiva; Thine Shakti is its realization!

Thou art time, O Shiva; Thine Shakti is its progression!

Thou art space, O Shiva; Thine Shakti is its measure!

Thou art eternal, O Shiva; Thine Shakti eternity!

Thou art existence, O Shiva; Thine Shakti its consciousness!

Aum Hrim Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Dakshinamurti and the Dakshinamurtis
Dakshinamurti is a term often met with in Shaivism and Shaivite iconography. Generally, the term Dakshinamurti is translated loosely as "the One facing south," but a more apt translation would be "Favorable Form." The term originally referred to the southern benevolent face of the Panchamukha (five-faced) Shiva Lingam. At the temple of Pashupatinath in Nepal, for example, the southern face of the Shiva Lingam is still called Dakshinamurti. Alternatively, any Linga icon facing southward may also be called Dakshinamurti. An example of this is the Mahakala Jyotirlingam in Ujjain.

Apart from these above rare usages, the term Dakshinamurti, now, is generally associated with specific anthropomorphic forms of Lord Shiva. In the Shaivite tradition, Dakshinamurti is not a singular iconographic form, but a class of forms, all of which are yoga murtis, wherein Shakti is not separately represented but is implicit within the representation of Shiva. While there are several Dakshinamurti forms, three are prominent:

1. Yoga Dakshinamurti - Shiva as the idyllic Himalayan Yogi in meditation.
2. Jnana or Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti - Shiva as the divine Teacher under a banyan tree.
3. Vinadhara Dakshinamurti - Shiva as the divine Teacher of music and arts, holding a lute.

Of these three, the Yoga Dakshinamurti is perhaps the most represented and recognized form of Shiva, and the Vinadhara Dakshinamurti is rarely seen. In common usage, however, when one says Dakshinamurti, the image that comes to mind is that of Jnana or Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti, the idyllic Teacher. It is to this form that the rest of the article is dedicated.

Jnana/Vyakhyana Dakshinamurti

I contemplate, for the attainment of the highest end,
The Supreme Guru, the Lord of Bhavani,
The serene-faced Primal Being,
He who is spoken of in all the Vedas,

Whose hands shine with the symbol of wisdom,

With a book and fire and a serpent,
Bedecked with garlands of pearls,
And a crown blazing forth brilliant
With the digit of the moon,
Resides at the foot of a fig tree,

And removes the ignorance of all.

~ Dakshinamurti Upanishad the Krsna Yajurveda (Mantra 14)

The landscape of ancient India was dotted with numerous centers of Shiva worship. In that the region known as Tamilakam was no different. Within this region, two important and competing kingdoms flourished - the Cholan kingdom to the north and the Pandyan kingdom to the south. In the kingdom of the Cholas, in the city of Chidambaram, a magnificent universal form of Shiva called Nataraja was realized. Around the same time, in the city of Madurai, within the kingdom of the Pandyas, yet another magnificent form of Shiva called Dakshinamurti was realized. While in Madurai, Shiva sat in perfect stillness, in Chidambaram, Shiva stood in perpetual motion.

Like the ever-famous Nataraja, Dakshinamurti is a highly exalted and deeply mystical form of Shiva conveying Him as the Lord of Yoga and the embodiment of all knowledge - worldly and spiritual. In the Dakshinamurti icon we find the Lord in perfect stillness and perpetual serenity. He sits under the banyan tree, the tree of knowledge, facing southward. In His upper hands, He holds a drum representing the sound of creation and a flame representing the fire of dissolution. In one of His lower hands, He holds the holy Vedas, and the other is raised in jnana mudra, imparting knowledge upon the world. Under His foot is the Apasmara Purusha, the personification of ignorance.

Dakshinamurti is the great unseen Master, the eternal Teacher. It is from Him that the holy Vedas and the holy Agamas, and indeed all knowledge has flowed down through the ages and through the sages. He teaches without words and imparts without letters. He guides without speaking and blesses without blinking. His teachings are imparted upon all whose minds are pure and whose hearts are full of devotion. He impels especially those who are on the path of renunciation, those who have given up worldly life to realize Divinity within. He is the Ocean of compassion and Source of the stream of endless consciousness that flows through all.

In all traditions of Dharma, we have unbroken lineages of gurus and teachers. Each of these gurus was instructed and initiated by gurus before them, who were in turn instructed by their own gurus all the way back to remote antiquity. But who was the first Guru, the original source of knowledge? In theistic Dharma traditions, the Lord Himself is considered the Primal Guru, the Adi Guru; the Guru of all gurus; the Jagadguru, the universal Master; or Waheguru (to borrow a term from Sikhism). It is from the Lord that all knowledge descended down, later to be condensed into volumes of holy books. It is this principle that is embodied most perfectly and beautifully in the form of Dakshinamurti. He is the Bestower of all knowledge (jnana) and Origin of all explanations (vyakhyana). Such is the beauty and esotery of Lord Shiva-Dakshinamurti.

Legend of the Four Kumaras

In the beginning, it is said, the Creator, Prajapati-Brahmā, Himself was born from the supreme Unborn Divine Being, Ishvara, who is called Shiva in Shaivism. The Creator was the firstborn being, and the Golden Germ (Hiranyagarbha) of all further creation.
In the beginning of creation did Brahmā, having worshipped Shiva,
Attain the power to create and was delighted at heart.

~ Dakshinamurti Upanishad (Mantra 20)

Brahmā then began to create. His first creations were his four mind-born sons - Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanatkumara (Sanatsujata) - known collectively as the Kumaras. The four Kumaras were instructed to further create beings in this world, but the Kumaras were not interested in worldly life. Their only interest was the pursuit of the Divine. They did not obey their Father's command and instead sought a life of renunciation and meditation.

Seated at the foot of Shiva-Dakshinamurti are these four Kumaras, the founders of the path of renunciation followed by sages and sannyasis everywhere. Forever do the Kumaras look upon Lord Shiva-Dakshinamurti, the Supreme, the Eternal, the Unchanging, the Fountainhead of all knowledge. Esoterically, the four Kumaras represent the four components of the antahkarana ("inner organ") - manas (sensory mind), buddhi (intellect), ahamkara (ego) and chitta (mind stuff) - ever given to and focused on realizing the Divine Reality within.

Aum, Obeisances to Him who is the very meaning of Omkara,
The Form of pure knowledge, who is serene and without flaw,
To Lord Dakshinamurti obeisances be.
~ Dakshinamurti Stotra, Dhyana Shloka 5

Aum Dakshinamurtaye Namah.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

Vaishakha Shukla 1, 2066 V.S. (Yugabda 5111)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ancient Shiva temple found in India

Tuesday, 24 Feb 2009 15:57:07 GMT

The Shiva temple unearthed by a team from Lucknow University's ancient Indian history and archaeology department.

A team of Indian archeologists has unearthed a 2,000-year-old Shiva temple complex in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh state.

The five-temple site was found during excavations conducted by Lucknow University's department of ancient Indian history and archaeology.

“While four temples belong to the Kushana period (2,000 years ago), it appears that the primary temple was constructed during the Sunga period (2,200 years ago),” said Professor D.P. Tewari of Lucknow University.

Spanning an area of 600 acres, the brick temple has been constructed in an 'apsidal' (semi-circular or u-shaped) form, the Times of India reported.

Archeologists also found a number of artifacts that they believe are evidence of the temple being used for the worship of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva.

Also see: Times of India article

Sunday, April 19, 2009

There is the Shining One...

The following excerpt comes to us from the Garuda Purana. The Garuda Purana is a middle puranic text (ca. 600-700 ce) and is composed in the form of a dialogue between Vishnu and Garuda, the divine man-eagle servant of Vishnu. The Garuda Purana is famous as a funerary text because it explains various funerary customs and rituals, and provides detailed accounts of the afterlife in multitudes of heavenly and hellish realms.

After twenty-four chapters discussing life, death, afterlife and rebirth, the Garuda Purana concludes with a chapter entitled An Account on the Law of Liberation which discusses liberation from the cycle of samsara. In this chapter, we find a description of Shiva exalted as the supreme Divine, the Sacchidananda, who is the beginningless, timeless entity. The philosophical purport that follows is very close to Shaivite thought embodied in the earlier Agamas which tended toward dualism (pluralism). The descripition of the individual ("soul") as a spark of the divine which is endowed with beginningless ignorance (anava), and encased in bodies of beginningless karma are clearly doctrines of earlier Agamic thought.

A key feature of earlier dualistic Agamic thought is that the individual entities ("souls" or pashus) existed beginninglessly steeped in anava and karma. But, through repeated cycles of creation, these pashus have the privilege of gaining physical bodies within the field of maya. In gaining physical bodies, pashus can work out their karmas and overcome anava through yogic meditation and with the grace of Shiva, and thus become liberated from individual existence. It is this Agamic principle that is explained in the puranic excerpt below.

It might be somewhat surprising to find this sort of "Shaivite" thought in a so-called "Vaishnava Purana." However, this should not be all that surprising because all schools of Agamic thought came from the same place, and still share all the key features of Tantra - Deity worship, iconography, definite theism, mantra mediation, yantra-mandalas, rituals, initiations, etc. It is only in the second millennium of the common era that we see Agamic schools divide into distinct branches (Shaiva, Vaishnava, Shakta), and further divide into sub-branches based on philosophy.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.


The Blessed Lord said:

Listen, O [Garuda], and I will explain to you what you have asked, even by the hearing of which a man is released from the world of change.

There is the Shining One, Siva, who has the nature of Supreme Brahman, who is partless, all-knowing, all-doing, Lord of all, stainless and secondless, Self-illumined, beginningless and endless, beyond the Beyond, without attributes, Being and Knowing and Bliss. That which is considered the individual is from a part of Him.

These, like sparks of a fire, with beginningless ignorance, separated and encased in bodies by beginningless karma, are fettered by forms of good and evil, giving happiness and misery – with nationality of body, length of life, and fortune born of karma. In every life obtained, they have also, O Bird, a higher and more subtle body, the linga(-deha), lasting until liberation.

The unmoving things, worms, goats, birds, animals, men, the righteous, the thirty-three Devas [of the Vedas], and also the liberated, according to their order, having worn and cast aside the four sorts of bodies thousands of times, one becomes a man by good deeds, and if he becomes a knower he attains liberation. The embodied, in the eighty-four hundred thousands of bodies before attaining human birth, can obtain no knowledge of the truth.

Through millions of myriads of thousands of births sometimes a being obtains human birth, through the accumulation of merit. He who, having obtained a human body, difficult to get, and a step to liberation, does not help himself over – who in this world is more sinful than he? The man who, having obtained this highest birth and superior senses, does not understand what benefits the soul is [termed] a “slayer of Brahman”.

Without a body, nobody obtains the object of human life; therefore should he guard his body as wealth and perform meritorious deeds. He should always guard his body, which is the means to everything. Living, he should make every effort to protect it, in view of welfare. A village again, a field again, wealth again, a house again, good and evil actions again – the body never again.

The wise always adopt means for the preservation of the body; even those afflicted with diseases such as leprosy do not wish to give it up. It should be guarded for the sake of duty; duty for the sake of knowledge; knowledge for the sake of Yoga-meditation – then he is soon released.

Excerpted from:
The Garuda Purana
Chapter XVI: 5-21
Trans. E. Wood and SV Subrahmanyam [1911].

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hail to the infinite Shiva

Hail to the infinite Shiva, personified as the Lord most high!
Beyond description, beyond words and meanings, beyond experiences is He,
Who is neither a He nor a She nor anything in between.

Hail to the compassionate Shankara, personified as the Lord of light!
Beyond representation, beyond shapes and forms, beyond grasp is He,
Who is neither here nor there nor anywhere in between.

Hail to the divine Shambhu, personified as the Lord of power!
Beyond comprehension, beyond heavens and earths, beyond realms is He,
Who is neither in the past nor in the future or anytime in between.

Beyond the beyond indeed is Paramashiva, the neti neti [1],
The unrestricted, unbound, immutable, the Supreme.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

[1] Vide: Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (II.iii.6) of the Shukla Yajurveda.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hindu New Year

Today, March 27, 2009, with the first rays of the Sun, we begin the Hindu Lunar New Year. Hindu Lunar New Year occurs on the first day of the waxing moon of the month of Chaitra (Chaitra Shukla Pratipada), when the Sun is in sidereal constellation Pisces (Meena Rashi) between March 14 and April 14.

According to the Vikram Samvat era popular in northern India, today we begin the year 2066 and the name of the year is Shubhakrita (शुभकृत). According to the Shalivahana Shaka era popular in southern India, today we begin the year 1931 and the name of the year is Virodhi (विरोधी). Per the Kaliyuga year count, we begin the year 5111 as of today.

The associated Hindu Solar New Year, which begins when the Sun enters the sidereal constellation Aries (Mesha Rashi), will be celebrated on April 14, 2009.

We commence this new year with an excerpt from a famous Yajurvedic prayer. This prayer is particularly apt for beginning the new year because it is essentially a prayer for peace, friendship, serenity, prosperity and longevity. It asks that peace be firmly established within us, that we look upon all as friends, that our enemies (those that fight us from within) be destroyed, and that we receive light (of realization). May we live a hundred autumns (years), the prayer asks, a blissful, rich, full, long life. There is perhaps no better message for beginning a new year.

नव संवत्सर की हार्दिंक शुभकामनाएं.

Yajurvedic Prayer

The peace in the sky, the peace in the mid-air,
The peace on the earth, the peace in waters,
The peace in plants, the peace in forest trees,
The peace in all Devās, the peace in Brahman,
The peace in all things, the peace in peace,--
May that peace come to me!

Strong One, make me strong.
May all beings with the eye of friend!
May I look on all beings with the eye of friend!
May we look on one another with the eye of friend!

Strong One, make me strong!
May I live long to look on Thee!
May I live long to look on Thee!

Welcome to Thy wrath and to Thy glow!
Our welcome to be Thy flame!
Let Thy missiles burn our enemies.
Be our Purifier, be graceful to us!

Welcome to the lightning, welcome to the thunder,
Homage to Thee, glorious Lord, who winnest us heavenly light.

Make us free from the fear of all that Thou wishest;
Give bliss to our children, security to our animals.

Friendly be to us waters and plants,
And unfriendly be they to him
Who is hostile to us and to whom we are hostile.

That Eye of the sky, divinely placed, rising bright before us,
May we see for a hundred autumns!
And may we live for a hundred autumns,
May we hear for a hundred autumns,
May we speak for a hundred autumns,
And may we hold our heads high for a hundred autumns,
Yes, even more than a hundred autumns.

Holy Shukla Yajurveda Samhita XXXVI:17-24.
Trans. R. L. Kashyap

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In the depths of the deepest

In the depths of the deepest oceans and the height of the highest mountains;
In the darkness of the darkest nights and the brightness of the brightest days;
In the silence of the most silent instants and the chaos of the most chaotic times;
In the blur of the blurriest visions and the clarity of the clearest crystals;
In the green of the greenest forests and the white of the whitest snowfalls;
In the blue of the bluest skies and the fragrance of the most fragrant flowers;
In the capture of the most captivating scenes and the beauty of the most beautiful sights;
In the ferocity of the fiercest winds and the stillness of the stillest waters;
In the distance of the most distant planets and the luster of the most lustrous stars;
In the emptiness of the emptiest spaces and the fullness of the fullest regions;
In the strength of the strongest forces and the weakness of the weakest links;
In the richness of the richest tones and the melody of the most melodious songs;
In the innocence of the most innocent beings and the ruthlessness of the most ruthless creatures;
In the kindness of the kindest strangers and modesty of the most modest guests;
In the majesty of the most majestic kings and the righteousness of the most righteous subjects;
In the care of the more caring mothers and the courage of the most courageous fathers;
In the compassion of the most compassionate Gods and the piety of the most pious devotees;
In the grace of the most graceful masters, and the obedience of the most obedient pupils;
In the grandeur of the grandest temples and the allure of the most alluring icons;
In the esotery of the most esoteric doctrines and the realizations of the most realized sages;
In the greatness of the greatest worlds and the loftiness of the loftiest heavens;
In the heart of all hearts, in the center of all centers, and in the core of all cores,
Is Shiva, the Reality Ultimate, that Divinity most sublime.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


The Chamakam is an extremely ancient prayer that comes to us from the Yajurveda. In the days of old, the priest of the Vedic sacrifice (yajna) would chant this long supplication to the Divine while pouring oblations into the holy fire. These days, as yajna rituals are rare, the Chamakam is mostly chanted in temples of Shiva following the other famous Yajurvedic prayer known as Sri Rudram or Rudradhyaya. In essence, the Chamakam supplicates the Divine to provide all the necessary things for humanity's continued survival and prosperity. Though the reciter repeatedly says me meaning "to me" (grant me), it should be understood that the supplication is on behalf of humanity, and not the individual.

A translation of the Chamakam is posted here. However, no translation can ever capture the mystifying beauty of the Vedic mantras in the original language (proto-Sanskrit). Also, it must be noted that several items being beseeched are those specific to ancient Vedic rituals and do not have names in modern languages. As the Vedic rituals were considered crucial for the well-being of all humanity, praying for the necessary items and correct performance of the ritual plays a central role in the hymn.

When listening to Vedic hymns being chanted, one ought not concentrate too much on understanding the words or the meaning. It is far more important to close one's eyes, mediate, and allow one's mind to be transformed by the divine vibrations therein.

Aum Namah Shivaya, and a blessed Maha Shivaratri to all my readers.

Phalguna Krsna 14, Samvat 2065
(Plava Samvatsara, Yugabda 5110) [?]

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Daksha's Supplication

Anyone who is familiar with the Tradition of Shiva is undoubtedly also familiar with the story of Daksha's Yajna. The story of Daksha's Yajna is one of the most famous Puranic Shaivite myths. Though it is a story with esoteric meaning, we will not, here, analyze this story. Suffice it to say that many Shaivite books and scriptures relate or allude to this story or events therein. In that, the epic Mahabharata is no exception.

What makes the Mahabharata epic unique among ancient books is that it was written by generations of writers over a period of a few hundred years (ca. 400 bce-400 ce). As a result, there are numerous interpolations and perhaps dozens of sections omitted from Sanskrit critical editions. The below prayer, here termed "Daksha's Supplication", appears to be from such an omitted part of the epic. Daksha's Supplication is found within an inserted section of 435 verses between chapter 274 and 275 of Book XII (Shanti Parva) of the Mahabharata.

As is evident below, Daksha's Supplication is a lengthy, 234-verse prayer to Shiva in His universal form. The prayer glorifies the Lord using almost every attribute, epithet and description imaginable. It is written as a prayer sung by Daksha-Prajapati to supplicate Shiva's fury. Judging by the age of the Mahabharata, coupled with references to the Sri Rudram and the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, we may assume that this prayer was composed by Pashupata ascetics.

While there are hundreds of hymns and prayers honoring Shiva in dozens of texts, this hymn captures a clear and beautiful image of ancient Shaivite thought from a time either before or during the composition of the Shaiva Puranas. It is a beautiful blending of Shaiva mythology and theology as taught by Pashupata sages. In its essence, what we find in Daksha's Supplication are the two core teachings: (a) In Shiva, in the Lord, all opposites, all contradictions cease and a sense of completeness is realized; and (b) Shiva is All, and All is Shiva. The unity in Divinity principle that is implicit in Daksha's Supplication remains a key feature of all Shaiva thought to this day.


Daksha's Supplication

Yudhishthira said, “It behoveth thee, O sire, to tell me those names by which Daksha, that progenitor of creatures, adored the great Deity. O sinless one, a reverent curiosity impels me to hear them.”

Bhishma said, “Hear, O Bharata, what the names, both secret and proclaimed, are of that God of Gods, that Deity of extraordinary feats, that Ascetic of secret vows.”

Daksha said:

I bow to Thee! O Lord of all the Devas to the Destroyer of the forces of the Asuras.
Thou art the Paralyser of the strength of the celestial Chief Himself.
Thou art adored by both Devas and Danavas.
Thou art thousand-eyed, Thou art fierce-eyed, and Thou art three-eyed.
Thou art the Friend of the ruler of the Yakshas.
Thy hands and feet extend in all directions to all places.
Thy eyes also and head and mouth are turned on all sides.
Thy ears too are everywhere in the universe,
And Thou art Thyself everywhere, O Lord!
Thou art shaft-eared, Thou art large-eared, and Thou art pot-eared.
Thou art the Receptacle of the ocean.
Thy ears are like those of the elephant, or of the bull, or like extended palms.
Salutations to Thee!
Thou hast a hundred stomachs, a hundred revolutions, and a hundred tongues.
I bow to Thee!
The utterers of the Gayatri sing Thy praises in uttering the Gayatri,
And the worshippers of the Sun adore Thee in adoring the Sun.
The Rishis regard Thee as Brahmā, as Indra, and as the (illimitable) firmament above.
O Thou of mighty form, the ocean and the sky are Thy two forms.
All the Deities dwell in Thy form even as kine dwell within the fold.
In Thy body I behold Soma, and Agni, and the Lord of the Waters,
And Aditya, and Vishnu, and Brahmā, and Brihaspati.
Thou, O illustrious One, art Cause and Effect,
And Action and Instrument of everything unreal and real,
And Thou art Creation and Destruction.
I bow unto Thee that art called Bhava and Sharva and Rudra.
I bow unto Thee that art the Giver of boons.
I bow always unto Thee that art the Lord of all creatures.
Salutations to Thee that art the Slayer of Andhaka.
Salutations to Thee that hast three matted locks,
To Thee that hast three heads,
To Thee that art armed with an excellent trident;
To Thee that hast three eyes and that art, therefore, called Tryambaka and Trinetra!
Salutations to Thee that art the Destroyer of the triple city!
Salutations to Thee that art called Chanda, and Kunda;
To Thee that art the (universal) egg and also the bearer of the (universal) egg;
To Thee that art the Holder of the ascetic's stick,
To Thee that hast ears everywhere,
And to Thee that art called Dandimunda!
Salutations to Thee whose teeth and hair are turned upwards,
To Thee that art stainless and white, and that art stretched all over the universe;
To Thee that art red, to Thee that art tawny, and to Thee that hast a blue throat!
Salutations to Thee that art of incomparable form, that art of dreadful form,
And that art highly auspicious!
To Thee that art Surya, that hast a garland of Suryas round Thy neck,
And that hast standards and flags bearing the device of Surya.
Salutations to Thee that art the Lord of spirits and ghosts,
To Thee that art bull-necked, and that art armed with the bow;
To Thee that crushest all foes,
To Thee that art the personification of chastisement,
And to Thee that art clad in leaves (of trees) and rags.
Salutations to Thee that bearest gold in Thy stomach,
To Thee that art cased in golden mail,
To Thee that art gold-crested,
To Thee that art the Lord of all the gold in the world!
Salutations to Thee that hast been adored,
That deservest to be adored, and that art still being adored;
To Thee that art all things, that devourest all things,
And that art the Soul of all things!
Salutations to Thee that art the Hotri (in sacrifices),
That art the (Vedic) mantras uttered (in sacrifices),
And that ownest white flags and standards.
Salutations to Thee that art the navel of the universe,
That art both cause and effect in the form of the five primal elements,
And that art the Coverer of all covers.
Salutations to Thee that art called Krisanasa,
That art of thin limbs, and that art thin.
Salutations to Thee that art always cheerful
And that art the personification of confused sounds and voices.
Salutations to Thee that art about to be stretched on the Earth,
That art already stretched, and that standing upright.
Salutations to Thee that art fixed, that art running, that art bald,
And that bearest matted locks on Thy head.
Salutation to Thee that art fond of dancing
And that strikest Thy puffed cheeks making Thy mouth a drum.
Salutations to Thee that art fond of lotuses that blow in rivers,
And that art always fond of singing and playing on musical instruments.
Salutations to Thee that art the Eldest-Born,
That art the foremost of all creatures,
And that art the Crusher of the Asura Vala.
Salutations to Thee that art the Master of Time,
That art the personification of Kalpa;
That art the embodiment of all kinds of destruction, great and small.
Salutations to Thee that laughest awfully and as loud as the beat of a drum,
And that observest dreadful vows!
Salutations for ever to Thee that art fierce, and that hast ten arms.
Salutations to Thee that art armed with bones and that art fond of the ashes of funeral pyres.
Salutations to Thee that art awful, that art terrible to behold,
And that art an observer of dreadful vows and practices.
Salutations to Thee that ownest an ugly mouth,
That hast a tongue resembling a scimitar, and that hast large teeth.
Salutations to Thee that art fond of both cooked and uncooked meat,
And that regardest the gourded Vina as highly dear.
Salutations to Thee that causest rain, that helpest the cause of righteousness,
That art identifiable with the form of Nandi, and that art Righteousness' Self!
Salutations to Thee that art ever moving like wind and the other forces,
That the Controller of all things,
And that art always engaged in cooking all creatures (in the cauldron of time).
Salutations to Thee that art the foremost of all creatures,
That art superior, and that art the giver of boons.
Salutations to Thee that hast the best of garlands,
The best of scents, and the best of robes,
And that givest the best of boons to the best of creatures.
Salutations to Thee that art attached,
That art freed from all attachments,
That art of the form of yoga contemplation,
And that art adorned with a garland of Akshas.
Salutations to Thee that art united as cause and disunited as effects,
And that art the form of shadow and of light.
Salutations to Thee that art amiable, and that art frightful,
And that art exceedingly so.
Salutations to Thee that art auspicious,
That art tranquil, and that art most tranquil.
Salutations to Thee that art of one leg and many eyes,
And that hast only one head; to Thee that art fierce,
To Thee that art gratified with little offerings,
And Thee that art fond of equity.
Salutations to Thee that art the Artificer of the universe,
And that art ever united with the attribute of tranquility.
Salutations to Thee that bearest a foe-frightening bell,
That art of the form of the jingle made by a bell,
And that art of the form of sound when it is not perceptible by the ear.
Salutations to Thee that art like a thousand bells jingled together,
And that art fond of a garland of bells,
That art like the sound that the life-breaths make,
That art of the form of all scents and of the confused noise of boiling liquids.
Salutations to Thee that art beyond three Huns, and that art fond of two Huns.
Salutations to Thee that art exceedingly tranquil,
And that hast the shade of mountain trees for Thy habitation.
Thou art fond of the heart-flesh of all creatures,
That cleansest from all sins,
And that art of the form of sacrificial offerings.
Salutations to Thee that art of the form of Sacrifice,
That art the Sacrificer himself,
That art the brahmana into whose mouth is poured the sacrificial butter,
And that art the fire into which is poured the butter inspired with mantras.
Salutations to Thee that art of the form of (sacrificial) Ritvijas,
That hast Thy senses under control,
That art made of Sattva, and that hast Rajas also in Thy make.
Salutations to Thee that art of the banks of Rivers,
Of Rivers themselves, and of the Lord of all Rivers (the ocean)!
Salutations to Thee that art the Giver of food,
That art the Lord of all food, and that art identical with him that takes food!
Salutations to Thee that hast a thousand heads and a thousand feet,
To Thee that hast a Thousand tridents uplifted in Thy hands, and a Thousand eyes!
Salutations to Thee that art of the form of the rising Sun,
And that art of the form of a child,
That art the protector of attendants all of whom are of the form of children,
And that art, besides, of the form of children's toys.
Salutations to Thee that art old, that art covetous,
That art already agitated, and that art about to be agitated.
Salutations to Thee that hast locks of hair marked by the current of the Ganges,
And that hast locks of hair resembling blades of Munja grass!
Salutations to Thee that art gratified with the six acts,
And that art devoted to the performance of the three acts.
Salutations to Thee that hast assigned the duties of the respective modes of life.
Salutations to Thee that deservest to, be praised in sounds,
That art of the form of sorrow, and that art of the form of deep and confused noise.
Salutations to Thee that hast eyes both white and tawny, as also dark and red.
Salutations to Thee that hast conquered Thy vital breaths,
That art of the form of weapons, that rivest all things,
And that art exceedingly lean.
Salutations to Thee that always discoursest of religion,
Pleasure, profit, and emancipation.
Salutations to Thee that art a Sankhya, that art the foremost of Sankhyas,
And that art the Introducer of the Sankhya-Yoga.
Salutations to Thee that hast a car and that art without a car (for Thy journeys).
Salutations to Thee that hast the intersections of four roads for Thy car;
To Thee that hast the skin of a black deer for Thy upper garments,
And that hast a snake for Thy sacred thread.
Salutations to Thee that art Isana, that art of body as hard as thunderbolt,
And that art of green locks.
Salutations to Thee that art of three eyes,
That art the Lord of Ambika, that art Manifest, and that art Unmanifest.
Salutations to Thee that art Desire, that art the Giver of all desires,
That art the Killer of all desires,
And that art the discriminator between the gratified and the ungratified.
Salutations to Thee that art all things, the Giver of all things, and the Destroyer of all things.
Salutations to Thee that art the hues which appear in the evening sky.
Salutations to Thee that art of mighty strength, that art of mighty arms,
That art a mighty Being, and that art of great effulgence.
Salutations to Thee that lookest like a mighty mass of clouds,
And that art the embodiment of eternity!
Salutations to Thee that art of well-developed body,
That art of emaciated limbs, that bearest matted locks on Thy head,
And that art clad in barks of trees and skins of animals.
Salutations to Thee that hast matted locks as effulgent as the Sun or the Fire,
And that hast barks and skins for Thy attire.
Salutations to Thee that art possessed of the effulgence of a thousand Suns,
And that art ever engaged in penances.
Salutations to Thee that art the excitement of fever
And that art endued with matted locks drenched with the waters of the Ganges
Characterised by hundreds of eddies.
Salutations to Thee that repeatedly revolvest the Moon, the yugas, and the clouds.
Thou art food, Thou art he who eats that food,
Thou art the Giver of food, Thou art the Grower of food,
And Thou art the Creator of food.
Salutations to Thee that cookest food and that eatest cooked food,
And that art both wind and fire!
O Lord of all, the Lords of the Gods,
Thou art the four orders of living creatures.
Thou art the Creator of the mobile and immobile universe,
And Thou art their Destroyer!
O foremost of all persons conversant with Brahmā,
They that are conversant with Brahmā regard Thee as Brahmā!
The utterers of Brahmā say that Thou art the Supreme source of Mind,
And the Refuge upon which space, wind, and light rest.
Thou art the Riks and the Samans, and the syllable OM.
O foremost of all Deities!
Those utterers of Brahmā that sing the Samans constantly sing Thee,
When they utter the syllables Hayi-Hayi, Huva-Hayi, and Huva-Hoyi.
Thou art made up of the Yajus, of the Riks, and of the offerings poured on the sacrificial fire.
The hymns contained in the Vedas and the Upanishads adore Thee!
Thou art the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas, and the Sudras,
And the other castes formed by intermixture.
Thou art those masses of clouds that appear in the sky;
Thou art lightning; and Thou art the roar of thunder.
Thou art the year, Thou art the seasons,
Thou art the month, and Thou art the fortnight.
Thou art Yuga, Thou art the time represented by a twinkle of the eye,
Thou art Kashtha, Thou art the Constellations, Thou art the Planets, Thou art Kala.
Thou art the tops of all trees, Thou art the highest summits of all mountains.
Thou art the tiger among the lower animals, Thou art Garuda among birds,
And Thou art Ananta among snakes.
Thou art the ocean of milk among all oceans,
And Thou art the bow among instruments for hurling weapons.
Thou art the thunder among weapons, and Thou art Truth among vows.
Thou art aversion and Thou art desire;
Thou art attachment and Thou art stupefaction (of judgment);
Thou art forgiveness and Thou art unforgiveness.
Thou art exertion, and Thou art patience;
Thou art cupidity; Thou art lust and Thou art wrath;
Thou art victory and Thou art defeat.
Thou art armed with mace, and Thou art armed with shaft;
Thou art armed with the bow,
And Thou bearest the Khattanga and the Jharjhara in Thy hands.
Thou art He who cuttest down and piercest and smitest.
Thou art He who leads (all creatures) and he who gives them pain and grief.
Thou art righteousness which is marked by ten virtues;
Thou art wealth or profit of every kind; and Thou art pleasure.
Thou art Ganga, Thou art the oceans, Thou art the rivers, Thou art the lakes,
And Thou art the tanks.
Thou art the thin creepers, Thou art the thicker creeping plants,
Thou art all kinds of grass, and Thou art the deciduous herbs.
Thou art all the lower animals and Thou art the birds.
Thou art the origin of all objects and acts,
And Thou art that season which yields fruits and flowers.
Thou art the beginning and Thou art the end of the Vedas;
Thou art the Gayatri, and Thou art OM.
Thou art green, Thou art red, Thou art blue, Thou art dark,
Thou art of bloody hue, Thou art of the colour of the Sun,
Thou art tawny, Thou art brown, and Thou art dark blue.
Thou art without colour, Thou art of the best colour,
Thou art the maker of colours, and Thou art without comparison.
Thou art of the name of gold, and Thou art fond of Gold.
Thou art Indra, Thou art Yama, Thou art the Giver of boons,
Thou art the Lord of wealth, and Thou art Agni.
Thou art the eclipse, Thou art the fire called Chitrabhanu,
Thou art Rahu, and Thou art the Sun.
Thou art the fire upon which sacrificial butter is poured.
Thou art He who pours the butter.
Thou art He in honour of whom the butter is poured,
Thou art the butter itself that is poured,
And Thou art the puissant Lord of all.
Thou art those sections of the Brahmanas that are called Trisuparna,
Thou art all the Vedas; and Thou art the sections called Satarudriya in the Yajus.
Thou art the Holiest of Holies, and the auspicious of all auspicious things.
Thou animatest the inanimate body.
Thou art the chit (consciousness) that dwellest in the human form.
Invested with attributes, Thou becomest subject to destruction.
Thou art Jiva, that is He who is never subject to destruction when uninvested with attributes.
Thou art full yet Thou becomest liable to decay and death in the form of the body,
Which is Jiva's accompaniment.
Thou art the breath of life, and Thou art sattva,
Thou art rajas, Thou art tamas, and Thou art not subject to error.
Thou art the life breaths called Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, and Vyana.
Thou art the opening of the eye and shutting of the eye.
Thou art the act of sneezing and Thou art the act of yawning.
Thou art of red eyes which are ever turned inwards.
Thou art of large mouth and large stomach.
The bristles on Thy body are like needles.
The beard is green.
Thy hair is turned upwards.
Thou art swifter than the swiftest.
Thou art conversant with the principles of music both vocal and instrumental,
And fond of both vocal and instrumental music.
Thou art a fish roving in the waters,
And Thou art a fish entangled in the net.
Thou art full, Thou art fond of sports,
And Thou art of the form of all quarrels and disputes.
Thou art Time, Thou art bad time,
Thou art time that is premature,
And Thou art time that is over-mature.
Thou art the killing, Thou art the razor (that kills), and Thou art that which is killed.
Thou art the auxiliary and Thou art the adversary,
And Thou art the Destroyer of both auxiliaries and adversaries.
Thou art the time when clouds appear,
Thou art of large teeth,
And Thou art Samvartaka and Valahaka.
Thou art manifest in the form of splendour.
Thou art concealed in consequence of being invested with maya.
Thou art He who connects creatures with the fruits of their acts.
Thou hast a bell in Thy hand.
Thou playest with all mobile and immobile things (as with Thy toys).
Thou art the Cause of all causes.
Thou art Brahman (in the form of Pranava),
Thou art Swaha; Thou art the bearer of the Danda,
Thy head is bald, and Thou art he who has his words, deeds and Thoughts under control.
Thou art the four Yugas, Thou art the four Vedas,
Thou art He from whom the four (sacrificial) fires have flowed.
Thou art the Director of all the duties of the four modes of life.
Thou art the Maker of the four Orders.
Thou art always fond of dice.
Thou art cunning.
Thou art the Chief of the spirits distributed into ganas, and their Ruler.
Thou art adorned with red garlands and attired in robes that are red.
Thou sleepest on the mountain-breast, and Thou art fond of the red hue.
Thou art the Artisan; Thou art the foremost of artists;
And it is Thou from whom all arts have flowed.
Thou art the tearer of the eyes of Bhaga;
Thou art Fierce, and Thou art He who destroyed the teeth of Pushan.
Thou art Swaha, Thou art Swadha,
Thou art Vashat, Thou art Salutation's form,
And Thou art the words Namas-Namas uttered by all worshippers.
Thy observances and Thy penances are not known to others.
Thou art Pranava; Thou art the firmament bespangled with myriads of stars.
Thou art Dhatri, and Vidhatri, and Sandhatri, Vidhatri,
And the Refuge of all things in the form of the Supreme cause,
And Thou art independent of all Refuge.
Thou art conversant with Brahmā, Thou art Penance, Thou art Truth,
Thou art the Soul of brahmacharya, and Thou art Simplicity.
Thou art the Soul of creatures, Thou art the Creator of all creatures,
Thou art absolute Existence, and Thou art the Cause
Whence the past, the present, and the future, have sprung.
Thou art Earth, Thou art firmament, and Thou art heaven.
Thou art eternal, Thou art self-restrained, and Thou art the great God.
Thou art initiated, and Thou art not initiated.
Thou art forgiving; Thou art unforgiving;
And Thou art the Chastiser of all who are rebellious.
Thou art the lunar month, Thou art the cycle of the yugas (i.e., Kalpa),
Thou art destruction, and Thou art creation.
Thou art lust, Thou art the vital seed, Thou art subtile, Thou art gross,
And Thou art fond of garlands made of Karnikara flowers.
Thou hast a face like that of Nandi,
Thou hast a face that is terrible, Thou hast a handsome face,
Thou hast an ugly face, and Thou art without a face.
Thou hast four faces, Thou hast many faces,
And Thou hast a fiery face when engaged in battles.
Thou art gold-stomached (i.e., Narayana), Thou art (unattached to all things like) a bird,
Thou art Ananta (the lord of mighty snakes), and Thou art Virat (hugest of the huge).
Thou art the Destroyer of Unrighteousness, Thou art called Mahaparshva,
Thou art Chandradhara, and Thou art the Chief of the spirit-clans.
Thou lowedst like a cow, Thou wert the Protector of kine,
And Thou hast the Lord of bulls for Thy attendant.
Thou art the Protector of the three worlds,
Thou art Govinda, Thou art the director of the senses,
And Thou art incapable of being apprehended by the senses.
Thou art the foremost of all creatures,
Thou art fixed, Thou art immobile,
Thou tremblest not, and Thou art of the form of trembling!
Thou art incapable of being resisted,
Thou art the destroyer of all poisons,
Thou art incapable of being borne (in battle),
And Thou art incapable of being transcended,
Thou canst not be made to tremble,
Thou canst not be measured,
Thou canst not be vanquished,
And Thou art victory.
Thou art of swift speed,
Thou art the Moon,
Thou art Yama,
Thou bearest (without flinching) cold and heat and hunger and weakness and disease.
Thou art all mental agonies, Thou art all physical diseases,
Thou art the Curer of all diseases,
And Thou art those diseases themselves which Thou curest.
Thou art the destroyer of my Sacrifice which had endeavoured to escape in the form of deer.
Thou art the advent and the departure of all diseases.
Thou hast a high crest.
Thou hast eyes like lotus-petals.
Thy habitation is in the midst of a forest of lotuses.
Thou bearest the ascetic's staff in Thy hands.
Thou hast the three Vedas for Thy three eyes.
Thy chastisements are fierce and severe.
Thou art the Destroyer of the egg (whence the universe springs).
Thou art the Drinker of both poison and fire,
Thou art the foremost of all Deities,
Thou art the Drinker of Soma,
Thou art the Lord of the Maruts.
Thou art the Drinker of Nectar.
Thou art the Master of the universe.
Thou shinest in glory,
And Thou art the Lord of all the shining ones.
Thou protectest from poison and death,
And Thou drinkest milk and Soma.
Thou art the foremost of the protectors of those that have fallen off from heaven,
And Thou protectest him who is the first of the Deities.
Gold is Thy vital seed.
Thou art male, Thou art female, Thou art neuter.
Thou art an infant, Thou art a youth,
Thou art old in years with Thy teeth worn out,
Thou art the foremost of Nagas,
Thou art Sakra,
Thou art the Destroyer of the universe, and Thou art its Creator.
Thou art Prajapati, and Thou art adored by the Prajapatis,
Thou art the Supporter of the universe,
Thou hast the universe for Thy form,
Thou art endued with great energy,
And Thou hast faces turned towards all directions.
The Sun and the Moon are Thy two eyes,
And the Grandsire is Thy heart.
Thou art the ocean.
The Goddess Saraswati is Thy speech
And fire and wind are Thy might.
Thou art day and night.
Thou art all acts including the opening and the shutting of the eye.
Neither Brahmā nor Govinda nor the ancient Rishis,
Are competent to understand Thy greatness,
O auspicious Deity, truly.
Those subtile forms which Thou hast are invisible to us.
Rescue me and, O, protect me as the sire protects the son of his loins.
O, Protector! I deserve Thy protection.
I bow to Thee, O sinless One!
Thou, O illustrious One, art full of compassion for Thy devotees.
I am always devoted to Thee.
Let him be always my Protector who stayeth alone on the other side of the ocean,
In a form that is difficult to be apprehended,
And overwhelming many thousands of persons!
I bow to that Soul of yoga who is beheld in the form of an effulgent Light,
By persons that have their senses under control,
That are possessed of the attribute of sattva,
That have regulated their breaths,
And that have conquered sleep.
I bow to Him who is endued with matted locks,
Who bears the ascetic's staff in his hand,
Who is possessed of a body having a long abdomen,
Who has a kamandalu tied to his back,
And who is the Soul of Brahmā.
I bow to Him who is the Soul of water,
In whose hair are the clouds,
In the joints of whose body are the rivers,
And in whose stomach are the four oceans.
I seek the protection to Him who, when the end of the Yuga comes,
Devours all creatures and stretches himself (for sleep)
On the wide expanse of water that covers the universe.
Let him who entering Rahu's mouth drinketh Soma in the night
And who becoming Swarbhanu devoureth Surya also, protect me!
The Devas, who are mere infants
Ad who have all sprung from Thee after Brahmā's creation,
Enjoy their respective shares (in sacrificial offerings).
Let them (peacefully) enjoy those offerings made with Swaha and Swadha,
And let them derive pleasure from those presents -- I bow to them.
Let those Beings that are of the stature of the thumb,
And that dwell in all bodies, always protect and gratify me.
I always bow to those Beings who dwelling within embodied creatures
And make the latter cry in grief without themselves crying in grief,
And who gladden them without themselves being glad.
I always bow to those Rudras who dwell in rivers, in oceans,
In hills and mountains, in mountain-caves, in the roots of trees,
In cow-pens, in inaccessible forests, in the intersections of roads,
In roads, in open squares, in banks (of rivers and lakes and oceans),
In elephant-sheds, in stables, in car-sheds, in deserted gardens and houses,
In the five primal elements, and in the cardinal and subsidiary directions.
I bow repeatedly unto them that dwell in the space amidst the Sun and the Moon,
As also in rays of the Sun and the Moon, and them that dwell in the nether regions,
And them that have betaken themselves to renunciation,
And other superior practices for the sake of the Supreme.
I bow always unto them that are unnumbered, that are unmeasured,
And that have no form, unto those Rudras, that is, that are endued with infinite attributes.
Since Thou, O Rudra, art the Creator of all creatures,
Since, O Hara, Thou art the Master of all creatures,
And since Thou art the indwelling Soul of all creatures,
Therefore wert Thou not invited by me (to my sacrifices).
Since Thou art He who is adored in all sacrifices with plentiful gifts,
And since it is Thou that art the Creator of all things,
Therefore I did not invite Thee.
Or, perhaps, O God, stupefied by Thy subtile illusion I failed to invite Thee.
Be gratified with me, blessed by Thyself,
O Bhava, with me possessed by the quality of rajas.
My mind, my understanding, and my chitta all dwell in Thee, O God!

Mahabharata, Book XII [Shanti Parva]
Section between chapters 274 and 275: verses 155-388
Trans. Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Aum Aum Aum Shivaya Namah.

Phalguna Krsna 9, Samvat 2065 (Plava Samvatsara, Yugabda 5110) [?]

Friday, February 13, 2009

Date of Maha Shivaratri

As most may be already aware, the festival of Maha Shivaratri (the great night of Shiva) is rapidly approaching. In the year 2009, Maha Shivaratri will fall on February 22 (North and South America, Pacific) or February 23 (Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia).

Without doubt, Maha Shivaratri is one of the greatest festivals in the Hindu calendar, and the holiest day for all Shaivites. In a given solar year, there are actually twelve (or thirteen) Shivaratris, one per lunar month. Shivaratri occurs whenever the fourteenth lunar day of the waning moon (krsna paksha chaturdashi) is in effect at midnight local time.

Of the twelve (or thirteen) Shivaratris of the year, only one is considered Maha (great) Shivaratri. Within the lifetime of anyone reading this, Maha Shivaratri will fall sometime between February 12-March 13 when the Sun is in the sidereal constellation Kumbha (Aquarius).

Per the purnimanta mode of reckoning the Hindu calendar, the lunar date of Maha Shivaratri is defined as: Phalguna Krsna Chaturdashi ~ the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half (waning moon) in the month of Phalguna. The purnimanta mode is in vogue in Northern and Central India, parts of Orissa, Nepal and among Hindus in Pakistan.

Per the amanta mode of reckoning the Hindu calendar, the lunar date of Maha Shivaratri is defined as: Magha Krsna Chaturdashi ~ the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half (waning moon) in the month of Magha. The amanta mode is in vogue in Southern, Eastern and Western India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and among Hindus in South-East Asia.

Regardless of which reckoning mode one uses, the date and time of Maha Shivaratri is exactly the same. The two reckonings are, in fact, two ways of saying the same thing. The two systems only differ in how they define lunar months - whether they go from full moon to full moon (purnimanta) or new moon to new moon (amanta). However, it must be remembered that Maha Shivaratri, like all festivals on the Hindu calendar, does not necessarily fall on the same day throughout the world. One must observe this festival according to its actual occurance in your time zone.

As was stated at the beginning of the post, in all time zones that cover North and South America and the Pacific, Maha Shivaratri is to be observed on Sunday, February 22, 2009. In all time zones that cover Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, Maha Shivaratri is to be observed on Monday, February 23, 2009. Full celebrations generally begin around 6 pm on the given date, and continue on until 6 am (or local sunrise) on the following day.

Aum Namah Shivaya.
Phalguna Krsna 5, Samvat 2065
(Plava Samvatsara, Yugabda 5110) [?]

'Infertile' woman gives birth after visit to Hindu God Shiva

A woman who thought she had been left infertile by chemotherapy gave birth after visiting a statue of the Hindu God Shiva.

By Matthew Moore
Last Updated: 9:52AM GMT 13 Feb 2009

Doctors told Clare McVerry that she would never get pregnant because the breast cancer drugs she was taking could damage a child in the womb.

Her early-onset arthritis and a car crash she suffered in her 20s that left her with a weak spine should also have left her unable to carry a baby, according to The Sun newspaper.

But after visiting a statue of Shiva [...] while on holiday in India with her partner Tony Clarke, the 41-year-old gave birth to a son Mitchell.

"After I saw Shiva I was filled with a powerful feeling. I bought a model statue for my mantelpiece," she told the newspaper.

"When Mitchell grows up I will tell him how special the statue turned out to be."

Ms McVerry, from Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, stopped taking her cancer drug Tamoxifen during pregnancy to give her baby a better chance.

He was born a healthy 7lb 10 oz in December 2007 and is still doing well.

Her consultant Dr Simon Bowman told The Sun: "He really is a miracle baby."

Source: The Telegraph

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Gods

Anyone who has lived and experienced the nuances of existence knows that our world is filled with diversity. Everywhere we look in the physical world, we find living beings, both large and microscopic. Ignoring the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, we know that the Earth itself supports an estimated four to six million species. Our world is inhabited by five million trillion trillion (5x10^30) bacteria, one hundred billion birds, and almost seven billion human beings. Now, if one believes that there are greater (subtler) worlds beyond the physical, why can those worlds also not be equally rich with diversity? Why could they not be inhabited by trillions of beings as well?

In theology, the answer is that greater worlds are indeed inhabited by trillions of beings. All major religions acknowledge and teach of the existence of greater beings beyond our world. The religions of the Middle East, however, teach that these beings are not to be worshipped and do not dare call the highest among them “Gods.” By contrast, the religions of the East acknowledge the power and divinity of the greatest of celestial beings and call them Gods. Calling the greatest of celestial beings Gods does not imply that they are immortal or omnipotent. It implies that the these beings are endowed with special powers to help and guide humanity, and are thus worthy of our worship and allegiance. The Gods are our guides and the keepers of dharma.

It must be stressed here, that not every celestial being is to be called a “God.” Just like the Semitic religions, Hinduism lists a variety of beings in existence. The Puranic texts list many kinds of beings inhabiting the subtler worlds: Devas, Siddhas, Sadhyas, Apsaras, Asuras, Daityas, Garudas, Guhyakas, Kinnaras, Nirutas, Kimpurushas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Vinjayas, Bhutas, Pishachas, Antaras, Munivas, Charanas, Uragas, Kecharas, Akashavasis and Bhoga Bumidars. Of these, only the Devas (“shiny ones”) are usually termed Gods. Of the Devas, those that inhabit the highest plane of existence (Satyaloka) may also be termed Mahadevas.

It is common knowledge that certain Puranas state that there are 330 million Devas. The number 330 million has a special semantic/esoteric meaning in Hindu theology. Even without a detailed analysis of its esotery, if we take this number literally, it should not be so surprising that 330 million Devas exist. Why should it be so surprising that higher worlds are inhabited by 330 million Devas when our world is inhabited by seven billion humans? In practice, we know only a few Devas are actually worshipped; but in theory, there is no reason why 330 million cannot or should not exist.

In Shaivite theology, in particular, the existence and worship-worthiness of the Gods is fully acknowledged without unnecessary philosophizing or minimizing their existence. It is without doubt that all is Shiva [Brahman] – all Gods, all humans, all beings and all things. Nevertheless, to reach that supreme realization one needs the guidance and grace of the Mahadevas, who are already fully in that realization. It is acknowledged that the Mahadevas can instruct and guide us onto the right path. It is for this reason that the Mahadevas like Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya are routinely worshipped. They are verily our Gurus and the Gurus of our gurus too.


bhadraṁ karṇebhiḥ śruṇuyāma devā bhadraṁ paśyemākṣabhirya jatrāḥ .
sthirairaṅgaistuṣṭuvāṁsastanūbhivyaśemadevahitaṁ yadāyuḥ ..

O Devas! May we hear with our ears only that which is auspicious,
May we see with our eyes only the auspicious, O worship-worthy Ones!
May we praise Ye with steady body and limbs,
And may we enjoy the term of life allotted to us by the Devas.

~Holy Rigveda I.89.8

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

Magha Shukla 6, Samvat 2065 (Plava Samvatsara, Yugabda 5110) [?]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Time Divine

As we begin yet another year, we take time to remember that time itself, in the philosophies of Sanatana Dharma, is divine. The monistic and monistic-inclined philosophies, in particular, teach that everything is part of the divine Being including matter, space and time.

The doctrine of Time Divine in Sanatana Dharma transcends sectarian boundaries. Each of the three primary sects of Hinduism – Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism – impart this doctrine of Time Divine, albeit using varying iconography or imagery. In Shaivism, the Lord is represented as Great Time through the iconographic forms of Mahakala (Great Time) or Kalabhairava. In Shaktism, the cognate forms of Goddess Time are Mahakali or Kalasankarshini. In both Shaivism and Shaktism, these aforementioned forms are represented in temple icons. Vaishnavism, by contrast, rarely if ever uses iconographic forms to teach of Time Divine. Instead, a vivid imagery of Time Divine is given in the Bhagavad-Gita (XI.32-33). No matter the sect through which the doctrine of Time Divine comes, the idea is the same: time, the great dissolver of all things, is indeed a manifestation of the divine Being.

Much of the doctrine of time in Hindu theology and philosophy arose in central India in the city of Avantika (later called Ujjayini or Ujjain). For as long as anyone can remember, Avantika has been a center of Shaivite worship, and especially associated with Pashupata Shaivism. The city of Avantika was also the capital of various ancient Indian kingdoms and empires. Most importantly, as the location of the Jyotirlingam Shrine of Mahakala (Great Time), Avantika has for long been considered the prime meridian of longitude in Indian time calculation. Local legends dictate that it was the great emperor Vikramaditya of the Malwa dynasty who mandated that the prime meridian pass through the Linga icon of Mahakala.

Though the meridian (82.5ºE) for Indian standard time (UTC+05:30) no longer passes through Avantika (Ujjain), the default Indian Hindu calendar is still calculated for the coordinates of Ujjain. Moreover, the primary era of the Hindu calendar throughout northern India and Nepal begins with the coronation of legendary emperor Vikramaditya, the devotee of Lord Mahakala, in the year 58 BCE. It is also with the blessings of Lord Mahakala that great treatises on astronomy, astrology, mathematics, and time calculation were written by their sagacious authors in Avantika. The Aryabhatiyam, the Surya Siddhanta, the Pancha Siddhantika, and other important treatises were all composed in Avantika. It is here, in the land of Lord Mahakala, that great scholars came to understand time and the doctrine of Time Divine. It is here that sages first came upon the concept of great time cycles known as yugas. And, it is in Avantika, no doubt, that the ancients fully realized that time indeed is the manifest Divine.

As we mark the beginning of a new Gregorian year, we take a moment to remember Lord Mahakala-Shiva, who is immanent as Time, and His holy city of Avantika, whence the measurement of time and space amalgamated with theology and philosophy. Though we envision our passage through time as a passage through the living divine Being, we simultaneously realize that He is never bound by time. In the approach of understanding time as divine, we use time as an anchor to experience and obtain timelessness – that eternal, unchanging Shiva.

Jai Mahakala!

Agnideva © 2009. All rights reserved.

Pausha Shukla 5, Samvat 2065 (Plava Samvatsara, Yugabda 5110) [?]

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