Shiva represents the very peak of human evolution and the ultimate in life, writes Pratiksha Apurv. Published in The Times of India and in The Speaking Tree on February 21, 2020.
Each moment contains two phenomena, creation and dissolution, because opposites in life create the required cosmic balance. Just like our in-breath and outgoing breath, there is continuous rhythm in the cosmos. Day cannot exist without night and so too with all other things in life. Birth-death, male-female, peak-valley, good-bad, positive-negative, hot-cold, and so on may all seem as opposites but there is a definite interdependence between the two polarities that creates cosmic harmony. And this cannot be better explained than Shiva himself.
Shiva essentially means ‘that which is not’. He also embodies the concept of union in his state of Ardhnarishwara, a blend of male and female energies and also of anger and compassion. Trinity of gods in Hinduism is Brahma, the deity of creation, Vishnu, the deity of maintenance, and Shiva, of destruction or dissolution of the universe. Shiva is also infinite love and kindness, always ready to fulfil the wishes of devotees.
Shiva is a reminder to devotees that without this dynamic balance of opposites, life would be chaos. Without the existence of night, day would become dull, without woman, man would be incomplete. They seem as polar opposites, but are essentially, one. Our mind often agitates as to why birth cannot be without death. But, it is equally true that birth and death are one and not separate from each other. And, that is what Shiva symbolises.
Every birth brings death and every death brings new life. Shiva represents the very peak of human evolution and the ultimate in life. In order to attain to this, Shiva has given 112 methods of meditation. Life is a phenomenon of coming into form, and death is moving into the formless. Since Shiva essentially means the formless, we do not keep pictures of Shiva in temples. Instead, we have him represented as Shivalinga. This aptly represents merging of both form and formless, indicating the concept of Shiva. He makes us aware that all beings ultimately end up as non-beings and this world is a transit camp. Shiva brings this awareness for transformation, and turns the search within, so that seekers eventually move towards ultimate existence. If we realise this formless-form, then Shiva appears as a deity of compassion and liberation.
The idea of oneness, has always been emphasised by Indic sages. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that the one who perceives life in different forms, is distanced from the inner reality of Self. This world, gods, Vedas, beings and everything present in existence are all part of our inner Self. Everything is united in one deep state of unity. The conch and drums are different instruments containing different kind of notes. Together, they produce beautiful music.
In the concept of Ardhanarishwara, Shakti is feminine and Shiva is masculine but both are inseparable and united in total unity and harmony. Every individual has the traits of Ardhanarishwara. Opposites give us a chance to do things right. If we move against nature, we become unhappy and miserable, and that is a warning to put our house in order, by bringing back balance. Misery is not separate from happiness, but rather the absence of the latter. We see them as two because our minds cannot see through opposites, but when mind is dropped, we are simply looking at life with totality and in unity. In Shiva we see both, diversity and unity.
Illustration provided by the artist/author for Osho News