My romance with Shiva and his temples started from my childhood.
When my mother tongue Tamil happened to me even though I was in an English language school and had Hindi as my second language, I began my travel with mystics like Manickavachagar, a Pandyan minister who suddenly experienced a divine dimension.
The mystic’s outpourings are part of the Tamil language’s classic treasure, and in the 19th century was translated by G.U.Pope.
Siva temples in Mylapore and around became my favourite haunts, and through the sights and fragrances of these temples I was able to connect to a great deity. Siva struck me as a multitudinous god….a veritable avalanche of divine energy in manifold manifestations.
He was the great teacher, Dakshinamurthi, the master of the silent word, he was the inscrutable linga of manifold names, he was Kalabhairava, the master of Time, and Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer. All this among other other and other things.
I wrote ‘Siva Darshan’ for the magazine Tatwaloka, and must thank readers for making the book a success.
This led me to ‘Lord Shiva – Initiation into Meditation’ , a video on the deity. Though my initial idea was a visual presentation of Adi Shankara’s Dakshinamurthi Ashtakam, I widened the subject to cover the deity. With the limited budget at my disposal, I should say that I barely touched the hem of Shiva’s all-enveloping form.
The video, a production of Superaudio, has music recorded by me for the company. As I wanted the music to be prominent, and needed the tranquil quality of the music to come through fully, I avoided an audio commentary, and used subtitles to do the narration. This gambit succeeded in my earlier video on Tamil Nadu temples.
I opted for the poetic approach and focussed on the many forms and manifestations of the deity — to dwell on the myriad responses of devotees was beyond the scope of my video and budget as well.
I would like to share the lines that were featured in the video…which will give an idea of the film..
Lord Shiva – Initiation
In the Beginning, Shiva alone was
Robed in His own delight,
He basked in Infinity.
Rapture reigned, supreme
A silence grasped by timeless hands,
Shiva alone with his Self
Only the illimitable self,
A peace stupendous, still
Momentless Infinity, pure and
Bright, stretched to Eternity everywhere
(The above lines are partly from Sri Aurobindo)
And then He desired (as if in Sport)…
Let me become many…!
Shiva created the world, and having created it, entered it.
(Based on Taittiriya Upanishad 2. 6)
He became the male and the female and their progeny…. He became the many hued and shaped fishes swimming amidst the blue waters …. He became the great rivers and rich lands and the birds flying in the skies……., He became the manifold cattle grazing the pastures …., He became the mighty lion feeding on the creatures …., He became the innocent lamb nibbling the green ….…He bccame the ducks of the water and the peacocks…….…He became the heaven and earth…….… He bccame the teaming people of the earth……….
He knew them all, not they He.
(Based on Svetaashvatara Upanishad IV chapter 4)
Bereft of Siva- consciousness, man today stands at the crossroads of his destiny.
Man has to re-discover his source…Man has to re-trace his roots to Shiva.
Manifold forms of Shiva
Since ages gone by, mankind perceived Shiva in many ways.
As the Linga, symbol of the formless and infinite…and an icon of play of Shiva and his active energy Shakti….
Manifold are the attributes and aspects of Shiva recorded in the experiences of the sages.
Shiva, the foremost of ascetics….
Shiva, the father of the universe….
Shiva/Shakti, the progenitors of creation…
Shiva ‘Somaskanda’ – the foremost family of the universe…
Shiva as ‘Tripurantaka’ – the destroyer of the three cities of illusion
(of the three gunas of Satwa, Rajas and Tamas)
Shiva as ‘Lingotbhava’ – the endless pillar of fire…the infinite light..
Shiva as ‘Kalabhairava’ – the Lord of Time
Shiva as ‘Shankara-Narayana’ –composite of Shiva and Vishnu
Shiva as the abstemious mendicant
Shiva as ‘Neelakantha’ – he who drank the poison
that came before the nectar
Shiva as ‘Nagaraja’ – Lord of the serpents
Shiva — deep, profound, illimitable…
Rudra the Chastiser, Ardhanaari the androgyne
…Description can only diminish Him
At one end Shiva is Dakshinamurthi,
Teacher of Great Silence…
At the other end, Shiva is Nataraja,
Nataraja’s Dance energises the galaxies,
Beats in the hearts of creatures,
and whirls in the core of every atom
The drum proclaims creation.
The hand gesture assures protection.
Fire signifies destruction (for a new creation)
The vanquished demon illusion.
The raised foot indicates liberation
to those who surrender to His Grace.
The smiling lips give away the reason
of all creation – His sport!
Shiva is One! Shiva is All!
Shiva is in the heart…Shiva, Shiva, Shiva!
Shiva’s luminous form shines all over,
the jyotir lingas all over India !
Lord Kedarnath, on the banks of the Mandakini
in the Himalayas, adored by sages and gods
Lord Baidyanath, who resides in the Purulia region,
and is worshipped by demons and divine beings
Lord Grishneshwar, who dwells in Ellora, and
is worshipped with joy by the whole world
Lord Mahakaleswar, who incarnated in Avanti (Ujjain)
to bless noble souls them with salvation
Lord Somnath, the radiant One of Saurashtra,
who is adorned with the crescent moon
Lord Tryambakeswar, who resides in the banks
of the Godavari on the Sahyadri ranges
Lord Viswanath, lord of Varanasi and
protector of those without support
Lord Nageswar, who blesses one with
worldly enjoyment and final release
Lord Bhimasankar, the benefactor of
devotees, by the side of the river Bhima
Lord Mallikarjun, who dwells on the peak
of Srisailam, and is the bridge over the sea of samsara
Lord Omkareshwar, of the Mandhata island
on the banks of the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh
Lord Rameswar, worshipped by Sri Rama
on the island of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu
He who adores Lord Shiva’s radiant forms of light,
Goes past the ocean of birth and death…
The eightfold forms
Other sages worshipped Shiva as Ashtamurthi,
The Lord of the Eight forms….
Among the elements, Shiva is earth, Siva is earth….
Shiva is earth…Shiva is earth…All earth is Shiva…All earth is Shiva…
This gopuram is Shiva, This Nandhi is Shiva…All earth is Shiva…
Water is Shiva…Water is Shiva…All water is Shiva…
Fire is Shiva…Fire is Shiva…Shiva is fire…Shiva is fire…
Shiva is the fire in the stomach that digests food…
Shiva is the fire that carries oblations to the gods…
Shiva is the fire from which all sparks issue
Shiva is the wind…Shiva is the wind….
Shiva is the Person in the wind…
Shiva is ether….Shiva indeed is ether……
Shiva is ether, subtlest of the five elements ……
Chidambaram, the temple that represents ether…
Shiva is the Sun…Shiva is the deity in the Sun…the divine Presence in the Sun…
Shiva is the Sun….He is the golden person seen in the Sun….
Shiva is the moon….The Moon is Soma…Shiva is Soma…Shiva is the Moon…
Shiva is the moon…
Shiva is the soul of all living creatures…Shiva is our soul…
Shiva is our life…Shiva is all our beings…
Shiva is the divinity that shines beyond all man-made differences
Infinite and ineffable are the ways of Shiva…
But as the father of every being, he comes…
With a message for every heart..
From the heights of Kailas to the peaks of Arunachala (Tiruvannamalai),
the spiritual vibrations of Shiva beckon…. …
Shiva asks us to surrender at his feet
by understanding the Cosmic Dance in the heart…. …
Shiva asks us to give ear to his silent
message to the great sages of yore
Shiva initiates us into a silence that silences all doubts…
it is the unstruck sound…the one-handed clap …
As Dakshinamurti, Shiva sits under the
mighty Banyan, symbol of wordly existence …
As He faced the South while teaching Yoga,
He came to be known as the south-facing deity …
The southern direction signifies death….Shiva
teaches the way to conquer it forever
The ‘chinmudra’ signifies the union of
individual consciousness with the Divine
Sages steeped in Vedic study find
their doubts dispelled by Shiva’s message….
…Palm leaves in one hand – As teacher
Shiva holds the key to all knowledge
His sight is fixed on the great Yoga…
Great composer Muthuswami Dishithar’s
Musical tribute, ‘Sri Dakshinamurthe’
Sri Dakshnimamuthi, Remover of the
Misery of his devotees
He brims with divine consciousness of joy
He is steeped in Silence
Akshaya Suvarna Vata Vriksha Moola Stithe
He is seated below the imperishable golden Banyan tree
Raksha Maam Sanakadhi Raajayogi Sthuthe…
Protect Me Lord, who is praised by Rajayogis like Sanaka…
Echoes of the unstruck sound
(based on Adi Shankara’s Dakshinamurthi Ashtakam)
The world of duality that we see
is only a reflection of the Supreme Brahman….
Just as the dream world ends
When one wakes up…
The world of diversity pales away
with the dawning of illumination…
Shiva’s power of illusion, like a magician’s spell,
binds man to the world of phenomena
The grace of Shiva dispels the perception
of duality, and bestows the divine vision
Like a spider weaving its web…. …
Man’s mind limited by Time and Space,
tries to create its own meaning….
…. A warped view of a twisted world! …
When Shiva Dakshinamurthi’s vision is gained,
The light of lights shines in Man’s heart! …
Man then dwells in the Empire of Empires…
Unlimited vision, uncircumscribed joy, infinite wisdom …
Man then becomes the Light that illumines all else,
The Light of All Lights… …
Man then finds within himself, the source
of the eternal tree whose roots are in the Heavens
The trinkets of fleeting joy in a bound existence…
…. Do not bind the One who is immersed
in transcendental consciousness…
Siva, as Dakshinamurthi, is the primal Guru…
God comes as Guru to ward away darkness!
The tradition of God as Guru continues…
Krishna teaches the Gita to Arjuna
…Dattatreya brings the science of Self
The Tamil Saiva tradition found God
Coming as guru to the ripe aspirant
A great line of Mahatmas come to the
succour of humanity…
The Buddha…Ray of light
To a world of darkness
Adi Shankara – philosopher, poet
And spiritual organizer non pareil
Sri Ramanuja , devout mystic,
Philosopher and mystic leader
Tamil saint Pattinathar , from
Millionaire to mystic and miracle worker
Sri Raghavendra, abounding
Grace to every seeking
Jothi Ramalingar, compassion
As a living way to god
Sri Ramakrishna, Visionary
Of the spiritual unity of religions
Swami Vivekananda, Sage of
India’s spiritual awakening
Shirdi Sai Baba, Mystic with a
Message for the millions
Sri Ramana Maharishi, eloquence
Of the Silence
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother…,
Architects of a new world
Vision of Kanchi Acharya as Dakshinamurthi
makes artist Jaya Chandrasekharan turn to Shiva
Sanakaadhi Raajayogi Sthuthe…
Shiva worshipped by Rajayogis like Sanaka
Rakshitha SadBhakte Sikshitha Duryukthe…
Protector of true devotees, chastiser of wrong reasoning
Aksharanurakthe Avidya Virakthe
Intent on true learning, Averse to ignorance
‘Veena Dakshinamurthi ‘
(Ekamreshwarar temple, Kanchipuram)
Second (not known)
‘Sri Shakti Dakshinamurthi’ (Thanjavur east street)
Nikhila samsaya harana nipunatara yukthe
Accomplished in removing all doubts ….
Nirvikalpa Samadhi Nidraa Prasakthe…
Steeped in the non-dual vision
Yogi Vaidhyanathan shares his inner vision with aspirants
Akhandaika rasa poorna Aaroodha Sakthe
Shiva, form of the divine power
brimming with everflowing bliss
Aparoksha Nityabodhaananda Mukthe
…Shiva, form of liberation based on
direct experience of perennial bliss…
Even in our times, the helping
hand of the guru is near…for example…
Swami Gnanananda of
Tirukoilur, ocean of great qualities
Sri Ramsurat Kumar of Arunachala,
The power of Ram Nam
Shiva is love, love is Shiva,
That is the right knowledge…
Shivaya Nama Om… Shivaya Nama Om…