Lord Shiva – The strange God from time immemorial


Even the puranas, that portray him with human attributes, are silent about his birth. Being Shankara – who has your welfare in his mind, he is close to our heart, yet he remains the most mysterious one riddled with contradictions.

He makes the profane sacred so he lives in burial grounds. Is it an attempt by ancient seers to remove taboos associated with places that people are reluctant to visit?

He remains unaffected even after taking so much poison. The world has both nectar and poison.

To remain unaffected by the poisons of the world requires the state of shivahood.

He is the embodiment of Isha Vashyam Idam Sarvam  – as he lives everywhere.

He is known as kalantaka – the one that ends time. Do we have an indication towards the state of deep meditation or samadhi where one transcends time.

As part of the trinity – the role assigned to him is that of a destroyer. But he is the ultimate savior. During the churning of the seas, he drinks poison. At the time of descent of Ganga, he takes her on his head.

All contradictions manifest and merge in him. He is an embodiment of yin and yang. He is ardhanariswara : half man – half woman. He is an ascetic and a householder at  the same time. He lives in Kailash, where there is only happiness and joy and in burial ground – the place of ultimate grief.

He is worshipped by Gods, human beings and demons. He is worshiped mostly as phallic symbol. At the same time he is known as the destroyer of kama – the god associated with lust.

He is the manifestation of the ultimate. He is nishkama, he is gnaneswara – lord of knowledge, he is mukteswara – lord of ultimate freedom. However, in puranas he is described as a householder who is prone to all human emotions.

He is worshiped by both Rama and Ravana. It signifies the impartiality of the primordial principle – the rit. It shows that the divine rejects none. All are part of Him. Of course finally Rama wins so that balance of dharma is maintained.

He is worshiped by the sober Gyani. At the same time he is the favourite God of the masts  who indulge in addictive substances on his name. This could be misreading of the state of bliss or the twisted logic of the addict to rationalise their addiction and claim social acceptance.

He is truly a strange God who does not mind being part of strange and bizarre rituals. The sacred and the profane merge. All are welcome. Even his entourage consists of strange beings and non beings like goblins. Anybody can stake claim to him.

However, amidst all the chaos, He is calmness manifest. He remains centred and free from all attachments.

He is the mystic of mystics. I grapple for words to describe his full glory. To such a lord I bow down with reverence.

Om Namah Shivaya.

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Transcendental Mathematics

As far as the evolution of the Indian thought system is concerned, zero has been as much a mathematical concept as a spiritual one.  The whole philosophy of Buddha is based on sunyata, nothingness. By the way the Sanskrit word for zero is sunya. When the philosophy, spirituality and mathematical use of zero was at its zenith in India, their western counterparts wondered how can nothing be something.

In India of the vedic age, there was no distinction  between religion and science. A highly developed form of mathematics was used to place various temples in the geography of India and to construct individual temples. The Garbhagriha – sanctum sanctorum  –  was the sunya griha where for a moment the mind of the pilgrim went blank.

In eastern philosophy, existence was conceived as the paradox of being and nothingness. Buddha’s view was that the whole existence is a great void, it is all empty and nothingness. Then came Shankara who said there is fullness in everything.

While ‘nothingness’ was the basis of a rebellious religion and philosophy, ‘nothing’ was the starting point in the evolution of mathematics.

To make things simple, and from a mathematical point of view, let me divide all mathematics into three categories.

First of all, is the logical sequential common sense mathematics where two plus two is four. It has tremendous use in our day to day affairs. All scientific progress and commercial transactions are based on this. This is the mathematics that we learn as a part of curriculum in our educational institutions. Let us call it the logical mathematics.

Secondly, there is this mathematics of the group dynamics or for simplicity let us call it the dynamic mathematics. There is a proverb in Hindi –Ek aur ek gyarah – one plus one becomes eleven. According to the logical mathematics if one person does x amount of work in a day and another does y amount of work in a day, then both will do x+y amount of work. However according to dynamic mathematics both will do much more than x+y amount of work. Whenever two people work together they create a third force in the form of group dynamics or synergy that adds something to the total output. Of course if this third force is negative, then the total output will be less than the sum of individual outputs. If two people are able to lift a stone to a height of one meter it does not mean that one person will be able to lift it to a height of half a meter. One person may not be able to lift it at all.  When a bird flies with its flock in a formation it uses less energy than it would do for the same distance if it flew individually. The synergy among the birds is such that even a sick bird that can hardly fly is carried along once it is a part of the formation.

Then, there is the mathematics of the transcendental or the mathematics of the mystical experience. Most of us are familiar with the first declaration of the Ishavasya Upanishad – Purnamadah purnamidam purnat purna mudachyate. Purnashya purnamadaya purnamevavashishyate. That is whole, and this also is whole. For only the whole is born out of the whole; And when the whole is taken from the whole, the remainder is whole.

This sloka attempts to describe the mystical experience of the ultimate reality. It is beyond logic. One has to transcend logic to get a glimpse of such mystical experience. Along with the illogical concept of zero,  when some western logicians came across such declarations, they thought that the eastern seers who composed the Upanishads were lunatics.

Even though it is difficult to understand this sloka with our logical mind some indications can be given. Now water can be divided but not liquidity. When a jug of water is taken out from a bucket full of water the quality of liquidity is neither improved nor downgraded.

Or let us take another example. There is a rose plant. We cut a branch and plant it at another place where it grows into a plant again. When we cut a live plant what we are actually taking out is the tree-ness or the essence of the tree. However the tree-ness or the essence of the first tree remains whole at the same time the new branch also grows into a whole tree. We cannot say that by cutting the earlier tree the wholeness in either has been affected.

To make things simpler (or, more confusing),  substitute the ‘purna’ in the above sloka with zero. Now you have something to argue with the logician, who has at least accepted the concept of zero i.e something is possible out of nothing.

To make things the simplest, meditate with Buddha or listen to  Shankar’s Bhajagovindam. You will realise the nothingness of everything either way.

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