4 - Issue 02
The Vision Of Non-Duality IV
This article seeks to improve your understanding of the subtle spiritual significances of Lord Shiva and to elaborate this in the context of the Shivarathri festival. It also points the way for the reader to grasp a true picture of who he really is and help him further on the path.
Shiva is extolled in the Shiv-Purana and our mythological literature; hymns are sung in praise of Him by great masters like Vyasa, Adi Shankara and Vivekananda. Words fail to do full justice to the Lord of the Snows, both in His personal and impersonal aspects.
Shiva, the Lord of Kailasa, the great Ascetic, symbolises perfect gyana (spiritual wisdom), tapas (austerities) and vairagya (dispassion). He is all holiness and auspiciousness. The One with full command over the senses and the mind, Shiva destroys Cupid or Manmatha, also known as Kamadeva, the God of desire.
Shiva destroys him through His third eye or the eye of gyana. Thereby showing the supremacy of love as against kama (lust). Gyana, true spiritual wisdom, teaches us that our true Self is beyond gender and body consciousness.
Mahadeva, the Supreme Lord, is clothed in an elephant’s skin, the waters of the Ganga surging through His matted hair. He is the Supreme Purifier; devoid of duality; unborn; eternal; the cause of all causes; the Fourth state of being; beyond darkness and without beginning or end. When we pray to Him we commune with God in all these aspects.
It is here, namely in Sai, that the followers of Shiva, Vishnu and all seekers arrive at a common goal, namely the Oneness of God and His transcendental nature.
The Transcendental Aspect of Shiva by Adi Shankara
Adi Shankara’s 6 stanzas in his treatise on the “Nirvana Shatakam”, give a view of this transcendental aspect of Shiva. He ends each stanza with the refrain - “Chidananda Rupam, Shivoham, Shivoham” - that is; “I am the soul of Knowledge and Bliss, I am Shiva, I am Shiva.” The reader can also apply the following stanzas to the inner reality of his true Self and contemplate thus.
In a shattering of previous earthly conditioning, all names, forms and attachments which bind the jiva are eschewed. Every other identification with duality at the mental, vital and psychic level is rejected by the process of elimination and the jiva “dives” into the ocean of Satchitananda (being-awareness-bliss) to merge with the Transcendental Non-Dual One. He experiences Advaitha Darshanam Gyanam. Thus Swami’s statements “A dual mind is half-blind” and “Happiness is union with God” become realized within.
Swami in the 80th Birthday Discourse…
Shankara tells us that “The Jiva is not different from Brahman” in other words our true nature is not different from God. In the 80th birthday discourse Swami exhorted us “Who is God? In fact, you yourself are God. Everyone should develop the firm conviction, ‘I am God.’”
At first glance these statements may appear contradictory to Shankara’s expressions in the Nirvana Shatakam above. There is no contradiction whatsoever. The jiva is one with Brahman, on shedding its limitations caused by wrongful identification, ignorance and attachment to mana (mind), buddhi (intellect), chitha (thoughts) and ahankara (ego). The Atman is none of these. In the last stanza, Shankara triumphantly and resoundingly declares:
“I am changeless, formless, all pervading and omnipresent, free from all attachments, and the knowable. I am the soul of Knowledge and Bliss - I am Shiva, I am Shiva!”
It is the declaration of self-realisation that all seekers are reaching for as their goal and it is grand vision of non-duality that Shankara expounds throughout.
Rise to Our True Nature
The rishis and seers of yore, who were selfless and thought about the good of humanity, made very bold and in-depth statements for our benefit, which literally blow our breath away. The knowledge of the immortal Self has made them utterly fearless, while their compassion for suffering humanity makes them speak out the One Truth in various telling expressions.
Recently, a senior office-bearer of the Sathya Sai Organisation mentioned in the Divine Presence, that he once asked Swami if he could view the world through Swami’s eyes.
Swami replied “If you were to do that, you would give up your job, your wife and children” for such is the purifying knowledge of Immortality, the Non-Dual, the Fourth State, “It is Paripoorna Prema” or “Love in totality” - Swami.
A Beautiful Example From Swami…
Swami, the Divine Mother, familiarises us, His children, with these great truths by means of simple anecdotes, and analogies so as not to shock the novice out of his wits and shy him away. The Mother makes the truth more palatable and acceptable. This is to drive away the child’s fear of that which gives freedom from all fear! As an example, Swami tells the story of a lion cub who grew among a flock of sheep and mistook itself for one of them.
The analogy is obvious - the Lion symbolizes the Atman, while the sheep symbolizes body-consciousness, the latter keeping us far away from awareness of our true nature.
The wakeful state (in which the reader is now in) constitutes the entire gamut of worldly sense experiences, body consciousness, the state of duality, subject-object relationship, mixture of joy-sorrow, the three gunas, etc. ‘Denial of the world’, which at first impression may appear a negative action, is rather a rising above this relative state of consciousness into a higher state of awareness – to be who we really are.
“When Truth is known, where then is this world?”- Adi Shankara
Swami Vivekananda’s Hymn to Lord Shiva
- Sri S Suresh Rao and
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Vol 4 Issue 02 - February 2006
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