Shiva is a deity of the eons, of all eternity, not just a historical or cultural image.
Shiva is relevant to all of us as a formulation of the highest truth and consciousness, the spiritual power behind nature, and the deeper self-awareness beyond the known universe.
If we carefully examine the tradition of Shiva worship, we find something very different than the shadow of superstition often cast upon it. Shaivism contains among the world’s most sophisticated mystical and yogic philosophies. It has numerous texts of tremendous detail and profundity on all aspects of life, the universe, karma, rebirth and liberation of the soul.
Shaivite teachings are not just theoretical but abound with practices relative to meditation, mantra, prana, Kundalini and the chakras that can take us to the highest Self-realisation.
Shiva relates to the unitary awareness beyond time and space, the supreme Brahman or Absolute, a universal consciousness such as modern physics is only beginning to suspect might exist behind the known world. Shaivite thought includes several systems of Yoga, Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, and Shaiva Siddhanta that reflect a great sophistication in their logic, method, and understanding how to gain true knowledge of eternal reality through inner perception and Self-inquiry.
At the level of meditative insight, Shiva is a deity of endless time and boundless space, with his dance of fire symbolising the process through which the entire universe is created and dissolved at every moment. This transcendent side of Shiva inspired modern physicists to associate Shiva with the latest knowledge of modern science. Shiva is a deity of the eons, not just a historical or cultural image.
Shiva also reflects the highest refinement in human life. He is a great icon of art and culture in India, with extensive traditions of poetry, music, and dance associated with Shiva as their dominant inspiration. The influence of Shiva occurs in all branches of Yoga in India from asanas to the highest samadhis. Shaivite science covers medicine and healing (Ayurveda), astrology, and the occult sciences, with much secret knowledge and transformative vision.
Magnificent Shiva temples can be found in all regions of India, with extraordinary architecture and sculpture, notably the twelve Shiva Jyotir lingas. These temples remain vibrant with many thousands of pilgrims visiting them regularly for festivals and rituals. Shiva has sacred sites throughout the Himalayas, extending into middle India and as far south as Tamil Nadu. Shiva, particularly as the dancer Nataraj, is one of the great unifying images of Indian or Bharatiya culture. Yet we can find Shiva throughout Asia to Indonesia and extending into native traditions throughout the entire world with their sacred stones, megaliths, obelisks and pyramids.
Universality of Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva is relevant to all of us, young and old, East and West, as a formulation of the highest truth and consciousness, the spiritual power behind nature, and the deeper self-awareness beyond the known universe. We cannot understand our deeper heritage as a species unless we afford a prominent place for eternal Shiva and his timeless teachings. He is the original Rishi, the Adi Guru of Yoga and the ultimate representation of silent meditation.
While we may look at him in different names and forms, Shiva personifies the inner strength born of our connection with all nature and cosmic consciousness. Contacting Shiva within can help us effectively deal with the challenges of our time, with a special appeal to the youth and for the future of the planet. There is extraordinary power, mystery, and depth to the figure of Shiva. It is the enigma of life itself, beyond the opinions and beliefs of the mind.
Let us keep our minds and hearts open to explore the various sides of a deity that encompasses all that exists from the rocks on the ground to the unlimited Absolute. We must learn to surrender within to that cosmic reality, not expect it to conform to our personal or social expectations. We are but waves on Shiva’s ocean of bliss, who have forgotten our source, sustenance and ultimate goal deep within us.
Shiva is not a creation of the human mind, rather the human soul is a portion of Shiva’s light cast into the outer world of time and space. To discover Shiva is to reclaim our true nature that is all-pervasive and unbounded, within all and yet ever free. Shiva is the supreme reality of eternity, of which our human life is but a passing episode in the waves of time that arise from its boundless potentials.