📚 Seven secrets of Shiva – Devdutt Pattnaik

Highlights from Kindle

  • Imagination makes us self-aware.
  • In Sanskrit, the sound ‘Brh’ means to grow, to swell, to expand and enlarge. From this sound come two very critical ideas: brahman and Brahma. The former is a concept found in the Vedas and the latter is a character found in the Puranas. Vedas are the earliest sacred scriptures of Hinduism and are full of abstract hymns containing esoteric concepts. The Puranas were written later and use stories and characters to make those esoteric concepts more accessible. The Vedic brahman is a neuter noun, which means the vast, the boundless, and the infinite. Puranic Brahma is a proper noun referring to a form of God that is, very peculiarly and significantly, not worshipped.
  • Tapa is spiritual fire that does not need fuel, unlike agni that is material fire which needs fuel. Tapa cleanses the mind, purges.
  • The inward gaze away from material world is called nivritti marga, while the outward materialistic gaze is called pravritti marga.
  • The inward gaze seeks the seed from where the tree comes; the outward gaze seeks the fruit of the tree. That is why Shiva is always bedecked with the seeds of the rudraksha tree. Rudraksha literally means ‘the gaze of Shiva’. In contrast, Vishnu, patron of the outward gaze, is bedecked with leaves and flowers.
  • Shiva strings the seeds of the rudraksha around his neck, instead of sowing them under the ground. Thus he prevents germination. Thus the rudraksha-mala or chain of rudraksha beads represents celibacy.
  • Shiva’s holy city, Kashi, is located at a bend in the river Ganga where it turns and moves northwards instead of southwards. This reverse flow of the river is a reminder
  • Shiva-linga then is thus at once, the self-stirred phallus of the Tapasvin, the reverse flow of his semen, the burning of Tapa, the endless pillar of fire and the form of the formless divine. This is the Stanu, the still pillar of consciousness, the fountainhead of imagination, around which nature dances.
  • Yama is the god of death.
  • Shiva is called Kaal Bhairava because he removes the bhaya of kaal, which is time, the devourer of all living things.
  • That is why he is called Pashu-pati, master of animal instincts.
  • Because humans have the ability to imagine, humans stand apart from the rest of nature.
  • Humans therefore experience two realities: the objective reality of nature and the subjective reality of their imagination. The former is Prakriti; the latter is Purusha.
  • Shiva is Yamantaka, he who destroys Yama. Markandeya became the immortal sage.
  • One becomes immortal when one outgrows the fear of death.
  • When one liberates oneself from the fear of death using faith, one becomes indifferent to death. Death then no longer controls us or frightens us.
  • Brahma renames Prakriti as Shatarupa, she of myriad forms.
  • This is Tripura, the three worlds. horizontal lines represent inertia.
  • The number three plays a key role in Shiva’s mythology.
  • Darshan is gaze that is free of fear. Darshan is gaze that looks at the other for its own sake not because it is ‘mine’ or ‘not mine’. Darshan is an empathy-filled gaze.
  • When we genuinely do darshan, we discover how the other react to us. That is, the other ends up as a mirror or darpan, reflecting who we are.
  • Yagna is all about controlling wild nature and domesticating it so that it comes under human control, becomes manageable, predictable, hence less frightening. Yagna
  • Yagna is a metaphor for domestication. Yagna involves domestication of fire, limiting it to a sacrificial altar.
  • Through Daksha, Brahma becomes domesticator of nature and creator of culture.
  • Shiva, who is Mrityunjaya, conqueror of death, places Chandra on his forehead.
  • The Devas therefore call Shiva Maha-deva, the greatest of gods, he who is God, hence independent of nature’s laws.
  • In Prakriti death is merely a comma, not a full stop. What goes around always comes around.
  • The third eye of Shiva indicates transcendental wisdom.
  • Parvati’s austerities form the root of the ritual known as vrata, during which women of the household fast and stay awake all night hoping to change the fortunes of their household and bring in luck and health and prosperity. In
  • Culture is neither innocent nor ignorant.
  • The word ghora means frightening while Aghora means one who is not frightening.
  • Ravana’s father is Vaishrava whose father was Pulatsya who is another mind-born son of Brahma.
  • Ramayana, written by the sage Valmiki, was narrated to Valmiki first by the sage Narada, who heard it from the bull Nandi, who overheard a conversation between Shakti and Shiva.
  • The Tantras are sometimes known as Agamas to differentiate them from the Vedas, which are known as Nigamas. The difference between Agamas and Nigamas is that Agamas focus on the worship of a deity with form, i.e. saguna brahman, while Nigamas focus on the worship of a formless deity, nirguna brahman.
  • Food thus plays a fundamental role in allaying fear.
  • Naturally, it is associated with Indra, king of the Devas, ruler of the sky and Lakshmi, goddess of wealth.
  • Shiva however kills the elephant. He is Gajantaka, slayer of the elephant.
  • The scriptures state that every living creature is obligated to produce children to repay the debt they owe to their ancestors who gave them life. This is Pitr-rin.
  • Ganesh is parviti’s son who she calls Vinayaka, the one born without (vina) a man (nayaka).
  • Tantra is the technology for the finite Brahma to reach the infinite Shiva with the help of Shakti.

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