Shivoham! Shivoham! Shivoham!
Salutations to Lord Shiva, the vanquisher of Cupid, the bestower of eternal bliss and immortality, the protector of all beings, destroyer of sins, the Lord of the gods, who wears a tiger-skin, the best among objects of worship, through whose matted hair the Ganga flows.
WHO IS LORD SHIVA?
Lord Shiva is the pure, changeless, attributeless, all-pervading transcendental consciousness. When there is neither light nor darkness, neither form nor energy, neither sound nor matter, when there is no manifestation of phenomenal existence, Shiva alone exists in Himself. He is timeless, spaceless, birthless, deathless and decayless. He is unaffected by pleasure and pain, good and evil, respect and disrespect. He is the God of gods, “Devadhidev Mahadev.”
VARIOUS NAMES OF LORD SHIVA
Lord Shiva is called by various names as Mahadeva, Sankara, Hara, Sambhu, Sadashiva, Rudra, Sulapani, Bhairava, Uma Mahesvara, Nilakantha, Trilochana (the three-eyed), Triyambaka (the three-eyed), Visvanatha, Chandrasekhara, Ardhanarisvara, Mahesvara, Parama Shiva, Digambara, Dakshinamurti, etc. His one special name is Ashutosh; ‘Ashu’ means speedily (in Hindi it is ‘shigra ati shighra’) i.e. as soon as possible and ‘tosh’ means easily satisfied. He is the one who is most easily pleased. The other meaning is – He who relieves one from the suffering and misery forever.
How merciful He is! How loving and kind He is! He is an epithet of renunciation, mercy, love and wisdom. Lord Shiva in reality is the Regenerator. Whenever one’s physical body becomes unfit for further evolution in this birth either by disease, old age or other causes, He at once removes this rotting physical sheath and gives a new, healthy, vigorous body for further quick evolution. He wants to take all His children to His lotus-feet quickly i.e., elevate them spiritually to let us reach our true spiritual goal. He desires to give them His glorious ‘Shiva-Pada’.
Elephant represents symbolically the Vritti pride. Wearing the skin of the elephant denotes that He has controlled pride. Tiger represents lust. His sitting on the tiger’s skin indicates that He has conquered lust. His holding deer on one hand indicates that He has overcome the vacillations of the mind. Deer jumps from one place to another swiftly. The mind also jumps from one object to another. But no need to mourn at your wavering and fleeing mind; instead, direct it with the reins of True Knowledge. Mind if bridled by the reins of True Knowledge can become our strength, and if left uncontrolled and unbridled can be a cause of our weakness and hence failure and disaster.
His Trishul (trident) that is held in his right hand represents the three Gunas- Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. He rules the world through these three Gunas. The concept of these three Gunas can be well-assimilated through a parable:
A prince goes into some forest on a hunting spree. On the way, he confronts three dacoits. Seeing the prince in his royal glory, they try to chase him in order to plunder all his belongings- the royal robes, ornaments, etc. Eventually they succeed in catching him and snatch all his belongings in a matter of seconds. Now, one of the dacoit suggests, ‘Let’s slay him and finish his work.’ The other interrupts and says, ‘No, No! Why to take such an extreme action when simply tying him up with a rope can suffice! We will just tether him with this tree and, fleeing away from here, will leave the territory of his kingdom immediately.’ The third one said, ‘When we have taken his all and we are three, but he is alone so, what’s the need of tying him up?
In the parable presented above, the first dacoit, who suggests for slaying the prince, represents tamasika guna; the second one, who proposes to bind him instead of killing, is an embodiment of rajasika guna, and the third one, who no doubt, wins the appreciation of the prince by freeing him is a portrayal of sattvika tendency. Conclusively, no doubt, a sattvika man, possessing highly clear and subtle mental understanding and intellectual comprehension, is able to experience the higher degree of inner peace, knowledge, and happiness, but still he is far away from the source of all these. How to transcend even Sattva! The simplest and, perhaps the only solution to be free from the shackles of your attachment and yearning’s for peace, happiness, knowledge, etc. is to start dwelling in the source of all these. They will disappear! Just as when a fish is dropped back into the water, it effortlessly starts swimming. It then neither craves nor yearns for water. Likewise, our longing for happiness etc. lasts as long as we don’t learn the strategy of dwelling in their very source, the source of eternal bliss and wisdom, Pure Consciousness. And the only strategy to commune with Pure Consciousness is through meditation based upon True Knowledge, imparted by a Perfect Master. Achieving True Knowledge (Brahm Gyan) and, thereafter, treading the path steadfastly, one can easily transcend all three mental temperaments or gunas.
Just as fire has the natural property of burning inflammable things, so also the TRUE Name (different from symbolic names) of Lord Shiva has the power of burning Sins, Sanskaras and Vasanas and bestowing eternal bliss and everlasting peace on those who meditate on the name of the Lord. But question arises- what is the TRUE Name of Lord? Today, we perform japa ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ but by merely reciting the mantra we cannot attain emancipation. Our mind is subtle, so how can it be controlled by a gross mantra? If mind is inside and subtle in form, so to control this mind the technique is also subtle and inside. And we see the pictures of Lord Shiva with his eyes closed. This is also the evidence that the true name of lord is reverberating within us incessantly. The only need is to become aware of it, which is feasible only in the company of a True Guru.