Intro To Hindu Deities: Shiva The Great Destroyer & Creator

OM NAMAH SHIVIAH

In the name of the aspect of the divine within, which is both destructive and regenerative, all-seeing and ever-present, we say Blessings and with deep resonance, we activate this attribute for the good of all.

Shiva consciousness could be called the internal alchemist, for it is when we activate or call upon the Shiva within that we can transmute base-level consciousness into Divine expression. It is through our own internal Shiva that this process is possible.  It can change poverty-mindedness into thoughts of abundance, pure physical pleasure with a partner into sacred union with our beloved. The heart space loses identification with depreciating emotions and opens into compassionate grace by way of the Shiva-mind. However, this inner alchemy cannot occur without the incineration and transformation of the previous elements, and it is from this process of transformation that humanity has come to know Shiva as the God of destruction.

My Introduction to Shiva

It was while spending time in India, especially on the banks of the Ganges river in Varanasi, where the image of Shiva is painted tall and wide overlooking the ghats, where the transformative energy of this God within my life ignited.

Shiva was actually the first Hindu deity personality I ever worked intimately with. I was experiencing a deep metamorphosis during the time when “he” was called into my awareness. It makes sense that I would be drawn to learn about the aspect in me which was adept in moving through change as death and destruction, rebirth and renewal, and as the symbol of inner union and life-observation.

I grew up in a very climatized, structured, and tight-knit religious paradigm. I was Mormon and taught very limited and restricted ways of living and believing. I existed in a literal bubble, separated from beliefs and concepts of the outside world until I neared the age of 20. After bursting said bubble, and leaving the nest of Christianity, I ventured to India where my entire life paradigm and mindset blew up. I was definitely having a Shiva experience—burning down the old to make fertilizer for the new.

It took me years of placing this destructive and regenerative aspect of the divine on my altar (both inner and outer) before I released the need to identify so closely with Shiva-consciousness as the destroyer. For it is true that you can only embrace continual change and rebirth so much before it is time to sink into a new foundation and create.

About the time I let the Shiva-in-me rest, and put away his Hindu image, my life did begin to calm and a new aspect emerged. You could say that I finally integrated the destructive Shiva component and then, after doing so, a new element of Shiva arose within me—that of the observer of my life.

Shiva in India

In parts of India, Shiva is the presiding deity. He is found on many altars along with Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Besides destruction and renewal, Shiva is also recognized as the eternal yogi immersed in cosmic meditation as the manifestation of consciousness itself. It is this detached aspect which represents the part of us which can be the witness, the observer of our reality, unidentified with the dramas.

Shiva and the Pineal Gland

Shiva is the embodiment of an awakened third-eye center; he represents the pineal gland in full function, without obstacles (his son, Ganesha,  in consort with his beloved—Shakti—as seen in one form of Shiva known as Ardhanarishvara (half man, half woman). For when we raise our life-force energy (kundalini) up the spine through the central column—merging qualities of both Ida and Pingala, the Feminine and Masculine—these combining forces “marry” in the brain and activate the pineal gland. So, in a sense, Shiva, in this form, is in both a constant state of meditation, as well as in eternal divine embrace with his beloved.

Activating Shiva

To activate Shiva-consciousness within is to awaken the observer mind, to do the inner work so as to allow for a refinement of awareness and a detachment of emotion—not in a cold way, but in a mindful, compassionate, loving way which combines and integrates the insights of all the chakras. When we choose to invoke Shiva, we are telling ourselves that we are ready to destroy the ways of our lives which are not in support of an awakened consciousness. We are asking for our vital centers to be purified, to allow all of the karmic guck to be released, so we can raise up to the state of pure, divine living. It is the choice to trash and burn all that which no longer serves, and rise up as a phoenix, renewed within by accessing full body-brain potential, fully self-aware.

The Cost of Awakening Shiva

Invoking Shiva does not come without a cost. There is a reason he has so many forms, some say as many as 64 different versions. When the Shiva within is invoked, the cost is the unfolding of all that which has made up the sub-terrain of the mind. It is like all of the beliefs and mental patterns, the emotional memories and societal programs which have dictated our life before opening the Shiva-mind, are laid out for review. Anything which will not continue to support our forward evolution must face the fires of Shiva, for Shiva consciousness will only allow those things which will sustain our eternal essence to pass through the great destroyer element within, to be transformed or transmuted into its next version.

As with all things whose price is great, but benefits vast, awakening Shiva within may look like destruction in the beginning, but eventually feels like coming home. To awaken Shiva is to come home to oneself in the purest sense. It is the ability to rest in the still point, at the center of your reality, and observe the happenings without the need for drama or emotional attachment. Shiva is our capacity to remember the divine beings we are and the ability we have, at every moment, to call upon and access full enlightenment, Oneness with the Cosmos and the awareness that all is perfect in the present moment.

Shiva as the Creative Power of the Universe

Often depicted as the smooth, elongated, river-tumbled stone—the Shiva Lingham—this aspect of the divine is associated with the creative powers of the universe. As the divine lingham, the sacred phallus, Shiva is that which inseminates reality and merges with the feminine component, the womb of creation, where all of life springs from. When seeing Shiva in this form we are drawn to remember the masculine, creative, and powerful energy we all carry. We are asked to remember that anything we call forth into creation can be—as long as we couple it with action and intention.

Shiva depicted as the Lingham is Shiva in his most male, yet most humble, form. For he is the phallus of man, and yet only the phallus. In this case we are caused to reflect on the isolation of the primal force of creation which exists in the sexual organs of each one of us, and to humble ourselves by knowing that through their use we can bring life into form. This is no small deed. The invoking of another life form through the embodiment of the Lingham (with its consort—the yoni) is the Divine acting through this plane of existence and reminds us of, if we listen, who we truly are.

Shiva as the Nataraj

Another form of Shiva is seen depicted as the Nataraj, the Cosmic dancer, where Shiva is on one foot, standing on the demon of ignorance—who represents forgetting who we truly are, while upholding the entire universe. He is the great juggler here as well as the embodiment of time, allowing for the ceasing of time in the remembrance of eternal presence. The fires burn around Shiva in this form as the final incineration of the Cosmos in preparation for the new to unfold yet again. Eternal compassion reigns in the playful and calm presence of Shiva as the Nataraj.

When we embody the Nataraj we have become the still point, we have remembered that we are the center of our personal universe, and that in conscious presence and action based on loving compassion, the veil is rent and our world is recreated on our behalf.

Associations with Shiva

There are many other elements associated with Shiva which when acknowledged and embodied can bring even more empowerment to our beings. Here are just a few:

  • The serpents wrapped around his neck: symbolizing awakened kundalini energy
  • Blue skin/throat: symbolizing transmutation of poisons through an open throat chakra
  • Tiger skin pelt: representing control of the mind
  • Trident: representing the 3 gunas
  • Crescent moon in the hair: representing the awakened bindu and the secretion of amrita from the pineal gland

Conquerer of Death

Shiva as Mahamrityunjaya is the aspect of us who can conquer both disease as well as death. As one of the most important mantras of the Vedas, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is the blessing of Lord Shiva upon Humanity, to remember that this aspect of the Divine within is not restricted by the limitations of 3D humanity, that we have, in fact, within each one of us, Divine origin and capacity. That no god-being is without the capacity to heal oneself and to overcome the final barrier in this existence—that of death. This is the same aspect of the Divine which the teacher and master Jesus Christ spoke of when He said that the last enemy to conquer was death itself.

To embody Shiva-consciousness as the Mahamrityunjaya is to remember our divinity on a level we often have difficulty with while in human form. Just the very reality of wearing these flesh suits can sometimes cause us to forget that the capacity to conquer the illusions put in place here are intact within us. One who calls upon this aspect of the divine within, often, can begin to remember this potent element and find the inner healer activated, and longevity realized.

The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra goes like this:

OM. Tryambakam yajamahe

Sugandhim pushti-vardhanam

Urvarukamiva bandhanan

Mrityor mukshiya mamritat

 

I absolutely love the translation of this mantra; it is so powerful. It goes something like this:

“We now meditate on the three-eyed reality (reality with an awakened third eye) which permeates us like a sweet fragrance, and nourishes all things. May we be liberated from disease, aging and death for the sake of immortality, as the cucumber is liberated from the bondage of the creeping vine.”

To activate Shiva-consciousness within could sound something like this:

“I now choose to awaken my life force energy, without obstacle, in perfect harmony with consciousness and to lift my awareness up to the vantage point of observer in my life. I choose to merge my masculine and feminine components so as to access my whole being, and allow for the burning away of all that no longer serves. I gratefully acknowledge that much of what I have believed in and carried throughout my life are no longer helping me, and are in fact inhibiting my full consciousness from taking its rightful seat in my soul. By calling upon the aspect of me that is Shiva, I release into the fires of my spirit all that is no longer supportive to my journey of awareness. I allow for the graceful transformation and transmutation process to occur and choose to witness this process in my life as one of the greatest events in existence. And so it is.”

In summation, the above statement could be invoked by simply chanting:

“OM NAMAH SHIVIAH”—I call on the aspect of Shiva within me to Activate!

And so it is.

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