Dance of Shiva

shiva_nataraja

Dance of Shiva is not mere artistic rendition of a mental idea. It is the articulation of a spiritual experience, a clear perception of how one same consciousness wears its many masks of creator, preserver and destroyer. My two cents on this aspect of Shiva.

Sri Krishna says in the Gita, that one cannot help but act. Even the Rishi in his meditative immobility acts, blood courses through his veins, there is a being to sustain and keep alive…within him are the other sheaths of being that support the outer form…all these have to work.

Sri Krishna continues to say that even He the Divine manifest as Avatar for the Age has to act. Without his tendency to act there would be chaos and dissolution. Or perhaps just nothing.

That principle of constant activity, regeneration, destruction is ever present. The immobile stone is but the temporary decision of a group of atoms to hang in there for a while. When they meet their brother sculptor, upon the insistence of his chisel-will they morph into a statue. Where there was irregular block of atoms before, there is now a form of grace and beauty..worthy of adoration, perhaps even prayer.

This principle of making, unmaking and making again is what one sees in the inner experience.

The Dance of Shiva is the amplified version of this experience. His very descent is violent, filled with the immensity of Power. To give an idea of how stupendous this experience must have been, He is the only one of whom even the Vedic Rishis were afraid, “Pity us, O Rudra!”, they cried.

In the Dance of Shiva, it is not the static principle of the Divine one perceives. This is not the Silence of a Samadhi state, not the Void of Nirvana. This is vision of the Divine in all His kinetic glory. Not a snapshot, but a continuous perception of the dynamism of existence.

What Supports the Bhaktha and his Yoga?

The heart is another country. Especially so for the bhaktha, he who has set foot on the path of devotion.

Bhaktha and the Beloved

To the bhaktha, a lover of God, there is a sense of otherness, much like mortal love perhaps but here there is no hankering for a time-born being, no disturbance of the senses, no propensity to debase oneself by indulging in sensual gratification. Often the bhaktha faces downturns, old impulses return to claim their ancestral place, and they protest with vigor and vehemence. But to one whose inner being has woken up in however little a measure and tasted the unmixed delight of Divine intoxication, there can be no lasting fall..there is only a delay until the ultimate embrace with the Divine Beloved.

But until that final embrace occurs there are glimpses, whether frequent or rare, brief glimpses of the Divine. Like milestones strewn around on a highway, these markers arrive to provide solace to the soul on its long-winded journey. They arrive in a multitude of shapes, forms and ways. If there is any method at all, then it is one based on His infinite freedom and our ability to receive it.

A Curious Phenomena

All these little moments/events share a specific character in that they occur anywhere and everywhere. It seems as if they have no limitation of time or space or form. The Rishis and God Lovers of the Hindu tradition had observed the nature of this peculiar Power and Phenomena minutely.

The Rishi’s Habit

What the Rishi observed within or without, he named it. He knew that a Power or Phenomena when named, could be spoken about, could be meditated upon, could be invoked and even made manifest within an individual’s consciousness. This is what they did, the Heroes of the Hindu tradition. They watched and watched with eyes, ears and every sense available. When they reached the limit of the senses, they observed the instrument that observed, the mind. When the chaos of mind was stilled, they found even rarer phenomena. This climb, this reaching out to hidden territory, this journey and adventure within they named Yoga.

Alone and Not Alone

The Rishis found themselves, not unlike the scientist who peers into atoms and builds his models of String Theory or Quantum Physics and who is baffled by the inability of common untrained men to understand them, alone in their pursuit of the Unknown. Even in the crowd the God Lover, the Rishi, is alone. But even in this solitude amidst sense-driven men, the Rishi observed something that always was with him. That could wake up at the most common moments and let him know he was not alone, that the goal of his journeys was always nearby.

The Ever Present Guide

The Hindus had to name this phenomena. What was it that was everywhere? What stayed with them in waking and in dream? What climbed the soul’s stairs into rarer and rarer heights along with them? The name had to be personal, after all this was the Guide who ventured with them into territories no map could capture. And it had to describe the idea that the Phenomena was everywhere. To the Rishi, to name something was automatic..the Power they wanted to name always suggested what it aught to be called.

Sarvavyapi, they ended up calling this Phenomena. Sarva-vyapi, or Sarva-Vyaapi as its pronounced in Sanskrit. Sarva is ‘everything’. Vyaapi is ‘one who pervades’. Put together Sarvavyaapi is “One who pervades everything”.

The Sterile Heaven of Icarus

The nearest western equivalent would be Omnipresent. As with most things spiritual, the western heart had yet to soar into heights of bhakthi yoga. Icarus who tried to soar heavenward was made into a parable to not have men aspire too high. The Tower of Babel was struck because men aspired to heavens. The West was content to abandon ancient freedoms of the Greek spirit for something new. And the word Omnipresent, so remote and sterile.

Swaha

Sarvavyaapi, One who pervades everything. Sarvavyaapi pervades you and I, pervades all that is manifest whether perceived by us or not. May that Sarvavyaapi guide us, as He guided the Rishis of the Veda.