Shiva – The Destroyer of Maya

Shiva

Shiva – The Destroyer

The Hindu Mythology talks about three manifestations of the Almighty. Brahma – the Creator, Vishnu – the Preserver and Shiva – the Destroyer.

In the first place, it would appear that Creator and Preserver must be good and Destroyer must be bad. However, in India we worship the Preserver and the Destroyer but not the Creator. Confusing?

The confusion occurs because the notion of the world in our scriptures is very different and we are not much aware of it.

According to the scriptures, in the beginning only Narayan existed. From his navel emerged Brahma who was scared to be in a dark space. This feeling of insecurity generated fear in his mind and to materialize his significance he created the world. The world was, thus, not a result of divine grace but a result of Brahma’s desire. The world is thus considered Maya, or Illusion. It is this Illusion that Shiva ignores. He believes in the existence of soul and the power of tapasya so he rejects this materialistic world and thus metaphorically destroys it. Therefore he is called the Destroyer.

After he created the world, Brahma’s desire did not end but increased even more and he went to chase the Goddess Saraswati. She ran away from Brahma. She went to the East so Brahma emerged a head in the East. She went to the West so he propped a head in the West. She went behind him so he emerged a head at his back. She ran in the upward direction so he emerged a fifth head on the top.

Shiva got so disgusted by this utter display of desire by Brahma that he beheaded his fifth head. Thus the Destroyer destroyed the excessive desire of the one who created Maya. Therefore the Destroyer is worshipped and the Creator is not.

(Vishnu, the Preserver, recognizes that the world is an illusion and believes in the power of tapasya. But at the same time he understands the existence of Brahma’s desire and believes in preserving it as long as the desires are in limits. This concept of limited desire is called Dharma. A man who learns to control his desire and outgrow his fear walks on the path of Dharma. He who is overwhelmed by his fear and cannot control his desires steps on the path of Adharma. Vishnu creates this balance on Earth, therefore he is the Preserver. He watches it sportfully when Dharma is being followed and allows Brahma existence. When he sees Adharma overpowering Dharma, he takes an avatar and sets things right.)

To destroy, Shiva needs power therefore he is associated with the Goddess of power, Shakti. Throughout the epic Mahabharata, many characters worship Shiva to seek power in some form or the other. Amba worships Shiva to get a boon to kill Bheeshm. Arjuna worships Shiva during his exile to achieve deadly weapons to prepare for the Kurukshetra war. Jayadrath worships Shiva to obtain a boon of overpowering the four Pandavas (this is how he gets Abhimanyu killed).

It is also interesting to note that three people mentioned in the above example are obtaining power to avenge some kind of humiliation.

Brahma Vishnu Mahesh

Brahma Vishnu Mahesh

Brahma Vishnu Mahesh

Hindu mythology talks about three manifestations of the Almighty. No, they are not Amar, Akbar and Anthony but Brahma – The Creator, Vishnu – The Preserver and Shiva – The Destroyer.

Hindu mythology does not see the world as the ultimate Truth. It sees the world as an illusion, created by Brahma to actualize his existence. Brahma, its creator, is thus considered the first father (Param – pitah). He appears as a priest and is associated with knowledge – Saraswati. On creating the world he gets so mesmerized by his creation that he follows it passionately, ignoring the ultimate Truth of soul but pursuing the possession of materialistic truth and believing only in his subjective world. Thus, Brahma is not worthy of worship according to Hindu mythology.

Shiva is the God who does not believe in illusions but seeks the soul that is the only Truth. Thus, he shuns the notion of the world, society, rules and culture. He prefers to stay alone on the icy mountains of Kailash, smeared with ash which is an indicator of what remains when everything destroys (soul), wearing a tiger-skin and is deep into meditation. Through the continuous Yoga of eons he becomes an infinite source of spiritual power – Tapa. He is thus a hermit, dressed like one and associated with power – Shakti. By ignoring Brahma’s creation, he thus destroys it and so he is called the Destroyer. He is worshiped by the hermits who renounce the world to seek the soul as well as by those who seek power.

Vishnu is the God who recognizes the illusion created by Brahma but at the same time recognizes and accepts the concept of soul of Shiva. However, he does not shun Brahma. He rather believes in uplifting him and making him realize the Truth of Soul. He thus becomes the Preserver of Brahma’s world as well as the endorser of Shiva’s soul. Hence, he’s known as the Preserver. He’s the God of the householders and stays in the boundaries of culture, dresses like people with family and is associated with wealth – Lakshmi, which is indispensable for running a household. He is worshiped by the priests, hermits and householders alike.

The three Gods are thus associated with the three Goddesses.

Brahma – Saraswati | Vishnu – Lakshmi | Shiva – Shakti

 Lakshmi Durga Saraswati

Lakshmi Durga Saraswati

The three Gods and three Goddesses appear in different forms, in different ways, at different places and at different times throughout the Mahabharata influencing the course of the story.

Parshuram – Ram with an Axe

There are not many personalities we know who were named after their possessions. In fact, I don’t think I know even one in the present times. Have we ever addressed Little Master as Bat-Sachin Tendulkar? Or have we ever addressed Himesh as Crap Cap-Himesh Reshammiya?

But ages ago, there lived a sage who had achieved this nearly impossible feat. His original name was Ram, but for all PR activities, he was addressed as Parshuram. ‘Parasu’ means axe and so Parshuram meant ‘Ram with an Axe’.

This Ram, who was the sixth avatar of Vishnu and should not be confused with the seventh avatar (who too was Ram but without a prefix), was the son of a Brahmin man Jamadagini and a Kshatriya woman Renuka. The axe that made him popular was given to him by his mentor Shiva, and it was said that this axe had no close rival among weapons in the entire universe.

Thor’s hammer did not exist at that time.

The axe was given to Parshuram to get the Earth rid of unrighteous souls. It did not matter what relation that unrighteous soul had with Parshuram or anybody else. Parshuram in many ways is the avatar that always acted without thinking (maybe, because all the thinking was done by Vishnu before taking that avatar.)

Parshuram’s life had a few incidents of much significance to humanity, at large. The two most important ones are listed below:

1. 

Jamadagini had a nearly perfect family a loving wife and five sons, Parshuram being the youngest. Once while Renuka was collecting woods in the forests, she came across a handsome Gandharva who was indulged with Apsaras doing what Emran Hashmi does best on screen. This sudden encounter induced a momentary feeling of passion for the Gandharva in Renuka’s heart, which, according to the culture of that era was almost equal to infidelity. An ashamed Renuka went back to her home trying to forget what she had seen. However, the tense expressions on her otherwise serene face were a clear indication that something was wrong. Jamadagini, who through his austerities had mastered the art of reading minds, figured out in an instance what had happened.

Parshuram beheads his mother.

A furious Jamadagini ordered his sons to behead their mother without telling them the reason. The sons, naturally, were horrified at the very thought and shirked. Except for our man – Ram with the Axe. He moved ahead and beheaded his mother without a slightest flinch in his heart.

Jamadagini was angry at his first four sons for disobeying him and thus discarded them. He was, however, deeply moved by his youngest son’s unquestionable dedication towards his father. He offered Parshuram a boon.

Parshuram: Bring my mother back to life. I know you possess the same power of resurrection that Ekta Kapoor possesses.

Jamadagini could not take his word back. He resurrected her to life and forgave her too, for she had been punished for her mistake. So much happened for this much. It was once again a ‘Hum Sath Sath Hain’ family, but with four sons gone.

2.

Years later, when the ‘Hum Sath Sath Hain’ family was living life as it always did, a life-changing event happened.

The king Kartavirya of that province discovered that Jamadagini had a cow called Kamadhenu. This extra-ordinary cow fulfilled every wish of man and Kartavirya had an extreme desire to possess it at any cost. One day, while Parshuram was out in the forest, Kartavirya accompanied by his soldiers came to Jamadagini’s abode and insisted on taking away Kamadhenu. When Jamadagini and Renuka resisted, he brutally murdered them and left with Kamadhenu.

Parshuram kills Kartavirya

On returning, Parshuram discovered what had happened and was filled with potent range equal to that of Thakur when he figured out that Gabbar had slaughtered his family. He took his axe and reached Kartavirya’s palace and warned him to return Kamadhenu without delay, or the consequences would be fatal. Naturally, Kartavirya resisted and sent his force to stop Parshuram, whose talent with the axe was unmatched in the three worlds. Parshuram rushed as a havoc in the kingdom killing each and every soldier who tried to stop him, without the aid of Jai or Veeru. Then he slaughtered the demonic king as well.

After this, Parshuram went on a killing spree whirling his axe around and killing unrighteous Kshatriyas in great numbers. He was outraged by the fact that Kshatriyas who were supposed to be guardians of the society had resorted to overpower the weak out of their lust for power and property. He killed them in such great numbers that Earth was almost replete of them. He did it not once, twice but twenty-one times.

Parshuram kills Kshatriyas

All this while, the axe was his constant companion. This axe given by Shiva had soaked the blood of millions of Kshatriyas and still yearned for more. After 21 innings when Parshuram finally decided to retire he went to the river Samanata-panchaka and dipped his axe in it. The river was filled with blood and nothing else but blood. After this grand task of getting Earth rid of unrighteousness he finally retired to indulge himself into meditation and increase his prospects of future-mentoring.

It was near this land of Samanta-panchaka where the Kurukshetra war was fought and three almost invincible students of Parshuram: Bheeshma, Drona and Karna participated in it. The land bathed in blood again, though centuries later.

A few centuries later, even Thakur finally avenged his family, though with the help of Jai and Veeru.