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.

2. Budh and Ila – Made for Each Other

How many women would be glad to have a child who is neither male nor female? Tara was one unfortunate woman who had this destiny. She wondered whether the curse of Brihaspati was a punishment for her or her child? How would her child of neutral gender get married and enjoy the pleasures of household? Had there been no curse, her son would have had a normal happy life. Was her son being punished for her karma or was it some blessing in disguise.

It was, indeed, blessing in disguise. But for Ila, who was a king named Sudyumna and had actually been turned into a woman.

(Once Sudyumna had accidentally entered a forest that was under the spell of Shiva. The spell would turn every male in the forest (except for Shiva) into a female. Shiva had caste the spell on the forest upon Shakti’s request as the Goddess of Power wanted no male creature to witness her union with her Lord.

Sudyumna, deeply horrified by the realization of a masculine soul in a feminine body, requested Shakti to free him from the spell. Shakti modified the spell in a way that Sudyumna would experience both masculinity and femininity in sync with the waxing and waning of the moon.)

A human being with such unique sexual characteristics would definitely have been left alone had the world not complemented him/(her) with an equally unfortunate Budh.

Budh and Ila

Budh and Ila

The equation finally became:

Unfortunate + Unfortunate = Super-Fortunate

Budh and Ila got married and not much to the reader’s surprise ended with a proud list of progeny. It was the progeny of this unique pair that would later rule the Indian Mainland for many generations.

This story enhances a modern Indian’s belief in Madhuri’s dialogue from “Dil Toh Pagal Hai” – Someone somewhere is made for you.

I. Vyas and the Devas

The world had suffered a long terrible drought. It had taken its toll on millions and had rendered the Earth almost lifeless. The Indian mainland was dry, with scorching heat making it worse for life to exist. Even the 1894 drought of Champaner was nothing compared to this one.

Among the few who survived were the rishis, who, through their yogic powers had mastered the art of living for hundreds of years without food, water and even air. One such rishi was Krishna Dwaipayana. Krishna, because he was dark in complexion and Dwaipayana, because he was born on an island. He was one of the few rishis who had read and absorbed the Vedas completely.

When the drought ended and the world resurrected, he saw that the Vedas were almost alien to the modern civilization. So like a responsible citizen of Mankind, he undertook the task of re-writing and compiling the Vedas. It is only that hard work of his that inspires the writer of this blog. Anyway, this earned him the title of Ved Vyas (compiler of the Vedas).

After this exercise got over, Vyas breathed a sigh of relief. “I have finally compiled the centuries older ancient Vedic wisdom,” he thought. Then another thought passed his mind making him restless, “How would I make sure that this will be of some significance to posterity?” An idea flashed in his mind. He sought the help of the Devas, the gods who live in the sky.

The Deva summit descended on Earth and listened to Vyas’ concern.

Ved Vyas

Vyas: I want to narrate a story and I want someone to write it for me. This is a real story and it has all that the Vedas have to say. The future generations would gain Vedic wisdom from it. Years of continuous writing of the Vedas has exhausted me so I can’t write it myself. Can you help me find a writer?

Deva (anonymous): How about Ganesha? He too is yearning for some adventure these days. And since he is the son of Shiva and Shakti, his divinity is unquestionable. Why not seek divine intervention for a task so monumental and respectful?

Vyas: Supercool! Please help me and arrange a meeting with him.