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3.22.2005

the truth

The Nataraja:

The origin of this sculture in its prototype can be taken right back to the Indus valley civilization with the seal that depicts a three headed god. This does not mean that the other two heads belonged to Vishnu and Brahma. A good many centuries down the line depict the same concept of the Trinity in the Shiva cave at Elephanta, off the Mumbai coast. Here definitely the three heads of the Trinity depict Aghora or Bhairava to the left, the center depicts Shiva Mahadeva and the right depicts Vamadeva (Uma).



Before you come back with a contradiction the introduction of Vishnu and Brahma into the Trinity seems more like a political move to me. I may be wrong here and you are completely entitled to your opinion.

The next form of the trinity as pure shiva symbolism is Nataraja in Tandava. Oh what a beautiful sculpture. The more i realize it the more the beauty of it i see. Perfect. Here it does not remain a scultpure anymore. But shiva comes to life. The concept of the trinity, or the concept of creation, preservation and destruction is not left for Doom's Day, but its meant to be part of every activity that we do. Every act of ours is either of creation, maintenance or destruction.
Here destruction is not negative, its not that something perishes, but its the end, as in the end of a particular activity, the completion of it.

When you start something, you bring life into it. it could be as simple as starting a painting, or buying a plant. the moment you bring your interest and attention to it, the activity is created. As you go about your business of painting or watering a plant the act of maintenance continues (preservation). When the painting is over or the plant has lived its life the end is near, it ceases to "exist". its complete. (with respect to the painting, i am unable to grasp the subtle reality of "existance", i am still biased that destruction means a sad ending/death).

In every act of yours there is Shiva. In every move of yours He rules. Isnt that just beautiful. I know for a fact that i am perfect when it comes to creating some thing or destroying it for that matter. But maintenance has been a problem with me until i realized this.

The appearance of the act of maintenance is boring on the surface. But as you put your mind to it, it transforms itself. The churning of your ocean starts, there is rhythm in your activity and you grow with it. You mature with it, realizing and learning along the way the beauty of the activity itself. Thats where only you are thoroughly enlightened and excited and nobody else can share that joy with you (because they have not been there). Thats a moment when you elevate yourself, the activity ceases to remain just an activity but something much greater than that, because you grew up to understand yourself better. Its a crazy feeling.. and the fact that you can't share it with anyone simply frustrates you. I would say, dont share... just cherish the moment.

Its worth a lifetime!

Oh Shiva is great. Simply great... and i didnt see it at all....i just didnt get to see it for so long.
Thank you GOD.

P.S. The trinity explains why Aghora is called the left hand path. (refer earlier posts on aghora)

3.19.2005

A tribute to Shiva.

Kiratarjuniya panel, Mahabalipuram:

I would wonder whether this panel is a tribute to Lord Shiva or a tribute to the beautiful verses of Bharavi's poetry on the Mahabharata. None the less, there seems to have been a beautiful merger of sculpture, architecture and poetry in this era. As you can see i am pretty overwhelmed by this whole thing.



Here stands Shiva, very clearly surrounded by ganas. The man in meditaion on one foot is either Arjuna or Bhagiratha. We have a view of all the celestials, the gandharvas, the kinnaras, so on and so forth. The reason again for this repetition is that I am seriously tending to believe that they exist, are not visible through normal eye sight but estabhish their presence from the spirit world in rather strange ways.

So much for my strange beliefs which seems to get reinforced only by ancient mythological panels and nothing else!!! somewhere i do hope am right.

3.17.2005

Shiva the hunter

Mahabalipuram:

Few people would imagine that an entire dynasty looked at plain rock surfaces as a canvas to depict mythology, and fewer would go all out to make it a reality. Mahabalipuram, witnesses creativity and passion of the pallavas during the 8th century AD. Here standing in the middle of rock outcrops are one of the most beautiful depictions from poetry of the same era.



The Kiratarjuniya panel: known for a particular episode in the Mahabharata, this panel has attempted to depict the story by throwing hints on various aspects of it. Here in this picture is the depiction of Lord shiva as a hunter. The beauty of this panel is that lord shiva is depicted as a hunter in various activities. Its like a comic strip, just the lower half, showing one man doing various things. Interestingly he wears a moustache, not very often depicted on sculptures of this era.

The forest is most beautifully carved into the rock. celestial beings fly across, gandharvas, kinnaras adorn the skies. the sculptors have obviously tried to show all the worlds at the same time. the real world as we see it and the spirit world as we would believe to see it.

the striking element of course is that of shiva who is seen in the right corner here. he is best identified by the ganas who are seen around him and he carries the trishul. interestingly he occupies the top center of this whole panel.

3.15.2005

The world beyond the senses.

i am currently neck deep into shaivism trying to understand if not realize its various facets. i have reached the end of the road as far as art history books are concerned, from here on the path is beginning to look different. i cannot follow cold blooded logic anymore, i need to emote. i need to start feeling it to get the complete drift.

this has raised questions, unexplained questions which are so difficult to understand because they restrict a person within the world of senses and do not let him look beyond that. strange questions like who are gandharvas, kinnaras, yakshas and yakshis. i have heard them to be some sort of spirits as aghora puts it believing in them is quite a different story.
there are other questions on why the path of circum-ambulation has been so important. its seems to be in line with the fields of energy that encircles the main garbha griha, which itself is the main store house of potent energy.
another thought is about the mention of vehicles like pushpaka vimana which can be controlled by the mind and necessarily has a charioteer. well that apart there are "divyastras" like the "pasupatastra" which can kill and destroy the whole universe. the rules of usage are precribed that it should not be "wasted" on a mere mortal as it can cause great harm, but should be used on a supernatural being privileged to handle it. it can be controlled by the mind, the eyes, as well as the bow.
well why look at people out of mythology, the lotus flower itself is believed to be a store house of energy. hence most of the energy centers along the spine in kundalini yoga are depictions of a lotus flower with varied number of petals, with the bija mantra of a particular deity embedded in them.
on a larger scale we can just wonder why the caves of elephanta (mumbai) are carved the way they are. its based on the mandala pattern of shiva, with most of his sculptures adorning its walls. Or for that matter why are there so many erotic sculptures around the temples of khajuraho? they conceal tantric diagrams of mandalas used to protect the temple, which distract the uninitiated from knowing the true value of these sculptures and delight them with raw sex instead.

to be honest our forefathers were not playing the fool. the temple of chidambaram was not constructed for fun but based on the energy center of one of the chakras known in kundalini yoga. hinduism is a way a life. it needs to be understood and passionately. its beyond the limits of the senses and therefore can only be experienced and cannot be explained. its subtle and complex and it requires deep intellect to get the hang of it.
the west will never get it right, because they are blinded by their senses. they believe in that which exists, that which can be touched, smelt, tasted, seen, or heard. within this limited scope the west has managed to prove certain things, the rest has largely been left to imagination.

there is a lot to learn here, and until we have the drive, we aint going to get anywhere near it. nothing comes easy, nothing can be spoon fed. thats the whole reason why we have lasted this long. i really wonder what kind of free world they are talking about. every thing has a meaning, every ritual has a purpose. maybe we are not half as interested to know what we are fully capable of.

3.08.2005

Its called the Trimurti cave

Mahabalipuram, Trimurti cave, Tamil Nadu:

Its a cave i have been missing for a while, and a long while at that. 7 years is a long time, to miss something which is so close to home!!! How could i miss it is all i ask myself right now!

but the feeling of discovering something new is great, specially when everything is so known in this little town. And a quaint little town it is. This cave is hidden, one needs to walk a little and hunt around and get there. Its hidden among rock caves, and its a complete beauty when its found!

this cave, dedicated to the trinity, has a few interesting features. it has three shrines, each dedicated to shiva, vishnu and brahma respectively. all three have flying ganas, a very shaivite symbolism. vishnu stands in samabhanga pose, stiff backed, hand resting on his hip. shiva looks half clad, brahma, well he didnt look himself.

there are three seperate entrances to each shallow shrine into the cave, the center one seems to be dedicated to shiva, though the corner one looked like they had sculpted him in the background. to be honest am still guessing here. but the interesting element is that this cave having been so well hidden that the shiva linga in the central cave still stands.

its a beautiful linga. black and clearly carved into three parts. The upper part is the "shiva bhaga" which is circular and depicts the linga in true style. The second part (lower) called the vishnu bhaga, is octagonal and the lowest half which is inserted into the yoni pitha is the brahma bhaga which is square, fitting perfectly into a square cavity in the stone floor.
the facade of this cave has a line of haras, in true dravida style of architecture. Among the dwarapalas who guard the entrances, there is a beautiful sculpture of the mother goddess, Mahishasuramardhini which looks more like an after thought to me.

a completely perfect cave... untouched by time.