9.29.2009

Elements at the shrine of Lord Shiva

In this chaotic world
You have come to reside in my home
In this noisy jungle
You have brought silence to my mind
In this blind rush for wealth
You have given me the greatest gift of all
In this illusion of life
You light the fire of enlightenment.

I have often wondered what is it I am looking for when I visit a shrine. I have wondered what is it I feel when I come close to sacred altars. I have sat back to think, how does a person feel the presence of the Lord residing there?

The darkness within a shrine brings a mysterious world to light that is magical and exclusive. There are no words to describe what the heart and mind can feel when the sanctity of the shrine is preserved, and preservation is described such.

Darkness describes the void beyond this illusion of life, it is the darkness in the realm of nothingness. It is the space, the air where nothing exists. And in this darkness, there is a drop of light, that lights up the form of that who is formless. Fire, the beautiful path of enlightenment brings back to our real world a sacred truth that can only be imagined. The fire, is a path that illuminates the chamber inside, fire is the purity that enlightens one and blesses us with divine vision. Fire is so bright that it blinds the eye from all its illusion. Fire is the heat that reduces the ego to ash. Fire is the formless that gives us a glimpse of the form of the Lord. Fire can neither be created nor destroyed by us. That which is ever present, that which just appears and disappears, that which has the power to sustain us as well as destroy us, that which glows brighter than anything else within the chamber... isn't that the very Lord Himself giving us a small example of how vast and limitless he is, like the fire, he can be a drop of light or grow within seconds into a deadly forest fire? He can give warmth and scrotch us to death at the same time. Isn't this duality the very nature of the Lord Himself?

In these flames does one notice the silence deep within, the darkness now cut away as the light bathes the sacred shrine. The wet floor shimmers as the tiny waves of water come flowing down from the idol in mystical elegance. These are the waters of life, freely falling into the abyss of darkness below. These are the sacred drops that cover his form in purity as they drape his being as they flow down. Crystal clear waters form ripples of a thousand suns embedded in its various reflections. What a beautiful sight it is to see the Lord enveloped in such divinity. The formless, the shapeless, that takes the shape of anything its put into, like the atman that resides in any given body and gives it life, and yet it is so pure and crystal clear even if the container is flawed... Isn't this the very nature of the Lord we define in water?

The air is fragrant, the space is so pure. There is a rush of emotion as the eyes are set in a gaze to look up to this life beauty within these walls. The air is thick with the fragrance of flowers and incense. It is everywhere at the same time, all enveloping, and pure, unmoved and stable. It fills the space in this chamber, covers the ether with its presence and one can feel the gradual flowing waves of the sound that carries the rhythm of the sacred mantras spoken. It echoes within the shrine wall, and one syllable fades into the other rhythmically bringing alive the mystical presence of the Lord. How then cant the heart melt as such beauty overflows within the mind of the bhakta?

He is, He shall be, as he stands in the emblem of stone. He is the unshakable, He is that which has never changed. He is the definition of the eternal, that or equilibrium, that of silence and stability. He is and will always be there, through the world around may perish in its chaos. He stays there unmoved, untouched, unhurt...He is and will always be.

The shrine chamber presents to us the Lord, present in all the elements that adorn him, surround him in this miniature grandeur. This is pure life energy that empowers us to go back and face the world again. This is the power that is subtle and yet makes its presence felt if one has to reach its doors in complete humility. How then can we desecrate it with noise and corruption? How then can a priest have absolutely no faith while they utter the sacred verses? How can we tolerate this utter disrespect to the very shrine that protects our well being?

He is the formless, like the fire, He is bright and wonderful like its flame. He is pure as in its whiteness. He appears like the fire and He disappears all the same, but like the fire, he destroys all that has to die but doesnt perish in its flames. He shines in its glow, as the waters of offering reflect His being. He bathes in its pure light as the drops of water rhythmically wash his feet. He is like the water that takes the form of the vessel he resides within. He is always present like the unshaken stone alive and breathing within this chamber in small grandeur as the incense covers His little room. He is real, alive and silent watching the gradual decline of pure faith at his doorstep.

13 comments:

JC said...

The visit to a shrine - where the supreme soul represented by the deity is symbolically located -might be a simple reflection of the attempt by a devotee to attain moksha when the soul believably merges with the supreme soul, maybe to return once again to the physical universe...

JC said...

The visits thus are symbolic only, purely superficial indications of purpose of human life...understood by the wise ancients as seeking the formless creator as also its physical forms...irrespective of the path followed by a devotee...

JC said...

As 'we' have seen earlier elsewhere also, in 'India', the Temples traditionally have 'vimanas' literally 'aeroplanes', thus indicating gradual elevation of the soul of each visitor to the sanctum gradually...whereas in a pyramid, in Egypt, attempt was apparently made to help elevate the soul of a dead Pharaoh by mummyfying the body and storing it inside the edifice so that the future Pharaoh reappears with a much elevated soul and thus rule in the interest of the populace at large...

JC said...

To a layman, a pyramid is just a massive masonry structure that has four triangular faces, each one facing one of the four cardinal directions. However, observations reportedly have led one to learn that its shape and orientation results in natural generation of some special kind of energy within it, 'pyre' that is 'fire', that is a bit mysterious to the 'modern man'. For, it was reportedly observed in the Fifties that the particular shape and orientation, irrespective of material used and its size, helped in storage of meat, or fish etc., for a longer duration even inside smaller scale structures, models of the existing ones.

In view of the above, because of their shapes and orientation, maybe the inside of the shrine results in generation of energy that, in general, is similar to the believable souls within animal forms on earth. It might thus help visualise why the ancients sacrifriced relatively 'inferior animals' inside certain shrines - to attain higher level...and maybe thus that's what the visitor also wishes to attain...

Kavitha said...

The secret of the pyramid is that anything kept 1/3 the distance from the bottom will actually remain fresh for longer since it is some kind of an energy center.

Interestingly the King's chamber is exactly at that distance from the bottom. Am not sure whether that was an ancient, phenomenal method of preserving mummies because the later technique was quite different.

Mummification of bodies became quite a business in ancient egypt. Interestingly all they did was bury the body in excessive salt to dehydrate the organs and remove them [preserving them separately] and the remaining body was then mummified with the best herbs etc to keep it from decay.

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Joshi uncle

Am not certain that a temple is a mere symbolism of a greater concept, it is the greater concept. That the lord is formless is defined by the very elements within the chamber - fire, water, air, ether have no form. The lord is unending - fire, water, air, ether, earth... it fits.. perfectly.

JC said...

Kavitha, 'Great sages' believably attained moksha even in the open air/ natural caves...and, therefore, shrines traditionally help create an environment like that of a cave located away from the otherwise generally crowded places in towns/ cities... The basic thought behind 'meditation' is to cut oneself off from the travails of day-to-day routine life, by controlling the physical senses, allowing them limited functions for some time only regularly - and thus eventually attain thoughtless stage even in a crowded place...The basic aim is to reach absolute silence within one's mind...

JC said...

Kavitha, Maybe one could call temples, (which didn't exist in the early stages), as 'crutches!

JC said...

Man has apparently evolved from caves...and as per 'Hindu beliefs', at a certain stage, looking inwards, yogis reached a stage where one could walk on water, or disappear from one location and reach another distant one in no time, and so on. These achievements sound like fiction today because man is rapidly, apparently, becoming much more enslaved due to compulsarily becoming more and more used to 'crutches', i.e., external tools, in all fields of activities...and therefore thanks to the 'slavery of time' (Kaliyuga), in general, one cannot reconcile with the possibility of achieving any time in 'future' what is believed possible only during 'Satya Yuga'...

JC said...

A 'seeker' is therefore required to look inwards and visualise why the 'wiser ancients' termed human life/ earth/ universe as 'maya' that is illusory...As a hint thereof, they conveyed human life events to be related with Time that moved from 'Satya Yuga' the most evolved state to 'Kali Yuga', the startin stage of evolution, with literally the 'Dark Age' when poison ruled - in repetitive cycles, over 1000 numbers, lasting over 4 billion years during one day (in the life of Brahma the unborn and unending one) followed by a night of an equal duration (for recharging?)...

JC said...

For the benefit of the average man, astrologers, palmists, and so on, are involved since ages in attempts to predict events in an individual's life, realising these to be related with 'time' as it is reckoned at any given time, and also one's time of birth in any given region, based on the planetary positions in the sky then...

In ancient India, sages, such as Bhrigu, prepared in advance compendium with different configuaration of planets (as they appear in the sky from time to time) and the likely events during the particular life-span of the individual, in order to help the future generations, who would appear on earth when knowledge obviously would relatively get much diminished due to the charactertic property of Time, as we have seen already, as it moves from Satyuga downwards, say symbolocally, from the peak of a pyramid to its base...

JC said...

The pyramid shape, having four triangular faces that meet at one common point on the top and having a square base, thus also could help a seeker visualise the apex to symbolically represent the original perfect formless being (as dot or Nadbindu) seated at the top most level... And the largest square at the base could help imagine a large numbers of forms to start with at the beginning of the evolution that would have gradually reduced in numbers due to the believable 'churning' (as indicated in the Hindu belief) and gradual elimination of the weaker among different forms with the passage of time ("survival of the fittest" as described by Darwin)...The energy generated due to relative movements of the members of the solar system could thus be imagined as the energy that goes into the presentation of the drama in human life corresponding to the level being considered at any given point in time...

JC said...

Pyramids, and so also 'vimanas', with their four triangular/ tapering faces - each facing one of the 4 cardinal directions - might also help lead a 'Hindu' to visualise the significance of the reported four faces of 'Brahma'...and each of the poles represent the formless being, the 'Nadbindu' that is 'Vishnu' - having both positive and negative aspects, such as 'construction' (associated with 'Brahma' also) and 'destruction' (associated with 'Shiva' too, or earth that is 'mrityulok' the place where death/ destruction of physical forms is inevitable)...Similarly, one could relate the eight directions as the eight hands of Mother Durga...

JC said...

yes, Kavitha, as 'we' had seen elsewhere earlier also, the centre of gravity of a pyramid lies at the one-third height. And thus perhaps a void/ chamber located at that height experienced some energy concentrated near about that region, which helped energise the soul of the dead Pharaoh till it's time for it to adopt a new physical form. For, it was believed that unless the body is cremated, as ritually practiced by 'Hindus' even in the present, the soul remains attached with the body and hovers around it...The ancient Hindus, however, attempted to utilise this energy perpetually for energisation of the soul of the devotees who entered the sanctum...The yogis however believed in reaching zero thought state in the mind and thus have direct communication with the centre of the earth, believably the original zero as indicated by the belief of earth as the centre of the universe, the abode of 'Nadbindu' who is responsible for coming into existence and also eternal sustenance of the infinite physical universe (by indicating earth to rest on the hood of the celestial serpent, Shesh Nag/ 'Anant' the unending energy)...