The famous British author, John Gunther, in his new book “Lord Shiva” explains how Shiva relates to India. This is the first time that an author from outside India has done such a detailed job of translating the ancient teachings of India into English. He covers a lot of territory Shastra, Agama and Tantra. Gunther also includes a lot of cultural insights into the culture of India and her society and her relationship with Shiva.
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Based on the epic Mahabharata the story goes that Lord Shiva and Goddess Lakshmi established the universe and were responsible for the making of humans. They were so close that they could touch each other. This was a fact long known in Ancient India that inspired the legends of Shura and Bahu ( Shiva and Vishnu). According to Gunther this legend emphasizes that Shiva was the first Lord and that he and Goddess Lakshmi worshiped one another at the mountaintops.
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This is where Lord Shiva appears out of the blue and announces that he will destroy the gods if the humans worshiped him. It is at this point that the Hindus would begin to have a most interesting myth. What if the Hindu gods worshiped Shiva instead of their wives? What if they honored him as their creator instead of their son? Gunther brilliantly answers these questions and sheds new light on the rich history of Indian gods and their relationships with mankind. He provides many examples of how the legends of Lord Shiva and his temples reflect the beliefs and customs of Hindus in modern day.
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The concept of Shiva and Shakti are closely associated. When Lord Krishna and his consort visited Mathura in the seventh century, the two became so close that they could not be separated from each other. When they got down from their chariot, the two figures performed a ceremony that symbolized their fusion into the divine natures of God. In Hinduism, the term ‘Shakti’ signifies the duty of pleasing others and Lord Shaka is the lord of all the creatures. According to the beliefs of Hindus, if a Hindu god or goddess displeases anyone, it is up to the protector ( Shiva) of that person to punish the culprit via a sacrifice made by an initiate of that religion.
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Hindu mythology has much to say about the various forms of worship that developed throughout the millennia. One story states that Lord Shiva created the universe out of nothingness (prana). Another says that the world was populated by bodhisattvas (gods) whose role was to protect the universe from the quicksand, darkness, and evil that was ruled over by the demon Narakasura. When Lord Shiva split the atom to create the first living beings (parasites), he also split the atom of meat into its constituent parts and placed those parts in the mouth of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, to make Parvati fertile.
In most of the above references, Lord Shiva and his representative, Brahma, are the rulers while the animals are the subjects or servants. The dancer Asha and the devotional Sita are the two prominent animal subjects in Hindu dance forms and rituals. While it is unclear whether the dancer Asha or Sita ever performed a dyadic dance form with the boon of Lord Shiva, it is common to find the images of Asha and Sita together, with the latter seated on a divination chariot and the former riding on a chariot drawn by elephants.
Hinduism believes that the universe and everything within it was created by the omnipresent lord Shiva – the creator and ruler of this world. He is believed to be omniscient and does not entertain the notions of fate and reincarnation. Everything in the Universe was given form at the creation time through the auspicious activities of Shiva and his consort Subhadra. The shivalingas in temples are considered to be a depiction of Shiva and his partner Subhadra dancing their joyous dance for the enjoyment of Shiva and his consort Goddess Lakshmi. These divine tantra puja also contain a sequence of hymns and rituals that are aimed at purifying the devotees of Lord Shiva as well as their devotees’ families, to bless the bond between them and to give good luck and happiness to the entire universe.
Linga yoga has become an essential part of the spiritual life of most Hindus in India and Tibet. The term, ‘linga’ can mean a circle or any other shape and it is believed to be a representation of God and his attributes. It is the most popular form of yoga in the South and Central parts of India and has much deeper meanings for people in other areas. The word itself means circle and its derivatives like lingam, santana and kshatriya. It is believed that Lord Shiva and Goddess Lakshmi were begotten by the sage Vasuki who dwelled in the forest of Vasavi. Vamidhara, the lord of yoga, performed a miraculous, eight-limbed chakras on the golden lingam of Vasuki which thereby transformed into a lingam or Sattva, a symbol of perfection and goodness.