Narach Philosophy

THE RELIGION OF MAHADEVA


We have explained that the religion of Siva corresponds to the principal Yoga system, centred in the Mind, but extending on the one hand to Buddhi and on the other to the senses of knowledge; and according to these three energies we have three forms of the worship of Siva or Mahadeva still prevalent in India. In this connection we have pointed out that Philosophy and Religion is the inter-connection as follows:
Creative Energies Soul Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action
Vedanta and Vaisnavism Soul Buddhi Mind    
Yoga and Saivism   Buddhi Mind Senses of Knowledge  
Sankhya, Tantra & Brahmism     Mind Senses of Knowledge Senses of Action

The Scope of Saivism: We notice that between principal Yoga on the one hand and the two remaining systems on the other, there are seven points of contact. Yoga has three of its own, relating to Buddhi, Mind, and the senses of knowledge; it has two associated with principal Vedanta, in connection with Buddhi and Mind; and it has two in common with the principal Sankhya, in connection with the Mind and the senses of knowledge. Indeed, as we have pointed out, the central idea of the principal Yoga system is that Purusha and Prakrti are united together in the creation of life; and out of this we get the three main points of view of Yoga: (1) that the share of Purusha is more than that of Prakrti; (2) that the two are equal; and (3) that the share of Prakrti is more than that of Purusha.

Then, in connection with the character of Buddhi and Mind that Yoga has in common with principal Vedanta, it may hold (4) that Prakrti exists but as a mere spectator of Purusha's work, or (5) that it has a more substantial share though still less than that of Purusha. Again, in connection with the character of Mind and the senses of knowledge that Yoga has in common with principal Sankhya, it may hold (6) that the share of Purusha is substantial but less than Prakrti's, or (7) that Purusha is only a silent spectator of Prakrti's work. We notice that out of these seven points of view, 1 and 5, and 3 and 6 are identical; and so there remain five different aspects of the principal Yoga system or Siva religion; and we shall see how far they are expressed in the actual forms of its worship still current in India.

Siva in Vedic and Post-Vedic Literature: We have already shown that the Vedic idea of Siva or Rudra is continued in post-Vedic literature. In the Anusasana Parva of the Mahabharata we have a detailed description of Mahadeva, and it will be found, on examination, to correspond to the character of his religion as we have outlined, bearing on the creative energy of Buddhi, Mind, and the senses of knowledge.

Siva and Buddhi: Buddhi, as we have explained, is to be examined from two points of view. In the first, related to Vedanta, it is, for practical purposes, identified with the Soul; and the supreme Purusha is conceived of practically as the sole creator of life in its light, while Prakrti exists merely as a spectator of his work. In the second Buddhi is to be understood in itself, as characterised by certainty, calmness, and peace; and Prakrti is associated with Purusha to a certain small extent. Hence Siva should have the following characteristics in this aspect:

When Buddhi is, for practical purposes, identified with the Soul, we get the Vedantic point of view; and Mahadeva, in this aspect, should be regarded as the sole creator of the universe, and identified with the supreme as well as the individual Soul. He should be identified with Vishnu, and regarded as the creator of Prakrti; spoken of as characterised by Maya or creative energy; described as a doer of deeds, and yet free from Gunas or qualities. He should be accompanied by his consort, but have no creative contact with her.

With reference to Buddhi in its own character, Mahadeva should be accompanied by his consort, but have only a little creative contact with her. He should be associated with the Yoga system, be identified with the Sun, Agni and Indra, the deities of this system, and described as possessed of Gunas or qualities.

Corresponding to this we are told in the Anusasana Parva of the Mahabharata that Mahadeva is the supreme Purusha, the original cause of the universe, the Soul of all creatures, and dwells in the Hearts of all. He is manifest and unmanifest, Water, Prakrti or Pradhana. He is Vishnu, he is vital air, he is the supreme Soul, and he unites the individual Soul with the supreme through Yoga. He is made up of Maya, he is the form of all actions in the universe, he is the soul of action, he resides in the field of action, and by action is he attained Yet he is shorn of all Gunas or qualities and then we are told that he is accompanied by Uma, his consort; but she, as Ambika, with whom she is identified, is declared to be his sister as well as his wife; and again she is identified with Sarasvati the consort of Vishnu.

In connection with the second aspect of Buddhi, Siva is accompanied by his consort, and their appearance is like that of the Sun and Moon side by side. He is Yoga itself, the soul of Yoga, given to Yoga, and the object of the Yoga system of Philosophy. He has Agni for his Soul, he is the Sun, he is Sakta or Indra, and is possessed of Gunas or qualities.

Mahadeva and Mind: Mind, as we have explained, is characterised by the intimate union of Purusha and Prakrti in the creation of life, whose character may be examined from three points of view. We might hold that Purusha is a little greater than Prakrti, or that the two are absolutely equal, or that Prakrti is a little greater than Purusha. Further, we have pointed out that the Mind is characterised by Kama or Desire, and is symbolized as Soma or the Moon. Corresponding to this Siva should be associated with his consort in a more intimately creative contact, and there should be an issue of their union. Then he should sometimes be represented as greater than his consort; sometimes the two should be equal; and sometimes she should be greater than he. Again, he should be characterised by Desire, have the Moon for his emblem, and be drawn to Soma or wine.

Siva and His Consort: Parvati is the consort of Siva in this form, and the god Ganesa is born of the union of the two. We are told that the marks of both the sexes are in Mahadeva, and they are the one cause of the creation of the universe. All creatures have the mark of either Mahadeva or his consort in the supreme phallic emblem which is worshipped by all, in which he is always present. Then in the later Tantric forms of worship Siva and his Sakti (Prakrti) are represented as having different dimensions; and so we are told that "Pictorially, Sakti (Prakrti) is shown either as the equal of her spouse that is as an androgyne figure in which the Right half is male and the left female or as two figures, male and female, of equal size, as in the last picture. Inequality is indicated when the Sakti is smaller than the male divinity. ... In the Sakta view, the power-holder and his power, as She (Prakrti), is in herself. ... He is recumbent". This gives us the three relations between Siva and his consort, Sakti or Prakrti. In the one Sakti is smaller than the male divinity; in the second the two are equal; while in the third Siva is recumbent and his energy is centred in her.

Siva, Desire, Moon and Mind: In the Anti Parva of the Mahabharata Siva is described as Desire, characteristic of the Mind. He is said to be the supreme root of the Mind, and is spoken of as Cit, lightning, Moon, and a drinker of Soma, all of which refer to the Mind. In the Anusasana Parva he is again described as Kama or Desire, and is said to be Soma and the Moon. He has the Moon for his beautiful eye, and he is the form of that Soma which is drunk in sacrifice.

Siva and the Senses of Knowledge: We have pointed out that Siva has two aspects in connection with the senses of knowledge. In the one he is assigned a small place in the creation of life, while in other he is conceived of only as a spectator of the work of Prakrti. Both of these are represented in Tantric literature. In a picture of Siva and his consort "she is red, for red is the active colour, and she is here creative. ... She sits on two inert male figures. The upper figure is Siva, who is awake. On his head is the crescent digit of the Moon. ... He is inert, he is white. ... Under him is another male figure, darker in colour, with closed eyes. This mysterious figure (Niskala Siva) is called Sava or the Corpse". The explanation is obvious. The two figures of Siva correspond to his two aspects as we have outlined. In the first he is alive and awake, but inert, and it is his Sakti (Prakrti) who is active and who creates; while in the second, she is active as before, but he, though present, is like one dead.

Again, we have explained that the Cow or Bull (Gou) refers to the senses of knowledge. Hence Siva in this form is associated with and represented by Nandi, his Bull. It is the Bull and not the Cow, because he is a male deity and conceived of more or less as non-creative by himself and so in the Anusasana Parva of the Mahabharata we are told that his bull Nandi stands by his side, looking like a second Sankara (a name of Siva). Again Siva is called Gautama (Gotama or the best Gou or Cow), and this is also a name of Buddha, who too, as we shall see, refers to the same character. Then, as the character of the senses of knowledge is associated with the principal Sankhya system, Siva is connected with this system too, and identified with its celebrated author, Kapila.

Siva Worship in India: We have explained that Siva is associated with the character of three creative energies of life, Buddhi, Mind, and the senses of knowledge, corresponding to which we have three modes of Siva worship which, however, may be increased to five in association with other systems of religion. In connection with the first aspect of Buddhi, associated with Vedanta, we should have practical Monism; while in its second aspect it should be qualified Monism. In connection with the character of the Mind, we should get Dualism, with Siva and his Prakti represented sometimes as equal, and sometimes slightly less so; while in connection with the character of the senses of knowledge, we should get Agnosticism, and Siva should be represented as practically inert or almost as one dead.

Siva and Buddhi: As we have pointed out, we should have two aspects of Siva worship in connection with the character of Buddhi. Corresponding to this we have, what is called the Trika form of Siva worship which prevails in Kashmere. It is said that there are three aspects of the ancient and eternal faith of Siva, Abheda, Bheda, and Bhedabheda, or Monism, Dualism, and qualified Monism (Monism cum Dualism); and the Trika form corresponds to pure Monism. But the original idea of Siva worship was not altogether free from dualistic interpretation. According to the Trika system, in its pure monistic form, Siva is the Paramesvara, the supreme Lord of the universe. "He is the underlying reality in everything; he is all-pervading and. all-transcending... But his nature has primarily a twofold aspect (it is this that makes it a qualified Monism) an imminent aspect in which he pervades the universe, and a transcendental aspect in which he is beyond all universal manifestation. Indeed, the universe, with all its infinite variety of objects and means of experience, is nothing but a manifestation of the immanent aspect of Param Siva himself This aspect of his is called Sakti (Power) which, being only an aspect, is not in any way different from or independent of Param Siva, but is one and the same with him. ...It is his creative power, and is spoken of as his feminine aspect".

This Sakti has an infinite number of modes; but its five principal aspects are Cit (Intelligence), Ananda (Joy), Iccha (Desire), Jnana (Knowledge) and Kriya (Action).

In his original aspect as Param Siva, he is one and only himself; and this gives us the pure Monistic idea in the light of the character of Buddhi. In the second aspect two principles are said to come simultaneously into existence, Siva Tattva (principle), and its negative counterpart, Sakti Tattva, although the latter is often counted as one with and included in the Siva Tattva.

As they come into manifestation, the Siva and Sakti Tattvas remain united with each other. "Although produced, in a sense, from Param Siva, The Siva-Sakti Tattvas are eternally existent".

From all this we see that the Trika form of Siva worship is a combination of pure and qualified Monism, corresponding to the Buddhi aspect of Siva's character.

Siva and Mind: We have explained that Siva in his Mind aspect has three forms, all of which are inseparable from Prakti. In the first he is greater than his consort, and has an issue by her; in the second the two are equal; while in the third she is more powerful than he.

Linga Worship: The union of Purusha and Prakrti in this aspect is expressed in the Linga or phallic form of Siva worship, common to almost all parts of India. The worshippers of Siva, in this exclusive form, are called Lingayats, and this sect has numerous adherents in South India.

Siva Tantra: We have observed that all Tantra worship relates to the three creative energies of life Mind, the senses of knowledge, and the senses of action; and so we must seek for further forms of Siva worship in his last two aspects in the Tantras.

Thus we are told that Siva and his Sakti are one. Then pictorially Sakti is shown either as the equal of her spouse in the Ardhanarisa form, or the two are made of equal size. Inequality is indicated by Sakti being made smaller than her lord. But Sakti is sometimes represented as more active than Siva, who is shown as lying recumbent at her feet. This gives us the three aspects of Siva in his Mind form, and this Tantric form of his worship still prevails in many parts of Bihar and Bengal and there are a number of paintings and statues of Siva and his consort expressive of this idea current to this day.

Siva, Parvati, and Ganesa: The worship of Siva, his consort, Parvati, and their son, Ganesa, is as common as the Linga; and it expresses the idea of the creation of the universe (son) out of the union of Purusha and Prakrti. Siva in this form is always represented as taller than his consort; and so it refers to the first aspect of the character of the Mind which it shares with Vedanta. Hence Siva, Parvati and Ganesa are worshipped by the votaries of Vishnu as well. But, according to this idea, the universe is created jointly by Purusha and Prakrti; yet the share of Purusha is greater than Prakrti's. There is nothing in common between this point of view of principal Vedanta and Yoga on the one hand, and Sankhya on the other, for the latter holds that the share of Prakrti is always greater than that of Purusha. As the principal Sankhya system has Buddhism and Jainism for its corresponding religions, the latter can have nothing to do with this idea of Vedanta and Yoga. Hence the Buddhist deity is sometimes shown as trampling under foot Vishnu and Laksmi as well as Siva and his consort, Gauri or Parvati; while the Buddhist goddess Parnasvari is represented as treading on the prostrate figure of Ganesa. According to one legend, however, Ganesa is the son of Parvati alone; and as this would signify that the universe (Ganesa) is created by Prakrti (Parvati) alone, Ganesa, in this form, would be worshipped by Buddhists and Jainas too.

Ganesa and the Mahabharata: Ganesa is represented as having an elephant's head in place of his own, struck of by his father, Siva, in rage. He is usually described in a sitting posture as a short, fat man, fond of sweets, and having the Rat for his vehicle. We shall deal with this idea in connection with the Story of the Mahabharata, for he is said to have taken it down at the dictation of Vyasa. It is enough here to state that Siva and Parvati refer to the Mind, and so Ganesa, their son, to the senses of knowledge created out of the Mind. This, as we have seen, is the centre of the principal Sankhya system, and the meeting place of Buddhism and Jainism and so it may be said that Vyasa who, as we shall see, represents Vedanta in the common region of the Mind, teaches Buddhism and Jainism the essential idea of the Mahabharata. In other words the Story of the Epic may be described to be not only as a picture of all systems of Hindu Philosophy, but also as a conflict between Buddhism and Jainism (agnosticism and atheism) on the one hand, and Yoga and Vedanta (dualism and monism) on the other. We shall examine this point in our explanation of the Epic.

Siva and the Senses of Knowledge: Siva, as we have pointed out, has two aspects in this form. In the one he has only a small share in the work of creation, while in the other he is a mere spectator of the work of Prakrti. We have explained that both these aspects are represented in the picture of Kali, standing over two figures of Siva, one recumbent and the other as one dead and then we are told that "even when associated with his Sakti as efficient cause, Siva does not move. ... It is she as Power who takes the active and changeful part in generation, as also in conceiving, bearing and giving birth to the world-child. ... In such work the male is but a helper (Sahakari) only". It is Prakrti or the Sakti of Siva that is worshipped in this form more than Siva himself, and this is still a common mode of worship in many parts of Bihar and Bengal. The devotees are called "Saktas, or worshippers of the Sakti aspect of Siva. ... The worship of Sakti or the female energy of Siva is inculcated in the Tantras. ... Siva is thus considered subsidiary to his Sakti, and the ideal is that motherhood is the chief element in creation".

Ganesa and the Bull: We have explained that Ganesa refers to the senses of knowledge and all that they signify, and the idea of the Bull or the Cow is the same and so the worship of Ganesa as well as of Mahadeva's Bull, Nandi, is common throughout India.