Lord Siva

 

 

1.    Two general Features:

a.    Unconventional:  ecstasy, dance, intoxication.  Some of this in Krishna devotionalism, Shaivism includes strong ascetic emphasis, accepts non-vedic forms of revelation (Tantra); finds value in pollution and the cremation grounds.

b.    God of paradox (in later, developed forms): Not only an ascetic, but the ideal householder as well. Cosmic forms, union of all opposites

2.    History
Shaiva traditions originate in non-brahmanical traditions and then became assimilated (in some measure): Lower caste, possession cults, graveyard (ancestor worship, communication with the dead).  Renunciation may have come from outside the vedic traditions to begin with.

a.    Proto Siva: horns, lotus posture, lord of animals, ithyphallic.

b.    Siva-Rudra: the howler.  Rg Veda: black belly and wears tiger skin.  Ferocious, destructive, storm god, poison, takes children, kills cattle; also healer and cooler of disease.  Two sided god, ambiguous.  Worship the powers that can bring good and harm

c.    Daksha’s sacrifice (Mahabharata): Siva begins outside the pantheon of Vedic gods, working his way in.

d.    Challenges heretical Brahmin sages in the forest.  Has sex with their wives; sports with them when they try to kill him.

e.    Unorthodox nature:  Ecstacy, dance. Cf. rishis, soma.

f.     God of the ascetics.

3.    A God of paradox – the "erotic ascetic."  Dharma & moksha.  Householder & ascetic

a.    Transformation of the ascetic ideal: assimilated into the householder ideology (ashramas; Gita)

b.    The emphasis in Shaivism is on asceticism, but it develops in ways that assert both asceticism and householding as two parts of a dynamic process that sustains the entire universe. A union of opposites. Cf. Cosmic Shiva: inclusive of all things.

4.    Representations:

a.    Lord of Yoga. Seated in meditation in the Himalayas, covered in ashes; third eye (burned kama, desire), matted locks, crecent moon in hair

b.    Shivling: phallus and yoni. Sexual?  

                                              i.     Cf. Prema: erotic love raised to level of devotional love that transcends human love

                                             ii.     The linga draws on sexual imagery to symbolize cosmic principles of male and female principles that unite to make the universe run in its eternal cycles.

c.    Ardhanarishvara: The Lord who is half woman

d.    Nataraja: Lord of the Dance. 

                                              i.     A play of divine energy, dynamic process of creation and destruction.  (Cf. Visnu on celestial serpent).  Chola dynasty (10th century).

                                             ii.     A rhythmic cycle of creation and destruction; beyond which is the one, pervasive divinity.  Wild motion/perfect serenity. The two together make up the dynamic quality of the Nataraja image

                                           iii.     Ten features of the Nataraja image:

1.    Destruction and creation: shiva’s dance destroys universe and so intiated next mahayuga.  Circle connotes entire universe.  Fire is destruction from heat of Siva’s body

2.    Arms: four cardinal points.  Each makes specific gesture (mudra, usually hands) or holds object

3.    Upper right hand: drum denoting creation.  Sound is first and most pervasive element, suggests sacred sound of Vedas

4.    Upper left hand: fire denoting destruction

5.    Front hand in abhaya pose: gesture of protection.  God as protector

6.    Other arm extands across body, sugesting an elephant’s trunk (Ganesh)

7.    Raised left foot: release from the cycle of death and rebirth.  Worship of God leads to moksha

8.    Dances on dwarf (or demon): laziness, forgetfullnes, weight of inertia.  Overcome to create dynamic universe

9.    Lotus flower: represents emergence of form from formlessness.  Also heart of devotee.  Consciousness/heart (same organ) = where the most improant events take place.  Also, the heart of the universe rests within each heart – Atman

10.Face: serene, disinterested, absorbed in bliss (cf. baby Krishna sucking his toe): the bliss is the ultimate reality that transcends the conflicting world of nature.  Contrasting with motion of body.  Almost ironic expression on face