#1680 - Saturday, January 17,2004
Nondual Highlights Issue #1680 Saturday, January 17, 2004 Editor: Mark
Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious One), or Siva, is one of the main Deities of Hinduism, worshipped as the paramount lord by the Saivite sects of India. Shiva is one of the most complex gods of India, embodying seemingly contradictory qualities. He is the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.
Shiva was originally known as Rudra, a minor deity addressed only three times in the Rig Veda. He gained importance after absorbing some of the characteristics of an earlier fertility god and became Shiva, part of the trinity, or trimurti, with Vishnu and Brahma.
Shiva's female consort and wife is Parvati; because of his generosity and reverence towards Parvati, Shiva is considered an ideal role model for a husband. The divine couple together with their sons - the six-headed Skanda and the elephant headed Ganesh - reside on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas.
His guardian is Nandi (the white bull), whose statue can often be seen watching over the main shrine. The bull is said to embody sexual energy, fertility. Riding on its back, Shiva is in control of these impulses.
He often holds a trident, which represents the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. It is also said to represent the threefold qualities of nature: creation, preservation and destruction, although preservation is usually attributed to Vishnu. As the destroyer Shiva is dark and terrible, encircled with serpents and a crown of skulls.
Shiva holds a skull that represents samsara, the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Samsara is a central belief in Hinduism. Shiva himself also represents this complete cycle because he is Mahakala the Lord of Time, destroying and creating all things.
Shiva is represented in a variety of forms. One such form is as a lingam. The ovoid shape is a representation of the absolute perfection of Lord Shiva - if that which is beyond form had to be given form, the lingam would be the closest form to the mystical experience of the absolute perfection of Shiva. Shiva is often pictured in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati, as the cosmic dancer Nataraja, as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi, and as the androgynous union of Shiva and Parvati in one body (Ardhanarisvara).
When Shiva holds the center of the stage, the role of the personalized Brahman is colored with death and destruction. Shiva's stern asceticism casts a blight over the fields of rebirth. His presence negates and transcends the kaleidoscope of sufferings and joys. Nevertheless, he bestows wisdom and peace and is not only terrible but profoundly benign.Shiva's nature at once transcends and includes all the polarities of the living world.
AUM - the mystical utterance stemming from the sacred language of Vedic praise and incantation, is understood as an expression and affirmation of the totality of creation. A - is the state of waking consciousness, together with its world of gross experience. U - is the state of dreaming consciousness, together with its experience of the subtle shapes of dream. M - is the state off dreamless sleep, the natural condition of quiescent undifferentiated consciousness, wherein every experience is dissolved into a blissful non-experience, a mass of potential consciousness.
The plentitude of Shiva's mutually antagonistic functions and aspects is made evident by the fact that his worshippers invoke him by a hundred names. Occasionally we find the multitude of aspects reduced to five. 1. The Beneficent Manifestation (anugrahamurti), 2. The Destructive Manifestation (samaharamurti), 3. The Vagrant Medicant (bhiksatanamurti), 4. The Lord of Dancers (nrttamurti), 5. The Great Lord (mahesamurti).
The text for this piece is from "Myths and Symbols in India Art and Civilization" by Heinrich Zimmer.
A sandstone stele depicting Shiva Vrishavahanamurti, standing with his/her weight resting on the left leg, the right-hand side of the body resting against the head of the bull Nandi, who stands behind. The god is four armed, holding a lotus and trident on his right side and a waterflask and a book on his left. At his feet are two attendants; one is soothing Nandi whilst the other looks on.
Vrishavahanamurti, the form of Shiva resting against Nandi, is the form he assumes when blessing devotees with freedom from the cycle of existence. Those granted this release will remain with Shiva in eternity. This is one of the primary icons of Shiva as a benign god.
Shiva rests rather languidly against Nandi, in a pose designed to depict him in his fullness of beauty; this is one extreme of his character, the other being that of unimaginable ferocity. His is a contradictory nature and one can never take him for granted. In essence, Shiva is an embodiment of the forces of nature and it is through him that the elements can at one moment protect and encourage the growth of crops, whilst at the next they can destroy, bringing poverty and despair.
This is one of the earliest iconographical forms of Shiva, evidenced by coins of the Kushan period which have this image on the reverse. The easy sway of the god's body allows the arms to pose evenly around him, displaying the various attributes which he holds. One right hand holds a lotus, the other, now broken, clasps a trident of which the handle is visible. This identifies the god as Shiva, and is not intended to be used as a weapon in this image which is essentially benign; it also acts as a reminder of male strength. On the left hand side one hand clasps a water bottle, which contains the water of life and identifies Shiva's role as the universal healer. The other hand holds a book. The attributes on the left represent natural wealth and intellectual forces, reminders of Shiva's role as a bringer of abundance, both physical and spiritual. Two tiny devotees stand at the god's feet. Whilst one looks outwards, the other is engaged in keeping Nandi still, in order not to disturb the god.
Nandi, whose name means "bringer of joy", represents reliability, in contrast to the character of his master. His presence is effectively a reminder of the benign side of Shiva's nature and in the temple context his figure is usually seated outside, guarding the doorway through which the devotee approaches Shiva. According to Kramrisch (1982:xxi) he embodies Dharma, the principal of cosmic and human law. He also represents the taming of animal nature and the notion that everything in nature can be controlled by the power of Shiva.
The squared-off shape of the stone slab indicates it was one of a group of sculptures depicting Shiva in his various guises, which usually appear high up on the outer walls of a temple. The column on one side suggests it was integral to the temple architecture, rather than being a stele placed in a separately built niche. The devotee on first entering the temple compound, circumambulates the outer walls of the building where he sees the great god in all his forms, reminding him of the encompassing personality he is. In contrast, the representation of Shiva inside the Garbi Griha, the central shrine, is normally the aniconic lingham, i. e. the essential core of his nature. The images outside fire the imagination and compete with the outside world for the devotee's attention. Once inside the temple and away from the temptations of the profane world, the lingham concentrates the thoughts and reminds the worshipper of the timeless, unchanging power it contains.
The statues also enhance the temple, attracting worshippers and thereby increasing its importance and religious significance. In India temples are generally sited at river crossings where travellers might naturally stop for a while and they would become popular pilgrimage places. If the building was admired, this reflected on its patron, usually a local ruler or official. After the collapse of the Gupta Empire, in the early 7th century, a mass of Rajput clan leaders came to power, the more ambitious of whom extended their territories as far as they could. Some of these Rajput princes had dubious claims to their thrones and solved the problems this caused by patronising the local Brahmans and building temples. In return, the Brahmans supported them, confirming their sometimes spurious Kshatriya status. Rivalry between rulers and between state officials within a principality, created pressure on the individual to build fine temples. The architects and sculptors travelled from state to state satisfying the demands of their employers and the result was a wealth of beautiful temples spread across north India.
At the same time, localised cults became absorbed into mainstream Hinduism. Local Brahmans would draw diverse gods into their orbit since they were empowered by the rulers to look after the religious affairs of the state. At the same time the itinerant sculptors who produced statues to satisfy the demands of one area would take the idea to the next place they went to work. This may explain why Shiva, in particular, and Vishnu, to a slightly lesser extent, take on so many guises.
In this image of Shiva, there are elements which help to arrive at a date and place of origin. The rapt expression of the face, the jewellery, in particular the jasmine flower-shaped beads of the collar, and the lotus aureole behind the god all point to an early 10th century date. The wonderfully carved chignon too seems to be of this period as later on in the 10th century it loses the intricacy of detail and appears more dome-like. An almost identical form is seen in a late Pallava image of Kalyanasundara Shiva, dated 875 (Nagaswamy 1983:1)
The general appearance points to Rajasthan or Western Madhya Pradesh as the place of origin.
Blurton, T. Richard: Hindu Art, London, 1992
Harle, J. C. : The Art and Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent, London, 1986
Kramrisch, Stella: Manifestations of Shiva, Philadelphia, 1981 .
all text and images © John Eskenazi Ltd.
Indian, Rajasthan, Jodhpur school, Shiva Manifesting within thr Linga of Flames, Worshipped by Brahma and Vishnu, ca. 1825 - 50
In Motion Magazine: Why are patents the new form of colonialism?
Dr. Vandana Shiva: Patents are a replay of colonization as it took place 500 years ago in a number of ways. Interestingly, even at that time, when Columbus set sail and other adventurers like him, they also set out with pieces of paper that were called the letters patent which gave the power to the adventurers to claim as property the territory they found anywhere in the world that was not ruled by white Christian princes.
Contemporary patents on life seem to be of a similar quality. They are pieces of paper issued by patent offices of the world that basically are telling corporations that if there's knowledge or living material, plants, seeds, medicines which the white man has not known about before, claim it on our behalf, and make profits out of it.
That then has become the basis of phenomena that we call biopiracy, where seeds such as the Basmati seed, the aromatic rice from India, which we have grown for centuries, right in my valley is being claimed as novel invention by RiceTec.
Neem, which we have used for millennia for pest control, for medicine, which is documented in every one of our texts, which my grandmother and mother have used for everyday functions in the home, for protecting grain, for protecting silks and woolens, for pest control, is treated as invention held by Grace, the chemical company.
This epidemic of piracy is very much like the epidemic of piracy which was named colonialism 500 years ago. I think we will soon need to name this round of piracy through patents as recolonialization as a new colonialization which differs from the old only in this - the old colonialization only took over land, the new colonialization is taking over life itself.
In Motion Magazine: Just a moment ago in your speech to the conference, you said you'd like to bring in a third world perspective. Can you bring that into this discussion?
Dr. Vandana Shiva: The third world is that part of the world which became the colonies in the last colonialization. It wasn't an impoverished world then, in fact the reason it was colonialized is because it had the wealth. Columbus set sail to get control of the spice trade from India, it's just that he landed on the wrong continent and named the original inhabitants of this land Indian thinking he had arrived in India. Latin America was colonialized because of the gold it had. None of these countries were impoverished. Today they are called the poorer part of the world because the wealth has been drained out. People have survived in the third world because in spite of the wealth that has been taken from them, in spite of their gold and their land having been taken from them, they still have biodiversity. They still have that last resource in the form of seed, medicinal plants, fodder, which allowed them access to production It allowed them to meet their needs of health and nutrition. Now this last resource of the poor, who had been left deprived by the last round of colonialization is also being taken over through patenting. And seeds which peasants have freely saved, exchanged, used, are being treated as the property of corporations. New legal property formations are being shaped as intellectual property rights treaties, through the World Trade Organization, trying to prevent peasants of the third world from having free access to their own seed, to have free exchange of their own seed. So that all peasants, all farmers around the world would be buying seed every year thus creating a new market for the global seed industry.
80 percent of India takes care of its health needs through medicinal plants that grow around in back yards, that grow in the fields, in the forests, which people freely collect. No one has had to pay a price for the gifts of nature. Today everyone of those medicines has been patented and within five, ten years down the line we could easily have a situation in which the same pharmaceutical industry that has created such serious health damages and is now shifting to safe health products in the form of medicinal plant-based drugs, Chinese medicine, aromatic medicine from India, will prevent the use. They don't even have to come and make it illegal because long before they have to take that step, they take over the resource base, they take over the plants, they take over the supply, they take over the markets, and leave people absolutely deprived of access.
What we are seeing right now is a situation in which the third world, which has been the main supplier of biodiversity, the main producer of food in the world, where the majority of people are engaged in food production, is being attempted to be converted into a consumer society. But you can't have a consumer society with poor people and therefore what you will have is deprivation, destitution, disease, hunger, epidemics, hunger, malnutrition, famine and civil war. What is being sown is the greed of the corporations of stealing the last resources of the poor. It really is seeds of uncontrollable violence and decay of societies on a very large scale.
In Motion Magazine: You touched on it, but what seems key to this takeover is what the RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation International) people call the "terminator technology". Can you talk about that?
Dr. Vandana Shiva: When we plant a seed there's a very simple prayer that every peasant in India says: "Let the seed be exhaustless, let it never get exhausted, let it bring forth seed next year." Farmers have such pride in saying "this is the tenth generation seeds that I'm planting," "this is the fifth generation seed that I'm planting." Just the other day I had a seed exchange fair in my valley and a farmer brought Basmati aromatic rice seed and he said "this is five generations we've been planting this in our family". So far human beings have treated it as their duty to save seed and ensure its continuity. But that prayer to let the seed be exhaustless seems to be changing into the prayer, "let this seed get terminated so that I can make profits every year" which is the prayer that Monsanto is speaking through the terminator technology -- a technology whose aim is merely to prevent seed from germinating so that they don't have to spend on policing.
It's not that they don't yet have means. Hybrid seeds are also not good for saving. It was the first time they found a tool to force farmers to come back to them. A market every year. But the difference is that hybrid seeds don't give good seed. It's not that they fail to germinate. They will still segregate into their parent lines. They'll still give you some kind of crop. You will not have absolute devastation.
Patents are also a away to prevent farmers from saving seed. But with patents you still have to do policing, you still have to mobilize your detectives to ensure that farmers aren't saving seeds. The terminator is an extremely secure technology for corporations like Monsanto because neither do they have to do the policing, nor do they have to worry whether some segregation works, now you just basically terminate. But this is not just a violence against farmers whose basic right, in my view, is seed saving. A farmer's duty, is protecting the earth, maintaining it's fertility, and maintaining the fertility of seed. That is part of being a farmer. A farmer is not a low-paid tractor driver, that's a modern definition of what a farmer is. The real definition of a farmer is a person who relates to the land and relates to the seed and keeps it for future generations, keeps renewing it, fertility.
The search for this technology comes out of a violence to that basic ethic that farmers must have if they are to be good farmers. But it is also even deeper because now it is becoming a violence against nature because in a way Monsanto is saying we will stop evolution because evolution creates freedom.
more here - interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva
Shiva is the world's largest pulsed-power device, used to conduct research into plasma physics.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - Lasers streaking spaceward from the Directed Energy Directorate's Starfire Optical Range sense atmospheric distortions. This Air Force Research Laboratory directorate pioneered technologies that use lasers and deformable optics to sense and correct for these distortions so that objects in space can be seen clearly. (COPYRIGHT O1998 MARBLE STREET STUDIO)
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - Shiva Star is a collection of capacitors that can store electricity and then quickly discharge that electricity to form a plasma - the hot, gaseous atmosphere of stars. Directed Energy Directorate scientists are conducting research on plasmas and how they might be used as 21st century weapons. (OFFICIAL USAF PHOTO
Apparently, Shiva is a hypothesis regarding periodic extinctions...
But most importantly, Shiva is a character in Final Fantasy VIII
The Shiva Foundation was formed to open the dialogue around issues of grief and loss in such a way that honors loss in the cycle of life. The Hindu god Shiva dances the cosmic dance of creation and destruction teaching us that each act of destruction calls for an act of creation. We take that into our grief to teach us that we heal our loss through acts of creation.
Grieving takes time. We owe it to ourselves and to each other to feel the pain, to feel the fear, to feel the anxiety and, ultimately, to live the questions until the answers begin to reveal themselves to us. The great German poet Rainer Marie Rilke says it for us: Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. (So) live the questions now...
Gangaji: When fear of death is directly investigated, it is discovered that only form is born and dies. Consciousness is free of formation, free of birth, free of death.
Question: I have the experience of a continuing dread of death that just hangs around me like a cloud.
Gangaji: If you invite the cloud called death closer, you can experience it directly. In this extraordinary experience, what dies and what remains is discovered.
Question: How do I do that?
Gangaji: By being still. By neither repressing nor following any thought that arises. By not moving the mind in any direction. By ceasing all attempts to escape.
- Excerpt from You Are That! - Satsang With Gangaji , published by Satsang Press.