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Shiva The Sensuous Yogi

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    This article was put together by me: ============================================= Shiva The Sensuous Yogi ============================================= There
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      This article was put together by me:

      Shiva The Sensuous Yogi

      There once dwelt in a dense forest a group of hermits engaged in
      the most difficult of austerities. The hermitage had a large
      number of knowledgeable and mighty sages, but they were for the
      most part ritualists, more involved in the actual process rather
      than appreciating the symbolic significance behind the liturgies
      they performed.

      Lord Shiva in his role of an ascetic mendicant once approached
      this group of recluses to beg for alms. The force of Shiva's
      tapas or meditations glowed forth form his auric body. Combined
      with the spectacular flicker in his eyes, it presented him as
      extraordinarily handsome. This comely young ascetic, his naked
      body smeared with ashes, exerted a powerful influence upon the
      womenfolk of the hermitage. The wives and daughters of the sages
      rushed out to greet the naked yogi. The hermits were utterly
      shocked at the sight of this unclad monk who drove their
      well-born wives and mothers to a demented level of desire. The
      women came with offerings of fruits and flowers. When they
      approached Shiva the sensuous yogi, they shed all restraint,
      taking hold of his hands, pleading for his attentions. They shed
      away their inhibitions, their ornaments, their clothes, and
      embraced the naked stranger with the skull in his hands.

      The saints were left speechless. Their years of solitude and
      penance and the hard monastic life were all repudiated by the
      inexplicable aberrations of their noble wives. Confused, pained,
      bewildered and also very angry, the sages asked the stranger for
      his name and identity. Shiva greeted their queries with a
      silence. Driven to a level of frenzy the same as their chaste
      women, these sages in their uncontrolled outrage tore off Shiva's
      organ of generation from his body. But Shiva, the first amongst
      yogis, remained supremely unaffected both by the women's
      adoration and the sages' anger.

      As soon as Shiva's organ fell to the ground it assumed a gigantic
      proportion, making everyone aware of the divine status of this
      handsome ascetic. Thus is said to have originated the emblematic
      worship of Shiva's organ, popularly known as the Shiva linga.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zj34.jpg

      The rapture of love, the moment of euphoria in which we forget
      everything else (reason, wisdom, prudence, social rules, human
      interests etc), is but an image of the mystical bliss. The lover
      ceases to be himself and becomes one with the object of his/her
      desire. Indeed, for an instant, he/she ceases to exist as an
      individual, merging with the other being in totality. The sole
      reality at that defining moment is the voluptuousness of desire
      that unites them: "Just as in the embrace of his beloved, a man
      forgets the entire world, all that exists within himself and
      without, so in union with the Being of knowledge, he no longer
      knows anything, either within or without" (Brihadaranyaka
      Upanishad, 4.3.21).

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/mc94.jpg

      For an instant, one achieves one's true goal, forgets one's own
      interests, ambitions, problems, and duties, and participates in
      that feeling of bliss that is one's true and immortal nature.
      Mystical rapture is a marvelous feeling of pleasure, similar to
      the effect produced by bhang, the Indian hemp and favorite drink
      of Shiva.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/hp44.jpg

      In order to be genuine, love and rapture of pleasure must be
      absolutely irrational. They must not be "useful," "normal," or
      according to law." They must not be a mere procreative act used
      to beget children for the continuance of our house, to look after
      us and defend our property. They must not be the outcome of
      marriage, which stabilizes our social position and represents a
      communion of interests. True love must be wholly useless and
      disinterested, far from any idea of family, progeny, or social
      order. Only then it is pure, true love. This is why the mystical
      poets sing of illicit love, the love of what does not belong to
      you (parakiya) and not of what you already possess (svakiya).
      Loving a wife, or someone who belongs to us, is part of what
      binds us to the world of forms and not of what can free us from
      it. According to Alain Danielou, only adulterous, abnormal love
      can be considered pure and truly free from all ties, and only it
      can give us some idea of the mystic experience - it is absurd,
      disinterested, and destructive of all that is human.

      Thus we should not wonder at the fact that representations of
      human love - the search for voluptuous pleasure - recognize none
      of the limits that social ethics wish to impose.

      Hence the conduct of the virtuous ladies in the hermitage though
      shocking at first sight, is perfectly understandable from the
      above viewpoint. In fact the story also brings our attention to
      the fact that these women were more spiritually advanced than
      their men folk, who were engaged in endless itineraries of
      rituals whose symbolic significance they were unable to fathom
      and were thus far away from the true import of these spiritual
      practices. The ladies on the other hand were more intuitively
      fine tuned to appreciate the true nature of physical desire,
      sprung naturally from their archetypal inner being and in harmony
      with their primordial nature uncontaminated by man made
      constructs, including both social and moral.

      The canonical iconography of Shiva further shows him with certain
      characteristic attributes which emphasize his sensuous nature,
      while retaining his essentially yogic profile. Some of these
      traits making up the character and personality of Shiva are:

      The Dance of Shiva

      It is said that man danced before he spoke. He certainly danced
      before he painted and sculpted reliefs on his walls. All cultures
      of the world have given dance a ritual status before any formal
      ritual or liturgy was codified in texts, or recreated through
      relief or paint.

      Yoga, like dance, is much more than a mere physical exercise. It
      is a holistic way of relating to the body that involves an
      increasing awareness on all levels: the physical, the mental, and
      the spiritual. Yoga unites the functions of each of these aspects
      of our personality. This is true for dance also. Certainly any
      successful dance performance is characterized by a balanced
      harmony between the body and spirit. What is suggested here is
      that dance, like yoga, is a conscious attempt at integrating all
      the tiers of our existence. It does not negate but on the
      contrary affirms the sensual nature of our objective physical
      being, and treats it as fundamental to any attempt at spiritual
      awareness as our subjective intangible soul.

      Dance is thus a spiritual channel, an opening of both
      metaphysical and sensuous doorways.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/be31.jpg

      Whirling his limbs, gracefully carved as if a woman's, Shiva as
      Nataraja gyrates to the rhythms of his essentially fleshy dance-
      an outpouring of sensual stimulation in free and unrestrained
      exuberance. His dance is both supremely sexual and sublimely

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zj49.jpg

      He is the god of destruction, his dance too is thus essentially
      of a similar nature. A ring of flames encircles him.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zg79.jpg

      These are the cremation fires which are ultimately going to
      consume our mortal bodies. But on the other hand dance is also an
      act of creation. It brings about a new situation and transforms
      the perpetrator into a higher realm of reality and personality.
      Thus the forces gathered and projected in his frantic,
      ever-enduring gyration are both of creation and annihilation.
      According to Clarissa Estes, in her book 'Women Who Run With the

      "To make love. we dance with Death. There will be flowing, there
      will be draining, there will be live birth and still birth and
      yet born-again birth of something new. To love is to learn the
      steps. To make love is to dance the dance".

      Applying the same criterion, we observe that Shiva's dance of
      death and regeneration is nothing but the recreation of the
      sexual act itself, which is composed of an interplay of desire,
      sensuality, highs and lows, and of course an overriding sensation
      of ecstasy, all an integral part of Shiva's dance.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/hb06.jpg

      A poet has beautifully described dance as "nature struggling to
      express itself, in terms of the joy of the dance." Hence by
      extension, in the frenzy of the actual physical act of mating can
      be discerned the ultimate truth of all manifested existence. This
      truth is that of birth and inevitable death. These are the
      defining qualities of Shiva's dance, as also of the sexual act,
      both of which communicate through an exhilarated appreciation of
      the body, for its own sake.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zj82.jpg

      The Hair of Shiva

      Shiva's tresses are long and flowing, and dark as the night is.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/ra27.jpg

      Supra-normal energy, amounting to the power of magic, resides in
      such a wildness of hair untouched by the scissors. The celebrated
      strength of Samson, who with naked hands tore asunder the jaws of
      a lion and shook down the roof of a pagan temple, was similarly
      said to reside in his uncut hair.

      Shiva's hair also supports a crescent moon, a symbol of the
      female reproductive cycle.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/be36.jpg

      Indeed much of womanly charm, the sensual appeal of the Eternal
      feminine, is also in the fragrance, the flow and luster of
      beautiful hair. On the other hand, anyone renouncing the
      generative forces of the vegetable-animal realm, revolting
      against the procreative principle of life, sex, earth, and
      nature, to enter upon the spiritual path of absolute asceticism,
      has first to be shaved.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zi97.jpg

      He must simulate the sterility of an old man whose hairs have
      fallen and who no longer constitutes a link in the chain of
      generation. He must coldly sacrifice the foliage of the head.
      This is most significantly evidenced in the first act carried out
      by the Buddha when he renounced the royal palace. He severed his
      long and beautiful hair with his princely blade.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/th05.jpg

      But though the spiritual and even earthly rewards of this ascetic
      attitude are high, Shiva does not shave or shear his hair, said
      to be "sweet with many a pleasant scent." Refusing to take
      advantage of the symbolical and potent devices of
      self-curtailment and deprivation, the arch-yogi is forever the
      unshorn male.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/be13.jpg

      Shiva thus accepts the essentially sensual nature of the
      manifested world. He makes us aware that we can free ourselves
      from our attachments through the very attachments themselves and
      not otherwise. According to the Kama Sutra "those that seek
      liberation achieve it thanks to detachment, which cannot occur
      except after attachment, since the spirit of humankind is by
      nature attracted by the objects of the senses."

      Nandi the Bull of Shiva

      The vehicle of Shiva is a bull (vrishabh or vrisha in Sanskrit).
      He is the great sprinkler of the seed, and represents the
      fecundating energy of Kama the God of love.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zi91.jpg

      The bull which wanders about, anxious to find a mate, is taken as
      the embodiment of the sex impulse. Most living creatures are
      governed by their instincts; they are ridden over by the bull.
      They are merely the appendage of their reproductive powers.

      But Shiva is the master of lust. He rides on the bull. Only those
      who are masters of their own impulses can ride on the bull. Thus
      the image of Shiva atop his bull represents the sexual drive
      brought under control, though not weakened, through asceticism.
      As Mahayogi, the god is master of the bull. This is true even
      when he is with his shakti, and his images therefore often
      represent him sitting upon its back, poised gracefully and full
      in control.

      "Among those who have mastered the bull you are the bull keeper.
      O Lord! Riding on the bull, you protect the worlds."

      ___________ Lingopasana-rahasaya.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/ha52.jpg

      A primary aim of yoga is to transform our mighty sexual potency
      into spiritual power. Yogis believe that sex energy is the very
      energy that man can utilize for the conquest of his own self. The
      sexually powerful man, if he controls himself, can attain any
      form of power, even conquer the celestial worlds. On the other
      hand, men of weak temperament are unqualified for great
      adventures, physical or mental. The sex impulse must therefore
      never be denied or weakened. Yoga thus opposes exaggerated
      austerities. According to Zimmer, noted Indologist, a deity's
      animal mount is the manifestation of the god's divine essence.
      Indeed the man of strong powers is the vehicle of Shiva, through
      whom the deity reveals his own virile nature and powers. The bull
      of Shiva is hence also called the joyful (Nandi), correspondingly
      Shiva himself is known as the lord of joy (Nandikeshvara).

      Kundalini and the Marriage of Shiva

      The metabolic energy called Kundalini is symbolized as Parvati.
      She is conceived as the serpent power which lies coiled in the
      lowest chambers of the human body. Kundalini when properly
      quickened, unfolds her vibrating hoods and by an upward sweep
      enters the spinal cord and then the brain, and finally unites
      above the head with Shiva. In mythology, Shiva's wedding with
      Parvati is the entrance of this serpent power into the Higher
      Mind which is compared to the snowy mountains of Kailash. Kailash
      is the symbol of the highest mind and Shiva has his abode on this
      mountain where silence reigns eternally.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/wa75.jpg

      The analogy is between a human wedding which releases the highest
      ecstasies of the flesh, and the wedding of Kundalini with Shiva,
      which is a symbol of the highest bliss attainable by an
      individual soul.


      Our body is the instrument of our destiny. Our intellectual
      mechanism and spiritual being are not independent of the body
      that shelters and nourishes them. If we wish for success in
      anything whatever, we must take care of our body: cherish,
      satisfy, and content it. Yogis condemn abstinence, just as they
      condemn excess, since both cause imbalance in the physical and
      intellectual being. A healthy, vigorous, satisfied body, one that
      is pleasant to inhabit, is the best vehicle and instrument for
      human and spiritual accomplishment. Eroticism and pleasure in all
      its forms are vital for man's intellectual and physical balance.
      Life is transmitted through the sexual act, and the giving of
      life is a duty, a debt to be discharged by whoever has received
      it. Besides its practical utility, however, physical pleasure
      plays an essential role in our inner development. It is the image
      of divine bliss and prepares us and aids us to attain it. A man
      who strives to be chaste and who fears, condemns, and thwarts
      physical love can never free himself from the prison of the
      senses. He weaves around himself a web of obscure frustrations,
      which will hinder him from realizing his transcendental destiny.

      On the other hand, the man who has tasted all kinds of sensual
      pleasure can gradually turn aside from them, finding greater
      sensual pleasure in union with the divine. This is no longer
      renunciation, but liberation. In discovering the divine, the
      realized man gradually loses interest in earthly things, virtue,
      honor, vice, and pleasure. He considers the human act of love in
      the same way that he breathes the perfume of flowers or listens
      to the song of birds.

      Indeed the remark of the saint who said "I have never renounced
      any vice: it is they who have left me" summarizes the message of

      In the Puranas, which collect the most ancient mythological and
      historical legends, Shiva appears as a mysterious and lascivious
      deity of the primeval forest. He is naked, and his beauty seduces
      all beings. The sages practicing austere asceticism are disturbed
      by the charms of this unconventional god. His virile power is
      described as limitless. Wandering through the forest, the symbol
      of the cosmos, always ithyphallic, he scatters his seed. From his
      seed are born plants, metals, and precious stones.

      God of eroticism, Shiva is also the master of Yoga, which is
      described as the method used to sublimate virile power and
      transform it into mental and intellectual power. He is therefore
      the "great Yogi." Fittingly therefore, the Kama Sutra designates
      the various positions adopted in the act of love as asanas, the
      same term used to describe the postures of Hathayoga.

      Although both Shiva and his goddess Shakti are creator deities,
      the true scope of their union is not procreation, but pleasure
      and voluptuousness (ananda). A whole world of legend and myth
      narrates their love. The two opposites, the positive and the
      negative pole, acquire reality only in their relations with each
      other. They exist solely in what unites them, in the spark of
      pleasure that jumps from one to the other. In other words, the
      immanent cause of the universe, substance, and creation, is
      voluptuous desire.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/zf63.jpg

      The spermatozoid substance placed in the female has a fecundating
      action, but the same substance, when reabsorbed through sexual
      abstinence, nourishes the cerebral matter. Rising, according to
      yogic formula, through the subtle channels flanking the backbone,
      it renders the intellectual faculties more acute. The Yogi
      perceives sexual energy as though it were coiled up at the base
      of the spine, which is why it is called kundalini (coiled) and
      likened to a sleeping snake. When, by means of mental
      concentration, it awakens and unwinds its coils, it rises like a
      column of fire toward the zenith, toward the top of the skull -
      the image of the heavenly vault - and pierces it to reach the
      transcendent worlds inhabited by Shiva. Shiva's liberated phallus
      represents this illuminating power rising heavenward beyond the
      material world. Thus is the linga likened to a pillar of light,
      guiding us to true knowledge.

      Illustration : http://www.exoticindia.com/artimages/ht74.jpg


      References and Further Reading:

      Agrawala, Vasudeva S. Siva Mahadeva: Varanasi, 1984.

      Danielou, Alain. The Hindu Temple: Vermont, 2001.

      Danielou, Alain. The Myths and Gods of India: Vermont, 1991.

      Danielou, Alain. Virtue, Success, Pleasure, Liberation; The Four
      Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India: Vermont, 1993.

      Estes, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves: London,

      Gokhale, Namita. The Book of Shiva: New Delhi, 2001.

      Gupta, Roxanne Kamayani, Ph.D. A Yoga of Indian Classical Dance:
      Vermont, 2000.

      Gupta, Shakti M. Shiva: Bombay, 1993.

      Tucci, Giuseppe. Rati-Lila An Interpretation of the Tantric
      Imagery of the Temples of Nepal: Geneva, 1969.

      Maxwell, T.S. The Gods of Asia: New Delhi, 1997.

      Meister, Michael W (Ed). Discourses on Shiva: Bombay, 1984.

      Morningstar, Sally. Moon Wisdom: 2000.

      Zimmer, Heinrich. The Art of Indian Asia; Its Mythology and
      Transformation (two vols.): Delhi, 2001

      Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and
      Civilization: Delhi, 1990.


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