Q: Who is Shiva?
Sri Sri: I would ask the question what is not Shiva. Just now you heard the invocation. Is Shiva a form, is he someone sitting somewhere? Shiva is the one from where everything has come and in which everything is sustained, and into which everything dissolves. There is no way you can step out of Shiva. Shiva is Vishwa Rupa, the form of Shiva is the whole Universe, yet he is formless. Through Omkara you can know him. Go deep into the primordial sound of the Universe. How can you understand? Through the knowledge you hear in deep meditation – the shrutis. Only in the depth of wisdom, you can understand what Shiva is.
Tamo yoga gamaya- through penance and yoga you can experience. There is a beautiful story, once Brahma and Vishnu wanted to understand Shiva completely. Vishnu went down for thousands of years to find Shiva’s feet and Brahma went up to find Shiva’s head. Means there is no beginning and no end to Shiva.
Linga is simply a symbol. Shiva tattva is the most beautiful tattva and it is most difficult to talk about also. It can only be felt, beyond understanding. Still we make a little effort to understand it. When words go that close and returns, that is Shiva. Even mind cannot understand it. That is a big challenge to even talk about this most beautiful tattva.
Q: How can we experience Shiva every moment?
Sri Sri: The experiencer himself is Shiva. You simply have to be present in the moment and Shiva tattva is already there. We have waking, dreaming, and sleeping states of consciousness. The fourth state of consciousness is Shiva. When you are meditating, you are neither waking nor sleeping. That glimpse of the fourth state is Shiva tattva. It is so auspicious, there is no two, peace, that is what is your Self, that is worth knowing: that is what the Vedanta says. Who you think you are is not just a name, is not just a form, that scintillating consciousness in you is Shiva.
Q: Mrityunjaya mantra is supposed to give victory over death.
Sri Sri: Mrityunjaya mantra is one of the most reverent mantra in the Vedic tradition. Markandaya Rishi chanted this mantra. Mrtiyu means death. Jaya means victory over death. Victory for the soul or the body? Every moment the body is changing. Our body is a township. Like in a town new children are being born. Mrityunjaya means victory over the mind, the mind realizes that there is something in me that is not changing. Then there is no fear. Fear is one of the signs of death. You win over the fear. You win over the small mindedness of identification with the perishable and move to the imperishable. We are combination of both: our spirit is imperishable and the body is perishable.
There is a prayer : Let Shiva make me strong. Let him make me strong. Let him give me relief. Desire to be free from bondage takes you out from bondage.
Q: Why is Shiva depicted as Nataraja?
Sri Sri: The cosmos is not a journey to somewhere. Usually people ask what is the purpose of life. Creation is simple a display and play of consciousness. Like the dancer and dance cannot be separated, similarly the Creation and the Creator are not two separate things. This truth was depicted in the form of Nataraja. There is wind in one hand, deer depicts air, fire element, space element is depicted with a little conical drum (damru). The dance of consciousness is the whole Universe. This universe is celebrating everyday. This truth is brought out. One who does not know this, suffers. One who knows that this whole creation is a dance, is an expression of joy, that truth is Shiva tattva.
Q: Lord Shiva wears Vibhuti on his body. There is a song which expounds the importance of Vibhuti. Could you please explain the song?
Sri Sri: Shiva’s temple is the consciousness. Shiva is not in the stones, in temples, he is in the consciousness of the human beings. Our body all becomes ashes, ash is the last, the ultimate. Vibhuti does not mean the ashes one puts on the head. The devotee says you are the mantra and you are above all Gods, you are all wealth, you are everything. Vibhuti also means blessings that get bestowed, the great things, the ultimate things. The devotee always thinks bigger, he wears the ultimate. Shiva means in the consciousness of the Universe. That which encompasses the whole Universe, that something in which every life is. Reminding everyone of the unfathomable, incomprehensible, the mystical Shiva tattva.
Atma tvam – The stage comes when the realization comes – my intellect is Parvati, the Prana is all paraphernalia Gods or accompaniments. There are 5 pranas and 5 up-pranas. The Puranas give something for people at every level. You cannot give Quantum Physics knowledge to a child. Different levels of understanding exist in the society and the Puranas cater to every level.
A popular TV serial has come on Shiva. In TV, they dramatize a little more. It does not have a scriptural basis. Parvati keeps crying and Shiva has to please her. I told them and sent them a letter that you have not shown the mental state of Parvati properly. From Kashmir’s Shaivism to the South, there is very beautiful depiction of the Shiva Tattva.