As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 29
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Sage Vasistha teaches Sandhya the art of undergoing tapa – tells to concentrate on lord Shiva, the cause of dharma, artha, kama and moksa and also the creator of the three worlds.
Sage Vasistha obeyed Brahma, arrived at a sarovara (a water lake) on mountain Chandrabhaga, and noticed Sandhya engaged in tapa. Vasistha observed natural surroundings, found river Chandrabhaga originating from the western part, and then, flowed down to merge with the great sea.
He saw Sandhya was sitting on the bank of the water lake. After a careful thought, he said, “Why did you come to a deserted mountain? Whose daughter you are and what far did you come? If it is a not a secret then, tell.”
Sandhya found in him unique divine illumination. He appeared brilliantly shinning. It was apparent to her that the young sage emitted luminosity of a celibate.
She bowed to him and said, “O holy brahmin, I am daughter of Brahma. I am Sandhya and I came here to undergo tapa (meditation under strict discipline). If you find it appropriate then, please tell the right path to undergo tapa. I only wish to undertake tapa and it is no secret. I did not know how to undergo tapa but I came. However, I know the feelings behind tapa. I am getting weak and the heart trembles.”
Vasistha read the mind of Sandhya, who appeared genuine and determined. He did not ask any more questions but remembered Sankara, a beloved of devotees and said, “He, who is the greatest and the purest radiance and the most revered god of all, you install him the great Sankara in the heart. He is the original cause of birth of dharma, artha, kama and moksa. Sankara is the creator of the three worlds. He is Supreme Purusa. You worship him.”
Vasistha elucidated everything to Sandhya. He spoke of the grandeur and magnificence of Supreme Lord. He told of a sacred mantra – aum namah sankarai aum. He advised her to do japa (repeated incantation of mantra). Later on, Vasistha explained various rules relating to tapa while one meditates on Sankara. He exhorted to take bath silently and in absolute observance of silence, she should worship Sankara. He told correct time for taking food of fruit and roots. He told when to take food and when to go without food and water.
“If you observe the above principles of austerity, Sankara would bless you with the most coveted desire you nurse.” He told.
Vasistha felt satisfied after he imparted knowledge of undergoing tapa. He did it with the blessings of Sankara.
Vasistha inspired and initiated Sandhya to undergo rigorous tapa, a great job indeed. After the initiation to right knowledge, he left for ashrama. Sandhya was very happy and afterward, changed into the attire of a recluse and underwent tapa. She knew the mantra, the method, the rules and the proper and auspicious moments falling in a day and therefore, confronted no obstacles or hindrances on the path to tapasya (intense meditation). She adhered to the principles of tapa and therefore, was engaged in terrific rumination and penance, and was determined to please Sankara.
Focus on tapa and self-punishment was strenuous and it was intensely painstaking. She was unrelenting and thus, in deep meditation, she spent four yugas. Intensity of penance delighted Sankara and therefore, he appeared before Sandhya. She felt imbued with feelings of deep ecstasy and pleasure and realised that the lord was an embodiment of divine delight, whose face emitted supreme charm and happiness, and appeared an image of peace and tranquility.
Out of pleasure and nervousness, many disturbing questions assailed and therefore, she asked in inaudible whispers, “What should I say to the lord? How can I praise him?”
In a state of equanimity now, but uncertain, she was unable to ask anything and so, closed eyes. Finding her in tapa so enchanted and thrilled the lord that she was unable to utter a word and therefore, he entered her heart and bestowed on Sandhya the boon of knowledge with divine voice and eye. Blessed with divine knowledge, voice and judgment, she sang hymns of glory.
After the divine thrills of celestial pleasure, she became conscious.
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