Book Reviews

Evaluating 'As I Know, The Lord of the Mountains' -1

“Tanme Manah Shiva Samkalpamastu”
– A Vedic Chant

PCK Prem of Palampur (Himachal Pradesh) is a well-known, well acclaimed and well treasured contemporary Poet, Critic, Short - Story Writer and a Novelist who writes on miscellaneous topics with equal ease and poise. Besides being an academic and a bureaucrat, Katoch is a man of gentle disposition - calm, cool and enlightened. To avid readers he looks as if a benign Sage - an exalted human being, working for humanity inhabiting the terra firma, each time with a purpose to edify. Having born in a trilingual milieu he seems to believe like many Europeans in the inveterate datum - “ art for art’s sake”. So far he has written more than sixty books both in Hindi and English. Kalkhand is his magnum opus in Hindi, while novels like - A Heart for The Man, Not Their Lives and Handsome Man alongside his poetry collections as - Among The Shadows, Those Distant Horizons, The Bermuda Triangles, Yayati Returns and the latest Collected Poems demonstrate his extensive study of English literature/ language and prosody. His critical acumen is displayed in works such as - Contemporary Indian English Poetry From Himachal Pradesh(1992), English Poetry In India: A Comprehensive Survey Of Trends And Thought Patterns(2011), English Poetry In India: A Secular Viewpoint(2011)and the latest History Of Contemporary Indian English Poetry –Vol. I, II. (2019). His study of India’s age - old wisdom inscribed in Puranas has come out lately in one form - Shiva Purana. (2021).

Puranas are traditional lores, legendary histories comprising a vast genre of Indian literature about wide range of topics. The etymological origin of Puranas is embedded in Sanskrit (considered off and on a dead language) which means –ancient or formerly. Amara Kosha - a Sanskrit lexicon, states that Purana is a work with five essential characteristics - 1. Sarga - Primary creation. 2. Pratisarga - Secondary creation 3. Vamsa - genealogy. 4. Manvantara - period of time. 5. Vamsanucaritam - history of dynasties such as: Solar or Lunar. Notwithstanding these Laksanas - characteristics, it is reasonably clear that Puranic literature is encyclopedic and immensely vast as it includes diverse topics ranging from cosmology, cosmogony, astronomy, grammar, humor, love, theology and philosophy to Genealogy of Devas, Asuras, Sages and human beings such as - kings and princes. The ancient tradition suggests that originally there was but one Purana - the sacred breath of the Great Being. While Krishna DvaipayanaVyasa –a human, is hagiographically accredited as compiler/composer of the Puranas. Hindu scriptures are divided into two broader categories: The Vedas and the Brahma Sutras forms one set and another set is formed by Itihasas and Puranas. Accordingly, Puranas are set in two: Major or Mukhya Mahapuranas. There number is 18 - eighteen. Minor or Upapuranas. There number is equally 18 - eighteen. These Astathus Puranas are more than the storehouse of ancient wisdom and tradition so often expand into imprecise legends found in elementary form in the Vedas. As such, Puranas supplement to the Vedas and as religious texts through sectarian, pluralistic, monotheistic themes grew at length during the period called Hindu Renaissance. In later ages the symbolism and deep layers of meaning attached to Pauranic manuscripts were deciphered in succession by scholars who cited chronological evidence as proofs of consistency and historical authenticity. What matters most is that Puranic literature carried forward a remarkable influence through acculturation and accommodation of a diversity of people with different languages, classes across different kingdoms/ traditions catalyzing syncretic cultural mosaic of Hinduism.

As stated by Puranic texts there is a list of Mahapuranas. This list also mentions the number of verses in each purana. Puranas categorized serially are - Brahma Purana, verses - 10, 000, Padma Purana - 55, 000, Vishnu Purana - 23, 000 and Shiva Purana - 24, 000 verses. Thus, Shiva Purana takes its place in category number - 4. It is supposed that once it consisted - 100, 000 verses set out in - 12 Samhitas(books). In times not exactly known, it was abridged by Sage Vyasa before being taught to Romaharshana. However, my concern is not with the original Sanskrit Text of Shiva - Purana, Published in general by Gita Press: Gorakhpur(U. P) for everyday readers with Hindi/English translation of the text. I have a new additional voluminous volume running up to 606 pages written by PCK. Prem. Katoch: an Academic and a Bureaucrat of Palampur (H. P) in his own inimitable way as is evident by the title — AS I KNOW: THE LORD OF THE MOUNTAINS: SHIVA PURANA. It was first published for worldwide circulation through Author’s Press: New Delhi (India) in the year - 2021 and came on my way as a compliment. The aforesaid book is dedicated to –“ for Sant Dido, grandfather parents Kunti—Mian Luder and men of religion”. A “Glossary” appears at the end to explain what is difficult and archaic also to enhance the aesthetic excellence of the book alongside “About The Author”. It was for the first time, I came across such a scriptural text written originally in perfect, simple and flawless English to fulfill the spiritual quest of Shiva’s ardent devotees and aspirations of his dear - dear readers in and across the world. In true sense of the word this work of spiritual import speaks eloquently of/ about life and times. The objective is not a fallacious show off but a keen observation to teach men the art of life and living as per the values of ethical morality, truth and decency. The language is simple so as to reach to the ken of ordinary mortal folks who can see truth, shun mendacity to live out piety, faith, devotion and dedication to a life followed by good Karmas leading us to eventual deliverance from internal and external repression. Immensely vast in scope Shiva Purana through the righteous and ethically exalted wish of the poet - author gets treated in an abridged though expanded version of long events of significance in a way memorable.

Lord Shiva is dotingly called - The Lord of The Mountains and His legendary exploits with devoted consort – the daughter of the Himalayas exerts an inspiring influence and stir visible waves besides being focal point of the story. The Mountains cover about 25% of the Earth’s surface, more than 50% people of the world directly/ indirectly depend on them for beauty and serenity, for peace, spirituality and creativity combined with the linguistic, cultural and biological diversity. Among all the mountains of the world, The Himalaya is the youngest, tallest, most beautiful and picturesque mountain range. It is the largest natural source of snow outside the Earth’s two poles - North and South so is often called the Third Pole of the earth. These mountains constitute world’s highest water towers serving as a source of clean drinking water for about two billion people - about ¼% of world population. The Himalayan eco - system regulates rains, winds, moisture / temperature extending to the plains of Asia. The vital role greenery and ecology play in sustaining life, in uniting humanity of whole planet is attributable largely to these celestial mountains - the visible presence of Lord Shiva. Most of our ancient scriptures, The Vedas, Puranas, epics and Sanskrit poetry are said to have been composed in serenity - laden environment of the Himalayas. Among the mountains the Himalaya, as the poet/author justifies, is the Lord of The Mountains. The ancient Sanskrit poet Kalidasa in his Kumar Sambhavam has sung paeans in praise of the Himalaya. He calls it a yardstick to measure the Earth. Skanda Purana also glorifies the Himalaya. Eco - Philosopher Henryk Skolimowski refers to the Lord of the mountains as the playground of the Gods. Incontrovertibly, the Himalaya have been the resort and rendezvous of numerous Gods, Goddesses from ancient times and still today it reverberates their echoes and voices plentifully. Each time it seems abuzz with innumerable celestial beings - the players of sweet symphony. The Sages of yore too have bestowed special charm and shine to its ambience by their ageless penances. What not, many life-giving herbs and medicinal saplings grow here in abundance to offer air – a breath of immortality. The Bhagavad Gita beautifully recapitulates its strength and immovability in Ch. X, Vrs. XXV. Uttarakhand is believed to be the cradle of Hinduism where Shiva rests surreptitiously to consecrate devotees. There are five pilgrim centers called - PanchKedar: KedarNath, Kapleshwar, Madhmaheshwar, Tungnath and Rudranath. These five main shrines stand aloof, are majestic and wholly dedicated to Lord Shiva. All are approachable, remain open for some months between May - October. Tracks /routes remain largely rough and tough due to severe weather conditions and present the inaccessibility - the insolence of mountainous expanse.

The book as part of authors’ oeuvre begins with peculiar flair of dots –“…and thank you” and “…the beginning” with cryptic meaning hidden behind and beneath. As is supposed: One who reads the succeeding Purana with austere attention, established in firm faith and indefatigable devotion to the Lord no more wanders in uncertainties and soon is absolved of all sins/misdeeds to fulfill author’s long-standing wish. To cover entire gamut of Shiva Purana “Contents” explicitly explicates a long series of events related to the play - Leela of the Lord under the sub - headings. These sub - headings are further enlarged into headings to narrate the events, their historicity and legendary purport and purpose in a way that fits to evoke Puranic narrative. I am taking following headings to incorporate in brief almost all relevant features and infinite expressions of the Lord from the original text. Whoever reads it piously will be conducted to lead a life of perfection and fulfillment. It is true and sure - the author affirms.

The Beginnings: In the mode of Upanishadic syllogism Sage Suta speaks to Sage Saunaka about the eternal wisdom contained in the Puranas. Shiva Katha, he tells came to Vyasa via Sanatkumara. In this age of Kali Yuga, Tamasic - darker/Asuric - malevolent propensities have a great stronghold while virtues and moral purities are eroding by and large. The only way to attain the Lord for a meaningful life and happiness of the people is to read/ listen with interest tales of Shiva Purana. The earliest tale talks about Brahmin Devraja of Kirata township who is vicious, haggard and woe - begun finally dies at a temple in Prayaga and then is brought to Yama. Coincidently, he is sanctified and consecrated by Shiva’s counselors so is freed from the mortal bonds. It is a tale of Lord Shiva’s compassion that illustrates and teaches. Next …is a village by the sea - side named Vasakala where sinners, scoundrels and cheats averse to the principles of Dharma and opponents of truth and piety used to dwell in plenty. Chanchula a chaste and penitent wife of a reprobate after listening Shiva’s merciful and compassionate tales from the mouth of a learned Brahmin got luck and blessings. Immediately grew to find herself transformed. Severely soaked in Shiva’s nectar like devotion, she left the mortal frame and was freed from birth - death cycle. Even after the salvation Chanchula is carried to the celestial region of Shiva where she enjoys complete bliss in the company of Shiva adorned by Parvati - the daughter of the mountain. Her husband Bidunga deserted her while alive, suffered after death hellish tortures and later in the format - Yoni of a Pisacha - a fiend living on human flesh, was spotted roaming in the mountains of Vindhya. One who reads and listens to the holy legends from Shiva Purana gets deliverance, it’s certain. Accodingly, Parvati arranges a Gandharva - Tumburu, who at Her behest appears at Vindhya mountain, arrests Bidunga by illusory powers, builds a podium to narrate through musical instrument the glory of Lord Shiva that immediately releases the Pisacha - the fiend from mortal coils to attain celestial regions by the grace of merciful Goddess and ever gracious Lord Shiva. Sage Suta further talks about the glory of Lord Shiva and the efficacy of Shiva Purana in Kaliyuga to get rid of wicked, fallacious and unehical life. The importance of worshipping Lingam and donning Rudraksha too is emphasized.

2. Vidyeisvara Samhita: It has in total 2000 - Slokas. A Yagna is held at Prayaga by doubting saints and sages from different geographical regions to focus on rampant evils of Kaliyuga and to suggest remedy for the ills. The ills such as - spitefulness, intolerance, ferociousness and many others bind in worldly Pasas - bondages, it is a fact. The Yagna has a grand and extended canopy where the tenets and principles of Dharma are interpreted and elaborated in the light of new findings of knowledge. Sage Suta is the chief among them who revels in the variety and significance of Samhitas, the quintessence of the Vedas and the subsequent gist of the Puranas to realize the magnitude of the Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent supreme Lord - the creator of the Universe, who can be appeased by absolute devotion - The Bhakti. Sanatkumara tells to Vyasa all about the recollections of the memory and the reflections of the intellect and advices him to concentrate on truth. Truth he tells is not apart from Shiva. He insists on singing hymns for eulogizing the great Lord Shiva and specifies profound deliberations on Him especially by installing Lingam. A devotee should offer, as is desired, what S /he has, to the Phallic image through rituals and necessary rites for gaining right results because the Lingam is embodied form of the formless - the Nirakara.

Legends have it that when a tumultuous battle between the Brahma and the Vishnu ensued Lord Shiva transformed Him into a blazing shaft/pillar of light. Both Brahma and Vishnu tried their utmost to fathom the reality of this fiery column but compromised in an utter failure. Nandiswara - the narrator of this tale surmises birth of Bhairva from the center of Shiva’s two eyebrows to punish Brahma by chopping his fifth head. Vishnu on behalf of Brahma pleads for mercy. Appeased Shiva blesses and pleases Brahma with the privilege of a presiding deity. Brahma accepts and shows gratitude. This place has a history related to the entrée of Shiva’s family with exalted folklores of prayer and worship. The event is celebrated as Shivaratri and the place exemplified as Lingasthanam. Miraculously, the infinite column of fire gets transformed into a mountain called - Arunanchala. Whoever by prayers and by worships sanctifies this place and glorifies its Sthala - Purana gets salvation. Whoever instead fails to meditate on the Lord falls into delusion, ignorance and false pride. The chanting of OM or AUM –the sacred syllable kills pride and arrogance and leads to enjoyment of material joys, destination and liberation. Sage Suta in many other ways continue educating his fellow sages to advertise the glory, grandeur and reverence of the Lord. The earth is vast and infinite. So, living at the banks of the sacred rivers, near Tirthas and at the vicinity of the Temples leads to Moksha and attainment of divine Lokas. The living requires good/Godly conduct and adherence to virtues. Performance of necessary rituals prescribed in scriptures at right or desired occasions grants wealth and prosperity. Rules pertaining to sanitation, cleanliness, hygiene and inner/outer purity finds significant place in Sage Suta’s convention - the holy congregation. A veritable analysis of damnations and salvations, of Papas and Punyas is done to explain in detail - to make human life pure and pious, imperative and evocative. Performance of Yagnas time after time by gaining correct knowledge of the Vedas, keeping in view sanctity of human behavior as per scriptural injunctions bestows on world abundance, plenty and profusion where the spirit of God and goodliness descends to rule the roost. The Sage extols this type of world as actual, real, full of beauty and ecstasy credited by Lord Shiva who exits in ever abiding form of Lingam.

In the vastness of silence symbolized by the Bindu, Shakti of Shiva manifests as sound - the Nada to create/pro - create the universe. The phallic symbol, as explained by Sage Suta, is the basis of creation of the world. When a devotee worships the phallic image with appropriate mantras, hymns, rituals and required rites S/ he is promptly transported to the land of Shiva –the end of worldly thralldoms or mortal coils. Another mode is to mull over or to meditate on five syllabled mantra - Om Namah Shivay ! Like omkara non-stop chanting of this mantra grants release from mundane nuisance and enlightens. Besides, Kaala, Karma, Dharma, Japa and Tapa find relevant/competent expressions in the text. Monk Suta then highlights diversity of attributes bestowed on devotees by the Lord and the beauty and leniency of Shivloka in comparison to ancillary Lokas. A devotee who is bound by the Karmas in the land of Shiva brings all Karmas born of Prakriti under control, subjugates them, therefore, becomes a liberated being - Jeevanmukta. There onward Sage Suta minutely draws all rituals even the insignificant ones for the worship of Lord Shiva. He uncovers earthly opulence and grandeur devout devotees discern after worshipping Parthiva Lingam. Many humans, Sages and celestial beings, preceptors and disciples, the Sage tells have already achieved desired results by the worship of Phallic earthen image. It is auspicious to worship the holy Parthivas on the riverbank, near the full lake of water, on breezy mountain top or in some original temples of Shiva. Its efficacy and effectiveness, particularly in Kaliyuga, has been narrated scrupulously by the Monk. The Vedic mode of worship being convoluted, intricate and long winded, Sage Suta speaks of/ about the simple procedure of worship of Lord Shiva. The Sage meticulously dwells on Lingam worship that confers worldly joys, wealth, prosperity, longevity and enlightenment even before the shattering of the mortal coil.

He continues to tell simply the simple procedure of Phallic worship. For wealth the worship of five hundred Phallic images are recommended, for progeny one thousand, five hundred for good garments, one thousand for acquiring land, two thousand for a temple and ten million for salvation. The type of Lingams, their length and breadth, the sage narrates in detail for the comprehension of one and all, adds further the method of offering of Naivedya and of Bilva - marvelous leaves. Afterwards for the benefit of the devotees he throws light on the - significance of Bhashma - the holy ash, beads of Rudraksha and one thousand names of Shiva. These are like Triveni, he tells, to wash the sins, to ward off the evils and to make the worldly life meaningful. The Bhashma, its kind and production, application on the forehead (Tripunda - three lines of Bhasma )and other parts of the body denotes the relation inherent between men and their respective Gods. Different limbs of human body are different abodes of different Gods and deities. This long and winding discourse on Tripunda salvages all those who listen to it. Similar is Rudraksha - myrobalan, its efficacy and importance, in ancient times, Lord Shiva narrates to Goddess Parvati the pleasing tale how Rudraksha originated from the tear - drops of his eyes. The mantras associated with the use of rosary and beads, Shiva tells, makes devotee’s salvation imminent for Rudraksha is a Phallic image all beads irrespective of size and quality are holy deserving worship and praise. Laxmi resides near Rudraksha and blessed are those who hear the tale that protects by warding off terrorizing powers of evil. Thus ends the glory of Vidyeisvara Samhita.


3. Rudra Samhita - Segment - I: Srishti: It has 10, 000 and 500 Slokas in all. The Shiva tattva is infinite and hard to penetrate. As such the assembly of Sages, Seers and Monks is curious enough to know about Lord Shiva. Sage Vyasa as a rule invokes the eternal Lord and then pays earnest homage/offerings before narrating the story of the Purana. Sage Suta continues:

Once Lord Vishnu inspires and animates Sage Narada by the divine virtues of Lord Shiva. Narada goes to his father Brahma to ask about Shiva’s divine potency - the Leela. Brahma is immensely pleased and delighted and immediately begins to eulogize virtues of Shiva. Afterwards Narada goes to a cave in the Himalaya at the banks of holy Ganges closer to an enchanting Ashrama. Being a Sage of divine insight and eyes Narada immerses in austere Tapa to continue the penance. The severity of Tapa distresses Indra and other Gods of heaven. They deliberate for some time and then resolve to create obstacles in Narada’s severe penance. Although Kamdeva - the king of passions, seasons and love, is deliberately appointed for the Ashrama, yet his endeavors utterly fail because the benevolence of Lord Shiva protects the entire area which therefore is immune to the arrows of love. It was the same Ashrama where once Kamdeva was turned to ashes by Shiva. Sequentially, Narada comes to Indraloka to acquaint Indra with delusory potency – the Mayajaal of Lord Shiva. Indra is amazed and praises Narada profusely. Under the impress of Mayajaal - the sway of delusory powers Narada straightway goes to Lord Shiva to proclaim his victory over love and passion. Lord Shiva asks him not to show off his perfections - Siddhis. Narada later goes to Brahma and repeats the same buzz - word “O father, I have vanquished Lord of Love by the power of Tapa and penance !”. Brahma concentrated on the holy feet of Shiva and knew that Narada was deluded so asked him to keep mum. Narada filled with pride and inflated ego reaches Vaikuntha - the land of Vishnu. Welcomed by Vishnu Narada repeats the same refrain. Vishnu after lavishing a lot of eulogizies on Narada encourages him for further penance to unearth the truth. Narada on his behalf bow in respect at the lotus feet of Vishnu and goes ahead in his mission to stumble upon the Mayajaal. Vishnu creates a magical world ruled by Sheelnidhi, his Goddess like daughter Srimati mesmerises, Narada worried and distraught burning with anger, loses intellect and wisdom, therefore, hurls a curse on Vishnu. Later the curse proves true, and Vishnu born as Rama suffers separation from his pretty consort Sita. Narada, then hearing from Vishnu the greatness of Shiva is seen to surf through Shivatattva.

Meanwhile the divine couple Shiva/Shakti wandering in the forest called Anandavana thought of creating a new Purusa, hand him over the organizational affairs of the world and desired to land at Kashi - the sacred kingdom ruled by liberation: Moksha. Shiva from the left part of his body created Vishnu - Narayana from whose navel a lotus rose in which Parampitamaha Brahma sat to watch and create. The intricate process of creation began in which Brahma was assisted by Shiva time after time in fulfilling required imperfections and angst. After creating sky, air, fire, water, earth, mountains, oceans and vegetations, Brahma created time and its various segments and multiple essential elements to complete the process. However, dissatisfaction/discontent reigned in the creative ingenuity of Brahma - the creator. He invoked Shiva with Shiva’s blessings Brahma created ingeniously sages like - Marichi, Bhrigu, Angira…Narada, Kardama and many others. Now with his creation Brahma was awfully happy. He then created Gods and Asuras. At Shiva’s behest he got a body, divided it into two: One half was of woman and another of man. Out of this mystery came out from the womb of the woman one male figure called Swayambhuva Manu and the female Sata Rupa. Although they were divine figures, yet they loved each other as human beings. The continuity of their love procreated progeny. The creation - animate as well as inanimate with in no time filled the whole of the three Lokas - worlds. Brahma finally realized that the creation was possible due to the blessings of Lord Shiva. In the meantime Sage Narada intervenes and asks Brahma many questions regarding Shiva’s compassionate nature. Brahma in order to dispel Narada’s doubts tells him the tale of Yagyadutta, Kubera and the splendours of Alkapuri. And concludes by saying that even little devotion to Lord Shiva and subsequent worship gives more than adequate rewards. A slight reference to the Agamas and Nigamas reveals how close the Purana is to the Vedas.

4. Rudra Samhita Segment - II: Sati : Here Narada comes to discover three facets of primordial God. Vishnu comes out from the left part, Brahma from the right and Rudra emerges from the center. Brahma has to accomplish the task of creation. He stands for G - the generator. Vishnu stands for O - the operator and is assigned the task of preservation. Rudra is for D - the destroyer. Thus, Shiva is God –three in one. Brahma satisfies through numerous tales the restless curiosity and immensely inquisitive/inquiring mind of Narada. The thought of marriage in the mind of Shiva and the resultant incarnation of Sati baffles and mystify Narada who sits cross legged before Brahma to listen in rapt attention the tale of emergence of a divine daughter Sandhya. The intensity of feeling of love and passion creates Manmatha, Kandarpa or Kamadeva. Then an affectionate girl from the drops of perspiration of Prajapati Daksha - the caretaker and guardian of the people bounces powerfully to be given in marriage to Manmatha. Their marriage symbolize perfection in marital life - divine conjugality. Yes, Sandhya - the divine daughter, whoever listen to her tale becomes holy and is blessed by Lord Shiva. After ages of Tapa she was born in the house of Medhathithi who appeared when Daksha created Chandrabhaga river by the curse on moon - Chandrama, to become famous as Arundhati who married Sage Vasistha. Narada’s curiosity was filled when he knew about Sandhya’s Tapa and the dharmic life she led. Sandhyas ages long penances, her eulogies sung in praise of Shiva’s infinite virtues, Shiva’s boons irrevocably guide Sandhya’s destiny.

In a later Kalpa where the law of truth and righteousness prevailed to extol Dharma, one Prajapati Daksha determinedly followed the principles of Tapa, observed complete restraint in a desire to get Goddess Jagadambika as daughter. His austerity and intensity of Tapa pleased Jagadambika and She plausibly blessed Daksha with Her divine descent. In the intervening period creation becomes static to give it a dynamic strength, Daksha seeks Brahma’s help. At Brahma’s behest Daksha eagerly weds Akshini - the daughter of Prajapati Veeran. To continue the process of creation Akshini gives birth to a thousand sons. They were called Harayasvasas who followed the path of renunciation that led them to extinction by annihilation. Daksha was pained/distressed but anyhow he compromised the situation for he had learnt from his own father Brahma the mysterious ways of destiny and the tentacles of fate. So again, through the womb of Akshini he produced one thousand sons called Sabalasvas who met the same destiny as was opted for Harayasvasas. Daksha when knew the fatal extinction of his sons from Narada, felt aggrieved and immense mental agony inflicted torture. Under the impress of distrust and insensitivity he cursed that like the Adhogati – condemned Yoni of his sons, Narada will continue to wander and roam about three worlds and never get a fixed/permanent place to live. Brahma then visited Daksha Ashrama to appease both by his loving affection and blessings. Daksha whose duty was to create Prajas as assigned by Brahma in right course of time produced through his woman sixty beautiful daughters. All were brought up in the Ashrama strictly as per principles of Dharma and later on when they got puberty were wedded according to the dictums of scriptures. Continuity of creation filled all the three worlds with children, generations increased within firm dynastic traditions and divine purpose was fulfilled. Subsequently. Goddess Jagadambika was installed, invoked and worshipped with all proper rites and rituals. Goddess, as expected was immensely pleased so in order to accomplish the pledge She designed to take birth from the womb of Daksha’s wife. Soon Daksha’s wife developed signs of pregnancy appeared brilliant in divine glow as a Goddess was budding inside. The news reached far and wide engulfing the three worlds. All the Gods reached there saluted and praised Goddess by various hymns. peace and harmony spread in all directions. The sacred fires of Yagna abruptly caught fire to signal a happy period ahead. King Daksha after discussing the planets and stars noticed the auspicious moment while Gods from heaven began playing variable musical devices to herald the appearance of the Goddess in times rectified. King Daksha bowed in reverence with folded hands and eulogized the holiest fruit of his Tapasya - the meditation. All began admiring the celestial beauty including the women and maidservants of the palace. All necessary rites and rituals, religious ceremonies were performed by King Daksha drawing instructions from the well - read men of the court strictly in accordance with Sacred Scriptures. Immense wealth and expensive offerings were lavished on the Brahmins. The Goddess was named Uma with various other acronyms.

Here was Dharma - righteousness established by the Supreme Lord for the peace, happiness and protection of all created beings. Lord Brahma and Sage Narada visited the Goddess to utter good words of blessings and told secretly that She will be taken by Lord Shiva as his spouse because He was destined to be Her husband. As She grew gradually Her mind and heart were filled with the fond memories of Lord Shiva. Brahma and Narada now and then visualized Her in the image of Siddhi - attainment of excellence and were happy with her intense Tapa - penance. They went to Lord Shiva with Her marriage proposal. Shiva consented and Himself appeared before Her to knock, nod and seek. The Goddess agreed to be blessed. Brahma went to King Daksha as He saw the divine couple in peaceful concord. At King Daksha’s behest their marriage was solemnized with much religious and sacramental fervor. The Mandapa itself became a living image of Lord Shiva and His eternal consort the Goddess. All the hosted guests: the Gods of heaven, Celestial beings, Sages and Monks with created beings reverently said good bye and left for their respective abodes. The divine couple arrived at Mount Kailash to enjoy the enchanting beauty and magnetic charm of the mountains and the valleys. For a long - long time they enjoyed all the pleasures of life and left the entire creation for the care and protection of Vishnu.

They wandered in leisure and contentment in the charming forests for a long and long span of time soon after their marriage. Thereafter rode the bull and travelled through the earth to see the lot, the plight of created beings. There they encountered the sad and suffering state of mortal human beings in the form Rama and Lakshmana crying, wailing and searching vainly for Sita - the Maya, abducted by the Rakshasa. This is the story of the Ramayana Lord Shiva narrates to His beloved while roaming round the earth and also explicitly highlights the concept of God’s incarnation for the wellbeing of the people. Long discourses on Dharma, virtues concerning it and the need of Bhakti, Navadha Bhakti in particular(Nine Forms Of Bhakti) for ultimate salvation wholly fulfills the accompanying Goddess.

All Her doubts are cleared, and She realizes the Paramtattva - the truth of Shiva being Param - Purusha - the ultimate Lord of the Universe. However, Shiva’s vow of moderate silence taken at wedding podium pops up to abandon the Goddess to seek separation. Shiva goes to Kailasa with His beloved consort, there enters into endless dimensions of meditation. The Goddess has no option but to choose Her own destiny. She too enters into the mazes of meditations to undergo trials and tribulations of hardships. After She knew Shiva has completely terminated Tapa - the penance, She came to kowtow before the Lord and sat distraught at His feet. Shiva in return taught Her like a Siddha - perfection incarnate Guru –Preceptor, the warmth of love and passion virtuously cropping in the heart of the Goddess. By exercising the powers of Maya Shiva further dispelled Her delusions, sorrows and melancholy and She appeared happy, contented and pleased. The celestial couple reveals fissures in their relationship to teach to three worlds lessons of obedience, compliance, devotion and dedication and the real motif of Gods and Goddesses behind the movement and the mystery, faith and devotion and surrender to purify the self to make life on earth a meaning ful entity. The many forms and images of the Lord give message of eternal love through which man begins to love man, humanity taken as a whole and the entire set of cosmic principles. As a matter of fact, if a man looks within, great revelations enlighten, and he learns the meaning of life and existence.

In ancient times a huge Yagna as per the dictates of holy scriptures was organized at Prayagraja. Brahma –the inner self - the Atma Tattva Himself arrived there with terrific luster and radiance of the Nigamas and Agamas. It looked as though a sacrosanct dialogue on scriptures and knowledge was being held. Afterwards, the benefactor of three worlds, mighty creator - Lord of Lords Shiva with His consort Sati and counselors filled all those who were present there with His heavenly glimpses. The good and Godly souls felt satisfied and thought it to be a fortunate phenomenon. But unfortunately, Prajapati Daksha arrives with Sage Bhrgu to denounce devotees of Lord Shiva, deliberately fosters apathy and ill - will against Shiva who is the Yagna Himself. The enmity and the hate speech continue……! Another Kalpa/Yuga dawns. Daksha organizes a grand Yagna at Kankhala (Haridwar) of all - inclusive nature. Lord Vishnu was the foremost having status of a special invitee. Later, Lord Brahma - an exalted father - figure from Satyaloka was humbly requested to occupy the uppermost seat. Daksha did not miss the deadline in disrespecting Shiva by not inviting Him due to old enmity. Rest - all royal sages, holy seers, dignified monks, Gods and Goddesses, great and honored Panch - Lokpalas - guardians of regions, Das - Dikpalas - guardians to protect directions, were requested to attend the Yagna with women, sons and relatives and retinues. To kick off the occasion Lord Viswakarma - the great artisan constructed a canopy beautiful, gleaming, large and full of strong castles for the entertainment and sojourn of most revered divine guests. When all arrangements were made, all guests arrived from respective places Prajapati Daksha conferred on Sage Bhrgu the duty of a Ritvija - the chief priest. Meanwhile the Lord of Fire assumed thousands of images to accept the sacrificial fuel of the Yagna. The Yagna exhibited unrivalled magnificence and grandeur when attended by Eighty - eight thousand Acharyas - Scholars, Pundits - Men of Letters, Udgatas - Proponents of Mantras, Hotas - A Priest and Adhisthatas - The Presiding Priests. Hymns of glory were sung by Sage Narada and many others. All celestial beings, divine souls, seers and sages present at the podium were amazed by seeing the grandeur and magnitude of the Yagna

At the nick of time when preparations for the Yagna were at full swing, Sage Dadhichi who was looking for appropriate ceremonial rites found Lord Shiva absent. The absence was conspicuous. So Sage Dadhichi was disturbed deeply. To know the reasons of Shiva’s conspicuous absence Dadhichi requested the gathering and pleaded for Shiva’s place in the Yagna. Shiva is Yagna Himself – His mere touch initiates all auspicious karmas and rituals. Sans Shiva no Yagna can be performed. Sage Dadhichi thus implored again and again for bringing Shiva to Yagna - podium then and there. At Dadhichi’s behest Daksha tried by all means to justify his choice about Shiva who was not fit and respectable to the pious occasion. Daksha’s abusive and hurtful language deeply disturbed Dadhichi. Daksha continued to remain adamant. So Dadhichi who was well aware of Shiva’s delusory powers, His Maya potent enough to overshadow and overcome one and all –the Yagna appeared to him nothing but a destined end - a tragedy. He therefore left the platform and went back to his Ashrama. Shiva’s devotees who were Dadhichi’s followers also left for their respective Ashramas. Signs of imminent hubris appeared at the farthest end.

Interestingly, Sati at that time was wandering in leisure in the company of Her close friends in most beautiful and enthralling valleys of the mountain - Gandhamadana. She happened to see - Gods and Goddesses, Seers and Monks, many celestial beings including Rohini and Chandrama on an expedition to participate in the legendary Yagna of Prajapati Daksha. This unique panorama amazed, impressed and attracted Sati beyond the confines. She immediately ran to Lord Shiva. Initially, Shiva refused to comply and disapproved Sati’s supplications. However, later on He let Her go to attend the Yagna and made all auspicious arrangements for her journey and safety. It had a purpose, nobody knew and none was aware of the heavenly rationale. Daksha himself and his palace exhibited a dazzling ambiance and a divine scenario. Sati was awestruck. After alighting from Her vehicle, She alone reached to the place where Yagna was being performed. She was terribly stunned by not seeing anywhere Shiva’s share of the Yagna –sacrificial offerings. On inquiry She only got reproaches, denigrations and unkind words on behalf of Her father Daksha. The exhibited ignominy and disgrace of Shiva - the Lord of the three worlds, made Sati enormously incensed and upset. She tried to restrain Her anger, but it was difficult. The words of ridicule and disdain against Lord Shiva had merit enough to cut the tongue/throat of the speaker, Sati thought, at another moment, She again tried to retaliate but finally resolved to relinquish Her mortal frame. Following the Yogic behavior, She filled Her body organs with respective elements and eventually burnt. As fire engulfed Sati 20, 000 counselors of Shiva finished their lives. The rest got ready with lethal divine weapons to finish Daksha. To protect Daksha Sage Bhrgu created thousands of Godlike figures Ribhus from the sacrificial fire who fought bravely with Shiva’s Pramathaganas to spread terror, destruction and ubiquitous confusion and noise. Yagna’s destiny seemed at stake. Meanwhile when the assembly was trying to pacify the situation - the imminent bedlam, they heard a clear and audible divine voice from the sky challenging Daksha’s fate, his responsibilities for bad - acts and evil intentions. It was a strong and vigorous prophetic voice creating immediate fear, doubt and uncertainties, challenging the very authority of Daksha in a way acrimonious. Silence gripped the situation. Lord Shiva was worried - it was natural. He called Sage Narada who came then and there to narrate the terrible truth before the Lord. Shiva got extremely angry, and His disquieting rage uprooted a jetted hair when dashed against the mountain it split into two: from one emerged Virbhadra and from another came Maha Kali. Both were exceedingly fearful and dreadful. But their powers were subjected to Shiva’s blessings and desire. Their blissful dazzling brilliance even from afar alarmed and disfigured the beauty of Yagna’s geometry, when drew nearer the Havan - Kundas began to shake mightily. Omens and pre - monitions were rife to let the truth be known to one and all - the truth of death and devastation. Aberrant Daksha was trying hard to negotiate Vishnu for the recompense, but all proved ineffective - to no avail. The moment Shiva’s turbulent forces arrived nothing was left sensible. In some way, confident and gallant Gods–the guardians of heavens, resisted and confronted terrible and mighty forces of Shiva. But they were badly crushed, defeated and subdued. Ultimately, they decided to go to Guru Bhrispati. The holy Guru clearly and curtly spoke about the unfathomable, the impenetrable aspect of Shiva’s enormity. There seemed no alternative to Him except to confront the invincible Shiva Tattva. Alas ! all the Gods including Indra lost their equilibrium so fled to different unknown directions in intense agony and blubber. Their pitiful and heart - rending cries moved both - the Brahma and the Vishnu. So, the desire to fight guided them to the battlefield. Vishnu initially fought with Shivagana but knowing him to be Shiva Himself Vishnu relinquished. As Brahma left the battle scene for the abode of truth - the Satyaloka, Daksha got panicky and lost rationality and discretion. While the Yagna seeing anarchy around, hid itself in the guise of a stag and ran away to maintain endangered sanctity. But Virbhadra after chasing the sky - path caught hold of it and beheaded followed by ruinous act of devastation and bloodbath. Bhrgu, Pusha and Bhaga had a worse death penalty. None could find a way out. Daksha hid him in the deep of a Yagna - Kunda. Virbhadra after great effots located him, brought to the ground, hit him and tried to severe his head with a sword but Daksha’s yogic powers defied. So Virbhadra twisted Daksha’s head and tore it apart from the body. It was most appaling and abysmal spectacle. Later on, at the intrusion of Lord Vishnu and Brahma and prayers of Gods appeased and pacified Shiva. So, He restored and gave new life to Gods and many others. Daksha was given a new life in a new visage. An episode concerning Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra its application and efficacy interacting with Sage Dadhichi, King Dhruva and Sukracharya enlightens. Devotion - Bhakti forms the real motif of this segment.


5. Rudra Samhita: Segment III - Parvati : - Once Himalaya called Shailraja in the image/name of God wished to expand his lineage. One of Daksha’s daughter Svadha had Maina as eldest Manas Putree - the Ayonija. She was an storehouse of knowledge fortune and Dharma. Oneday at Swaitdwipa She was blessed by Sage Sanaka to live the life of a saintly woman. Shailraja wanted to marry Maina and their marriage was solemnised. At the grand celebration of marriage rituals, all the Gods of heaven were present to bless Shailraja with the boon of a daughter exactly in the line of Sage Sanaka’s wish. Soon afterwards the divine couple devotedly meditated for years on end to realise the solemn objective. Time ran its course and a Goddess like daughter came from Maina’s womb. She was Parvati - the would-be wife of Lord Shiva. After ages went by Shiva felt sad and anguished because of Sati’s absence. So, He went to Gangotri and decided to undergo Tapa. He experienced moments of ecstasy when His messengers told Him that Parvati - Sati in previous life, was growing up in the Himalayan kingdom. There both King Himalaya and his budding daughter Parvati visited Lord Shiva in His meditations almost every day to serve with devotion, dedication and meticulous care. Ages Passed. Emulating Lord Shiva, Parvati also underwent rigorous Tapa. All the Gods as ordained were waiting for the auspicious union of Shiva and Shailja - daughter of the Himalaya. Cardinal principles of Dharma, Diurnal and Parmarthic Karmas bring about peace and harmony. When sins and wickedness thrive, Adharma prevails. Even Gods cannot escape from this dilemma of Rta - the cosmic law.

Tarakasura wielded unchallenged sovereignty over the three worlds, drove away Gods from heaven and fulfilled his long-cherished mission. Brhama’s assassination bid and Visnu’s disc when failed to subdue Tarakasura’s prowess and wrath they found in Lord Shiva the ultimate antidote. Shiva Himself will not be able to finish Tarakasura only a son born of Shiva’s semen can/will kill the dreadful daitya: it is certain prophesied Lord Brahma. By now the daughter of the Himalaya and Menka had grown young. In their kingdom Shiva was engrossed in intense Tapa and Parvati with full devotion and dedication was serving and worshipping Him with Her two faithful friends. Brahma advised that at such a juncture for the Gods most dignified and noblest strategy was to unite both - Shiva and Parvati in a marital bond. Brahma Himself will act as an aide.

Accordingly, Lord Brahma decided to meet Taraka - the mighty demon. He did it soon by advising Taraka not to encroach upon territory of the Gods which is essence of divine radiance. Taraka followed His advice without much ado, betrayed heavens and got settled at Sonitpura. The Gods gained the heavens, but they still felt wretched and miserable. However, they felt the need of the hour was to root out the evil. They remembered Lord Shiva and decided to plan a strategy. After generalizing the current scenario, Indra - the king of heavens deemed it right to call Lord of love - the Kamdeva, who appeared then and there. He was assigned his role warily. So, with Rati and Spring arrived where Shiva was in austere Tapa. He did his utmost by releasing paranormal arrows of love and passion. Every moment the vehemence of infallible darts was calmed down. Even the fragrant lethal blows of syrupy spring could not move Shiva. Shiva’s undisturbed calm and poised serenity appalled the Lord of love. Fear overtook him so he began to pray to Gods under the auspices of Indra. Meanwhile a terrible fiery flame came out from the Third Eye - midpoint of forehead of Lord Shiva. It was alarming. Alas! prior to some thought or attention Kamdeva got reduced to ashes. Concurrently, it was Shiva’s dart piercing through severity of Parvati’s penance and mission to be Lord’s consort. Rati’s agony was too deep to be pacified. All the Gods appeared before Shiva and prayed for mercy and revivification of the Lord of love. Shiva is the designer and creator of events their consequences and sequences who shapes the destiny of created being and resolves to work out. Hence, Shiva narrates: the rebirth of Kamdeva in his new avatar - incarnation in another age Dwapara. Not long after the dawn of Dwapara Kamdeva will get birth from Rukmini’s womb fathered by Lord Sri Krishna. Everybody will have to wait till then - concludes Shiva. Bliss prevails…. all the Gods return to their respective abodes and Rati, as guided, waited for the arrival of her husband in his new avatar.

Continued to Next Page


More by :  Dr. Suresh Chandra Pande

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