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Spend your days with Shiva

Shiva is all Graciousness, ever Auspicious

Shiva means, Graciousness, Auspiciousness, Mangalam. He is all Graciousness, ever Auspicious, Sarva Mangalam. That is the reason why the epithet, Shri, which indicates these qualities, is not added to the name Shiva, Shankara, Eeshwara etc. It is added to the number of  Avathaars (divine incarnations), for they have taken on perishable bodies for a specific purpose.  They have to be distinguished from other humans, by the epithet, but Shiva is eternally gracious, auspicious, mangala and so the. epithet is superfluous. Shiva is adored as the Teacher of Teachers, Dakshinamuurthi. The Form of Shiva is itself a great lesson in tolerance and forbearance.

How Lord Shiva protected Maarkandeya

When the sixteen years were over, the Lord of Death arrived and cast his noose to take the life of Maarkandeya. The noose did not cover Maarkandeya alone. The Shivalinga was also caught in the noose because Maarkandeya was embracing the linga. When the Lord of Death started drawing the noose, Shiva emerged from the linga. Shiva asked the Lord of Death: "How dare you cast your noose on the one who had become one with Me and also cast Me in the noose?"

Shiva chastised the Lord of Death saying that he would be entitled to take the life of Maarkandeya if he had been alone, but not when he had become one with Him. "No one is entitled to touch a person who has united himself with Me," said Shiva. Shiva chastised Yama and protected Maarkandeya with immortality. With the grace of the Divine, Maarkandeya got the blessings of all--his parents and preceptor. Wherever there is devotion, there God's presence can be experienced.

Saadhaka should see the power inherent in the idol

There was once a saadhaka (spiritual seeker) who approached a guru for guidance. The guru gave him an idol of Vishnu and also necessary instructions for daily worship. But the saadhaka found that, even after some months of meticulous puuja, he did not get any spiritual reward or elation. So, he reported his dissatisfaction and the guru gave him another idol, this time of Shiva and asked him to have another try. The disciple came after another six months demanding another idol, because even Shiva had failed him.

This time, he got a Durga idol, which he duly installed in his domestic shrine. The two previous idols were standing, dust-ridden and neglected, on the window sill. One day, while Durga-puuja (ritual worship of Goddess Durga) was going on, the disciple found that the perfumed smoke from the incense-stick was being wafted by the breeze towards the idol of Shiva on the window sill. He got wild that the ungrateful stone-hearted God who was deaf to his powerful entreaties should get the perfume intended for his latest idol! So, he took a piece of cloth and tied it round the face of Shiva, closing up the nostrils that were inhaling the perfume.

Just at that moment, to his immense surprise Shiva appeared in His splendour and Glory before the saadhaka ! The man was dumb-founded. He did not know how the ill-treatment had induced Shiva to give him darshan. But, what had really happened? The saadhaka for the first time believed that the Shiva idol was alive, conscious, chaitanya-full (full of life) and it was that belief which forced him to tie the bandage to the nose. The moment he realised that the idol was full of Chith (consciousness), he got the Realisation he was struggling for.

Therefore, the saadhaka should see, not the stone which is the material stuff of the idol, but the Power that is inherent in it, that is symbolised by it, the same Power that is inherent in his own heart and that pervades and transcends all creation.

God is all Love at all times

Even if you are not able to conceive the idea of a Lord or a God, you must be able to know what Love is by experience, is it not? You have experienced the love of your parents, of a friend, of a partner or of a brother or sister, or towards your own children. That love is itself a spark of God, who is all Love, who is all the Love in all the worlds at all times. Call upon your mother and the love she bears towards you and even if your physical mother cannot come to your rescue, some Mother or the Supreme Mother herself will certainly hurry towards you.

There is a fine story to illustrate this: One dark night when Shiva and Paarvathi were journeying through the sky, they saw a man perched on the branch of a tree, about to fall on the ground through, sheer exhaustion of limbs. Paarvathi pleaded on his behalf and wanted that Shiva should save him; and Shiva preferred that She should save him, instead! Meanwhile, the fall became imminent and so they decided that if while falling the man shouted "Amma (mother) ," Paarvathi should hasten to arrest his fall and if he shouted, "Appa (father)," Shiva should help and see that no bones are broken. The man fell, but he shouted neither Amma nor Appa, but Ayyo (sigh of misery)! And so he had to be left severely alone!

Shiruthondar, a devotee of Shiva

When a house is to be certified as habitable, the engineer tests the foundations. The Lord too tests the foundations whether Faith is true and deep. Shiruthondar, a devotee of Shiva was also similarly tested by Shiva who came as a jangama (ascetic). When Shiruthondar showed that he had no attachment to the world, Shiva revealed Himself and said, "Worship Me as your own Self." Then Shiruthondar demands, "Reveal to me your Immanence in all Creation and then I shall worship Me, for then I can know that I am really You." Shiva blessed him and he saw all as Light. The vision was the finale of his career in maaya. He merged as light merges in Light, without noise and without announcement. Even his body became a streak of light which rose up into the depths of space.

There is no prayer more fruitful than Seva

The pilgrims were coming up from the ghats after their ceremonial bath in the holy river, their clothes still wet and clinging to their bodies. Some of them lamented that their peace was disturbed by the sight of this pathetic couple. "We have come to take darshan (audience) of the Lord, and look what meets our eye." There were some who flatly ignored her cries and lifted their noses in the air. Some said, "Wait. Let us finish the worship inside the temple and then we shall bring the Ganga water for you."

No one offered to bring the needed help to the aged patient. Just then a robber who was hurrying into the temple to pick a few pockets, heard the plaintive voice of old woman and halted near them. He asked her, "Mother, what is the matter?" She replied, "Son, we came to this place to have darshan of Lord Vishweshwara of Kaashi, but my husband has fainted out of sheer exhaustion. He might survive if some one will bring a little Ganga water and pour it down his throat. I cannot leave him here and go for water. Please help me and earn the merit."

The robber was moved into compassion. He had a little Ganga water in the hollow gourd he had with him. He knelt down near the dying person on the lap of the old woman, but the woman stopped him saying, "The moment the Ganga water wets his throat, my husband may die; he is in the last stage of living. Therefore speak a word of truth and pour the water.

The robber could not understand what she meant, so she explained, "Speak within his hearing, some good deed that you have done in your life, and then pour the water In his mouth." That created a problem for the robber. He was at his wits end. He could not quite comply. He said, "Mother I have, in truth, not done any good deed so far. This present act, the offering of water to this thirsty man, is the very first good deed I am responsible for."

And saying this, he placed the gourd at the lips of the old man and gave him mouthful. Just at the moment, the couple disappeared and  in their placed stood Shiva and Paarvathi, blessing the robber. Shiva said, "Son, life is to be dedicated for the service of others and not devoted to the exclusive interests of oneself. Howsoever many wicked deeds you might have done so far, for your selfless offering of Ganga water with truth on your tongue, We bless you with this Vision. Remember there is no morality higher than truth; there is no prayer more fruitful than seva (selfless loving service.")

Why Eeshvara is known as 'Bhola Shankara'

Once upon a time there was an Asura (demon) named Gajaasura. He performed a penance. Eeshvara, pleased with his penance, offered him as a boon whatever he desired. Eeshvara is a deity who is easily propitiated. Hence he is known as Bhola Shankara. When he is pleased with a devotee, He gives the devotee whatever he asks.

Sometimes he gets into a difficult situation, as in the case of Bhasmaasura who was granted by Shiva the boon to turn into ashes anyone on whose head he placed his palm. Immediately after getting the boon Bhasmaasura wanted to test his power by trying to place his hand on Shiva's head itself! What was the boon Shiva gave to Gajaasura? The demon desired that fire should go forth from him continuously so that no one dare approach him. Shiva granted him the boon.

Gajaasura continued to do penance and Shiva used to appear before him off and on once Shiva asked him what he wanted. The demon said- "I want you to dwell in my stomach." Shiva granted the boon and lodged himself in the demon's stomach. Shiva's consort Paarvathi, searched for Shiva everywhere and could not find Him. As a last resort, she went to her brother, Vishnu, and appealed to Him to trace the whereabouts of her husband. The all-knowing Lord assured her: "Don't worry dear sister. Your husband is Bhola Shankara. He grants readily whatever boon his devotee prays for, without considering the consequences. I suspect that he must have got into some trouble. I shall find out what has happened."

How Vinaayaka got Gajaasura's head

Vishnu, who is the director of the cosmic play, staged a minor drama. He converted Nandhi (Shiva's bull) into a dancing-bull and led it before Gajaasura, while himself assuming the role of a piper playing music on the pipe while the bull did the dancing. Gajaasura was in ecstasy over the dancing performance of the bull. He asked the piper (Vishnu) what he wanted. The piper replied- "Can you give what I ask?" "What do you take me for? I shall readily give you whatever you ask." The piper said: "If that is so, release from your stomach Shiva who is dwelling there."

Gajaasura then realised that the piper was none other than Vishnu Himself, who alone could know the secret of Shiva's presence inside his stomach. He fell at the feet of Vishnu, released Shiva from his stomach and prayed to Him for a boon. He said- "I have been blessed by many boons from you. My last request is that all should cherish my memory by worshipping my head after I pass away" Shiva thereupon brought his son and placed Gajaasura's head on him. Ever since, the tradition has prevailed in Bhaarath that every auspicious function of any kind commences with worship of Ganapathi. It was the result of Shiva's boon to Gajaasura.

The story of a Divine Plan

I shall tell you the story of Ishwara Sankalpa (Will of the Supreme Lord) and how nothing could stop its realisation. Shiva was every day discoursing on Kailaasa to sages and saints and Dhevas in the evening hours. One day, Paarvathi suggested that a Hall be constructed for accommodating them all, so that they could all listen without being affected by the constant fog and mist and cold winds.

Shiva did not have the Sankalpa to put it up; still, Paarvathi insisted that her idea must be implemented. The astrologer who was consulted before the foundations were dug said that "The stars forecast that the Hall will be consumed by fire, since Shani (Saturn) is not propitious from the very beginning." The Hall was completed, nevertheless. Now, that set a problem for the Couple. Shiva proposed to ask Shani for the favour of saving the Hall from his anger, though He doubted whether the Planet, reputed for his inevitable ire, would ever agree. Paarvathi felt deeply hurt and she resolved not to give the tiny tyrant, Shani, the credit for destroying the Hall that She had got built. She swore that instead of giving him the chance to d




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