Lord Shiva - God Of All
(Shaivam A Perspective)
Many of the asurAs worship Lord shiva and get boons as observed in the purANAs. Whereas very few of them worship the other divines. Why is it so ? Why should the God show grace to asurAs ?
Lord shiva is the Supreme, Which does not have any parents Which never takes birth Which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self. God is the only one Who is dependable for anybody / anything to surrender to as It is the only perennial Being. Hence God is the Lord of all creatures (lives/souls). For this reason the Lord is hailed as pashupati (Lord of living beings). Whether it is devas or asuras or humans or other creatures all are pashus. That being the case how could the Lord be partial to one section of pashus and withdrawing the Grace for the other ? So anybody who worships the Lord sincerely could get blessed with Its Grace irrespective of the caste, creed, race, power, status and qualities.
It is in fact to be noted that Lord shiva is worshipped by the devas like viShNu, braHma, indra, by asuras like bANa, rAvaNa, tripura, sUrapadma, by humans like sha~Nkara bhagavatpAda, samban^dhar, appar, by other creatures like jaTAyu, sampAdi (eagles), vAli (monkey) and the list goes on and on. One finds in the purANas the variety of people of different backgrounds and qualities worship the Lord shiva. There are many histories of temples which talk of the cranes, bees, elephants, spiders, snakes worshipping the Lord and getting blessed. So the Lord as the Supreme blesses anyone who worships in sincere devotion. There is no discrimination on who the seeker is. The Lord is so merciful that He showers the boons one look for when there is a determination to seek Him. It is evident from the history of asura bANa who attained a great fame of his valor and got the place in the abode of Lord shiva all due to his determined worship of the Lord.
But..., if the receiver of the boons does not use them in proper way and misuses to disturb others, in the Lord defined system of this universe they get punished for the misdeeds. A closer analysis would show that the devas are the divine elements of nature that are essential for all of us to survive (like air, sun, fire etc). Very often asuras are the one who disturb the nature as evident from purANas. So when the asuras misuse the boons got to disturb the other lives they get punished as evident from the histories of hiraNya, rAvaNa and others. When the misuse goes beyond a point by the powerful forces so as to question the existence of the whole system, the Lord the One Who is essential for all the essentials, Who has devised this whole Universe, takes the action to restore normalcy for example like tripura dahana.
Lord shiva is the God of all. Like the mother He showers the grace for all the children, but the misusing children get punished. This Supreme Lord better than a mother does not withhold the grace, He is our beloved pashupati.
Daemons, kinnaras, deva of death, deva of rain, mobile fire, air, sun and moon, illusionless tiger, monkey, snake, vasus, heavenly people and under the earth people - of all these, the ones who worship Your Holy Feet relentlessly - seeing the great glory out of Your grace they have attained, without any surprise I surrender to Your Holy Feet, Oh the Lord of fertile thiruppunkUr !
Why does the Supreme God given vedas praise the devas ?
It is said that the vedas are given by the God. But the vedas contain hymns which appear to praise the various devas agni, indra, varuNa and others. Why should the Supreme God say hailing hymns of the other devas ?
A very important thing to do is to understand the high level picture of the vedas before getting in to the details. It is worth quoting the part of introduction to vedas in the book Rgveda samhita by Veda pratishthana.
"God, verily, is one, though variously described since the functions are manifold and His divine attributes many. Compareed to Him, we, the tiny little selves, are infinitesimals whilst He is Infinity in all positive parameters. To this divine one, ....., in the words of the Vedic texts, offers invocations in various adjectivals and adveribials, according to His attributes and functions. So often, we prefer to call Him agni, the foremost adorable, sometimes indra, the most resplendent, sometimes varuNa, or the most venerable, sometimes as aryaman, the supreme law-giver; He alone is the divine virility and vitality in us, and is therefore known as rudra; He verily, is the savitR, since everything is born of Him; He is divya, or effulgent; He is the law-abider, and hence is known as yama; He alone is the measure and a benevolent friend to us, and hence, His name is mitra; He is the supreme Lord and therefore bRihaspati and brahman; He pervades the entire universe and hence He is viShNu; He is blissful and hence known as soma and on account of His benevolence and kindness, He is called, shiva, shankara and mayaskara. The Veda stands for the purest type of monotheism. Here er have a few texts to corroborate this concept.
1. tvamagne rAja varuNo dhRitavratastvam mitro bhavasi dasma IdyaH |
tvamaryamA satpatiryasya sambhujam tvamamsho vidathe deva bhAjayuH ||
God alone is one, though known as agni, king varuNa, mitra, aryaman or amsa.
2. tvamagne rudro asuro mahodivastvam shardho mArutam pRiksha IshiShe |
tvam vAtairaruNairyAsi shamgayastvam pUShA vidhataH pAsi nu tmanA ||
God is also known as agni, rudra, mahah asura, (ahur mazda) and pusan.
3. tvamagne draviNodA aramkRite tvam devaH savitA ratnadhA asi |
tvam bhago nRipate vasva IshiShe tvam pAyurdame yasteavidhat ||
God is agni, dravinoda (the giver of wealth), deva, savitR, ratnadha (the store of gems), bhaga (effulgent), and nRpati (lord of men).
4. indram mitram varuNamagnimAhuratho divyaH sa suparNo gurutmAn |
ekam sad viprAH bahudhA vadantyagnim yamam mAtarishvAnamAhuH ||
He is one, though seers call Him with various names, such as indra, mitra, varuNa, agni, divya, suparNa, garutmAn, yama and mAtarishvan.
5. tadevAgnistadAdityastdvAyustadu candramA |
tadeva shukram tad brahma tA ApaH sa prajApatiH ||
He alone is agni, the same He is aditya, the same one is known as vayu and candrama. He again is the same one known as sukra, brahman, Apar, or prajApati.
It is very clear from the above that Vedas priase only the Supreme reality. The various names used in the vedas like agni, indra are all the powers and perspectives of the same Supreme Lord shiva.
If we look at who these devas are, it is not hard to find that they are the (masters of the) elements which are essential for the life to go on. For example agni is heat, vayu is air, varuNa is water etc. These are nothing but the authorities provided by the Supreme for the smooth running of this Universe system, It has devised. These glorious God given powers are told and hailed in the vedas.vEdam nAnginum meypporuLAvadhu nAdhan nAmam namaccivAyavE - sambandhar.
irukku n^AnmaRai IcaniyE thozum karuththinai aRiyAr kalmanavarE - appar.
How can the god of destruction be the Supreme ?
Destruction is one among the three activities that is undertaken by the Three Holy Manifestations of sanAtana dharma respectively. That being the case how could one say Lord Shiva who gets associated with the destruction be the Supreme God ?
braHma, viShNu, rudra, often referred to collectively as trimUrti, play the role of masters of creation, protection and destruction respectively. If we take this world as an example it is an easy task for almost everybody to involve in the acts of creation. (This is not to say that the Universal creation is a trivial task. All due respects to Lord braHma). Whereas as for as protection is concerned it is only few good hearted people, who have the strength and inclination to help for the cause of goodness do the protection deeds. But... not everybody is provided with the power of destruction. When anybody starts doing the destruction then there would be chaos which they call the law and order problem. There is normally one authority called government is given the authority to destroy and not others. This would show how difficult is the action of destruction and how carefully it has to be dealt with. This is the reason the act of destruction (to be correct this word should be actually "reduction", as things are not getting destroyed but only a change of state happens odukkam in thamiz and pralayam in saMskR^itam) is handled by a form of Lord shiva Itself, Who is called rudra. Since rudra is a form of the Lord, rudra is considered as Lord shiva Itself.
Ok, so far only one part of the question is answered. Agreed, the importance of the act of reduction (destruction). But when this Lord being one among the Trinity, how can this Lord be considered the Supreme ?
Let us take an example of a small shop. The owner employs a few skilled people to do the regular work and at peak hours or at critical periods, he/she also takes some important work and executes it. Now that individual wears two caps. One as the owner of the shop and other as the worker in the shop, but the individual is the same irrespective of whether he /she is acting as the owner or as a worker. Nobody questions his/her ownership because he/she shares the work load with the others in the shop. The same way though the Supreme Lord shiva is beyond the five deeds, It also takes roles in the critical deeds assuming a form specific to that role. So though Lord shiva gets associated with one of the three in the Trinity, He is the Supreme Itself.
A point to note here is that it is not just these three actions, but there are totally five deeds which are the acts of/on behalf of the Supreme. These five activities referred to as panycha kR^ityam are creation, sustenance, reduction, illusioning and blessing. The holy masters for these five activities are braHma, viShNu, rudra, maheshwara, sadAshiva respectively. Of these the later three are nothing but the forms of the Supreme shiva (called parashivA). So to conclude Lord Shiva is the Supreme, Who assumes various critical roles and assumes appropriate names and forms, and also stands transcending all these.
The Blameless God
The Supreme is the Almighty. This means svAtantra shakti, the ability to do anything - unbound might. Our Lord is fondly called bholenAth - the Innocent (straight forward) Lord and in various other languages in words meaning the same. These two aspects are very interesting to analyze with this Peerless Lord shiva and this is a very unique Glory of It.
While reading through the various purANas, it could be observed that this Lord shiva always upholds some discipline. Even when It has the might and even when others plead because of this might to do a favor for them, this righteousness is found in the blessings It shower to them. An ample evidence for this fact is the burning of the three forts (tripuras). The three daemon kings who got immense power out of their austerities built forts of gold, silver and iron and whirled around the worlds disturbing the activities of the divines. The divines realizing it is possible only the Supreme God to destroy such mighty daemons, went to Lord shiva and pleaded to destroy them as He only had that power. But the Lord turned down the request indicating though He has the might, the daemons did not harm the devotees and people, worshipped the God and so it would be unjust to destroy them. Later the daemons derailed from this path of righteousness and started harming the devotees and others, falling down in the plot of the divines. This time again the divines went and pleaded to the God that the disturbing daemons also derailed from dharma. At this point the Lord Who made the righteousness and Who sustains that in the world destroyed the three daemon forts by His splendid smile. And adding to all our hailings, the Lord blessed the three daemons in the those forts who in spite of the divines plot, sticked to the worship of the Lord and righteous path to be His close attendants, the grace that is unthinkable even for the divines !!
The God would not be biased. It would not differentiate between one group versus the other, whether it be divines or daemons or humans or plats or creatures or on sex or on race etc. All that matters is dharma and the pure devotion towards It. No doubt this lovely Lord shiva is worshipped alike by divines, daemons, scholars, not much learnt simple, and the other creatures. This Lord is hailed as pashupati, the Lord of lives. Undoubtedly this Lord showers Its Grace on all the creatures.
The Lord has the bull flag, this refers to dharma (justice). Why is it that the dharma has been given so much of importance ? We saw that the Supreme is the Almighty. When It is having limitless power how could we take the proposition that treading the right path would result in the right result ? After all the God is having the limitless power. So we might fall into the conclusion that irrespective of what we do the God is going to give the results in whatever way It feels like, and this would be a disaster ! By raising the bull flag the God shiva indicates the justice that would motivate the lives to be stand by the dharma. The Great Lord provides the justice that He created at the same time retaining the unlimited might like the one who treads a path keeping the liberty to move anywhere.
thirunyAna sambandhar sings this glory of Lord Siva
Whether the Lord wear the moon or burns the three puras, wherever seen our Lord is all Glorious and free from taint and blame.Lord shiva, the Perfection is the dependable refuge for the creatures as It is the Almighty and the Just