Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Symbol and Example

Hari OM

Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.

For the month of February the focus will be exploring different aspects of Lord Shiva. Last week we saw a general view.  Now let us look at specific symbolism in the depiction of Lord Shiva.

In this image you see most of the basics. Additional to these points can be added; the jata (matted hair) shows he is Lord of the Wind and therefore governs our praana. In other, wider pictorials, Sri Shiva is shown with kamandulu and Nandi.  Kamandulu is the mendicant's bhiksha (alms) pot and many sadhus are seen carrying them.  In this Lord's case, though, the representation is of  आम्रित/aamrita, the nectar of life, the reward of positive actions.  Nandi is the bull, representing ignorance, which when correctly guided, can be tamed and turned to useful and practical knowledge. (Nandi has his own story which will be told another time.)

This coming Tuesday is Mahaa Shivraatri, where the night will be spent in meditation. Lord Shiva, was the ultimate ascetic and masterful meditator. The Guru Parampara through Adi Shankaraacharya goes all the way back to the essence of existence known as this Lord. Twenty four hour chanting of Om NamaH Shivaaya will take place, continual worship and endless numbers of devotees will seek to touch the feet of the Lord. This festival, more perhaps than any other, reminds us that to refresh ourselves, we must also 'sacrifice', whether that be through release of goods, relationships, personal traits… Only the spirit, the aatmaa, can travel beyond this physical entrapment and our guide is Sir Shiva.

This concept is upheld within the Christian faith also; Lord Jesus died in order to rise again and each who would reach to the highest spiritual plane must overcome their fear of death and seek to enrich their soul through His example.

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Hari OM
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