Who can know Shiva in full? And that too except by His grace? But a preliminary idea can be gained from reading a booklet “Lord Shiva” written by Swami Shivapadananda. He was the Second President of the Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa. You will appreciate the intrinsic worth of this booklet.
May Shiva bless all!
Aum Namah Shivaya!
This panchakshara – five lettered – mantra is potentially efficacious in warding off evils and bestowing grace and peace of mind. Sages, saints and innumerable devotees of Lord Shiva have chanted this mantra repeatedly all through the ages.
In the life of the Master, Sri Ramakrishna we find his mother Chandradevi used to visit frequently the temple of Jugi Shiva in Kamarpukur. Once she suddenly saw a divine effulgence coming from the holy image (linga) of the great Lord Shiva. This bright light filled the temple and rushed towards her in waves. Engulfing her all of a sudden, the light swiftly entered into her body. Stunned with wonder and initial fear Chandradevi fell down unconscious. After recovery she felt that she was pregnant with a child. The maid Dhani was helping Chandradevi during the pangs of labour. When the baby was born Dhani kept the baby aside and was rendering necessary help to the mother. When Dhani came back she was surprised to find that the baby had disappeared from the place where she had kept it.
In alarm she took a lamp and found to her great surprise that the baby had rolled down the ground into the hollow fireplace. It was simply lying there with its little body fully smeared with ashes like Shiva and still not crying!
Shiva’s ashes had a great charming effect on the mind of the Master. Indeed under the Naga sadhu Tota Puri, Sri Ramakrishna while practising meditation would smear Shiva’s ashes all over his body. At ‘golden’ Varanasi Sri Ramakrishna had the vision of Shiva. In the words of Master, ” I saw a tall white person with tawny matted hair walking with solemn steps to each pyre in the burning-ghat, raising carefully every jiva and imparting into his ear the mantra of supreme Brahman. On the other side of the pyre the all-powerful Mahakali was untying all the knots of bondage, gross, subtle and causal of the jiva produced by past impressions and sending hm to the indivisible sphere by opening with Her own hands the door to liberation.”
In Puranas we find once the great Muni Durvasa while chanting the mantra – ‘Sarvaatman Shivashankara! Srimaatar Bhuvaneshwari!’– was moving on the sky and came to a halt before Yamaraja. Yamaraja welcomed Durvasa Muni and showed him the entire city which was called Dharmapuri. While discussing with Yamaraja, Durvasa Muni off and on heard noisy sounds of weeping and wailing. Surprised at that Durvasa Muni asked Yamaraja from where these crying sounds were coming.
The dispenser of Justice Lord Yama explained to Durvasa Muni that under his control there were fourteen heavens and twenty-eight hells. The cries that Durvasa Muni heard emanated actually from one of the hells called Kumbhipaka Naraka. People of sinful nature who did not properly respect their elders and ancestors by not offering pinda and udaka (riceballs and water) were the cause of the ancestors’ downfall into Kumbhipaka Naraka.
Hearing the heart rending cries of the ancestors, Durvasa Muni requested Lord Yama to allow him to visit Kumbhipaka Naraka. Accordingly Lord Yama arranged his men who took Durvasa Muni to that hell.
Durvasa Muni was greatly surprised to find that Kumbhipaka Naraka was not looking like a hell. Neither weeping nor wailing! Instead the manes were found cheerfully relaxing on comfortable beds having their drinks and meals, served by host of attendants. The Yama’s men were also taken by surprise.
They immediately rushed back to Lord Yama and informed him of the wonderful sight they had seen in Kumbhipaka Naraka. Yamaraja thereupon informed Indra , the Lord of the Devatas, about the sudden change of the nature of the hell into heaven. Not knowing the reason thereof Indra came to Kumbhipaka Naraka on his airavata (celestial elephant).
On inspection, Indra too got bewildered how the hell could change into a heaven overnight. The Devatas led by Indra approached Brahma, the Lord of Creation. Lord Brahma could not give any answer; so the Devatas turned to Lord Vishnu from whom they could also not elicit any answer.
When finally they approached Lord Shiva for an explanation, Lord Shiva smiled and said that it was the visit of Durvasa Muni to that hell that brought about the wonderful transformation. Surprised at this the Devatas asked Lord Shiva what Durvasa Muni did to enable the change of hell into a heaven.
Lord Shiva proclaimed that Durvasa Muni was indeed a great Shivabakta– devotee of Shiva. Everyday after having bath, Durvasa Muni would smear the holy ashes of Lord Shiva on his forehead and upperbody. Due to Durvasa Muni being jolted on hearing the suffering, particles of the holy ashes fell on the grounds of Kumbhipaka Naraka.
Lord Shiva continued to say that whoever applies holy ash on his body would remember that from ashes came the creation and finally all will be reduced to ashes. By wearing ashes on one’s body, a devotee can develop detachment with his body/mind complex. This would make him realise the Truth behind all these changing phenomena because Shiva is Truth (Satyam). Shiva is also Auspicious (Shivam) and indeed Beauty (Sundaram) itself.
Jai Shiva Shankara! (Hail Victory to Lord Shiva Shankara!)
Aum Namah Shivaya!