YOU WILL RECOLLECT that I was recounting what Upamanyu told Krishna. This is from Shiva Purana.
Upamanyu said, “With his excellent jnana and prosperity, Shiva looks on. The learned say that he is established, greater than all the lords of the worlds. When the subsidiary cycle of Creation occurred, he is the one who instructed Brahma about all the sacred texts in detail. He is the original instructor who instructed in this way, not affected by periods of time. He is not affected by periods of time and is described as the guru of all gurus. He is everything. He is Sarvesha, not affected by divisions of time. All his shaktis are naturally exceedingly pure. He is unmatched in jnana. He creates his eternal body. His prosperity is without a challenger. So are his happiness and great strength. There is no match to his energy, power, valour, forgiveness and compassion. He is complete. Therefore, he has no need for creation himself. The fruits of all his deeds are meant to show favours to others. When pranava (AUM) is uttered, it expresses Shiva, the paramatman. Pranava and other supreme words express Shiva, Rudra and the others. When pranava is uttered, it expresses Shambhu. Therefore, if one uses this to perform japa on bhava, one obtains supreme siddhi. There is no doubt about this. Therefore, those who are accomplished in the Agama texts speak of the divinity as being expressed in a single akshara. Those who are learned know that a word and its meaning are identical. The Upanishads speak of four matras – “A”, “U”, “M” and nada (the sound). “A” is spoken of as hymns from the Rig Veda, “U” is spoken of as the Yajur Veda, “M” as the Sama Veda and nada is said to represent the Shruti text of Atharva Veda. “A” stands for the great seed, rajas and the four-faced Creator. “U” is prakriti, the womb, and Hari, who protects with sattva. “M” is purusha, the seed, tamas and Hara, the destroyer. Nada is the supreme being, Isha Shiva, nirguna and devoid of action. Everything is known through the three matras in three different ways. Through that half matra, Shiva’s atman should be understood. There is nothing greater than him and there is nothing smaller than him. Immobile as a tree, he is established in heaven. He is a being who is complete in himself alone, in every possible way.”
“His shakti and his vidya are natural and the universe doesn’t reveal the signs. It is one, but illuminates in many forms, like the radiance of the sun. There are an infinite number of shaktis, iccha, jnana, kriya, maya and others. They are like the sparks from a flame. The beings, Sadashiva, Ishvara, Vidyeshvara, Avidyeshvara and others, were born from this shakti, which is beyond prakriti. There is no doubt that starting with Mahat and ending with Vishesha, and Aja (Brahma) and the other forms, are produced by this shakti. This shakti is subtle and goes everywhere, with the form of enlightenment and bliss. The divinity Shiva, with the moon as his ornament, is said to be the one who possesses shakti. Shiva is the one who should be known. Shiva is learning, wisdom, the Shruti texts, the Smriti texts, fortitude, stability, steadfastness, jnana and the shaktis of jnana, iccha and karma. His command is the supreme Brahman. There are two kinds of vidya—para and apara. Pure vidya and pure kalaa are both created by shakti. Maya is prakriti. A living being is subject to transformations and is vikriti. (Vikriti is change, transformation, with a nuance of the negative about it.) Everything, existent or non-existent, is pervaded by shakti. Devi Maya deludes the universe, with its mobile and immobile entities. In her pastimes, without any effort, she frees them. Along with her, in her 27 forms, Sarvesha is established and pervades the universe. This is how emancipation occurs.”
“Once upon a time, there were some sages. They knew about the Brahman and desired emancipation. Their minds were filled with doubts and they wondered. What is the reason? Where have we been born from? What is the reason for us to be alive? Where will we be instated? Who is the one who presides over us? How can we obtain eternal happiness and other things that are everlasting? Who has made these arrangements in the universe, which cannot be transgressed? Time, inclination, destiny and wishes cannot have engaged us here. The origin of beings cannot be purusha, or any supreme yogi. Time is insentient, whereas the atman is sentient. Beings experience happiness and unhappiness, but they have no ownership over them.” (Though not clearly stated, this seems to be the place where the speculation of the sages ends and Upamanyu continues.)
Shiva is learning, wisdom, the shruti texts, the smriti texts, fortitude, stability, steadfastness, jnana and the shaktis of jnana, iccha and karma
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“Those who are devoted to dhyana and yoga can see Ishvara’s shakti. Their pashas are severed and they can see him directly, though he is hidden by the gunas. When the pashas are severed, they can see the cause behind all causes. He is the one who possesses shakti. With their divine sight, they see Mahadeva. He is immeasurable. Through shakti, he presides over all causes, along with kaala. It is through his favours that one visualises the supreme yoga of Bhakti yoga and obtains the divine destination. They see Shiva, along with shakti, within their hearts. The Shruti texts say that such people obtain eternal peace. The one who possesses shakti can never exist without shakti. Nor can shakti withdraw from the one who possesses shakti. The two are identical. Indeed, the process of emancipation through jnana or karma is not spoken about. With his favours, it is as if emancipation assumes an embodied form and exist in the palm of one’s hands. Through his favours, devas, danavas, pashus, birds, worms and insects can be freed. A foetus in a womb, a child, a young person, an aged person, a person who is about to die, one who is in heaven, one who is in hell, one who has fallen down, a person with dharma in his atman, a learned person, a foolish one— through his favours, there is no doubt that all these are instantly emancipated. There is no doubt that Parameshvara is pleased with devotees, even if they are not worthy. In his compassion, he frees them from many kinds of dirt. Devotion results from his favours and his favours result from devotion. Beholding that there can be a difference in states, a learned person is not confused about this. His favours are first required to ensure objects of pleasure and emancipation. However, it is impossible to obtain this in a single birth. There are siddhas who have followed the Shruti and Smriti texts across many births. When they develop understanding, they are no longer attached and Maheshvara is pleased. The lord of devas is pleased when pashus follow such a path. The mind must first be filled with the faith and belief, “My lord exists.” After this, a man engages in many kinds of austerities that characterise those who follow Shiva’s dharma.”
“As a result of this yoga, there is greater devotion. As a result of this greater devotion, greater favours are obtained. Through these favours, one is freed from bonds. The person transcends notions of being emancipated and not being emancipated. Even if a mortal person has a little bit of such sentiments, for three succeeding births, he will not be squeezed in the vaginal passage. There is no doubt about this. Service, with or without the accompaniments, is said to be devotion. Depending on the mode, this is divided into three types— thoughts, words and deeds. If one thinks of Shiva’s form, this kind of service is said to be one done through the mind. If one performs japa, this is said to be service in words. If one performs rites like worship, this is said to be service in deeds. All three modes of service are said to be the following of Shiva’s dharma. Shiva, the paramatman, has said that there are five kinds of dharma. Briefly, they are austerities, karma, japa, dhyana and jnana. Karma is the worship of Shiva’s lingam. Austerities are chandrayana (Chandrayana is a kind of fasting that follows the progress [ayana] of the moon [chandra]. On the full moon night, one only eats 15 mouthfuls of food. For the 15 lunar days following the full moon, this is decreased by one mouthful per day. For the 15 lunar days following the new moon, this is increased by one mouthful per day.) and other things. Japa is of three types—repeated practice, thinking about him and dhyana. The jnana that exits in Shiva Agama texts is spoken of as jnana. Out of compassion towards those who seek refuge with Shiva and to give them a means to ensure the beneficial, the Shiva Agama texts were stated by Shrikantha Shiva to Shivaa. Therefore, an intelligent man who seeks to ensure his benefit should seek to enhance devotion towards Shiva and avoid attachment to material objects.”
We will continue with the conversation between Upamanyu and Krishna in the next column.