SINCE THE TRANSLATION of the Shiva Purana will soon be published, this will be the last column based on the Shiva Purana. All of us have some idea about what yoga is. Right towards the end of Shiva Purana, Upamanyu told Krishna (and us) about Shiva’s yoga.
Upamanyu said, “Some yogis are of the view that if one remembers the lord Shrikantha and performs dhyana on him, all the siddhis are immediately obtained. To steady the mind, some perform dhyana on the gross form. A mind that is steady in the gross form eventually becomes steady in the subtle form. If one thinks of Shiva himself, all the siddhis are accomplished. Even when one meditates on other images, it is Shiva’s form that should be thought of. Paying attention to the stability of the mind, he must repeatedly perform dhyana. In the beginning, this dhyana has a specific object. But subsequently, there is no specific object. There are virtuous ones who hold the view that there cannot be dhyana without an object. Some say that dhyana is nothing but a series of visions in the intelligence. However, there is also intelligence without any specific object. An example of dhyana with a specific object is when one meditates on the rays of the rising sun. When one meditates on the subtle, this is without a specific object and there is nothing that is superior to this. When dhyana is with a specific object, it has a sakara form for meditation. However, dhyana can also be nirakara and it is held that this has no specific object. Accordingly, it is also said that dhyana is nirbija or sabija. In the beginning, dhyana should be sakara and sabija. Finally, it can become nirbija, without a specific object. At the end, every kind of siddhi will be obtained through nirbija, without a specific object. When pranayama is successful, through the favours of Devi, one obtains shanti and the others—shanti, prashanti, dipti and prasada. When every kind of calamity is pacified, this is spoken of as shanti. When darkness vanishes, inside and outside, this is described as prashanti. When the inside and the outside are illuminated, this is known as dipti. When everything, all the causes inside and outside, is known to be healthy, this is described as prasada. As a consequence of prasada, the intelligence quickly becomes delighted and clear.”
“After understanding four things, dhyata, dhyana, dhyeya and the need for dhyana, the dhyata will engage in dhyana. (Dhyata is the person who meditates, dhyana is the act of meditation and dhyeya is the object of meditation.) The mind must never be anxious and must always be full of jnana and non-attachment. A virtuous dhyata is said to be a person who possesses devotion and a cheerful mind. The verbal root, “dhyai” is said to be mean contemplation. Hence, one should repeatedly think of Shiva. Even if the practice of yoga is slight, sins are destroyed, as long as, full of devotion, one meditates for a short while on Parameshvara. Dhyana is described as a state when the mind does not waver. The nature of the flow of intelligence is such that it provides support for dhyana. The virtuous say that the word dhyeya is used for Shiva himself, along with Amba. The need for direct dhyana on Shiva is said to be evident emancipation and complete acquisition of powers, anima and the others. Through dhyana, a person obtains both happiness and emancipation. Therefore, casting everything else aside, a man must engage in dhyana. Without dhyana, there can be no jnana. A person who is not a yogi cannot engage in dhyana. If a person possesses both dhyana and jnana, he crosses over the ocean of worldly existence. With a pleased and single-minded attention, jnana, free of all constraints, can only be achieved by yogis who practice yoga. With all their sins destroyed, their minds turn towards dhyana and jnana. When the intelligence suffers on account of sin, this is extremely difficult to obtain. Just a large and blazing fire burns down kindling, irrespective of whether it is wet or dry, the fire of dhyana instantly burns down auspicious and inauspicious karma. Even if the light of a lamp is weak, it destroys an extremely extensive darkness. In that way, even a slight practice of yoga destroys great sins. With devotion, if a person performs dhyana on Parameshvara even for a short while, there is no end to the great benefits he obtains. There is no tirtha equal to dhyana. There are no austerities equal to dhyana. There are no sacrifices equal to dhyana. Therefore, one should practice dhyana. Since they possess trust in their own atmans, yogis do not resort to tirthas full of water, or images of devas made out of stone. Ishvara’s gross images are made out of clay, wood and other things. Just as those are seen, yogis can directly see his subtle form.”
Brahmana, who know the Vedas, obtain fruits after performing crores of worships. Those same fruits are obtained merely by giving alms to a person who is following Shiva’s Yoga
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“In pursuance of jnana and yoga, if a person dies while he has made a little effort in following yoga, he goes to Rudra’s world. Having experienced happiness there, he is born in a family of yogis. Having obtained jnana-yoga again, he crosses over samsara. A man who enquires about yoga obtains a destination not obtained by those who perform all the great sacrifices. Brahmana, who know the Vedas, obtain fruits after performing crores of worships. Those same fruits are obtained merely by giving alms to a person who is following Shiva’s yoga. There are fruits obtained through sacrifices, agnihotras, donations and oblations at tirthas. All those fruits are obtained by donating food to a yogi. Out of delusion, those who abuse Shiva’s yogis and those who listen to them, go to hell and remain there as long as the earth lasts. A person abuses yogis only when a listener is present. Therefore, it is the view that a listener is also an extremely great sinner. However, those who constantly worship Shiva’s yogis with devotion, obtain great objects of pleasure. At the end, they are united with Shankara. The dharma of yoga cannot be crushed by sins that are like clubs. It should be known that against sin, yogis are as tough as the vajra. Like water on the leaf of a lotus, they are not touched by these torments. If a sage who is devoted to Shiva’s yoga constantly resides in a country, that country becomes pure. What need be said about his own purity? Therefore, a discriminating person will give up everything else and practice Shiva’s yoga, which destroys all miseries. A yogi who has accomplished siddhi and fruits in yoga can enjoy objects of pleasure. Alternatively, for the welfare of the worlds, he can constantly roam around wherever he pleases. Since he regards happiness resulting from material objects as insignificant, he may be full of non-attachment and may even stop yoga. Voluntarily, he may free himself from karma. On realising that his death is imminent and on seeing evil portents, he may go to Shiva’s kshetra and engage in yoga again. If he possesses perseverance, he may himself give up his life while he resides there, even though he does not suffer from diseases. He may fast and offer his body as an oblation to Shiva’s fire. In Shiva’s tirtha, he may fling his body down into fathomless waters. He may follow the methods indicated in Shiva’s sacred texts and give up his body. He will be instantly liberated.”
“He may be incapacitated because of disease and after seeking refuge in Shiva’s kshetra, he may die there. Even then, there is no doubt that he will be liberated. Since a patient mind seeks to bring about death through fasting and other means, this kind of death is said to be in conformity with the sacred texts and is best. In the course of killing a person who criticises Shiva, if a person is himself killed, since he has given up his life in this fashion, he is not born again. If a person is unable to kill a person who criticises Shiva, but nevertheless gives up his own life, along with twenty-one generations of his family, he is instantly liberated. If a person gives up his life for Shiva’s sake, or the sake of Shiva’s devotees, among all those who follow the path of emancipation, there is no one who is equal to this man. Emancipation from the wheel of samsara becomes easier in this way. If a person dies after properly purifying himself according to the six paths, his funeral rites should not be performed the way they are undertaken for a Pashu. In particular, his sons need not observe rites of purification. The rites will be those recommended for those who follow Shiva’s conduct and Shiva’s learning. A pit will be dug in the ground and his body buried there. Or, it will be purified by burning it in fire. Or, it will be flung into Shiva’s water. Or, like a piece of wood or stone, it will be cast aside. Nevertheless, if they wish to perform some rites for him, they should perform auspicious rites. For example, according to capacity, they should to Shiva’s devotees and satisfy them. His wealth will be inherited by Shiva’s devotees, not by his offspring. It must be given to Shiva’s devotees, not to Pashus or to his offspring.”