Shivoham - I am Shiva
जटा टवी गलज्जल प्रवाह पावितस्थले, गलेऽवलम्ब्य लम्बितां भुजङ्ग तुङ्ग मालिकाम् |
डमड्डमड्डमड्डमन्निनाद वड्डमर्वयं, चकार चण्डताण्डवं तनोतु नः शिवः शिवम् ||१||
The day was hot and bright. The fragrance of marigolds, roses, and incense sticks pervaded in the air. The temple was vibrant with hundreds of visitors who waited for hours in the queue to get inside. The cheeks were red, the eyes were teary and the soles were burning, but the souls were determined to reach near the Yagya Kunda. The Mahamrityunjaya Homa was about to begin, and no one wanted to miss it on SHIVA RATRI.
Amidst the cranky crowd, three generations of my family (my parents, I and my wife, and my son) were struggling to carve out our way to the closest spot near the Kunda. Trying to protect my 4 months old crying son from getting hit, I was about to burst out with anger and irritation. I looked around... and almost everyone was in a similar situation. We were going for a sacred Homa on year's most sacred day, but none looked calm and delighted.
Struggling through the crowd, we finally managed to get a corner near the Yagya Kunda. Dried wood, ghee, and other sacrificial mixtures were kept around the Kunda. Lord Shiva's 200 feet tall idol was waiting for priests to start the Homa.
Moments later, seven priests came and sat around the Kunda. The hot day became hotter as the giant fire emerged in the Kunda and the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra chants started. The vibrations engulfed the surroundings, and goosebumps emerged on my sweaty hands. My son wasn't crying anymore; he was gazing at the Kunda with wide eyes. Every lip was murmuring, and every pair of palms was glued together. There was nothing magical though... I couldn't see Lord Shiva there.
After 108 iterations of the mantra, the Homa finally ended. Everyone who rushed madly inside was moving calmly outside. As we moved away from the Kunda, the weather felt pleasant; the hot day didn't feel hot anymore. Each one of us was illuminated with the enchanting fragrance of burnt sandalwood and sacrificial mix, and a calm smile snaked across every face. There was nothing magical though... I couldn't see Lord Shiva, still. Is there any flaw in the ages-old ritual? Or is the concept of Shiva itself is wrong?
Or, maybe, my notion of Shiva was wrong. Maybe, he was there... only I was unable to perceive him.
This made me start an analysis on the way back home; the analysis of "What changed after the Homa?" And I realized that there were a lot of things that got changed. After the Homa, the cranky crowd got silent, the itching hot weather felt mild and pleasant, and above all, my crying son got miraculously calm. Our cab was stuck amidst dusty traffic with a non-functioning A.C., the driver was fighting madly over the phone, and we haven't eaten anything since morning. Everything that is enough to aggrieve a normal man was present in the scene. But I was calm, so was my family. Was that because of Shiva?
Sitting on the front seat of the cab, I closed my eyes, thinking about the idol of Lord Shiva in the temple. A yogi in deep meditation, covered with ashes... with the holy river Ganges emerging from his bun... sitting somewhere amidst the Himalayas surrounded by snakes. The one whose throat turned violet due to the deadliest venom he drank.... and the one who can destroy the entire universe if he opens his third eye! Can such a magical person exist in reality? Or he's just a physical representation of something bigger, and greater?
A thorough introspection made me realize that everything a Shiva's idol represents is inside me. Getting angry and shouting madly in a ruckus is a typical man, the art of staying calm is Shiva. Getting irritated in harsh situations is a common man, the energy to stay focused and move forward is Shiva. The world is full of poisons; the poisons of hatred, greed, treachery, politics, and injustice. Giving back these poisons to the world is a common man, drinking this poison and returning the acts as pure and sacred as the Ganges is Shiva. Every person has an intrinsic power to destroy the world surrounding him, the act of balancing everything is Shiva. And for those who do this effectively, even the "Mightiest Asuras" and "Most Poisonous Snakes" of the world ultimately kneel.
When I have a heated argument at the office and I don't allow that to spoil my day, I am Shiva. When I stand against the evils of fear and injustice and do it calmly and thoughtfully, I am Shiva. When I face the poisons of the world throughout the day and still enjoy the late evenings with my family, I am Shiva.
I opened my eyes and looked around. My parents were playing with my son, and my wife was smiling calmly. The mantras we recited in Yagya had taken a huge toll out of our negative energies. No one was angry, no one was feeling irritated and no one was hungry. Shiva was silently smiling on all faces, I was now able to see him.