Friday, November 25, 2022

Sister Nivedita: The Vision of Siva

Siva Statue at Murdeshwar Temple

Sister Nivedita describing her vision of Lord Siva (in her essay, “The Vision of Siva”):

Those human eyes of His are half closed. Though worlds are uttered and destroyed with every breath, it is nothing to Him. All comes and goes before Him like a dream. Such is the meaning of the curious unrealism of the image. But one faculty is all activity. Within it has been indrawn all the force of all the senses. Upright in the middle of the forehead looks forth the third eye, the eye of inner vision. It is natural then, that Siva the Great God, set forth as ideal manhood, should be known amongst other names as the Wondrous-Eyed.

He is the Refuge of Animals. About His neck have wound the serpents, whom none else would receive.

Never did he turn any away. The mad and the eccentric, the crazed, and the queer, and the half-witted amongst men—for all these there is room with Siva. His love will embrace even the demoniac.

He accepts that which all else reject. All the pain and evil of the Universe He took as His share, to save the world, when He drank the poison of things, and made His throat blue for ever.

He possesses so little! Only the old bull on which he rides, and the tiger-skin of meditation, and a string or two of praying beads—no more.

And, last of all, He is so easily pleased! Could any trait be so exquisite as this? Only pure water and a few grains of rice, and a green leaf or two may be offered to Him daily, for the Great God in matters of this world is very very simple, and sets no store by things for which we struggle and lie and slay our fellow men. Such is the picture that springs to the Indian mind, as representing the Soul of the Universe—Siva, the All-Merciful, the Destroyer of Ignorance, the Great God. Such is the form in which are uttered finally those first faint suggestions of the light of Himalayan snow peaks and the new moon shining on still waters. Perfect renunciation, perfect withdrawnness, perfect absorption in eternity,—these things alone are worthy to be told concerning Him Who is "the Sweetest of the Sweet, the most Terrible of the Terrible, the Lord of Heroes, and the Wondrous-Eyed."

Listen to the prayer that rises to Him daily from many a worshipper, through the length and breadth of India:—

"From the Unreal lead us to the Real,
From Darkness lead us unto Light,
From Death lead us to Immortality.
Reach us through and through ourself,
And evermore protect us,—
O Thou Terrible!—from ignorance,
By Thy sweet compassionate face.”

Such is Siva—ideal of Manhood, embodiment of Godhead.

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