कर्पूरगौरं करुणावतारं संसारसारम् भुजगेन्द्रहारम्।
सदावसन्तं हृदयारविन्दे भवं भवानीसहितं नमामि ॥
जो कर्पूर जैसे गौर वर्ण वाले हैं, करुणा के अवतार हैं, संसार के सार हैं और भुजंगों का हार धारण करते हैं, वे भगवान शिव माता भवानी सहित मेरे ह्रदय में सदैव निवास करें और उन्हें मेरा प्रणाम है।
— Conversations between Krishna and Upamanyu regarding Shiva
Upamanyu said ” O Madhava, how in former times I succeeded in obtaining a sight of that god of gods, that Master of all creatures, O Lord. Hear also in detail for what object, O thou of great puissance. I invoked with restrained senses and mind that illustrious deity endued with supreme energy. I shall, O sinless one, tell thee with full details all that I succeeded in obtaining from that god of gods, viz., Maheswara.
In ancient times, viz., Krita age, O son, there was a Rishi of great fame, named Vyaghrapada. He was celebrated for his knowledge and mastery over the Vedas and their branches. I was born as the son of that Rishi and Dhaumya took birth as my younger brother.
On a certain occasion, Madhava, accompanied by Dhaumya, I came upon the asylum of certain Rishis of cleansed souls. There I beheld a cow that was being milked. I saw the milk and it appeared to me to resemble Amrita itself in taste. I then came home, and impelled by childishness, I addressed my mother and said,–Give me some food prepared with milk.–There was no milk in the house, and accordingly my mother was much grieved at my asking for it. My mother took a piece of (rice) cake and boiled it in water, Madhava. The water became whitened and my mother placed it before us saying that it was milk and bade us drink it.
I had before that drunk milk on one occasion, for my father had, at the time of a sacrifice, taken me to the residence of some of our great kinsmen. A celestial cow, who delights the deities, was being milked on that occasion. Drinking her milk that resembled Amrita in taste, I knew what the virtues are of milk. I therefore, at once understood the origin of the substance that my mother offered me, telling me that it was milk. Verily, the taste of that cake, O son, did not afford me any pleasure whatever.
Impelled by childishness I then addressed mother, saying,–This O mother, that thou hast given me is not any preparation of milk.–Filled with grief and sorrow at this, and embracing me from parental affection and smelling my head, O Madhava, she said unto me……………,
Upamanyu Mother said “Whence, O child, can ascetics of cleansed souls obtain food prepared with milk? Such men always reside in the forest and subsist upon bulbs and roots and fruits. Whence shall we who live by the banks of rivers that are the resort of the Valikhilyas, we who have mountains and forest, for our home,–whence, indeed, O child, shall we obtain milk? We, dear child, live (sometimes) on air and sometimes on water. We dwell in asylums in the midst of forests and woods. We habitually abstain from all kinds of food that are taken by persons living in villages and towns. We are accustomed to only such food as is supplied by the produce of the wilderness.
There cannot be any milk, O child, in the wilderness where there are no offspring of Surabhi. Dwelling on the banks of rivers or in caves or on mountain-breasts, or in tirthas and other places of the kind, we pass our time in the practice of penances and the recitation of sacred Mantras, Siva being our highest refuge. Without gratifying the boon-giving Sthanu of unfading glory,–him, that is, who has three eyes,–whence, O child, can one obtain food prepared with milk and good robes and other objects of enjoyment in the world? Do thou devote thyself, O dear son, to Sankara with thy whole soul. Through his grace, O child, thou art sure to obtain all such objects as administer to the indulgence of all thy wishes.
Upamnyu Continue “Hearing these words of my mother, O slayer of foes, that day, I joined my hands in reverence and bowing unto her, said,–
- O mother, who this Mahadeva?
- In what manner can one gratify him?
- Where does that god reside?
- How may he be seen?
- With what does he become pleased?
- What also is the form of Sarva?
- How may one succeed in obtaining a knowledge of him?
- If gratified, will he, O mother, show himself unto me?
After I had said these words, O Krishna, to my mother, she, filled with parental affection, smelt my head, O Govinda, her eyes covered with tears the while. Gently patting my body, O slayer of Madhu, my mother, adopting a tone of great humility, addressed me in the following words, O best of the deities.’
Upamanyu Mother Continued “Bhava assumes the forms of Brahma and Vishnu and the chief of the celestials of the Rudras, the Adityas, and the Aswins; and of those deities that are called Viswadevas. He assumes the forms also of men and women, of Pretas and Pisachas, of Kiratas and Savaras, and of all aquatic animals. That illustrious deity assumes the forms of also those Savaras that dwell in the woods and forests. He assumes the forms of tortoises and fishes and conches. He it is that assumes the forms of those coral sprouts that are used as ornaments by men. He assumes also the forms of Yakshas, Rakshasas and Snakes, of Daityas and Danavas.
Indeed, the illustrious god assumes the forms of all creatures too that live in holes. He assumes the forms of tigers and lions and deer, of wolves and bears and birds, of owls and of jackals as well. He it is that assumes the forms of swans and crows and peacocks, of chameleons and lizards and storks. He it is that assumes the forms of cranes and vultures and Chakravakas. Verily, he it is that assumes the forms of Chasas and of mountains also. O son, it is Mahadeva that assumes the forms of kine and elephants and horses and camels and asses. He assumes also the forms of goats and leopards and diverse other varieties of animals.
Shiva’s forms described by Upamnyus mother
- It is Bhava who assumes the forms of diverse kinds of birds of beautiful plumage.
- It is Mahadeva who bears the forms of persons with sticks and those with umbrellas and those with calabashes among Brahmanas.
- He sometimes becomes six-faced and sometimes becomes multi-faced.
- He sometimes assumes forms having three eyes and forms having many heads.
- He sometimes assumes forms having many millions of legs and forms having innumerable stomachs and faces and forms endued with innumerable arms and innumerable sides.
- He sometimes appears surrounded by innumerable spirits and ghosts.
- He it is that assumes the forms of Rishis and Gandharvas, and of Siddhas and Charanas. He sometimes assumes a form that is rendered white with the ashes he smears on it and is adorned with a half-moon on the forehead. Adored with diverse hymns shuttered with diverse kinds of voice and worshipped with diverse Mantras fraught with encomiums.
- He sometimes called Sarva, is the Destroyer of all creatures in the universe, and it is upon him, again, that all creatures rest as on their common foundation.
- Mahadeva is the soul of all creatures.
- He pervades all things.
- He is the speaker of all discourses (on duties and rituals).
- He resides everywhere and should be known as dwelling in the hearts of all creatures in the universe.
- He knows the desire cherished by every one of his worshippers.
- He becomes acquainted with the object in which one pays him adorations. Do thou then, if it pleases thee, seek the protection of the chief of the deities.
- He sometimes rejoices, and sometimes yields to wrath, and sometimes utters the syllable Hum with a very loud noise.
- He sometimes arms himself with the discus (Sudarshan Chakra), sometimes with the trident, sometimes with the mace, sometimes with the heavy mullets, sometimes with the scimitar, and sometimes with the battle axe.
- He it is that assumes the form of Sesha who sustains the world on his head.
- He has snakes for his belt, and his ears are adorned with ear-rings made of snakes.
- Snakes form also the sacred thread he wears. An elephant skin forms his upper garment.
- He sometimes laughs and sometimes sings and sometimes dances most beautifully.
- Surrounded by innumerable spirits and ghosts, he sometimes plays on musical instruments.
- Diverse, again are the instruments upon which he plays, and sweet the sounds they yield.
- He sometimes wanders (over crematoria), sometimes yawns, sometimes cries, and sometimes causes others to cry.
- He sometimes assumes the guise of one that is mad, and sometimes of one that is intoxicated, and he sometimes utters words that are exceedingly sweet. Endued with appalling fierceness, he sometimes laughs loudly, frightening all creatures with his eyes.
- He sometimes sleeps and sometimes remains awake and sometimes yawns as he pleases.
- He sometimes recites sacred Mantras and sometimes becomes the deity of those Mantras which are recited.
- He sometimes performs penances and sometimes becomes the deity for whose adoration those penances are undergone.
- He sometimes makes gifts and sometimes receives those gifts; sometimes disposes himself in Yoga and sometimes becomes the object of the Yoga contemplation of others.
- He may be seen on the sacrificial platform or in the sacrificial stake; in the midst of the cow-pen or in the fire.
- He may not again be seen there.
- He may be seen as a boy or as an old man.
- He sports with the daughters and the spouses of the Rishis.
- His hair is long and stands erect.
- He is perfectly naked, for he has the horizon for his garments.
- He is endued with terrible eyes. He is fair, he is darkish, he is dark, he is pale, he is of the colour of smoke, and he is red.
- He is possessed of eyes that are large and terrible.
- He has empty space for his covering and he it is that covers all things.
- Who is there that can truly understand the limits of Mahadeva who is formless, who is one and indivisible, who conjures of illusions, who is of the cause of all actions and destructive operations in the universe, who assumes the form of Hiranyagarbha, and who is without beginning and without end, and who is without birth.
- He lives in the heart (of every creature).
- He is the prana, he is the mind, and he is Jiva (that is invested in the material case).
- He is the soul of Yoga, and it is that is called Yoga.
- He is the Yoga-contemplation into which Yogins enter.
- He is the Supreme Soul. Indeed Maheswara, the purity in essence, is capable of being comprehended not by the senses but through only the Soul seizing his existence.
- He plays on diverse musical instruments.
- He is a vocalist.
- He has a hundred thousand eyes, he has one mouth, he has two mouths, he has three mouths, and he has many mouths.
- Devoting thyself to him, setting thy heart upon him, depending upon him, and accepting him as thy one refuse, do thou, O son, adore Mahadeva and then mayst thou obtain the fruition of all thy wishes.
Upamanyu Continued “Hearing those words of my mother, O slayer of foes, from that day my devotion was directed to Mahadeva, having nothing else for its object. I then applied myself to the practice of the austerest penances for gratifying Sankara.
Deepak Kumar Jha (A Learner)