The understanding of “God” in the Yogic lineage and in Hinduism (its derivative) has never been of a person or entity. It has always been of the infinite, immanent and eternal consciousness. This eternal consciousness has been understood (and experienced by the Sages and Rishis) as changeless yet dynamic, both the subject and the object which observes itself as it manifests in various ways as a matter of playfulness. It does not need to, yet dynamism and creativity is its quality. Pratyabhijna Sastra – which conceives Shiva as complete consciousness – calls the cosmic reality as prakasa-vimarsamaya. In this Prakasa is Shiva and Vimarsa is Shakti, the creative ability of Shiva. Vimarsa is the consciousness of being within Shiva. Shiva without Shakti is inert. As Ksemaraja, disciple of Sage Abhinavagupta said in Parapravesika:
“Yadi nirvimarsah syat anisvaro jadasca prasajyeta” – (If Ultimate Reality were merely prakasa and not also vimarsa, it would be entirely powerless and inert.)
The potency of consciousness is in its awareness – the Shakti. Without it, it is inert and empty.
‘If the Highest Reality did not manifest in infinite variety, but remained cooped up within its solid, singleness, it would neither be the Highest Power nor Consciousness, but something like a jar’. (Abhinavagupta in his ‘Tantraloka’. Chapter 3, verse 100)
From there followed the understanding of the origin of the existence as we know it. In the ultimate and cosmic consciousness, the dynamism or “being-ness” is inherent and critical. Even when it is not in motion or have any need for activity, it is still not without expression. The expression of the Ultimate Consciousness is this existence. As material and gross as it may seem, at the subtle level there is nothing. That is the reality of the existence, which was explicitly NOT called Creation. Rather it was called Srishti, a derivative of Srijan.
“As the great banyan tree lies only in the form of potency in the seed, even so the entire universe with all the mobile and immobile beings lies as a potency in the heart of the Supreme.” (Paratnmsika, 34)
Whatever was said by Abhinavagupta and the disciples of his lineage – including Ksemraja – of Shiva was exactly what Shri Krishna conveyed in similar sentiment to Arjun in Bhagwad Gita.
मया ततमिदं सर्वं जगदव्यक्तमूर्तिना |
मत्स्थानि सर्वभूतानि न चाहं तेष्ववस्थित: || 4||
न च मत्स्थानि भूतानि पश्य मे योगमैश्वरम् |
भूतभृन्न च भूतस्थो ममात्मा भूतभावन: || 5||
(This entire cosmic manifestation is pervaded by me in my unmanifest form. All living beings dwell in me, but I do not dwell in them. And yet, the living beings do not abide in me. Behold the mystery of my divine energy! Although I am the creator and sustainer of all living beings, I am not influenced by them or by material nature. Chapter 9 Verse 4-5)
Who is Shiva – Adiyogi or Consciousness?
Shiva the highest consciousness is at once the existence as well, since existence is not separate nor different from the Universal consciousness. Krishna also describes himself as both the Divine Energy (Prakasa) as well as its Creative impulse (Vimarsa).
Many naive lay people ask the question – who is right or who is who between Krishna and Shiva? Is Krishna a being who walked the planet or just the consciousness which is dynamic and immanent? Is Shiva a being who walked this planet or the Ultimate Consciousness that Krishna also described himself to be and many Sages including Abhinavagupta have suggested Shiva is?
In this video, even someone like Sri Sri Ravishankar seems to make that juvenile mistake.
Sri Sri explains Shiva’s transcendent being beautifully. But his assertion where one aspect of Shiva – the Ultimate Consciousness – being the disqualifying reason of Him having walked the planet (and saying it is an insult) is faulty. For, there is no difference between Krishna’s overwhelming cosmic consciousness and Shiva’s reality of the same consciousness. What does not disqualify Krishna’s existence in a physical form therefore can hardly be an argument against Shiva’s existence on the planet in a form.
In fact, to fully understand the dichotomy of how a Yogi – the Highest One – could also be the Cosmic Consciousness, as is suggested by Krishna and Abhinavagupta in two different ways – one needs to contemplate on how Sadhguru describes Shiva.
So “Shiva” refers to both “that which is not,” and Adiyogi, because in many ways, they are synonymous. This being, who is a yogi, and that non-being, which is the basis of the existence, are the same, because to call someone a yogi means he has experienced the existence as himself. If you have to contain the existence within you even for a moment as an experience, you have to be that nothingness. Only nothingness can hold everything. Something can never hold everything. A vessel cannot hold an ocean. This planet can hold an ocean, but it cannot hold the solar system. The solar system can hold these few planets and the sun, but it cannot hold the rest of the galaxy. If you go progressively like this, ultimately you will see it is only nothingness that can hold everything. The word “yoga” means “union.” A yogi is one who has experienced the union. That means, at least for one moment, he has been absolute nothingness.
Yoga’s final destination is the experience and existence of such a being as the Cosmic Consciousness – Shiva (and inherent Shakti) himself. Krishna said that explicitly without any contradiction. For the unknowing Arjun, he showed the ultimate as well. When one is an attained Yogi, one has complete mastery over the Panch-bhuta – or the basis of Existence (Srishti). One is not just the Wave (Existence/Srishti/”Creation”) but also the Ocean (Cosmic Consciousness). The difference is semantic.
That which Sri Sri Ravishankar has found profound disagreement with – Shiva being a Form and Being and therefore not being the Cosmic Consciousness – is a dénouement that Krishna has described in Bhagwad Gita while describing his Cosmic Consciousness.
अवजानन्ति मां मूढा मानुषीं तनुमाश्रितम् |
परं भावमजानन्तो मम भूतमहेश्वरम् || 11||
(When I descend in my personal form deluded persons are unable to recognize me. They do not know the divinity of my personality, as the Supreme Lord of all beings. Chapter 9, verse 11)
A Yogi, as Krishna was of the highest order, exists as form and the fully dynamic and immanent Cosmic Consciousness. Without both – the gross and subtlest of the subtle – being experienced as a permanent reality, Yogi is no Yogi. In another way, Prahalad explains in Yoga Vasistha:
However, one who is not Vishnu does not derive any benefit by worshipping Vishnu. One should worship Vishnu by being Vishnu. Hence I am Vishnu. He who is known as Prahlada is none other than Vishnu; there is no duality. Vishnu’s vehicle Garuda now bears me. His insignia adorn my limbs. Lakshmi, his consort, is standing next to me. All the divine splendour of Vishnu has become mine. (“Vasistha’s Yoga” by Swami Venkatesananda, pg 236)
Maharishi Vasistha goes on to further emphasize:
Surely, whatever Prahalad attained was through self-effort, O Ram, not otherwise. Vishnu is the self, and the self is Vishnu; the distinction is verbal. It was the self of Prahalad that generated in itself devotion to Vishnu. Prahalad obtained from Vishnu, who was his own self, the boon of self-enquiry; and through such enquiry attained self knowledge. At times one attains self-knowledge through self enquiry undertaken through self effort; at times this self effort manifests as devotion to Vishnu who is also the self, and thus one attains enlightenment. (“Vasistha’s Yoga” by Swami Venkatesananda, pg 256)
Shiva as the Yogi (Adi Yogi) and Guru (Adi Guru) is non-different from Shiva the Consciousness or that “Which is not”. One cannot exist without the other. Shiva was a Swambhu and there was no information on his birth or death, something that Sri Sri describes very well.
Unfortunately, the questioner mistakenly calls Yoga as a philosophy which Yoga is not. For philosophy is merely rearrangement of arguments and thoughts of a conditioned mind. Yoga starts where the need to indulge in philosophies and “mind-stuff” ends. Yoga necessarily and completely delivers a seeker to the realm of Cosmic Consciousness as permanent experience, not just a conjecture. When Krishna says he is Cosmic Consciousness, it is a statement of his reality and experience not a wish. It is the same with Maharishi Vasistha and Prahalad and with Shiva.
The co-existence of a being as a Yogi and as Consciousness is ultimate promise and deliverance of Yoga.
As for Shiva, in the e-book “Shiva – the Ultimate Outlaw”, Sadhguru shares a very interesting story from Shiva’s life where, during his marriage, he is asked about his lineage.
People of the society, the highborn kings and priests, looked at Shiva in great disdain and the gossip mill began to churn: “What is his lineage? Why is he not speaking up? Maybe he comes from some shameful, low-caste background.” Then, sage Narada, who was present in the assembly, saw the turn that events were taking, picked up his veena and started plucking at a single string of the instrument. He kept playing the same note – “toing, toing, toing.” Irritated by this, Parvati’s father, Parvat Raj, lost his temper: “What is this nonsense? We want to hear the lineage of the groom, but he just ignores us. Am I supposed to marry my daughter to a man like this? And why are you making that annoying noise? Is that supposed to be an answer?” Narada replied, “This one does not have parents.” The King asked, “Do you mean to say he does not know who his parents are?”
“No. This one has no parentage. This one has no heritage. This one has no gotra. This one has nothing. All he has is himself.” The assembly was confused. Parvat Raj said, “We know people who don’t know who their father or mother is. Such unfortunate situations can happen. But everyone is born of someone. How can he not have a father or mother?” Narada replied, “Because he is swayambhu, the self-created. He has neither father nor mother. He has neither lineage nor parentage. He belongs to no tradition and does not have a kingdom to back him. He has neither gotra nor nakshatra, and no lucky star watches over him. He is beyond all that. He is a yogi who has embraced the existence as a part of himself. For him, there is only one lineage – sound. The primordial, non-existent nature, when it began to find existence, the first thing that came into existence was sound. His first manifestation is in the form of a single sound. Before that he was nothing. That is why I am plucking the string.”
One who is a Swayambhu is the real manifestation of the Cosmic Consciousness.
Featured Image courtesy Adiyogi.org