Saturday, June 1, 2013

U.F.Os and Vimanas

O Rama of unequaled prowess,
This aerial car shining like the sun, 
Moves as one pleases, wonderful and excellent;
This Pushpak of Kuber, robbed by Ravan in battle,
Is retained here for your sake;
The yonder aerial car, looking like a cloud, 
Stands here and by which transport, 
You can reach Ayodhya without any trouble.
May prosperity attend you! 

- Valmiki Ramayan [6.121.9-11]

The above verse describes the Pushpak Vimaan, perhaps the most famous airship mentioned in the ancient Hindu literature. Many Sanskrit epics contain references to such flying machines called the Vimaans/Vimanas. These Vimaans were said to be able to travel into space between different planets and were used by various denizens of the higher Lokas. In this post, we shall analyze the evidence in favor of such flying machines being available to the ancients and their similarities to the modern aircrafts.

Vimaans in literature

There are many descriptions of flying machines that broadly fall into two categories: 

(1) Manmade aircrafts that resemble our modern airplanes, and 
(2) Alien structures that are generally built by either the architects of Devas or Asurs and resemble the modern perception of UFOs. 

The FIRST of this category are described mainly in medieval Sanskrit literature dealing with architecture, siege engines, and other mechanical contrivances. Those in the SECOND category are described in ancient works such as the Rig Veda, the Mahabharat, Ramayan, and various Puraans, and have many features reminiscent of UFOs.

We will deal with the second category first as their references are more in number, and seem to be more authentic as well. Perhaps everyone who knows anything about Hinduism, or has heard/read the Ramayan, would know about Pushpak Vimaan, the aircraft which belonged to Ravan, the king of Lanka. 

The Pushpak Vimaan

Pushpak was originally designed by Vishwakarma, the architect cum engineer of the gods, for Kuber, the lord-of-wealth. But  it was usurped by his half-brother, Ravan along with the island city of Lanka. There are various passages in the Ramayan that talk about the wonderful qualities of this aerial vehicle:

कांचनम् रथम् आस्थाय कामगम् रत्न भूषितम् |
पिशाच वदनैः युक्तम् खरैः कनक भूषणैः || ३-३५-६
मेघ प्रतिम नादेन स तेन धनद अनुजः |
राक्षसाधिपतिः श्रीमान् ययौ नद नदी पतिम् || ३-३५-७

That chariot which is decorated with golden ornaments, yoked with monster-faced mules that have gem studded trappings is ride-able by the wish of the rider, and sitting in such a chariot which is wholly golden and which rides with a sound like the pealing of thunder, that celebrated Ravan, the brother of Kuber and the lord of demons, traveled towards the lord of rivers and rivulets, namely the ocean.

So, the Pushpak was an aerial vehicle, navigable by thought, shimmering like the Sun, with a thunderous noise and could travel anywhere across the globe. Sounds like a cross between a UFO and one of our modern supersonic planes!

An alleged UFO sighting in Mexico

The special characteristic of this vehicle seems to be that whatever may be the number of people sitting inside the plane, there would always be one seat vacant! In other words, if N number of people want to board the plane, there would still be (N+1) seats available. This prodigious capacity is mentioned to in the following verses:

प्रियाअत्प्रियतरं लब्धं यदहं ससुहृज्जनः || ६-१२२-२२
सर्वैर्भवद्भिः सहितः प्रीतिं लप्स्ये पुरीं गतः |

Shri Raam said - Something more dearer than everything dear will be achieved by me, if I reach Ayodhya with the host of my friends along with all of you, for, I shall feel delighted.

This is when Vibhishan, the brother of Ravan and the newly crowned king of Lanka tells the Lord, that the aircraft can carry as many people as the Lord would want to accomodate!

ततह् स पुष्पकं दिव्यं सुग्रीवः सह वानरैः || ६-१२२-२४
आरुरोह मुदा युक्तः समात्यश्च विभीषणः |

Thereupon, that Sugreeva along with the monkeys gladly ascended that wonderful Pushpaka, the aerial car. Vibhishan together with his counselors also ascended it.

तेष्वारूढेषु सर्वेषु कौबेरम् परमासनम् || ६-१२२-२५
राघवेणाभ्यनुज्ञातमुत्पपात विहायसम् |

When all of them ascended, that excellent aerial car, belonging to Kuber, flew into the sky, after having been duly authorized by Rama.

 Pushpak Vimaan - Pahari miniature painting

खगतेन मिवानेन हंसयुक्तेन भास्वता || ६-१२२-२६
प्रहृष्टश्चप्रतीतश्च बभौ रामः कुबेरवत् |

Feeling greatly rejoiced and satisfied while travelling in that splendid aerial car, which was now in the air and was provided with the image of a swan, Rama shone like Kuber.

ते सर्वे वानरर्क्षश्च राक्षसाश्च महाबलाः || ६-१२२-२७
यथासुखमसंबाधं दिव्ये तस्मिन्नुपाविशन् |

All those mighty Vanars, bears and demons sat comfortably and spaciously in that wonderful aerial car.

Another such description is found in the Ayodhya Kand [XVI, pp. 235-236]-

The splendid chariot, made of silver, and bright like the fire itself, making a noise like the roaring of the clouds; defying all obstacles, adorned with jewels and gold, dazzling to the eyesight and bright, went speedily on, making space resound like unto the muttering cloud in the sky. He issued out of his abode like the beautiful moon passing through a huge cloud.

As mentioned in the post {Rama - The Historical Perspective}, in Sri Lanka, the Pushpak Viman is referred to as the Dhandu Monara or the Flying-Peacock and even today there exists a place called Weragantota in Lanka whose name implies 'The-Landing-Place-of-Aircraft'!! Not far from there is another place called Gurulupotha (parts-of-birds) where he is supposed to have the aircraft-repair center! 

One of the 6 airports of Ravan - Weragantota

This implies that it is more than likely that the Pushpak Vimaan DID actually exist and was perhaps the last aircraft of its kind before the advent of our so called modern age.

Other References to Vimaans

The Pushpak is not the only aircraft mentioned in so much detail. The Mahabharat mentions such celestial crafts in many passages as well!

During his quest for celestial weapons before the Mahabharat War, Arjun was invited by Indra to spend some time in Amravati. Indra's charioteer Matali came to pick him up and this is how the description goes:

And on this sunlike, divine, wonderful chariot the wise disciple of Kuru flew joyously upward. When becoming invisible to the mortals who walk the earth, he saw wondrous airborne chariots by the thousands.

And the celebrated Arjun, having passed through successive regions of the heavens, at last beheld the city of Indra. And there he beheld celestial cars by thousands stationed in their respective places and capable of going everywhere at will, and he saw tens of thousands of such cars moving in every direction!

- Mahabharat Indralokgamana Parv

While in heaven, Arjun helped Indra curb the Asur menace and assisted his father in a few battles:

When the Daityas were being slaughtered they again took to their vimana and, employing the Danava science, flew up into the sky . . . I (Arjuna) assaulted their vimana . . . Wounded by the flight of deadly-accurate iron missiles, the Asura vimana fell broken to the earth . . . Matali swiftly descended earthward, as in a steep dive, on our divinely effulgent car.

Deva-Asur celestial war

Again, in the Swargaohan Parv, when Indra's spacecraft comes to pick up Yudhhishthir, this is the description given:

Then Dharma and Indra and the other deities, causing Yudhishthira to ascend on a car, went to the celestial region. Those beings capable of going everywhere at will, rode their respective aerial cars. King Yudhishthira, riding on his car, ascended quickly, causing the entire sky to blaze with his effulgence.

If these passages do not talk about aircrafts or space-ships, what do else do they refer to??
Further support for the Vimaans comes from the Puraans like Shrimad Bhagvat Puraan. There is an entire battle that rages at the port city of Dwarka which is caused by a disgruntled king called Salva and his out-of-the-world airplane:

Lord Siva said, "So be it." On his order, Maya Danava, who conquers his enemies' cities, constructed a flying iron city named Saubha and presented it to Salva.
[SB 10.76.7]

This unassailable vehicle was filled with darkness and could go anywhere. Upon obtaining it, Salva went to Dvaraka, remembering the Vrishnis' enmity toward him.
[SB 10.76.8]

At one moment the magic airship built by Maya appeared in many identical forms, and the next moment it was again only one. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes not. Thus Salva's opponents could never be sure where it was.
[SB 10.76.21]

From one moment to the next the Saubha airship appeared on the earth, in the sky, on a mountain peak or in the water. Like a whirling, flaming baton, it never remained in any one place.
[SB 10.76.22]

There are other such passages too concerning other characters from the Puranic history:

Having spoken thus, Maharaja Nriga circumambulated Lord Krishna and touched his crown to the Lord's feet. Granted permission to depart, King Nriga then boarded a wonderful celestial airplane as all the people present looked on.
[SB 10.64.30]

As soon as the symptoms of his liberation were manifest, he saw a very beautiful airplane coming down from the sky, as if the brilliant full moon were coming down, illuminating all the ten directions.
[SB 4.12.19]

A spacecraft Out-of-this World

Dear King Dhruv, neither your forefathers nor anyone else before you ever achieved such a transcendental planet. The planet known as Vishnuloka, where Lord Vishnu personally resides, is the highest of all. It is worshipable by the inhabitants of all other planets within the universe. Please come with us and live there eternally.

O immortal one, this unique airplane has been sent by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is worshiped by selected prayers and who is the chief of all living entities. You are quite worthy to board such a plane.

It may be difficult for us to believe that such technology existed in those ancient times because we have been conditioned to believe that modern time is the 'Golden age of science'. But, what if our ancients were more advanced than us?? 

Were the ancients more advanced?

The natural question that comes up is that if this were so, where did all that technology vanish? My guess would be that the Mahabharat War was NUCLEAR in nature and the use of all those divine Astras (aka Nuclear weapons) led to the decimation of not only a large portion of the world population but also the technology and civilizational progress that mankind had achieved till then.

Imagine if such a war breaks out today, what would be the condition of humanity in the decades to come? Granted that unlike pre-historic times, humans now exist at all possible latitudes on the planet, it might not lead to a complete loss of development but the scientists at the cutting edge of technology, living and working in the US or Europe or China would suffer a great loss. 

The people remaining behind would remember the 'supersonic planes' and 'patriot missiles' and 'submarine rocket launchers' but may not necessarily have the technology to build them! And to someone from a future generation, these technological advances would then seem like fables; stories passed down from one generation to another, just as the Pushpak Vimaan or the Divine Astras seem to us now!

One such criticism of the Vimaans is that they were said to be drawn through the sky by “celestial steeds” (whether horses, swans, asses, or elephants). But the answer to that lies in this sentence from a Sanskrit text called Samarangana Sutradhara which states quite unequivocally - 'Manufacturing details of these machines are withheld for the sake of secrecy, not out of ignorance!'

Probably, the propulsion units were deliberately constructed to resemble these animals! This particular book is an encyclopedic work on classical Indian architecture (Vastu Shastra) written by Raja Bhoj of Dhar (1000-1055 AD). In 83 chapters, he covers subjects ranging from town planning, house architecture, temple architecture, sculptural arts, painting, and a chapter on the art of mechanical contrivances, called the YANTRAS.

The  chapter on yantras is most intriguing as its verses 95-100 mention bird-shaped aerial cars (Vimanas), and verses 101-107 mention a sort of robots acting as guards!! It contains 230 stanzas that are devoted to flight. It describes in detail, every possible aspect of flying. 

Sample some excerpts -

'The aircraft which can go by its own force like a bird - on the earth or water or through the air - is called a Vimana. That which can travel in the sky from place to place is called a Vimana by the sage of old.'

'The body must be strong and durable and built of a light wood [Lagha-daru], shaped like a bird in flight with wings outstretched [mahavinhanga]. Within it must be placed the mercury engine, with its heating apparatus made of iron underneath'.

'The iron engine must have properly welded joints to be filled with mercury, and when the fire is conducted to the upper parts, it develops power with the roar of a lion. By means of the energy latent in mercury, the driving whirlwind is set in motion, and the traveler sitting inside the Vimana may travel in the air, to such a distance as to look like a pearl in the sky'.
Either this guy was the precursor of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells or what he wrote did make some sense even in those times! It may be that the book was not actually written by the king himself but was compiled by the experts from each discipline and given his name as a show of courtesy. Even so, the person who wrote about the aircrafts would at the least have had a very fertile imagination!!

Another popular book for the study of Vimaans is the Vyamanika/Vaimanika Shastra. It is an early 20th century Sanskrit text about the science involved with the study, design, and manufacturing of fly-able machines and flying them. 

The text was translated in 1952 by G. R. Josyer, according to whom it's credit goes to Pandit Subbaraya Shastry, who dictated it in 1918-1923. It has 3000 shlokas in 8 chapters and under the direction of Pandit Shastry, illustrations were drawn for Vaimanika Shastra by a certain T. K. Ellapa. 

 Illustrations based on Vaimanika Shastra

The text was then published in Hindi in 1959 and then in 1973 into English by G.R. Josyer while Ellappa’s illustrations were added only in the 1973 edition and were not included in 1959 publication. Here is a list of some topics shared in the Vaimanika Shastra:
  • secrets for the construction of airplanes, how to avoid break them, cut them, set them on fire and destroy them;
  • secret to immobilize the airplane;
  • secret cloaking technology for the airplane;
  • secret to ascertain the direction of an aircraft approaching enemy;
  • secret of destroying enemy planes.
There are many websites and blogs dealing with this particular treatise and you can find plenty of details about the same quite easily. What you may not find is the mention of the FIRST INDIAN MAN to create an unmanned aircraft based on this book, and the recording of this event 8 years before the Wright brothers!

The man, Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade, was a friend and disciple of Pandit Subbaraya Shastry and is believed to have constructed and flown India's first unmanned airplane in the year 1895 to a height of 1500 feet based on the principles in the Vaimanika Shastra!

Talpade's airplane was named Marutsakhā, literally, 'Friend-of-the-air' and the machine flew upto a certain height before crashing down at Chowpatty. Lack of funds halted further research into the improvement of this machine by Talpade but its fateful flight was recorded by Kesari, the newspaper run by Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1895!

One of Talpade’s students, P. Satwelkar, is believed to have recorded that the unmanned plane flew a few minutes and then crashed. The veracity of these claims is difficult to prove today but since the event was witnessed by none less than a Maharaja (of Baroda), the issue remains inconclusive at best.

A London Times article discussing the issue

More than these relatively recent developments however, my focus is on the ancient texts such as the ones shared earlier for they corroborate what we have already discussed and reasonably concluded in an older post titled {Lokas or Planets of Advanced Aliens}.

Could the multi-limbed gods and goddesses with super-human abilities, space-crafts and atomic weaponry, actually be ALIENS with a keen interest in our world? If that were true, the existence of this technology at a time when human science was not that advanced would make sense. 

Another aspect that would be covered is the mention of Maya Danav as the designer and manufacturer of these planes since the Danavs are supposed to live on the planetary system called Bila-swarga which is even more advanced than the Swarga of Indra.

Whether we consider them advanced aliens or demi-gods, these beings are far superior to us in scientific as well as spiritual pursuits and the goal of sharing this knowledge is to follow the path of Gyaan-yoga and detach oneself from attachment to this mortal body and its entrapments.

All planets, star-systems, nebulae, galaxies, black-holes, universes, multiverse etc. are nothing but emanations from Shri Hari Vishnu. Eternity manifests itself in endless ways and Arjun got a rare glimpse of this vision in the Virat Roop of Lord Krishna at Kurukshetra when he witnessed the entire 14 planetary dimensions composed of numerous Suns, Moons, Planets and Galaxies from Past, Present as well as the Future encompassed in the body of the Lord

The Supreme Lord's Virat Swaroop
 Zillions of Universes emerging from Lord Maha-Vishnu's body pores

I conclude this post remembering the same Virat Roop of the Supreme Lord and joining hands in supplication for deliverance from this never-ending cycle of Birth and Death.

Isvarah paramah krishna sac-cid-anand vigrahah
anadir aaadir govindah sarva kaaran kaaranam    . Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti: .

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Dance of Shiva

Om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam
urvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt

The above verse from Rigveda [7.59.12], known as the Mahamritunjaya  or the Death-conquering Mantra is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ironically, it is Shiva Himself who is revered as the harbinger of the final Destruction of the World!

Who is Shiva? What are the origins of this mighty god in Hindu religion and what are the different facets of His personality? In this post, let us try to analyze this enigmatic god and learn what it means to be the Lord of Destruction..

Shiva, the Destroyer

As mentioned in the Page {33 Devas} of this blog, Lord Shiv, along with Prajapati Brahma and Shri Hari Vishnu, forms a part of the highest echelons of the hierarchy amongst Gods known as the Trimurti. All three fit into the scheme of things perfectly with their respective roles being coplimentary to each other.
  • Brahma, the First in the Trinity, is the Creator and Master of all Divine Ceremonies.  
  • Vishnu, the Preserver god who incarnates to help mankind face the challenges posed whenever Evil forces become too dominant in the Universe. 
  • Shiva, destroys at the End of Time and thus sustains the endless rhythm of the Universe ensuring a continuous cycle of renewal and growth.


In their mistaken belief, some scholars argue that Shiva had a pre-Aryan origin because he was worshiped in the Indus Valley. But, as mentioned in the page {Hindu History} of the blog, the Aryan Civilization, if not earlier, was at the very least contemporary to the Indus-Saraswati Civilization and Vedic scriptures, more likely than not, reflect the literally aspect of the same.

That the Mahabharat follows the Indus perception of Shiva again shows that the two developed same imagery and that this penultimate battle between Good and Evil occurred around the same time as the Indus-Saraswati Civilization! In an article titled {The Riddle of India's Ancient Past}the French proto-historian Michel Danino believes there are strong links between Vedas and the Harappan culture.

'We find statues and seals depicting yogis and yogic postures, we find a Shiva-like deity, worship of a mother-goddess, fire altars, all of which are suggestive of Vedic culture. Harappan symbols include the Trishul, the Swastika, the Conch shell, the Peepal tree, all of which are central to Indian culture. The Rig-Veda itself is full of references to fortified cities and towns, to oceans, sailing, trade and industry, all of which are found in the Harappan civilization.'

Pashupati Seal from Indus-Saraswati excavations

The Pashupati seal (2700 BCE) shows a three-headed figure sitting in a Yogic posture surrounded by animals, sometimes with an erect phallus, and more likely than not is an iconic representation of Shiva-Rudra. Exactly similar description arises in the Mahabharat, where the Lord is referred to as Trishira (having three heads); Digvasas (without clothes); Urddh-linga (with upward erect phallus), and Yogadhyaksha, or the Lord of Yoga.

As you probably know from my other posts, I love to find out the similarities between the mythologies from different parts of the world. Keeping up with the tradition, I here share with you the image of the horned god Cernunnos worshiped in Europe around 1st century CE.

The Horned Gods - Pashupati & Cernunnos

Just like Shiva, Cernunnos is believed to be the god of Nature and Fertililty and is still revered in Celtic mythology as the 'Lord of Animals' (quite similar to the Indus Pashupati!). Whatever the connection between the two, it is not easy to understand Shiva completely as he is described variously at various places with completely opposite attributes.

In Yajurveda, the contrary attributes are referred to as Rudra, the terrifying and Shiva, the auspicious (Sanskrit Shiv = Shubh). Some scholars believe Rudra to be the older form which was merged later with a 'Non-Aryan' god Shiva or Pashupati in later times. But do the scriptures support such a hypothesis?

Shiva, the Consummate Yogi
Rudra, the Destroyer of Creation
{Image courtesy - Devon ke dev, Mahadev}

 Shiva or Rudra?

The story of Rudra's birth is very interesting and is identically revealed in many Puranas.

As I had earlier mentioned in the post {Creation by Brahma}, inspite of Brahma's efforts at populating the world, the early sons of Brahma chose to follow the path of Spirituality instead of procreation and Brahma was sorely disappointed. His first creations, the Sanat Kumars, in fact abhorred entering the Samsar Chakra so much that they continue living the form of 5 year old kids and never attain puberty!

This, however, frustrated Brahma so much that from his forehead, (the region of the third eye) emerged a dark red/blue child bawling at the top of his voice. This angry baby was named Rudra (The Howler)!

Rudra born from Brahma's Frown

However, Rudra, was more spiritually inclined than Brahma, and decided to follow the path of Tapas or Penance and thus entered samadhi in the Garbhodak Ocean. It was only after a lot of cajoling and praying by Brahma, that He agreed to help in procreation and manifested 10 more beings with the same appearance as him (Binary Fission?!?). These are the 11 Rudras, and Rig Veda [2.33], describes Shiv as the Father-of-All-Rudras.

Thus, we see, that the scriptures find NO difference between Rudra and Shiva except that the first term encompasses eleven gods, the First and Foremost of whom is Lord Shiv. Therefore, the hypothesis that Shiva was a non-Aryan god who was merged with Rudra is baseless.

Lord Shiv with the Rudras

As regards the three-eyes, it is interesting to note that the Pineal gland in Human beings is located at the region of the Third-Eye and has tissue similar to that of the normal functioning eye. Indeed the gland in many vertebrates has cells similar to the photoreceptors of eye used for vision! Could it then be another vestigial organ that we humans possessed earlier but now has a very limited value??

The Deep Seated Third Eye
 Shiva, the only being with a Completely functional Pineal Gland?

Lord Shiv, then would be the most ancient progenitor of our race in whom the organ functions as it should. But Brahma got terrified of these three-eyed fierce forms and requested Lord Shiva to create a more benign aspect of Himself and that is how Shakti was given a form!

Shiva and Shakti

Rudra, thus took the form of Ardhanarishwar and generated a female principle from His left half who was the Rudrani. Each of the 11 Rudras similarly obtained a consort thus providing Brahma some satisfaction of seeing his creations multiply. Shiva's consort Uma  or Shakti is the primeval Goddess who also represents the Yogmaya of Lord Vishnu.

Lord as Ardha-naarishwar

The festival of Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiv was married to Parvati, the final form of Uma who was earlier born as Daksha's daughter Sati.

Shiva with His beloved Sati in happier times

The union of Shiva and Shakti is represented symbolically in the form of the Lingam and the Yoni. It symbolizes Hieros-gamos or the 'Sacred Union' between God and the Goddess that gives birth to creation. It is yet another tribute to the ancient Indians' acceptance of the sexual act as a natural phenomenon and one that needs to be worshiped and not abhorred.

The same union is celebrated in Tibetan Tantrism where it is referred to as Yab-Yum (Father-Mother). Shiva is depicted here as Yamantaka or End-of-Yama revealing the episode when He rescued Rishi Markandeya from Yamdev's noose literally at gun-point (Trident point if you please!).

Yamantaka Shiva in Yab-Yum formation

While both Shiva and Shakti represent the Male and Female forms, their vehicles also represent their innate attributes. Shiva's vehicle Nandi, the bull, represents magnificence, virility and proud masculinity while Parvati's vehicle, the mountain Lion or Singh represents her Power or Shakti and the taming of animal instincts by the Mother Goddess.

Archaeologically, we find this reflected in the Zebu bull seals of Indus-Saraswati Civilization (which may represent Nandi) and surprise, surprise, in a far-off valley in Turkey known as Yazili Kaya! The rock-cut friezes in these caves belong to 16th-17th century BCE and show a God Teshav riding a bull, while the accompanying Goddess Hakat rides a Lion and is accompanied by a young boy Kumarbi (Kumar Kartikeya?).

Zebu Bull from Harrapan seals
Yazili Kaya rock-cut frieze with God on Bull and Goddess on Lion

The worship of Shiva and Shakti thus represents an ancient rite of recognizing the Universe as a balance of the Male and the Female, the Doer and the Energy, the Yin and the Yang and the Yab and the Yum. The night of their union or Mahashivratri is also believed to be the night when Shiva appeared in the form of a Lingam of Fire and challenged the gods Brahma and Vishnu's contest for supremacy. That was the night Lord Vishnu's magnanimity came to fore while Brahma's cheating led to Shiva putting the curse that he would never be worshiped. The Somnath Temple in Gujarat commemorates this very occasion!

My visit to the Somnath Temple

We see now a reason why Shiva would have invoked belligerence in his father-in-law Daksha Prajapati. After all, Daksha was the eldest Manas-putra of Brahma and could not have taken kindly to this denigration of his father's position from the Head-of-the-Trinity to its bottom! Perhaps, that was also the reason, that he balked at the idea of his most favored daughter Sati, falling in love with the man he so heartily despised!!

Sati did eventually marry Lord Shiv against her father's wishes and ultimately sacrificed herself in the Yagnya fire at Kankhal, Haridwar to protect her husband's honor. Shiva carries the corpse of Sati on His shoulder lamenting His loss till Lord Vishnu uses His Chakra to disintegrate the body. Each part of the body falling on Earth provides a Divine foundation and thus are formed the 51 Shaktipeeths (Seats-of-Energy)!

This incident shows that Shiva and Vishnu work in tandem too and their Oneness-in-Duality is also seen in the combined form of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Har) that depicts both deities as two faces of the same coin working hand-in-hand to ensure smooth functioning of the Universe.

Hari-Hara the Divine combination of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva

The story shows a completely new side of Shiva where the Supreme Master-of-Senses loses control and decides to take revenge by beheading Daksha!

Virbhadra, born from Shiva's locks beheads Daksha
Virbhadra statue carved out of rock at Kailash Temple, Ellora

This  is what makes Shiva more relatable to humans.. it shows that even at the highest level of spirituality, the bonds of affection may cause a person to slip and plunge into gloom or anger. 

Kailash, the Abode of Shiva

Talking about Kailash, the holy mountain is believed to be the abode of Shiv and Parvati. There are many mentions of it in the various Puranas and other scriptures like Ramayan and Mahabharat. The mountain is sacred for not only Hindus but also Buddhists, Jains and followers of Bon religion.

Satellite Image of Mt. Kailash with Mansarovar and Rakshas Taal
 Catching a glimpse of the Holy Mountain

Jains worship the region as their First Tirthankar, Rishabhdev attained Nirvana here (Check the post {India and Bharat} for more on Adinath Rishabhdev). Tibetan Buddhists worship Mount Kailash as the home of the Buddha Demchok or Chakrasamvara, who represents supreme bliss.

The followers of Bön religion credit the entire region, especially Kailash, as the seat of all spiritual power. Indeed the area gives one a feeling of entering a more spiritual plane especially when you see mountain peaks like that of the Om Parvat.

View of the Om Parvat en route to Mount Kailash

Inspite of numerous references to it, the readers might be surprised to know, that Kailash was not always the home of Shiva! Infact, some passages of the Shrimad Bhagvat Puraan state that the original abode of Sadashiv is at the boundary of this Universe at the Loka-aloka border!

The Original Abode of Lord Shiv

These verses in the Vayu Puraan, Chapter 39 shed more light on the details of this place:

[230] Beyond Brahmaloka and beneath the upper crust of the Cosmic Egg – in between these two is Shiva’s city, his divine abode called MANOMAYA.

[238] The city shines with scattered diamond dust. These worlds are lit from within, meaning their reality does not consist of reflected light, as does our material world.

[264-266] Lord Maheshwar [the transcendent Lord Shiv] of ten arms sports therein… He is respected and diligently worshiped by the people moving about in aerial chariots.

This, then is the Original and Supreme abode of Shiva where He resides till the end of Creation and is visited by the other gods in their space-crafts {Check the post Lokas or Alien Planets for more on this topic}. Kailash may actually be the temporary home where the Lord comes for a small time, maybe as a summer-retreat!

Shiva Family on Mount Kailash

This would also make sense, since geologically, the Himalayas (of which Mount Kailash is a part), did not rise up till about 5o million years ago! 

Since Hindu Timelines begin close to 155 Trillion years (the present age of Brahma), hence, obviously Lord Shiv would have had to live somewhere else before finally making Kailash His home!! Also, the Himalayas wont stay forever as the Pralaya or the End-of-the-World would destroy the World as we know it and Brahma would then remould it into a new shape.

At that time, Shiva would probably return to the abode known as Manomaya with His family and Kailash may or may not come into being again. 

Naimittik Pralaya

The destruction that takes place at the end of a daytime of Brahma is referred to as Naimittik, implying incidental or occasional opposed to Prakritik Pralaya that takes place at the end of Brahma's lifetime. {Check the post - Pralaya, the End of Days for more on this}

The characteristic of this destruction is that the three worlds (Bhur, Bhuvah and Swarga) continue to exist but are made uninhabitable. The souls of individuals also continue to exist to be reincarnated in the next daytime of Brahma.

The Shiv Purana [] states that the fall off of the energy residing in the THIRD EYE of Shiva fell like lightning and Brahma had to take it to the ocean and keep it under check there else it could burn the entire creation!

The energy thus released was stored underwater in the shape of a mare and is known as the Vadava {Check this link for details - On Wings of Fire}. The fire-mare resides under the ocean (Molten Earth's core?) and one of the myths calls her wife of Yama and hence a harbinger of Death.

 Vadava Fire hidden below the Oceans

Swayambhu Manu alludes to this fire from Shiva's eye stating that in two cases Fire is born out of Water. One, at the time of Lightening and secondly, in the case of the under-water Vadava Mare. Brihadaranyak Upanishad [1.1.2] states that the open mouth of this mare keeps releasing fire in the Sea from time to time, perhaps alluding to submarine eruptions common in the ocean floor!

Submarine Volcanoes -  Flames of the Vadava Fire?

 Eruption of an Underwater Volcano

Normally, the fire is kept in check with the waters of the Global Ocean. But as Mahabharat verses [12.248.13-17] state, the end of the Day of Brahma is nigh that Rudra sparks off the fire again and this explosion from the mare's mouth in the Southern Ocean begins the process of Pralaya.  

Vishnu Purana [1.7.24-40] also agrees that this destruction would begin with an underwater explosion and shall be succeeded by a 100 year drought during which the seas, rivers, and streams will all be drained of water. The sun would be replaced by seven suns (will our Sun increase in size?), and the three worlds as well as the underworlds shall be burned bare of life. This then, is the Final Destiny of our planet and this is what we call Tandav, the Final Dance of Shiva. As each atom is created, another is destroyed and this continues forever in a cyclical manner. 

Shiva dancing the Dance of Destruction at Elephanta Caves
Shiva drinks poison to save Life yet also annihilates at the End of Time

I conclude this post with the invocation I started the post with as there is nothing better to pray for except getting out of this Samsara Chakra. This Mahashivratri, let us remember the Lord with our hearts and minds and pray for deliverance:

Om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam
urvārukam iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt

OM, We worship Shiva, the Three-eyed fragrant Lord,
Who nourishes and nurtures all beings,
As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper),
May He liberate us from Death and take us to Immortality.

Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:

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