Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guide. Pattanaik's Calendar Art: Part C (Ardhanari, Shiva)

As of July 2018, these videos were no longer at YouTube, but hopefully they will return.
These two videos come from Devdutt Pattanaik's Seven Secrets from Hindu Calendar Art.

3. Ardhanari's Secret (21 min.)

Shiva's Secret: Withdrawal Leads to Destruction

4-1. Shiva's Secret Part 1 (13 min.)

Ardhanari's Secret: God is Stillness Within, Goddess is Movement Around

God: male and female

"For Hindus, God is never limited to one form. The idea of God is expressed through plants, animals, minerals, humans (male and female), and even forms that combine various beings."

"For most Hindus, God is best embodied in the form of three human couples: Brahma and Saraswati, Vishu and Lakshmi, Shiva and Shakti."

"Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sutainer, and Shiva is the destroyer. Brahma, with four heads and a book, looks like a priest; Vishnu, with four arms holding a conch-shell, disc, mace, and lotus, looks like a king; Shiva, with his trident, looks like a mendicant."

"Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Shakti embody wealth, knowledge, and power."

"The male trinity is associated with verbs: creating, sustaining, destroying. The female trinity, on the other hand, is associated with nouns: knowledge, wealth, power. Wealth, knowledge, and power can be created, sustained, or destroyed."

"The male triad signifies the individual, the observer, the one who acts, the one who senses, the one who responds. The female triad then signifies the observation which stimulates and provokes reaction and is a recipient of reaction — the world created by mind and matter, our world of thoughts, emotions, and sensations."

"The Gods are within all of us. The Goddesses are around all of us."

"The human male physiology creates life outside itself. On the other hand, life is created within the human female's body. Thus, the female form best represents the container, the source of all things material. The woman becomes the symbol of material reality, making man the symbol of spiritual reality." [DP adds that these are representations, not reality; what they symbolize, not what they are.]

Maya: judging and measuring

"A bowl of rice will satisfy the hunger of a king as well as that of a beggar. The Goddess does not discriminate; she represents an absence of judgment."

"The capacity to judge is embodied in male forms. God creates, sustains, and destroys society. He is the fountainhead of values, morality, and ethics."

"The Sanskrit word for measurement is maya — that is why the Goddess is called Mahamaya, the great one who can be measured and evaluated. She is matter, she is energy, her various forms are created, sustained, or destroyed by the one who observes her."

"When Narayan wakes up, the Goddess is observed through the senses. She is classified using words, limited by thoughts, and measured with scales."

"That is why this material world of changing forms is often referred to as maya, the embodiment of delusion. She is the world that we experience. As she keeps changing, we struggle to control her, hold her still and make her permanent, but we fail, for her essential nature is to transform."

"That we experience the restlessness of Maya makes us realize there is Atma, the soul, watching the dance of the enchantress."

Truths: changing and unchanging

"The Upanishads, ancient Hindu scriptures dating to 500 BCE, constantly refer to these two truths: a truth which changes and a truth which does not change."

[DP discusses the banyan tree versus grass and grain as examples of these complementary truths. The cobra, meanwhile, is both the still spiritual soul and the moving material world. A mineral pair would be ash as unchanging permanence versus snow as stilled water.]

"The river is moving water, and best represents the changing truth, the impermanent world. Shiva stills the flowing river-nymph Ganga in the locks of his hair because she has the power to overwhelm the world and the mind with her flow."

[DP also discusses color symbolism in terms of stillness and movement.]

"In space, the Pole Star is still, hence the northern direction came to be associated with stillness and wisdom and immortality, while the southern direction came to be associated with change and death."

[So too with right as still, left as moving from the beating of the heart.]

"Amongst humans, the celibate hermit represents the still soul, while the dancing nymph represents the moving world."


"Unfortunately, we live in a world were people focus on form rather than idea; we assume representation is reality and Ardhanareshwara is decoded as a half-woman god rather than the divine, which is half-matter and half-spirit."

"The male half represents the formless divine known in Vedas as Purusha, in Viashnava manuscripts as Narayan, and in Shaiva manuscripts as Shiva. The female half represents the divine that has form (male, female, and neuter forms). The female form in known in Vedas as Prakriti, in Vaishnava manuscripts as Maya, and in Shaiva manuscripts as Shakti."

Stories about Parvati

[DP tells a Tamil story about Shiva, Parvati, and Bhringi.] "Shiva's devotee, Bhringi, wanted to circumambulate Shiva but not Shiva's consort, Parvati. Parvati would not allow that. She sat on Shiva's lap, making it impossible for the ascentic to pass between them. When Bhringi took the form of a bee to fly between their heads, she merged herself with Shiva, so that she became his left half." [Bhringi then became a worm and tried to bore between them, and Parvati cursed him.]

[DP tells another story in which Parvati is jealous Ganga on Shiva's head so Shiva merges his body with Parvati's.]

Reality: spiritual and material

"Spiritual reality is incomplete without material reality."

"Through material reality alone can we experience spiritual reality."

[DP observes the left-right distinction that plays out in these images, with the right privileged.]

"Our life is a continuous dialogue between the divine within and the divine without, between God and Goddess, for without either there is neither."


Shiva the destroyer

"What does Shiva destroy? Sacred scriptures tell us repeatedly that he is Kamataka, Yamantaka, and Tripurantaka — destroyer of Kama, destroyer of Yama, and destroyer of Tripura, which means destroyer of desire, destroyer of death, and destroyer of the three worlds."

"With his third eye, he releases a flame that reduces Kama into a heap of hash. Kama is the god who makes us want things. Shiva destroys the one who provokes desire. Shiva wants nothing."

"By destroying Yama, Shiva destroys karma, that which rotates the wheel of life. With the end of Yama, there is no death, there is no rebirth, and the wheel of life grinds to a halt."

"Shiva destroys our desire for life; he destroys our fear of death; he destroys our need for the world around us."

Symbols of Shiva

"Ash is the symbol of destruction as well as permanence, for it is created by burning things but cannot be burnt itself. Thus, it is also the symbol of the immortal soul, released when matter is destroyed."

"Shiva is smeared with three lines of ash oriented horizontally. These refer to the three destroyed worlds."

"Shiva's trident, where three blades unit to form one staff, indicates the dissolution of the three worlds into one."

"Shiva destroys the division between the subject and the object, between the observer and the observation. The three worlds become one, and the one is the self."

"How does he destroy? By shutting his eyes, by refusing to be an observer, hence not creating an observation."

"Shiva's destruction of desire and karma make him worthy of worship."

"Shiva's arousal is swayambhu, self-stirred, not the result of external stimulation, but the result of internal bliss. Thus, the erect phallus is not a visual representation of rasa or material joy, but of ananda or spiritual bliss, one born of self-containment."

Shiva and Kali

"God needs Goddess. The destroyer thus must be made to open his eyes. That is why the Goddess transforms into her most primal form, Kali, and dances on Shiva."

"Kali wants Shiva to value material reality and care for it. She wants him to open his eyes and become the observer."

"Kali is movement, shiva is stillness; Kali is vertical, Shiva is horizontal. Kali resides in the south, where death also resides as Yama, while Shiva resides in the north, as still as the Pole Star and the snow-clad mountains."

"The Goddess resurrects life and death. She rotates the wheel of rebirths so that once again everyone experiences the yearning for living and the fear of death. These two emotions make man chase wealth and wisdom, manifested as Lakshmi and Saraswati."

"This form of the Goddess is called Tripurasundari, the one who embodies the beauty of the three worlds, the very same worlds that Shiva destroyed, whose ash smears his forehead."

"Shiva needs to be engaged with the world and marry the Goddess. He is becoming Shankara, more aligned with the ways of the world."

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