Lord Shiva and Kaliyuga Part 3
In our last article entitled Lord Shiva and Kaliyuga Part 2, we had discussed the major points of critical enquiry made by renowned French Indologist and Sociologist Alain Danielou, (in his book ‘While The Gods Play’, first published in the USA in 1987) regarding the connection between Lord Shiva and the end Kaliyuga as mentioned in the Shiva Puran, the Vishnu Puran and the Linga Puran. We ended by asking ourselves the reasons that could prompt us to read on and think about this connection.
In this article, Lord Shiva and Kaliyuga Part 3 let us take the talk forward.
So Danielou suggested that following Shaivite Hinduism is the only way to avoid the gruesome end awaiting all of us. Clearly that sounds like propagation of a religion, no different from the threats of the fire and brimstone and eternal torment that other proselytising books talk of. It is therefore important to re orient our perspective. To do so, we must look into the story of Maya and Lord Shiva’s Pashupati Avatar.
The story goes that the Asuras were pious devotees of Lord Shiva. One of their most spiritual Kings- Maya prayed to Lord Brahma to earn the power to become an architect like Lord Brahma but for the world he wanted to build for Asuras. Lord Brahma granted his wish and Maya built three massive cities. The first city was built of bronze and was situated on earth. The second city was located in the sky and was made of silver. The third city was made of gold and it was located in heaven. Maya’s sons prayed to Lord Brahma again and asked him to make the cities impregnable fortresses that could only be destroyed by a single attack by nobody created by Lord Brahma that too only when the cities aligned vertically in a single row, which would happen for a single time every one thousand years.
All Asuras from everywhere gathered in these three cities and began living peacefully in accordance with the direction of the Dharma Shastras, worshipping Lord Shiva piously as always. The Vedic Gods who were Aryans, became jealous of the success of the Asuras. The Vedic religion was in danger of being swept off the face of creation so they went to Lord Vishnu and asked him to destroy the cities of Maya. Lord Vishnu told them he could not do so and that if at all the Devas were to succeed in their endeavour, they must convince Lord Shiva to destroy the cities. For he was not created by Brahma and he alone had the power to destroy all three fortress cities in one strike.
The Devas prayed and tried to propitiate Lord Shiva, a powerful demon army arose from the fires of the Yajna offered to Lord Shiva. The Devas sent this army to attack Maya’s cities but they were ineffectual against the might of the Asura armies who fought with highly advanced weapons that could harness the powers of the sun.
Lord Shiva simply told the Devas that as long as the Asuras followed the path of Dharma, he would not do anything to destroy them. Frustrated, The Devas went back to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu thought for a while and then brought forth a being clad in robes with a shaved head and instructed him to go to the cities of Maya and teach the Asuras a new religion. A religion that said there was no heaven or hell and that all of one’s pious deeds and wicked deeds were accounted for during one’s lifetime through pleasures and pain, representing heaven and hell respectively. This religion would also propagate the principles of non violence and peace, deriding the scriptural rituals of martial prowess and sacrifices. It would encourage followers to not worship the Shiva Linga and abstain from the pursuit of sensuality, advocating a life of severe austerity and abstinence.
The monk gathered a few followers and taught this new religion to the Asura Kings of the three cities. The wily Narad- sage among the Devas, pretended to be a follower of the new religion, which helped convince the Asura kings. The Asuras stopped following the ways of Dharma Shastras, and abandoned the eating of meat and adopted non violence as their motto. As a result they lost their impressive martial prowess, weakened physically and abstinence wore off their considerable mental faculties. Finally, they stopped worshipping Lord Shiva out of a sense of puritanical shame. Rampant corruption and moral bankruptcy reigned supreme. The stratification of caste collapsed, Asuras inter-married and degenerated steadily with the atheistic and shallow becoming rulers over the learned. This entire process took about a thousand years.
The three cities aligned vertically and the Devas beseeched Lord Shiva once again to destroy the cities. Lord Shiva set one condition. He said all Vedic Gods must accept his suzerainty and the Shaivite mode of life should never be questioned by any Vedic God. The Devas agreed, albeit reluctantly. They pooled their power and forged weapons and a chariot for Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva realized that the Devas felt He could not do much without their aid. Upon reaching the cities Lord Shiva disembarked from the chariot and abandoned all the weapons of the Devas. Then he summoned all animal life in existence, who completely honoured him as the Supreme Being. He was the Lord and master of all living and non living beings. The Devas and their plot against the Asuras were meaningless for Lord Shiva. His will and intent was inscrutable. He smiled and shot an arrow towards the three cities of Maya. In an instant the cities were reduced to ashes, destroying everything and everyone in them. The Devas were aghast at the display of such absolute power, wielded so casually. Lord Shiva proved to them that to Him, the cycles of time and the process of creation and destruction were all the same.
Now if we manage to separate the myth from the philosophy we realize one simple truth that all of these stories and theories are trying to give us. Whether the world is about to be destroyed at the end of the Kaliyuga in 2442 C.E is immaterial. Whether or not the destruction shall be brought about by fire or flood, provoked by sinfulness and selfishness is also immaterial. All things that begin will always end. Lord Shiva was worshipped by the Dravidian races in India before the Aryans came in with their Vedic Gods. Hinduism appropriated Shaivism to establish cultural hegemony over the Dravidians. Even as they did so, they made sure to give Shiva the position of prime importance in the Hindu Pantheon.
The only thing that matters is that we realize Shaivism does not favour violence or non violence, religiousity or secularism, it does not believe in good or bad. The world is not divided into the Manichean black and white. Diversity and difference along with perpetual change is the only constant. How one must act one’s role in life must be decided by the use of compassionate rationality. It is the only way we can fulfil our objective of being human. We may err, but that is better than to pontificate self-righteously. Nobody has seen the future, and there is no reason to besmirch the present thinking about the future because that is only as effective as cribbing about the past.
Om Namah Shivay!