Lord Shiva and the Power Cosmic
The world of the Marvel Comics talks about powerful beings that have taken up the imagination of millions of teenagers and young adults the world over. Gods from the Norse and Greco-Roman folklore already exist in that world like Zeus, Thor, Loki, Odin etc. The addition of the Hindu god Shiva into the pantheon is an interesting exercise primarily because it would interest people unaware of Shiva, to know that the characters and powers of beings from the marvel world that has taken over their imagination for a few decades have also kept the entire Indian subcontinent in awe for over 3 millennia. Lord Shiva and the Power Cosmic are more closely related than one would imagine.
Thinking about Lord Shiva and the Power Cosmic simultaneously can actually manage to bridge two very different worlds of spiritual and creative ideas. Lord Shiva is also known as ‘Shambhu’ or ‘Swayambhu’. Literally translated into English, it means “He who was born by Himself”. He is the “Aadi” or the beginning and the “Anth” or the end of time and all of creation. Shiva is also the lord and master of the five elements, in all their forms that constitutes all life everywhere- air, water, fire, earth and space. He is like the siblings Infinity and Eternity rolled into one. As such the list of Lord Shiva’s powers is limitless and can be explored beyond the religious context to make interesting connections between religion and popular culture of the eastern and western philosophies.
The destructive and restorative powers of Mahadev are legendary. The most important question then that arises is, what does one do with such awesome power? Shiva the destroyer has features of Galactus- who devours worlds, the Watcher who tries to witness the major events of the universe, rarely intervening, except when absolutely necessary. When his third eye of power opens up, Shiva has little difference in intent than Thanos who tries to bring total chaos with his “Infinity Gauntlet”, only in the case of Lord Shiva even ‘Taandav Nritya’ or utter destruction is an art form- a dance of destruction, that comes from within the God and is not some device like the gauntlet, external to Him. These are extreme examples of the use of power cosmic by super human beings. When however simple human beings are gifted with such power their reactions are significant. The Fantastic Four are the best example of humans with the Power Cosmic. They try their best to preserve the moral order. Lord Shiva appearing in his many avatars, is known to bestow fabulous powers through boons on Gods, demons and humans alike.
There are fascinating tales that exist about the marvellous things such holders of power did, for personal gains as well as for the welfare of all and sundry. The Hulk even though he does not possess the Power Cosmic, represents unrelenting anger and resembles closely Lord Shiva in extreme anger. The mythology revolving around Shiva presents a treasure trove of lessons one may draw for oneself even without thinking of it as religious advice. It opens the possibility of complex debates at a material and philosophical level about power, and its relationship with mankind and its follies like rage, ambition, vanity and uncontrolled desire for absolute domination over others. In a globalised world the transmission of culture and values take place on multiple planes. The most powerful ways to connect with others around the world and with one’s own inner self is to find common grounds on which individuals can learn to improve their lives and enjoy themselves while pursuing objectives of life-long value. ‘The Shiva Experience’ acting more as a process allows a participant to dynamically access the teachings of Shiva without being taught; one makes the connections for oneself. The power Lord Shiva wields focuses on this sort of an inclusive, self regulatory gathering of experience and knowledge.
The Power Cosmic exists, albeit in a different name in each one of us, all one needs to do is tap into it with a sincere effort directed towards self realization. Shiva’s promise to His devotees of ‘Mahamrityunjaya stotram’ or assurance of eternal life is metaphorically fulfilled every time one attempts to pursue Him in earnest. He singes off the deathly shrouds of dejection and hopelessness- a common product of contemporary life the world over. Unleashing the power cosmic the Shaivite way is one of the most productive route to transcend banality and attain an ever refreshing spiritual vision rooted in the mores of our material realities.