Much ado about Hunger & Hoarding Mortal afflictions alien to Shiva
Who doesn’t crave the chocolate fantasy or exotic delicacies from exquisite cuisine from around the world? The craving or need for food is a way for the human body to reinforce its identity as being “of the flesh” in addition to being a simple way of dissuading the mind from experiencing varied fears that activate the distress antennae in the brain.
Both conditions are of the grossly physical body, shorn of any higher human needs for self development & growth. Their presence as central life issues for most mortals enslaved by them are evident & thought provoking. In mythology, this is often interpreted, as needs of the Muladhara Chakra or an energy centre located at the base of the human spine which focuses on fulfilling fundamental needs for survival such as food and fear of lack.
An informing tale from the god’s opening this fissure of cosmic knowledge goes like this.
Yakshas, primarily absorbed in wealth creation, are a mythic race of people lead by Kubera. Renowned for having built the city of Lanka, this unfortunate lot, lost their home which was annexed by a jealous tribe of Rakshas or demons led by Ravana. Discarded and disillusioned, these people found asylum with Shiva as his Ganas or attendants.
One day, goddess Parvati, whirlwind of Prakriti or nature who surrounds her Lord, the Supreme Mahapurush, Shiva, was sitting on her beloved’s lap. Kubera, the leader of Yakshas, came along and began rattling endlessly about his wealth. Irritated by his futile obsession with material affluence, Parvati bent forward from the cosy glove of her beloved’s warmth & plucked out his left eye. Yelping in pain, at this sudden assault, Kubera demanded an explanation. With twinkling eyes & sweetness in her voice the goddess replied, “Surely, with the mass of your fortunes you can replace your little eye.” Sullen faced, Kubera realized his folly & went on to acknowledge the superiority of life & well being over acquisitions & possessions. Material wealth is of no consequence in the face of death. Accordingly, to remind himself of the wise lesson learnt, he went on to replace his eye with an eye of gold and came to be known as Pingalaksha. Shiva then made him the guardian of the northern direction which is associated with an ascent to wisdom.
On another instance, Kubera, went teasingly to the Potbellied elephant god, Ganesha and said, “ Come Ganesha, let me give you some food, since you look famished and its doesn’t appear like your father can feed you well enough.” Noticing the undertones of mockery & sarcasm in his voice Ganesha, decided to play along and accepted the invitation. When the food was offered he devoured all of it & graciously went on to ask for additional servings. He went on consuming more & more until Kubera, sheepishly fell at his feet & begged him to stop for fear that he would be left with none. Smiling, at his discomfort Ganesha went on to reveal “You crave food to overcome your hunger. The more you eat, the more you feel the need to eat & consequently, your attachment to food makes you hoard it for fear that you will lose it someday. So enslaved are you by the desire for it & the fear of its loss that you spend your life in misery consumed by these passions. Shiva, the Lord of the absolute, is free of all such cravings of hunger & fear, his consciousness is absorbed in contemplating the infinite, bereft of the desires of mortal existence, he is content & blissful, in the absence of food and all pleasures of an affluent life.”
Ganesha retort divulges the rift between mortal & immortal existence & should spark for the seeker of truth, deeper questions of the purpose of life. An ordinary mortal indulges himself in the revelry of wine, women & laughter & all the joys & sorrows that stem from fulfilling needs of material accumulation like food, property, gold & assets. A seeker of divine wisdom, in search of immortality, seeks to rise above these base needs to achieve higher altitudes of self realisation & mastery to free himself of desire altogether.
In heaven’s abode, Shiva cherishes immortality which transcends the fuss over food & fear.