“Or, lifting him up and carrying him across the ocean, I will offer him to Rama, like an animal offered to Lord Shiva, the lord of animals.” (Hanuman, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 13.50)
athavā enam samutkṣipya upari upari sāgaram ||
rāmāya upahariṣyāmi paśum paśu pater iva |
Parvati is the chaste daughter of the mountain king, Himavan. In her previous life, she was Sati, whose very name means “chaste.” In that life she was married to the destroyer, the deity in charge of annihilating the universe at the appropriate time. He is known for his simple life of meditation and prayer, always focusing on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord Rama. Parvati’s husband goes by many names, which speak to his different attributes.
This is likely the name Parvati’s husband is best known by. Shiva means “auspicious.” He is the spiritual master, or guru, for all kinds of people. From Vedic philosophy we learn that the living beings of this world are a combination of purusha and prakriti. Purusha means “person” or “enjoyer” and for the living beings it refers to the spirit within. Prakriti is “matter” or “that which is enjoyed.”
Prakriti consists of different combinations of the three modes of material nature: goodness, passion and ignorance. These are like different ingredients. Indeed, based on how these ingredients are mixed, the living being assumes a certain varna. This Sanskrit word typically equates to an occupation, but the root meaning is “color.” Some people are nice. Some aren’t. Some are intelligent, while others are more animalistic.
Though specifically in charge of the mode of ignorance, Lord Shiva is auspicious for everyone. For the animal-like people he helps bring elevation to a higher mode. For those in the mode of passion, he gives boons very quickly. For those in the mode of goodness, he gives the proper example of devotion to Vishnu, who is the personal God. Vishnu is another form of Rama.
This word means “easily pleased.” It doesn’t take much to get Shiva’s favor. Just offering a little water and some leaves to his linga, or statue representation, brings results very quickly. Shiva does not make character judgments. Whoever worships him properly usually gets their desires fulfilled very quickly.
There is a reason he behaves as Ashutosha. He doesn’t like to have his meditation broken. He understands that material rewards aren’t so important, so he doesn’t spend a lot of time deliberating over what should be given. He would rather continue his chanting of the holy names of Rama.
There is the Supreme Lord Rama, who is also known through His non-different forms of Vishnu, Krishna, Narasimha and others. Then there are devas, or gods, who act as deputies. They are something like cabinet officers in the Executive Branch of government. They have their different departments that they are in charge of.
Brahma and Shiva are the highest deputies, in charge of passion and ignorance respectively. Still, Shiva has a more special place. He is known as Mahadeva, or the great god. He is like a deva, but more. He is almost like Vishnu. He is non-different from the Supreme Lord in the sense that he can deliver spiritual wisdom, acting as guru. He has his own realm that does not get destroyed at the time of the cosmic destruction.
Lord Shiva is known by this name for several reasons. The root definition is “lord of the animals.” The animal society extends to the human beings, who have more potential in intelligence. Pashupati is the pati, or lord, of the entire population of creatures. There was also a weapon of a similar name that Shiva once gave to the bow-warrior Arjuna.
“Lord Shiva tested Arjuna’s strength by picking a quarrel with him over a hunted boar. He confronted Arjuna in the false dress of a hunter, and Arjuna covered him with arrows until Lord Shiva was satisfied with Arjuna’s fighting. He offered Arjuna the Pāshupati weapon and blessed him.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.1.38 Purport)
In ancient times there was also animal sacrifice offered to Lord Shiva. This was referenced one time by Shri Hanuman. A direct servant of Rama, Hanuman was in Lanka looking for Rama’s wife Sita. She had been taken away by the wicked king of Lanka, Ravana. Hanuman several times became depressed due to lack of success in the mission. As a kind of pep talk to himself, to keep going in the search, he once mentioned that if Sita wasn’t found he would at least bring Ravana back to Rama. He made the comparison to offering an animal to the lord of animals, Pashupati.
The Vedas cap the list of different species at 8,400,000. Within that number there are specific species that correspond with the mode of ignorance. As Shiva is the presiding deity of this particular mode, he is associated with these creatures. They are something like ghosts and goblins.
The Sanskrit word bhuta also means “that which exists.” Shiva is Bhutanatha because he is the protector of all living creatures. This name again shows the dual-sided nature to the great god. Those who really know Shiva understand that he is always meditating on Rama, making him the best of the Vaishnavas.
As best of the Vaishnavas is known,
Devotion to Rama his desire lone.
Bhutanatha, in charge of ignorance mode,
Mahadeva, god meditating in mountain abode.
Pashupati, animals sometimes to him sent,
Ashutosha, not much in discerning spent.
Shiva since auspicious to all,
Chaste Parvati his wife to call.
Categories: the five