Shiva and Resurrection
Truth is one. It is never of one culture, one tradition, one religion.
If Shiva is a truth, as yogis say, it must be found also in Christianity. Where, then, can we discover the parallelism?
Shiva is the great destroyer. But to concentrate on that aspect alone would be like concentrating on the cold dark night without considering the dawn and the coming of the warm sun.
Shiva destroys our weaknesses, limitations, worldly desires, bad habits, negative emotions, unclean thoughts, fears, black attitudes. But why? Because then finally we find space for the light of the soul, for qualities of goodness, purity, strength and love. Finally, our soul can be born.
This, then, is the parallelism between East and West, where Shiva is concerned: he finds his counterpart in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Resurrection, according to Yogananda, is “any beneficial or uplifting change.”¹ Most of all, it means resurrecting our consciousness from a mundane dimension to a God-united sphere; from the little ego to the vast soul; from the mortality of body-consciousness to the immortality of soul-consciousness. Every time you overcome, or “destroy” a weakness and establish its opposite positive quality, resurrection has occurred. In Eastern terms: Shiva is victorious.
Shiva means battle, since resurrection is not easy. The ego resists our elevation into the light. This is why Shiva is said to be fierce and tough. He isn’t gentle. The ego often needs a rough kind of experience to let go of its attachments, desires, and stupidities.
Shiva is our best friend. But that means that he has to destroy also things that are near and dear to us. He seems merciless, but in truth is “shambo”, meaning auspicious or beneficial.
We call to Shiva, and he responds. He is not an imagination, Swami Kriyananda explains. He is a reality. He is one of the three main powers of nature, the others being Brahma (creator) and Vishnu (maintainer).
Shiva has also a form, with trident and all, created by the devotion of people. Pure devotion condenses God into forms, into whatever form we pray to. That form truly lives and responds.
So Shiva is true, Shiva is real, Shiva can be called and he will answer. But be careful. He will take you seriously. He will take things away from you, without pity, because he loves you. It will be painful, just as when we go to the dentist. The long-term effect, however, is liberation, lightness, joy.
Yogananda too prayed to Shiva, at least sometimes: usually he prayed to Divine Mother. When he was a boy, there was an aggressive neighbor, called Jotin, who bullied all others violently. Yogananda (Mukunda, then) went to his room, meditated and prayed to Shiva, the Lord of destruction: “Let my love and blessings destroy Jotin’s anger!” But soon Jotin threated Yogananda with his stick. He prayed again. The next day, Jotin had abandoned his stick. Surprise! He prostrated before Yogananda and cried, “What have you done to me? Shiva appeared before me in a vision last night, and said to me, ‘You are being unjust.’” He added, “I want to follow you.” Thus, he became Yogananda’s student.
Shiva is powerful. He wants your resurrection. Pray to him and make yourself ready that he will take something dear from you. If you are not ready for that, don’t pray to him. But if you are a yogi, it is good to open up to him as he is known to be the king of yogis.
¹Source: The Promise of Immortality: Chapter 15, “Resurrection, and the Meaning of Divine Tests,” by Swami Kriyananda