The Life of a Shiva Devotee
Section XLIV - The Death and Afterlife of Bhairavanath
I knew my own end was near, but for the temple and for my son, it was a beginning. As the lord said, we were part of something greater than ourselves.
Both my teacher-father and I were priests of the new temple, and my son was assistant. We left the old temple - it could reopen another time. All our energy went into the new temple.
We found ground stone for the floor, swept smooth and sparkly. We placed the lord's statue on a great square altar, with smaller brass forms of his statues at the corners, as Nataraj, as musician, as Great God, and lord of the lingam. There were side niches, and in them we placed smaller images and empowered them. We had images of Nandi, the bull, and of Skanda, the warrior of Parvati the beautiful, and of Ganesh, lord of the people and of magic, called Ganapati here. We had incense and flowers and chanting, and the lord's presence could be felt here.
I was a sadhu, bound to Lord Shiva, but I have become a householder bound to a child and a temple. I used to think it was shameful - sometimes I still do. But usually I think that it is my opportunity to make a gift to the world in the lord's name. My son and my temple are gifts.
I have done the lord's will - I have followed him as a sadhu, and renounced renunciation to be his worshiper and father of his worshiper.
My end will come soon - I do not know how. I only know that I have done what I could even though I would rather have done otherwise. This is what it means to be a devotee; to do the lord's will rather than your own.
I have told Amba that I had a premonition that I would die soon. She shrieked and begged me to pray to Shiva for more time. She was young, and my son was young. I didn't have gray hair. How could this happen? She said that she would be alone - a widow. She had been rejected in marriage early on, by those who resented her dark skin - must she now have the shame of being a woman with ill luck. I had responsibilities. Besides, she loved me as well as did her duty. Leaving her and my son alone was not my duty.
She went on and on but I told her it was not my idea. I would rather live longer and stay with her and my son. It was the lord's will.
She grieved for days, as if I were already dead. Then she said we must make preparations.
I spoke with my guru-father-priest, and had him say again that he would take care of my wife and child if anything happened to me. I told this to Amba, and it made her feel better. She and my son would have a family - a respected one, and she would not be despised. I spoke with my son and told him that I was proud of him, and that I was happy with his devotion to the lord. I told him that Shiva had predicted a bright future for him. I also told him that I might not live long, for the lord had called me to him.
He said, "Father, I know though I didn't want to think about it. I saw the lord at night, and he told me that he had pulled the vines of your heart, and that the brightness of its lotus would decorate his mountain home. I hoped that the time would be far away."
I said. "No, it will be soon, I think. My life has been serving him, and part of that service has been bringing you into the world with a proper background. You must be his servant and spread his worship - that is his plan."
He said, "Father, I respect you, and I also love you, as I do my mother. But I love the lord most of all. I will grieve if you die, but I will still follow the lord's will. But I wish I could be his devotee, and still have your guidance."
I said, "Son if I can, I will try to visit you, and help you. But lord Shiva will be a greater help and guide. Meanwhile, I have tried to do all I could for you. The community thinks well of you, and our family has been helpful to them. You will have a substitute father when the lord calls me, though he is much older. He can be like the grandfather you never met."
He said, "I know. I have thought about what you have done. You have made life for me as good as you possibly could."
We held each other as fathers and sons rarely do. It was strange to speak with him as an adult, for he was still in his teens. But the lord was present in him in some strange way.
I prepared what I could, and for some months, nothing happened. But then one night, I awoke with a terrible pain in my heart, and a great pressure as if a mountain had fallen upon me. I tried to speak and to move but I could not. I was crushed beneath its weight. I thought of the lord, and asked him to rescue me. In my pain, I saw burning grounds, and smoke, and a shining blue star. The lord had come to guide me.
Section XLVII - Kailash: Shiva's Crystal Cave
So I left my body under that mountain of pain, and I reached towards the blue light. Space became all darkness and smoke, with distant fires, but the light pulsed and glowed and smiled at me. The skies spun around me and I could feel the followers of the Lord of Death trying to bind me with ropes of karma, to pull me down, but still I reached towards the light. But part of me was pulled by the karmic ropes, and returned to the cycle of rebirth. However, the part where I thought and desired and identified myself traveled towards the blue light.
As I approached it, it grew and became brighter. I saw the lord in his human form, with matted hair and tiger skin, walk out of it. He said,Now is the time of decision. Which world would you choose [of the choices I gave you earlier]?I said, "Yours, lord", and bowed.
I had no body but I bowed before him, and I tumbled through space. I followed a trail of blue sapphire pebbles, to his great cave of Kailash. It was full of crystals of different colors, and each one was full of worlds. The lord rested as a light over a great geode of crystals in the center of the cave, and all the crystals sparkled with light. The cave was full of radiance.
The lord said,Within this cave are universes upon universes, great and small, millions within and without. I change them and shift them, and fill them with variety. How would you like to play lord of a world?I said, "I will do as you wish, but my only desire is to serve you."
He said, "Well, you can be a servant instead. Why don't you put the cave in order?" There were crystals everywhere in great piles - how do you clean a million universes? But I tried to make the place more orderly, and to arrange things in a more beautiful manner. The lord just smiled - such service is identical with the manipulation of worlds.
Section XLVIII - The Organic and the Crystalline Worlds
You wish to know about Shiva's heaven. It is called Kailash, the center of the mountain of the world. It shines with beautiful light, and rings with the sound of bells. It is a crystalline world of perfection, in which Shiva is the great linga which is the axis connecting all universes. Outside the mountain is the realm of organic form and light, but here we have crystalline relationships of sounds and ideas. These form mandalas in their reflections. These mandalas are the doorways by which the soul enters the heaven worlds.
There is vocal sound and musical sound. Vocal sound has consonants and vowels, and brings one to the saguna form of the gods where they have the human qualities. Musical sound is vibration without words, and that brings one to the nirguna aspect (divine forms without qualities). I have used both in my life, for I was both a yogi and a bhakta (devotee).
The musical sounds are more associated with the crystalline world of abstract thought, ideas, and the relationship of concepts, as well as the foundation of measurement for time and space. The vocal sounds [of mantra] are more associated with the organic world of name and form, senses and feelings, richness and beauty, and appreciation and attachment.
My lord's heaven has much room for creativity. It is full of living snow crystals and consciousness which takes the forms of water droplets, fiery sparks, and dust particles in the light. I help to arrange the values, ideals, and categories of thought for new universes, and the conscious beings that will inhabit those universes. Really, the god does everything. I only give opinions as to which arrangements have the most potential for beauty.
The light radiates out into worlds upon worlds. Sometimes I visit them. Shakti presides over the organic worlds, the beautiful female force of passion and transformation. Ganesh is the principle of doors and gateways. These are normally closed unless there is a request that they be opened. He combines the lower parts of humanity with the upper parts of the elephant - the strength, endurance, and memory that is beyond the human. He guards the gates, and paces spiritual transformation.
Heaven is different things to different people. Because I have chosen to serve, for me it is service. For others, it is quiescent observation, eternal change, or it is absorption in beauty, or wisdom, or spiritual travel through the many worlds created by the lord. But whatever activity is chosen, heaven is the lord's place and that is enough.
So I have stayed here in Shiva's heaven ever since. Some part of me has reincarnated - that is you.
I lift you from any obligation you might feel towards me. We owe each other nothing. But if you wish to visit, I will be glad to see you, as will the lord.
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Introduction | The Bhairava or Spiritual Guide | Lives of Spiritual Weakness | Lives of Spiritual Awakening | Conclusion
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