When your body came into existence, it was just one cell. One cell became your whole body. That cell knew exactly where to make the eyes, where to make ears, where the kidney should be, where the heart should be and one cell multiplied itself into many different ways – nails, hair, tongue, muscle, bone and everything. Have you ever thought about it? One cell multiplied and made so many organs of the human body. The human body is one, yet it is so different, diverse in its nature and texture. This unity in diversity is also evident in the whole creation. The entire creation – sun, moon, stars, air, cloud, water, earth is made up of one substance. Everything is made up of One thing. That One thing is called Shiva.
Shiva tattva is very difficult to talk about as it can only be felt. Words go that close but they return. Is Shiva somebody? Is he a form? Is he someone sitting in some place? No. Shiva is the entire universe. Shiva tattva (essence) is from where everything has come, everything is sustained and into which everything dissolves. There is no way that you can even step out of Shiva tattva at any time because Shiva is the whole creation.
Shiva is Vishwaroopa which means that the entire universe is his form and yet he is formless or Nirakaar. You can know Him by going deep into Om, the primordial sound of the Universe. How can you understand Shiva? Only through meditation. There is a beautiful story related to Shivaratri. Once Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe wanted to know the expanse of Shiva. Brahma said, “I will go and look for his head and you find his feet.” So for thousands of years Vishnu travelled downwards to find Shiva’s feet and Brahma went upwards to find his head but they couldn’t find it. Finally they both met at the middle and said that they couldn’t find either – there is no beginning and no end to Shiva.
Shiva comprises of the entire creation and the creation is full of opposites. On one hand he is considered Shweth vastra dhaar (wearing white clothes) and on the other hand, he is Krishna varna meaning he is dark. He is the Lord of the Universe and yet he doesn’t have even a piece of cloth or jewellery. He is Rudra or the fierce on one side and Bholenaath or the most innocent on the other.He is Sundaresha, the lord of beauty and he is also Aghora – dreadfully intense. Shiva Tattva binds the dynamism of the beautiful dance and stillness of meditation, darkness and light, innocence and intelligence, ferocity and compassion.
Shiva’s Mrityunjaya mantra is one of the most revered mantra’s in the Vedic tradition. Mrityunjaya means victory over death. The soul has no death. It goes from one body to another. Mrityunjaya means victory of the mind over the ephemeral and soaring on to the eternal. The mind realizes that, “I am the eternal being. There is something in me that is not changing.” Then there is no fear. Fear is one of the signs of death. You win over fear and you will win over the small-mindedness of identification with the perishable and move to the imperishable. We are a combination of both: our spirit is imperishable and the body is perishable. Often our mind is attached to the perishable and it feels it is dying. Mrityunjaya mantra takes our mind from the limited identity to the unlimited identity. It has a prayer: “Let Shiva make me strong. Let him make me strong. Let him give me relief from bondage.”
Usually people ask “what is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of creation?” The cosmos is not a journey to somewhere. The Creation has no purpose. It is simply a play and display of consciousness. Just like the dancer and dance cannot be separate, the Creation and the Creator are not two separate things. This truth was depicted in the form of Nataraja (One of Shiva’s forms). The five elements are depicted in Nataraja who himself is consciousness. The dance of consciousness is the whole Universe. This universe is not struggling or suffering; it is celebrating everyday. It is bliss. One who does not know this suffers, is depressed or sad. One who knows that this whole creation is a dance, finds joy. That truth is Shiva tattva. Don’t try to experience Shiva. You simply have to be present in the moment and relaxed, Shiva tattva is already there.
We have 3 states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and sleeping, and there is a 4th state of consciousness where we are neither waking nor dreaming nor sleeping. It is experienced in meditation. A glimpse of that 4th state is what is called Shiva tattva. The Upanishads say Shivam (auspicious), shantam (peaceful), advaitam (where there is no two), Chathurtam (4th state), Manyante se atma(that is what is your Self), Se vijñeyaḥ (that is worth knowing). Who do you think you are? You are not just a name, not just a form. You are that scintillating consciousness that is Shiva tattva. The temple of Shiva is made up of the consciousness of human beings, not of stones. That which encompasses the whole Universe, that something in which every life is, that is the mystical Shiva tattva.