Shiva's Great Admirer
The cold was so intense that water never flowed here, even in the midst of summer. The bitter cold was reduced somewhat when the warm season embraced the northern peaks in the Himalayas, but still no water ever flowed. Yet Bhasmasura did not complain. He had mastered the art of tummo and was able to keep his body temperature warm even in the grip of winter. Here in his cave he had shelter from the sharp knives of wintry blasts that blew incessantly between the mountains, and he had his deer skins that he piled on when he slept, although that was infrequent.
Mostly Bhasmasura meditated. The depth of his consciousness was profound, and he had learned many of the secrets of the universe and could do wonders with the elements of nature. Too bad he was a rakshasa. Yes, Bhasmasura was an Asura, demon or enemy of the forces of light, an enemy of goodness, of compassion and love. He was anything but a good person. If he had been interested, he could have conquered the Earth, so great was his power. But he had one consuming desire that blotted out all other yearnings. He desired the blessing of Lord Shiva himself.
Early in his life Bhasmasura had looted and pillaged and engaged the celestials in various quarrels and battles. It had been amusing for a time, but Bhasmasura had a desire to excel in his evil ways. He reasoned that eventually there would be some celestial force that would overcome all his efforts. After all, Mahi Asura had been overcome by Durga-Kali. Hiranyakeshapu had been defeated by Narasimha. Although he was a rakshasa, he was by no means stupid. He could plainly see that somehow the celestials always won. It might take some time, even a long time, but somehow divine aid would come to the celestials and the asuras, of which he was one, would be defeated. So he decided that it was just foolishness to wage war against the inevitable. He stopped his raids and other behavior that was so disastrous to celestials and humans alike and retired to the Himalayan Mountains to dive deep into meditation.
Bhasmasura knew that the great Lord Shiva, the sum of consciousness everywhere and in everything, was unbiased in matters of consciousness. He knew it did not matter to Lord Shiva if you were an angel, a troll, a sage, a demon, a rakshasa like himself, or anything else. If you did the spiritual disciplines in the proper way, sooner or later Lord Shiva would appear you and bless you. This is what he wanted. To gain the favor and blessing of Lord Shiva was all that he desired. Having that, he knew he would have everything. He even understood that, if he received the right boon from Shiva, he might even defeat the celestials and maha siddhas in battle permanently. Now that was a goal worth striving for, he thought.
So Bhasmasura moved to the Himalayas, found the perfect cave high in the mountains, brought with him enough supplies to meet his meager needs, and settled in for however long it might take to gain Shiva's attention and favor. Bhasmasura understood the value of patience. Yes, although he was a rakshasa, he was not foolish nor was he rash. He was just a very bad fellow.
Months and months rolled by. The years began to mount as well, but Bhasmasura was both focused and undaunted. He knew the day he sought would come. And lo, like the fruit that falls to the ground at the right time, Bhasmasura got his wish.
Shiva had noticed Bhasmasura from the first time he appeared in the icy reaches of the north. He had watched as a cave was been selected. Shiva saw the deer skins and small food supplies. Shiva was appreciative when, after only a short time, Bhasmasura was able to live on the prana from the air in the mountains. He had surpassed the need for food. He smiled as Bhasmasura would sit on a pile of snow and melt it for water, and he silently applauded Bhasmasura for needing so little sleep that he could spend twenty hours of every day in deep meditation, sleeping barely two to four hours.
Finally Lord Shiva decided that the time had come to grant Bhasmasura his wish. He would appear to him and bless him. Rakshasa or not, he had earned Lord Shiva's grace.
As Bhasmasura sat in rocklike meditative posture, Shiva glided into his cave and gently prodded Bhasmasura's consciousness. Emerging from his trancelike state with a huge gulp of air, Bhasmasura left the breathless state and opened his eyes. There before him was the dazzling form of Shiva. Around his neck Shiva kept a garland of two live snakes that adjusted themselves whenever he moved. Forehead smeared with ash, hair in matted ringlets, trident in his hand, Shiva looked like a hermit that had just emerged from twenty years in a cave. Yet his body shimmered with blue light, and his third eye glowed and pulsed ever so slightly. The tiger skin that draped his body still was supple, as if the tiger that had inhabited it had just left minutes ago. But even though all of these facets of Lord Shiva fascinated Bhasmasura, they were nothing compared to the look in Shiva's eyes. When Bhasmasura gazed into those luminous dark pools, he saw infinity staring back at him. What's more, it was infinity with an attitude. There was a self-assurance that was as rock solid as the walls of Bhasmasura's cave. There was knowledge that stretched on forever. Even compassion sparked around the edges of those eyes. And although the very idea of compassion revolted Bhasmasura, he also knew that in this case he would be the beneficiary of that compassion.
Uttering Om Namah Shivaya, Bhasmasura threw himself forward until he was lying prostrate on the ground, taking up most of the space in his tiny cave. "Rise great sadhaka, I am impressed with your discipline," said Shiva.
Pulling himself up slowly, Bhasmasura assumed a lotus posture and sat with joined palms and addressed Lord Shiva. "O deathless one full of might and light, one who answers the call of your devotees without prejudice, salutations to thee again and again."
"Yes, yes Bhasmasura, I know the routine," replied Shiva dryly. "You have performed disciplines here in this awful cold to attract my attention. Now you have it. Your praises, however, have the sing-song ring of school children who have learned an old rhyme. Have you nothing original to say. Nothing I have not heard a thousand times before?"
Bhasmasura was shocked. He had rehearsed all the usual praises of Lord Shiva and thought that they were expected. Now he found that the reality of his encounter was quite different than the childhood stories he had heard. After recovering from his shock, his mind raced for a few seconds. Then he improvised "Even the cold of this icy retreat has surrendered to you. I see that the wind only caresses your form, Mahadeva, and the snow forms patterns of praise for the Lord of Consciousness as it falls to earth. The very ground is packed with layer upon layer of geometric praises for you. Truly you are Shankara who makes all things, both animate and inanimate happy and peaceful. Salutations to the goal of yogis everywhere,"
"Not bad, for the spur of the moment, Bhasmasura, not too bad at all. Now I see that you have performed a discipline of great proportions. I will grant a boon to you. What can I do for you? What do you desire?"
Bhasmasura, seeing his opening, did not hesitate in the least. "Lord Shiva, battles come and go. First the demons prevail over the celestial, sages and yogis, then Vishnu or Divine M other comes and saves them. No matter who among my class of being gains supremacy, the other side is always aided. It is grossly unfair that affairs in the universe proceed in such a way. I seek a better balance, and I seek it in the following way: Let me be the one to whom the demons come when Vishnu unfairly aids the celestials and sages. Let my palace be the pilgrimage to which the Asuras retreat for succor when the Great Mother assumes her unconquerable guise. And let me be the balancer in these affairs. To aid my side, I need that which you have, Lord Shiva. I need the touch that reduces one to ash. Therefore, I ask that whatsoever and whosoever my right hand touches should be instantly reduced to fine ash on the very spot. Let nothing escape this touch. Not celestials. Not Maha Siddhas. Not advanced yogis. Nay not even Vishnu himself, nor the Great Feminine being. Whatsoever I touch with this dreadful right hand, let it be reduced to ash. This is what I desire above all else, Lord Shiva. Kindly vouchsafe the same unto me."
"Hmmm, what you ask would give the demons and asuras a significant advantage." Shiva hesitated for the barest instant, and then continued. "But you have acquitted yourself mightily in your disciplines here in this bleak place, thus, I hereby grant your desire. It is so, even at this very moment."
Bhasmasura was overjoyed. He beamed an evil grin that would freeze icicles had they not already been very solid. As his mind embraced the potential of his blessing from Shiva, his mind hatched a malevolent idea. "O Lord Shiva, I am grateful beyond my poor ability to express. Yet I would test this gift you have given me. Since there is no one for many miles upon whom to test this new power, I would test it upon you!" With that Bhasmasura rose with the intention to touch Shiva with his right hand.
Shiva knew that once uttered, his blessing could not be undone. He had given Bhasmasura a great power, but now that power was turned toward him. Still he was serene and composed. No care whatsoever crossed his face nor troubled his mind. But action did come to his body. More quickly than a shaft of sunlight strikes the earth, Shiva danced out of reach and spoke calmly, "Do not tempt fate by seeking to smite your benefactor, Bhasmasura. In the end you will come to harm, not me."
But Bhasmasura would not be dissuaded. "If you are destroyed, I will be the most powerful being in the universe. It is I to whom great disciplines will be offered. My name will become a fearsome mantra. Come, I will be quick and you will suffer little." Bhasmasura moved forward.
"Alright, then, on your head let it be." With that, Lord Shiva scooted from the cave and ran like a ferocious wind toward the south. So great was the wake of his departure that Bhasmasura was sucked out from the mouth of the cave, and fell over a cliff where he rolled for two hundred yards. Dusting himself off, and chuckling evilly to himself, he muttered, "Where can you go where I will not follow you. " And he raced after Lord Shiva.
As Shiva raced by, followed a bit late by Bhasmasura, meditating sages and yogi were astonished. What was this? No one could ever recall seeing Lord Shiva run before. But now that he obviously was running, he certainly was fast! More than one sage wondered what else Shiva could do that they had no idea about.
There is a beingness and consciousness that pervades everywhere. Nothing is exempt from participation, and conscious beings of great advancement are aware of a symphony of activity all happening simultaneously. Tuning to a particular channel as they desire, while still partly listening to them all, these great beings miss nothing of the great dramas that unfold in the universe. And Shiva racing was indeed great drama. Tending some herbs in his secret garden known only to Lakshmi and the great celestial healer, Dhanvantari, Vishnu hesitated for barely an instant as the incredulous events in the Himalayas unfolded in his mind. "Hmmm," he chatted to himself, "Looks like team play is the order of the day."
Meanwhile, Lord Shiva smiled as he picked up Vishnu's words and raced in the general direction of Vishnu's garden. Bhasmasura raced after him. After some time, Shiva raced past Vishnu with a wink and mock fatigue, his tongue lolling to the side. The snakes slapped at Shiva's chest as he thundered by and Vishnu could not help himself and laughed out loud.
Bhasmasura could see that he was gaining slightly on Shiva and redoubled his efforts. It was only a matter of time now. His inner glee was mounting by the second. As he rounded a mountain, he saw an utterly enchanting woman who was watering some flowers. He slowed his pace ever so slightly to get a better look. "Wow," he said to himself, "This one is really special." Bhasmasura slowed to a walk, turned around and came back to where the damsel was bending over to insure that one small flower got its due. He could see that he was now in a more temperate climate.
As he turned back the fair one spoke, "Maharaj, you are running very fast. Are you not tired? I fear you may need some rest. Why don't you come to my father's house not far from here. I can get you fruit and drink to renew yourself." As Bhasmasura came closer, it was as if he were seeing her for the first time. Her dark hair fell in ringlets down her partially bare back. Her large, fawn-like eyes, beckoned without being the least bit tawdry. With a diamond nose ring and diamond ankle bracelet, she was not only beautiful, but obviously came from a wealthy family as well. Bhasmasura decided to take a little break. "What is your name, beautiful one?" he inquired.
"I am Mohini, handsome sir, and your name?" Her voice was the essence of melody and Bhasmasura was immediately consumed with lust. "I am Bhasmasura, and I desire you for my wife." Bhasmasura felt as if he must have her.
Mohini laughed very pleasantly, "Oh, I don't think so. You are very handsome and no doubt already have a wife. The man I marry with have no other wife but me. Sorry." She sighed just the faintest bit wistfully.
"Mohini, I promise you I am not married. Nor will I ever look at another woman if you become my bride. I know a treasure when I see one, and I will behave."
Throwing up her hands, Mohini replied, "Oh, you men will say anything. Promises, Promises . . yet let a little time pass and you forget all about them."
"No, no its true. I will have no other. How can I prove it to you?" Bhasmasura was completely caught up in his desire for Mohini and was consumed by the growing fire of desire.
"To convince me," said Mohini, "you must swear to me you will have no other. Y ou must swear by placing your right hand on your heart and then on your head and swear you will have no other. Then I will marry you."
Without hesitating for even a moment, Bhasmasura placed his right hand on his heart and was immediately turned to ash. Mohini's form began to shift and change, and soon in place of Mohini stood the form of Vishnu. He bent over to inspect the ash and wondered if it would be good for his herbs. Moments later Lord Shiva came back around the corner of the mountain where he had disappeared and the two of them had a good laugh.
"They never seem to learn," said Shiva shaking his head. "They cannot help themselves. In the end, evil always consumes itself," replied Vishnu.
"How about a cup of tea?" said Lord Shiva. "Parvati would love to see you, if you can tear yourself away from your garden." "Wonderful," answered Lord Vishnu. "Do you think she has any of those wonderful cakes like the last time I visited?" "I'm sure she can whip up something appetizing, "said Shiva smiling broadly.
Vishnu reached over and gently stoked one of the snakes around Shiva's neck as they walked toward Kailas Mountain arm in arm, discussing the affairs of the universe.
Other Aspects Of Shiva
His mount is the Bull: Our consciousness is mostly gentle, but look out for the horns. The tread of a bull is inexorable once it makes up its mind. The evolution of the universe is similarly inexorable. Shiva's weapon is the trident: Past Present and Future. One of Shiva's attributes is Hara as in Hara Hara Mahadeva; Hara means one who removes anything standing in the path of advancement. He is sometimes called Gangadhara; One who carries the Ganges, which is the spine where Shiva invites Shakti to advance the expansion of our consciousness.
In Today's World
We see consciousness increasing before our very eyes. The issues of human want and misery are much more recognized and known than they were even twenty years ago. The Civil Rights movement eliminated legal segregation. The women's movement has advanced the cause of women in the right to vote and to own property, as well as advances in the workplace. Other international and domestic civil rights organizations are pressing for changes around the world. Ethnic pride and retention of the roots of culture are a function of the rise of consciousness.
It is my view that children are coming in more conscious than ever before. Some of them are called indigoes, and some are called crystal or rainbow children. These children have a more awakened consciousness than most people, and some of them are very psychic. They will change our world for the better.
The arrival in the West of the teachers of Eastern Wisdom from India and Tibet have fostered literally a revolution in the idea of consciousness in the Western World. Shiva is better known in the West than any other Hindu figure, with the possible exception of Hanuman, who is often described as the eleventh incarnation of Shiva.
Mantra: Om Namaha Shivaya!
Om let the elements that rule the chakras become part of my conscious will and mind, making me the perfected one.