AN ETERNAL PURE LOVE STORY from the old days:
SHIVA AND SHAKTI - BALANCING THE MASCULINE AND FEMININE WITHIN
Shiva and Shakti (Parvati) are personifications of the great powers of Yoga which reflect the higher realities and energies that are behind, and beyond, all universal forces. They are the manifestations of divine consciousness where the ‘whole’ is made up of two opposed but complementary forces. Like yin and yang, they represent the duality behind all energies in the universe. These energies are present in our internal worlds as they are in the external cosmos: as reflected in the aphorism: “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul”
It is said that at the advent of creation there was a splitting of the primordial principle, and so duality within our lives came into being, together with a strong force that is constantly striving to re-unite the different parts of us. This may or may not be true, in absolute terms, but it is most certainly useful in helping us approach the unification of masculine and feminine principles within one being - a form of UNITY CONSCIOUSNESS.
Shiva and Shakti can be seen as the guiding deities of yoga, offering us the power of transformation and liberation. They are the great God and Goddess; also known as Mahadeva and Mahadevi. Importantly, they are not just abstract principles, rather they are the archetypes of Yoga within us. and can offer us a perspective on our personal reality.
Shiva, the Divine Masculine, represents consciousness and awareness; and Shakti, the Divine Feminine, represents activating power and energy.
Shiva and Shakti represent the primary complimentary forces in nature, including mind and emotion, mountains and valleys, the sun and the moon, fire and water, and all other innumerable variations within a dualistic world.
Shiva and Shakti exist as personal potentials within us as well as the cosmic powers outside of us at every level of consciousness, from the macro to the micro: yang and yin, the masculine and feminine; steadiness and dynamic change; awareness and bliss; stability and transformation; being and becoming. Together these energies complete and complement each other.
In Indian mythology the story of Shiva and Parvati is an archetypal romance that is rich in symbolism and meaning and which provides us with a window into understanding the energy and wisdom of Shiva and Shakti.
Shiva and Parvati’s marriage is the great cosmic partnership: the union of Shakti, in the form of Goddess Parvati, the supreme yogini with Shiva her yogi husband.
The story of Shiva and Parvati
As the story goes, Shiva is supposed to be functioning in his cosmic role as the great destroyer, bringing about endings so that there can be new beginnings. However, after the loss of his first wife, Sita, in mourning, he retreated to his Himalayan mountain cave, and entered into a state of unbroken, deep meditation. Living the life of a recluse, Shiva immersed himself in the stillness of the void, revelling in absolute freedom, so that he became utterly unconcerned with the affairs of the cosmos. During this time, his cosmic tasks are not tended to and his teachings are put on pause.
The other gods realised that something needed to be done to reengage Shiva with his cosmic role. So they asked the great goddess to incarnate again, in order to bring Shiva back to the world. The eternal Shakti took on the form of Parvati, or daughter of the mountain.
Parvati is divinely beautiful, cosmically adorable, and from the moment she can speak, she talks about Shiva. When she is 16, she goes to the grove where Shiva sits in meditation. She brings him food that he never eats, she lights candles that he never sees, and she longs for him to open his eyes to see her.
Brahma, the creator god, recognised that Shiva’s desire needed to be awakened, so he enlisted the help of Kama, the god of pleasure and desire. Kama sent soft spring breezes with the scent of jasmine to the grove that Shiva and Parvati were inhabiting. Parvati becomes more enchanted and her love for Shiva grows.
Kama waited until Parvati was directly in Shiva’s sight of vision, and holding his bow, he let loose the irresistible arrows of love: the Inciter of Desire, Inflamer of lust, Exciter of Infatuation. As they strike Shiva’s heart, he is aroused by the most "un-meditative" feelings of desire.
Shiva opened his eyes and saw Parvati and a stirring arose in his heart.
When the sensations moved down to his groin, Shiva realised what had happened, and opening his third eye, he sent out a beam of fire that incinerated Kama. Shiva returned to meditation.
Parvati, now deeply in love with Shiva, knew that he is touched by her but not willing to give in to his feelings. She knew that she couldn’t ‘have’ Shiva unless she cultivates in herself the qualities of stillness, stamina and devotion. She realised she will need to earn his love through yoga.
Parvati goes to the mountain and for a long time (hundreds of celestial years!) she dedicates herself to her yoga practice. Eventually the fire of her yoga begins to penetrate the upper worlds. Shiva in his meditation began to feel the heat, and remembering Parvati’s beauty, he sensed his unwavering devotion to her.
He recognised that whilst solitary mediation has its own joy, he was now awakened to the bliss that comes from relationship. and he realises that she is his eternal lover.
Shiva and Parvati
And so Shiva and Parvati marry and consummate the divine marriage.
After years of marriage and lovemaking, the teachings of yoga emerge from their spiritual conversations.
In their domestic bliss and love for each other, and in their arguments that arise, Parvati and Shiva maintain a tension of opposites.
Parvati asks Shiva questions and in doing so draws out Shiva’s insights.
Her presence inspires him to turn into himself to find words and to express truths that come from the place beyond words.
In making love with Shiva, Parvati draws the transcendent formless absolute down to earth.
The endless conversations are consciously offered as a gift to human beings who long for the secrets of enlightenment.
ARDHANARISHVARA AS THE INNER ARCHETYPE
The two primal powers of Shiva and Shakti are also represented in the androgynous deity - Ardhanarishvara - who is depicted with one side as female, and one side as male. Ardhanarishvara represents the ultimate union of Shiva and Parvati into the one unified ‘being’.
The right side of this androgynous ‘being’ wears a tiger skin, has matted locks and carries a trident. The left side has sinuous curvaceous belly, full breasts, and is wearing a delicate skirt lotus flower. n this way, the left side of the body represents the feminine (Shakti) and the right side the masculine (Shiva).
Symbolic Meaning of the Mythological Archetypes
The mythology of Shiva and Parvati can be understood at many different levels as an inner archetype and as a role model for relationships. In this way the stories offer us an understanding of wholeness, completion and union within ourselves, as well as a model for understanding dynamics within relationships. As the guiding deities of yoga, Shiva and Shakti gift us the power of transformation and liberation. They offer us a path to union whether we are looking at it from the individual path of the yogini/yogi, or the path of relationship.
Balancing the Masculine and Feminine within...
The Parvati and Shiva love story and Ardhanarishvara deity symbolise a powerful stage of embodied enlightenment. They represent the inner journey to wholeness. It is a metaphor for the cosmic truth that reality is a duality and that in unity it is a dance of polarities.
Shiva and Parvati (Shakti) represent the ‘divine masculine’ and ‘divine feminine’ as cosmic energies that are within us, both men and women. The ‘concept’ of Shiva and Shakti can take us beyond the polarities of gender as well as the limited and skewed cultural definitions of masculine and feminine. It can take us beyond gender wars to understanding the divine feminine and masculine within men and women.
It shows that if any one side of ourselves remain in the shadow, we do not live a life of fulfilment. As many of us know, when we fall in love, there can be a mirroring of falling in love with those qualities that we haven’t as yet discovered or grown in ourselves. If there are imbalances in the masculine and feminine within, the potential is for this to play out and project into our relationships with others.
This post has been added to the DIVINE MASCULINE + DIVINE FEMININE