Tribute to the Ancient Yogi Shiva
Prayer to Lord Shiva
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
This is the Mrityunjaya mantra of Lord Shiva which translates as:
“OM, We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva, who is the fragrance of Life and nourishes our health. O Lord, just as a cucumber when ripe is freed from the vine, release us from attachment and death; and grant us the nectar of immortality.”
In Yoga, Lord Shiva is considered the Adi Yogi and the Adi Guru. He is the foremost among the yogis and the first teacher of the science of Yoga. He is an ideal renuncient and an ideal householder, all in one. No one knows his origin. He is depicted as sitting in lotus pose on mount Kailas, in deep samadhi, unmoved by the events of the universe. He body is smeared with sacred ash. In his hair is the crescent moon symbolizing mystical vision and knowledge. The serpent coiled around his neck symbolizes the mysterious kundalini energy present in all of us. The river Ganges cascades from the crown of his head symbolizing perpetual purification, which he bestows upon his devotees. He is the three-eyed one or Trilochana as he has the third eye or the eye of wisdom in the centre of the forehead. He is described as the “blue-throated” or Neelakanta. He is said to have drank the poison that emerged during the mythological churning of the ocean by the gods and the Asuras, thereby protecting the world from its harmful effects. His trident represents the three gunas or qualities of Nature, namely tamas, rajas, and sattva. He is Yogeshwara, the lord of Yoga; Maheshwara, the Great God and Bhuteshwara, the lord of the five elements from which the universe is created.
It is said that Shiva first imparted his knowledge to Parvati or Shakti, his spouse. Also, for the good of mankind, he taught the science of Yoga to the ancient rishis who passed on this knowledge to the rest of humanity. All yogic and tantric systems consider him as the first Guru. These teachings have come down to us in the form of Agama Sastras. From these teachings, came various traditions which still exist. One of them is the Nava-Nath Tradition founded by Matsyendranath, Gorakshnath and the seven other Gurus of the Nath Tradition, which is still prevalent mostly in North India. Some consider Gorakshnath as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. In the South, it was the Siddha Agastiar or Agastya Muni, who disseminated this knowledge and created a lineage of Siddhas who specialized in Yoga, Tantra, Medicine, Astrology and other sciences. The tradition of 18 Siddhars is well known in South India.
In his teachings, Lord Shiva does not give any philosophical explanations, but instead gives very direct instructions on the methods to liberation. Siva Sutras and Vighyana Bhairava Tantra are popular texts that contain specific techniques to liberate the embodied soul from the limitations of the body and mind and experience his true blissful nature. These techniques got refined over the centuries through various masters, who perfected this art and then taught it their disciples. Thus a Guru-disciple tradition was developed and the wisdom of yoga was passed on through the ages.
Lord Shiva is considered to be with form and without form. The Shiva described with form is worshiped as a powerful deity and a whole system of rituals have developed around it. He is one of the gods of the Trinity, the other two being, Vishnu and Brahma. Siva as a God represents the destructive aspect of the Supreme reality, Brahman. On the other hand, the Shiva described as formless is worshipped as the Siva Linga and is considered the ultimate reality itself. Even though the formless cannot be given a form, the oval shaped Shiva Linga is said to the first form taken during creation. Shiva is considered the supreme consciousness in which the play of creation happens in the form of Shakti. Shiva and Shakti are inseparable, just as the creation cannot be separated from the creator. The whole of creation is described as Shiva Tandava or the dance of Shiva.
Our Prostrations to the formless One, who has taken a form out of Compassion.