Lord Shiva, the Adi Yoga Guru!

ॐ नमः शिवाय

When we talk about Yoga, Lord Shiva is considered the Adi Yogi. He is referred to as the Adi Guru because it is from him that Yoga got down to us. He is the foremost among the yogis and the first teacher of the science of Yoga. Lord is both, an ideal renouncer and also an ideal householder. He is depicted as sitting in lotus pose on mount Kailas, in deep Samadhi. The crescent moon on his head symbolizes mystical vision and knowledge while the serpent coiled around his neck symbolizes the mysterious kundalini energy present in all of us. River Ganges flows down from the crown of his head symbolizing perpetual purification that he bestows upon his devotees. He is the three-eyed one or Trilochana, the third eye or the eye of wisdom in the centre of the forehead. He is described as the “blue-throated” or Neelakanta as he drank the poison which came out during ocean churning to save this world. His trident represents the three gunas, namely tamas, rajas, and sattva.

Lord Shiva is aptly called as 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 of Yoga to Parvati or Shakti, his consort. 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. This passing of knowledge is supposed to have taken place at the base of Kailash itself on the banks of Manasarovar Lake. All yogic and tantric systems consider him as the first Guru. These teachings by Lord Shiva 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. In the South, it was the Siddha Agastya Muni, who disseminated this knowledge and created a lineage of Siddhas who specialized in Yoga, Tantra, Medicine, Astrology and other sciences.

In his teachings, Lord Shiva does not give any philosophical explanations, but instead gives very direct instructions on the methods to liberation. Shiva Sutras and Vigyana Bhairava Tantra are popular texts that contain specific techniques to liberate the embodied soul 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 worshipped both in his form or formless aspect. 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. Shiva as a God represents the destructive aspect of the Supreme reality, Brahman.

On the other hand, Shiva 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! 

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