Some verses on Ishvara

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian rbalasub at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Sat Mar 8 15:35:56 CST 1997

When I was reading some stotra-s etc, on shiva rAtri, I came upon some verses
which I liked very much. here are some of them.


Glory of Ishvara as told by Lord Krishna:

In the anushAsana parva of the mahAbhArata, yudhishhThira asks bhIshhma to
tell him the glory of Lord shiva. However the latter says he is incapable of
describing all the glories and asks Lord kR^ishhNa to describe Lord shiva. In
the sections 15,16 and 17 the glory of Ishvara is described. Lord kR^ishhNa
also gives the famous and powerful shiva sahasranAma stotra, by which he
worshiped Lord shiva to obtain boons from him. First he describes the vision of
Lord shiva and the stuti he composed on Lord shiva when he had his vision. The
stuti is short, yet very beautiful and full of meaning. Here are a few extracts
from this stuti. I have used the Poona critical edition which is available in
the GHEN home page. In some of the other editions I have seen, the stuti occurs
in other sections, but is identical otherwise. I have made a few comments on
the hymn, but have not gone into a detailed comparison with the shruti for
obvious reasons.

shrI bhagavAnuvAcha:
    The blessed Lord said:

namo.astu te shAshvata sarva yone |
  brahmAdhipaM tvAM R^ishhayo vadanti |
tapashcha satvaM cha rajaH |
  tamashcha tvAmeva satyaM vadanti santaH || (13.15.30)

  Salutations be, to thee, the eternal origin of all things, The Rishis say that
  thou art the Lord of brahma, Thou art penance, sattva, raja and tama guNa-s,
  The righteous say that thou art verily satya (the truth).

1. The eternal origin is alluded to in statements like `yato vA imAni bhUtAni
jayante, yena jAtAni jIvanti' etc, i.e., `That from which all this world
originates' etc in the taiitirIya Up.
2. tapas (penance) itself is brahman. varuNa says in the taittirIya Up.,
`tapasA brahma vijiGYasasva, tapo brahmeti'.
3. satya here means the final truth as expressed by statements like `satyaM
GYAnamanantaM brahma' in the same Up.

mahAn.h AtmA matirbrahmA vishvaH shambuH svayambhuvaH |
buddhiH praGYopalabdhishcha sa.nvit.h khyAtirdhR^itiH smR^itiH ||
paryAya vAchakaiH shabdair mahAn.h AtmA vibhAvyase |
tvAM buddhvA brahmaNo vidvAn.h an.h pramohaM nigachchati || (13.15.38-39)

  The use of mahAn (great), AtmA, understanding, brahman, Universe, shambhu and
  self-born in the vedas, show that thy nature has been judged as identical with
  mahat and AtmA. Indeed by regarding thee as all this, the learned brahmanas
  win over the ignorance.

1. Lord Krishna says that the Atma and shiva are identical and the substratum of
the universe, viz, brahman or shambhu is the same as AtmA. Only by this
knowledge of non-duality, liberation can be won.
2. `GYAtva munirgachchhati bhUta yoniM samasta sAxim tamasaH parastAt.h' says
the kaivalya Up. I.e., Having known the cause of the world, the witness of all,
the wise go beyond darkness.

hR^idayaM sarva bhUtAnAM xetraGYastvaM R^ishhi shhTutaH | (13.15.40a)

  you are in the hearts of all creatures, the Rishis praise you as xetraGYa
  (knower of the body).

Here the identity of he jIva and shiva is again declared by identifying Ishvara
with xetraGYa, as in `tattvamasi' etc.

mUrdhnA mipatyaniyatastejaH sa.nnichaye tataH |
paramaM harshhamAgamya bhagavantamathAbruvam.h ||
dharme dR^DhtvaM yudhi shatru ghAtam.h |
yashastathA.agryaM paramaM balaM cha |
yoga priyatvaM tava sa.nnikarshham.h |
vR^iNe sutAnAM cha shataM shatAni || (13.16.1-2)

   Bowing my head with great joy unto the mass of energy and effulgence, I said
   these words to the Lord. Firmness in virtue, the slaughter of foes in battle,
   the highest fame, the greatest might, devotion to yoga, your adjacence and
   hundreds upon hundreds of children.

The grace of Ishvara is essential for both worldly and spiritual success.


How do the wise ones pray to Ishvara?

In the shrI vedapadastavaH, jaimini maharshhi, the author of the pUrva
mImA.nsA sUtra-s has glorified Lord Chidambaresha. Each stanza ends with a pada
from the veda-s and thus this stotra is considered very potent. In this he

kITA nAgaH pishAchA vA ye vA ke vA bhave bhave |
tavadasA mahAdeva bhavAmi sharadashshatam.h ||

  (though) born again and again
  as a worm, snake, ghost or any indescribable being,
  We should become thine devotees for hundreds of years.

Appar, whose poems form the 4,5 and 6th canons of the Tamil shaiva sidhhAntins,
similarly sings:

puzuvAyp piRakkinum puNNiyAvun nadiyen manatte
vazuvAthirukka varam tara vENdum,

  Even if I am born as a worm, O pure one, thou should grant me the boon that my
  mind will not slip from your feet.


Glorification of the worship of Ishvara:

Traditionally various different stanzas from the veda-s are recited at the end
of the rudram, which belongs to the taittirIya sa.nhitA. One of these verses
employs the standard vedic technique of arthavAda to glorify the worship of
Ishvara. A sentence which is arthavAda is intended to glorify a certain act.
The verse goes:

ayame hasto bhagavAn ayame bhagavattaraH |
ayame vishvabheshhajo.ayaM shivAbhimarshanaH ||

  This hand here, of mine, is the Lord,
  This (hand) here, of mine, is greater than the Lord.
  This (hand) here, of mine, is the medicine for all the ills in the world,
  This (hand) here worships shiva.



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