SHEEP OF SHIVA
BY PRADIPTA DUTTA (COPYRIGHTS2017)
“Karpura Gauram Karuna Vataram
Sada Vasantham Hridyaravindhay
Bhavambhavaani Sahitam Namami”
(He, who is as pure as the whiteness of the Camphor.
He, who is all-compassionate.
He, who is the Essence of this World
He, who has the Serpent around his neck as a Garland.
He, who resides in the Lotus-like hearts of Individuals.
He, who is always accompanied by his eternal consort Bhavaani,
To Him, I bow.)
Shiva Shloka: Yajurveda
I was born, in that lifetime of mine, as a sheep, deep within the Himalayas.
My problem as a sheep was that I was not really a sheep.
I was always out of place and thought a little differently from my friends.
I can’t call them friends, because all they had known was the grass, the Shepherd and rumination.
I on, the other hand, was always in awe of my surroundings, from the very first day of my life – when I was so flabbergasted by that Himalayan charm, that I actually fell into a ditch!
My Mom was petrified and I watched her, smilingly, as she maed and mooed, and as human beings came to rescue me, a one -day-old baby sheep.
I was always lagging behind when it came to my herd, but that was not because of food, but simply because I loved to stare and gaze at mountain tops, in my solitude, and Dauladhars especially, I liked very much.
It was so magnetic! What must it be like grazing on those lands and what was there beyond it, I wondered very much!
I was therefore spanked by my Shepherd for being quite so ‘lethargic’, and one day she was furious when I hit her bum with my head.
Scum, human being! Why not explore life instead?
I had become a bit notorious among sheep circles and humans as well, for being too thick-skinned and my sudden anger outbursts if anyone tried to disturb my individuality.
I’d straight way go for headbutting, and they’d whimper in pain.
I shouldn’t have been so difficult because everyone hated me and ostracized me.
So much so, that one day when we were grazing somewhere very high up on the hills at 12000 feet,
I went further than usual and ended up falling into a ditch.
I did not cry for help. I thought I’d spend the rest of my life in that ditch and die there.
I think my Shepherd was relieved, as it was because of me that he could never sit properly in comfort.
But maybe, Mom was sad. I didn’t know.
As night fell, I started missing Mom badly.
It was getting cold and dark, and I cried silently, in fear – I was so scared of leopards that I could not even give out a cry. I wanted Mom just then.
Now I regretted for having been such an arrogant fool.
And then, suddenly, a strange Indigo light emanated from the sky.
I looked up.
I cannot actually describe it. My God.
It was the brightest Indigo light that one could’ve imagined and it lighted up the entire ditch, so bright, my eyes hurt!
I shut my eyes close – my heart started to pound in fear, and then a voice from my inside asked me to open my eyes – and as always, I listened to that voice.
The erstwhile bright blinding Indigo light had become mellow and I just stood standing there, looking at that light – it was so hypnotizing and so ground-breaking – that all my wool had stood up, and I was covered in woolbumps.
I felt jittery and my spine tingled.
I started having tears, big dollops of warm tears and they flowed and flowed – they were possibly my loneliness and strife through life – came out of my eyes, it was like a sort of purification – it was so delightful, and so melancholic at the same time, and I started wailing like a child.
I cried away all those tears – when for so long my Brothers never understood me because I was different – when for so many times I tried showing them the extravagant beauty of the mighty Himalayas – but for them life started and ended at the grass.
Why could not they see the beauty of life – as I did?
And why was God so unkind to me – to not have gifted me with a different life-form – that of a Bird perhaps, an Eagle to be specific – but Eagles ate meat, and it was okay, therefore. I mean I liked grass more.
I know that it was only an excuse, to pride myself as a Vegetarian, because deep down inside I cared not so much about food – but to explore the world beyond my means, and become something bigger than just rot, living a mediocre life.
I had always been ostracized for being a Thinker, an Idealist, and one who always tried to find solutions beyond her means – and they despised my intensity.
What they never understood was that the anger was not hatred for them, it was only my desperation, and I wanted them to understand that Buddhas are driven by desperation.
But that is never the case with others, because they do not believe the light of their dreams – as they always look at things not as they are, but as a Mirror that reflected their own self – and so everything was impossible – because they had forgotten to believe in themselves.
So many times I wanted to tell them stories of how, once, a man named Ramana Maharishi, who always looked at the world beyond his means, was able to enlighten a crow and a cow, only because they dared to dream, for a possibility that was beyond the mundane.
And one day, even Pink Rain caused snowfall in a place where it was not possible to have snow, merely by virtue of her will, because she wanted to experience Snow – and her Will had always been so strong, that sometimes she could manipulate roads and rivers, by her own powers, in which she formed communion with Mother Nature – but this she did secretly, and even Nature behaved as if She were smitten by Pink Rain, and wanted to fulfill all her wishes and so it snowed when she stepped somewhere, at any time she wished.
But these things, people do not believe are true, because they have forgotten trusting in the miracles of life – and in the power that the Subtle holds, in the feminine, and in the aesthetics of life – of that which is not Gross but which gives Gross its soul.
As I stared at the Indigo light, I felt like a thousand years passed, floating in absolute vacuum and as if everything – all of my strife, and the life that I was now living and ones behind and beyond had finally found some meaning, and some healing, and my Soul was reborn in its everglow.
And then suddenly, the Indigo light started taking a shape – from something vague to something defined, it must have taken a few seconds only – but what did I know about time?
I just observed human beings – the way they always said ‘one second’ when they did not mean it, and sometimes ‘an hour’ was as long as the Sun emerging from behind the mountains twice in a row – and I saw lovers wait and the poverty-stricken wait for water supply – and things of those sort – it was because promises were always measured by “TIME” and “TIME” was non-existent, a work of human mind merely, and so promises were always lies of forevers and excuses for a tomorrow that never arrived.
If for instance, they’d never invent the concept of past, present and future – everything would become NOW. So, humans always had their basics wrong, and I wished Pink Rain could somehow show them the Truth beyond their uncalled-for burdens.
Anyway, so the Indigo light, in a flash of a light, transported me back to reality- from my trance-like state and it took the shape of a human-like form.
I was awe-struck – never had I witnessed such a spectacle!
The human form of the Indigo light was magnanimous, quite literally – about 9 feet tall, as high as the authentic village Horse, the body was lean, and the gaunt of his cheeks were somewhat hollow – but his muscles were very well-defined and taut.
His Body seemed like it was well–adapted to walk through high altitudes and well-versed to form agreements with the steepness of slopes – definitely of Pahari character.
His hair were brown, shabby and matted – it seemed as though he never combed them or had himself groomed – like lesser mortals did – and contrary to how they always spoke of Gods from the Himalayas – this individual actually had long flowing beard, extremely gratifying my out-of-the-box sheep logic and I smiled, cunningly, at my own intelligence.
His eyes were like a trance – neither open, nor closed, and seemed to be focused somewhere in the region between the two eyebrows but He seemed to be enjoying the entire view with all its intensity and yet – completely detached from everything. Just like I was. I suppose…
He only wore a loincloth – when it was such a chilly night, that even I was shivering, me – since I was a woolen sweater myself, God, I was pashmina! But HE did not need it!
“You’ll be hypothermic. Drape me, Indigo Light.” I said.
He did not laugh, but smiled kindly at me, like my Mom did.
I started missing Mom more, but his smile was vaguely comforting.
“Don’t you feel cold?” I asked.
“I don’t feel much.” Was all he said.
His voice was so echoey and for a while I felt as though, the voice did not emerge from his throat, but from somewhere inside me, and outside me.
I was feeling restless.
“Why are you so tall?” I asked.
He did not say anything, but his lips were always smiling like Mom.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“What is yours?” He asked back.
“I am a Sheep. I don’t have name. Animals are nameless.”
“Everything is nameless. Everything is nothing.”
“So people, what do they call you?”
“They call me Bholenath, or Shambhu, or Shiva, or Ardhanarishwera, Mahakal, and sometimes Neelkantha – they call me as they please.”
“So many names, why?”
“It amuses them.” He smiled.
“So actually, you are nameless.” I muttered.
“I am nameless. I am nothing. But I am also everything.”
“It is so difficult to have a conversation from this place. If it is not too much of a trouble for you, do you mind helping me get out? Only if you wish to. It is okay. I basically came to die here.”
I did not like asking for help – or bothering people, except when I felt angry.
He put his arm inside the ditch and lifted me – with his little finger!
I was shocked!
“Oh my God.” I said. I felt like I was being swallowed by a Giant Wheel, with zero gravity!
He picked me up and placed me outside, gently, away from the ditch.
And then he suddenly started to walk away.
“Hey!” I blocked his way.
“I thought we were going to have a conversation.” I protested. “You cannot abandon me!”
He smiled again.
“I don’t like small talk, little one.” He said. “Go back to your home.”
“Don’t you know leopards walk around at this hour? They will eat me.”
“So what? You came to die anyway.”
“OK, so if you really do not care – why did you take me out of the ditch? You could have left me there.”
“Because, you asked me to help you.”
I shook my head, side to side, in disagreement.
“No, no, no. I do not want to die – you have finally arrived, I will travel with you.”
And then suddenly, he put his hand on my head. His arms were so long, he did not have to bend down to touch my head.
The touch, was so gentle, so beautiful, that for a while, I was completely lost!
Who was this Indigo Being actually?
“You will become very scared – the places I visit are not for the faint-hearted. You are a good sheep. Your work has been impressive, your soul is gold. I will bless you with enlightenment and prosperity of grass – but you won’t be able to travel with me. I am ruthless.”
“Master! I don’t want anything. Please just allow me to travel with you to the Dauladhars! I have forever known you – and have awaited your coming. I have always been a Dreamer – and I have always wanted to go beyond my means – to become something more, something Ultimate. Do not abandon me. Let me come with you – and when the cold will trouble you, you can have my wool.”
He started laughing.
He laughed for a minute almost – and it was electrifying.
“A student must never trade with her Master, young Lady.”
And then he took out something from inside his loincloth – and lighted it with his index finger!
Ignited it with his index finger! What?
He took it between his hands and brought it close to his face, and smoke erupted out of it.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“This is Herb.” He said, smoking from that thing.
“What does it do to you?” I was just flabbergasted.
“I do to it.” He answered back.
He fell down on the ground, flat on his back, and gazed, dreamily at the star-laden sky.
I went and sat next to him, in my sheep-rumination style.
“What do you do to the Herb, Master?” I asked again.
“I do to it, what the sky does to the stars.”
“Can I smoke too?” I asked him.
He looked at me and frowned.
“You are insolent.” He said, quietly.
“A Master can always do things – because he is capable of them – but that does not give the Student the liberty to do the same. Most cannot handle stars during daytime.”
“But Master, it is night now.” I liked talking to him, like I talked to Mom.
“Do you know, that people are afraid of me? I swallow Halhala from the Amrit Manthana and Sati locks it in my throat. And sometimes when I am in my Nritya, I destroy things.”
“Yeah.” I said – without understanding anything.
“Yes, so do not cross-question me – I will turn you into a rock.”
He closed his eyes and I watched his face intently. It was the most beautiful spectacle that I had ever witnessed.
This beautiful Indigo coloured Being – who said strange things – and saved my life, never had I fallen in love before, in my entire girlhood as a Sheep!
But here I was, falling for my Master – free falling – a mere Sheep! What did I know about love?
“You know enough.” He said.
So he read minds too?
“Yes. Nothing is hidden from me.” He said.
I felt slightly embarrassed.
“Master – my feelings for you,” I began to speak, when he interrupted me.
“Are honorable? I know. You are a good sheep. You love me platonically.”
I laughed back.
“Master, who is Sati?”
His face suddenly changed. It became – sad! Was he sad? How could he be sad?
It was a sadness that I had never before witnessed – it was so palpable – so alive that the whole atmosphere became melancholic, skies became pitch-dark and stars lost their shine.
He did not say anything.
“Is Sati… Your wife?” I was never scared of asking questions and probing people, sometimes quite so viciously.
“Was.” He answered.
“Yes. She is now scattered into 51 pieces – on different places of your Earth.”
He smiled and the stars returned.
“You ask too many questions for a Sheep.” He said.
“And you seem too sad, for a Master!” I replied.
“And you are arrogant.” He exhaled.
“And you do Herb.” I exhaled back.
“Mother is everywhere – scattered in pieces. She will always be. She will erupt one day, and begin my work of Destruction.” He said, taking the last puff from his smoke.
“Master, do you smoke because you are sad?”
He laughed again.
“Fool! I am not afflicted with such things. Do not cross-question.”
He got up from the ground and started to walk, he walked so fast!
I started running behind him, trying to keep pace, panting.
“Master! Slow down. Let me follow you!” I screamed.
“Don’t follow me.” He said, stopping.
“Stay here. I have blessed you with protection. 465 days from now, you will be met with by a Woman. As soon as she will kiss your forehead, you will know where I am and you will bring her to me.”
He put his hand on my head again.
Tears started to flow from my eyes. I had never been touched by so much of love – so much of motherhood – what was it about this Being? Who was He? And why did I feel so connected with him – so very connected, that the thought of not being able to see him for the coming days, felt like torture – cold murder and I became filled with agony.
He sat down and kissed my forehead.
“Do not be sorrowful. I exist everywhere and nowhere. I have no Origin – and no End, I am this Cosmos and you are all my variables – you are I and I am Nothing – and yet I am everything. You will find me, in your existence – as long as you make it a point to live to your totality. Do as I say – and I will ensure your deliverance.”
I was crying.
“I miss my Mom, Master.”
“I will visit her personally and tell Her that her child is now Mine – and that at the dawn of the 465th day, I will return you to Her.”
I looked at him in disbelief.
“You have no option but to trust. You have chosen these consequences for yourself when you chose to act on your desire to have yourself killed inside that ditch. I saved you because I saw possibility and now you will have to stay here – for 465 days and bring that Woman to me when she comes, looking for me.”
And then I watched silently, as Master walked away from me, in his physical form.
465 Days Later…
Every day was spent in lonesomeness, waiting patiently, like the Bull – Nandi, that belonged to my Master.
I sat in my solitude, contemplating upon the vastness of the Dauladhars, which was just a fragment in comparison to the vastness of my Master.
I grazed on the grass everyday – and never a single day passed when there was a dearth of grass, it never rained or snowed in that patch of land where I grazed and leopards and bears never entered my territory.
I was under the protection of my Master.
Perhaps Master chose me because I had no sense of time – and I only enjoyed the timelessness of the Rising Sun and the fading clouds – sitting patiently, contemplative, thoughtless and free of worry.
It was dawn and I had been waiting for the Sun to arise from behind the mountains.
Just then, I heard faint footsteps. I turned around.
A moment later, a woman emerged from behind the Bushes.
She was gorgeous!
She instantaneously smiled at me and came close to me, standing a foot away from me.
She was dressed in a beautiful rose-pink Sari – the nine yard spun cloth Indian women draped around their bodies. It was surprising how she was able to trek on the mountains wearing that – and she carried it gracefully – like a poem spoken by my Master!
Her complexion was like honey in milk – a golden glow emanated from her skin.
Her lips were rose-pink and she smiled constantly – it was just the perfect mix of calm and blissful, the way she held her lips on her face.
Her eyes were large and with long lashes that guarded them – gazelle-like.
Her hair was brown and thick, and had been kept closed into a bun and had been adorned with wildflowers.
She was of a beautiful build – not characteristically thin and neither very plump – just in perfect shape and her cheeks held a beautiful pinkish glow, as she stood smiling at me in an all-encompassing Love. The love in her eyes was not love of any kind, but like a mirror to her Soul – the mirror upon which I saw my own reflection.
For a while, I was boggled – she actually looked like how the Dauladhars looked when the first orange of the Sun fell upon them – in the background of a rose-pink expansive sky.
“Mother.” I exhaled.
It was a spontaneous word that escaped my mouth – I don’t know what else could’ve.
And she started to smile even more.
My eyes started to water and I went close and placed my head upon her feet.
All these days, I had been so badly missing my Mother – and now suddenly, who was this Woman that had come – in just one glance, she had made me her child?
I had always been a very emotional sheep – one that held stars in her eyes.
She sat down and embraced me.
Her embrace was like the first rain upon an arid land – and her scent was one of Petrichor.
It felt like – all erstwhile strife had received all their answers and the emptiness that had been holding me hostage for so long – became filled with a Love that only She was.
Her touch was like the touch of Master – but one that even contained Him in some way – I do not know how, but if there was really a Sati – I felt it was She.
He could be contained by only Her, and nothing else – such was Her gravity, such was her power – but which was also Grace.
“Parvati.” She whispered.
I wondered if this was the Love Pink Rain always spoke about – when she visited me on the Mountains.
It surrounded me, in a way nothing had before and all doubts and miseries were taken away by her loving embrace.
“Prasanna Vadanam Soubhaagyadaam Bhagyaadam
Hastabhyaam Abhayapradaam Maniganair Naanavidhair Bhushitaam”
“My Daughter of Smiling face,
Bestower of all things superior and auspicious,
She, whose hands are ready to rescue anyone from fear,
She, that protects,
And She, who is adorned by ornaments of precious stones…”
She spoke these words in my ears and I became held by a thousand lights, my heart cracked open and the blood clots in the vessels of my heart, transformed into a million jewels of various shapes and sizes and adorned the Earth upon which I stood. My skin froze and my wool dissolved, my eyes gave birth to a million stars that filled up the whole atmosphere, and fireflies emerged from those stars and smeared up the entire Dauladhars with golden hues – like ashes of the Dead that were smeared on my Master’s body – and from behind them a huge mountain – I don’t know what they called it – emerged and I became washed with a profoundness of inexplicable character – just at the sight of it.
She then, placed a kiss on my Forehead, as predicted by Master.
Flashes after flashes of turbulent monstrosity began emerging from my womb, one after other, and everything filled me and emptied me, refilled and re-emptied me, and I suddenly exploded and became one with the whole cosmos.
Blackness emerged in my vision and I collapsed.
A few moments later – or was it ages, I do not know – I woke up and found myself lying down on the Earth, but I was no longer a sheep but a Being, much like Mother.
“Lakshmi.” She said. “I name you Lakshmi.”
I stared into Mother’s eyes.
She spoke again.
“Bhaktabhishtam Phalapradaam Hari Hara Bhramha Dibhi Sevitaam
Parshave Pankajashankham Padmanidhibhir Yuktam Sada Shaktibhi.”
She who gives the desirable to the ones desiring and falling upon her feet…
She, who is attended by Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma alike.
She, who contains the Lotus, Conch-shell and other opulence,
And She, who is agelessly evergreen and all-powerful.”
I closed my eyes and a series of words began emerging from the region beneath my chest and I spoke.
“Mother, He awaits you on Kailasa. I must lead you there. My Father, my Master awaits my Mother and I must lead Her to Him.”
I got up on my feet and held her Hand and pointed towards Mt. Kailasa that was now peeking at us from behind the Dauladhars, which were only like mere ants, when compared to it.
Mother looked at Mt. Kailasa, awestruck – like a woman madly in love, looks at her man – her eyes reflecting the golden glow that emanated from my Father’s abode.
“Take me.” She said.
“Mother, it is a long way and we will have to walk.” I said, feeling a little threatened.
She smiled at me.
“She who is the Destroyer of all Fear – only She can take me safely. I must meet my Shiva. Take me Daughter, we must walk to eternity.”
I embraced my Mother and we stood there, holding each other in silence, as the afterglow of the setting Sun fell upon our beings.
I smiled, as We held hands and began walking, walking towards Our Home, walking towards our Eternity – where our Master, our Shiva, and the Nameless, Destroyer, Timeless, All-pervading Delight, and the Cosmos Himself awaited Us.
Hail, be to the descendants of Shiva-Shakti!
Hail, be to the Brothers who hold Shiva on a pedestal!
Shiva – the One who has no origin, no parentage, no history!
He, who was never born, and shall never end!
He, who has no Beginning and No Ending!
He, who lives Alone and is Complete, All-Pervading, All-encompassing!
He, who is and is not!
He, who is the Master and the Monk!
Divine Husband and Destroyer, alike!
He, who has perfected all the ten dimensions!
He, who is the ten dimensions!
He, who is the Adiyogi – the FIRST Yogi!
He, who teaches the Saptarishis, the art of Yoga!
He, who embraces the Darkness and the Light alike and equally!
He who is the Cosmos Himself – and the variables of Cosmos, thereof!
Tangible and Physical.
Intangible and Invisible.
Emptiness and Fullness.
Light and Darkness.
Blackhole and Sun.
Different and One.
He, who is easy to please.
Dissolves into the Earth and emerges from it.
Ashes to bones, bones to ashes.
Slayer of Worlds,
Eyes of Ajna.
He, who embraces demons and dances with the dead!
He, whom Devaloka please to find deliverance from the Evil!
Hail, be to the Lord!
Hail, be to the proponents of his Principles!
Hail, be to non-believers!
Hail, be to the dreamers, who follow Shiva’s footsteps!
Roof of the World,