"I wanted to talk to you," Sathi grinned, breathless. "I love you, Shiva. I've loved you since the moment I've met you, and I can't help but feel that we are connected somehow. I don't know why. I love you and I've been wanting to tell the whole world for some time now, but I had to tell you first, before I told anyone else-my mother or my father-
"Aren't you going to say anything?"
I never told you that I liked the way you leaned towards me whenever I was around you. I don't think you ever meant to… you didn't seem to realize you were doing it, but I noticed … and every time, it made me smile. It made me feel as though all those hundreds of thousands of years of waiting… they were all worth it. You came into my life and suddenly everything was better.
He remembered the day she came into the world. No one else could see it, but he had noticed that the stars glinted brighter. He had noticed that the wind blew more happily through the leaves, that the flowers glowed, and the water glistened, and the sky lightened, and-hidden from the eyes of the oblivious men and women-the world had celebrated a little. Since then, Shiva had been aware of her every movement whether he wished to be or not. For eons, every prayer on his lips had been for her, and she had finally answered them. His goddess had finally graced him… and it was suddenly as though they had never been separated at all.
I never told you that you were my joy. I never told you that I'd forgotten what true joy was till you returned to me.
When he'd first heard her call, it was as though he could not control his own body. His lady had spoken… and he was but her servant. He went running to her side, not thinking of the consequences. How could he have?-nothing of him was his anymore. The second she had called, he had become hers entirely.
I never told you that my heart was in your hands. Perhaps if I had… perhaps if I had told you that you were my life… you wouldn't have taken your own life so easily. Perhaps you would have spared it for me…
There's this book I heard about, based on Lord Shiva, that speaks of him not as a god, but as a man. It describes the travels of this man to find his Divinity and to become the god that billions of people pray to. Even though this book is not based on the religious texts of the Hindu religion, which state that Shiva was an ever-present divine being that always simply "existed", therein lies the facet of Hinduism that I absolutely love the most: it states that Divinity is not something dreamy and mystical. It's not something to see and admire from afar, but rather something to work towards and achieve. It's not a UFO or a unicorn, but more like a trophy that any man, woman, or little kid can get for being good and doing good. You just have to concentrate, and stay focused. You just have to run the marathon, cross the hurdles, and maybe-just maybe-you can be a god too!
I know that sounds totally out-there and lame, but I think that's because we think of gods as these mythological creatures. For me, Shiva is just a teacher. His stories-probably all created by a group of very clever men a long ago in some deep caves of India-are things I can learn from. The fact that he was basically a human being, going through all the crap that humans go through, and still (eventually) kept his cool makes his stories all that much more believable and all that much more admirable for me. That's why I wrote this story down 'cuz I wanted to share that feeling with all of you guys. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you grew to love Shiva as much as I do!
When she was fifteen-years-old, Sathi had received a precious gift from her father upon his return from the southern kingdoms. He showed her a velvet box and asked her to guess what could be inside. No! She'd replied stubbornly. Caught up in her excitement, she'd insisted on seeing it right away. Her father laughed and held the box high out of her reach. For several moments, she had jumped as high as she could, laughing with her father. She chased him through the hallways, pouted sadly, tried to tickle him-she did everything she could until she fell to the ground, gasping for air. Finally, her father fell to the ground beside her and handed her the box. He watched as she opened it and recovered a beautiful belt of rubies and emeralds set in rusted gold. It tinkled slightly in her hands as she carefully examined it, unable to believe its beauty. It is … incredible, she told her father, at a loss for words. What if she broke it?
Nonsense, the King replied. Who cared if the silly belt broke? All he cared for was the happiness in his daughter's eyes when she wore it.
She beamed and promised her father that she would certainly wear it. She promised that she would save this precious belt for the happiest day of her life, for her father's gift meant everything to her in the world.
Sathi wore that belt on the day she wed Lord Shiva, and every day after. She refused to remove it even when she returned to King Daksh's palace on that fateful day, because she hoped her father would notice. She hoped her father would see that the days that she spent with Shiva-by his side, as his wife-were the happiest days of her life. She hoped he would realize it and accept the man who was the cause for all of her happiness. She hoped he would remember what he had said to her when he presented her with that precious gift: all I care for is the happiness in my daughter's eyes…
There is a place today called Kanchipuram that lies in Tamil Nadu, India. Kanchi is most popular for its silk-spinning industry, making the most sought-after sarees of India. This is where every bride, groom, mother, father, and second-uncle's third daughter's brother-in-law's wife's great-aunt goes to buy the most precious and gorgeous silks known to the world.
Before all of that, however, before Kanchi even received its name, it was the home of a very beautiful belt that had suddenly fallen from the sky one day. It lay there, turned partly to ash, but still winking at passer-by's every time the sun hit its precious stones. In a time when demons were taking the earth, and when humans wandered the streets without a penny to their name, the necklace appeared as a boon to a starving village. Men, women, and children tried to pick it up from the ground. Who knew what it could be worth? Perhaps if they could take it to the demons, they may earn some favors from them. Perhaps they would even get a good bite to feed their children!
But no one could pick up the belt. It simply lay there for days, collecting dust in its intricate designs. So, one fateful morning, when an elderly man happened to walk by the mystical belt and found another man stooped beside it, he thought it best to give a friendly piece of advice to the stranger. "Don't bother, my good sir," he said, smiling. "Far stronger men than you have tried to mine those jewels, but it is not possible. If you ask me, I think it is a right piece of lesson sent for the demons by the gods. They roam around, thinking they're above everything else, lording over us as though their powers have no match, but look here-here is a mere piece of jewelry that they cannot even lift! Ha-oh, you should have seen their faces when we brought them here. Even their master was so shocked and humiliated-"
The elder stopped suddenly, squinting, for his eyes seemed to be tricking him. Blasted old age was taking his vision bit by bit, as well as his mind, for he could swear that the stranger had just picked up the belt that no one else could even budge! "H-How did you…?"
He hobbled forward, his eyes training on the stranger. "Who are you, young man?"
The stranger did not answer. Slowly, he lifted the belt to his lips and held it there with his eyes closed.
According to the stories I heard as a child, Shiva turned into a man for a brief period of time. Who knows, maybe it was his way of respecting King Daksh's hopes to make him fall from Divinity… After all, the main part of the ritualistic "yagna" is a material sacrifice. What greater sacrifice could Daksh have given than his own head? So, maybe-just maybe-Shiva, in his endless compassion, decided to grant Daksh that favor without even realizing it. Whatever the case may be, Shiva's fall from Divinity opened up Earth to all the demons. Tharakasur took over the world, terrorized every inch of it, and planted his flag everywhere that he could. There were some kingdoms that resisted-the Snakes, the King of the Himalayas, etc. and more on that later-but the rest of the world was easy as pie, especially since Daksh's surmounting guilt and despair rendered him incapable of protecting his people.
You may ask why Vishnu and Bramha didn't do anything about this, but I'd like to point out again that the gods didn't want to create utopia. They didn't want a bunch of robots. They wanted a world that ran itself, that they didn't have to constantly interfere with, and that had both good and bad in it. Besides, Tharakasur still had a part to play, as did Shiva, as did every other person in the whole world.
So, Shiva wandered the world for months as a mere man in search of the fifty-one pieces of Sathi's body that had fallen to the ground. At each place, a temple was built in honor of Devi Adi Shakti, that still stand to this day. According to my grandma, Shiva created a "Shakti-Peeth" at each location-a place of power, where one would always find Devi Shakti's presence and grace-and left part of his own soul to guard each of them. The parts he left behind are the Bhairavas, forms of Shiva, that are said to guard the temples to this day.
Shiva also found his Divinity once more through this journey. He once again reminded himself who he was. He reminded himself that an entire universe resided within him and without him. He was their father, their protector, and their god. So he steeled his heart and set back to the Himalayas. He had spent millions of years trying to come to terms with the loss of his beloved wife. He didn't know how long it would take this time, but he knew he couldn't loose himself to his own misery anymore. He couldn't go back to Kailash, for the place was still too wrought with memories of Sathi, so he went instead to Mount Amarnath. Here, just outside the mouth of a deep cave, he left his Trisul for he had no need for it anymore. He barricaded himself inside the cave and lost himself to meditation.
More to come... Stay tuned for the next installment of Shiva's stories: Shakti!