Friday, December 10, 2010

Adbhutanath Shiva and the miracle of living!

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Sammidheshwar temple, Chittor Fort, Mewar, Rajasthan:

Lost in the ancient sands of the Thar, dotted with the ruins of a great fort that once held the mirror of Rani Padmini, now offers the Sammidheshwar temple. Born into the rich temple fortress of the Mewar dynasty at the seat of Chittor, surrounded by the victory tower on one side and Mahasati (royal cremation ground) on the other, Shiva is presented in mind blowing splendor.

Rajasthan speaks poetry, and Mewar speaks valor, self respect and death with honor. Mewar, the name, makes one breathe in deep, to just listen to the galloping horse hoofs of Rana Kumbha who dashed down the fort to meet the Mughals at the bottom of the plateau. In the air, one can still listen to the bhajans of Mira Bai as she sang her heart out to Krishna. Mewar also echoes the shrikes of women who burnt themselves in Jauhar(mass sacrifice by self immolation). Within these very fort walls, in the exquisitely carved temple of Sammidheshwar lies this form of Adbhutanata Shiva.

One way of perceiving it is as follows:

We last heard of Shiva Trimurti at Elephanta where the Vakataka empire had sculpted Him out exquisitely early in the 5th cen AD. Later He has been profusely sculpted symbolically as Trimurti embedded within the Nataraja by the Cholas in the 8th cen AD, with the creator, preserver and the destroyer appearing as the Damaru (creation), and the fire bowl (destruction) on either side of the Lord. Trimurthi is the name given to any form of Lord Shiva that displays Vamadeva(feminine) and Aghora(fierce) simultaneously but these representations are also numbered. Alternatively he is represented with Brahma and Vishnu. He appears in the Sammidheshwar temple in the 6th cen A.D as Adbhutanata alias Trimurthi possibly.

Another way to perceive Him is to feel the interiors of the temple within which He lies.

The outside of the Sammidheshwar temple is laced in marble with exquisite shikharas rising up to the Kalash(pot). As the walls rise high, in marble finery carved with sculpture of Gods and Kanyas, the inside of the temple is a passage opening into a cool, hollow dimly lit room open to the roof rising high up. This is a well lit interior, the walls of which appear strong and solid unlike their delicate appearance on the outside.

Click on photo to enlarge

As one steps in, cutting out the light, and walks towards the sanctum, there is little knowledge of what is going to meet the eye. Just two pairs of bright eyes might quite be an astonishment. This form of Shiva brings alive to us a silent world of perfection. Shiva is the Lord of perfection, the master of Siddhis. Siddhis are of 8 kinds and one of them is associated with Laghima. Laghima is the perfection reached when a person controls his senses and has reached a spiritual plane where he can levitate.

Laghima means lightness, that is the perfection that makes the body levitate at will. Adbhutanata Shiva presents us with the Rasa of adbhuta, or wonder and astonishment that translates to this perfection. Rasa associates itself in the ancient texts with aesthetics of perfection, adbhuta(meaning wonder and astonishment) is a Rasa experienced when one attainst the siddhi of Laghima.

Wonder towards what? In this rather abstract theory, which I hope to construct, astonishment and wonder is connected with the miracle of life and the appreciation of it as much as its experience. This is where the simplicity of living is realized as a miracle, where the aspirant humbly accepts the miracle of "living" with every breath.

It is strange that the Chittor fort sang the praises of its dead on every rock and hosts a Shiva temple that praises the miracle of life!

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