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15-Shiv Leelaa

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15-Shiv Leelaa

Shiv is known by the name 'Gireesh', as He is the Lord of the Mount Kailaash. Shiv is called 'Tryambak', because he has a third eye in his forehead, the eye of wisdom (Gyaan Chakshu). The word 'Hara' is derived from the root 'Hru' means and the suffix 'Ati', for he removes (Harati) all ills. 'Har' means He who at the time of dissolution (Pralaya) withdraws the world within Himself. Shiv is holding in his hands Parashu (axe) and deer. He is making with the other two hands the Var and the Abhaya Mudraa. The deer here is Brahmaa. Shiv is very powerful. Even Brahmaa is under his control.

Tripuraari    read below   Tripur Sanhaar
Shiv was the destroyer of the Asur, Tripur. He destroyed the Tripur or the three cities of the Asur which were built of gold, silver and iron by Maya Daanav. The Asur oppressed all theists, being protected by the three cities. Shiv is called Tripuraari because he destroyed the three Asur, and their three cities, Tripur.

Shiv Jyoti
Brahmaa and Vishnu were one day disputing which of the two was the greater. Shiva appeared in the form of an Infinite Jyoti or fiery Ling, in order to destroy their pride. Brahma and Vishnu set out to measure the Jyoti, but they failed in their attempts.

Neelakanth - Shiv Drinks Poison
Once, Devtaa and the Asur had a formidable fight for a very long period. Many Devtaa and Asur died in the fight. The Devtaa thought that they should prolong their lives by drinking nectar and then continue the war. They approached Brahmaa with this desire in view. Brahmaa said: "This work cannot be done by me. It can be done only by Vishnu." Thereupon, Brahmaa and the Devtaa approached Hari in Ksheer Saagar. Hari asked the Devtaa and Asur to churn the ocean with the help of Mandar Giri as churning-rod and Vaasuki Naag as the churning rope. As they went on churning, poison (Halaahal Vish) came out first from the ocean. The terrible poison began to burn the people into ashes. The Devtaa, the Asur and the Rishi began to flee away. Vishnu was not able to destroy the poison. His body also became very black. He ran to Kailaash along with the Devtaa and Brahmaa to see Shiv. He reported to Shiv all that had happened. Thereupon, Shiv collected the poison and kept it as a drop in the palm of his hand and swallowed it. Then Vishnu and Brahmaa requested Shiv to keep it in his neck as a mark of their protection. Shiv did it accordingly. Due to the effect of the poison his throat became blue, and from that day onwards Shiv is called by the name 'Neelakanth' (blue-necked one) or 'Kaal Kanth Murti'. Then Shiv said to them: "If you churn again, you will get nectar and several other things." They all started again the churning of the ocean and obtained nectar and many other things. All the Devtaa drank the nectar and rejoiced heartily.

Shiv Rides the Bull
Turning of Chatur-Yug two thousand times, is one day of Brahmaa. Such thirty days make a month for him. Such twelve months make a year for him. Such hundred years make the full life of Brahmaa. The whole life-period of Brahmaa is a day for Vishnu. After passing 100 such years Vishnu also passes away or merge himself in Para Brahm. All the And (Lok or worlds) perish at that time. On account of the heavy blowing of Prachand Vaayu, the seven oceans will ebb high and cover the whole world. Shiv alone exists at that time. He will burn everything into ashes through his fiery third eye and then dance. The Dharm Devtaa or the Lord of Virtue reflected within himself : "How can I attain immortality? If I approach Shiv, then only I can attain this." So he assumed the form of a bull, went to Shiv and said: "My venerable Lord! Kindly accept me as thy vehicle and thus protect me." Shiv agreed to the humble request of the God of Dharm and said: "Conduct the Dharm with four feet in the Krit Yug, with the three feet in the Tretaa Yug, with two feet in the Dwaapar Yug, and with one foot in the Kali Yug. Because of my grace, you will be endowed with all splendor and powers. You will always be my vehicle. You will be one with me." When Shiv destroyed Tri-pur or the three cities, Vishnu assumed the form of a bull and supported Shiv.

Shiv Wears Trident, Deer, Etc.
Once the Rishi of Daaruk Van performed a Yagya to destroy Shiv. A cruel tiger came out of the fire. They commanded the tiger to kill Shiv. Shiv killed the tiger and wore his skin around his waist. Then the Rishi created a trident, to kill Shiv. Shiv took it in his hand as his instrument. Then they created a deer with sharp horns, to kill Shiv, but Shiv wore it in his left hand. Later on they created countless black cobras to kill Shiv. Shiv wore them as his ornaments. Then they created countless Bhoot Gan to kill him. This time Shiv made them as his army. Then they created a Damaroo to kill him. Shiv picked it up in his hand. Then they created an Asur, Muyalaka, to kill him. Muyalaka marched with the Yagya fire to destroy Shiv. Shiv held that fire as Malu in his hand and kept the Asur under his feet. That is how he used all as his killer things.

Shiv Wears Gangaa on His Head
Once upon a time in Mount Kailaash, Paarvatee Jee closed the eyes of Shiv with her hands. Thereupon the Sun, the Moon and fire did not shine forth. This caused terrible havoc in the world. All were enveloped by darkness for a long period. Shiv opened his third eye a bit. The Sun, Moon and fire began to shine again and all darkness vanished. Paarvatee was frightened. She removed her hands and dropped down the perspiration from her fingers. This perspiration was turned into ten Gangaa with countless branches. These rivers did much havoc to the world. Thereupon Brahmaa, Vishnu and Indra ran to Shiv and requested him to avert this catastrophe. Shiv felt compassionate and brought the whole waters in one hair of his matted locks. Brahmaa, Vishnu and Indra requested Shiv to give a little of the water of Gangaa for their worlds. Shiv gave them a little. They became Viraaj Nadee in Vaikunth, Manasaa Teerth in Satya Lok and Dev Gangaa in Indra Lok. King Bhageerath brought down the Gangaa from Brahm Lok to give Moksh to his 60,000 ancestors - sons of King Sagar.

Shiv's Leelaa of Begging
Once the Rishi of Daaruk Van thought that there was no use in loving and adoring Shiv and they could attain Moksh through the performance of sacrifices. They left off worship of Shiv and did sacrifices vigorously. Shiv said to Hari: "Assume the form of Mohinee and enter the abode of all Rishi in Daaruk forest. They have no regard for me now. They are treading the wrong path now. We should teach them a lesson. Excite their passion and delude them. Destroy their Vrat." He also put on the form of a mendicant-beggar. Thereupon, Hari assumed the form of Mohinee and entered the dwelling places of the Rishi in Daaruk Van. All the Rishi lost their power of understanding and discrimination and followed Mohinee under strong excitement of passion.

Shiv entered the Parn Kuteer (huts made of leaves) of the wives of the Rishi, sang the Shruti and hymns beautifully and roamed about as a mendicant-beggar. The wives of Rishi became excited and followed Shiv. They entreated him in a variety of ways to satisfy them. Shiv multiplied himself and appeared in the mind of each woman. All the wives of the Rishi enjoyed heartily. They all brought forth 18,000 Rishi with matted locks, Dand and Kamandal in the morning. They all prayed to Shiv. Shiv blessed them to do Tapas in the forest. The Rishi acted accordingly. The Rishi witnessed the condition of their wives and said: "We were deluded by the enchanting Mohinee. The mendicant-beggar spoiled the chastity of our wives. Lo! how powerful is lust! Mysterious is Maayaa!"

Shiv Has Umaa on His Left
After the Sanhaar was over, Brahmaa born of the grace of Shiv thought of creating all beings. He created Sanak, Sanandan, Sanat Kumaar and Sanatsujaat. They did not enter the life of householders. They developed wisdom and became great Yogee. Brahmaa went to Vaikunth and saw Hari and said to him: "O venerable Lord! I am not able to continue the creation. Sanak, Sanandan etc my sons have become Yogee. They do not wish to become householders. Kindly suggest me a way to continue my work of creation." Vishnu said: "This is not in my power. Let us go to Shiv who abides in Kailaash." Brahmaa and Vishnu saw the Lord of Kailaash and said to him: "O God of gods! The creative work of Brahmaa has been stopped as the four Kumaar have become Yogee. Kindly bless him to continue his creative work."

Shiv looked at the left side of his chest. Umaa took her birth from Shiv's left side. Shiv said to them: "Now there is no difficulty in creation. It will continue it without any hitch." Thereupon Brahmaa and Vishnu repaired to their respective abodes. Then Brahmaa created the worlds through the grace of Shiv. Men and women lived together happily and brought forth offspring. The whole appearance is Shaktimaayaa. Shiv witnesses Prakriti's activities.

Shiv Wears Elephant's Skin
In days of yore, Gajaasur did severe penance. Brahma appeared before him and asked him: "O Gajasura! I am pleased with your penance. What boon do you want?" Gajaasur said: "O venerable Lord! Give me prowess and inexhaustible wealth." Brahmaa Jee said - "I have given you what you desired. But if you fight against Shiv, you will lose your boon." After saying this Brahmaa vanished. Thereupon, Gajaasur did Digvijaya, and defeated Devtaa and Indra. He troubled the Muni and the Rishi also. Devtaa and Rishi repaired to Banaaras and fell at the feet of Vishwanaath and said: "Gajaasur is trying to kill us. Please protect us. O Lord! There is no other refuge for us." Gajaasur attacked Vishwanaath also. Shiv killed the Asur, tore the skin and wore it as his garment. Devtaa and Rishi praised the Lord and became happy.

Raavan and Shiv
Raavan was a great devotee of Shiv. He used to go everyday to Mount Kailaash to worship Shiv. He found this very troublesome. He thought to bring the whole mountain to his abode in Lankaa in order to save himself from the trouble of a daily journey to Mount Kailaash. As he began to pull up the mountain, it trembled. Paarvatee Jee got frightened. She embraced Shiv. Shiv pressed the Parvat with the little toe of his left foot. This pressed Raavan so much that he started crying. He cried for 100 years, then Shiv kindly released him and named him Raavan (since he did Rudan - cried).

Shiv and Hari
Hari used to worship Shiv daily with a thousand lotuses. One day one lotus was missing. He plucked out His own eye to make the number of a thousand. Shiv was very much pleased with His devotion so he gave Him the Sudarshan Chakra or Divine discus to kill bad people. It is this Sudarshan Chakra which Vishnu always bears. This discus is itself an embodiment of devotion.

Brahmaa's Boon
Once a Raakshas worshipped Brahmaa and asked him to grant him the power to destroy the whole world. Brahmaa was partially unwilling to grant him this boon, so he consented in a half-hearted manner and asked him to wait. The Devtaa, hearing this, were terribly frightened and went to Shiv and told him everything. Shiv danced in order to delay the granting of this boon, to distract him and thus save the world.

Birth of Subrahmanya (Kaarttikeya)
The Asur Taarak drove all the gods from Heaven. Gods then went to Brahmaa. Brahmaa said to the gods: "The Asur has acquired his power through my grace. I cannot destroy him. he will be killed only by Shiv's 6-day old son. So I suggest you that you go to Shiv. He is in Yog Samaadhi. He must be united with Paarvatee. A powerful son will be born to him. He will kill the Asur." So Indra asked Kaam Dev to go to Shiv and tempt him to wed Paarvatee. So Kaam Dev took his wife Rati and his companion Vasant (the spring), to Mount Kailaash. Spring season appeared there. All the Rishi were surprised at this, because it was not the season of Spring. Kaam stood behind a tree and shot an arrow at Shiv. At this moment Paarvatee was worshipping Shiv and offering flowers in his hand. Her hand touched the hands of Shiv. Shiv suddenly felt a thrill of passion and his seed came out. Shiv was wondering what was it that thus distracted him from his Yog. He looked around and witnessed Kaam behind a tree. He opened his third eye. A fire flashed from his third eye and burnt Kaam Dev to ashes. Shiv's seed was thrown into Agni (God of Fire). Agni was not able to bear it. He threw it into the Gangaa River. Gangaa also could not bear it so she threw it into a forest of reeds where Subrahmanya, called the reed-born (Shar Janm, Shara Van Bhav), was born. Subrahmanya became the commander of the Devtaa and destroyed the Asur as Brahmaa intended.

Shiv and Daksh
Once Brahmaa did a great Yagya. All Devtaa, Rishi, Gandharv etc came to attend it. Daksh also came to attend that Yagya. Shiv had come there before him. So when he arrived there everybody rose and greeted him. But Shiv neither rose from his , nor he greeted him. Daksh reproached him and left the place in anger. Nandeeshwar could not tolerate Shiv's insult, so in turn he also cursed Daksh and other Braahman. Shiv also left the place after that. Thus Daksh was very angry with Shiv.

Once Daksh was appointed the chief of Prajaapati, so he also did a Yagya. He invite everybody except his daughter Satee. When Satee, known as Dakshayaanee also, saw many Vimaan (airplanes) flying in the sky she asked where were they going. She came to know about her father's Yagya, so she requested Shiv to permit her to attend her father's Yagya. Shiv adviced her a lot that it was not proper to go there without invitation, but since Satee was already sad (read this story Why Satee Was Sad  here) she did not agree with him. In spite of Shiv's advice, Satee went to Daksh's sacrifice. Disregarded by her father and enraged at finding no offering made to Shiv, she praised the greatness of her Lord, censures Daksh and cast off her body through Yog. Hearing of Satee's casting off her body, Shiv created Veerabhadra out of his Jataa (or matted locks) and caused Daksh's death. Later Brahmaa pacified Shiv, and Daksh. Being pleased with Brahmaa's praise, Shiv went to the sacrifice place; and revived Daksh and others. After the closing ceremony of ablutions, the gods returned to their Lok. (Read this story Shiv and Daksh)

Once Siva was sitting with Paarvatee in a hall beautifully decorated by precious stones on the Mount Kailaash. At that time, Paarvatee worshipped him and requested him to alter the name of Dakshayaanee given to her before, for being the daughter of Daksh. This Daksh was killed by Shiv for his disrespect and arrogance. On hearing this request Shiv ordained that Devee should be born as the daughter of Parvat Raaj who was doing rigorous Tapas for getting a child. He also told Paarvatee that he would come to her and marry her. Thus ordained, Paarvatee was born as the daughter of Parvat Raaj and since her fifth year, she began to do rigorous Tapas for being the bride of Shiv. During the absence of Devee, the sons of Brahmaa, Sanak, Sanandan, Sanaatan and Sanat Kumaar, came for the Darshan of Shiv and prostrated before him. They entreated Shiv to teach them the way to remove A-Vidyaa and attain salvation. They expressed that in spite of the vast study of scriptures they had no internal peace and they were in need of learning the inner secrets, by knowing which they could attain salvation. Shiv, hearing this, assumed the form of Dakshinaamoorti and as Guru Supreme, began to teach them the inner secrets by keeping Maun and showing the Chinmudraa by his hand. The sages began to meditate on the lines shown by him and attained the state of inexpressible and illimitable joy. Thus Shiv came to be known as Dakshinaamoorti.

Tripur Sanhaar
This incident is mentioned in the Karn Parv of the Mahaabhaarat. In times of yore, there was a war between the Devtaa and Asur. The Asur were defeated in the battle. So the three sons of the Asur Taarak, wanted to take revenge with Devtaa. They performed rigorous penance and obtained a boon from Brahmaa. By virtue of this boon, they could not be conquered by any one except that somebody who could destroy their three castles by a single arrow. They made three castles, one of gold in heaven, the second silver in air, and the third of iron on earth. Living in these castles, they began to oppress the gods and the Rishi. So all the gods complained to Brahmaa. Brahmaa replied that no one except Mahaadev who knows Yoga and Saankhya, through particular penance, could vanquish these Asur. All the gods approached Mahaadev and provided him with a chariot out of all forms of the universe. They also supplied him with a bow and arrow, which were made of Vishnu, Som and Agni. They requested Mahaadev to release the arrow at the three castles. Brahmaa became the charioteer. Mahaadev released the arrow at the three castles at an appropriate time. The three castles fell down in the twinkling of an eye. Then all the gods eulogized Mahaadev. Mahaadev said to the gods that he himself could not destroy the Asur, as they were very mighty, but he could vanquish them with the help of their strength.

Shiv Cursed and Pardoned Nakirar
Once, a Paandya king of Madurai (Tamilnaadu) felt that his queen's hair had some kind of natural fragrance. A doubt arose in his mind as to whether human hair could have natural fragrance, or it was made fragrant with flowers or scents. So he went to the Sangham or the Tamil Academy next day, suspended a bag containing 1,000 gold pieces and said to the poets that anyone who would write a poem clearing his doubt will be awarded those gold pieces as a prize. Many poets composed poems but they were not able to satisfy the King. Darumi, a Brahmin priest in the temple, was extremely poor. He requested Shiv thus: "O all-merciful Lord! I am very poor. I wish to marry now. Relieve me of my poverty. Help me to get these gold pieces now. I take refuge in Thee alone." Shiv gave him a poem and said - "Take this poem to the Sangham. You will get the gold pieces." The King was immensely pleased with the song as it cleared his doubt, but the Sangham poets did not accept it.

Nakirar, one of those poets, said that there was a flaw in the poem. The poor priest was greatly afflicted at heart. He came back to the temple, stood in front of the Lord and said - "O Lord! Why did you give me the poem which contained a flaw? Nobody will take you for the Lord. I feel very much bad for this." The meaning of the poem is: "O fair-winged bee! You spend your time in gathering flower-dust. Do not speak out of love, but speak out of truth. Is there any among the flowers known to you that is more fragrant than the hair of this damsel who is most loving, is of the color of the peacock and has beautiful rows of teeth!" Thereupon, Shiv assumed the form of a poet, went to the Sangham and asked - "Which poet found out flaw in the poem?" Nakirar said - "It is I who said that there is a flaw." Shiv asked - "What is the flaw?" Nakirar said: "There is no flaw in the composition of words. There is a flaw in the meaning." Shiv said - "May I know what defect is there in the meaning?" Nakirar said - "The hair of a damsel has no natural fragrance. It gets the fragrance from association with the flowers." Shiv said - "Does the hair of Padminee also possess the fragrance by association with the flowers?" Nakirar said, "Yes." Shiv said - "Does the hair of celestial damsels also possess fragrance by association with the flowers?" Nakirar replied - "Yes. Their hair becomes fragrant by association with Mandar flowers." Shiv said - "Does the hair of Umaa  who is on the left side of Shiv whom you worship possess fragrance by association with the flowers?" Nakirar replied - "Yes. Quite so."

Shiv slightly opened his third eye. Nakirar said: "I am not afraid of this third eye. Even if you are Shiv, even if you show eyes throughout your whole body, there is flaw in this poem." The fire from the third eye of Shiv fell upon Nakirar. Nakirar was not able to bear the heat. At once he jumped into the neighboring lotus-tank to cool himself. Then all the poets approached Shiv and said to him - "O Lord! Pardon Nakirar." Shiv appeared before Nakirar. By the grace of Shiv his body ot cool. He repented for his mistake and said - "I pointed defect even for the hair of Umaa. No one but the Lord can pardon me." He sang a song with intense devotion. Shiv entered the tank and brought him to the shore. Then Nakirar and other poets gave the purse of gold to Darumi.

Know Your Guru (Story of a Yog Bhrasht)
Devotion to the Lord dawns in the heart of a man who has done virtuous actions in his previous births without expectation of fruits and egoism or the idea of agency. Devotion leads to knowledge of the Self (Gyaan) and through Gyaan, he attains Moksh or the final emancipation. In days of yore, there was a King named Veerasindhu in Kaling country. He did severe Tapas, meditation and Yoga in his previous birth, but did not attain Moksh. He became a Yog-Bhrasht as he had to enjoy the fruits of some residual Karm in his last birth. He took his birth as the son of a king. When he attained the proper age, he was crowned as the King of Kaling. He ruled the kingdom for a period of ten years.

Owing to the force of previous spiritual Sanskaar, and the grace of the Lord, discrimination and dispassion dawned in his heart. He reflected within himself: "I am doing the same acts of eating, drinking and sleeping. My several forefathers who ruled the country, had been reduced to dust. I have no peace of mind despite my wealth and dominion. I should get a Guru and obtain initiation from him to get knowledge of the Aatmaa and reach the abode of immortality and eternal bliss.

So King Veerasindhu sent invitation to all Pandit, Sanyaasee, Saadhu and Mahaatmaa. He wrote in the letter - "I will give half of my dominion to that supreme Guru who will give me the right initiation and make me realize the Self. If he fails to do so he will be put in the prison." Many Pandit and Saadhu saw the King. One gave him Taarak Mantra, another gave Panchaakshar Mantra, a third gave him Ashtaakshar Mantra, but no one was able to satisfy the King. He put all of them in the prison. He had already had initiation into these Mantra in his previous births.

King Veerasindhu became very restless as he did not obtain his Guru. Shiv then assumed the form of an ordinary coolie. He had a very dark complexion. He wore some rags and appeared before the King. The King went forward to receive him. Through the grace of the Lord, he came to know that this coolie was none other than the Lord. The coolie raised his hand towards the king and said "Stop", and vanished immediately. The King understood that the Guru has commanded him to stop the mind and control its movements. The King closed his eyes, while he was standing, and did not allow the mind to think of the sensual objects. He controlled all the modifications of the mind. It was easy for him as he had practiced Yog and meditation in his previous birth. He entered into Nir-Vikalp Samaadhi and became like a statue. He did not open his eyes.

The ministers were waiting in the Darabaar Hall for hours together. King Veerasindhu did not open his eyes for days together. Then the ministers reflected - "The King is in Samadhi now. We do not know when he will return from the Samadhi. We will have to manage the affairs of the State." They removed the ring from his finger and used it for putting the seal in the papers of the State. The king opened his eyes after six years, and asked the ministers: "Where is my Guru?" The ministers replied - "O venerable king! The Guru said a word to your majesty and vanished at once. You are standing here like a statue for the last six years. We are conducting the affairs of the state with the aid of your ring. Here is the seal of your ring in all the registers and papers."

The King was struck with awe and wonder. He thought within himself: "Six years have passed like a second. I enjoyed supreme bliss. I have no desire to rule the State after tasting the supreme bliss." He left the palace and entered the forest and sat in Samaadhi.

The force of Yaugik Sanskaar of the king that was generated by the practice of Yog in his previous birth, helped him in the attainment of the beatitude in this birth. Those who have not much piety and religious inclination in this birth should do Jap, Keertan, meditation, and study of religious books. They should live in the company of sages. They will develop good religious Sanskaar. This will be a valuable asset for them in the next birth. They will start the practice of Yog in the next birth in the early age. It is difficult to say in what form the Guru or the Lord will appear before you to initiate you. He may come in the form of a leper as Hanuman did to Tualasee Daas (read Darshan of Hanumaan and Raam to Tulasee), or in the form of an untouchable as Krishn did, or in the form of a groom as Shiv did Paaravatee (read The Sight of Shiv). The aspirants must be very careful and vigilant to detect the Lord in the various forms which He assumes.

Eight Legends of Shiv

(1) Killing of Andhakaasur, (2) Kiraartaarjun, (3) Shiv and Daksh, (4) Killing of Gajaasur, (5) Killing of Jalandhar Asur, (6) Burning of Kaam Dev, (7) Bestowing immortality of Maarkandeya Rishi, and (8) Burning of Tri-pur or Killing of Three Asur Brothers

The Twenty-five Leelaa of Shiv

The following are the 25 Leelaa (sportive plays) or manifestations of Shiv :

1. Wearing of Moon on the Head, 2. Living with Umaa, 3. Riding on Ox, 4. Taandav Dance with Kali, 5. Marriage with Paarvatee, 6. Shiv's Begging, 7. Burning of Manmath or the God of Love Kaam Dev, 8. Victory over Yam or the God of Death, 9. Burning of Tri-pur (three cities), 10. Killing of Jalandharaasur, 11. Killing of Gajaasur, 12. Incarnation of Veerabhadra, 13. Harihar, 14. Ardh-naareeshwar, 15. Transforming into Kiraat, (hunter) for Arjun, 16. Assuming the Form of Kankaal, 17. Blessing Chandeeshwar, 18. Drinking Poison, 19. Giving of Chakra to Lord Vishnu, 20. Destroying of obstacles, 21. Having sons of Umaa with him, 22. Becoming Ekapaad Rudra, 23. Being in easy pose (Sukhaasan), 24. Assuming the form of Dakshinaamoorti, and 25. Assuming the Ling form.



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Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on February 12, 2013