I have become over the years a devotee of the Hindu god Shiva, one of the three great gods of the Hindu Trinity, along with Brahma and Vishnu – Shiva the Destroyer. This is partly because of my thirty plus years practice in the Sivananda school of Yoga, and my admiration for its founder Swami Sivananda, one of the greatest of Yoga gurus. But I have also developed a deep and abiding interest in the character of Lord Shiva himself; I admire that destructive force that sweeps corruption away and makes way for re-birth. That fits with my Scorpio personality. So, of all the gods, Lord Shiva is my favourite, the one I identify with the most, who acts as a role model for me – even more than Christ in some ways.
I have been privileged to visit the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas four times in recent years, with my lovely ex-wife Adrienne, and with my wonderful friends Roger Weller, Kerry DuBrin and Nancy Konipol. Mainly we have been to sing and dance to the music of Krishna Das and, along with hundreds of other beautiful people, we have chanted kirtan to Shiva and the other names of God many, many times – thereby invoking the spirit and energy of Lord Shiva. We call him Lord because we respect the power he represents in the Universe.
At the end of February, Friday 21st, we all met again to chant and dance with Krishna Das and to experience joy in each other. It so happened that this particular February 21st was Shivaratri, the most important Shaivite ceremony of the year, which consists of an all-night vigil and service with constant chanting until 6am, when a delicious breakfast of sweetmeats is served. At 4am the delightful Brahmin priest Krishna-ji led us round the grounds and performed pujas at different shrines, while we all chanted Om Namah Sivaya – I bow to Shiva.
I had been unsure, at 71, whether I could mange to stay up all night, but the charming Swami Brahmananada gave a very interesting talk about Shivaratri in the morning, explaining that if you made a commitment there would be a reward. There has been, in many ways: first there was the incredible open-hearted energy and loving vibes that lasted for days among the fantastic people there, really an elevated spiritual space with people who share a consciousness of the reincarnational dimension to life. For me personally it was a heavenly experience of ecstatic joy.
But much more than that: we invoked Lord Shiva, and he has responded. I see Shiva in what is happening today in our world around us. I think the old has to be destroyed, in order for the new to be born. That is Shiva’s role and we are about to witness it, my friends. It will be a long and painful transition, but a brighter future beckons. This corrupt, decadent civilisation of ours is killing the planet and everything on it. It has to be destroyed for a new, more compassionate consciousness to arise. That is the power of Shiva.
Swami Swaroopananda, the Director of the Sivananda Ashram, and a leading Sanskrit scholar of the Hindu scriptures, recently gave a talk in which he mentioned that, according to the Law of Karma, mankind is already doomed. We can only be saved now by the Law of Grace, which is senior to the Law of Karma, and comes from God. What’s coming at us now is our Karma, and each of us will experience the Karma we have earned. Prayer will be an appropriate response.
Shiva is the Lord of the Dance and the Lord of Yoga, and Cannabis too, but his most glorious title is the Supreme Destroyer of Evil. That is the role of Shiva’s energy in the coming days. While we should be fearful of his power, we should find hope in his divine purpose.
Om Shanti. Om Namah Sivaya.
Love & Peace,
Rev Robin Scott MA (Oxford)