Monday, October 25, 2010
'Lord Shiva is the ultimate, modern God'
COLUMN: SPIRITUAL MATTERS
Best-selling author Amish Tripathi is a devotee of Lord Shiva, but also believes in the gods of other religions
By Shevlin Sebastian
It is raining in Thiruvananthapuram. Author Amish Tripathi is at the Kanakakunnu Palace to give a reading from his best-selling book, ‘The Immortals of Meluha’.
He points at a drop of water on a leaf in the garden, and says, “This drop rose from the sea as water vapour, then the winds blew it, and it hit the Western Ghats. Then it reached here as rain. Sadly, this drop has forgotten that it is part of the sea. Instead, the drop thinks it is part of the garden. This is true from one perspective, but from another angle, the sea lives within that drop.”
Amish takes a sip from a cup of coffee and says, “We human beings have forgotten that we belong to the ocean of universal energy. Instead, we feel that we are only part of this earth.”
Amish, on the other hand, believes he is a part of the universe. So, he has a broad-minded attitude. In his puja room at Mumbai, there are idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Hanuman, and other Hindu gods. He also has photos of the Kaaba in Mecca, Mother Mary, Jesus Christ, and the Parsi prophet, Zoaraster.
“I start my daily prayers by saying ' Om ' to all of them, and then I alternate between 'Om Namah Shivaya' and a shloka to Lord Ganesh,” says Amish. “I conclude my puja with the Mahamritunjaya Jab of Lord Shiva.”
Here are the lines from the shloka:
Urvārukam iva bandhanān
Mrtyor muksīya māmrtāt
(We meditate on the three-eyed reality which nourishes and increases the sweet fullness of life. Like a cucumber from its stem, may we be liberated, not from immortality, but from death).
Despite his respect for all Gods, Amish has a favourite: Lord Shiva. And this is his explanation. “Among most divine couples, in every religion, the goddess is always shown as slightly inferior,” he says. “She would be sitting slightly lower than her husband, or she may be sitting at His feet. The message is made abundantly clear: 'Lady, you may be a goddess, but don't forget your place. You are inferior to your husband.'”
In contrast, Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati sit next to each other, shoulder to shoulder, as an equal. He holds their children on His lap - something which even modern Indian men don't do. There are many times when Lady Parvati opposes him and does what She thinks is right. “But Lord Shiva does not punish her for disobeying Him,” says Amish. “In fact, He continues to love her. In my mind, Shiva is the ultimate modern God.”
Asked to describe an image of Lord Shiva, when he closes his eyes Amish says, “He is sitting cross-legged, the way yogis do, with a golden trishul in his hand. His body is fair, but His throat is blue. He is wearing a tiger-skin skirt, and His hair is matted. Lord Shiva wears a rudraksha mala and a cobra is coiled around his neck. He has a welcoming smile that says, 'Don't worry, I am here.'”
Interestingly, Amish's favourite place of worship is the Sankat Mochan Temple in Benaras, which is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. “There is a lot of divine energy there,” he says. He also likes the St. Peter’s Church at Bandra, Mumbai. “There is a lovely statue of Jesus Christ, with his arms spread out, with the word, ‘Come’ written underneath it,” he says. “You can call God as Shiva, Jesus, or Allah, you can call Him whatever you want, but He lives within you.”
(The New Indian Express, Kerala)