The Five Faces of Shiva

Hiding the Grace

tatpuruṣāya vidmahe
mahādevāya dhīmahi
tanno rudraḥ pracodayāt

Apparently, Shiva hides his grace. Notionally, the question that arises is why? All this pain and suffering in this world, starving kids in Africa (and down the street if you cared to look), violent crime, war in Syria, the Republican party... All of this mess and misery because this guy decided he is going to hide his grace. Why?

These types of diatribes naturally happen as my small mind tries to digest the big problems of this world. Zoom into my tiny life and they disappear. I am hungry, my stomach growls and my mind goes through visions of food debaucheries before my rational brain settles on an adventure to the kitchen and exploration of the fridge. Some cake, bread and hummus? Cereal? Chocolate milk (I am vegetarian — hence no meat in the fridge). I sit back down and stuff my rumbling stomach with what we have come to accept as food. The rumbling stops.

My peace of mind was disturbed by the rumbling stomach. Previously it had been disturbed by a myriad of other things, including my diatribe on Shiva hiding grace — but for now it is all settled. The texture of the cereal, the sugary milk, and thick sweet chocolate milk with its cool refreshing taste occupy, satisfy, and entertain my mind.

Hiding the grace, in universal terms, is just the separation between a thought that rises, and the satisfaction and enjoyment of its requisitions. In essence it is time. Time separates suffering from the relief thereof. Whether it is my mid afternoon hunger, or the suffering of an infant wailing in pain for a meal, their immediate satisfaction is curtailed by the flow of time. And sometimes time flows slowly.


aghorebhyo’tha ghorebhyo aghoraghoretarebhyaḥ
sarvebhyo śarvaḥ sarvebhyo namaste astu rudra rūpebhyaḥ

And Creation

sadyojātaṁ prapadyāmi sadyojātāya vai namo namaḥ
bhave bhave nāti bhave bhavasva māṁ bhavodbhavāya namaḥ

In order to make suffering stop, time must run its course, or it must collapse. Collapsing time, though, might be tricky.

And what if you are not suffering, just taking a stroll on a sunny, fall afternoon; with a tender breeze coaxing leaves off trees to float through the air and land softly on gentle green grass. Maybe, this moment is beautiful.


vāmadevāya namo jyeṣṭhāya namaḥ śreṣṭhāya
namo rudrāya namaḥ kālāya namaḥ
kalavikaraṇāya namo balāya namo
balavikaraṇāya namo balapramathanāya namaḥ
sarvabhūtadamanāya namo manonmanāya namaḥ

Within a moment we perceive, and we perceive through a sustained difference between the thing perceived and the one doing the perceiving. Suffering and happiness are sustained by, you guessed it, time — but time itself, what is it?

Einstein famously argued that light experiences no time; the corollary of that is that energy devoid of mass is timeless. Energy is pure change, and mass resits change to produce both gravity and time. Time and gravity in turn produce space — since now that there is a mass, whose movement is resisted by gravity, resulting in some time that needs to transpire to move it from a to b.

Wait, what’s that got to do with hiding the grace?

Revealing the Grace

īśāna sarvavidyānāmīśvaraḥ sarvabhūtānāṁ brahmādipati brahmaṇo’dhipatir
brahmā śivo me astu sa eva sadāśiva om

If you are at point a, and the one you love is at point b, unfortunately your bleating heart needs to cry for some time before your massive body can make it across from a to b.

And while you engage in this movement in time, across space, all the while you will wonder “Why God, why?” — and when you finally arrive at point b, and let’s presume your love is still waiting there for you (and still in love with you), the space between you and your love collapses, time disappears and you both share a moment.