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Who is Shiva? - and the Shiva Sutras 1.16, 1.17 & 1.18

Shiva Sutra 1.16


The Sanskrit term suddha tattva “refers only to the supreme Shiva [SLJ].” The hero yogi who takes aim at the highest state of God-consciousness will experience everything in this universe as divine. In the Absolute Principle there are no impurities, no polarities, nothing right and nothing wrong.

Entrance into this absolute supreme state releases you from “the entangling energy that binds you with the wheel of differentiated perception [SLJ].” You feel that your body and all this universe are one with God-consciousness. This experience is said the make any yogic powers pale in comparison.

Who is Shiva?

In Kashmir Shaivsm the Oneness, the Absolute Supreme totality of God Consciousness is conveyed by the sacred word Shiva. Brahman (Vedanta), Paramatman (Samkhya), and Purushottama are used in other systems. The etymology of the Sanskrit word Shiva is ‘auspicious’ and ‘good’ – so we understand that Shiva is that which will benefit.

Shiva is also seen as the Destroyer. He destroys ignorance that stands in the way of the seeker of enlightenment. The path to enlightenment is arrayed with pain when we hang on to illusions that bind us in the temporal illusory hologram. In his form Shiva is the consummate ascetic, he is draped with snakes as ornaments and he enjoys the company of ghouls and demons. Everything is the One, even the darkside.

In the Mahabharata, Krishna is said to have performed intense great austerities to Lord Shiva so that the Pandavas - Yudhishthira, Arjuna, Bhima, and the twins - will be protected and win the battle at Kurukshetra. When these austerities were exhausted and used up, Shiva responded to the offerings of the other side. The propitiating enemy warrior impressed Lord Shiva by placing his own body into the sacrificial fire to Shiva. Thus in a terrible night massacre the children of the Pandavas are slaughtered in their sleep.

The stories of Lord Shiva are numerous, inspiring and fascinating. In one tale, Shiva plays the game of dice with his consort beautiful brilliant Parvati. The dice game symbolizes the pouring forth of the universe as manifestations of the Creator’s Being throughout the Cycles of Time. The creator ‘sacrifices’ oneness into multiplicity for the purpose of Play. This pouring forth of the temporal illusory hologram is the original sacrificial act.

Shiva is everything. Shiva as the metaphysical principle of the universal power of destruction is purely “the centrifugal inertia, the tendency toward dispersion, toward disintegration and annihilation [Danielou].” When we turn within and want to come Home, a multitude of self-created obstacles (impurities) require annihilation. Lord Shiva, in the image of Nataraja, dances upon the demon-dwarf MOHA delusion.


Sutra 1.17

Vitarka atmajnanam

The one who reaches God-consciousness thinks, “I am Lord Shiva, one with the universe [SLJ].”  When we return Home, we merge back into that which we always are. We find that we have never been the small personal individual selves we falsely identified with through countless lives. We have always been the Oneness, which in Kashmir Shaivism is termed Lord Shiva.


Sutra 1.18

Lokananda samadhisukham

“The joy of his Samadhi is said to be bliss for the whole universe [SLJ].” The Sanskrit word SAMADHI here does not describe some kind of physical orgasmic bliss or ecstatic trance. The Oneness is not experienced through the five senses. You are lost when your mind is directed to sense-object consciousness.

Rather this Samadhi is the “maintaining continuous awareness of knowership [JDS].” The hero yogi is able to remain in an uninterrupted state of Knowing that he/she is the Oneness, Lord Shiva. This is the goal, which is achieved in an instant for a few lucky ones - and for most over a lifetime of focused discipline.

This Samadhi infuses the entire world with the bliss experienced by the yogi. “This yogi doesn’t have to do anything. He has only to remain in Samadhi and he will carry the whole universe into that supreme bliss [SLJ].”



How do we reach Samadhi? The Mundaka Upanishad III.ii.3: “This Self is not attained through study, nor through the intellect, nor through much hearing. The very Self which the aspirant seeks is attainable through that fact of seeking: this Self of his reveals Its own nature.”

After reading 100s of books on the path to enlightenment, I have come to understand that in the end only the Will of the God within us all has the power to lift the Veils. These Veils are the creation of our God-consciousness in order to conceal Its real nature so that we as portions of the One can journey through Space/Time.

Read the Sanskrit texts. They will purify your knowledge and hone your consciousness into a higher frequency where you will be able to listen to the God-within you. Understanding your experiences in the context of your buddhi-intelligence will allow you to hold onto them and place them firmly beneath your feet as a foundation to further growth. If you do not understand your spiritual experiences, you will lose them; they will be wasted.

Go to teachers and learn from each one of them, the great ones and even those a bit confused. These men and women are also pieces of God on their own journey.

Meditate and chant the ancient sacred Sanskrit mantras as these practices will purify your being. Sanskrit does have a special power of frequency to elevate your being. Meditation will teach you to concentrate and observe the roller-coaster nature of the mind and the endless fluctuations of the gunas, which on ‘auto’ control your data-collecting vehicle.

However, it is your love for God that will serve you above all else. Loving God and wanting God more than anything in your life will be the powerful magnetic connector that embraces you with a kind of subtle sweet ‘remembrance’ that nothing in the external hologram can match.

Speaking as the Oneness in the Bhagavad Gita Chapter XII, Krishna tells Arjuna that the ones who are devoted are dear to him. Those whose thoughts have entered into the Oneness, he soon delivers from the ocean of birth and death, SAMSARA. Krishna says that it is more arduous to fix the mind on the abstractions of the unseen and the unmanifest. “Endowed with faith, devoted and intent on Me as the Supreme; they are exceedingly dear to me. [XII.20]” Love is the key.

It is a simple practical formula. In your own life, what do you think about? The foremost thoughts in your mind center and flow around those you love. Make God your Beloved, the most loved and valued object in your consciousness - and God will respond.



The Gods of India, Hindu Polytheism, by Alain Danielou; Inner Traditions International Ltd. New York, 1985.

God Inside Out, Shiva’s Game of Dice, by Don Handelman and David Shulman; Oxford University Press, 1997.

Eight Upanishads, with the Commentary of Sankaracarya, Vol. Two, translated by Swami Gambhirananda; Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata India, 1958, 2006.

The Bhagavadgita in the Mahabharata A Bilingual Edition, translated & Edited by J.A.B. van Buitenen; The University of Chicago Press, 1981