Satsang with Sadhguru
Satsang with Sadhguru

Shiva as Mahadeva

article About Shiva
Find out why Shiva – the Adiyogi is known as the Mahadeva or the one who is above all gods.

Sadhguru: Someone asked me a few days ago if I am a fan of Shiva – the Adiyogi. A fan club starts when people’s emotions get tangled up with somebody. I am definitely not his fan. Then what is it? The real thing is something else, but let me reason this through with you.

Ultimately, in any generation, an individual human being is valued for the contribution he has made to that generation or generations to come. There have been many wonderful people on this planet who have contributed to other people’s lives in many ways. Someone brought a wave of love, someone brought a wave of meditativeness, someone else brought a wave of economic wellbeing – depending upon the need of the times.

For example, Mahatma Gandhi – with all respect to him – this is not to belittle him – because it was pre-independence, his methods, his mode, and the way he operated elevated him to a certain level. He was the right man and did incredible things for the time – but he would not always be relevant. Or Martin Luther King, for those times, since there was discrimination, he was very significant, but if there had been no such problems in the society, he would have been just another guy.

If you go back in history, there have been many great men, but they were significant largely because of the upheavals of the time, the need of the time, or a certain depravity of the time. If you look at Gautama the Buddha, because the society got so wrapped up in ritualistic processes, when he came with a spiritual process without a ritual, it was an instant hit. If this had been a society without much ritual, it would not have been new in any way and it would not have been so significant.

In many ways, Krishna was of great significance. But still, if there had been no strife in that society, if there had been no fight between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, he would have been only a very local influence. He would not have become so big. Or a Rama, if his wife had not been kidnapped, he would have been just another king, maybe remembered as a very good king, or forgotten by people after some time. If the whole war and the burning of Lanka had not happened, his life would not have been of much relevance.

The Significance of Adiyogi

The significance of Adiyogi or Shiva is just this – no such event happened. There was no war, there was no strife. He did not cater to the needs of the day. He provided tools and methods to evolve human consciousness in such a way that they are relevant for all times. When people are deprived of food, love, or peace and you provide them what they lack, you could become the phenomenon of the day. But when there is no such deprivation, what is relevant for a human being is ultimately how to enhance himself.

We gave the title Mahadeva only to him, because the intelligence, the vision, and the knowing behind it are unsurpassable. It does not matter where you were born, what religion, caste, or creed you are, whether you are a man or woman – these methods can be made use of forever. Even if people forget him, they will still have to employ the same methods because he did not leave anything within the human mechanism unexplored. He did not give a teaching. He did not give a solution for that time. When people came to him with those kinds of issues, he just closed his eyes and showed absolute disinterest.

In terms of perceiving the nature of the human being, in terms of figuring out a way for every type of human being, it is literally an eternal contribution; it is not a contribution of the time or for the time. Creation means, what was nothing got knotted up into something. He figured out a way to unknot this creation into a non-creation state.

Why Adiyogi was Called Shiva

This is why we gave him the name Shi-va – that means “that which is not.” When “that which is not” became something or “that which is,” we have called that dimension Brahma. Shiva was called so because he provided a method, a mode – not just one but every possible way as to how to attain to ultimate liberation, which means moving from something to nothing.

Shiva is not a name, it is a description. Like saying that someone is a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer, we say he is Shiva, the un-doer of life. This got slightly misinterpreted as destroyer of life. But in a way it is right. It is just that when you use the word “destroyer,” people perceive it as something negative. If somebody had said “liberator,” it would have been perceived as positive. Slowly, “un-doer” became “destroyer” and people started thinking he is negative. Call him whatever, he does not care – this is the nature of intelligence.

If your intelligence rises to a certain height, you will not need any morality. Only when intelligence is lacking, you must tell people what not to do. If someone’s intelligence has risen, they need not be told what to do and what not to do. He did not utter one word as to what to do and what not to do. The yama and niyama of the Yogic system are Patanjali’s making, not that of Adiyogi. Patanjali came much later.
Patanjali is relevant to us only because Yoga had diversified into too many branches, to a point of ridiculousness. Like 25, 30 years ago, if you wanted a medical check-up, only one doctor was needed. Today you need 12 to 15 – one for your bones, one for your flesh, one for your blood, one for your heart, one for your eye – this will go further.

Let’s say in another hundred years, we get into so much specialization that if you need a medical check-up, you need 150 doctors. Then you will not want to go, because by the time you get 150 appointments, complete them, and compute 150 opinions, it will not be worth it. Then somebody will talk about assimilating all this and making a family physician out of him. This is what Patanjali did.

They say, close to 1800 branches of Yoga were there at that time. If you had to go through the whole process, you would have had to attend 1800 schools and do 1800 different types of Yogas. It became impractical and ridiculous. So Patanjali came and put it all into 200 sutras to practice only eight limbs of Yoga. If such a situation had not been there, Patanjali would not be relevant. That is not the case with Adiyogi or Shiva because no matter what life situation, he is always relevant. That is why he is Mahadeva.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read interesting stories about Shiva the Adiyogi.