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Shiva the Perfect Ascetic and Householder

Shiva the Adiyogi was a fierce ascetic who became a householder to share his knowing with the world and create the spine of knowledge which is now known as Yoga.

Sadhguru: It is said in the Shiva Purana that Shiva the Adiyogi was a hermit and a fierce ascetic who roamed the graveyards wearing a garlands of skulls. He was a very fierce man and no one would dare go near him. Then all the gods looked at his condition and thought, “If he remains like this, gradually his energy and his vibrations will influence the whole world and then everyone will become ascetic. This is good in terms of realization and liberation, but what about us? Our game will be up. People will not cater to the things that we want. We cannot play our games, so we must do something.”

After much coaxing and cajoling, somehow they got him married to Sati. After this marriage, he became part-householder. There were moments when he was a very responsible householder; there were moments where he was an irresponsible drunkard; there were moments when he was so angry that he could burn the Existence; there were moments when he was so cool and soothing to the Existence. He kept varying.

Sati was unable to hold him totally, the way he is needed for the world. Then events proceeded in such a way that she shed her body and Shiva once again became a very fierce ascetic, even more fierce and determined than before. Now the danger of the whole world becoming ascetic was even more and the gods became very worried.

They wanted to trap him into marriage once again. So they worshipped the mother Goddess and asked her to take the form of Parvati. She took birth as Parvati with only one goal in her life – to somehow marry Shiva. She grew up and she tried to entice him in many ways, but it was of no use. Then the gods made use of Kamadeva to somehow influence Shiva, and in a moment of melting, he got into the householder state again. From then on he began playing both the roles of being an ascetic and a householder with tremendous harmony and balance within himself.

Shiva started teaching Parvati the knowledge of the self. In so many crazy and intimate ways, he imparted upon her as to how to know the self. Parvati attained to the highest bliss. But then, as it always happens to anyone, once you have reached the peak and when you look down, initially you are over-powered by bliss; afterwards compassion overpowers you and you want to share it. You want to see that somehow everyone has it.

Why Shiva Became a Householder

The day of Mahashivratri happens to be the day when Shiva and Parvati were married. Adiyogi was an ascetic whose Ultimate dispassion moved into the world of passion on this day as he had no fear of entanglement; and this passion became a means for him to share the depth of his wisdom and perception.

Parvati looked down at the world and told Shiva, “What you have taught me is truly wonderful, this must reach everyone. But I can see that the way you have imparted this knowledge to me, there is no way you can impart this knowledge to the whole world. You must evolve another kind of method to give to the world.” That is when Shiva started propounding to the system of Yoga. He chose seven disciples, who are now celebrated as the Saptarishis. From that point, Yoga became a science as to how to realize the self, it became very systematic and scientific so that it could be imparted to everyone.

Thus Shiva evolved two systems – Tantra and Yoga. He taught his wife Parvati tantra. Tantra is very intimate, can be done only in very close groups of people, but Yoga can be imparted to large groups of people. It is more suitable for the world around us, especially today. So even today Shiva is held as the first guru of Yoga or the Adi Guru.

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


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