Shiva the Destroyer

People typically approach the divine for protection and prosperity but in the Yogic culture, Shiva is worshipped as the destroyer. Find out the wisdom behind this seemingly strange approach.

Questioner: I thought that the whole purpose of Yoga was mukti or liberation but then why is Shiva the Adiyogi known as the destroyer? What is he trying to destroy?

Sadhguru: Suppose someone told you that another kind of being is coming from another planet. What will you think? “Maybe he has eight hands. Does he look like a dog or an elephant?” All your thought process springs only from what you have experienced till now. So let us not try to understand what mukti or liberation is because we cannot know what we have not experienced yet.

Significance of Shiva the Destroyer

First let us understand what bondage is. If you understand what bondage is and work towards eliminating it, that is liberation. In a way, the spiritual process is a negative work. That is why in India, we have always worshipped Shiva as the Destroyer because it is a way of annihilating yourself. Whatever you consider as yourself right now – the limited proportion that you have created for yourself in the form of your person, if you can annihilate that, that is liberation.

All of your personality, whatever you think of yourself and whatever you believe you are, has come to you only because of your deep identification with the body and the mind. This identification has become so strong because the only way you experience life is through the five sense organs. If the five sense organs go to sleep, neither you nor the world exists in your experience.

Right now, the limited experience of the sense perceptions is the only way you are able to experience the world around you and also what is within you. So your first work is to become dis-identified with the physical body and mind and that is exactly what Yoga does. The first step with Yoga is always about how to transcend the sense perception. Once you start experiencing life beyond the sense perception, naturally the identification with the body and mind recedes and slowly disappears.

Shiva, the Destroyer of Identity

Shiva, the first teacher of Yoga, is described as a destroyer because unless you destroy this identity, unless you destroy what is most valuable to you right now, what is beyond will not happen; that is the biggest barrier. It is a bubble that you are unwilling to get out of. Your fear is that it might break. But at the same time, there is something within you which wants to become unbounded.

What you think of as spirituality is about having an unbounded bubble. Actually there is no such thing as an unbounded bubble. The only thing is to prick the bubble. You do not have to blow this bubble so big that it will contain the whole existence. If you prick it and break it, you are boundless. All boundaries will be gone.

People think that not being identified with the body and mind means to dress up in rags, to not have a bath and smell and create problems for everyone around you. No. Not being identified is one thing; not taking care of it is something else. You are not identified with it but you still do everything that you need to do with it. If you are like this then you will become free from the process of body and mind. These are the only two limitations or bondages that you have in your life. If you cross these two, you are unbounded. If you experience yourself as an unbounded being, would not you call yourself liberated?

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


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