Lifetimes Three - Bilva
Sadhguru tells us about Bilva, an intense devotee of Shiva, in a small village in the present state of Madhya Pradesh.
 
 
 
 

Bilva - A Devotee of Shiva

Sadhguru: Nearly four hundred years ago, there was a man in a small village in the present state of Madhya Pradesh. His name was Bilva. He lived a totally different kind of life. He was too wild and intense. He didn’t really fit into the norms of society. There’s a certain tradition in India, where people just walk through the streets, usually very early in the morning, when it’s still pitch dark. They wake you up with their drumbeats. Intuitively, if they see something, they will tell you; otherwise, they will sing songs in praise of the Lord and walk away. This is a certain tradition within the Shaiva culture, where this particular tribe of people is also involved in snake charming.

Bilva was someone who could not fit into the social structure and was looked upon as a rebel. For one of the many rebellious acts he did, not respecting the prevalent caste distinction, at a very young age he was put to death by a snake’s bite...

Bilva was the snake charmer of his tribe and he was deeply in love with what he was doing. These were people who lived totally, loving life for what it is. They weren’t the kind to accumulate anything. They had no sense of money, property or possessions. They simply lived, and Shiva was very important in their lives. Bilva loved snakes. If you love poisonous creatures, you have to be a different kind of person. To kiss a snake, you must be very courageous. For a person for whom love means everything, everything else is secondary; being alive itself is secondary. That’s the kind of person he was. He was someone who could not fit into the social structure and was looked upon as a rebel. For one of the many rebellious acts he did, not respecting the prevalent caste distinction, at a very young age he was put to death by a snake’s bite, while he was tied to a tree.

Poison was all through his body and death a few minutes away. There was nothing else he could do and breath watching just happened... From that breath-watching, which happened for just a few minutes, a new spiritual process began.

He was a great devotee of Shiva. Our mantra, “Shambho,” comes from that era. At that time, you couldn’t really call him a spiritual person; he was a devotee, but not really a spiritual person. Those last few moments of his life, he watched his breath. Cobra’s venom acts on the cardiovascular system. The blood thickens and makes cardiac and respiratory action difficult and ultimately it stops. Poison was all through his body and death a few minutes away. There was nothing else he could do and breath watching just happened. It was more of an accident than a conscious awareness. It was more Grace than a sadhana. From that breath-watching, which happened for just a few minutes, a new spiritual process began which changed that person’s future in so many ways. In his next life, he was a very intense seeker of the Ultimate nature. Shiva was his way.