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January 2018


During Uttarayana – the day that marks the North-Eastern journey of the Sun -the images of Lord Shiva, Mother Shakti, and Saint Sundaramurthi from the Arunachala Temple, spend the entire day roaming the streets around the temple and blessing devotees. And then in the evening something crazy happens…

Shiva and Shakti will have a fight! A huge fight! In public! On a street called Thiruvoodal (meaning the “holy fight”). It’s a crazy moment! As the image of Shiva approaches Shakti she becomes enraged and the bearers of the images maneuver the God and Goddess in such a way to show the tension between the two of them. After a few tense rounds of this they finally end up in a deadlock with each of them on opposite ends of the street. The saint, Sundarmurthi, then carries messages between the both of them trying to bridge the rift.

But Shakti is not pacified.  She goes into the temple and locks Shiva out! Yes, she locks him out of his own temple! And our poor Father will have to sleep that night in the nearby temple of his Son, Muruga.

The story is related to a dispute over how to deal with a Rishi named Bhringi who wanted to worship Shiva only and not Shakti. The fight between Shiva and Shakti is a warning about the conflict we create within when we divide Shiva and Shakti, spiritual and secular, holy and unholy, spirit and nature. It is this duality that causes all our tensions and dramas. So when Shiva and Shakti fight it is not really the Divine beings in conflict but a reminder of our own internal conflict. It is our inability to see beyond the duality and realise the One.

We may see Siva as Pure Consciousness and Shakti as the Manifestation of that Consciousness. She manifests the world and the individual, projecting them as if they are separate from Shiva so the divine play of the Creation may take place. The fight between Shiva and Shakti is the illusion that we are separated from Shiva and symbolises our constant struggle to affirm and maintain our individual false ego identities. It is this false sense of separation from Shiva which causes the restless battle within.

Sundaramurthi represents the many gurus, sages, and enlightened beings who appear on the world stage as messengers of Shiva calling to the Shakti - the Life-force within us - to return to Union with the Divine.  So when Shakti goes into the temple and locks the doors on Shiva it is the soul locked in its illusion of separation and its false ego identity.

On the day after ‘the holy fight’ Shiva comes into the temple and dances before Shakti who has locked the gate to the Holy Place. This dance of Shiva is symbolic of the Divine Light coming at different times and places and displaying its Glory for us to see, so that perhaps we will be attracted to it and open the doors of the heart and the Divine Union may take place.

Final, Shakti gives in! She cannot resist his grace and love anymore. She realises He is her one and only Desire and union with Him is her deepest yearning. So She opens the gate! And when Shiva enters the Holy Place and is united with Shakti it speaks of that moment when the false identity drops and we realise the non-dual Truth of our innate Siva-nature and the soul is united with the Divine in the Blissful Awareness of Being.

And the eternal echo “Chidananda Rupa, Shivoham, Shivoham…. I am Blissful Consciousness, In essence  I am Shiva, I am Shiva”

- Fr Kumeran -

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