Yogis actually find Shiva in Atman, not in idol of any sort. Shiva means auspicious one, revered as the supreme God (Mahesh) or one of the great deities by the Hindus. Worshipped or respected under various names such as Shambhu (Benign), Shankara (Beneficent), or Mahadeva (Great God), Shiva, as real insight of knowledge reveals, is incorporated into existence of all sorts.
The presence of Shiva in any existence on planet earth and universe is the theme discussed in the Swetaswetaropanishad in a very scholarly manner. The teaching and learning, as practiced in the Vedic ages, used to be participative and interactive among the teacher and his students. Both would deliberate or debate in a constructive way or engage in question answer mode on serious issues such as Atman, the Paramatma, creation, maintenance and destruction of the world or universe.
At the very outset of the Swetaswetaropanishad, students pursuing the study of Brahma question their teacher: Brahma is considered to be the cause of the world or universe. What is it like? How did we get created? Who is the person energizing our life? Who is the inspirer behind us stimulating us to engage in acts of happiness and grief? How do we move to the end?
The Swetaswetaropanishad discusses the issues researching a number of alternative answers to the questions. As for example, what is the cause of the creation? Time or nature (or environment)? Or could the five elements – earth, water, fire, wind, and space- play instrumental role for creation? Or could energy itself be the creator? Maybe, the Purush (the male-component or one of 25 core elements as explained in Sankhya Philosophy) could be the creator.
Or creation could be the complex or mixture of all sorts of combinations among all the points mentioned above. All ranging from Time to Purush are subject to change and dependent on nature. They are dependent on others and they could, therefore, not be able to ignite creation. Another logic crops up wondering whether Jibatma could be the creator. But Jibatma happens to be governed by happiness or grief, virtue and sin. It therefore fails to be the cause of creation.
The students, having failed to find answer to their queries about creation through discussion, dedicated themselves to focused-meditation, which ultimately responded to their query – the cause of creation. They felt in themselves and realized the energy of Paramatma, the Absolute and the Ultimate Reality residing as microcosm in supreme Self of every individual is what initiates creation. Those who consider themselves as different from such Ultimate Reality get engaged in the worldly cycle of birth and death but those who realize themselves as amalgamated into the Paramatma get freed from the fetters of the cycle.
According to the Swetaswetaropanishad, there is unity between the Atman and Paramatma or both are one. Explained through ages as Adwaita philosophy, it refers to self-luminous consciousness, a spiritual feeling of amalgamation with Paramatma experienced through disidentification from the body-mind complex. Those who acquire this insight-knowledge actually get blessed with the nectar of Mokshya.
By Shirish B. Pradhan
(See corporatenepal.com for Nepali version)