“Shiva wandered the mangrove forest that even now surrounds part of the temple complex” Syn explained. “The mangrove forest was inhabited by a desperately wild people called Rishis. Now the Rishis were a savage and wild people led by magicians who kept these wild people subjugated through fear and superstition. These magicians inflamed the fear and ignorance of the wild people with shows of fearsome superstition, savage rituals, and terrifying magic.
These magicians exploited the fear of the ignorant and preyed on their terrors of the night. So the wild people lived in dread and terror. And the magicians were very powerful because the people cowered before them. They kept the poor souls in invisible cages called religion, and bonds called rituals, and ropes called rites, and chains called magic. And they would not let the wild people learn anything er they realize they were being held prisoners of fear by evil knaves masquerading as powerful magicians.”
“And tell John about the human sacrifice!” Jock said.
“Oh yes. And four times a year these evil magicians would demand human sacrifices to placate their terrifying so-called demon gods. Children. Then young girls. Then young boys. Then old people. So human blood fed these so called demon gods at the solstices and equinoxes.”
“I can relate to that” I said dryly remembering how my mother’s kirk minister kept Mother subjugated by terror and damnation and threats of hellfire and doom.
“Well” Syn continued. “Shiva heard about the human sacrifices and came to investigate. He confronted the evil magicians at the moment of a human sacrifice at sunset of the winter solstice when the evil magicians claimed that unless a baby was slaughtered the sun would not rise up in the sky again.
“Nicely timed!” I said.
“Indeed! Shiva jumped up onto the sacrificial stone and stopped the human sacrifice of the wailing baby! Then Shiva quietly announced ‘Enough is enough! I will not allow this to go on! No more babies will ever be slain! Nor anyone else! Ever again!’ The magicians shouted out in scorn ‘Who are you to defy us!’ And Shiva replied ‘Does it matter who I am? I say you will never slay any innocent victim ever again!’
The evil magicians laughed at this naked beggar with his tangled hair and then they conjured forth terrifying magic as Shiva stood holding the child in his arms defying the sacrifice. Shiva laughed. He gave the child back to it’s terrified mother and then challenged the evil magicians to do their worst! The magicians then called forth small and great serpents to devour Shiva. Shiva just laughed and gestured and the small and great serpents coiled up his arms and coiled around his neck. And then to the horror of the magicians , the serpents became mere ornaments to adore the naked body of Shiva.
Then the enraged magicians did even greater magic for they appeared to seize the sickle moon and pluck it from the sky as dark clouds passed over the dark sky blotting out the stars. Then the sickle moon became a fearsome sickle reaping hook to slay Shiva. But Shiva simply laughed and picked the fearsome thing out of their hands. Then Shiva took the small silvery sickle moon and used it like a comb to bind up his tangled hair like an hair ornament. And the dark clouds passed across the sky and the moon was as it was and the stars twinkled as before.
Losing face, the magicians then did greater magic and more elaborate rites to call up a great mantiger. The most powerful of the magicians transformed himself into a great white tiger and he leapt up to attack Shiva. But Shiva just laughed and gestured and the terrible tiger turned into a kilt to clothe Shiva.
Now the evil magicians were furious for their power was exposed for what it was: terror. Only terror. Tricks and fear preying on the mind and tricking the imagination to turn ignorant people’s weakness against them. So the evil magicians screamed out their most fearsome incantation and conjured up a fearsome shadowy monster . The shadowy monster howled from dark depths of the forest all around the trembling wild people as they cowered before the magicians. And great and fearsome shadows were cast on the mangrove trees all around the cowering people. It had to be a most terrible monster indeed! But Shiva just laughed. He commanded the fearsome monster come forth and show itself. Then the fearsome thing projecting huge and terrifying shadows came forth —– and was exposed as tiny and most grotesquely dwarf.
Everyone laughed. Is this what fear was? Ignorance and imagination tricked into seeing something terrible which was nought but a dwarf! But the magicians howled and claimed that the grotesque dwarf was a terrible demon! A most powerful and terrible demon! Called Muyalakan! The deformed dwarf howled and gashed it’s teeth. The wild people cowered yet again, overcome by their ignorance and fear.
Shiva laughed as everyone cowered before the grotesque dwarf as the magicians chanted fearsome spells of black magic. And the night was about them. And the forest surrounded them. And the shadows were fearsome. And the wild people cowered afraid. Then Shiva smiled a beautiful smile and said ‘Be not afraid! Release yourself from these bonds of illusion and be free!”
Then Shiva leapt up and landed on the back of the grotesque dwarf who turned to a carved wooden platform stage as Shiva suddenly —– danced a most beautiful dance. And the dance was so beautiful it was named the Ananda Thaandava: The Dance of Eternal Bliss. And the evil magicians howled because they were defeated at last. All of their fearsome magic was exposed as tricks. All of their terrors were exposed as illusions. All of their powers were exposed as deceit. And all of their rituals were exposed as guile.”
“And Shiva was revealed too” Jock said. “In his real form as the Lord of the Dance. And when he at last ceased his beautiful dance, his tangled hair tumbling down from his topknot to cascade down to his shoulders, the wild people realize Shiva, despite his wild and savage appearance was in fact a god. A good god. A kindly god.”
“And Shiva gently told the wild people ‘Leave this dark forest and go out into the sunny light of day. Live as human beings! Not wild animals! Live with —- a sensible amount of fear — and with a sensible amount of courage too! See the monster in people but also see the good in people. And always remember that fear makes people feel small and weak and timid and vicious. Truth makes people feel brave and noble and sacrificing, not sacrificed, sacrificing, to protect others from harm.’ Then Shiva vanished into the sky.”