“Shiva is called the Destroyer but a better term might be Transformer. And Shiva has a problem with his temper too! So you are not alone! In fact the earliest description of Shiva is as Rudra- Shiva the ‘Angry God’. There is a story told about Rudra-Shiva which is most charming. Rudra-Shiva , an angry little boy god, was throwing fiery arrows around the darkness of night and howling! So the gods sent Vishnu out to scold him! ‘Why are stomping around like this? Roaring? Howling? And throwing fiery arrows?’ And Rudra-Shiva replied ‘Because the darkness is tempting me to fury and I want to be good. If I can land an arrow of fire on the darkness I might strike darkness down!’ Then Vishnu laughed and said ‘Be as fiery as you need to be Rudra. Your fire can be destructive but it also illuminates.’” I smiled. It reminded me of myself chasing the devil around the room with my handkerchief. I wondered if this man had Second Sight. He seemed able to read into my mind.
“Rudra. Is it one of those odd Sanscrit words that echo Latin and English. “Rude?”
“Indeed. Shiva is most definitely a rude god! Fierce! Wild! Terrible! Frightful! The raging child god! The howling teenager god! The irascible, hot-tempered, cantankerous, man god! Shiva is the one god who grows up before our metaphysical eyes from wild child to wild teenager to wild man trying to domesticate himself because no one else appears able to handle him!”
“Kicking down the bailiwick?”
“Oh yes! I am afraid so!” the priest said smiling. “And some of the bailiwicks are temple rituals I am afraid! There are many stories of the wild adolescent Shiva! And he was quite a wild adolescent! The other gods had their hands full with Shiva the adolescent so finally they just opened the gates of heaven and gestured and Shiva ran out into the wilderness! Alone! Howling! And breaking things! Mostly the Himalaya Mountains! The next ancient reference to Shiva is as Indra-Shiva: the fearless, fearsome god of the mountains! Of monsoons thunder and monsoon rains! Of wrath! Of fury! Of war!”
Sound like me when I am mad!”
“But more than that I think” the priest said.
“I fight but I also try to fight bullies and stand up to bad people and bad things threatening the defenseless or those who are weaker than myself. Not everyone can fight. Some people need a fighter to fight for them.”
“Isn’t that what Shiva did here when he defeated the bullying magicians?”
“Yes. I like that story” I replied.
“Shiva is later written about a the god of paradoxes” the priest said smiling. “Which is fascinating.”
“I am reading the Mahabharata , well, struggling to read it, and isn’t Shiva described there as the heroic if fearsome fighter? But….somehow the slightly sinister outsider. Not like Krishna. Shiva seems to be rather held in dread?”
“Yes. Indeed. Honorable. Terrible. Brave. Fearsome. Perhaps not the White Knight, like Krishna is, but rather the Black Paladin — howbeit riding a bull instead of a charger!”
“Wants to do the right thing but comes across as the bull in the china shop?”
We both laughed. “Apropos” the priest laughed deeply as he clapped his hands. “I will have to remember that next time I teach at Fort William College! But yes! But at the same time Sanscrit sources also start to refer to Shiva with a growing benevolence too. Like a teenager who is growing up and trying to do the right thing. There are descriptions of Shiva as protecting the beleaguered, bestowing happiness on others with sudden appearances of heroic rescue, and helping others by fighting celestial bullies even if he sometimes seems the bully himself.”
“As if he is trying to at least use his violence in a constructive way?” I asked.
“I just seem to break things” I replied. “When I blow up I blow up!”
“That was Shiva’s problem too. So Shiva started to practice meditation in isolation in the wilderness. He studied deer as they leapt erratically about . He saw deer as his wildness . He resolved to conquer his willful, tempestuous nature and volatile temper by philosophical isolation, introspection, and self examination. He decided to use his brain, his ability to think, to try to understand why he acted like he did. Until one understands why, one cannot change. And so slowly, Shiva learned to get a sort of handle on his volatile nature. And isn’t that what every adolescent must do? Grow up?
Then one day the wild young man, for now Shiva is wild young man god, sees in a meadow a lovely young goddess! And he falls instantly in love with her. He follows her from afar! But he is wild and shy. He is too shy to come up to her. But he follows her from afar. And thus this young goddess leads Shiva the wild young man god back home to heaven. And she stands at the gate of heaven and she opens the gate wide and she says ‘Welcome home Shiva.’ ‘But no one wants me’ Shiva replies as he hangs his head down shyly. ‘The gate has always been open Shiva’ Parvati replies. ‘Come in. Come home.’. So Shiva comes back into the fold of the gods.
Then Shiva falls in love with Parvati in her many diverse reincarnations. She is always different each time Shiva comes back from the wilderness! Yet she is always the same. They love and respect and need each other very much! He needs her grounding and common sense. He understands her need to continuously reincarnate. She understands his wildness and inability to be domesticated. He understands Parvati’s need for a cosy home. For their children. Their two sons. And Parvati understands that Shiva can never live for very long in any home. But their love triumphs despite or even because of their differing needs. It is a wonderful love affair and isn’t that what marriage is suppose to be?”