Shiva Ganesh Symbolism

Earlier we discussed guidance, the Christ, and mentioned an unbroken hierarchy that exists to assist every single fragment of Being on its path of choice. In this section we shall cover certain Deities as they are known in the East, and particularly their form and function. We will also take a look at what has been called the angelic and demonic hierarchies (or devas and asuras in some terminology) and go further into the nature and existence of good and evil as they are called.

Readers who retain a spiritual perspective on life, but consider references to these beings as mere figments of human imagination may like to ponder the following: Billions of species have evolved on the earth under the energy economy of the Sun. If that is the case, imagine the tremendous diversity of spiritual species that must have evolved under the energy economy of a much greater spiritual source!

Now we discussed the Unitary and Separative Principles quite early on in this body of text. By virtue of fragmentation of Being (which we also discussed), hierarchies of Being automatically come into existence. In every fragment of Being these principles are at work to some lesser or greater degree. At the level of Man they are often perceived as two great cosmic hierarchies of Being - which man identifies as Good and Evil. While this is not a true depiction, it is nevertheless a useful abstraction. Suffice us to say that these two hierarchies, that appear to be 'at war' with each other in their lower rungs, have resulted in much of the lore that surround angels, demons and other beings of mystical origin. Certain branches of these hierarchies assist, influence, and partake of all manifestation at the planetary level, i.e. life on Earth. Each has its own teachers, guides, leaders, workers and so forth to assist their cause.

From a higher point of view these two hierarchies have equal rights. That is, good and evil as man calls them, must co-exist by the Prime Directive. Those who choose 'good' have help available on their path. Those who choose 'evil' also have assistance equally available on that path. At the level of man, good and evil cannot be eradicated or suppressed for any indefinite periods of time. Every being must have the ability to choose its path, which is then accelerated by manifestation. This follows directly from the Prime Directive as we covered earlier. To those who are perplexed by the existence of evil, we would say this: Evil must necessarily exist, but it is a Being's choice whether or not, and how much to partake of it. By the Principle of Reflection evil must meet itself, and taken to extreme can result in the dissolution of a Being. But this does not destroy evil in itself, as it is a manifesting lower principle of the Separative Principle, and the Being in this case is only an instance of manifestation of that principle.

Many of the Beings in the above mentioned hierarchies are known and worshipped throughout various cultures that exist, and which have come and gone on the earth. Theirs forms are often of particular interest, especially as they are found depicted in the East - such as the curious human-elephantine form of Ganesh and the ornamental ascetic Shiva. It should be understood that these Beings are not part of the human life stream per se, and therefore the human form has no direct bearing on their modes of existence. Now by the Principle of Reflection every part of the human form must reflect some aspect of Being. The forms associated with these Deities are meant to convey those specific aspects of a human being that they are able to assist.

It is well known that the eyes of the human form represent the soul or higher self, which experiences duality in male and female polarities. What is perhaps not so well known is that the forehead, which lacks any manifest features, represents the overself from which the higher self arises. The nose represents the projection down from the higher self, i.e. a human personality that experiences earthly manifestation. The ears represent the need and the ability to learn. The stomach, of experiencing materialism (digesting matter) and so on. A Deity that primarily assists with the incarnational process of man, i.e. in his learning process and in meeting his various material needs as it were, can be depicted with these aspects of human life shown highlighted or exaggerated. A large nose, pointed ears, protruding teeth, a large palpable stomach and so on may be chosen for such a form. On the separative path, its deity may be depicted as dark and grotesque (i.e. a demon). On the unitary path, one may use the benevolent and agreeable symbol of the elephant headed Ganesh for its deity. It is not by accident that Ganapati is often invoked in the East for a child's initiation into the learning process, and for various needs of a material nature. Ganesh is also associated, in the kundalini system, with the base or root chakra that represents earthly needs and passions.

While Ganesh represents a Deity or forces that assist with the material incarnational needs of an evolving human (hence the child form), the form of Shiva represents a higher end of the human spectrum, that of the grown up, cosmic human. For this reason Ganesh is often depicted as a child sitting in Shiva's lap.

While traditionally considered 'the destroyer', the imagery of Shiva is potent with symbolism of the awakened one. Shiva is depicted as a meditating human in yogic posture, with the Earth Connection awakened (i.e. kundalini and chakras fully functioning - see chapter 'Tree of Life' in our book The God Principle). The earth energy is represented by an ornamental snake on his head or neck (or both). Force or energy when transmitted has a wave nature at some frequency, and the closest live thing in nature to a wave or sinusoidal pattern is found in the slithering snake. Hence the snake has been used extensively in religious depictions as a symbol of raw force, energy or power, whether for good or for evil.

On the crown of Shiva's head is shown a fountain, depicting the awakened crown chakra which resembles one. There is also a crescent moon on the head. Moon symbolizes the subconscious (see chapter 'Sea'). A very thin moon, the crescent, symbolizes a subconscious that has been purged of everything negative, retaining only the positive, which is a small fraction of the whole. On his crown descends grace from above, a stream of energy that is allegorically called Ganga. It is typically on the crown of the head that a blessing or grace from above is bestowed. The illumined ones function as a channel for these energies, stepping down the heavenly Ganga to earth for the benefit of the human race. It is grace that destroys 'sin' or lessens burdens imposed by the laws of retribution. Hence there is a belief among religious Hindus that by bathing in the river Ganga (also known as the Ganges) one's sins are removed.

Further, the name 'Shiva' literally means purity or the pure one.The throat chakra is called 'Visuddhi' chakra, of purity. Hence Shiva's throat is special and he is called 'neela-kantha' or the blue throated one, blue symbolizing divinity. He is able to take in and transmute the worst of evils. This is again symbolized in a story of Shiva wherein he is able to drink the terrible poison 'Halahala', which is then stopped at his throat, turning the latter blue. The throat chakra is also where the snake is usually depicted as curled around. His third eye chakra destroys 'kama' or bondage to materialism through the fire of illumination or true vision. The illumined ones destroy ignorance, bondage and evil within themselves. Shiva is the destroyer of evil in the sense that he transmutes it.

Of particular significance is a popular meditative chant invoking Shiva, called 'Shivoham'. The term literally means 'I am Shiva' - not that the meditator is the Deity called Shiva, rather he or she is calling to oneself a state of Being. The allegoric Shiva can thus be seen to represent the awakened cosmic human being. The deity Shiva is often a favorite among yogis of India.

In closing, we must state that both the unitary and separative paths have their own versions of deities, or equivalents. Differing descriptions have often been mixed up in popular renditions. For example Shiva and Ganesh are sometimes shown as leading hordes of demons. Now since many beings of these hierarchies were brought forth into existence for the express purpose of assisting man, they (though not all) belong to a lower kingdom in terms of their evolution - even though many can wield considerable power. Because of this many are responsive not only to requests, but also to commands from human beings who are properly instructed, subject to restrictions. The latter approach is commonly found among black magicians, who tend to enslave and command many of the lowest order beings for selfish reasons. Those on the unitary path of the old religions tend to interact with its hierarchy in prayers, offerings and gratitude.

The Principle of Refection