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Pg 43 – 45
In one of the stories of Creation, the three great gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – rose up together from the primal waters. No other creature was there to witness them. The previous universe had been utterly destroyed, and the fire of its destruction had been followed by a massive upsurge of clouds that had rained down everywhere, and had turned all regions of earth and underworld and sky into one, vast ocean.
The destruction had been done by Siva, so when Brahma and Vishnu arose from the waters with him, they bowed before him, hailed his supremacy, and asked him to create the universe anew. ‘I will, but you must wait,’ said Siva, and he sank down into the ocean, and was immersed there for a thousand years.
Brahma and Vishnu, awed by Siva, patiently waited. But gradually their anxiety grew. All the creatures of the world – all the souls from past creation – were waiting for new life; yet still Siva was immersed, wrapped in meditation. How could Creation start, without Siva’s power?
‘We cannot wait any longer,’ said Vishnu to Brahma. ‘You are a creator too: indeed you are Prajapati, grandfather of all, and that is why you are also known as “Who” – KA – because of that ancient question, “Who knows where this Creation came from?” Use your power to create the creatures of the universe. I shall give you my power too, to assist you.’
Brahma agreed, and from the depths of his thought emerged all the creatures of heaven, earth and the underworld: from gods, demons, Yakshas and Grandharvas to serpents, birds, fish, mammals and men.
No sooner was the work of Brahma’s reate complete, than Siva surfaced from his meditation and immersion, ready at last to create the universe. But he opened his eyes, and saw that it had been created already, in all its size and variety. He surveyed the whole extent of it, from heaven down to the underworld, and a huge anger welled up inside him. Brahma and Vishnu had asked him to create; he had prepared for the task by a thousand years of meditation; and now they had done the job for him!
‘You have left me with nothing to do with my power but destroy,’ he roared, ‘and destroy I now will, with all the power I have accumulated.’
Fire now poured from his mouth – fire far hotter and fiercer than had destroyed the universe last time round; and within seconds the whole of Brahma’s creation was burning, and all the creatures in it were howling and fleeing and screaming with the scorching heat and choking smoke of the fire.
‘O Siva,’ cried Brahma, prostrating himself before him, ‘stop this destruction! Encouraged and aided by Vishnu, I created this universe only from a desire to do good, and only because we had waited so long and souls from the last universe had been bodiless for so long and you were still immersed and unmoving. Please, O great god, permit my Creation to survive. Do not plunge my creatures into the torment of destruction and death before they have had time to live and procreate. Do not incinerate the universe until it has enjoyed its proper span.’
Brahma’s abasement soothed Siva’s anger. He drew his fire back into his mouth; the flames and smoke died down; and the gods, demons and mortal creatures that Brahma had created were reprieved and could breathe freely again.
‘But what’, said Siva to Brahma with a smile, ‘shall I do with my power, with the accumulated power of a thousand years of meditation? If I cannot create, and agree not to destroy with it yet, what purpose can it serve?’
‘Let it,’ said Brahma, ‘enter the sun, and become the power of the sun. the sun is life’s source of energy, so your power will be creative. It is also the preserver of life, the sustainer of crops, so your power will be preservative. But the heat of the sun is potentially destructive too: only the coolness of night and the sweetness of rain stop it from turning the whole world into a desert. If your power becomes the sun, you will be a creator, a preserver and a destroyer; and when this universe has run its course, you can unleash the sun’s full energy and destroy unremittingly again.’
‘Fair enough,’ said Siva, laughing, for he knew that his power remained supreme, and that it was only through self-restraint and mercy that he agreed to Brahma’s plea. Then, pointing at his mighty lingam, at the organ whose seed would have created the universe had not Brahma forestalled him, he said, ‘But what about this? You are asking me to make no use of this! Very well, so be it, but never forget the power that I now forgo. Remember how I held back my anger. Worship my lingam with humble devotion, knowing that I could have used it; or that I could have destroyed your Creation in fury at being stopped by you from using it, when I had prepared for so long, and the seed it could have shed was so strong and could have begotten creatures even more numerous and various than yours!’
And with that, Siva snapped off his gigantic erect lingam, and hurled it down like a lance; and it pierced through sky, earth and underworld. So long and immense it was, that its ends could not be found. Even when Brahma, later, took the form of a swan and flew to the heights of heaven, or when Vishnu took the form of a boar, and rooted down to the subterranean depths of the earth, they could not find its limits. Ever impressed by its infinitude, by the power that Siva had withheld, both Brahman and Vishnu worshipped it devoutly. And men and women worshiped it to, knowing that its potency can grant all desires.