The life of a Shiva Devotee
The Life Of Bhairavanath - A Devotee of Shiva
Section II - The Shiva Initiation
I am the light of Shiva's waterfall, the reflection of his lingams, the rays shining in his ice-cave. Once I was a sadhu - a naked ascetic. Then I found God.
I grew up in a small village with little food and no priest. I played with the other children but I was bored. There was nothing interesting to do.
The sadhu came to our village - a man with long jata (matted hair), covered with ash. He wore rudrakshas (beads sacred to Shiva), and a loincloth of animal skin. He carried a fur cape, and a trident for protection. He was strong and noble.
The people in our village offered him food, and he took it. He blessed the village with strange mantras, and sat under a tree to meditate.
My mother died bearing my sister, who also died, and I lived with my father, and some of his relatives. All he wanted me to do was work - he never spoke to me, nor did the others. I was not attached to the family or the house.
I went to the sadhu and asked if I might become a disciple. He said, "Child, a sadhu's life is hard. You will have no house, and no bed. You will often have no food. And you must live for the god and not for yourself."
I said, "I have no love for this place, and my bed is already on the cold ground. I don't eat much anyway. I don't know the god, but I am bored with relatives - perhaps the god will be more interesting. Gods know everything!"
He smiled and said, "If you came from a wealthy family, you would be educated, and not have to be a sadhu. You could study, and still have a house and family. But you are poor, and this will be your only chance to learn. I will meditate upon the god and seek his opinion. Return tomorrow."
I left and came back the next day. He told that Shiva had called me to be a disciple, and that I too must carry a trident. He said we must tell my father.
My father was not happy at this news, but who could argue with a god? I left happily, taking only a bowl and some cloth. At least I could learn about the world.
My father was going to curse me, but the sadhu said," Householder, your son eats your food. Tomorrow he will eat the food of the god. You will have more food for yourself, and the god and I will have the task of raising a restless and disobedient boy."
My father said, "Holy man, you are right. He has always been in the way, and has contributed little. I hoped for more when he grew up."
The sadhu said, "Householder, children are an investment - you feed them now, and hope that they feed you when they are older. But giving a gift to the Lord is also an investment, and one that may reward you before you are old."
My father said, "Holy one, take this boy as my gift to the god. Make sure that Lord Shiva knows that this gift is from me. I will accept his thanks as he chooses to show it."
So we left, and my father did not curse me. The sadhu said this was very fortunate - many new sadhus had to deal with the curses of their parents, who wanted their children to marry and gain wealth. Now I have left freely, gifted to the god.
We walked for many months, and the sadhu taught me to beg silently for food, and eat foods in the woods, to sit still for long periods, and to sleep sitting up. He tested me, requiring me to stay awake all night, and sit in icy water. I learned to sit perfectly still in the hot sun, and not to swat at flies and mosquitoes.
Then he said, "Child, it has been six months since you left your village. What do you think of the ascetic's life now?"
I said, "In many ways, it is not so different from my old life. I am more free, and you are nicer than my relatives. But life is hard here, and it was hard there. I had hoped that I would learn more."
He said, "Child what do you want to learn?" I said, "Sir, I want to learn more about everything in the universe. Why are there mountains, and why is there a sun? Why did my mother die? Why are people bigger than squirrels?"
He said, "Do you accept the ascetic's life of your own free will, now that you have known it?" I said, "Yes."
He said, "Then I will teach you. All knowledge comes from God. Come here."
I came, and he took a sharp stick, and he wrote letters on my chest. They bled a little. He said,That is the mantra OM NAMAH SHIVAYA - it is inscribed on your heart. Only Shiva knows the reason for all events. I will teach you about things of this world. But Shiva will be your teacher for the things that really matter.
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