The hermit is the Lord of lords who resides in harsh and eerie snow-clad mountains, as featured in Lord Shiva paintings, away from materialistic hedonism. He is independent of all the basic elements through which the existence is bound. He adorns time as an ornament. The supreme source of enlightenment is covered in ashes, tiger skin and Rudraksha while her wife, the embodiment of eternal energy, persistently tries to domesticate the sovereign soul to keep the circle of life churning.

Pop culture has been swayed with the iconology behind the ascetic God. Be it frescoes of Ajanta Ellora from times begone or be it Jitish Kallat’s Nrittamurti, one of the best contemporary art paintings, Lord Shiva’s symbology has been beseeching artists from epochs across the timeline.

The pole star directs towards Mount Kailash, humble abode of Lord Shiva. His countenance is serene and eyes half-closed enjoying the divine pleasure. Her lips are curled in an all-knowing smirk. The God of all animate beings, inanimate and even detestable things is often seen as absorbed by deep meditation. Shakti wants him to break out of his symbolic slumber and feel the thrill of earthly charms. Her incessant nagging makes him break his silence and reveal to her the power of YOGA.

YOGA: A means to the end of eternal Bliss

Shakti had had enough of the mystical riddles and snares Lord Shiva to break silence upon one of the ways to reach the saturation point where all the barriers drop and what remains is the universal energy. Shiva says that through Yoga one may attain the state of eternal bliss and this happens when energy levels of the body are in consonance with that of the world and become one where stands no blockades in the flow of energy.

This conversation was heard by Vasuki who grew many heads and hands and took the form of Patanjali, the great sage who eventually wrote Yoga sutra. The first amorphism which comes under the first chapter of enlightenment or Samadhi Pada starts with:-

Atha Yoganushasanam

If we break down the verse, it starts with Atha and then comes Yoga and Anushasan. That is an introductory word that is prefixed in a phrase or word that is to be introduced. Here, it means an introduction to Yoga. Yoga denotes alignment or sum. It is similar to the word Jog which means the act of joining. Therefore, Yoga is the joining of various levels of energy to attain a state of oneness. Anushaasan means discipline or way of life. So, the phrase collectively means ‘Introduction to the way of life of aligning the body, mind, and spirit.’

Yoga is something that could be interpreted in the light of different subjects in the Hindu Mythology. under the Jyotishshastra, different alignments in the sky of the celestial bodies known as Grahas are responsible for yielding good or bad results in the life of a person. When beneficial planets are combined in a horoscope, they form a Yoga or Joga. The common and famous lexicon of north India ascribes a person who can solve almost every problem as Jugaadu. The word traces back its origin to the language of Odisha i.e. Oriya. The word Yogya meaning worthy traces its lineage to yoga.

Patanjali is deemed as one of the manifestations of the Lord itself in various parts of India. He has organized different hymn of seven different aspects or forms of Yoga, that are represented by the seven Saptrishis, namely:-

  1. Hatha Yoga
  2. Jnana Yoga
  3. Kundalini Yoga
  4. Karma Yoga
  5. Kriya Yoga
  6. Swara Yoga
  7. Bhakti Yoga

Some ancient myths surround the passing of the knowledge oy yoga from one source to another. These are Yoga Mythologies. A fish overheard the conversation between the Shiv and Shakti and it got transformed into a man known as Matasyendra. One of the Saptrishis, Agastya Muni is revered across India to spread this ancient and divine wisdom of Yoga in southern India. He with his wife Lopmudra are accorded for having written some hymn in the ancient Hindu Rig Veda.

Shiva: the Adiyogi

Under the Yogic Philosophy, Shiva is not considered as a God. He is the Adiyogi or the first Yogi. According to the famous lore of the yogic sphere, he went dancing like crazy in the Himalayas once. People came and saw what is happening. Once he was seen as dancing wildly in ecstasy and the other moment he went still as deep water.

Also Read: Significance of Lord Shiva Paintings

This dance of Lord Shiva is seen in many Lord Shiva paintings. People came around to witness what was happening to him but everyone left when he ignored them. All of them left except for seven persons who were observing his every move with intrigue and astonishment.

They requested him many times to tell them what he is experiencing. But, he ignored them and eventually got irked by their constant inquiry. He told them that they were not ready to comprehend what was going on with him. He did not care about anything and anyone. But those seven rishis did not let go of him from their sight.

They used to observe him and after performing penance for eighty-four years those rishis were successful in initiating a conversation with Lord Shiva. This was the time of Dakshinayana. He said that their devotion and dedication have proved that they are worthy of the great knowledge of Yoga to reach spiritual upliftment. These seven sages became Saptrishis who disseminated the ancient knowledge across the land of ancient India.

Read Also: Ajanta, Bagh, and Badami: Rumination of Ancient Indian Paintings

This is how Lord Shiva is depicted as an epitome of spiritualism and mysticism. He is life and death i.e. he is formless, boundless, and Swayambhu or self-created. There is only a primordial sound that can depict him and nothing else. Hidden meaning in Lord Shiva paintings has cryptic clues to understand the mystery behind the great God. The need is only to peel your spiritual eyes open to feel it. Jai ShivaShankar!