Chapter 37 — Shiva: The Stage Play and the Dance of Destiny

Shiva continued:—

The beauty of the words I have said before is tangible and their meanings all allude to the truth, that the Lord of all is the rich chest of gems of all things in existence.

How very bright are the rays of the gems contained in the receptacle of the Supreme Consciousness! They shine forth with the collected light of all the luminous worlds. The essence of consciousness flies in the air in the form of the granular dust powder, and becomes the embryonic cell; which in the manner of the vegetable seed, sprouts forth into the germ in its proper time, soil, moisture and temperature.

This power of consciousness moves like froth and foam and whirling currents and whirlpools in the sea, and rolls its waters against the hard stones of the beach. 5 It is settled in the form of flavor in flower clusters. It makes them full blown and carries their fragrance to the nostrils. Seated on bodies of stone, it makes them produce un-stone-like substances (trees and flowers) and makes mountains support the earth without actually upholding it.

Consciousness takes the form of the air, which is the source of all vibrations, and touches the organ of touch with as much tenderness as a father touches the body of his child. As the divine power extends itself in everything, so it contracts the essences of all things into a mass within itself. Having absorbed the whole in the divine entity, it makes all nature an empty nothingness.

It casts the reflection of its own clear image in the transparent mirror of emptiness. It takes upon itself the transparent body of eternity, containing all the divisions of time. 10 Then there issues the power of Destiny, which predominates over the five principal divinities and determines the ultimate fate of all that “this is to be so, and this other wise.” 11 The picture of the universe presents itself to our sight in the presence of the bright light of the all-witnessing eye of the great God, just as the presence of a burning lamp in the room shows us the light of things contained in it. 12 The universal emptiness contains the great theatre of the universe in which divine powers and energies are continually playing their parts, and the spirit of God is their witness.

13 Vasishta asked, “What are the powers of that Shiva, my lord? Who are they and where are they situated? How many are there and how are they employed? Who is their witness?”

14 The god replied:—

The god Shiva is the gracious, incomprehensible and tranquil Supreme Soul. He is gracious and formless and of the nature of the pure consciousness. 15 His essences are volition, emptiness, duration, destiny, infinity and fullness. 16 Beside these he has the properties of intelligence, action, causality and stillness. There are many other powers in the spirit of Shiva, of which there is no reckoning or end.

17 Vasishta replied, “Where do these powers come from? How do they get their variety and plurality? Tell me, my lord. From where do they arise and how were they separated?”

18 The god replied:—

The god Shiva, who is only consciousness of himself, also has endless forms. The powers that I have said belong to him are small and in no way different from his essentiality. 19 The powers of God are said to be many and different from one another, like the waves of the sea, because God can discriminate among the powers of intelligence, action, passion, vision and others. 20 Thus those different powers act their several parts forever on the grand stage of the universe. The ages, years, months, weeks and days play their parts under direction of Time, the stage manager.

21 That power that appears as one or the another is called the divine powers of destiny. It is distinguished under various names such as the action, energy or will of God, or the dispensation of his Time. 22 That power which determines the states of gods, and those of the great Rudras, and what regulates the conduct of all things from a mean bit of straw to the great Brahma is called predominant destiny. 23 This destiny continues to dance about the great arena of the universe until anxiety and her imaginary source of fear are cleared from the mind through knowledge of truth.

24 The play of destiny is very pleasing to behold owing to the variety of its characters and contrivances, and the quick changes of scenes, and the repeated entrances and exits of its players and actors. It is presented with the music of the drums and trumpets of the roaring kalpantha clouds of doomsday. 25 The dome of heaven is the canopy over this stage, flowers in season are its decorations, and showers of rain serve as the sprinkling of rose water over it. 26 Dark clouds hanging about the heavens are the blue hanging screens around this stage, and the seven oceans of the earth with gems shining in their womb serve as the decorated pits and galleries of this playhouse. 27 The shining sky with its sight of the days and watches, and its eyes of twinkling stars, witnesses the continual rise and fall of all beings and the plunging and upheaval of mountaintops at the great deluge.

28 The revolving luminaries of the sun and moon and the rolling currents of the Ganges River appear as the pearly jewels on the body of this actress, Destiny, and the luster of twilight is like the red dye of her palms. 29 The constant motion of upper and nether worlds, with the continued jingling of their peoples, resemble the footsteps of this Destiny dancing with ringing trinkets and anklets fastened to her feet. 30 Sunshine and moonbeams represent the light of her smiling face, and twinkling stars in the sky resemble drops of sweat trickling down her face. 31 These many, many worlds are like so many apartments of this great theatre. The beings of the three worlds, oppressed by evil forces, are her flowing robes. 32 The two states of pleasure-pain or joy-grief, which are the destined lot of all living beings, are the different comedies and tragedies.

33 God himself, who is neither distant or distinct from this, nor is this stage play distant or distinct from God, is continually witnessing the changing scenes that always take place in the play of Destiny on the great stage of this world.