The Library




Spoken by a great king in a famous story (Kashi Khanda) about Shiva.


`What is his lineage, and what is his clan?

What place does he belong to, and what is his nature?

What does he do for a living, and how does he behave, this fellow who drinks poison and rides a bull?

He is not an ascetic, for how can one who carries a weapon be an ascetic?  He is not a householder, for he lives in the cremation ground.  He is not a celibate, for he has a wife.  And he cannot be a forest dweller, because he is drunk with the conceit of his lordship.

He is not a Brahmin, for the Vedas do not know him as one.  Since he carries a spear and trident, he might be a Kshatriya (warrior), but he is not.  Since he delights in the destruction of the world, he cannot  be a Kshatriya who protects the world from harm.  And how can he be a Vaishya (trader), for he has never any wealth.  He is not even a Shudra (labourer), for he wears snakes as the sacred thread.  So he is beyond caste and the stages of life.  Everything is known by its original source, but Shiva, the immovable has no original source.

He is not a man, because half his body is female.  And yet he is not a woman, because he has a phallus.  He is not even a eunuch because his phallus is worshipped.  He is not a boy, for he is great in years, and he is proclaimed in the world as beginningless he is so ancient.  Yet he is not old for he is without old age and death.


Shiva - - - Among ascetics he is a libertine, and among libertines he is an ascetic; conflicts which they cannot resolve, or even attempt to resolve by compromise, he simply absorbs into himself - - - Shiva is particularly able to mediate in this way because of his protean character; he is all things to all men.  He merely brings to a head the extreme and therefore least reconcilable aspects of the opposites which although they may be resolved in various ways on the divine level, are almost never reconciled on the human level.`



From `Banaras: City of Light` by Diana Fox


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