Living with Śiva

imageUCCINCTLY, BOLDLY, THESE NANDINĀTHA SŪTRAS DESCRIBE HOW PEOPLE LIVED AND INTERRELATED WITH ONE ANOTHER WHEN LIFE WAS SIMPLER, WHEN FAMILIES AND VILLAGES WERE CLOSE-KNIT, AND LOVE AND PEACE, RESPECT AND WISDOM PREVAILED. There is no new knowledge contained herein. Each sūtra proclaims an ancient wisdom and protocol which, when followed, brings that same simplicity, community support, peace, harmony and refinement of enduring relationships into daily life. Each of these sūtras, one to be read each day of the year, is a thread of purity, many from the historic past into the present, some from contemporary times. Even today, in the fifty-second Hindu century, these precepts define the daily life of hundreds of millions of well-bred and well-raised asian people. These 365 sūtras are a distilled summation of The Master Course, a profound 3,000 page trilogy of Dancing with Śiva, Living with Śiva and Merging with Śiva, which contain the traditional Śaiva philosophy, culture and ways of meditation. They are the venerable ghee of our lineage. §

While they are law, these sūtras are not commandments. They simply describe what devout Hindus do. Naturally, my expectations are that my close followers will heed and earnestly try to put into practice all 365 sūtras. However, eighteen of the aphorisms speak against practices that are, in wisdom, always avoided. In fact, I have used the word forbidden in each of these character-building, character-maintaining precepts to distinguish them from the rest. Fulfilling them, we have found, allows for inner freedom that is unsurpassed. Stress, often a by-product of guilt, has no home in individuals who never allow themselves to participate in any of these unwholesome areas. “It is wise to fear that which is to be feared.” §

Many who read these sūtras will wonder to themselves or even among friends, “Why do we need to follow such strict traditions and disciplines? Aren’t they a bit old-fashioned?” My answer is: before the two world wars, many traditions similar to these were followed even in the United States, regarding raising of children, man-and-wife relationships, women rarely working outside the home, and thus not neglecting their children, etc. It was during World War II, when women began working in the world, that the breakdown of traditional culture occurred, setting a trend that is now being followed in almost every nation. The nonculture, or the destruction of culture which is nonculture, has become the “culture” which everyone follows. Hence the avalanche of promiscuity, divorce, suicide, various excesses and abuses—murder, theft, wife-beating, drug abuse, unstable, ever-shifting cohabitation as a substitute for marriage and the shameful neglect of children. Everyone’s security is threatened. §

When my satguru, Sage Yogaswami, was asked half a century ago why we should follow the old ways, he answered simply, “The railway engine pulls many coaches. Can it do so if it runs off the track? No. Great people have shown the path. We must follow it.” Though perhaps challenging, the disciplines and guidelines described here create happy individuals, harmonious families and secure nations. Sage Yogaswami, the venerable satguru of the Tamil people of the island nation of Sri Lanka, made still another observation that points to the first reason for these sūtras: “Because of worldliness, the light in the faces of the young has become less bright these days. The way is very long, and you must go forward slowly, keeping to the path, not walking on the thorns by its sides.” These sūtras define the path and the thorns that lie on either side of it. There is a second reason for these sūtras. When you take them as a total whole, you will glimpse the ideal community. Such a community is able to work together, love together, trust together, create together, serve Śiva together, worship together, live together in a productive harmony and ongoing creativity, as they each experience birth, life, death and birth again. §

Thirdly, Hindus have spread throughout the world, relocating themselves because of employment opportunities, ethnic disputes, violence and economic deprivation within their homelands. Because of this diaspora, it has become necessary to restate the law of the culture, the protocol and modes of behavior that their forefathers knew and lived so well. At this trying time in history, these Nandinātha Sūtras came forth as a boon from the Gods to followers who, in their time of need, in the seriousness of their search, were asking for advice and guidance as to how they should behave with one another, how they should relate and interrelate with their husbands and wives, children, with fellow devotees, widows, widowers, divorce´es and divorce´s, and with satguru, āchāryas, swāmīs, yogīs and sādhakas, brahmachārīs and brahmachāriṇīs.§

In reading the sūtras, you will notice that the vast majority are addressed to “All Śiva’s followers,” “Devotees of Śiva,” etc. These are universally applicable to all Śaivites. A smaller number of sūtras, addressed to “My followers,” are specific disciplines for those who look to me as their guru. A few sūtras, even more specific, are addressed to members of my Saiva Siddhanta Church or to my initiates. You will also notice that about one-seventh of the sūtras are addressed to monastics, and may wonder why they are included here. The answer is that it is important that families understand my expectations for the monastics, and the other way around—and that all be continually reminded of the lofty monastic dharma. It is the balance between the monastic community and the family community that stabilizes spiritual life in the physical world, in matters of marriage, business, politics, money and health. §

I have articulated these sūtrās in clear, simple English so that they can easily be translated and unambiguously understood. However, obscurities do arise with the interpretation and application of even basic, straightforward precepts, and this will also happen with these sūtrās. They shall be upheld, enforced and simply explained by my order of āchāryas and swāmīs, by senior sādhakas and by elders. But all final interpretations and deductions, clarifications of apparent contradictions, settling of disputes and unraveling of subtle questions shall be made only by myself and my ādi āchāryas of our Śaiva Siddhānta Yoga Order. These four ādi āchāryas are duly ordained and authorized to give interpretations of these sūtras. While I live, my word shall be absolutely final. Future satgurus of our paramparā, lineage, will progress the understanding of these precepts from century to century.§

And now I shall address ardent seekers who have become acquainted with me through dreams, visions, publications, lectures, the Internet, personal encounters or hearing of me from others. I challenge you to boldly go forth in your spiritual quest with firm determination. These 365 sūtras give the protocol and practices, as well as the attainments—the end in view. Live up to each one of them. Within these sūtras are restraints, encouragement, admonitions, enlightened coaching, even reprimands. There is much nourishment here for the intelligent soul who is pushing forward into peace and tranquility, having conquered the trials and tribulations of the yesterdays, and is now willing to bear his or her karma cheerfully and push onward. Study these sūtras that I have unfolded and adjust your life accordingly. Be unwavering in your commitment. You know the rightness of these guidelines for good conduct in your heart of hearts, soul of soul. Your inner ear hears and your inner eye sees the truth of each one. To adjust your life to their wisdom is the discipline toward being able to come close to and then truly dance, live and merge with Śiva. In applying these principles to your life, remember, above all, the only rigid rule is wisdom, for wisdom is the timely application of knowledge. §