Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

23 Why Are We Not All-Knowing Like Siva?§


The three bonds that hold us in the swirl of ego, karma and mind are shown as links of a mighty chain. These keep us fascinated with the ever-changing world and ignorant of our divine identity.§


Siva is perfection itself. Each soul shares His perfection inwardly, but outwardly is immature. Think of Siva as a mighty oak tree and the soul as an acorn that will one day be a mighty tree itself. Lord Siva’s veiling grace, tirodhana shakti, veils the soul’s all-knowingness. This is a loving power that limits and protects us so that we may learn and mature. This grace is in three parts. First, anava makes us forget that we are unlimited. Anava is that which makes the soul finite and separate from God Siva. Under its power, we are completely involved in the joys and sorrows of our particular life, not aware that we are a divine soul, one with God. Second, maya, the world, offers us vast opportunities for experience. This gift from Siva is our playground of experience. Third, karma, the law of cause and effect, is our instructor in the play of life. Together, anava, karma and maya are known as pasha, meaning “tether.” An ancient analogy of a cowherd tending his cows illumines this idea. The cowherd is God Siva, called Pati. The cows represent souls, pashu. And the tether, or rope, with which Pati leads the cows is pasha. The cowherd restrains and protects the cows with the rope, just as Siva guides and protects souls with anava, karma and maya. Through many lifetimes, under the harnessing power of these three, our soul grows to maturity and the three malas begin to loosen their grip. When the time is ripe, Siva grants His revealing grace, anugraha shakti. When finally we yearn to know Siva, the satguru appears in our life and gives us disciplines to help us evolve further. Finally, through his grace, the soul realizes its true identity with Siva. The Tirumantiram explains, “When the soul attains Self-knowledge, then it becomes one with Siva. The malas perish, birth’s cycle ends and the lustrous light of wisdom dawns.”§


GURUDEVA: Maya is the classroom, karma the teacher, and anava the student’s ignorance. The three bonds, or malas, are given by Lord Siva to help and protect us as we unfold. Yet, God Siva’s all-knowingness may be experienced for brief periods by the meditator who turns within to his own essence.§