Inspired by "The Presence of Siva"



I have written these poems in an attempt to understand the richness of Siva as uniquely described for the Western World by Stella Kramrisch in "The Presence of Siva." It is probably the greatest book on Siva ever given to the West, translating and clarifying many stories, myths, aspects of Shiva available no where else in English. It affords profound insight into the non-dichotomous nature of Siva.

All Section and Chapter Titles (#01 through --- ), quotations and page numbers are cited from
Stella Kramrisch's "The Presence of Shiva" Princeton University Press, 1994


The Primordial Scene

#I, 1. Raudra Brahman



"Creation is an act of violence that infringes upon the Uncreate..." The Presence of Siva, p. 3

Shiva, like Yaweh, is an unutterable name
Already at One-one we have seven synonyms:
The Father
The Wild God
Raudra Brahman
"His presence is in these words"

At the world's dawn
The black cow of cosmic night lies
With the ruddy cow of morning
The Father rapes his virgin daughter
Agni (raudra brahman), the hunter, shoots his arrow
The Father, a frenzied foaming bull, runs
Spilling his seed upon the ground
The daughter runs south.

Ripened by Agni, the progeny's patter begins.
"Fire is a hunter."
It sustains and destroys.
Guardian of sacred order, lord of vastu,
Guardian of the dwelling, site, house, sacrifice
The fallen seed, the birth of humankind, the poem
Engender form.

The rhythmic structure, the wild creation
The unnamed god evoke the scene, consciousness
wakes. Time begins. Patter patter. Rhythm prevades the cosmos.

#I, 2. The Lord of Animals



"The connection of Rudra and Agni circles a point of identity." The Presence of Siva, p. 7

More synonyms, Om Namah: Rudra
Rudra-Siva, Father Heaven
Prajapati, black antelope
Lord of Generation
The Archer
Pasupati, Pasupa, Pasuman
Frightener of gods
Lord of the Animals
Cruel and Wild, Kind and Tranquil
The apalling Hunter, The Roarer/Howler

The Dawn has one name: Usas
One shape: antelope
"...Rudra himself is Agni."
Homology (sameness of form/nature)
Fissiparously (reproducing by fission)
super-active, wild wilderness, untamed world
with celestial intelligence, Vastospati

The fiery seed of Prajapati is pursued by himself, the avenger
Time does not yet exist
As Agni, he prepares the seed
As Rudra, he destroys his own creation
He creates in order to destroy
An orgy of inexhaustible renewal
Creation is the answer to destruction
The Terror of Creation is a poem
Destruction is the answer to creation
Why did the Hunter pierce the Father at the procreative moment?
The seed of the Lord of Generation fell on the earth

The gods created a god, a symplegma of horror, to destroy creation
The seed of Homo sapian sapian, intrusive creature, time creator
whose works of art imitate the work of the gods.

#I, 3. The Lord of Yoga



"Harappan art dematerializes volume by translating it into complex linear patterns of ridged parallels." The Presence of Siva, p. 13

Mahadeva's sign is the bull
The pride of a bull
The lord of bulls
The horns of the bull
The bull of bulls
The mark of the bull
Siva's animal
The bull Nandi is
Cosmic order
Righteous performance

The buffalo is power in potentiality
The bull is power in manifestation
Are invoked as buffaloes
Less frequently bulls

Asura is bull and cow
Visvarupa, omniform
The Lord of Yoga
Bovine featured
Penis erect
Crossed heels against testicles
In siddha asana
Crowned with horns
Tiger and Elephant to the right
Rhinoceros and buffalo to the left
Two antelopes before his throne worshipping

The ascent of the semen
Control of passions

#I, 4. Rudra, The Fire


R = A A = R

"He has many aspects, many modes, many names -- a hundred, a thousand." The Presence of Siva, p. 15

Rudra is Agni and Agni is Rudra
The Wild God, luminous, wild, tremendous, is in the fire
In the waters, in the plants, in all beings
He devours flesh, blood and marrow
He is Agni
Pasupati, Lord of Animals
Sarva, the Archer,
Bhava, Existence
Agni is Rudra's mildest form
Secretly he went away and entered the waters and the plants.
Then Yama, mortal man, saw his splendor shining in the waters

The 3,339 gods enticed him
He became the sacrifice
The Wild God defends the uncreate
Incestuous intercourse is the essential rite
The Father sheds into creation the substance of the Uncreate
Agni' concern is the life of humans
Rudra's concern is freedom from the contingencies of life
Fire is born from fire

Three-mothered Agni is the father of the Gods
He is the son of the gods
He is child of himself
The bull-cow
Rudra exceeds him in intensity
Agni betrayed the trust of the gods
Stole their wealth
Humiliated, he became Rudra

All pervading
Rudra holds the world in his power.

#I, 5. The Avenger



"Creation as procreation destroys the integrity, the wholeness, that was before the beginning of life." The Presence of Shiva, p. 21

He prepared seed for the Father
He inflamed the Father with sexual passion
He shot the Father
To stem the course of events
To stop
Eternity flowing as time into a world of contingency
When the semen of the Lord of Generation touched earth
It became a lake of fire
Out of nonbeing came being
Out of the darkness covered by darkness
Father Heaven vaulted over the first Dawn of the world

In its precosmic, preconscious totality everything is contained
Including consciousness and nothingness
Which did not cease to exist
It is not subject to time
Cruel and wild -- Rudra
At peace within himself and kind -- Siva
The animals are the passions
Peacefully, calmly they encircle the Lord of Yoga

Gross bodied men cannot understand
The primeval creation that is celestial and mysterious
The Uncreate is male and female
Agni is a bull-cow
"Daksa is born from Aditi (boundless femininity),
Aditi from Daksa (competent male potency)"
The Daughter was one with the Father before he knew her
Ardhanarisvara, Lord Siva, is male on the right side and female on the left
"Siva...divides himself into god and goddess
Siva and Siva"
Their love is not considered incestuous

Prajapati became Orion, The Daughter became Aldebaran
The Hunter became Sirius, The arrow became the belt of Orion
Written in the stars, the gods made a poem of the one self-begotten, begetting entity
Brahman (a chaos that lacks disorder), samadhi (at-onement)
Moksa (release), nirvana (extinction), sunyata (emptiness) "...existence is a danger zone between eternity and the passing moment."


The Archer

#II, 1. The Archer Krsanu



"The Gandharvas were the guardians of Soma, the self-defense within creativity lest it be disturbed and squandered..." The Presence of Siva, p. 27

Unremembered Krsanu, a Gandharva, guardian of Soma
Elixir of immortality
Elixir of inspiration
Defender of the cosmos as it was meant to be
Shot the falcon-thief, Indra
Cosmos creator
Who stole Soma for Manu, man,
The sacrificer
Indra feared Krsanu
Krsanu's arrow
Missed its mark

But caught the falcon's wing
Became a serpent
Its vehemence a second serpent
Its flash a third
Vrtra, the cosmic serpent, a brahmin,
Guardian of the namelesss, formless plenum
Curled around the unmanifest cosmos
Kept the waters from creation

Indra, the brahminicide, smote him
Rudra's arrow, Krsanu's arrow, flew in the opposite direction
Of the father's generative emission
Semen flowing upward
= Samadhi = oneness = the uncreate
The wound remains, festers,
Vrtra lies at the bottom of the abyss,
Danu's body, his mother's body, covers him
The sun rose for the first time
Creation departed perfection

It is flawed
And redeemed by the Gods who
From the substance and rhythm of their words
Fashioned Vastospati, a poem, human rites
The mother lies atop the son
The father rapes the daughter
Creation manifests

#II, 2. Sarva, the Archer



"Sarva was born out of what was cruel in the gods." The Presence of Siva, p. 32

Rudra is Sarva; sarva, from saru, means arrow
It's three parts are joined with Kalagni, the fire of destruction
Agni-Rudra-Sarva are one power, twin of Indra
Prajapati, the Lord of Generation is its essential target
After Prajapti's procreative act, the arrow can be directed
Downward toward creatures
Act of revolt, act of involvement
All gods but Manyu, wrath, abandoned Prajapati
OM is the bow,
Atman (the self) is the arrow
Brahman (the absolute) is its target

Carefully, violently
The arrow is united with its target
Rudra, fierce Sarva, cuts off life or spares it.
As Pasupati, he spares the animals
At Rudra's favorite haunt
-- A crossroads --
Rice cakes, one for each descendent of the sacrificer (man),
One for the yet unborn

These offerings, commended to Visnu
-- Wide-striding, protective -- by Agni
Belong to Rudra
Who, in his grace-tempered fierceness, unstrings his bow
A piece of each cake is offered to Rudra
At tree, post, pole or anthill
For his journey to reed-growing Mount Mujavat
The unborn's cake is buried in a mole hill
Rudra, greedy for embryo flesh, is given no part
The mole becomes Rudra's victim
Rudra, born on earth, is first named Bhava

-- Existence, king, ethical discrimination --
Second, Sarva -- hunter
No name alone comprises the totality of Rudra
In the beginning, at the moment of horror
The gods created "that god"
Having put all that was cruel in themselves into
Two earthen bowls (sarava), Sarva-Rudra was born

#II, 3. Rudra, the Healer



"How could he heal were there no wounds?" The Presence of Siva, p. 36

A thousand eyes, a thousand arrows
Dreadful Rudra inflicts wounds
Rudra, the wild god, Siva, the kind god
Archer, healer
The initial rupture in wholeness was not healed
The burning arrow remains stuck in Prajapati
Avenged, never redeemed
Rudra creates herbs, plants and waters
Irradiated through his presence
Jalasa (urine) heals.

Rudra's remedies heal the ills, wounds
Rudra inflicted/inflicts
Krsanu, ineffectual guardian of immortality's plant
Failed to prevent the falcon bringing Soma
Soma/Rudra dual divinities
Soma, bestower of seed, Agni, begetter of offspring
All Siva cooperate
With Rudra/Siva in healing a world not meant to exist

Time did not exist
Between arrow and target
Intent and act
Time began
The moon vessel changes shape
The crescent moon, Siva's tiara
Represents renewal, time, death's abode
Siva Bhiksatana, penitent beggar
Extends the healing plant to the sacrifice
(The antelope)

Cast into the stars
The hunter, the antelope and the arrow
Three stars in Orion's belt
The moon fills and empties
A vessel from which the gods and the dead
Drink Soma
Rudra's, the hunter-healer's, gift

#II, 4. a. The Hunter of the Antelope and the Hound of Heaven



a. The Hunter of the Antelope

"The realization that the sun, which had always appeared rising in Orion, had slowly left that station to rise in another star was startling." The Presence of Siva, p. 42

Raped by the falcon
And semen
Spilled by the Father
Raping his daughter
Have the same fate
From semen: life on earth
From soma: inspiration
Of the many paths of ascent

Preforming sacrifice
Works of Art
Rudra became the arrow shooting star
Vedic Mrgavyadha (Sirius)
Avestan Tistrya (Sirius)
The Hunter of the antelope

Pusya (Sirius)
E Cancri (Sirius)
Dog Star (Sirius)
Before Time, Beyond Time
Before the Sun
Rudra the hunter
Prajapati the antelope Mrga, Mrgasiras (Orion)
Rohini the daughter (Aldebaran)
The gods watch the drama enacted in the sky
By sun and stars

In spring the sacrifical year begins
The year's commencement
The vernal equinox
From Sirius to Orion to Aldebaran (c. 3400 B.C. to 2210 B.C.)
Rudra avenges the rape of the Daughter by the Father
The father (stag) becomes the daughter (doe)
The Hound of Heaven (Vastospati) becomes the Doe

#II, 4. b. The Hunter of the Antelope and the Hound of Heaven



b. The Hound of Heaven

"The names and forms of Rudra interlace. Their total pattern is an inexhaustible concatenation of evocations locked together by his innumerable qualities and actions in the cosmos from aeon to aeon and anchored in his immutable being beyond manifestation." The Presence of Siva, p. 44

The Dog Star
His teeth glisten like darts
Silver-golden he guards the
Gate to the nether world
His name is Vastospati
Guardian of the Dwelling
In the sky is Sirius

The moon, too
Is called the Heavenly dog
And the sun
Sons of Sarama
Bitch of Indra
Sun and moon devour the life of humans

The hunter of the antelope
And the hound
Are not envisioned
Vasistha, the poet seer, son of Varuna
The hound, the ruddy boar
To bark away the thief, but not the poet
Varuna ordained the laws of the universe
From his boat, the sun, cresting the celestial ocean's waves
He let Vasistha see into

The marvels of the cosmos
From zenith to nadir
Into the abyss
Where the sun is imprisoned in darkness
While the thousand-horned bull rose
Vasistha left Varuna
He found his way, poet, seer
Into transcendency
Into the Devayana
The path that the gods take


Vastospati, the Lord of the Dwelling

#III, Vastospati, The Lord Of The Dwelling



"The primordial scene was enacted before the first sunrise." The Presence of Siva, p. 52

of Varuna's House
The starry dome of the universe,
Hunter of the antelope
Watches the Thousand
Gated mansion
There is no trespass and no

Made of a brahman
A "word of power"
Uttered by the gods
As the seed of the Creator
Fell on earth
Multiform counterpart of Pasupati
Rudra, both and each

Pasupati's alter ego
Pasupati's seed
In the horror
Of the primordial dawn
Could not undo or mitigate
The violence
Did counterbalance the disruption of wholeness
Prajapati made the Wild Hunter desist
That god, as punishment for Prajapati
Was given lordship over the animals.

Nor Pasupati
Became Rudra
Agni prepared the seed
For the Father
The seed was shed
Rudra was born
In a world where the sun had not yet
The primordial scene is prelude
To the birth of Rudra

#III, 1 The Remainder at the Site of the Lake of Sperm



"...Bhrgu, which "is the name given to the inner fire of the subtle centers of the body, which burns to ashes the water or semen.'" The Presence of Siva, p. 53, Hindu Polytheism, p. 218, A. Danielou

The Gods'
Creative intuition
They see as their seers see.
The antelopes, Prajapati and Rohini (to be),
Father and daughter, in sexual congress
Were beautiful. But
The Gods saw that
Eternity would change
If creatures, henceforth would
Live and die.

The Gods,
In horror and fear,
Took the dread forms
Of their own fright, and
Asked these forms to pierce Prajapati.
He, Prajapati, or they, the gods,
Granted the forms the powers of
Wild Hunter,
Lord of the Animals, Pasupati, Vastospati.

The Gods
Filled with horror
At the spilling of the seed
Caused Prajapati/Pasupati
To shoot (himself)
To become Mrga, the antelope
Mrgavyadha, the pursuer
Rohini, the daughter, the star.
The semen raining upon earth
Became a lake

The Gods
Feared might waste or spoil
Before humankind could be.
Agni fired the lake of heavenly seed.
Out flew the sun, Bhrgu, the Twelve Adityas,
The charred residue became dark animals,
The baked earth became red animals.
That God, nameless, Rudra, of gruesome
powers, terrifying shape, Prajapati, created by
The Gods, having lost pre-existential wholeness,
owning conflagration spared the residue, the seed.

#III, 2. a. The Residue at the Site of the Sacrifice



a. The First Gift

"...not the primordial sacrifice in which the Lord of Generation offered his substance consumed in the fire for the sake of creation of mankind on earth." The Presence of Siva, p. 55

At another time,
After another sacrifice
Held by the Angirases,
Primordial fire priests,
Seeking their way to heaven,
Their efforts proving futile,
Youngest son of Manu (man),
Urged by his father,
Offered help.

He offered a sacred formula
Urged by his father,
A spell,
A brahman.
The Angirases, reciting, went
To Heaven and left
Their thousand pieces of cattle to Nabhanedistha --
as substitute for the property
His father had not given him.
A large man, a stranger from the north, in black, appeared,

He said: "This is mine; mine is what is left at the site."
Nabhanedistha acknowledged his claim.
Nabhanedistha asked his father.
The father said the black-clothed stranger's claim was true.
Nabhanedistha, "nearest relative," earning his patrimony,
Acknowledged this to the stranger.
Hearing this truth,
And the truth that had acknowledged him
As the raudra brahman, "song of the seed" itself,
The stranger, knowing himself,
And being recognized, seen, relinquished his claim.

This first daksina (gift) (south)
-- "The South is the region of death." --
Was given by Rudra-Siva,
"In his images as Daksinamurti, Siva imparts
To the sages
The gnosis
That was his gift
To Nabhanedistha."
The knowledge of transcendency, music, art,
yoga, science, the means of overcoming death, the mortal condition.

#III, 2. b. The Residue at the Site of the Sacrifice



a. Abasement and Recognition of Rudra

"Those in the wilderness of life, the lowly and rejected, can address themselves to him. They know him, for he lives in them. " The Presence of Siva, p. 61

And fearing the shape of their own horror,
The Gods excluded Rudra, That God, Pasupati
From the sacrifice.
Without right they gave Rudra's portion to Nabhanedistha,
Already excluded from his father's property.
Rudra gave to or exchanged his portion, the cattle, with Nabhanedistha
for the vastu,, the remnants, the milk and barley.
Rudra accepted humiliation as an act of asceticism,
detachment, accepted abusive treatment as a coronation,
as an exercise of his power.

Ominous, inappropriately dressed in black,
The power of life and death in his hands,
Appeased by the Satarudriya, the hundred oblations,
And at crossroads, with rice cakes or the foam of cooked rice,
Rudra accepts libations unfit for other gods.
Invoked as Tryambaka, son of three mothers:
Heaven, earth, and air, he is asked to go away to the north.
Anger subsiding, the Gods cut
Rudra's arrow from Prajapati's flesh,
Offered as sacrifice, this morsel,
charged with devastating power.

Offerings made to Rudra include
Refuse, rice cakes, cattle, human lives, royal blood.
He offers all creatures and himself as universal sacrifice.
He is the sacrifice, the sacrifice is him.
He is an outsider. The north is his direction.
The east is the direction of the other gods.
In the primordial scene Rudra appeared from nowhere,
From the Uncreate.
He rose with the sun. He gave the animals life.
He, Sarva, Bhava, Pasupati, Rudra, Agni
let them live.

Leaving Rudra alone on the site of the sacrifice,
The gods were embarrassed.
Having cobbled together from the remnants, vastu,
An offering, their priest offered it to Agni.
Agni is Rudra.
The Vedic gods had carved Rudra-Vastospati
From their poem, the raudra brahman.
The unnamed god was made of mantra,
the potent creative word.
Lord of the Animals,
He guards the meanings of vastu.

#III, 3 Residence and Residue



"The residue of the sacrifice is a potent substance." The Presence of Siva, p. 66

Rudra-Pasupati became Vastavya.
The remainder (vastu)
Is the part of the sacrifice
Left after the oblations have been made.
To Rudra-Pasupati-Vastayva
Belong both the site and the remnant.
Nothing else belongs to him.
He dwells in the vastu.
He has no possessions.

In this abject state,
As Vastayva, the vastu is his residence.
At the beginning of things.
He pierced the sacrifice (Prajapati)
With his arrow,
This reverse echo
Of the primordial drama,
Not forgotten by the Gods,
Is relived at the sacrifice of Daksa.
The contrived vastu , offered into the fire
To Agni, allowed Rudra to ascend.

The gods of the raudra brahman,
Blessed with creative intuition,
Had quickly turned
The Wild Hunter, Pasupati
Into Vastospati.
Rudra accepts any offering,
Even the humblest
Even offered via Agni
Into the fire.
The gods fear the shape of horror
They gave to him.

The Gods of the Satapatha Brahmana,
Conventional, a little mean,
Considered nothing but the remainder
Of the sacrifice, good enough for Rudra,
They reconsecrated remnants.
Had there been nothing to offer
To Rudra -- Vastospati is Rudra --
The Fire, becoming Rudra,
Would leap after the sacrificer
And slay him.
"The residue of the sacrifice is a potent substance."

#III, 4 The Potency of the Residue



"In the ucchista are deposited essence (nama) and form, the whole world is deposited in it, heaven and earth and all beings, being and nonbeing, death and Prajapati. Ucchista is the father of the progenitor." The Presence of Siva, p. 66

Is a hymn to the residue,
The leavings of the sacrifice,
The remnant,
The ucchista.
It sings of the birth of joys,
Delights, the Gods
From the ucchista.
Fire, ashes, leftovers

In the house,
Within the heart,
On the vastu
Belong to the ritual of living,
Are protected by Vastospati-
Vastupa, "the lord of one who is left or deserted."
From the conflagration of the lake of seed,
From this earth, the ground of existence,
From the still-glowing coals,
Rose the fire priests and Brhaspati,
Teacher of the gods.

The sacral aspect of the earth,
The site of the sacrifice, the vedi
Is regulated by the cycles of the stars,
Sunrise and sunset,
Solstice and equinox,
The mystical marriage of sun and moon.
Cyavana, old, decrepit, left behind on the vastu,
Abandoned by his kin,
Sings the mantra, the brahmana of Vastupa
Vastupa-Vastospati, sustainer of man,
Rescues Cyavana, restores his youth and potency.

Vastospati, numinous (Rudra -- the word)
Guardian of sacred order (vratapa),
Protects the ordered field of power,
The order of the cosmos,
Rudra, originator and best of all artists,
Protects the house built by man,
Its plan and orientation conform
To the laws of the cosmos,
Its model is the House of Varuna.
Vastospati, as Vastospati-Rudra, hound of heaven,
Lord of the Dwelling, guards -- the house built by man.

#III, 5 The Architect's Myth of Vastupa



"Excessive, he plays more than one role at a time." The Presence of Siva, p. 68

Appears like lightning
Not necessarily visible or as known,
But unmistakeable as concept or figure
His names and forms actualize his presence.
Hymns to Vastospati were sung two millennia
Before architectural texbooks recorded
Vastupa-Vastospati's story.
Rudra-Shiva confronts himself in opposing roles

In the architect's text:
He is the great God and Vastupa the goat-headed demon
Who manifests when Bhargava, Kaya Usanas, son of Bhrgu
Sprung from the flaming seed of the Lord of Generation,
Enraged at the demons' defeat by the gods,
Offers a goat in sacrifice.
Heated by the flames and his fury, a drop of Bhargava's sweat
Falls on the goat which becomes a goat-headed demon,
Filling the world. The gods have nowhere to go.
They take refuge in Shiva.

Fire from Shiva's third eye burns the goat demon.
Bhargava flees, but finding no refuge in the three worlds,
He enters Shiva's body by Shiva's ear, wanders within,
And leaves as Shiva's semen
Becoming both seed and Sukra (semen),
The morning star (Venus), and Shiva's son.
Sukra asks grace-giving Shiva, who has given him asylum,
For a boon for the disembodied goat-headed demon.
The phantom demon asks to dwell (vas) on earth with the gods.
Shiva grants him residence (vastu) on earth,
Names him Vastupa,

And allots him the plan of sacred sites,
The sacred geometry of the vastu-mandala,
In the form of the fallen demon,
The magic diagram for the building of temples and houses.
Others say the drop of sweat came directly from Siva.
God or demon, the fallen being,
Partakes of the darkness (tamas)
Of Shiva's nature.
On this demonic substratum the gods
Have their Siva-apportioned places which constitute
The paradigmatic ground plan of Indian architecture.

Siva Poems

Copyright © 2002 through 2015 Jan Haag
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21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context