Ideas for Engaging in the Study of the Guru Gita: The Guru As Bhairava – and the Five Functions

In Verse 69 of the Guru Gita, we learn of the Guru’s nature as Shiva:


I bow to the Guru, who embodies Lord Bhairava, 
constantly revealing the five functions of 
creation, maintenance, dissolution, concealment 
and the bestowal of grace.

The Sanskrit for this verse uses the words “krtyam pañcha”. Pañchakritya translates as “five fold activity”: Creation, maintenance, concealment, destruction and the bestowal of grace.

The often seen statue of Shiva Nataraj symbolizes these five acts. In this statue Shiva is shown having four arms. His right hand holds a small drum, where the sound of creation is born. His other right hand is raised in the traditional mudra or position granting protection, which represents sustenance in his function as the maintainer. His left hand holds fire, which symbolizes destruction. His other left hand turns inward, shielding, signifying concealment. His raised left foot signifies the bestowal of grace. His balanced and serene posture shows that he remains the eternal witness even while performing all of these acts simultaneously.

Shiva Nataraj

Another great text of Kashmir Shaivism, often quoted by Baba Muktananda, the Pratyabhijñahrdayam, states that as human beings, we perform these five acts every moment and it is only because of our ignorance and delusion, that we are not fully aware of this power. Gaining the awareness that we do indeed initiate the same five acts as Shiva does, allows the mind to rise to the state of pure consciousness and attain union with Shiva. This is the realization and state of awareness that the Guru has attained, and is demonstrating at all times to us.

By the way, the statue of Shiva is also represented as standing on top of a demon, to show that he has the power to conquer evil and spiritual ignorance. The right foot, planted on the prostrate body of Apasmara Purusha, the demon of forgetfulness, symbolizes human ignorance of our divine nature.


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