Shiva is a god who should not be named, because to name him is to limit and curtail him. At the same time, the sum of his many, many names also bring out the indescribable mystery of who he is, or indescribable mysteries of what this creation is.
Of his various forms, Kala or Mahakala is an important, at the same time a fierce form. As Mahakala, he is the Lord of time. As Kalabhairava, he is the destroyer of time.
Kala means time. Time, as you experience it, is only the cyclical movement of physical existence. The earth rotates – it’s a day. The moon goes around the earth – that’s a month. The earth goes around the sun – that’s a year. Everything you know as time, including your watch, is all about cycles. Everything that’s physical is cyclical in nature. From atomic to cosmic, everything that’s physical is naturally cyclical in nature. And because of your physical existence, because of your involvement with the physical nature of who you are, you have a sense of time. As you sit here, because you have a body, it is keeping time.
If you become free from the cyclical movement of life, then we say you are in mukti or absolute liberation. So, those who are aspiring for mukti, those who are seeking absolute liberation, for them, this dimension that we’re referring to as Mahakala becomes of paramount importance.
It once happened, the great sage Shukracharya, who was the Guru for all the demons, did a tremendous span of austerities in worship of Shiva, and Shiva had to appear. When he appeared, Shukracharya asked for immortality. Then Shiva said, ‘That is not possible. All that is born has to die. Ask for something else.’ Then Shukracharya said, ‘Give me the power of rejuvenation, that any kind of wound, any kind of disease, I can rejuvenate. Give me that power.’ Shiva being the ultimate healer, the master of all herbs and medicines, gave Shukracharya the Sanjeevini mantra – the mantra for rejuvenating people from any kind of disease or any kind of wound or injury.
Once Shukracharya had this Sanjeevini mantra, the demons became excessively bold, and they waged battle after battle. All the demons who fall down in the battle with any kind of grievous wound, Shukracharya just revives them with the Sanjeevini mantra. So ultimately the army of the demons can go on fighting without losing a single man. The gods got very alarmed and they felt this is a very unfair battle because how much ever you fight, they don’t die, but we die. So they went to Brahma.
Brahma intervened with Shiva, and said, ‘You have given this Shukracharya this kind of power, you must kill him, otherwise there will be a complete imbalance in the world. The demons have an unfair advantage over the gods.’ Then Shiva said, ‘There is no need to kill him, I will contain him.’ Then, the battle between the devas and the demons was going on, Shukracharya was going about uttering the mantra and reviving all the demons from their injuries and wounds.
Then across the horizon, a terrible creature, an ogress whose name was Kritika, came in a hideous form. She was one of the Shiva ganas. She came and sucked Shukracharya into her womb and there he remained as a fetus, and he was contained and the balance was set forth between gods and demons, a more fair and just battles were fought. Then Brahma was so amused, and he thought, ‘It is only Mahakala who can do this, that without killing the person, he can completely contain his life.
Shukracharya remained in the womb of Kritika, and the Sanjeevini mantra became impotent. Or in other words, Mahakala froze time for Shukracharya, that he cannot move on.
When we talk about transcendence, when we talk about spirituality, yoga, we are seeing how to go beyond the limitations of time and space. Because time and space belongs to the physical plane of the existence. Once you aspire to be spiritual, what it means is, you’re aspiring to be something more than the physical. Once you are something more than the physical, that means you’re aspiring to be beyond the limitations of time and space.
The Mahakala temple, the linga that is consecrated there, is of phenomenal nature. It will shake you from the root of your existence. It is really an incredible consecration. It is just done for this purpose that in some way, it dissolves you. One must be ready to go into this temple properly, because it’s of a tremendous power and it is not for the fainthearted. It shakes you from inside.
Every day, the offering that needs to happen to Mahakala is fresh ashes from the cremation grounds, because that’s what he likes and that is what keeps it going the way it’s going. Unfortunately, I heard that – we’ve been getting so bloody civilized, now it seems because some activists protested, they are not using the ashes from the cremation ground. They’re just using cow dung or bullshit, unfortunately. This is not just a cultural thing, there is a science to it. If we bring ashes from the cremation ground and some other ash, I can show you what is the difference between the two – experientially, it’s a phenomenal difference. And it’s very, very important that this process is continued, because that is the nature of Mahakala.
The very presence of what this Mahakala roopa is, is when you go there, everything is gone. Everything is burnt into ashes. That means you become free from the physical. It propels you towards your ultimate liberation. You want to do that gently, we have everything here. You want to do it in a ‘boom’ way, you really want to be pushed hard and you are not faint-hearted, then Mahakala temple is a phenomenal process.