Spirit of peaceful co-existence
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Spirit of peaceful co-existence

To make this world work, we need to be tolerant of each other, accept our differences and live in harmony.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 11:56 IST

Our interpersonal relations are profoundly affected by our nature and attitude. Whether in a country, family or workplace, people have to function as a team. But it’s common to hear people complaining about others on their team. This leads to frequent intolerance and bitterness. A relevant lesson, however, is commonly seen in India — though how many of us observe it or profit by this sight that anyone of any faith can easily observe in this country?

I mean the tableau of Lord Shiva’s family. The important lesson that the Shiva family gives us is togetherness and tolerance, despite fundamental differences. If we observe Lord Shiva himself, we see the holy Ganga on his head and a snake around his throat. Mother Ganga is the source of life, whereas the serpent is the symbol of death. They are opposites, but exist peacefully on Shiva’s person. Similarly, we believe there is amrit (nectar) on Shiva’s tongue, but vish (the poison he drank to save the world) coloured his throat blue, which is why he is called Neelkanth.

Now observe the vahan (vehicles) of the two sons of Shiva-Parvati. Ganesha’s vahan is a mouse and Kartikeya’s is a peacock. Both creatures are natural enemies of the snake, but how peacefully they reside together. Look further at the vehicles of the divine couple itself ! Shiva’s bull, Nandi, and Parvati’s fierce carrier, the lion, lie down peacefully together though they are ardent enemies by nature, are they not?

In sum, the whole concept of a Shivala illustrates an important life truth through the lesson of mythology. To make this world work, we need to be tolerant of each other, accept our differences–especially the religious ones–and live in harmony. But this tableau of tolerance can happen only if we control our minds like Lord Shiva. The peace we find in a Shivala is only possible because of the personality of Lord Shiva who gives abundantly to the world but himself lives like a yogi on ashes despite being Lord of the Universe.

First Published: Feb 25, 2006 11:56 IST