Random Musings- Part 9- The Meaning and Symbolism of Ardhanarishwara

Nithin Sridhar

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Ardhanarishwar Painting by Pratyasha Nithin

The whole Cosmos is inhabited by Shiva-Shakti. The whole Universe and all its entities have Shiva-Shakti as its source. Shiva and Shakti represent the Dual aspect of Brahman. Shiva is Purusha, the Chit, the Witness. Shakti is the Prakriti, the Maya. Shakti creates all the objects and Shiva inhabits those objects as their Innermost Self/Consciousness.It is Brahman itself who manifests as Shiva- the Chit/Consciousness and as Shakti- the Maya/the Object

This Chit is variously called as Purusha, Prajna etc. And the Maya is called as Prakriti, Avyakta, Prana etc. The Universe- Gross and subtle is born out of this Unmanifested Prakriti, the Maya. In the Jagrata/Waking state, the gross body and the Physical Universe is the outcome of Maya. The Chit that exist as the Innermost Consciousness of the gross body and gross Universe are called as “Vishwa” and “Virat” respectively. In dream state,subtle body & Subtle Universe is outcome of Maya & Chit that inhabits them is called as Taijasa & Hiranyagarbha respectively. In the state of deep sleep, the Chit that inhabits the Casual body and the Unmanifested Prakriti is called as “Prajna” and “Ishwara”.

Hence, Virat represents the Gross Existance as well as the Brahman who inhabit the Gross Existance. Hiranyagarbha represents the Subtle and Gross existence together as well as the Brahman who inhabits them as their Atman. Ishwara represent the Casual Existance (along with the Gross and Subtle existence that are born of it) and also the Brahman who inhabits it.

Turiya is the fourth state, that represents the Nirguna, Nirakara Brahman without any Movement, without any division. Turiya is the state, in which Shiva and Shakti, Prajna and Maya have merged together. Hence,Brahman is devoid of all attributes & divisions.

This is the real symbolism of Ardhanarishwara.

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