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Vigyan Bhairav Tantra is an ancient text on meditation. In this text Parvati asks her spouse Shiva to teach her techniques on meditation. Certainly, Shiva is the ultimate meditator. Firstly, Parvati tells Shiva that she knows about energy in the body, in Chakras and Nadis. Secondly, she acknowledges her understanding of the intricacies of the universe. Lastly, She admits to Shiva that she still feels incomplete. Subsequently, Shive assumes the role of a teacher and Parvati that of a student. Shiva teaches her 112 techniques which are related to Bhairav consciousness. Certainly, each of these is a unique meditation technique.

The Shiva temple in Thiruvanaikaval in South India follows a strange and unique tradition. This tradition reflects the idea of Parvati becoming Shiva’s student. Normally, Parvati has the role of Shiva’s wife. Therefore, in all other temples. a wedding ceremony is celebrated annually. However, this ceremony is absent in the Thiruvanaikal temple. Instead, the priest serving at the altar of Parvati dons a Saree. Besides he takes the Saree which was wrapped around the Murty of the Devi. Finally he offers worship at the altar of Shiva. This signifies Parvati becoming a Shishya or student. Further it illustrates the honor and respect which a Shishya holds for her Guru. In summary, Parvati remains a student in this temple, instead of her normal role of a spouse.

Thiruvanaikaval temple teaches a practical lesson!

Founding Rishis of ancient temples kept higher knowledge alive in the form of rituals. Someone who knows about the Vigyan Bhairav text, can immediately recognize the significance behind the strange customs at the Thiruvanaikaval temple. Similarly, anyone familiar with the transformations in the mind during meditation can appreciate the story style of the Vigyan Bhairav text. The conversation between Shiva and Parvati in the text Vigyan Bhairav is a parody. Who then is Parvati and who is Shiva? What principles do they represent?

Parvati, a student of Shiva? Thiruvanaikaval.
Exquisite carvings at the Thiruvanaikaval temple

Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar explained the symbolisms in the Vigyan Bhairav Tantra text in his sessions on “Unveiling Infinity“. He conducted these sessions throughout the world in 2018. Through this, he made the world aware of the mysterious texts from Kashmir. Thiruvanaikaval is a town in the southern most states of India while Kashmir is the northern most state. Intellectuals in the past connected people across the geography of the Indian subcontinent through stories, rituals and texts.


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