Rudra-Siva , Kaivalya and the outsider space

Photo: Geoffrey Dunn

Photo: Geoffrey Dunn

Siva is the quintessential outsider—consider his attributes as the dweller of caves, mountains and cemeteries. That he is the deity of dance is not an accident. Dance is also an outsider space in this philosophical context. It is a language that is there for the languageless experiences. By this I mean that the space of dhyana or contemplation is deliberately an experience that is outside the realm of our usual and habitual understanding of life events and reality. When we step outside of these paradigms, the languages that pertain to them are also superfluous. Dance offers a language for that space beyond the known paradigms.

The Siva world is a relentless dismantling of our deepest need for the familiar, our need for the affirmation of our comfort-seeking drives and our demand to conquer reality through knowing. The many domains of the Siva space, including Rudra, remain inscrutable and mystifying so long as we attempt to unpack the space through the usual linear frameworks of our chitta or mind.

More than any other deity, Rudra-Siva invites us to pause our relentless thirst for external connection and turn inwards to the immanence within. This is not a benign, passive practice—the roar and fiery freedom of the Rudra space strongly suggests the passion and dynamism of this experience. This is the Kaivalya state, when we are deeply connected to the fullness within and at home in that connection.

Kaivalya is the antidote to the incongruence that pervades when our fulfilment is at the mercy of people and events around us. It suggests that the completion we seek cannot be found in our current practice of life because the usual frameworks of understanding are fundamentally incomplete. In the Rudra-Siva space mortality is proposed as the most significant reality we avoid in our habitual comfort-seeking way of living. It is not an intellectual understanding of mortality that is asked in Rudra-Siva practice but a way in which we live the endings that life brings to us—of life stages, relationships, interests and the like.

That is why the Kaivalya domain is outside of the daily busyness of life. For when we truly live the endings then we are perforce alone in the cave. However we are not lonely or detached. For, the wild and spacious dance of Rudra-Siva, the traversing of the universe within, is the experience of liberation from need and, because of that, filled with unconditional compassion.

Padma Menon