Siva's Five Actions

Saivites worship God Siva as the Supreme Being. One popular misunderstanding is that Siva is the Destroyer. While one of God Siva's five actions is destruction, He is the Supreme Being who also creates and preserves the universe and delivers the paired graces of concealing and revealing. Here Bodhinatha clarifies these five actions of Siva.

Unedited Transcript:

We want to welcome all our guests this morning. Vanakkam, Namaste!

Also, we congratulate Saroja Devi for being so well-behaved, the star of the show.

This is a wonderful week. We are leading up to our worship of Siva on Mahasivaratri, a very important and powerful festival. So, this morning I was thinking about God Siva in anticipation of Sivaratri. We are also working on an article for 'Hinduism Today' on a similar subject, on the nature of God, one of the misconceptions.

Sometimes we have visitors come here. We had two ladies come here a couple of years ago. One was a Hindu, one was a non-Hindu and they came into the temple. The Hindu lady was explaining Siva to the non-Hindu lady and she said, "Well, yes. Siva is the Destroyer. So we are worshipping the Destroyer."

That is what we are trying to destroy with this article in 'Hinduism Today'. Destroy the concept that Siva is the Destroyer! Of course, that is not how it is looked at. That is not the correct understanding. But, somehow it is a popular understanding, perpetuated in many books in different ways.

Of course, Siva is the Supreme Being to Saivites. The Supreme Being does destroy but He also creates and preserves. To call Siva the Destroyer, you are missing the mark. It is very misleading because in the worship that is not how we are looking at it.

We are looking at it that Siva is the Supreme Being. He creates, preserves and destroys the universe. Creates, preserves and absorbs back the soul. So, looking at Him as the Destroyer is something not particularly good. In addition to the three actions - creation, preservation and destruction of course - He has two other actions. One is called concealing grace and the other is the revealing grace.

Concealing grace is the idea that Siva pervades everything. He is inside of us, He is inside the temple, He is inside of everything, inside the tree. He pervades everything. But yet we cannot see Him. How is this? It is His concealing grace. He has hidden Himself. Siva pervades everything, He is all-pervasive. But we cannot even see Him.

Through grace we do see Him, that is called His revealing grace. He shows Himself to us. We become aware of Siva inside of us, that which was hidden is seen. Those two actions of grace are also very important when it comes to understanding God Siva. Of course, on Sivaratri we want to see Him to some degree or another. We are definitely wanting Him to reveal Himself.

The five actions of Siva are also in the five names that are found in the Agamic worship. Isana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva, Sadyojata, as you all know Yogi Mahadevan was chanting this morning. The five names, one for each of the five actions shows the Agamic perspective that Siva is Supreme Being and performs these five actions.