Dancing with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and Subramuniya

Published by Himalayan Academy Publications, 1997
ISBN 10: 0945497970 / ISBN 13: 9780945497974
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Synopsis: This remarkable 1,008-page sourcebook covers every subject, answers every question and quenches the thirst of the soul for knowledge of God and the Self. Clearly written and lavishly illustrated, expertly woven with 600 verses from the Vedas, Agamas and other holy texts, 165 South Indian paintings, 40 original graphics, a 40-page timeline of India’s history and a 190-page lexicon of English, Sanskrit and Tamil. A spiritual gem.

From the Publisher: This remarkable 1,008-page sourcebook covers every subject, answers every question and quenches the thirst of the soul for knowledge of God and the Self. Clearly written and lavishly illustrated, expertly woven with 600 verses from the Vedas, Agamas and other holy texts, 165 South Indian paintings, 40 original graphics, a 40-page timeline of India's history and a 190-page lexicon of English, Sanskrit and Tamil.

In producing this modern catechism, or prasnottaram (literally, "questions and answers"), we kept in mind the need to provide resources so that Hindu institutions and communities around the globe could have, at their fingertips, authentic teachings from which they could locally develop classes and courses and various kinds of study. We encourage scholars, pandits, swamis and elders everywhere to work with us in translating Dancing with Siva into many of the world's more than 3,000 languages.

It is our belief that a full study of this catechism will provide a basic understanding of the Hindu religion as it is lived today. We have taught its earlier editions for over forty years in many countries, and we know that it is competent to change the lives of people, to bring them closer to their inner Divinity, to strengthen husband-and-wife relationships, cement family unity and establish strong, unbreakable connections with God and the Gods. The key is study, by which we do not mean mere recitation, but living the life described in our venerable traditions.

It is no accident that you have found this book and treasures it contains. It's all part of the divine dance of destiny. The treasure you hold in the palm of your hand is divine knowledge, knowledge about you and God, knowledge about how to live a spiritual life, knowledge about what Hindus teach and believe. All of this and more awaits you in the chapters that follow. Follow it, and one day you will hold Truth in the palm of your hand--just as simply.

While other religions are precisely defined by explicit and often unyielding beliefs, Hinduism condones no such constraints. For the Hindu, intuition is far more important than intellect; experience supersedes dogma; and personal realization is held infinitely more precious than outer expressions or affiliations of faith. Philosopher S. Radhakrishman said it well: "The mechanical faith which depends on authority and wishes to enjoy the consolations of religion without the labor of being religious is quite different from the religious faith which has its roots in experience."

Hindu religious philosophy is based on experience, on personal discovery and testing of things. It does not say, "Believe as others do or suffer." Rather, it says, "Know thy Self, inquire and be free." There are no heretics in Hinduism, for God is everywhere and in all things. In such an open laboratory, Hindu spirituality has grown over the millennia so diverse and rich that it defies definition. Even knowledgeable Hindus, after a lifetime of study, will hesitate to say that Hinduism is one thing and not another. Indeed, the very idea of a Hindu catechism is, for many, unthinkable, a perilous and impertinent pursuit. Until now, no one has attempted such a complete overview, making this a rare, and perhaps remarkable, book. One might even say an inevitable one. If, therefore, in undertaking the impossible we have overlooked any lineage, neglected any tradition or vital issue, please call to mind that it is human to err and only God is perfect and find room in your heart to overlook any oversight.

A simple warning is due. This collection of customs and beliefs is not a detached, scholastic analysis of Hinduism, but a view from the inside, a view of the religion as Hindus themselves would wish their tradition honored and explained to others. Nor is this yet another dogma added to the mountains of doctrines and decrees which have crushed the human spirit throughout history. Every instinct in Hinduism rebels against the doctrine which is oppressive or narrow-minded. Every instinct in Hinduism rejoices in tolerance and in acknowledgement of the many paths, even those that seem to contradict its own. When you believe that God is everywhere, in all there is wherever it is, it becomes impossible to hate or injure or seek to aggressively convert others. That is the spirit of this book. It is a transcript of the life lived by hundreds of millions of people, one out of six of the human family. Like Hinduism itself, this contemporary catechism is an ongoing revelation--a dance more than a doctrine.

Dancing with Siva! What an extraordinary expression of our closeness to God, our creative interplay with God. The Cosmic Dance describes the Hindu view of existence, from the first thunder of the drum in His right hand announcing the Beginning, to the final all-consuming flames in His left hand pronouncing the End, which but heralds a new Beginning. Thus, dancing with Siva is everything we do, everything we think and say and feel, from our seeming birth to our so-called death. It is man and God forever engaged in sacred movement.

The ancient sages chose the dance to depict God for good reason. Esoterically, movement is the most primal act of existence. Without this simple thing, there would be no universe, no us, no experience, nothing. Light is movement. Thought is movement. Atoms are movement. Life is movement. And, the Hindu holds, God is movement. Also, dance is the only creative act in which there is perfect oneness of the creator and his creation. Unlike a painting, a poem, an invention or any other artistic impulse, when the dance is over there is no product, no thing to save and enjoy. As with life, we may perceive the dance, never possess it. One cannot separate the dancer from dancing, just as one cannot separate God from the world or from ourselves. Of special meaning is the place where Siva dances: in the chitsabha, the hall of consciousness. In other words, it happens within each of us.

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Title: Dancing with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary ...
Publisher: Himalayan Academy Publications
Publication Date: 1997
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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