Monday, June 16, 2014

Sacred Union through Swayamvara

"Swayamvara was an ancient kind of marriage, where the woman gets the authority to choose her husband from the prospective proposals. A perfect example would be Sati who undoubtedly chose Shiva. The marriage ceremony of Sati and Shiva was conducted. Daksha was forced to accept Shiva as his son-in-law, as by tradition and custom, he could not influence the groom selection process.
Daksha was one of the Prajapati, Son of Brahma and one among his foremost creations. The name Daksha means ‘Skilled one’. Daksha had two wives Prasoothi and Panchajani (Virini). Sati (also known as ‘‘Uma’’) was his youngest daughter born from Prasoothi (the daughter of the Prajapati Manu), she was the pet child of Daksha and he always carried her along with him. Sati, the name means the feminine of Sat (‘The truth’). She is called Dakshayani as she followed Daksha’s path, this is derived from Sanskrit words Daksha and Ayana (Walk or Path)" .......................Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam

The word "Swayamvara" means through "one's own wish". When we look at the puranic stories and the practice of swayamvara practiced in the court of kings in choosing the suitable life partner for the princess, our immediate reaction is that of wonderment and appreciation of the prevailing freedom for women which in today's world we find missing, especially in the patriarchal society.
There is a deeper spiritual meaning to these puranic episodes through the understanding of which the rightful role of women, not the physical but the psychic dimension known as "Anima" which is present in every psyche in creation,  could be deeply appreciated.
The story referred above is the selection of Shiva as her mate by Sati. Sati is no less women but the daughter of  Daksha is one of the sons of Lord Brahma, who, after creating the ten Manas Putras, created Daksha, Dharama, Kamadeva and Agni.

Now the deeper significance of a family drama transcends to the spiritual level when we appreciate the symbolism. The ten Manas Putras are the sons begotten as the ten dimensions of the Cosmic mind or Cosmic consciousness. This is the primary creation in Vedic Cosmology.
Daksha, which means 'Skilled one' is creative architect and this can be traced in other spiritual traditions, especially in Gnostic theology as the 'Demiurge" or the creator who is endowed with all debilitating attributes such as anger, jealousy, revenge etc. This is the God of the Garden of Eden in Genesis both in the Hebraic and Christian traditions.
Sati, as told in the Purana, is by her very name is the embodiment absolute Truth which manifests itself as the primal wisdom. This can also be traced in Gnostic tradition as "Sophia".

Swayamvara is a natural process in creation as we understand through current cosmology that as from a primal unity the entire creation came into being through an inherent in-formation driven process. The sequence of creation is that information organizes energy, organized energy exhibits as matter. Shiva, the natural Cosmic dancer Nataraja, who is the transformer through continuous annihilation and creation, is the inevitable choice of the primal wisdom, Sati, incarnated from the Prajapati.

While Sati, as Dakshayani, follows the ordained natural path of supreme wisdom choosing the right path in the cosmic union with the primal orchestrator, Shiva, Daksha, who begets this wisdom, is unable to understand the purity and the purpose of the union and turns away from the natural process. This is the fate of all creation with lower level of consciousness. This is illustrated in the Purana as the invitation to Shiva and Sati being denied to the invocation of Agni in the Daksha  yajña. The insult to Sati who went to the  yajña uninvited represents the attempt by Divine wisdom to correct the alienation of created consciousness towards its true purpose in this universe and her immolation in the  yajña fire is her union with Agni the primal energy of creation. The revenge of Shiva and decapitation of Daksha's head symbolizes the elimination of the corrupted ego and his reincarnation with a Ram's head symbolizes the altered consciousness through which a greater realization takes place and the yajña completed.

Love to you all.


  1. Very different explanation for what we think is a mythical story. Highly researched! The comparison with the gnostic ideas is indeed new and makes an enjoyable reading

  2. Thank you for your feedback and appreciation.