1. The secret behind Lord Shiva’s third eye
Shiva’s third eye has always fascinated people. It stands there dramatically on his forehead ready to release a missile of fire and destroy the world. Many people assume that is why Shiva is called the `destroyer’. He is often referred to as Tryambaka Deva, meaning “three-eyed Lord”. The sun is said to be his right eye, the moon the left eye while fire is his third eye. While his other two eyes indicate his activity in the physical world, his third eye looks beyond the obvious.
2. The Third Eye in Hinduism and Buddhism
As the traditions change, the meaning of the third eye also changes. Here, are some of the common old and new concepts about the third eye in Hinduism and Buddhism. The third eye is the eye of spiritual wisdom and knowledge. It is believed that Lord Shiva uses the third eye to see beyond the apparent and protect the good ones from the evildoers. All the evil and the ignorance vanish as the third eye opens.
3. The Buddha’s third eye of higher consciousness
In Buddhism, the third eye refers to Eye of Consciousness, which asks followers to see the world beyond their physical eyes. It advises people to see the world with their mind. In certain Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, the third eye is the gate that leads the followers within to inner realms and spaces of higher consciousness. In the new concept, the third eye symbolizes a state of enlightenment.
4. Modern concepts about third eye in Hinduism and Buddhism
As per the modern spirituality, the third eye is a symbol of enlightenment. It is often referred to as “gyananakashu”, (the eye of knowledge). In Indian and East Asian iconography, the third eye is the “Ajna chakra” or the sixth chakra. It is also known as brow chakra or brow center. The third eye, or “Eye of Wisdom”, or, in Buddhism, the urna, is denoted by a dot, or mark on the forehead in the deities of Shiva or Buddha.
5. Third eye not related with Shiva’s rage?
Many assume that this eye opens when Shiva is angry. Typically, in modern dance ballets based on Shiva’s sacred lore, one often finds drums beating frantically and the actor playing Shiva dancing fiercely, going all around the stage rather energetically, expressing Shiva’s rage and sorrow at the death of his spouse, Sati, threatening to destroy all by opening his third eye, until all the gods salute him, sing songs to his glory and beg him to calm down. But a reading of Shiva’s lore reveals something different…
6. The famous story of Sati
Yes, Shiva is furious when his wife, Sati, kills herself. The story goes that Sati marries Shiva against the wishes of her father, Daksha, who wants this daughter to marry a Deva, or god, rather than an ascetic. In retaliation, Daksha organizes a fire-sacrifice or yagna and invites all his sons-in-laws except Shiva, to partake of the ritual. Angry at the exclusion of her husband, Sati rushes into the sacrificial precinct and confronts her father, who mocks Shiva’s ascetic ways in front of all the assembled guests.
7. The famous story of Sati
Unable to bear this public humiliation, Sati kills herself by leaping into the sacrificial fire thereby polluting the ritual space and causing the yagna to grind to a halt. When Shiva learns of this event, he experiences deep rage and sorrow. Casting away his usual calm indifference, he transforms into Virabhadra, a fierce warrior, and goes on a rampage attacking everyone who had been silent witnesses to Sati’s death. He stops only when Daksha is beheaded. But the vengeance does not take away the sorrow.
8. After Sati
Shiva then goes around the world carrying the charred remains of Sati’s corpse, tears rolling down his eyes, moaning piteously. All those who hear him feel the depths of his pain. Fearing that Shiva’s sorrow threatens the wellbeing of the world, Vishnu destroy Sati’s corpse, cutting it into pieces. With the body gone, Shiva is able to overcome his sorrow. In keeping with his ascetic nature, he withdraws into a cave in the Himalayas, cleansing himself of all anger and pain, rejecting all things worldly.
9. No mention of the third eye!
The story, full of romance and vengeance, sounds like a divine soap opera and is portrayed as such in folk theatre and Bollywood mythologicals. But nowhere in this narrative is there any mention of Shiva’s third eye. Shiva opens his third eye much later, when Sati is reborn as the daughter of the mountains, Parvati, and, smitten by Shiva, tries her best to evoke a romantic response in him. Shiva remains impassive, exasperating both her and the Devas who are eager to get Shiva married.
10. The third eye and Kama
So they send Kama, the god of lust, to raise his sugarcane bow, pull his bowstring buzzing with bees and shoot flowery darts of desire into Shiva’s heart. This is done. Unfortunately, the result is not quite what anyone expects. Instead of opening his eyes and expressing his desire for Parvati, Shiva opens a third eye, in the centre of the forehead and out comes a missile of fire that sets Kama aflame. Before Parvati’s horrified eyes, Kama is reduced to a pile of ashes.
11. …And Shiva became the destroyer
It is then that Shiva gets the name destroyer. For by destroying Kama, Shiva destroys not just desire but the very principle that keeps the whole world alive. Without desire, the bee will not go to the flower, the bull will not go to the cow. There will be no pollination, no reproduction. If animals do not mate, there will be no life. There will be no renewal, no resurrection, no regeneration. Spring will not follow winter. The world will transform into a wasteland.