“The difference between a Kamsa, who tried to kill Him, and a Kuchela, who worshipped Him, is slight indeed. One approached Him with hatred and the other with love, but both thought of Him constantly and were thus rewarded with Moksha, or liberation. An object of mortal dread and antagonism can produce as much absorption in the mind as an object of love. If this object of dread happens to be God, concentration on Him, though motivated by antagonism, must purify the person, just as potent but unpleasant medicine can effect a cure. This is what the Bhagavad Purana declares.”
The manifestation of Shiva as Nilakantha, “the blue-throated One”, is one of the most esoteric concepts in Tantric Physics. This unique expression of Shiva appeared in the alchemical search for amrita, the nectar of immortality, desired by Devas and Asuras alike.
A deadly poison emerged during the search, halahala-kalakuta, threatening to destroy the entire universe. Shiva was asked to intervene. He gladly drank the poison holding the poison in his throat causing it to radiate a vibration of deep blue thereby saving the universe in the sacramental consumption.
This unique manifestation of Shiva holds important esoteric teachings related to the hidden connections between Shiva and Krishna. Krishna, “the dark one”, is universally represented as blue in form and essence much like the blue throat of Shiva. The blue color reminds us of the radiant immensity of the azure sky and the deep blue oceans.
The Sky of Mind
When gazing upon the blue throat of Shiva and the radiant corporeal presence of Krisna we are reminded of the Sky of Mind. The atmosphere of our minds is pregnant with Prana, the subtle life-force which controls and directs our perceptions and doorways of the senses.
As stated in the Prasna Upanishad in reference to the force of life, a hymn to Prana:
“O Prana, it is you who move about in the womb as Prajapati, and it is you who are born. It is you who resides in the body for whom these creatures carry their offerings with the senses.
You carry oblations to the Gods. You are the first oblation to the fathers. You are the truth that the Seers practiced, the Atharvans and the Angirasas.
O Prana, by your radiance you are Indra! As the guardian you are Rudra! As the Sun you move in the atmosphere, you are the Lord of Lights!
O Prana, when you send down the rains, these creatures of yours are delighted, hoping that food will be produced to their satisfaction.
O Prana, you are purity itself, you are Fire, the enjoyer of offerings, you are the master of all that exists. We, the sense organs, offer food to you, the father of all.
Your form that abides in speech, your form in hearing and in sight, your form extended within the mind, Make them all propitious! Please do not depart from us!
Whatever exists in the three worlds is under the control of Prana. O Prana, protect us as a mother protects Her children. Give us prosperity and wisdom.”
We must remember this hymn as we gaze upon the images of Nilakantha and Krishna. The blue throat of Shiva contains the entire universe of Krishna. Mantras to Nilakantha becomes doorways into the mysterious space of Vrindavan.
The Sky of Mind is ruled by Prana and we must circulate this life forces to prevent the stagnations and obfuscations of Maya to cloud our perceptions. In Ayurveda, we refer to the concept of prajnaparadha or “mistake of the intellect” to explain how the mind can be clouded, deluded or unfocused and therefore be unable to discriminate between what is real and unreal, important or unimportant, poison or amrita.
The foundation of our health and vitality, both mental and physical, is determined by the choices we make daily:
“What will I eat today? What will I drink today? What will I read today? What will I feed my senses today?”
We must cultivate the Managni, the fire of the mind, to direct prana to clear away the dark clouds of the confused ego and secular societal delusions. We must learn to extract the essence from each daily experience distilling alchemical gold from the poisons of the ego / mundane world. Only then can we gain access into the mysterious realms of Vrindavan.
The mysterious teachings of Nilakantha are endless…..
“Lord Shiva said:
My Lord, as the supreme directing Deity known as Aniruddha, You are the master of the senses and the mind. I therefore offer my obeisances unto You again and again and again. You are known as Ananta as well as Sankarsana because of Your ability to destroy the whole creation by the blazing fire of Your mouth.”
– Srimad Bhagavatam 4.24.36
Ocean of Consciousness
The blue throat of Nilakantha and radiant blue body of Krishna also reminds us of the Ocean of Consciousness, the greater consuming field of awareness within which the mundane mind comes and goes like bubbles on the ocean waves.
To access this greater field of awareness requires great conservation of Prana. This is the important reason why we must be aware of what we are feeding our mind and body and where we are directing our attention. Prana follows our intentions therefore we must conserve, protect, and treasure our Prana by not wasting our energy on frivolous pursuits.
Krishna asks us to always have Him in our thoughts, to always remember His presence in our daily pursuits on the battlefield of life and the battlefield of our egoic mind. We must ask ourselves:
“What do I worship? Have I transformed my mind in an altar to the Divine or an egoic Hall of Mirrors?”
The Bhakti Yoga of Krishna allows us to extract Soma from the poisons of the world if we accumulate Prana via the tapas of our spiritual praxis. This is one of the most important messages of Nilakantha.
As the greatest devotee to Krishna, Shiva transforms the entire world into a smashan, every life experience into a sacred offering to the Inner Flame hidden within the Ocean of Consciousness. We must follow this example and seek to discover the flame hidden within the Ocean of our Awareness which sustains our every life experience. Every act must be a ritual offering unto this Sacred Flame….
“Of the Rudras I am Sankara; of the Yaksas I am Kuvera. Of the Vasus I am Agni, and of the mountains I am Meru.”
– Bhagavad Gita, 10.23
“Know that I am the light in the sun, moon, and fire that illumines the world.
I also enter the world through my power and sustain all beings. Becoming the moon, the source of flavor, I cause all plants to flourish.
Becoming the fire of digestion, I reside in the bodies of all living entities; then, in conjunction with prana and apana ( the life airs, coming and going), I digest the four kinds of food.
I am seated in the hearts of all; from Me comes knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness. I alone am to be known by the Vedas. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta and the knower of the Vedas as well.”
Bhagavad Gita, 15.12-15
Vaishnava Aghora Sampradaya