Shiva is Smiling
– by Ravi Tiwari


“I had this experience when I was on my way to office. As usual I was late and missed my office cab, so I booked an Uber cab. I sat on the rear seat, relaxed as I watched yellowish sunlight coming through the cab windows. There was something about the atmosphere. I was feeling very calm and light. 

“At one of the traffic signals an auto rickshaw guy dashed his rickshaw very lightly into a nano car which was driven by a lady. That lady came out of her car and started shouting at the rickshaw guy. She slapped him too. 

“But while I was watching all this, I was feeling different sensations in my body, I felt as if my heart is very light and its laughing. My body also felt very light. For some reason I saw the (typical) image of Shiva in that lady. At the same time, when I looked at the rickshaw driver I saw another Shiva in him. It almost felt as if they are acting out. Then I looked at other people on the road, I was seeing Shiva in everyone. As if they all are innocently playing their roles but deep inside they know that it’s nothing more than an acting role. I started looking at the roadside trees, birds and I felt as if everyone and everything is Shiva and they are just trying to be innocent and naive.

“My heart was behaving differently, it was almost ticklish in heart area. I felt as if so much of love is pouring in to me and out of me. There were people with straight face, talking to each other, walking on the road, some even smiling... I was feeling highly intoxicated watching all of this.
“My entire body was smiling, I was smiling – Shiva was smiling.”

Image of Lord Shiva Smiling by Master Tarun Cherian is part of an art collection, MahaDeva at Saatchi Art. Where you can get canvas prints. And other art inspired pieces.


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Commentary by Tarun & Celia:
This is an incredible, mind-stretching, world altering perspective. According to Ravi’s vision, “Within us, around us, beyond us is the divine that smiles at it all”. Thank you Ravi for sharing it with us.

Sometime back Ashwin one of the foursome that has been exploring the divine for half a decade with us, {It started as a group of 20}, was surprised by the ultimate. What was it like? God is a laugh, at the heart of creation is laughter.

Is this true? Does God smile no matter what?

Let’s question this. Demand answers of God: “If I lose my mother and I smile that’s an inappropriate reaction. A sign of Schizophrenia. Is God schizophrenic?”

Let’s push further: “I have lost my children, are you smiling? I have learnt I have this terrible disease are you f****** smiling? Our world has just decades before it descends into chaos are you actually smiling?”

The divine answers. “There is only I.
There is only the delight of I discovering I, I revelling in I.”

God says ‘He sees you are God, the infinite in an autodriver asking for a slap, or the Indian middle class woman's entitlement'. He says 'he sees how inevitably all end up in the divine. How the autodriver’s rage and frustration, or humiliation, or forbearance all ends up finally in the divine. He sees the slap resonate. He sees passersby affected by the slap. He sees a philosophy of slap. He sees the middle class woman, before and after, the minutest details. She tells her friends and though they are proud how they edge away from her.'

The divine continues its inspired revelations:
“You are I taking on a million roles.
You are the whole exploring the whole.
You are wonder exploring the wonder."

The divine asks us to ponder the two statements.
Are they the same?
Are they both true?
Which is truer?

What if the truth were this: You are Joy forgetting you are Joy exploring Life?

God says ‘he sees it from within and without. He says he sees the terror of the drowning man, and the sea rushing, and the wife in a boat’. He says “I know your pain with exquisite detail. I know with a thousand eyes. I know as God and as humiliated man who doesn’t know he is God.”

“Me seeing your utter anguish, and me seeing you go beyond a being who can be drowned. And me being myself joy incarnate… This triad creates unutterable melodies. They create joy beyond belief.” Says God.  

There is a sexual touch, I Tarun remember, where instead of using fingertips, the lover traces the beloved’s body with a knife that is terrifyingly sharp. Touching with intimacy and yet not leaving a single drop of blood? Is it something like that? Yes. God answers. You see pain raises the stakes of Joy.

The divine shows us an ancient technique of painting where artists painted on metal for extraordinarily fine-details. So imagine someone painting on Gold. You paint an angel or demon it would remain Gold. They are both painted with great fineness. Now imagine you paint on a board thinking it were the usual substrate, a cheap cardboard covered by gesso. And imagine you paint on Gold knowing it is Gold covered by gesso. Is it the same? As you awaken to the great drama you start changing. Your technique changes. Then what you paint changes. Will it be something trivial or divine. It will be divine. Unless you deliberately choose the trivial as counterpoint. The stakes are raised.  

Celia draws on her film experience, {She worked with the finest directors}, to add to the argument. Is it like a Kurosawa who has the same camera that you or I have, but by being inspired turns out not just a great movie, but reshapes all the other filmmakers who will come? So I am Celiasawa? “Yes.” God delights in Celia’s answer.  

“Yes”, God answers. “By wrestling with the questions the answers and questions go beyond the ordinary. As I God wrestle with myself forgetting I am God I sometimes surpass God”.

This is what is meant by The Creator’s Child proclamation we extend God. We are God reaching for God through our foolishness, pettiness and magnificence.

Now it is one thing to smile from outside. But not when you are on the inside. When you are being slapped. So claiming the smile, Shiva’s Smile, God’s Smile is anything but easy. For just because ‘You or I forget we are Shiva does not mean the universe will. And so the slapped man may unleash unwittingly the fury of the God of Death on others.’

One of our group, one of our foremost spiritualists is going through temporary hell. Her marriage has broken. She lost her Job. A bitter battle surrounds her 3 children. The lawyer’s fees are impossible. The threat of being deported looms large. Her parent has cancer. Her brother is divorcing. Her ex inlaws are blackening her reputation. And yet through it all, surrounded by a chakravyuh of pain her faith has become stronger. It is darkest before dawn, say some. But bloody hell this is not the dark of night it is an avalanche. It is Dante’s hell. It is Chinese torture death by a thousand cuts. But she stands tall. And so she survives. And so she triumphs. Unshakeable has she become who has been slapped around. Anchored is she who drowns. Rock she is. Smile she finds in the darkest dark.

“But know this”. God says “You are only part time Tarun, Celia, Ravi. You do not see that every nano-second you stop being, Tarun, Celia, Ravi, you are the divine. When you become Tarun, Celia, Ravi, you forget this. But if as Tarun, Celia, Ravi, you remember, act, smile like Lord Shiva or Lord Manitou {Call me what you like} then think of what happens to me Lord Shiva. I am not Lord Shiva only when I am Lord. I am Lord Shiva when I am servant, auto driver, struggling artist, cook.”

The Lord is Smiling. He is Smiling because from Ravi the Man to Ravi The Lord a little sparrow danced. And from Ravi The Man to you and I is a breath of breeze. It says: “If in the midst of Life’s grind you can care. If in the middle of the world’s ugly rush you can stand tall. If in the midst of the unendurable you can smile. Then you have brought the Lord here… Yes Lord Shiva is smiling.”