Read it on Mantra’s Site, Here.
Vishnu: Secret Badass Warrior, Mantra: Yoga + Health Magazine, Jan. 2015
I always thought the God, Shiva, was the cool one: Hanging out in Burning Man grunge, playa dust all over his bod, a snake bejeweling his neck, and unshaken by the Goddess, Shakti’s, seductress dance.
That said, I’m trying to get away from him. Away from cool. Away from the ascetic stance of destruction, weirdness, and bad attitude.
And I’m also trying to love the householder god, Vishnu—the everyday God-man, The Sustainer—married to the sexy queen of fertility, Dame Lakshmi, and living on a cloud in space’s far-off ‘burbs.
But I’ve a primal appetite for “Om Namah Shivaya” and the taste of sulfur in Shiva’s stormbringer recklessness. Shiva is always unflinchingly different.
Vishnu has always seemed normal and—I thought—useless. Dude’s too easy. Too much tie-and-suit. Orthodox. Status quo. Talking about ping-pong and the health of his lawn (yawn).
But just this morning, while practicing yoga in Shiva-like habitualness, it hit me that Vishnu is the brave one: the warrior and one supercool dude.
Remembering that Indian philosophy tells us social structures are god-given, I realized that the daily grind of work and obligations and civic duty can be a warrior’s path.
Sustaining the universe (or just the household!) ain’t for fools.
It’s a holy path and a noble one, like that of the Greek deity, Atlas, who carries Earth. It’s as constant as the unending Purusha—the rank emptiness of Samkhya philosophy—and as constant as Vishnu himself. The Sisyphean task of holding up the world-boulder is an eternal effort of goodness that insists on boldness and being true.
In ferocity, Vishnu is Shiva’s match.
In the tradition, it’s said that Shiva is in love with Vishnu.
Now I see it.
Vishnu kicks ass ’cause he dares to be a part of things, to risk community, to throw his top-heavy hat into the ring.
We could even say he’s Shiva’s guru because Shiva, king of yogis, needs Vishnu’s sustenance—his alms, his work for wages—so that Shiva can run away to mountain caves and act like a life-rejecting adolescent.
Work sustains freedom.
Vishnu is the good dad.
Vishnu is The Man.
So, one more step toward the householder’s life for me.
One more affirmation of the unending round of daily work, daily love, and every-morning I-making.
One more vote for the finite world.
Move your padmasana ass over, Shiva. Relax your infinitude. Vishnu’s getting his rice bowl offering. His big, blue arms now have a worthy place next to Lakshmi’s great curves and Shiva’s lotus feet on my altar.
I’ve stepped Vishnu up in the holy hierarchy.
Rising from incense smoke, he’s now central on my shrine: standing there in the middle space of this imperfect world, working daily where all can see.