I observed the Shivlingam in front of me and giggled like a schoolgirl even though I was in my 30s. It was not the first time I had seen one and nor was it the first time I had encountered representation of male genitalia.

As the priest performed the prayers which he had undoubtedly performed a gazillion times, I held in and suppressed what must have been the most uncontrollable tickle at seeing what I can only describe as an eternally erect phallic symbol. It was like I had finally witnessed and discovered the symbolic representation of the virility and power of the masculine principle for the very first time.

As a warm-blooded woman, I giggled. I had a face mask on, so the priest could not see the huge grin that had erupted on my face. But I was grinning, like a teenage girl who was discovering the opposite sex for the very first time.

Months have passed and I still have no idea what in the world I was grinning and giggling about.

The slit at the back of her skirt was very high. A group of men turn to look–their necks endowed with the rotational power of a clock. Their eyes linger on her and she notices, with a secret grin on her lips, no less. I surmise that she must enjoy the attention, or at least covet it in someway.

While a majority of the men in the circle I’m sitting with cannot seem to contain themselves, my curiosity is aroused by two men who have remained unmoved and immovable. They seem bored, uninterested and have an expression on their face which showed that they have absolutely no idea what the big deal was.

Male genitalia, in particular, shows a dramatic transformation between states of arousal and non-arousal. Regardless of gender, our eyes take in visual stimulation from the environment. We respond to this stimuli, choosing to be affected or unaffected by it.

In certain renderings of Shiva, he is depicted with his eyes shut–indicating the mind’s refusal to submit to external stimuli.

We say that seeing is believing, but the eyes are a tool of deception. We can wear certain colours to allow us to look slimmer than we actually are. Fake lashes, lipstick, or even other more permanent forms of enhancement. We use all of these tools to deceive ourselves and others into thinking and believing the illusionary tactics that we all employ to create optical illusions that do not exist.

In a world where chasing girls and accumulating money are status symbols of male virility, why does Shiva–the highest of the high–the ultimate masculine force that pervades the universe; choose instead, to blatantly refuse to submit to an external stimulus?

Is it a rejection of the feminine principle? Clearly not. The Shivlingam is always depicted in union with the yoni–the feminine force that pervades the universe. It is a symbol of the union–and balance–of polar energies that oppose, coexist and harmonise each other. While I am speaking of it in the context of Hinduism, this concept exists across a multitude of cultures.

Humans are arguably the only of Mother Nature’s children for whom reproduction is–and if it isn’t, it most definitely can be–a conscious choice. If men all banded together and decided not to procreate ever again, the human race would quite simply vanish. All it takes is for men not to act on that initial desire. To not be awakened. To not turn around. To not look.

If that desire for women died in men, where would we be? We would cease to exist. Our entire species would be annihilated. Which is Shiva awakens. Which is why he awakens to Parvati and only her. Shiva chooses monogamy. I’ve always thought it a curious choice for a man who is the ‘Father of the Universe’.

Feminism, equality, egalitarianism–they all have their place. But men and women are born biologically different. We women cannot choose not to menstruate, unless we are on contraceptions that inhibit or stop us from doing so. Our bodies are tied to the larger rhythms of Mother Nature and the waxing and waning of the moon.

Men can choose not to have children. They can choose not to have desire.

So what is desire, exactly?

The ego, the I, the tangible reality which the ‘I’ creates to eradicate fear–these are all by-products of the human imagination.

If I have this, if we have this, if we reach this goal; then…

Even these hypothetical thoughts are a product of future realities that do not exist–even if they are rooted in present-day understandings of how the world works. Why else do we worry about recessions in times of abundance; and how do we dream of great riches in times of scarcity?

If the human imagination did not exist, we would be unable to even think of such things. We don’t even need the external world to awaken our senses; we can awaken from within.

There is no need to blame anyone for being ‘scantily’ dressed. We need not become distracted whenever a beautiful woman walks by. We can, and do, create images in our mind that stir our senses. We fantasise and daydream about a life that does not exist. There is absolutely nothing that stops us from creating what does not physically exist within our mind’s eye. And more often than not, what exists in our imagination is far more wondrous and satisfying than what exists in reality.

Even if that lovely lady with the skirt with the high slit wasn’t there, there would be something… Something or someone to inspire deep-seated feelings of lust in us. If it isn’t a woman, it could be a car, a beautiful home, a nice handbag, or even an office. We usually speak of lust in sexual terms, but the entire concept of lust is to have a strong urge or desire that may or may not be for our highest good. It is about having desires that may cost both us as well as those around us.

We say that love is superior to lust; but that too–is another form of attachment and entrapment. Some people love their kids so much that they refuse to allow them to grow up and become adults, coddling them and robbing them of their natural ability to claim their independence and sovereignty.

Spoon-feeding your child is not love; it is, at best, infatuation with one of your very own creations. These mothers and fathers who claim to love their children so unconditionally–do they possess this same love for other people’s children?

I highly doubt it.

This ‘thing’ that a mother or father calls unconditional love, I call obsession with one’s offspring. Go on then–give that same unconditional love to someone else’s child. Give them a home and raise them as your own. Then, we’ll talk.

If you can’t, then understand that your children are nothing but another stepping stone of your ego’s view of him or herself.

And there is no doubt in my mind, that there will then be a day when they disappoint you and let you down. It is the nature of the world for children to outgrow their parents, or at the very least, outlive them.

What happens, then?

Speaking of which–are your children a product of love or lust? Or are they a product of something far greater than the sum of its parts? And where did the desire for this child come from?

That is a question for Shiva to answer.

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