Puranas were reduced in writing. The c...oncept of Ardanarishwara, the half man half women
is written in the past tense so one can suppose it is a pre-Vedic concept.
Legendary personalities which expose these truths told their stories as myths,
idols, images, arts and statutes in temples.
Bringi means bumblebee.
He is depicted as one having three legs. He is a part of Shiva Pariwar meaning
Lord Siva’s Retinue. The Tamil word ‘pariwaram’ implies army or supporters. The
other notable Shiva Pariwars are Nandi, Viravabdra and Chandesvara. They are the
team of devoted players performing the role while the Lord performs His divine
functions. They belong to Shiva's immediate family. Each one of the pariwars has
a role to play in the performing of the assigned duties as per the wishes of the
Lord. So they are also worshipped in Shiva temples.
Bringi was a demon known as Andhaka. His ways were rectified by the Lord and he becomes an ardent
and zealous Shiva devotee with unconditional loyalty only to Him. So Bringi
would not have another when it comes to paying obeisance. Even the Devas and
Gods paid homage to both Shiva and Parvathi. Indeed Mother Parvathy was
venerated very much as a single entity too! Once Bringi wanted to circumambulate
Lord Shiva but Mother Parvathi was in close proximity seated with the Lord. She
was unhappy she was not venerated. So she stopped Bringi, “Siva is incomplete
without me…he is Shava or corpse without my Shakti” she said. But Bringi refused
and Parvathi embraced the Lord making it difficult for Bringi to go around Siva.
But was determined to salute only Siva.
So Bringi transformed himself to be a bee and flew though the neck and around Siva’s head. Mother Parvathi
then fused into the Lord to become Ardhanariswara. That won’t stop Bhringi
either. He took the form of a worm with one thorn on the head to accomplish his
mission. In Tamil one calls him Parangi to imply the unicorn shape he adopted.
You see, he thought he was cunning! Bringi then bore a path between the two
halves of the divine androgynous union and went around Siva’s half or the
masculine part of the unified divinity! That was daringly challenging Mother
Mother Parvathi was so enraged with Bringi’s persistence. So
she caused Bringi to be muscle-wasted and be reduced a skeleton. He became so
weak. He could not even stand steadily before Lord Siva as he was completely
emaciated. All he wanted was to venerate the Lord and he begged for mercy. But
the curse could not be undone. This whole drama comes within Lord Siva’s
merciful eyes. Mother could read what was in the Lord’s mind. Afterall, Bringi
agreed to do prakdakshina around both the Father and Mother. So She gave him a
third leg that enabled him to stand and hobble around the divine couple! Legend
has it that Bringi went on to become a rishi.
Bringi’s story brings out the crystallised doctrine of Ardhanarishwara. It is
common to see Shiva and Shakti as separate. Even Bringi, despite his closeness
to Lord Shiva could not comprehend Shiva Tattva. He was just among one of the
common bhaktas who thought of the masculine form being superior to the feminine
form. Thus he dared to challenge Mother Parvathi.
Many faiths seems to have deprived the rightful place for feminine energy. While they would concede
the life giving powers of women and their contributions in upbringing of
off-springs and household chores, they are still treated as inferior to men.
This conceptualisation crosses over to theological boundaries, where women are
relegated a second class seat as human, let alone as Deities and Gods. However
we shall not pass comments on other faiths.
In our story, Bringi, who disrespected the female aspect of Divinity had to be taught the right knowledge.
He needed the jnana of Shakti’s energy. You see, sometimes the most righteous
persons go astray when the intellect is clouded. They may be persons with a good
heart with utmost loyalty and devotion but a wrong perception of a Tattva is
wrong. One needs legs to stand. It is the base support of a body. Bringi's legs
are symbolic of a spiritual base. The base has to be shaken up and strengthened
before one can stand independently to build a strong spiritual super-structure.
By independence, one is to take it as having a proper understanding of a tattva
and finding your own truths. Divine truths cannot be a far-falling apple anyway,
so one would be in the company of several enlightened persons.
If one has comprehended the Hindu pantheon, then it is obvious that Lord Shiva,
through Mother Parvathi, showed his bhakta the Siva Tattva; a form in which he
is both a man and woman; half Shiva and half Shakti in His Ardhanarishvara form.
It is the perfect Yoga or Union of the male spiritual energy and the female
material energy. One cannot function without the other. After receiving this
jnana Bringi did pradakshina or circumambulation around the Divine Couple as one
form. He then got his name Bringi, the bumblebee.
HINDU TEMPLES: Hindu
temples are beyond gender politics. They bring out the symbolism of male
spiritual reality and female material reality. The Male stands for otherworldly
pursuits and She stands for worldly passions. Worldliness is impossible without
the presence of women. Man is the soul and She is the flesh. He is the Self,
Pure Awareness and the true identity of our being. She is the energy, the matrix
in which the self is enmeshed. He is the subject who experiences life and She is
the object who experienced life. Just as man and woman are complementary, so are
spiritual and material energy. So in Hindu temples one finds Vishnu with Lakshmi
and Vhudevi; Shiva with Parvathi or Krishna with Radha; Rama with Sita, Kumara
with Valli and Deivanai; Bhairavi with Her Rudra or Bhairava, just to mention a
few and many other Gods with their Shakti consorts. Without either, there is
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi