Based on "Dancing with Siva"
and The Master Course of Himalayan Academy
by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

1. Q: Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?

Ans: Indian Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with God. We are, in truth, the Truth we seek.

2.Q: Where Am I Going? What Is My Path?

Ans: We are all growing toward God, and experience is the path. Through experience we mature out of fear into fearlessness, out of anger into love, out of conflict into peace, out of darkness into light and union in God.

3.Q: What Is Meant by "Dancing with Siva"?

Ans: All motion begins in God and ends in God. The whole universe is engaged in a whirling flow of change and activity. This is Siva's dance. We are all dancing with Siva, and He with us.

4.Q: How Can We Learn to Dance with Siva?

Ans: Dance is movement, and the most exquisite dance is the most disciplined dance. Hindu spiritual disciplines lead to oneness with God through self-reflection, surrender, personal transformation and the many yogas.

5.Q: What Is the Ultimate Goal of Earthly Life?

Ans: The ultimate goal of life on earth is to realize the Self, the rare attainment of nirvikalpa samadhi. Each soul discovers its Sivaness, Absolute Reality, Parasiva--the timeless, formless, spaceless Self God.

6.Q: What Are Hinduism's Principal Sects?

Ans: The Sanatana Dharma, or "eternal faith," known today as Hinduism, is a family of religions that accept the authority of the Vedas. Its four principal denominations are Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.

7.Q: What Is the Deeply Mystical Saiva Sect?

Ans: Saivism is the world's oldest religion. Worshiping God Siva, the compassionate One, it stresses potent disciplines, high philosophy, the guru's centrality and bhakti-raja- siddha yoga leading to oneness with Siva within.

8.Q: What Is the Magic and Power of Shaktism?

Ans: Shaktism reveres the Supreme as the Divine Mother, Shakti or Devi, in Her many forms, both gentle and fierce. Shaktas use mantra, tantra, yantra, yoga and puja to invoke cosmic forces and awaken the kundalini power.

9.Q: What Is the Devotional Vaishnava Sect?

Ans: Vaishnavism is an ancient Hindu sect centering on the worship of Lord Vishnu and His incarnations, especially Krishna and Rama. Largely dualistic, profoundly devotional, it is rich in saints, temples and scriptures.

10.Q: What Is the Universalistic Smarta Sect?

Ans: Smartism is an ancient brahminical tradition reformed by Shankara in the ninth century. Worshiping six forms of God, this liberal Hindu path is monistic, nonsectarian, meditative and philosophical.

11. Q: How Do Saivites Regard Other Faiths?

Ans: Religious beliefs are manifold and different. Saivites, understanding the strength of this diversity, wholeheartedly respect and encourage all who believe in God. They honor the fact that Truth is one, paths are many.

12. Q: How Does Saivism Stay Contemporary?

Ans: Inner truths never change, but outer forms of practice and observance do evolve. Saivism seeks to preserve its mystical teachings while adapting to the cultural, social and technological changes of each recurrent age.

13.Q: What Is the Nature of Life for Saivites?

Ans: To the Saivite Hindu, all of life is sacred. All of life is religion. Thus, Saivite art is sacred art, Saivite music is devotional music, and the Saivite's business is not only his livelihood, it is his service to man and God.

14.Q: What Is the Symbolism of Siva's Dance?

Ans: The symbolism of Siva Nataraja is religion, art and science merged as one. In God's endless dance of creation, preservation, destruction and paired graces is hidden a deep understanding of our universe.

15.Q: What Is the Nature of Our God Siva?

Ans: God Siva is all and in all, one without a second, the Supreme Being and only Absolute Reality. He is Pati, our Lord, immanent and transcendent. To create, preserve, destroy, conceal and reveal are His five powers.

16.Q: What Is God Siva's Unmanifest Reality?

Ans: Parasiva is God Siva's Unmanifest Reality or Absolute Being, distinguished from His other two perfections, which are manifest and of the nature of form. Parasiva is the fullness of everything, the absence of nothing.

17.Q: What Is God Siva's Pure Consciousness?

Ans: Parashakti is pure consciousness, the substratum or primal substance flowing through all form. It is Siva's inscrutable presence, the ultimate ground and being of all that exists, without which nothing could endure.

18.Q: What Is the Nature of the Primal Soul?

Ans: Parameshvara is the uncreated, ever-existent Primal Soul, Siva-Shakti, creator and supreme ruler of Mahadevas and beings of all three worlds. Abiding in His creation, our personal Lord rules from within, not from above.

19.Q: What Are God Siva's Traditional Forms?

Ans: Our adoration of the one great God Siva is directed toward diverse images and icons. Primary among them are Sivalinga, Nataraja, Ardhanarishvara, Dakshinamurti, Hari-Hara, Bhairava and the trishula.

20. Q: Do Other Gods Exist Apart from Siva?

Ans: Supreme God Siva has created all the Gods and given them distinct existence and powers, and yet He pervades them wholly. They are separate but inseparable. At the deepest level, nothing exists apart from Him.

21. Q: What Is the Nature of Lord Ganesha?

Ans: Lord Ganesha is the elephant-faced Patron of Art and Science, the Lord of Obstacles and Guardian of Dharma. His will prevails as the force of righteousness, the embodiment of Siva's karmic law in all three worlds.

22. Q: What Is Lord Ganesha's Special Duty?

Ans: As Lord of Obstacles, Ganesha wields the noose and the goad, icons of His benevolent power of preventing or permitting events to happen in our life. Thus, we invoke His grace and wisdom before any worship or task.

23.Q: What Is the Nature of Lord Karttikeya?

Ans: Lord Karttikeya, Murugan, first guru and Pleiadean master of kundalini yoga, was born of God Siva's mind. His dynamic power awakens spiritual cognition to propel souls onward in their evolution to Siva's feet.

24.Q: What Does Lord Karttikeya's Vel Signify?

Ans: The lancelike vel wielded by Lord Karttikeya, or Skanda, embodies discrimination and spiritual insight. Its blade is wide, long and keen, just as our knowledge must be broad, deep and penetrating.

25.Q: What Is Our Individual Soul Nature?

Ans: Our individual soul is the immortal and spiritual body of light that animates life and reincarnates again and again until all necessary karmas are created and resolved and its essential unity with God is fully realized.

26.Q: How Is Our Soul Different from Siva?

Ans: Our soul body was created in the image and likeness of the Primal Soul, God Siva, but it differs from the Primal Soul in that it is immature. While Siva is unevolutionary perfection, we are in the process of evolving.

27.Q: How Is Our Soul Identical with Siva?

Ans: The essence of our soul, which was never created, is immanent love and transcendent reality and is identical and eternally one with God Siva. At the core of our being, we already are That--perfect at this very moment.

28.Q: Why Are We Not Omniscient Like Siva?

Ans: The three bonds of anava, karma and maya veil our sight. This is Siva's purposeful limiting of awareness which allows us to evolve. In the superconscious depths of our soul, we share God Siva's all-knowingness.

29.Q: How Do Hindus Understand Moksha?

Ans: The destiny of all souls is moksha, liberation from rebirth on the physical plane. Our soul then continues evolving in the Antarloka and Sivaloka, and finally merges with Siva like water returning to the sea.

30.Q: How Do Hindus Understand Karma?

Ans: Karma literally means "deed or act" and more broadly names the universal principle of cause and effect, action and reaction which governs all life. Karma is a natural law of the mind, just as gravity is a law of matter.

31.Q: Is There Good Karma and Bad Karma?

Ans: In the highest sense, there is no good or bad karma. All experience offers opportunities for spiritual growth. Selfless acts yield positive, uplifting conditions. Selfish acts yield conditions of negativity and confusion.

32.Q: What Is the Process of Reincarnation?

Ans: Reincarnation, punarjanma, is the natural process of birth, death and rebirth. At death we drop off the physical body and continue evolving in the inner worlds in our subtle bodies, until we again enter into birth.

33.Q: How Should We View Death and Dying?

Ans: Our soul never dies; only the physical body dies. We neither fear death nor look forward to it, but revere it as a most exalted experience. Life, death and the afterlife are all part of our path to perfect oneness with God.

34.Q: How Does One Best Prepare for Death?

Ans: Blessed with the knowledge of impending transition, we settle affairs and take refuge in japa, worship, scripture and yoga--seeking the highest realizations as we consciously, joyously release the world.

35.Q: What Are the Four Stages on the Path?

Ans: The path of enlightenment is divided naturally into four stages: charya, virtue and selfless service; kriya, worshipful sadhanas; yoga, meditation under a guru's guidance; and jnana, the wisdom state of the realized soul.

36.Q: What Is the Nature of the Charya Pada?

Ans: Charya is the performance of altruistic religious service and living according to traditional ethical conduct and culture, by which the outer nature is purified. It is the stage of overcoming basic instinctive patterns.

37.Q: What Is the Nature of the Kriya Pada?

Ans: Kriya is joyous and regular worship, both internal and external, in the home and temple. It includes puja, japa, penance, fasting and scriptural learning, by which our understanding and love of God and Gods deepen.

38.Q: What Is the Nature of the Yoga Pada?

AQns: Yoga is internalized worship which leads to union with God. It is the regular practice of meditation, detachment and austerities under the guidance of a satguru through whose grace we attain the realization of Parasiva.

39.Q: What Is the Nature of the Jnana Pada?

Ans: Jnana is divine wisdom emanating from an enlightened being, a soul in its maturity, immersed in Sivaness, the blessed realization of God, while living out earthly karma. Jnana is the fruition of yoga tapas.

40.Q: Where Did This Universe Come from?

Ans: Supreme God Siva created the world and all things in it. He creates and sustains from moment to moment every atom of the seen physical and unseen spiritual universe. Everything is within Him. He is within everything.

41.Q: What Is the Nature of the Physical Plane?

Ans: The physical plane, or Bhuloka, is the world of gross or material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses. It is the most limited of worlds, the least permanent and the most subject to change.

42.Q: What Is the Nature of the Subtle Plane?

Ans: The subtle plane, or Antarloka, is the mental-emotional sphere that we function in through thought and feeling and reside in fully during sleep and after death. It is the astral world that exists within the physical plane.

43.Q: What Is the Nature of the Causal Plane?

Ans: The causal plane, or Sivaloka, pulsates at the core of being, deep within the subtle plane. It is the superconscious world where the Gods and highly evolved souls live and can be accessed through yoga and temple worship.

44.Q: Does the Universe Ever End? Is It Real?

Ans: The universe ends at mahapralaya, when time, form and space dissolve in God Siva, only to be created again in the next cosmic cycle. We call it relatively real to distinguish it from the unchanging Reality.