There is a religious saying that is quite popular in Varanasi: “Shiva ji apne bhakton ke bhakt hain.” This means: Shiva is the devotee of the devotees.
It’s always made me wonder. Every time we think of God, we think of them as this supreme being who has the power of overcome demons and wears royal costumes. In Hindu Dharma, there is one God is who completely different from any other. As you might have guessed it, it’s Shiva. He is not swayed by worldly pleasures and materialistic possessions. He is unconventional. The stereotypical God would never smear ash in his body and wear a snake around his name, and would never break the rules. And Shiva Ji is not a stereotypical God.
The Androgynous form
His androgynous form, Ardhanarishvara, speaks something about him. That form depicts one-half of him as a woman, and this form is accepted amongst all Hindus, way before the words like “equality” and “feminism” was introduced to the world. Every Hindu celebrates that form as part of gender equality, and that form symbolizes that male and female principles are inseparable.
Use of Cannabis
He provides us with the case that one can remain calm and still be in an extreme sense of pleasure all the time, even though most of us are advised to fix our bad habits. He represents pothead and an ascetic at the same time. Yes, everyone associates ganja with Shiva, especially the potheads, that they are taking the prasad of Shiva ji. But we need to be weary of such association. In fact, Shiva used cannabis to meditate and rather reach the level of “high” or “ecstasy”. His opinion is completely different than what it is being conceived these days.
Equality in Practice
During Shiva’s marriage, everyone was invited, and by everyone, it meant EVERYONE. From gods, animals, birds, insects to demons, demented beings, devils and ghosts, everyone came to his ceremony. For him, nobody was “low-born” or “high born”, or in modern terms, “Privileged” or “Underprivileged”.
If you consider the “procedure” to worship other gods, you can see that Shiva does not have any of such things. There is no class barrier or character barrier for the devotees of Shiva. So, it doesn’t matter to Shiva if you are a meat eater or a womanizer, he sees you in the same equal way without any pre-judgements.
That is why he is known as Bholenath, the one who can be appeased very easily. He used to hang out with everyone, without any problem, with people offering him weed and alcohol. If you go to most parts of Nepal and even in some parts of India, liquor is offered to Shiva.
That definitely doesn’t make him a conservative. He is the greatest and the ultimate liberal of all time. And that he is popular among the Hindu devotees shows that it has to do with people’s liberal personality than the religion itself.