Tag Archives: shiva

Cycles of Destruction and Renewal

As 2020 inexorably moved to a close, the world watched as the global COVID-19 pandemic affected every aspect of our lives and livelihoods. Personally, my mindset moved between fatalism and cabin fever driven anxiety that this virus would dictate our lives for a much longer period than would be satisfied by short-term adjustments.

Indian mythology talks of cycles of destruction and renewal of the universe; one cycle of creation is but a blink of the eye of a creator. Indian philosophy also speaks of negating the very concept of time – it is just a mind-made construct. So, it might be wise to push all these thoughts aside, and just live in the present, after all the current situation just brings the point home that this is all we have to play with.

A new government took the helm in the USA on January 2021, and the events surrounding this hard-fought contentious election eclipsed preoccupations with a global crisis at times. It is definitely a source of comfort for some of us that this government will not be headed by an ‘outsider’ but a dyed-in-the-wool politician whose actions will hopefully be geared towards what we normally think of as good governance. This brings hope, as we can now focus on forward momentum to solve national issues, and potentially even contribute to global solutions. 

We can look forward to a creatively modified life as we align our priorities towards intelligent survival. If history is a stern teacher, we have learned that it took about 2 years for the 1918 flu pandemic to quieten down, so if one needs a projection this is as good as any.

Namaste as a greeting instead of handshakes and hugs, limiting larger social interactions – which includes physical congregation in the workplace – and curbing unnecessary shopping should easy for those who are familiar with the Indian ethos. A successful vaccine will definitely contribute to our arsenal, but it will only work in concert with a compliant global population.

Changing lifestyles and work mandates will inevitably result in the waning of some industries. The immediate fallout is in our neighborhood restaurants and businesses, but the drastic downswing of local and global travel over the past 9 months has already benefitted our 21st-century environment. An upsurge in the exploration and development of clean energy sources as an alternative to fossil fuels is underway, and while each source comes with its specific benefits and challenges it could emerge as a strong global contender if it is appropriately prioritized and funded. This positive shift in lifestyle could emerge as the proverbial silver lining to what is otherwise being experienced as a global life-threatening event, and we could transform the unavoidable destruction of aspects of life as we know it into the creation of a potentially better environment for all of life.

Ducks on Schuylkill River

As species shift their ecologies and relate more to a lifestyle that is unencumbered by human occupation and pollution, a positive outcome appears to be an emerging clean environmental slate. While wind and solar energy seem to be the most developed alternative energy options at present, exploration of other sources including geothermal and hydrokinetic to harness power from the earth and oceans would add to renewable energy options.

Resources need to be constantly provided to make these initiatives a success. While working in a ‘tier-1’ city in India in 2014, I purchased a car that was fueled by CNG (compressed natural gas) as a cleaner fuel option. My good intentions were limited by the availability of the fuel. I learned that waiting in line at selected gas stations at 6.30 am could result in a full tank of CNG in my car. However, too many failed attempts after seemingly endless waits led to the increasing need of choosing a car that ran on petrol. My upfront investment in paying a premium for a CNG car was burnt at the gas station so to speak.

The development of technologies for renewable fuels has seen steady progress over the past two decades, and current estimates for renewable technologies producing electricity vary between 10-20%. The unexpected impetus for a better environment provided by COVID-19 could be a boon, but other studies suggest that a rebound in carbon dioxide emissions could easily be conceivable when the pandemic is controlled. Lasting change in preventing increasing global temperatures and a continued positive environmental change post-pandemic will continue to require effort from us at an individual and global level.

Being woken up to the squawking of ducks on the Schuylkill River – where parent birds breed, babies grow up, and fly away to start a new cycle of life – is gratifying. The hope is that this will continue for years to come.


L. Iyengar has lived and worked in India and the USA. A scientist by training, she enjoys experiencing diverse cultures and ideas. She is the author of White Blackmail, a work of fiction, and can be found on Twitter at @l_iyengar.

Shiva Shakti – May the Force Be With You!

Mythology stems from the societal characteristics, the shared aspirations, the folklores, of a time lost in antiquity.

While the stories are from an era long gone, the emotions, the fears, the desires, remain the same;

who is an ideal man, who is the epitome of womanhood, what does the society demand?

The wheels turn, and along with them, the sagas take on new shades, exotic hues!

Each story, a real-life scenario, with its heroes and it’s demons;

each character, the face of a vice or the embodiment of a virtue!

How then, can the myth of Shiva & Shakti be different?

The story of a virtuous god, with the power to destroy, and his divine muse;

of masculinity and the contrasting femininity;

of strength and softness;

of steadfastness and pliability;

of ruthless fervour and empathetic care;

a myth of a fusion, an amalgamation of what when seen as separate, is incomplete, but together, makes a whole!

There are hordes that go searching, on pilgrimages, on quests, wondering whether this whole, this completeness, this divinity, eludes.

The journey seems long, sometimes futile, yet the hungry mind doesn’t give up.

There would be ways to appease the gods, ways to find them and ways to hold on to them…

Where can I find Shiva?

What form has Shakti adorned?

A short pause, to catch a breath, or maybe to reevaluate, change the strategy, try a new mantra…

a new dilemma- to give up or to go just a bit further, agitated and tired.

When all seems pointless, somewhere, deep from within, an arrow breaks through, a bolt of lightning, bursting from the core…

both reside within, in the depths of each and every soul, one can’t exist without the other.

Where once they were seen as two separates, coming together to complete each other, now they are seen as two sides of the same coin, yin and yang, not shackled by the stereotypes. Not humanised to appease the masses. Now, a personification of human traits…

masculinity and femininity;

strength and softness;

steadfastness and pliability;

ruthless fervour and empathetic care;

pragmatism and romanticism!

They dance their dance, deep within each;

There is a Shiva in me!

And Shakti too!

I am complete!

Artika Arora Bakshi is the author of two well-acclaimed children’s books, My Little Sikh Handbook, My Little Sikh Handbook 2: Ardas. She co-manages the thegoodbookcorner.com, and runs an online book club with a membership base of over 600 members. Artika’s articles and reviews have featured in the Daily Mirror, Daily News and The Ceylon Chronicle among others. She is currently working on her third children’s book in the My Little Sikh Handbook series and a second anthology of stories for adults.