Hindu Gods on Capitol Hill
Last year during the end of the U.S. presidential campaign, I could not help but compare the electoral candidates with the pantheon of Hindu gods & goddesses. There are over 300 million deities all relating to attributes inherent in human nature and cultural values. Of all theses attributes, there are three Mahadevas (great deities) that represent the three main principles of life—Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustainer, and Shiva, the destroyer, also known as the transformer.
We can see the symbolism of these three Mahadevas manifesting in groups, organizations, families and governments. Brahma, the creator can be seen when a person who is a visionary creates a system, product or organization around his or her idea. Then those with administrative inclinations and skills would be needed to help maintain and sustain a structure for this vision. This would relate to the god Vishnu.
And then there are those who strive for change and creation of something new. There is a belief that to bring forth an evolutionary spiral of transformation and co-creation, old and outdated systems must crumble for the new to be born. This can threaten existing structures and those who wish to maintain the status quo. Change brings up fear of the unknown, especially when it is rapid change.
During the 2016 campaign, I compared Hilary Clinton to the quality of the god Vishnu, who represents the householder, the family, and economic stability. Hilary promised to maintain what had been created by the previous administration as a springboard for the future. Those who voted for Hilary obviously wanted someone with many years of political experience in governmental and diplomatic relations who would give a stable foundation of something known and secure.
Donald Trump seemed to attract voters who wanted change. They may have been out of work, in desperate need of health insurance, diehard Republicans or independent spirits who wanted any kind of change. The slogan “Make America Great Again” captured hearts and imaginations.
In many instances, people were voting against the status quo in voting for a government outsider who campaigned on bringing a businessman’s approach to government. Trump promised to “drain the swamp.” Some voters now feel that perhaps bigger, wealthier, and more powerful, well-dressed, alligators were added to the swamp.
I could not help but loosely correlate Donald Trump with Shiva. Instead of launching off preset foundational structures, he wanted to tear down old structures in order to create something new.
Shiva inhabits the highest Himalayan abode known as Kailasa. Mr. Trump inhabits the penthouse in Trump Tower overlooking corridors and waterways of New York. Shiva transforms lives with the fierce swiftness of his mythical sword, while Trump changes many lives with a dramatic slash of his presidential pen across executive orders. Shiva destroys without always replacing. We can see this in the uphill attempt at changing the Health Care Act—repealing without replacing.
The celestials of heaven seek out the help of Lord Shiva when the demons (representative of the individual and collective ego) are threatening to take over the universe. What a parallel! The GOP and their supporters sought out a candidate that could unify their party and win the vote, regardless of their own hesitancy and disinclination.
There are politics even in the garden of the gods. When Shiva’s beloved wife, Sati did not receive an invitation to her father’s house for a yajna, (fire ceremony) she went anyway thinking this was an oversight. When she arrived, her family ignored her presence and she discovered that she and Shiva were not invited due to a slight breech of protocol that Shiva had committed at a previous gathering of the gods, sages and rishis. Sati was so humiliated in front of the auspicious gathering that she brought forth her yogic powers of self-immolation.
When Shiva heard the news of his wife’s death, he tore a lock of hair from his head and threw it on the ground. Out of the lock of Shiva’s hair, arose a fearless and invincible warrior named Virabhadra who led Shiva’s armies to destroy the fire sacrifice and avenge his wife’s death. This warrior represented the most extreme part of Shiva himself. When slighted or wronged, Shiva would unleash his powers of chaos in the need for justice, or as some might call it—revenge.
When a part of Shiva took the form of a ferocious warrior it was a reflection of a hidden part of his own being. In this warrior form, Shiva wielded weapons in his thousand arms and destroyed the fire sacrifice, the host and guests. He created so much havoc and destruction that the celestials finally had to intervene. They begged him to restore order and the lives of those in the path of his destructive rampage.
This can be compared to Trump’s emotional reaction to the situation in Syria driving him to take military action, like Shiva giving birth to the military aspect of himself. Virabhadra was born out of Shiva’s grief of loss that morphed into rage and a resultant aggressive action.
Donald Trump, throughout his campaign, like Shiva, became unstoppable, mowing down anything or anyone standing in his path.
In playfully comparing Shiva to Donald Trump, I began to see the Ley Lines connecting ancient myths to present day politics. Life with Shiva is unpredictable. It is spontaneous. One never knows what form his rapid changes will take, resulting for some in fear and uncertainty of the future.
Those who voted for Trump, tossed their discrimination aside and believed the campaign promises in their passion for a better life, and a country of their dreams. Unfortunately, in our quest to follow the visionary words of a leader, the dream can become a nightmare of instability and confusion. Is this a classic case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire? Perhaps this kind of change is not exactly what some supporters had in mind.
Swami Vivekananda was the first yogi and swami to come from India to the United States in l893 to attend the World Parliament of Religions. He made a great impression through his imposing presence, vast wisdom and brilliant mind.
In one of his many talks to the American public, Swamiji was asked about the convergence of politics and spirituality. He replied, “The world is like the kink of a dog’s tail. As long as you are holding it you think it is straight. The moment you let go—it just kinks up again.”
In light of rapidly changing events in our country’s political landscape perhaps the question is: Are we holding on? Or are we letting go?