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Shiva as SmaraHara -Eraser of Memory and Desire


Smara stands for many meanings in Sanskrit. The prominent meanings are love,remembrance ,longing and memory. Smarana is the act of remembering something.The god of love kamadeva is also referred to as Smara . One of the most pious names of Lord Shiva is Smarahara. This name has a special significance and holds the key to how one can go beyond memory. Why does one need to go beyond memory or erase memories. What is the relation between memory and karma. The aim of this post is to examine those areas.

Page 1272 of the Monier Williams English to Sanskrit Dictionary contains many more meanings for the word root Smara.Feel free to take a look at it.

The name Smarahara for Lord Shiva occurs in the Shiva Mahima Stotram composed by Panchadanta .It also occurs in the Atma Arpana Stuti of the great mystic poet philosopher Appayya Dikshitar who lived in the 16th century.

Atma Arpana Stuti is a collection of 50 verses steeped in the deepest devotion to Lord Shiva. Goddess Kali is praised as the consort of Smarahara ( Shiva) in the Karpuradi Stotra. Kalidasa’s Amarakosha also uses the word Smarahara for Shiva.


Verse from Atma Arpana Stuti

In the above shloka Appayya is describing the ease with which Lord Shiva bestows boons.In the third stanza he is praising Lord Shiva as Smarahara who is pleased with simply the offering of the leaves of the Arka and Drona plants .Just with the offering of two leaves the Lord bestows the entire universe.


Verse 24 of the Shiva Mahima Stotram addresses Lord Shiva as Smarahara again.


Shiva Mahima Stotra Verse


The beauty of Sanskrit is that a single name can have multiple meanings and all of them present a unique view of the meaning. In reality when we try to understand consciousness we would have to talk in terms of experiences. All experiences create one or the other form of memory. It is this memory which propels us to act in a certain way. The most fundamental block of memory in biology is genetic memory or the memory of a DNA cell. The way you are right now is because of millions of years of evolution has shaped the memory of your cells in a particular way.DNA memory takes many forms and the field dealing with the non genetic code changes that get passed on from generation to generation is called Epigenetics.


Refer to this article from Natural History Magazine on what Epigenetics is all about.


Most people have the false notion that only millions of years of evolution has an effect on the genes.The truth is the environment and experiences can heavily influence the genes and it is very much possible to pass this on to the next generation.


Good book on Epigenetics

So in other words Experience creates Memory which in turn creates an craving for that experience. The experience again reinforces the Memory.This in a nutshell is the Karmic memory of a person which will force the person to act on those cravings unconsciously driven by the neural patterns of his brain .

This memory is termed as Vasana in Sanskrit or the Karmic residual pattern which resides in memory and recreates the craving for that particular experience.


Lord of the March of Time-Shiva as Kalabhairava

(Images courtesy of External sources.All Credits rest with them for Images)


To be Continued…..In part 2 let us look at how karmic memory actually works.






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