Satyam Shivam Sundaram, or Truth Godliness and Beauty is the way Hindus describe Lord Shiva with respect and devotion. The phrase glorifies Shiva and pushes us to embody him as a guide through life.
Simply translated, Satyam means Truth, Shivam means Godliness and Sundaram means beauty, however as Hinduism has proven to be a non duality school of thought, lets try and cultivate a deeper understand of the phrase.
According to Hinduism, the whole world issue is divided into three distinct facets – you will always see 3 in many hinduism scripts. Having a look at the Trimurti ( Hindu Holy Trinity) we understand the following:
- Creation – we already know that creating something is difficult, and if we talk about the creation of the world, it couldnt be any more complicated. In Hinduism, the creator is Brahma, the one from Bhramlok – place in the universe that no one knows where he is – having offered guidance for the creation of the world. Since it is clear that Bhramlok is not in this world, in Hinduism, creation as such can not be described scientifically. There are parameters outside the earth that influence the process and can not be categorized in our reasoning.
- Preserving creation – Paalankarta (Sanskrit) or Vishnu, is the one who is responsible for whats created, is the preserver. His abode is Vishnulok or Vaikunth, and equal to that of Brahma, it is not found in our land.
- The Destruction – Sanghaarkarta (Sanskrit) or Shiva, is responsible for the destruction. His home is the Himalayas. As such, all parameters for the destruction of the Earth are centered and in relation to the earth.
As such, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) are in charge of creation, preservation and destruction respectively. Having understood the subtle distinction of the three tasks, let’s proceed to the first word – Satyam
Satyam, in its primitive meaning means – that which belongs to the Truth; the truth. As we said before, as the nickname of Shiva is in this world, it is possible to describe it scientifically, therefore, everything related to it is true. This is based on the belief that everything that is real and can be scientifically described, is the truth.
When we say that Lord Shiva is Satyam, we mean that Shiv is the absolute truth. His presence is physical. He is inside us and we are inside him. He is the reason for our birth. He is interested in our upbringing and growth and this is the Truth. Remember that Bhrama and Vishnu can only do things with the support and blessing of Shiv. He is the God who lives in this world and nurtures it. His interest in our welfare is Supreme and that is the absolute Truth, that is Satyam.
Growing from a baby to an older person, you need the support of the family, which becomes a right, but is also a form of external support. This is where one becomes from Shiv to Shivam, which means that Shiva makes sure that we receive the information and the necessary capacity to become adults. Shivam means giving everything without waiting and asking for nothing in return. That is what the family and society do for the growth of a child. In Hinduism we take the case of Parvati, a princess, or rather, a very rich princess, who married Shiva after renouncing everything. She knew that she could not approach Shiva without giving up everything. Shiv gives away everything and, in doing so, she does not even own a home of his own. Shiv is Shivam, the one who gives everything. Since we are part Shiv and He is partly us, we have to make sure that we are Shivam to a certain extent to harmonize our relationship with Him.
Sundaram, as suggested (in Hindi sundar) the word means beautiful. A mature person – grown spiritually interacts with the world. His interaction, due to Shiv, gives him the real feeling of how beautiful the world is. Remember that Shiv ensures that the world is a suitable place to live. We being part Shiv, have to demonstrate our own commitment that from this beautiful world we will not take anything that makes the world lose its beauty, exhaust it, or in such a way that, like everything else, moves towards its destruction. Sundaram requires some kind of commitment from our side. We have been given a beautiful world. Let’s make it more beautiful. And this is the ultimate goal of all religions. We must become Sundaram, like Shiv.
A comparison to Normative Sciences
Normative sciences seek to discover ‘good’ ways of doing things, or the ‘right’ way of thinking. Through our human history, we have concluded to there being three major normative sciences i.e. Logic, Ethics and Aesthetics (Tarak Shastra, Niti Shastra & Sunderata Shastra). By deduction, Logic will require Truth, Ethics will require Welfare and Aesthetics will require beauty. Ideal normatives which are possed by God.
After this, what follows is important, and it is important because it helps to fulfill the cycle with destruction or death, which is inevitable and the absolute truth, that is to say – Satyam. And so, our cycle in this life should be – Satyam Shivan Sundaram.