The two volumes, 7 Secrets of Shiva and 7 Secrets of Vishnu, reveal the symbolism and significance behind the many stories about the two major figures of the Hindu Trinity – Shiva and Vishnu.
7 Secrets of Shiva, as the name suggests, goes into seven aspects of Shiva, seven of the many forms in which he is worshipped. The author discusses five direct forms of Shiva – Lingeshwara, Kalabhairava, Nataraja, Shankara, and Sundareshwara. Lingeshwara is the symbolic representation of Shiva, the predominant form in most Shiva temples. Kalabhairava is a form that integrates the wild aspect of Shiva.
Nataraja is the dancing form of Shiva, performing the cosmic dance of creation and destruction. Shankara is the ascetic representation, while Sundareshwara represents the family man, it is the form he took when he married Parvati in her manifestation as Meenakshi. Besides these, the author also treats Shiva’s two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya as other forms of Shiva. The symbolism and significance of each form is explained.
In 7 Secrets of Vishnu, the author talks about how the divine pair of Vishnu and Lakshmi represent reality in its two forms – spiritual and material realities. One cannot exist without the other, likewise, Vishnu and Lakshmi cannot be separated from each other. The author then goes into the ten avatars or manifestations of Vishnu and unravels their significance and explains the inner meanings of the stories.
For those who are not familiar with the stories and symbolism involved in Hindu culture, this book provides a good introduction. It also explains a few things like why Mohini gave the Amruta only to the Devas, even though the Asuras had also helped in the churning of the ocean. It was about restoring a balance, as the Asuras already had the advantage – their Guru Shukracharya had the Sanjivini Mantra and could revive the Asuras who had died in battle. The author also explains the symbolism behind the Rasleela of Krishna and the significance of other stories.
This set of two books is a good introduction to understand the stories and rituals and allegory of Hindu religion and culture.