Where does Shiva reside? Does he live on Kailash Himalayas?

Mount Kailash, Tibet

The term “Kailash” would be the most prominent answer. Some also refer to the ancient city of Kashi to be that residence. Scriptures talk about Kailash both in a metaphorical sense (not fictional) and also refer to a significant and breathtaking mountain in Tibet (image show) which is shaped exactly like a Śiva Linga. Even Vedas concur with the notion of Rudra’s dwelling to be the mountains RV5.41.11, TS4.5.5, VS3.61-63 and that Uma is the daughter of those mountains KenUpa, hence the title Pārvatī (Parvata Raja Putri). But the famous Shiva Sankalpa Suktam of Rig Veda Baskala Khila and also present in the Sukla Yajur Veda goes much clear and says:

कैलासशिखरे रम्ये शंकरस्य शुभे गृहे । देवतास्तत्र मोदन्ति तन्मे मनः शिवसंकल्पमस्तु ।। Rig Veda 24
The splendid (रम्ये) summits (शिखर) of mount Kailash (कैलास) is the auspicious residence (शुभे गृहे) of the Lord Shankara (शंकरस्य). All divinities (देवता) are stationed (स्तत्र) delighted in the His presence (मोदन) with hearts absorbed (तन्मे मनः) may that be my auspicious resolve – many my resolve be of Śiva (शिव-संकल्प-मस्तु).

Rig Veda Bhaskāla shakha Khilani 24 (Śivā Sankalpa Sukta)

Shaivism and Advaita thesis associates creation to be superficial in nature, meaning Prakṛti is a marvelous imposition by the eternal Maya of Śakti, yet is not permanent. The permanent aspect is always “Śivā” hence the term “SadaŚivā“, So what does that really tell us about Śivā’s residence?

Even Vedas confirm that He is “the resort/lord to all hymns/songs”, He is “the resort/lord of all yajñá/sacrifice”, and “He is bliss” RV1.43 and that bliss/ānanda is termed Śiva. Vedas describe this Śiva/Rudra as Viṣvarūpam (cosmic form), Pururūpam/Virūpam/Vahurūpa (multiform/multihued) RV2.33.10,TS4.5.4,TA10.23.1 but in total contradiction, Vedas also describe Rudra as Sūkṣma (सूक्ष्म), which means atomic and subtle RV 7.46, TS 4.5.9, BU 3.9.4, SU 4.16. So how can we fit that bliss, that cosmic form, and that atomic Rudra on a single mountain/location? Scriptures also describe Śankara being on Kailash long with various Rśis, dancing with Uma, and many such events, so how is that possible, is that not contradicting?

Yes, it sounds contradicting, but no. Kailash is the destination marking the end of material life, it’s a pleasure/bliss state of reality, this is why Śrī Śankaracharya sings in his Nirvana Shatakam “Citānanda rūpa Śivoham Śivoham” meaning He is the personification of supreme bliss. This state of reality is beyond the senses or physicality. This physicality as mentioned above is nothing but Śakti. But as long as we are in the play of this Śakti, we cannot witness Śivā (bliss/ānanda). But when we reach this state of consciousness, we reach the reality of Kailash where one can witness Śivā and his Śakti seated next to him. Meaning the Veil of Maya is removed and we can now clearly witness the consciousness that is enveloped deep within Manas/Aham/Buddhi. But does this statement above backed by any scripture other than Sectarian literature?

Well, we already saw how the Vedas describe Rudra as being the indweller of all and the heart of all Devas RV 7.46, TS 4.5, SUpa 3.7/3.2, Brūpa. All possibilities and celestial dimensions that come into being is that Rudra TA 10.24.42. When all possibilities arise in Him, how can He be fit on something or dwell in a specific geographic location?

Rudra is the pure, spontaneous self-experience which is the one consciousness that dwells in all substances. It is the seed of all seeds, He is Prana, He is Atman, it is the essence of this world appearance, it is the greatest of actions. It is the cause of all causes and it is the essence in all beings, though in fact it does not cause anything nor is it the concept of being, and therefore cannot be conceived. It is the awareness in all that is sentient, it knows itself as its own object, it is its own supreme object and it is aware of infinite diversity within itself. This infinite consciousness can be compared to the ultimate subatomic particle which yet hides within its heart the greatest of mountains. It encompasses the span of countless epochs, but it does not let go of a moment of time. It is subtler than the tip of a single strand of hair, yet it pervades the entire universe. No one has seen its limits or boundaries.

Yoga Vaśiṣṭham 6.1.36 Swami Venkateshananda

Rśi Kasyapa said, ‘Rudra exists in the hearts of men. He destroys the bodies themselves in which he dwells as also the bodies of others. Rudra has been said to be like atmospheric visitations and his form is like that of the wind-gods.

Mahabharata Itihasam, Shanti Parva, Pratap Chandra Roy

All that is (विश्वं) and all beings (भूतं) and all celestials dimensions (भुवनं) and all the wonders (चित्रं) all possibilities and diversities (बहुधा) all that is born/all happening/ all existence (जातं) all that has come into being (जायमानं) is that (यत् =is that Rudra) | Entirety is controlled (सर्वोह्येष) Rudra’s delight (रुद्रस्सन्महो) to him we surrender/salutations (नमो) so it be, said/concluded (अस्तु)

Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 10.24.42

Yes, Śiva is the indweller of all and all possibilities arise and diminish into him, He is Prāṇa and Ātman BUthen who is this Śankara who is seated on Kailash with Uma? And what is this state of reality (of consciousness) that is beyond physical when the veil of Maya is removed? This must be proved by literature that is not cherry-picked by Vedic hymns dedicated to Rudra, nor by Itihasas or other sectarian literature. Well, here is what Yoga Sutras have to say:

“The attainment of Dhyāna Avasta shows that the mind is getting ready for the last stage and the real practice of Yoga. Unless and until this condition is fulfilled the practice of Samādhi cannot be begun and the real secret of Yoga will remain hidden…. When the state of Dhyāna has been well established and the mind can hold the object of meditation without any distractions it is possible to know the object much more intimately than in ordinary thinking. How does the mind interfere with the realization of the very essence of the object? By interposing consciousness of itself between the reality hidden behind the object and the consciousness of the Yogi. It is this self-consciousness or subjectivity, pure and simple, which serves as a veil to keep it separated from the object and to hide the reality he (sadaka) is seeking…. Patanjali calls this disappearance of the mind’s awareness of itself is Svarūpa Sunyam iva. When self-awareness has disappeared, what is left in the mind? Only the object of meditation can remain this is the meaning of the phrase Arthamatra-Nirbhasam… In this Samādhi state there is complete freedom both from distractions and self-awareness and the object alone remains in the field of consciousness… A person that comes out of true Samādhi brings with him the transcendent knowledge, wisdom, peace, and strength of the inner life.”

Patanjali Yoga Sutra Vibhuti Pada 1-5 by I.K Taimni

So Kailash in our mind is in the state of “ordinary thinking”, and the true Kailash has to be known intimately via Yoga Samādhi. Only those Yogis/Rśis whose Veil covering their consciousness is removed the true Svarūpa Śūnyam is witnessed, this is called Darshana, where one’s own consciousness is its own Witness called Sakṣhi. And these Yogis are the ones who have given us the transcendental knowledge of States beyond the mind’s ordinary thinking. This state is where one can witness that Śiva with his Śakti seated beside him (together they are Śivā). And this state is not external but is the indweller of all and that indweller is Rudra. Itihasas for this very reason is the best literature that summarizes many aspects of Vedas in conjunction with various historical events. The following is from Mahabharata Itihasa Udyoga Parva belonging to the core Jaya section, wherein Garuda explains the significance of various locations/directions to the learned sage Rśi Gālava son of Brahmārśi Viśvāmitra and he beautifully summarizes our discussion so far.

Himalayan Range CCO License Free Image
Śivā imparting Yoga to Saptarśis

Gadura said: ‘O Brahmanas, since this quarter saveth from sin (pápa), and since one attaineth to salvation (Mukti) here, it is for this saving (Uttarana) power that it is called the North (Uttara). And, O Gālava, because the abode of all the treasures of the north stretches in a line towards the cast and the west, therefore is the North sometimes called the central region (madhyama). And, O bull among the twice-born, in this region that is superior to all, none can live that is unamiable, or of unbridled passions, or unrighteous. Hither, in the asylum, known by the name of Vadari, eternally dwells Krishna who is Nārāyaṇa’s self, and Viṣṇu that most exalted of all male beings, and Brahmā (the Creator). Hither, on the breast of Himavat always dwelleth Maheswara endued with the effulgence of the fire that blazeth up at the end of the Yuga. As Purusha, he sporteth here with Prakriti (the universal mother). Except for Nara and Narayana, he is incapable of being seen by the diverse classes of Munis, the gods with Vasava at their head, the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, and the Siddhas. Though invested with Maya, him the eternal Viṣṇu alone, of a thousand heads and thousand legs, can behold. It was in this region that Chandramas (the moon) was installed into the sovereignty of the entire regenerate order. It was in this region, O foremost of all acquainted with Brahmā, that Mahadeva first received her on his head, afterward let (the sacred stream) Ganga fall from the heavens to the world of men. It was here that the Goddess (Uma) underwent her ascetic austerities from her desire of obtaining Maheswara (as her Lord). It was in this region that Kama, the wrath (of Siva), Himavat, and Uma, all together shone brilliantly. It was here, on the breast of Kailasa, O Gālava, that Kuvera (Kubera) was installed on the sovereignty of the Rakshasas, the Yakshas, and the Gandharvas. It is in this region that (Kuvera’ s gardens called) Chaitraratha lie, and it is here that the asylum of (the Munis called the) Vaikhanasas is situated. It is here, O bull among the twice-born, that (the celestial stream called) Mandakini, and the mountain Mandra are to be seen. It is here that the gardens called Saugandhi-kanaka are always guarded by the Rakshasas. Here are many plains covered with grassy verdure, as also the plantain forest and those celestial trees called the Sautanakas. It is in this region, O Gālava, that the Siddhas, with souls ever under control and always sporting at will, have their fit abodes, abounding with every object of enjoyment. It is here that the seven Rishis with Arundhati may be seen. It is here that the constellation Swati is to be seen, and it is here that it first rises to the view. It is in this region that the Grandsire Brahmā dwelleth in the vicinity of Yajna (sacrifice embodied). It is in this quarter that the sun, the moon, and the other luminaries are seen to revolve regularly. It is in this region, O foremost of Brahmanas, that those illustrious and truth-speaking Munis called by the name of Dharma, guard the source of the Ganges. The origin and physical features and ascetic penances of these Munis are not known to all. The thousand dishes they use for serving the food offered in hospitality and the edibles also they create at will, are all a mystery. The man, O Gālava, that passeth beyond the point guarded by these Munis, is certain, O foremost of Brahmanas, to meet with destruction. None else, O bull among Brahmanas, save the divine Narayana, and the eternal Nara called also Viṣṇu, succeeded in passing beyond the point so guarded. It is in this region that the mountains of Kailasa lie, the abode of Ailavila (Kuvera). It was here that the ten Apsaras known by the name of Vidyutprabha had their origin. In covering, O Brahmana, the three worlds with three steps in the sacri[1]fice of Va!i (the Asura king), Viṣṇu had covered this whole northern region; and, accordingly, there is a spot here called Viṣṇupada. And it is so called after the footprint of Viṣṇu caused on that occasion. Here, in this quarter, at a place called Usiravija, by the side of the golden lake, king Marutta performed, O foremost of Brahmanas, a sacrifice. It is here that the brilliant and shining gold mines of Himavat exhibit themselves to the illustrious and regenerated Rishi Jimuta. And Jimuta gave away the whole of that wealth to the Brahmanas. And having given it away, that great Rishi solicited them to call it after his own name. And hence that wealth is known by the name of the Jaimuta gold. Here, in this region, O bull among Bharatas, the Regents of the worlds, O Gālava, every morning and evening, proclaim. ‘What business of what person shall we do? It is for these, O foremost of Brahmanas, and other incidents, that the Northern region is superior to all quarters. And because this region is superior (Uttara) to all, therefore, it is called the north (Uttara). The four regions have thus, O sire, been, one after another described to thee in detail. Towards which quarter then dost thou desire to go? I am ready, O foremost of Brahmanas, to show thee all the quarters of the earth !’ ‘

Mahabharata Itihasa Udyoga Parva 111, Jaya section

Samvarta said, “There is a peak named Munjaban on the summits of the Himalayan mountains, where the adorable Lord of Uma (Mahadeva) is constantly engaged in austere devotional exercises. There the mighty and worshipful god of great puissance, accompanied by his consort Uma, and armed with his trident, and surrounded by wild goblins of many sorts, pursuing his random wish or fancy, constantly resides in the shade of giant forest trees, or in the caves, or on the rugged peaks of the great mountain. And there the Rudras, the Saddhyas, the Viśvedevas, the Vasus, Yama, Varuna, and Kuvera with all his attendants, and the spirits and goblins, and the two Agwins, the Gandharvas, the Apsarasas, the Yakshas, as also the celestial sages, the Sun-gods, as well as the gods presiding over the winds, and evil spirits of all sorts, worship the high-souled lord of Uma, possessed of diverse characteristics.’ And there, O king, the adorable god, sports with the wild and playful followers of Kuvera, possessed of weird and ghastly appearances.^ Glowing with its own splendor, that mountain looks resplendent as the morning sun.^ And no creature with his natural eyes made of flesh, can ever ascertain its shape or configuration, and neither heat nor cold prevails there, nor doth the sun shine or the winds blow.^ And, O king neither doth senility, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor death nor fear afflict anyone at that place.^° And O foremost of conquerors, on all sides of that mountain, there exist mines of gold, resplendent as the rays of the sun. And, O king, the attendants of Kuvera, desirous of doing good to him, protect these mines of gold from intruders, with uplifted arm.

Mahabharata Itihasa Aśhwamedhika Parva 7, Non-Jaya section

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