More Than A Mythical Persona: An Atheist’s Take On Shiva

For Ram Manohar Lohia, Shiva was more than a mythical persona, ‘without birth and without end’, compassion incarnate, an ardent lover. Despite being an atheist, Lohia’s political imagination drew from stories around Shiva

Chandan Gowda

The myths of a people are a record of their dreams and their sorrows, an inerasable register of their most deeply cherished and highly rated desires and aspirations as well as of the inescapable sadness that is the stuff of life and its local and temporal history

Found in “Rama, Krishna and Shiva,” Ram Manohar Lohia’s wild essay from the mid-1950s, these prefatory words clarify the socialist leader’s care for the mythological life of communities before inaugurating a rare, original effort at evolving a civilisational self-portrait as well as a political philosophy through a delineation of the differing personalities of the three gods. A similar aim is pursued elsewhere in his writings via the figures of Draupadi, Sita and Savitri…