He is the One who destroys the universe at the time of annihilation, known as pralaya. There are four types of dissolution and they are eternal or nitya, natural or prākṛta, occasional or naimittika and ultimate or ātyantika. The first three are caused by the cessation of the past work and the fourth one happens due to the dawning of knowledge by simultaneously dissolving ignorance, which is an impediment to realisation of the Self.
२६. ॐ शर्वाय नमः।
26. Om Śarvāya Namaḥ
Sharvah – The Auspicious One: meaning, the One who gives auspiciousness to those who hear of Him, to those who have a vision of Him, and to those who meditate upon Him.
sharvah / (sa as in Shiva) The Remover of all sins. Salutations to the remover of all that is negative.
INTERPRETATION GUIDED BY SANT VANI (WORDS OF SAINTS)
The one, who destroys, withdraws everything unto Himself or causes to be withdrawn at the time of dissolution is Śharva (Saṁhārasamayeśrṇāti, saṁharatisamhārayativa). It is not total destruction. It is withdrawal from a manifest condition to an unmanifest condition.
When we look at creation we find that whatever is born, is sustained for a while, and then it is no more there in the same form. There is no real destruction of matter or energy in the universe, much less the conscious being. We studied about the conversion of matter to energy and vice versa, in our School Science. It’s amazing when we assimilate that nothing is really totally destroyed. (pun intended , only for those who are familiar with tarka system of abhāva of atyanta – abhāva ). Truly we cannot give the label ‘destroyer’ to Lord Shiva, because there is no real destruction of anything in the Universe. All that happens is things manifest from the unmanifest and again go into unmanifest form, to manifest again. It is like, when we go to sleep daily, we become śharva. Our individual ways–the way we look at the world, all the knowledge that we have, all the problems, the entire world of experiences–all this is withdrawn into an unmanifest condition.
Everything is again picked up the next day when we wake up. Therefore, it is not destruction, but only a temporary dissolution.
What is the most amazing condition in life that most people think will never happen to them?
Yamarāja the demigod Lord of death once asked MahārājaYudhiṣṭhira –
“What is the most amazing thing that almost everyone thinks will never happen to them?”
MahārājaYudhiṣṭhira replies –
“Millions of living entities meet death at every moment, but almost all of them foolishly think they will never die and that death only happens to others, this is the most amazing thing that happens in this world”. (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.116)
Everyone has to die because all living entities are fully under the control of the temporary decomposing forever changing material nature.
In the material creation, every jiva-soul, who has chosen to come here, thinks they are fully independent from material nature.
However, such freedom and independence is NOT possible while the jiva-soul is confined to a material bodily vessel or container that is under the laws of karma.
The embodied jiva-soul is responsible for every action performed in the material body they are in, and bear the ripened fruits of their pious or impious activity in the material creation.
This greatly minimizes the jiva-soul’s ability to use their free will because they must accept all reactions to their past actions and forced to act as per their subtle tendencies or sanskaaras which they have been carrying from many lifetimes, whether they like it or not, cancelling out almost all free will unless they choose to break the cycle of cause and effect by working on these tendencies.
And there is no free will at all for the embodied jiva-soul’s trapped in the lower species of human life who live in PashuBhaav. They act ONLY by instincts of eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
In the material world, many foolishly believe whatever they like to do, they can do, and that they will never meet death and live forever. Today we see materialistic men and women are making various plans for the future as if they will live forever.
But while they are making such plans to live forever in the material creation, Yamarāja, the demigod of death, in due course of time, sends his messengers to arrest the “subtle material body” that carries the jiva-soul, from the dying “gross material container”.
Therefore the Yamadhutas come and take the subtle body out and then they rebirth based on the good and bad deeds they have performed while in their gross material bodily vessel.
The beautiful Vishnudhutas come for the devotees of the Lord who have surrendered to the absolute refuge – SharvahSharanagati to merge with the supreme Self with a centered mind while the Yamadhutas come for the selfish materialists (BhogKarmis) who are even at the time of death, engrossed in their lower tendencies practiced for the entire life and hence see the gross ugliness of their own minds.