In many countries, there are superstitions and beliefs surrounding the tiger. In Mirzapur, Bagheshwar, the tiger god is located in a bira tree and is said to take human form at night and to call out to people by name. Beware those who answer the call: they fall sick. In Greece, Dionysius’ chariot is drawn by a tiger. In Japan, the tiger denotes courage. In Nepal, there is a tiger festival, known as Bagh Jatra, in which the worshippers dance disguised as tigers. In India, Durga, the destroyer mother goddess, rides a tiger, and Shiva, as destroyer, also sometimes wears a tiger skin.
There is a belief in India that a garden in which a tiger has been killed loses its fertility. The fangs, claws and whiskers of a tiger are used in love charms, and as measures against possession by evil spirits.
In China, the tiger is the king of the beasts and lord of the land animals. It sometimes depicts authority, courage, military prowess and the fierceness needed for protection.
If you look at this psychologically, the tiger and lion are really worshipped symbolically. The worship of tiger and lion says simply that you worship power – just as there are worshippers of money. In India each year on the festivals particularly on Deepavali, the festival of lights, money is worshipped as god – just notes and coins! And we call these people intelligent! These mediocres who have been worshipping money…because if you worship money, the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, will pour down money on your house. It has never happened. Money neither grows on trees, nor is it simply dropped on the roof of your house. But still the festival goes on.
In my childhood I refused to sit while they were worshipping money. I said it was so insane that even a child could see it. Money is dead, just a method of exchanging things; it has no divinity. But the fear is that if you don’t worship, then Laxmi may turn back from your home. She may be coming just to shower money and you are not worshipping; she may turn back.
I asked my father, “Have you ever heard that she has showered money? Just a single case will be enough to convince me.”
He said, “On that point I cannot say anything because it has never happened.”
But the lust, the desire for money, for more money, has made even money a god, a dead thing, without any meaning. The same is the case with lions and tigers, because they represent strength and power. Everybody is hankering for power: power to dominate others, to become a prime minister, to become a president, to become a king or a queen. A deep desire in everyone is to conquer the whole world.
Not only is Alexander the Great sick, everybody is. Alexander was stupid enough to bring his sickness into activity. Most of the Alexanders keep it hidden inside themselves; but the desire to conquer the world is there.
When Alexander was coming to India, he met on the way the most beautiful man Greece has ever produced, Diogenes. Diogenes asked Alexander, “What will you do if you conquer the world? Let us assume it for argument’s sake. Even if you conquer the world what are you going to do next?”
Alexander said, “I have never given thought to it, but I assume that I will then relax and rest.”