In the 29th dharana of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva says:

Let the fire of time consciousness

Rising from the right toe

Burn you to Shiva state 

Shiva refers here to kaalaagni, which we can translate as the fire of time. He says to visualize this fire arising from the big toe of the right foot and burning the body to ashes. By burning away all that one holds dear as one’s mind body, he says that the true Shiva nature will be revealed.

As i travel without access to my copy of Ascent, the Bihar School of Yoga translation of Shiva’s dharanas, i referred to Laxman Joo’s commentaries on this verse. Joo does not explain the esoteric significance of this dharana. So, let me attempt this on my own.

I experience three distinct truths as i read this verse again. The first truth that comes up refers to kaala agni, the fire of time. Shiva says it rises from the big toe of the right foot (though one translation of Joo talks about the left foot!). Wherever it arises from, the fire of time can be a metaphor for the enlightening truth that takes us beyond time and space reality.

The second truth refers to destruction of the mind body consciousness as a result of the first truth. Finally, the third truth refers to reaching the Shiva state. When i visualized this dharana,  i felt a surge from toe to head that cleansed and soothed, not as a burning fire but as a transformational energy.

Though kalagni translates into fire of time or into time of fate as some would have it, i like to understand it as the fire that extinguishes the consciousness of time and space, taking us into the disengaged Fourth State of Shiva.

Kalagni Rudra Upanishad is a scripture that talks about the symbolism of the holy ash mark worn by many followers of Shiva on their forehead. Shiva as Rudra answers questions posed to him by a son of Brahma. Here, Shiva does not refer to any external symbolism. He tells us to practice a process that uses our inner fire to reduce desires to ashes. It’s a simple process that many of you may find useful to disengage from constant distractions of the mind, borne out of wants. I found the visualization process useful in reaching peace through such disengagement.