Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious One) is one of the main deities of Hinduism that is worshipped as the paramount lord by the Shaivaite sects of India. In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is regarded as the representation of the Supreme Being. He is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity (Trimurti), the other two members being Lord Brahma – the creator and Lord Vishnu – the protector.
Shiva is the destructive form of the Almighty. As the cycle of destruction and recreation is always in a circle, Shiva’s primary responsibility is maintaining the life cycle. Scholars say, as the Mahakaal, Shiva destroys and dissolves everything into nothingness but as Shankara, he also reproduces that which has been destroyed and dissolved.
His symbol of Lingam or the phallus represents this reproductive power. Lord Shiva is also considered to be the most unique of all Hindu gods and also the God of all. A great ascetic, Shiva is the only godhead who is forever in deep meditation, totally absorbed in contemplation in His abode, Kailaasa Mountain in the great Himalaya.
Lord Shiva is also said to be inseparable from Shakti – Parvati the daughter of Himavaan – Haimavati. There is no Shiva without Shakti and no Shakti without Shiva, the two are one – or the absolute state of being.
Shiva as Ardhanareeswara Lord Shiva is said to be half man and half woman. Shiva Linga – the symbol of Lord Shiva which consists of both Lingam (phallus) and yoni (the female organ) represent the totality of his nature and the totality of all created existence.
Attribute and It’s Significance:
Shiva has a trident in the right lower arm, and a crescent moon on his head. He is said to be fair like camphor or like an ice clad mountain. He wears five serpents and a garland of skulls as ornaments. Shiva is usually depicted facing the south. His trident, like almost all other forms in Hinduism, can be understood as the symbolism of the unity of three worlds that a human faces – his inside world, his immediate world, and the broader overall world. At the base of the trident, all three forks unite.
Shiva’s trishul represents the three fundamental aspects of life. These are the three fundamental dimensions of life that are symbolized in many ways. They can also be called Ida, Pingala and Sushumna. These are the three basic nadis – the left, the right and the central – in the pranamaya kosha, or the energy body of the human system. Nadis are pathways or channels of prana in the system. There are 72,000 nadis that spring from the three fundamental ones.
The Pingala and Ida represent the basic duality in the existence. It is this duality which we traditionally personify as Shiva and Shakti. One can simply call it masculine and feminine and the certain qualities in each nature.
Damru symbolizes the Universe which is always expanding and collapsing. From an expansion it collapses and then it re-expands. This is the very process of creation.
If one sees his heartbeat, it is not just one straight line but it is a rhythm that goes up and down. The whole world is nothing but rhythms; energy rising and collapsing to rise again. So the damru signifies that. The shape of the damru is like from expansion it collapses and again expands.
The damru is also a symbol of sound. Sound is rhythm and sound is energy. The whole universe is nothing but a wave function, it is nothing but rhythms and is just one wave (Adivata). So the damru signifies the non-dual nature of the universe.
(Trilochana) Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kama) to ashes, called “Tryambakam” (Sanskrit:), which occurs in many scriptural sources. In classical Sanskrit, the word ambaka denotes “an eye”, and in the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as three-eyed, so this name is sometimes translated as “having three eyes”However, in Vedic Sanskrit, the word amba or ambika mean- s “mother”, and this early meaning of the word is the basis for the translation “three mothers”.
These three mother-goddesses who are collectively called the Ambikas. Other related translations have been based on the idea that the name actually refers to the oblations given to Rudra, which according to some traditions were shared with the goddess Ambika. It has been mentioned that when Shiva loses his temper, his third eye opens which can destroy most things to ashes.
(The epithets “Chandrasekhara/Chandramouli”)- – Shiva bears on his head the crescent moon. refers to this feature. The placement of the moon on his head as a standard iconographic feature dates to the period when Rudra rose to prominence and became the major deity Rudra-Shiva. The origin of this linkage may be due to the identification of the moon with Soma, and there is a hymn in the Rig Veda where Soma and Rudra are jointly implored, and in later literature, Soma and Rudra came to be identified with one another, as were Soma and the moon. The crescent moon is shown on the side of the Lord’s head as an ornament. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end.
(The epithet “Bhasmaanga Raaga”) – Shiva smears his body with ashes . The ashes are said to represent the end of all material existence. Some forms of Shiva, such as Bhairava, are associated with a very old Indian tradition of cremation-ground asceticism that was practiced by some groups who were outside the fold of brahmanic orthodoxy. These practices associated with cremation grounds are also mentioned in the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism One epithet for Shiva is “inhabitant of the cremation ground” (Sanskrit: smasanavasin, also spelled Shmashanavasin), referring to this connection.
(The epithet “Jataajoota Dhari/Kapardina”) – Shiva’s distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Ja?in, “the one with matted hair”and Kapardin, “endowed with matted hair” or “wearing his hair wound in a braid in a shell-like (kaparda) fashion” A kaparda is a cowrie shell, or a braid of hair in the form of a shell, or, more generally, hair that is shaggy or curly. His hair is said to be like molten gold in color or being yellowish-white.
The epithet Nilaka?tha Sinc- e Shiva drank the Halahala poison churned up from the Samudra Manthan to eliminate its destructive capacity. Shocked by his act, Goddess Parvati strangled his neck and hence managed to stop it in his neck itself and prevent it from spreading all over the universe, supposed to be in Shiva’s stomach. However the poison was so potent that it changed the color of his neck to blue.
Shiva bearing the descent of the Ganges River as Parvati and Bhagiratha and the bull Nandi look, folio from a Hindi manuscript by the Narayan
(The epithet “Gangadhara”) Bearer of Ganga. Ganges river flows from the matted hair of Shiva The Ga?ga(Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva’s hairThe flow of the Ganges also represents the nectar of immortality.
(The epithet “Krittivasana”).He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honour reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis.
(The epithet “Nagendra Haara” or ‘Vasoki”). This suggests that Shiva is beyond the powers of death and is often the sole support in case of distress. He swallowed the poison kalketu for the wellbeing of the Universe. The deadly cobra represents that death aspect that Shiva has thoroughly conquered. The cobras around his neck also represent the dormant energy, called Kundalini, the serpent power. The snake curled three times around the neck of Lord Shiva depicts the past, present and future time. The snake looking in the right direction of Lord Shiva signifies that the Lord’s perpetual laws of reason and justice preserve natural order in the universe.
His holding deer on one hand indicates that He has removed the Chanchalata of the mind (i.e., attained maturity and firmness in thought process). A deer jumps from one place to another swiftly, similar to the mind moving from one thought to another S
Axe (P- arashu)
The parashu is the weapon of Lord Shiva who gave it to Parashurama, sixth Avatar of Vishnu, whose name means “Rama with the axe” and also taught him its mastery.
(The epithet “Nandi Vaahana”). Nandi, also known as Nandin, is the name of the bull that serves as Shiva’s mount Shiva’s association with cattle is reflected in his name Pasupati, or Pashupati , translated by Sharma as “lord of cattle”[ and by Kramrisch as “lord of animals”, who notes that it is particularly used as an epithet of Rudra. Rishabha or the bull represents Dharma Devata. Lord Siva rides on the bull. Bull is his vehicle. This denotes that Lord Siva is the protector of Dharma, is an embodiment of Dharma or righteousness.