About Lord Shiva
“The Powerful God”
Shiva is ‘shakti’ or power, Shiva is the destroyer, the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon and one of the godheads in the Hindu Trinity. Known by many names – Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhole Nath – Lord Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu deities. Hindus recognize this by putting his shrine in the temple separate from those of other deities.
He protects his devotees from all evil that are always around us. He blesses his followers with grace, knowledge and peace.
“The Most Fascinating of Gods”
Shiva is one of the most fascinating of Hindu gods and 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 is often shown with many faces, as creator, destroyer and preserver in total command of the cosmos. He contains both good and evil. He is moody, free of inhibitions, easy to please, protector of the down trodden, and has the power to alter the laws of destiny. Thus, it is Lord Shiva is known as the God of mercy and kindness.
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.
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. It is often not shown but Shiva has 6 heads, of which only five (Isana, Tatpurusha, Vamadeva, Aghora, Sadyojata) are visible while the 6th (Adhomukh) can only be seen by the enlightened.
Third eye: Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes, called “Tryambakam” (Sanskrit: त्र्यम्बकम् ), which occurs in many scriptural sources. It has been mentioned that when Shiva loses his temper, his third eye opens which can reduce most things to ashes.
Crescent moon: Shiva bears on his head the crescent moon. The epithet Candraśekhara 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 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.
Ashes: Shiva smears his body with ashes (bhasma). 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.
Matted hair: Shiva’s distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Jaṭin, “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.
Blue throat: Since 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.
Sacred Ganges: Ganges river flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The Gaṅgā (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva’s hair. The flow of the Ganges also represents the nectar of immortality.
Tiger skin: He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honour reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis.
Serpents: (The epithet “Nagendra Haara” or ‘Vasuki”). Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.
Deer: 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.
Trident: (Trishula): Shiva’s particular weapon is the trident. His Trisul that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas— Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of sovereignty. He rules the world through these three Gunas. The Damaru in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all languages are formed. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru sound.
5 heads: Shiva is known as panchavactra, which means 5 heads indicating 5 elements.
Arms: Shiva has 4 arms which resembles 4 vedas