(Last Updated on : 15/07/2011)
In Hindu religion Lord Shiva is also known as Mahadeva
, Mahayogi, Shankara, Bholenath, etc. Shiva is referred to as `the good one` or the `auspicious one`. Shiva - Rudra
is considered to be the destroyer of evil and sorrow. Shiva - Shankara is the doer of good. As destroyer he is dark and terrible, appearing as a partially naked ascetic accompanied by many hideous demons, encircled with serpents and necklaces of skulls. As auspicious and reproductive power, he is worshipped in the form of the Shiva linga. Shiva is depicted with a dark-blue throat, with several arms and three eyes. He is portrayed carrying a trident and rides a white bull.
Shiva is `trinetra` or three eyed, and is `neela kantha` - blue throat. Shiva - Nataraja
is the Divine Cosmic Dancer. Shiva - Ardhanareeswara is both man and woman. He is the source of fertility in all-living beings. He has gentle as well as fierce forms. Shiva is the greatest of renouncers as well as the ideal lover. Shiva is inseparable from Shakti
Attributes of Lord Shiva
The Third Eye
: The Third eye of Shiva on his forehead is the eye of wisdom. It is the eye that looks beyond the visible. It is associated with his immense energy, which destroys the evil doers and sins.
The Cobra Necklace
: Shiva is beyond the powers of death and is often the sole support in case of distress. He swallowed the poison kalketu for the well being of the Universe. The deadly cobra represents that "death" aspect which Shiva has thoroughly conquered. The cobras also represent the dormant energy, called Kundalini, creation and the journey from one body to other.
Matted hair (Jata)
: The flow of his matted hair represents him as the lord of wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings.
: Shiva bears on his head the crescent of the fifth day moon. This is placed near the fiery third eye and shows the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is the representative of moon. The Crescent also represents his control over time.
: Ganga River
, the holiest of the holy rivers, flows from the matted hair of Shiva. Shiva allowed an outlet to the great river to traverse the earth and bring purifying water to human being. The flowing water is one of the five elements, which compose the whole Universe and from which earth arises.
: The drum in the hand of Shiva is the originator of the universal world, which is the source of all the language and expression.
: Tripundakara is three lines of ashes drawn on the forehead that represents the essence of our Being, which remains after all the impurities of ignorance, ego and action and vasanas that have been burnt in the fire of knowledge.
: Shiva smears his body with cemetery ashes that points the philosophy of the life and death and the fact that death is the ultimate reality of the life.
: The tiger is the vehicle of Shakti
, the goddess of power and force. The tiger skin that he wears symbolizes victory over every force. Sitting on Tiger skin, Shiva indicates that he has conquered lust.
: Shiva Rudraksha
is supposed to have medicinal properties.
: The three head of Shiva`s Trishul symbolizes three functions of the triad - the creation, the sustenance and the destruction.
Shiva as Mahayogi
This is one of the best known images of Lord Shiva. He is seated on the Himalayas in deep meditative posture. Shiva is wears a simple loincloth. Snakes coil around his neck and he wears a moon sickle in his hair. His face is turned towards the south. Among the Brahmans he is the greatest of all the yogis. He is also represented separately as Vinadhara-Murti where he is standing or sitting with a lute.
Shiva as Nataraja
The cosmic dance of Shiva symbolizes eternal movement of the universe. The rhythm of the dance sets the universe in motion. The circle of flames which is seen around Shiva is pure energy as well as the fire of cremation. Simultaneously it is the symbol of the holy mantra, Om, which is the basic sound of creation.
Shiva as Rudra
This name of Lord Shiva reflects his fearsome qualities. Rudra means fierce and wild who can destroy when his anger can not be controlled.