Lord Shiva

कर्पूरगौरं करुणावतारं
संसारसारम् भुजगेन्द्रहारम् ।
सदावसन्तं हृदयारविन्दे
भवं भवानीसहितं नमामि ॥

Shiva is the power, Shiva is the destroyer of the universe, Shiva is the most powerful god of the Hinduism and one of the supreme power in the Hindu Trinity. Known by many names such as – Nataraja, Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Pashupati, Bhava, Bhole Nath – Lord Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu Gods. Hindus recognize this by putting his shrine in the temple separate from those of other Gods.

Shiva is one of the prominent God of Hinduism who is worshiped as the supreme deity of India. In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is known as the symbol of the Supreme power. He is known as the third element in the Hindu Trinity, the other two members being Lord Brahma – the creator of the humanity and Lord Vishnu – the protector of the humanity. Shiva is the destructive form of the Almighty. As the rotation of creation and destruction is always in a circle, Shiva’s main responsibility is to maintain the life cycle of the universe. According to the Scholars, as the Mahakaal, Shiva is the source of destruction who dissolve everything into nothingness but as the Shankara, he reproduces the universe that has been destroyed and his symbol of Lingam represents this reproductive power.

Lord Shiva is also known as the most superior of all Hindu gods and also known as the God of all. A great yogi, Shiva is the only godhead who is always in the deep meditation, fully absorbed in contemplation, Kailaasa Mountain in the great Himalaya. Lord Shiva is also known as inseparable from Shakti – Parvati the daughter of Himavaan – Haimavati. We must know that, there is no Shiva without Shakti and no Shakti without Shiva, the two are one – which results in true power of the universe.

Shiva is repeatedly shown with many faces, as a creator, destroyer and the preserver in total command of the whole universe. He holds both good and evil. He is free of inhibitions moody, easy to please, protector of the down trodden and has the power to change the laws of destiny. Thus, Lord Shiva is primarily known as the God of kindness and mercy. He protects his devotees from all evil that are always around us. He gives blessings to his followers with grace, peace and knowledge.

There are various forms of meditations In Hindu mythology and different paths for yogis but Shiva represents the art of meditation in its most complete form.  While we talk about meditation, in meditation, not only mind is made calm(still) but everything is dropped. In deep meditation, even the object of the meditation (such as mantra, Tantra or Yantra) is converted into its formless essence, that’s the essence of “absoluteness and”. The path of Lord Shiva is certainly the path of the ascetic yogi.

The God Who’s Always High:

Shiva is considered as a dominant destructive power, to be calm and to numb his negative potentials he is fed with opium. He is also termed as ‘Bhole Shankar’, one who is unaware of the world. Therefore, on the occasion of Maha Shivratri, a special kind of drink is prepared that is called ‘Thandai’. Devotees sing songs to please the Lord Shiva and dance on the beats of drums.

The Most Fascinating of Gods:

He is often known as the supreme devotee with a passive and composed disposition. Sometimes he is stated riding a bull called Nandi decked in garlands. Although a very complicated God, Shiva is one of the most fascinating Hindu God.

The Destructive Force:

Shiva is considered as the core of the centrifugal force of the universe, because of his responsibility for destruction and death. But Shiva dissolves in order to create, because death is the medium for rebirth into a new life. So behind the scene of life and death and creation and destruction both reside in his character.

Relationships:

It’s believed that, the true energy or power of Shiva is Parvati. Sati  was Shiva’s first wife and his second wife was Parvati. Both are considered as the forms of Adhi Shakti. Sati and parwati is also known by several other names as well, such as Gauri, Durga, Uma, Kali, Annapurna and Shakti. Lord Shiva is basically known as variety of names and titles. As a god of anger, He is Rudra. As Kailasapathi, He is known as the Lord of Kailash. Lord Shiva preferred location to live in is the Himalayas. As Purusha, He is Iswara Himself. His sons are Kartikeya and Ganesha. Shiva taught Parvati, Vedanta, while Parvati tought him Sankhya which is known as cosmological knowledge. Both are known as absolute yogis.

Recitation and preaching:

It’s believed that, Preaching enables devotees to achieve their desires without facing any danger. There is no doubt that those who preach and recite these thousand names will have no misery at all even in dreams. Lord Shiva stands for destruction of distress and would give abundant learning and wealth. Besides, manifest all the desires and also inspires devotion to Lord Shiva. These statements are taken from the Shiva Puran and are stated by the Lord himself.

One method of worship of Lord Shiva is to offer milk, water and other items but the ‘Bilva Leaves’ are believed a must have element to please Lord Shiva. The native must worship to forgive for all sins and also forgive if the worship is devoid of the requisite materials. It’s believed that, “Om Namah Shivaya” is the greatest mantra. Besides, there are several other Mantras of Lord Shiva including Maha- Mrityunjaya Mantras which is primarily known as saving life of the human being.

It is believed that the word ‘Shiva’ controls everything and whom none can control.

After the analysis of the word ‘Shiva’ the following interpretation has been noted:

‘SH’ means Permanent bliss.

‘I’ means Purusha.

‘va’ means Sakti (which is primarily known as female energy)

 

Shiva as Ardhanareeswara

Lord Shiva is known as the combination of half man and half woman. In the full figure of Shiva the male and female principles are united. Shiva Linga – the symbol of Lord Shiva which combines of both Lingam (phallus) and yoni (the female organ) represent the totality of his nature and the totality of all created existence.

Appearances and Attributes of Lord Shiva

We usually see Lord Shiva either in meditating quite silently or in the form of a Dancing God in the form of Nataraj where his dance on the beat and rhythm which depicts a different aspect of his life story. He is also shown in sculptures with many hands. He can be seen at many places in form of sculptures or pictures. These pictures and sculptures describe his true glory. For example, one pair of hands represents the balance between life and death. Shiva is known as ‘tri netra’, three eyed and ‘neela kantha’ – blue-necked (once upon a time he saved the world from destruction with consuming poison). Besides, there are several characteristics associated with Lord Shiva. Here is a brief description about some of the really important signs that describes Lord Shiva in the great manner. Each of his symbols signifies a different aspect of his Supreme Being.

Shiva is lord of the lords and it is literally not easy to explain or write everything about shiva. However, most of the people have tried to explain him and praised him as per their knowledge level but apart from that, the explanation is endless and it is truly un-imaginable from a human being, asuras and other rishi munis have very little knowledge to explain about the lord almighty.

Shiva means the supreme power of the universe, the auspicious one, the pure one and for me the beloved one. Shiva is primarily named as Pashupati which means the Lord of all living beings either it is devas, humans, asuras or any creatures. Another name Mahadeva known as the great God.

Lord Shiva love to stay in a blissful state, enjoy in Its Own Self eternally without any flaws. The Perfection is the completeness – there is nothing external that is required to make the Self blissful.

Lord Shiva is reckoned among the Tridevas (trinity). Brahma is the creator, Lord Vishnu is the preserver and Lord Shiva is the destroyer. Shiva is known as the lord of Shakti also.

Lord Shiva is the absolute power of the whole universe which does not have any parents. Moreover, God is the only one who is dependable for anybody to surrender to as it is the only perennial Being. Besides, never takes birth which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self.

Hence God is the Lord of all souls. That’s the reason, the Lord is hailed as pashupati. Whether it is Asuras or Gods. Humans or other creatures all are pashus. So one who prays the Lord Shiva sincerely get blessed with its grace irrespective of the power, status, caste, creed, race and qualities.

It is to be noted that Lord shiva is worshipped by the devas like Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, by asuras like bana, Tripura, ravana, surapadma, by humans like shankara bhagavatpada, sambandhar, appar, by other creatures like jatayu, sampadi (eagles), vali (monkey) and the list goes on and on. One can find in the puranas the variety of people of different backgrounds and qualities praying the Lord Shiva in different manners.

There are several histories of temples which describes about the bees, cranes, elephants, spiders, snakes worshiping the Lord and getting blessed. So the Lord Shiva as the Supreme blesses anyone who prays in sincere devotion with a great dedication. There is no partiality on who the seeker is. The Lord is so graceful that He showers the boons one look for when there is a willpower to seek Him. It is evident from the history of asura bana who attained a great fame of his valor and got the place in the abode of Lord Shiva all due to his indomitable worship of the Lord.

In the sight of most of the scholars Lord Shiva is regarded as the God of all and worshiped with having a great pleasure in the heart. like the mother He showers the grace for all the children, but when any of the children among them makes mistakes get punished. This Supreme Lord is better than a mother does not withhold the grace always love his devotees even when in mistake, that’s the reason He is our beloved pashupati.

The God would not be unfair for different nature or variety of people but listen everybody equally. He does not even differentiate between one group versus the other, whether it be divines or daemons or any of the human beings or any kind of plats or creatures or on sex or on race etc. All that he demands is dharma and the pure devotion towards him. No doubt this lovely Lord Shiva is prayed alike by daemons, divines, scholars, not much learnt simple, and the other creatures. In the reality, He has eyes on each and everybody in the same way.

The real image of Lord Shiva is also different from other Gods. His hair is piled high on the top of his head. Around his neck, there is a coiled that serpent representing Kundalini or the spiritual energy within life. He contains a trident in his left hand in which is bound the ‘damroo’. He sits on a tiger skin and on his right is a water pot. He always love to wear ‘Rudraksha’ beads and his whole body is covered with ash.

Characteristics of Lord Shiva:-

Body covered with ashes: This form of Lord Shiva describes about the Lord Shiva’s existence is much higher than this physical phenomenon. This is the most lovable form of his characteristics. According to most of the scholars, Shiva’s body smeared with cemetery ash points to the philosophy of the life and death and the fact that death is the ultimate reality of the life.

Jata (Matted Hair): The flow of his matted hair generally represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings. Thus Shiva is known as the lifeline for all living being of the universe. He is also called as Pashupatinath by his devotees.

Holy Ganga: Ganga is known as the holiest of all the holy rivers, according to the scholars, Ganga flows from the matted hair of Shiva. Ganga also denotes fertility of the earth- known as one of the most creative aspects of the Rudra.

The Third Eye: Lord Shiva is known as the three eyed Lord or Tryambaka Deva. The sun is located in his right eye, the moon is located in his left while the third eye of Shiva on his forehead is basically known as the eye of wisdom. It is the eye that looks beyond our imagination and while Lord Shiva uses his third eye, it brings only destruction. Although, He doesn’t use his third eye frequently. It’s said that his third eye can search evil from anywhere and destroys completely without mercy.

Half-Open Eyes: The half-open eyes explain that the universes cycle is in the process. When the eyes are completely closed it signifies the end of the universe and when it is completely open a new fresh cycle of the creation begins.

Crescent: Shiva bears on his head the panchami (fifth day) moon. This is placed just near the fiery third eye and this depicts the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is known as the agent of moon. It means that Shiva possesses the power of reproduction along with the power of destruction of the universe. The moon is primarily known as the measure of the time, thus it also represent his control over time.

The Cobra Necklace: It is believed that, Shiva is beyond the powers of death and is often the sole support in case of distress. His power is beyond our imagination and can’t ever be able to predict his limitations of power. Most of the scholars, Rishis, Devas tried to understand the limitations of Lord Shiva powers but it was useless. He consumed the poison kalketu for the well being of the Universe. The deadly cobra represents that “death” aspect that Shiva has thoroughly conquered and no one in this universe has power to dare him. The cobras around his neck also represent the hidden energy, called Kundalini, the serpent power. The snake always curled three times around the neck of Lord Shiva which basically depicts the past, present and the future time. The snake glancing in the right direction of Lord Shiva shows that the Lord’s perpetual laws of reason and justice protect natural order in the universe.

The Vibhuti: Vibhuti is a three line of ashes drawn on the forehead that shows the immortality of the soul and describes the true glory of the Lord Shiva.

Tiger Skin: Lord Shiva is shown sitting on the tiger skin and wear it as clothes. The tiger is the vehicle of Shakti, the power and force of Goddess. Shiva is beyond and above any kind of force in this universe. Nothing is beyond his limitations. He is the master of Shakti. The tiger skin that he wears symbolizes victory over every force. Tiger also signify lust. Thus sitting on Tiger skin, Shiva makes it sure that he has conquered lust.

Deer Skin & The Elephant: Shiva also love to wear elephant skins. The main cause behind wearing elephant skins are it represents pride. Wearing elephant skin, Shiva show that he has conquered pride as well. likewise deer represents the sparkling mind. Shiva wears deer skin which denotes that he has controlled the mind perfectly and his mind can’t deviate will always follow the desired path.

Rudraksha Necklace: Lord Shiva is also known as ‘Rudra’. There are several other names of lord shiva. It also means uncompromising or strict and ‘aksha’ means eye. So the word Rudraksha has a great meaning. Rudraksha, the necklace worn by Lord Shiva depicts that he is firmly determined about his cosmic laws and he maintains law and order of the universe in the specific way in order to process it in the right direction constantly. The necklace has 108 beads, which symbolize the elements used in the creation of the world.

Damaru or Drum: Damru is the best way to please Lord Shiva. Damaru with two sides isolated from each other by a thin neck-like structure shows the two absolutely distinct states of existence, clear and unclear. When a Damaru is shaken, the sound formed is called Nada, the celestial sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation.

Trishul: A three-branched Trishul shown adjoining to Lord Shiva symbolizes His three fundamental powers such as will, action and knowledge. As a weapon the trident signify the instrument of punishment to the evil doer on all the three planes – spiritual, subtle and physical. Nandi (Bull): Lord Shiva loves Nandi more than anything else. Nandi is said to be the vehicle of Lord Shiva and called as mother. The bull shows both power and ignorance at the same time. Lord Shiva’s use of the bull as his vehicle expresses the idea that He removes ignorance and bequeaths power of wisdom on His followers.

Shiva as Phallic Symbol:

Shiva, in temples is normally found as a phallic symbol of the ‘linga’, that represents the energies necessary for life on both the macrocosmic and the microcosmic levels, that’s the world where we live in and the world which constitutes the whole of the universe. In a Shiva temple, the ‘linga’ is placed underneath the spire, where it denotes the naval of the earth.