Who is Shiva?
The Hindu culture describes the universe to be in a loop between creation and destruction.
Life is what lies in between creation and destruction. According to the ancestors, the functions of the universe are governed by the Triumvirate.
Shiva holds a benevolent position in the trinity as he governs destruction and lays the foundation for a new beginning.
Brahma on the other hand is the creator and Lord Vishnu is the protector of the world. The trinity symbolizes the rules of the world.
For more than centuries, Hindu followers and devotees have idolized the Lord Shiva’s image.
His one-of-a-kind appearance than other Devas and gods has always fascinated devotees.
People identify themselves from a different angle with lord Shiva.
Hindu culture believes that his power of destruction is not just associated with material things and physical forms.
He destroys the illusions (Maya) and imperfections of the world. He destroys the worldly pleasures that pave the way for a beneficial change.
Hindus believe that destruction is not the end instead it is a new beginning. Shiva is seen both as the end and the beginning.
He is a symbol that brings together various contradictory elements.
His untamed passion leads him to the extremes of behavior. In most times he is austere and abstains from worldly pleasures.
And sometimes he is a hedonist. His life is balanced because of his better half goddess Parvati. The people who worship Lord Shiva are known as the Shaivas.
Shiva’s semblance explains life’s truth
Shiva is worshipped in the form of a Linga across the country but Hindus believe that he resides in the highest Peak of the Himalayas (Mount Kailash) in a human form.
His body is smeared with ash, tiger skin for clothes, a crescent moon adorning his hair and a snake around his head is what the Puranas describe.
He also portrays a matted hair with River Ganga flowing from it, a third eye on the forehead, a trident called Trishul in one hand, and a Damru in the other.
Each element of his portrayal hides a deep meaning.
A third Eye: the third eye represents wisdom and a source of untamed energy.
His third eye reduced the love god Kamdev to ashes when he tried to disturb Shiva’s penance.
In the Tamil culture, people believe that Lord Kartikeya was born from Lord Shiva’s third eye.
The snake: snakes are always feared for their venom. But with a snake around his neck, Shiva represents fearlessness and power.
He destroys fear in his devotees and protects them.
Vibuthi: lord Shiva applies, the ashes of the dead body all over his body and especially on the forehead as three lines.
The Vibuthi symbolizes that every form of life has an end and a new beginning.
The members of Shaiva also make three horizontal lines across their foreheads.
His simple attire and calm surroundings compared to other gods in their lavish, have made him a favorite of the rich and poor alike.
When it comes to the birth of Lord Shiva, he is said to have been born from the sound “Aum” even before the creation of the universe.
The other two trinities, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma are said to have been born from Lord Shiva.
Since Lord Shiva doesn’t have a definite origin and was present even before the creation of the universe he is worshipped as the Adi-Deva.
Various representations of Adiyogi Shiva
Shiva is not worshipped in his human form, Instead, he is worshipped as a phallic structure.
The phallic structure represents the raw power and masculinity of Shiva.
The Shivalinga also represents that the universe also has no end and no beginning.
Shiva depicted that men and women are equal through his Ardhanari form. In the Ardhanari form, one half is of Shiva’s, and the other half is Goddess Uma.
The Ardhanari form ceases to imply that one form can’t survive without the other.
He is also represented as the God of dance or Nataraja. The rhythm of dance is said to be a metaphor for the sound of creation.
It is also said to bring balance to the universe. Shiv’s dance form is known as Tandav.
He performs different kinds of Tandav including the Aanandha Tandav, Rudra Tandav, Tripura Tandav, and more.
Shiva married Adi Sakti in the form of Sati, who sacrificed in the Yagna fire after her father insulted Shiva.
Sati reincarnated as Goddess Parvati, who attained Shiva through the Bhakti Margh.
Shiva and Parvati are held as the perfect example of marital bliss and balance of meditation.
Shiva has two sons, Lord Vinayaka and Lord Muruga. Some scriptures tell that he also has a daughter named Ashoka Sundari.
The name Shiva represents the body with its energy to live and is thus considered to be the potential of life.
A body without potential is a lifeless or Shava.