Lord Shiva is considered the destroyer of illusions and imperfections of this world and one of the three Hindu Gods forming the “Trimurti” or Trinity of Hinduism. He is responsible for destroying the universe, only to recreate it again for the beneficial change. Lord Shiva is believed to have appeared in the form of Linga at midnight.
People have been paying obeisance to him since pre-Vedic times. His consort, Shakti, is a goddess who exists as half of Him. She represents Lord Shiva’s immense energy that controls and activates the cosmos.
He is believed to be the primal soul of this universe, who resides in the mystic Mount Kailash as an ascetic. However, he has many forms, and as a householder, he is the husband of Parvati and the father of Ganesha and Karthikeya.
Here are 5 interesting things you should know about Lord Shiva:
Lord Shiva’s Attire
Shiva is represented with a snake slung around his neck. Known as Vasuki, this snake is a symbolic representation of the ego, anger, and worldly desires. By wrapping him around his neck, the Lord tells us it is essential to keep these factors in control. The crescent halo (moon) adorning his head depicts the Holy River Ganga’s origin, flowing out of his head, which is a depiction of the time cycle. Being one of the major Hindu Gods, he holds the Trident in his hand; each spike represents each guna or characteristic – Sattva denotes creation, Rajas denotes sustenance, and Tamas denotes destruction.
Ferocity and Calmness
As a primal God, Lord Shiva represents calmness and ferocity simultaneously. The snow-clad mountains in the backdrop and a snake around his neck denote eternal calmness. From this angle, the Lord is a personification of calm and peace. However, the other side of Him shows his uncontrolled ferocity that drove him to take the form of Nataraja and perform the Shiv Tandav, or the cosmic dance. This dance of destruction crushed the evil force Apasmara beneath the Lord’s foot. The subtle message of the Shiv Tandav is that only music, dance, and knowledge can overcome ignorance.
The Third Eye
While the two eyes of Shiva represent the Sun and Moon, the “third eye” represents Agni or Fire. It is located in Lord’s forehead and responsible for the destruction of Maya or illusion. It is believed to represent the Time and Future, in other terms, the past, present, and future.
The third eye can burn anything in its sight, which denotes the burning of lust, wrath, greed, attachment, and ego or pride present in all human beings.
Ardhanarishwar – Half Male, Half Female
Equality of women and men is subtly hidden behind the concept of Ardhanarishwara or the half male – half female icon represented by this Hindu God. The concept signifies the subtle totality hidden behind the duality. Male and female are united in Him to make a whole Supreme Being. He represents destruction and construction, both of which have to happen perpetually for the world to exist as it is.
One school of thought says that the hermaphrodite figure of Ardhanarishwar denotes fertility and abundance in growth. The eternal embrace is what keeps the world renewing itself in perpetuity. Another idea is that God is beyond gender, and Parvathi represents his boundless energy, also known as Shakti, which is an inseparable part of the Lord.
The Legend behind River Ganga
According to mythology, Sage Bhagiratha requested Brahma to divert River Ganga from the Heavens to the Earth. Bhagiratha wanted to make ablutions in the Holy River and perform ceremonial offerings to his ancestors. Brahma was incapable of doing such a difficult task and directed Bhagiratha to Lord Shiva, telling him that he was the only person who could carry out such a difficult task.
The River Ganga, represented as a person (female), was upset at being diverted and started flowing with mad fury to the Earth to flood it. However, Lord Shiva tamed the river’s fury and trapped her in his mane to let her flow serenely as the eternal River Ganga that can never dry up. It is a fact that the river Ganga or the Ganges is a perennial river that is fed by the ice and snow trapped in the Himalayas permanently.
Worshipping Lord Shiva is recommended if there is something inherently wrong in a person’s birth horoscope, which denotes past the life’s sins that need to be atoned. You may need a Shiva statue to pay your obeisance to the Lord and bring his powers to your home.