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Greatest of the Great – Lord Shiva : The Auspicious One

Hinduism is a religion of many facets, forms, ideologies and traditions. Despite the diversities in this supreme religion, the basic philosophy remains the same. The term ‘God’ or ‘Bhagvaan‘ is associated with many deities and each deity has its own significance. But among all the great Hindu gods, three hold the penultimate position – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Brahma – the god of creation, Vishnu – the protector and Shiva – the ultimate destroyer. This trinity is said to be the working force behind our universe. Out of these three, Shiva holds the supreme position as only Shiva has the power to decide the ultimate fate of everything.

Through the great Mahamrityunjaya Mantra addressed to Lord Shiva, one gets the power to conquer even the death.

Who is Shiva ?

Shiv Shankar Mahadev Hinduism
Image Source – Angela Marie Henriette via Flickr

Lord Shiva is the greatest deity of  Sanatan dharma. He is known as the supreme destroyer of darkness, the ultimate lover, the purest yogi and the king of Kailash. In the Rig Veda – Shiva is known to be as the ultimate annihilator of evil and the limitless source of eternal energy.  He is the austere yogi, being in the state of absolute meditation known as the Samadhi.

“The planets, stars and other celestial bodies are the only matter in this Universe, rest is complete nothingness, or the Shiva….”

The word “Shiva” means nothing but the pure consciousness. In the modern times, we have many scientific theories which prove that everything was created from the nothing, by the nothing and everything would end up into nothing. The basic postulate of the creation of this universe and its existence arises from nothing. The planets, stars and other celestial bodies are the only matter in this Universe, rest is complete nothingness.
We already had this theory many thousand years back written in our Vedas, that everything begins and ends up with Shiva. Har Har Mahadev.


Attributes

Shiv Shankar Mahadev Hinduism
Image Source – Navaneeth Ashok via Flickr

Shiva, the greatest yogi, resides on Mountain Kailash in the Himalayas. His depiction is highly symbolical. Shiva is always shown deep in meditation or yog in all his images. Meditation is itself a bridge between our mind and the higher being. Shiva, being the God of yog is also called as the Greatest Yogi. His closed eyes signifies that the Mahadev sees nothing but the truth.

Shiva is known to be very altruistic, he is depicted as sitting on the tiger skin in meditation, a twined snake around his neck, demilune moon on his head, river Ganga flowing out of his Jatas and his throat is always deep blue in color. Shiva is known as the Somnath or the protector of the Moon.

“Shivlinga represents the focused energies of the universe in one concentrated form….”

Shiva holds a trident in his hands, the 3 parts of the trident depicts the 3 dimensions of life. The drum of Shiva, produces the sound of universe – AUM.

In the temples, we can found specific structures dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as Shivlinga or the Linga.  Shivlinga represents the focused energies of the universe in one concentrated form. These are the energies which run in this universe.


The different names of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva is known by many names among his followers – Mahadev, Shankar, Shambhu, Girish, Neelkanth, Rudra, Trilochan and Devendar,etc. are the names attributed to Shiva. Each name has a different meaning and depicts a different form.

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  • Mahadev – the king of gods.
  • Mahayogi – the ultimate yogi.
  • Pashupati – lord of all animals.
  • Nataraja – king of dance.
  • Vishwanath – the lord of the Universe.
  • Shankar – the giver of eternal happiness.
  • Shambhu – the benevolent.
  • Somnath – Protector of the moon.
  • Girish – the king of mountains.
  • Neelkanth – the one with a blue throat.
  • Rudra – the master and conqueror of storms.
  • Trilochan – the 3 eyed.
  • Devendar – the ruler of gods.

Apart from these, Shiva is also known as Triloknath which means the ruler and controller of all the three realms.

Also Read: The Children of Shiva

Shiva’s different forms

The Nataraja (Image Source - ૐ Didi ૐ via Flickr)
The Nataraja (Image Source – ૐ Didi ૐ via Flickr)

Lord Shiva, being the divine source of limitless energy in the universe, has infinite number of forms.
All his forms are a contrast of his magnificence, fearlessness, impeccable power, splendor and godliness.
The Shiva Mahapurana mentions about 64 forms of Shiva.

Also Read: The Largest Shiva Temple In India – Thyagaraja Temple In Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu

Out of them all, the form of Nataraja is the most revered one. Nataraja means the Lord of Dance, there are some interesting characteristics of this dance form as well –

  • The upper left hand depicts Agni or the fire which means destruction.
  • The second left hand always point towards the raised foot and denotes upheaval and liberation.
  • The upper right hand is carrying a drum in a hourglass shape or the
  • The second right hand depicts the Abhaya (fearless) nature of the Shiva.
  • The figure on which Nataraja dances is the dwarf of ignorance.
  • Nataraja is the dance which signifies the creation of the Universe and all forms of matter.
  • Shiva’s face is always in a calm gesture denoting neutrality and balance.

The snake twined around Shiva’s body denotes the Shakti or the energy residing inside everything.


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Featured Image Source – Alice Popkorn Via Flickr.

 

By: Aashu dhawan on Sunday, December 28th, 2014

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