Lord Shiva – The God of Transformation
Lord Shiva is a part of Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and is associated with Moksha which is relief from the cycle of birth and death.
By Moksha, He is actually taking us out from the illusionary world of Kama, Krodha, Moha, Mada and Lobha and making us realize who we are and what is our true purpose of existence. Thus the power of destruction of Lord Shiva has a great purifying power on a universal level. The destruction opens the path for a new creation of the universe, a new opportunity for the beauty and drama of universal illusion to unfold. Being Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram which denotes the Truth, Goodness and Beauty, Lord Shiva represents the essence of impeccable goodness and godliness. Shivaratri puja performed on the Festival called Maha Shivratri invites the blessings of Lord Shiva and His divine consort, Goddess Parvati.
His favorite ornament is Rudraksha which He wears on his arms, wrists, neck, waist and hair mat. He holds a snake coiled around His neck, a Trishul, drum and Kamdalu in hand and wears a tiger skin. His body is smeared with ash.
In Hindu mythology there are various forms of meditations and different paths for yogis but Shiva represents the art of meditation in its most absolute form. In meditation, not only mind is made still but everything is dropped. In deep meditation or Samadhi, even the object of the meditation (like a mantra, Tantra or Yantra) is transformed into its formless essence, which is the essence of absoluteness and “Purna”(completeness). Thus Shiva stands for letting go everything in the world of forms. The path of Lord Shiva is undoubtedly the path of the ascetic yogi.
Forms of Shiva
Shiva has different forms: The first being Aghora (which resides in the cremation grounds), then Ishana (most often appears as the Shivalingam), the third being “Tat Purusha” where He is meditating, then Varna Deva (the eternally auspicious Shiva) and then Sadyojat or Braddha Rudra (the old wrathful form). The last also forms of the Lord has the deepest connection to the Rudrakshas and Rudrakshas mala – a rosary made of the dried fruits of the Rudraksha tree.
Yet another form is the Nataraj, where the Lord Shiva Nataraj’s dance implies both the destruction and the creation of the universe and reveals the cycles of death, birth and rebirth. His Dance of Bliss is for the welfare of the world. In the pose of Nataraj, the King of Dance is giving darshan to his beloved devotees within the “Hall of Consciousness”, which is the heart of the human. Under his feet, Shiva crushes the demon of ignorance called Apasmara Purusha, caused by forgetfulness. One hand is stretched across his chest and points towards the uplifted foot, indicating the release from earthly bondage of the devotee. The fire represents the final destruction of creation, but the dance of the Nataraj is also an act of creation, which arouses dormant energies and scatters the ashes of the universe in a pattern that will be the design of the ensuing creation.
Then in His Mahamrityunyaya form, Lord Shiva is depicted as the great conqueror of death and giver of immortality. The Mahamrityunjaya mantra is one of the two main mantras of the Vedas, next to the Gayatri mantra. It is chanted to eradicate death and disease.
Another main form of Shiva is Ardhnarishwara, half Shiva, half Shakti.
Attributes of Lord Shiva
The Shiva’s main attributes are :
- The trident that represents the three gunas.
- The snakes that show he is beyond the power of death and poison and also stand for the Kundalini energy.
- The sound of Shiva’s two-sided drum maintains the rhythm of the heartbeat and creates the sound AUM in the overtones.
- The vehicle of Shiva is the white bull called Nandi (which means the joyful).
- Shiva is seated on a tiger skin or wears a tiger skin.
- The tiger represents the mind. Shiva lives on Mount Kailasha in the Himalayas.
- His third eye symbolizes the all-knowing awareness of the very Brahman.
The power or energy of Shiva is Parvati. Shiva’s first wife was Sati and his second wife was Parvati. Both are the forms of Adhi Shakti. They are also known by many other names, such as Uma, Gauri, Durga, Kali, Annapurna and Shakti. He is known by many names and tittles. As a god of anger, He is Rudra, the Red One, feared by one and all. As Kailasapathi, He is the Lord of Kailash, His Abode in the Himalayas. As Purusha, He is Iswara Himself. As the Lord of the beings, He is known as Pasupathinath. His sons are Ganesha and Kartikeya. Shiva taught Parvati , Vedanta (transcendent knowledge), while Parvati tought him Sankhya (cosmological knowledge). Both are perfected yogis.
The Shiva Lingam
When Ganga incarnated on Earth, Lord Shiva captured her in His hair mat to stop Her from flooding the earth. As the bearer of the sacred river Ganges, He is known as Ganagadhar. Because of His matted hair, He is dearly called as Jatadhari, by His ascetic followers. As a perfect being He is Siddheshwar. With His Trident in His hands, He became popular as heroic and fearless Trisuladhari. As the world teacher, He was eulogised as Dakhshinamurthi by Adi Shankara in his famous book, “Hymns to Dakhshinamurthi”. The fact that a great mass of heterogeneous cults and practices came to be associated with Him, suggests that in His unlimited wisdom and boundless love as a World Teacher and Father of all, Lord Shiva, gives immense freedom to His followers to choose whatever path they want to follow for their self-realisation.
Shiva worshippers (Shaivites) are among India’s most ascetic Sadhus and yogis, their body smeared with ashes, dressed in saffron colours and wearing a Rudraksha mala. The path of Shiva can thus be seen as the inward-going path, the great journey to find the inner self and self-realisation.
All Names of Lord Shiva
- Ahirbhudhanya: The one who possess the Kundalini
- Aja: The one who is boundless
- Ambikanatha: Consort of Ambika, the Mother Goddess
- Anagha: He who is pure
- Ananta: The one who is unending
- Andhakasura Sudana: The Lord who killed the demon Andhaka
- Anekatma: The God who has many forms
- Anishvara: The one who does not have any Lord
- Apavargaprada: Lord who gives and takes all things
- Ashtamurti: Lord who has eight forms
- Avayaya: The one who never subject to change
- Avayayat: The one who is unseen
- Avyagra: Lord who is steady and unwavering
- Bhagnetrabhid: The Lord who damaged Bhaga’s eye
- Bhagwan: The Lord of prosperity
- Bhaktavatsala: The Lord who is always on the side his devotees
- Bharga: Lord who ends all sins
- Bhasmodhulitavigrah: The one who applies ashes all over the body
- Bhava: The God who is existence itself
- Bheema: The one who has a fearful form
- Bhootapati: Lord of the Panchabhoota and evil spirits
- Bujangabhushana: Lord adorned with the golden snake
- Charuvikrama: The guardian of wandering pilgrims
- Dakshadhwarahara: Destroyer of Daksha’s conceited sacrifice or yajna
- Deva: Lord of the devas or demigods
- Digambara: Shiva whose robes is the cosmos
- Durdharsha: The One who is unconquerable
- Gananatha: God of the ganas
- Gangadhar: The God who holds the Ganges river in his hair
- Giridhanva: God whose weapon is a mountain
- Giripriya: Lord who is fond of the mountains
- Giriraj: King of the mountains
- Girisha: The God who sleeps on Kailash mountain
- Hara: The Lord who dissolves all bondage and sins
- Hari: Same as Lord Vishnu
- Havi: He who is wealthy in the form of ahuti
- Hiranyareta: The one who emanates golden souls
- Jagadguru: Guru of the universe
- Jagadvyapi: God who permeates the entire world
- Jattadhar: The God with matted locks or jata
- Kailashavasi: Native of Kailash
- Kalakal: One who is the death of deaths
- Kamari: Enemy of Kamadeva
- Kapali: One who wears a necklace of skulls
- Kapardi: The Lord with thickly matted hair
- Kathor: The God who has a strong body
- Kawachi: The God who is armored
- Khandaparshu: Lord with the broken axe
- Khatvangi: The God who carries a knurled club or khatvanga
- Kripanidhi: The God who is the treasure of compassion
- Krittivas: God who wears clothes of elephant skin
- Lalataksha: One who has an eye in the forehead
- Mahadeva: Greatest of the Gods
- Mahasenajanaka: Father of Kartikeya
- Maheshwara: Lord of Gods
- Mrida: The Lord who shows mercy
- Mrigpani: Shiva with deer in hands
- Mrityunjay: Lord who conquers death
- Nilalohit: The one with red and blue colors
- Panchavaktra: God of the five activities
- Paramatma: Everyone’s own soul
- Parameshwar: The Great God
- Parshuhasta: The God who holds axe in hands
- Pashupati: Lord of animals
- Pashvimochana: Lord who releases all fetters
- Pinakin: One who has a bow in his hand
- Prajapati: The creator of dynasty
- Pramathadhipa: God who is served by goblins
- Purarati: Destroyer of the enemy
- Pushadantabhit: One who punished Pushan
- Rudra: The one who gets sad by the pain of devotees
- Sadashiva: The one who is eternally auspicious
- Sahasrapada: The Lord who is standing and walking everywhere
- Sahsraksha: One who has limitless forms
- Samapriya: The one who loves with equality
- Sarvagya: The one who knows everything
- Satvik: Lord of boundless energy
- Shambhu: One who bestows prosperity
- Shankar: One who gives happiness and prosperity
- Sharva: Remover of all troubles
- Shashi Shekhar: The God who wears the crescent moon in his hair
- Shashvat: Lord who is eternal and endless
- Shipivishta: The Lord whose form emits great rays of light
- Shitikantha: The Lord who has a white neck
- Shiva: The Lord who is always pure
- Shivapriya: Beloved of Parvati, the Mother Goddess
- Shrikantha: The one of glorious neck
- Shuddhavigraha: Lord of pure soul
- Shulapani: The one who carries a trident
- Som: The one who includes the form of Uma or Goddess Durga
- Somasuryaagnilochana: The one who has eyes in the form of the sun, the moon, and fire
- Sthanu: The firm and immovable deity
- Sukshamatanu: God who has a subtle body
- Swaramayi: The God who lives in all seven notes of music
- Tarak: The Lord who is great liberator of mankind
- Trayimurti: Shiva who possesses the Veda form
- Trilokesha: The Lord of all the three worlds
- Tripurantak: The God who killed the demon Tripurasura
- Ugra: The One who has extremely fierce nature
- Vamadeva: The God who is pleasing and auspicious in every way
- Veerabhadra: Who is violent , yet peaceful
- Virupaksha: The Shiva with oblique eyes
- Vishnuvallabha: The one who is dear to Lord Vishnu
- Vishveshwara: Lord of the universe
- Vrishanka: The God who has a flag with a symbol of bull
- Vrishbharudh: The one who rides bull
- Vyomakesh: Whose hair spreads in the sky
- Yagyamaya: The architect of all sacrificial rites