Shiva plays the role of destroyer in the Hindu pantheon. He is called by many names: Bhole Nath, Bhava, Vishwanath, Bhairava, Nataraja, Pashupati, Mahayogi and Mahadeva. Shiva is a complex diety. Hindus heed this by separating his shrine from others in their temples.
Shiva is worshipped in the form of a symbol known as “linga”. This symbol represents cosmic life energies, that constitute the entire universe. In a Shiva temple, the “linga” is located under the spire, symbolizing the earth’s navel.
Shiva is Different
Shiva is portrayed in a distinct image, which is different compared to other dieties. His hair is styled in a large pile, hosting a crescent. The river Ganges is said to originate from Shiva’s hair. Around the lord’s neck, a serpent rests coiled, symbolizing the kundalini of spiritual energy. His left hand holds a trident with a leather drum bound to it. On Shiva’s right side, a water pot is seen. He sits on a mat made of tiger skin. His entire body is covered with ash and he wears “Rudraksha” beads around his neck.
The Destructive Force
Shiva’s role as the dissolving force is important in Hinduism, as death paves the way for rebirth and resurrection. In fact, this lord symbolizes both creation and destruction, and life and death.
A Fascinating God
Shiva is a supreme ascetic and his disposition is always composed and passive. His chosen vehicle is the bull Nandi, decorated with garlands. Shiva’s complexity makes him a fascinating god. Shiva’s consort is Parvati and together they personify the power of asceticism and renunciation as well as marital felicity.