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16 February 2017

Symbols of Shiva

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Lord Shiva is one of the prominent Hindu gods. Shiva is one of the chief deities of Hinduism. His name means"Auspicious one".  Siva is also known by other names, including Shambhu("Benignant"), Shankara("Beneficent"), Pashupati("Lord of Beasts"),Mahesh("Great lord") and Mahadev("Great God"). Shiva is both the destroyer and restorer. He is the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.In the most famous myth concerning Shiva,he saves humanity by holding in his throat the poison that churned up in the waters and threatened mankind.For this reason he is often called as Neelkanth("the one with blue neck").

Shiva is a great ascetic. lord Shiva is symbolized by various things associated with Him. He destroys out imperfections to ensure our spiritual progress. He destroys the evil and negativity within us and detaches us from mortal and materialism so we can make an upward movement and progress towards the next level of inner spiritual transformation. It is a positive nourishing destruction that builds and transforms life energy for the welfare of the world.During this movement, our desires,illusions, ignorance is destroyed and we are eventually being readied to meet the Lord.

Unclad body smeared with ashes/Vibhuti: Vibhuti is the three lines of ashes drawn on the forehead of the Lord Shiva.It signifies the Immortality of the Lord and his manifested glory. The ashes on the Lord's body is cemetery ash, which points to the philosophy of the life and death and shows that death is the ultimate reality of the life. Most things in the universe reduce to ashes when burned and this aspect of nature is suggested by the ash-smeared appearance of Lord Shiva, who is held to be the God of destruction in Hindu mythology. The Lord is beyond the cycle of birth and death.
Jata (Matted Hair): The flow of his matted hair represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings. It shows that Shiva is Pashupatinath, Lord Of All Living Beings.
Ganga: The river Ganga (or Ganges) is the most sacred river for pious Hindus. According to a legend, the river Ganga has its source in Shiva and flows from his matted hair. This is symbolically represented by depicting Ganga as a jet of water sprinkling out of the head of the Lord and falling on the ground. Legend has it that the Lord allowed an outlet to the great river to traverse the earth and bring purifying water to human being. Thus the name Gangadhara or "Bearer of the river Ganga". The river Ganga also denotes fertility, one of the creative aspects of the Rudra. It also indicates that Shiva is not only the Lord of destruction but also the bestower of knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.
The Third Eye: In the great Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is depicted as a three-eyed God. The third eye is aye of wistom or occult knowledge. While his other two eyes indicate his activity in the physical world, his third eye in the center of his forehead looks beyond the obvious. It stands for spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva's third eye can search evil from anywhere and annihilate it completely. This is the reason why evil-doers fear his third eye.
Crescent: Lord Shiva is typically pictured as wearing a crescent-shaped ornament on one side of his head. The Crescent is actually the moon and symbolizes the movement of time and cosmic proportions.
The Snake around the neck: Lord Shiva is often shown with a snake curled three times around His neck and looking towards His right side. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future - time in cycles. The snake looking in the right direction of Lord Shiva signifies that the Lord's perpetual laws of reason and justice preserve natural order in the universe. The snake with its raised hood is suggestive of Kundalini Shakti, the ever awakened, that resides within Him.
Tiger Skin: In Hindu mythology, the tiger is the vehicle of Shakti, the Goddess of power and force. Lord Shiva is the source of creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe. He activates this energy using his own Divine Will to project the universe.Lord Shiva is often shown seated upon or wearing a tiger skin, which emphasizes the fact that he is the master of Shakti and is beyond and above any kind of force.. The Lord's sitting on Tiger skin indicates that he has conquered lust.
Rudraksha Necklace: Lord Shiva is almost always shown as wearing a necklace having 108 beads made with seeds of the Rudraksha tree. The beads represent the elements used in the creation of the world. The Rudraksha necklace points to the ‘Rudra’ aspect of the Lord, which is also His other name. The word 'Rudra' means "strict or uncompromising" and aksha means "eye." It illustrates the fact that Lord Shiva is firm about His cosmic laws and strictly maintains law and order in the universe.
Damru (Drum): The damru denotes the connection with the cosmic or primal sound of AUM,which can be heard during deep meditation. According to Hindu scriptures, Nada is the source of creation.The damru is also symbol of sound. Sound is nothing but rhythm and energy.Just as in a heartbeat,of one sees a heartbeat it is not a straight line but a rhythm that goes up and down.The whole Universe is a wave function of rhythms.This is exactly according to the theory of Quantum Physics. It is a wave that creates a sound.So the damru also signifies non dual nature of the universe.
Trishul (Trident): The trident, or the spear with three arrow-like heads, is one of the accessories of the Lord and symbolizes His three fundamental powers iccha(will), kriya(action) and jnana(knowledge).It also signifies the three gunas or characters;satwa,raja` and tamas. These qualities  represent the activities of creation, preservation and destruction which are personified with the Hindu trinity of Brahma,Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva) That is the emblem of sovereignty. As His weapon and instrument of punishment the trident represents Lord Shiva's manner of punishing the evil doers on all the three planes - spiritual, subtle and physical. The trishul also represents the 3 nadis or energy channels viz;ida, pingala on the sides and sushumna in the cent re through which the Kundalini shakti/energy ascends to travel through the chakras.
Kamandalu: The water pot (Kamandalu) often shown adjacent to the Lord is another of his accessories. The carrying of the Kamandalu shows the yogic nature of the Lord.
Kundalas: The Kundalas refer to the two ear rings. The dual type of Kundalas represent the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation.
Mount Kailash: Lord Shiva is most often shown to be seated at the peak of beautiful beautiful Himalayas serving as his backdrop. Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is said to be His traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailash is said to represent the center of the universe. Thus the name 'Kailashadhipati' meaning "Lord Of Mount Kailash".
Nandi: Nandi, the bull is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The bull is the symbol of both power and ignorance which suggests that Lord Shiva removes ignorance of his devotees and gives them the power of wisdom. Nandi is a symbol of eternal waiting though he is alert. Waiting is considered to be a virtue and the Nandi is nor anticipating anything neither expecting anything. That is his meditation.
Shivling: In most Hindu temples you will not see an idol of Shiva. Rather it will be a shining black or gray shivling in an ellipsoid shape. It represents the essence of Shiva.The Shivling is an ellipsoid shape-everything in the universe has has begun as an ellipsoid and will end so.(science talks about it too!) It is known as the cosmic egg-referring to creation and destruction. Physically, Shivling is phallic symbol representing the male and female in a state of conjugal bliss. Mentally it symbolizes the union of mind and body. Spiritually it's an union between the Purush and Prakriti  which manifest the highest principles of universe. It's a powerful source of divine energy.


            

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