|About Hindu Gods and Goddesses: As we continue our exploration of the mythology of Hindu dieties, we turn to the third of the triad of great gods, Lord Shiva, the Destroyer. The other two members of the trinity, discussed in two previous newsletters, are Brahma, the Creator, and Vishnu, the Preserver. Shiva is the most often called upon of the three. The following write-up is from www.siamese-dream.com and the illustration is from www.IloveUlove.com
LORD SHIVA: “Shiva is often referred to as the Destroyer, but it might be better to think of him as the God of Transformation, since he is often associated with creation that comes out of destruction. But Shiva has different aspects that appear at different times. He is often depicted as the destroyer, and will appear as a naked ascetic accompanied by demons, encircled with serpents and necklaces of skulls.
Sometimes Shiva wanders into crematoriums, smears his body with ash and dances in the light of the funeral pyres, reminding all about the transitory nature of material things. Sometimes the creative force of Shiva is depicted, and in particular Shiva is represented by a phallus, known as the linga. Other times Shiva is seen as the god of meditation and asceticism. He will be depicted sitting cross-legged with his eyes half-closed. Another common form is that of Shiva Nataraja. This is Shiva (shown here) engaged in a cosmic dance. It is believed that the energy from this dance sustains the cosmos, and when Shiva is finished with this dance, this universe will end and a new one will begin.”
Also associated with Lord Shiva is the snake curled three times around his neck, representing the past, present and future, signifying that creation proceeds in cycles, though Lord Shiva himself transcends time. His trident symbolizes his three powers: will, action and knowledge. He wears a tiger skin, representing that he is the source of all creative energy. Shiva also wears a Rudraksha necklace. “Rudra,” another name for Shiva, means “strict or uncompromising” and “aksha” means “eye, ” and the beads symbolize how Lord Shiva adheres to his cosmic laws firmly without compromise. The 108 beads, known as the “tears of Shiva,” have been worn by yogis of India for thousands of years as an aid to health, self-empowerment and a fearless life. Also prominent is Lord Shiva’s third eye, representing his ability to burn up anything which might hinder spiritual insight.
Lord Shiva’s consort is Devi, Divine Mother Energy, who appears in many forms including Durgha, Kali and the more peaceful Parvati. Together they have two sons, Ganesha, the elephant God, and Kartikeya, a hero and slayer of demons.
Lord Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed and anger. Shiva destroys evil, grants favors, bestows grace, removes ignorance and awakens wisdom in his followers. We call upon Lord Shiva to help us destroy what needs to end and create positive changes. A favorite mantra to honor Lord Shiva and call for our transformation is – “Om Namo Shivaya.”