Lord Shiva also known as “Mahadeva” is the most complex of Hindu deities, and yet so simple in his attire.
“Shiva” means the “Auspicious One”.
He is also known as:
Rudra – his terrific form
Nataraja – his dance pose
Vishwanatha – he is the universe
Before entering a “Shiva temple” you will always see “Nandi” / Bull, outside the temple, guarding “Shiva”.
Nandi is “Shiva’s vehicle. In Sanskrit, “bull” is called “vrisha”, which means “righteousness”.
Nandi with Shiva – symbolizes “companion of righteousness”.
Shiva’s personality symbolizes many aspects of life.
For instance, the symbol of “matted hair”, which is why Shiva is also called ‘Jatadhara’.
Shiva is beyond worldly affairs. So, He doesn’t believe in maintaining his hair just to look presentable.
Moreover, Shiva has the holy “River Ganga” on his head, flowing from the “matted hair”. Such is his “Persona”.
His “matted hair” shows that Shiva is beyond the description of beauty.
Shiva is the “epitome of beauty” there is no one or nothing is “as beautiful as Shiva”.
The 7 Symbols of Lord Shiva are:
1. Ardha-Chandrama/ The Crescent Moon
Shiva is also known as “Chandrashekhara”.
‘Chandra’ means the “moon”.
“Shekhar” means the ‘crest’ or the ‘peak’.
The moon adorns the head of Lord Shiva, which is the peak -point of any human being – head/brain.
Shiva means where there is “no thoughts or no mindfulness”.
Whereas, the moon signifies the mind.
You need a little bit of the mind to experience, understand and express.
The no-mind means “infinite consciousness”. To know that you are in “infinite consciousness” requires that little bit of mind to express itself in the manifest world.
So, to express that indescribable “infinite consciousness”, that little mind (crescent moon) is on the head.
Wisdom is beyond the mind, it is expressed with a “tinge of the mind”, which is symbolized by the “crescent moon”.
Another Story is:
King Daksha is one of the “agents of creation”.
“Chandra”, the moon god is married to King Daksha’s 27 daughters.
Rohini was one of the 27 daughters. “Chandra” loved Rohini more than the other wives.
The other 26 wives felt neglected and they complained to their father. Daksha repeatedly warned Chandra to devote himself equally to all his 27 wives, but as usual, Chandra did not listen.
Daksha got angry and cursed Chandra that he would gradually fade away.
Chandra didn’t know what to do and went to seek advice from Brahma, the creator.
Brahma told him that the only way out was to pray to Shiva. Chandra prayed to Shiva for 6 months.
At the end of the prayer/meditation, Shiva decided to grant Chandra a boon.
But, Shiva knew that Daksha’s curse cannot be entirely removed, there would have to be a compromise.
Shiva told Chandra that he will ‘wane’ and ‘wax’. This will satisfy everybody.
Lord Shiva then wore Chandra in the shape of a crescent on his head, making him grow for 15 days and get smaller for 15 days periodically.
Chandra was happy with this arrangement and hence shines on Shiva’s head.
The Shiva Linga to which Chandra, the moon god prayed/ meditated is “Somantha”, which is one of the 12 jyotirlingas.
River Ganga is a goddess and hence is considered the most sacred river.
The source of river Ganga is Shiva’s matted hair.
You can see in many images, that a jet of water smothers out of Shiva’s head and falls on the ground.
Shiva allowed this holy water to flow to humans through an outlet in the river to traverse the earth.
So, Shiva is not just the “god of destruction”, but also a “conveyor of purity and peace”.
Shiva is also known as “Gangadhara”, which means “Bearer of the river Ganga”.
3. Third Eye
Lord Shiva is often depicted with a 3rd eye and hence is also known as “Triyambhkam”.
The third eye is the “sight of knowledge”.
Our 2 eyes are not always sufficient to judge things and know the realities of life.
Shiva’s third eye symbolizes the “rejection of desire”.
We must have balance, purity of character and a broader vision to lead a peaceful life.
It is said that when the pineal gland or ‘third eye’ is awakened, one can see beyond space-time into time-space.
The pineal gland secretes two extremely vital brain fluids related to our mental health – Melatonin and Serotonin.
Melatonin – induces sleep.
Serotonin – maintain a happy, healthy, balanced mental state of mind.
An activated “third eye” raises the frequency on which you operate and moves you into higher consciousness.
Shiva is peaceful, balanced and divine.
Shiva adorns the snake around his neck. The snake coils three rounds his neck.
The 3 rounds around the neck symbolize – the past, the present and the future.
Coiling symbolizes the “cyclic nature of time”.
The snake symbolizes that Shiva is immune to the wrath of time and death.
5. Tiger Skin
Shiva adorning the tiger skin symbolizes that he is all-powerful.
In most of the images, Lord Shiva is depicted sitting on a tiger skin, which symbolises the victory of the divine force over animal instincts.
The tiger is a powerful animal with a lot of energy, and in this case, the tiger’s skin represents Shiva as the source of relative energy.
Shiva’s energy flows throughout the universe. Shiva activates this energy with his divine will so that he can project the universe in endless cycles.
Shiva’s Trishul has three prongs. The 3 prongs symbolize the three fundamental powers of Shiva
Shiva can destroy dishonesty and ignorance.
It also symbolizes that the wrongdoers will be penalized by Shiva in three planes: spiritual, subtle and physical.
Damru is a musical instrument.
The sound made by the “damru” symbolizes the “cosmic sound” or the “sound of the universe”.
“Pranavamand” or the sound of damru, represents “AUM” the “Shabda Brahma” or the “universal sound”.
Shiva’s damru sound created “grammar and music”.
Scriptures say that when Shiva was in his “creation mode”, his damru vibrated 14 times.
These 14 vibrations of the damru are the basic formulae containing all the alphabets in Sanskrit. The alphabets are arranged in such a way that it simplifies various grammatical processes.
Therefore, the damru symbolizes alphabets, grammar and language.
Lord Shiva’s mantra: “Aum Namah Shivaya”
Significance of Chanting ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’
Aum Namah Shivaya –
Aum is the sound of the universe – peace and love.
‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Va’, ‘Ya’, are the five elements of nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
This mantra is one of the simplest and the most powerful of all Shiva mantras.
Chanting this mantra will help you build energy up in your system and it also clears negativity in the environment.
This mantra will help you uplift your consciousness.
The negative effects of the planets can be removed by chanting “Aum Namah Shivaya”.
Shiva is within you,
Shiva’s energy flourishes in your body,
When your inner self is in harmony, love and peace.
“Aum Namah Shivaya”