What is Shiva? One of the most respected gods in Hinduism, Shiva (Siva) is regarded as a part of the holy trinity (Trimurti) together with Brahma and Vishnu. He is a complicated figure who may stand for kindness, generosity, and protection. He is also linked to time, notably in the dual roles as everything’s maker and destroyer.
Hinduism holds that the cosmos regenerates in cycles (every 2,160,000,000 years). At the conclusion of each cycle, Shiva annihilates the cosmos, allowing for the birth of a new Creation. He is also known as the great ascetic, forgoing all luxury and pleasure in favour of meditation as a method of achieving perfect bliss. As the commander of wicked spirits, ghosts, and the lord of thieves, crooks, and beggars, he also has a darker side. The most revered Hindu deity in the Shaivism religion, He is also the defender of the Vedas, the holy books, and the patron of Yogis and Brahmins.
Table of Contents
- What is Shiva?
- Shiva, Who is He?
- What Sitting Shiva Can Do For You?
- What does Shiva look like?
- Additional depictions:
- Who is he connected to?
- Lord of the dance:
- Why is Shiva Blue?
- Har Har Mahadev Meaning:
What is Shiva?
Shiva is the first stage of organized mourning in Judaism. Shiva has several cultural connotations, and in Hebrew, it is a name for “seven.” Shiva is the seven-day time of mourning for the deceased person’s immediate family, which includes the spouse, children, parents, and siblings.
The aim of Shiva:
The main goal of the shiva custom, or “sitting shiva,” is to provide consolation and a sense of community for those in mourning. It does this by assisting friends and family members as they cope with the death of a loved one. During the whole week-long shiva period, mourners congregate in one family’s house to give support and condolences. Depending on the Jewish community and its beliefs, several rituals may be observed.
Shiva, Who is He?
The third God in the Hindu trinity is Shiva. Three gods make up the triumvirate, who is in charge of creating, maintaining, and destroying the universe. The other two deities are Vishnu and Brahma.
The cosmos was created by Brahma, and it is now being protected by Vishnu. In order to create the cosmos again, Shiva must first destroy everything.
According to Hinduism, the world’s illusions and flaws are still being destroyed and recreated now in order to make place for positive progress. Hinduism holds that this devastation is productive rather than random. As a result, Shiva is revered as the creator of both good and evil and is recognized as the one who successfully unifies numerous incompatible ideas.
Shiva is renowned for having unbridled passion, which drives him to act out to the extremes. He occasionally deprives himself of all worldly pleasures like an ascetic. He is a hedonist at times.
Shiva finds balance through his marriage to Parvati, who is his wife. He may be an ascetic and a lover thanks to their union while staying within the confines of marriage.
Members of the Shaivism sect are Hindus who revere Shiva as their main deity.
What Sitting Shiva Can Do For You?
Practically speaking, the shiva process and customs connected with Jewish mourning provide a mourner’s life after a death structure. The rituals outlined by customary Jewish mourning regulations may console a mourner during the grieving process. “Psychologically, it is vital that a mourner undergo a slow, normal process of detachment from the image of the departed that would also assist avoid pathological grieving,” says board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Jorge Casariego. He defines pathological mourning as a delayed grieving process that eventually develops into a chronic and upsetting emotional state. Serious depression may result if grief persists and becomes a problem. In her more than 40 years of psychiatric practice, Dr. Casariego has seen firsthand that many people require around a year to complete a natural grieving process, a finding that corresponds to the Jewish custom of Yahrzeit.
What does Shiva look like?
Shiva always has a blue face and neck when he appears as a man. Although technically he has a white body, artists frequently depict him as having a blue body as well.
Shiva is shown with the following characteristics:
1. A third eye:
The additional eye stands for Shiva’s knowledge and intelligence. It’s also said to be where he gets his wild energy from. On one occasion, while being worshipped by the love deity Kama, Shiva became disoriented and his third eye became angry. The Kama was engulfed in the raging flames and only came back to life when Parvati stepped in.
2. A cobra necklace:
This represents Shiva’s control over the most destructive animals on earth. According to certain legends, Shiva’s destructive and creative powers are symbolized by the serpent. To make room for fresh, smooth skin, the snake loses its old skin.
3. A vibhuti:
Three lines of white ash are traced horizontally over the forehead called the vibhuti. They stand for Shiva’s all-encompassing nature, extraordinary strength, and prosperity. They also conceal his potent third eye. Vibhuti lines are frequently drawn on the foreheads of Shaivites.
4. A trident:
The three roles of the Hindu triumvirate are symbolized by the three prongs of the trident.
While other deities are shown in opulent settings, Shiva is typically represented in austere settings with minimal clothing and in yoga poses. When Parvati is there, Shiva is constantly at her side. They are on equal footing with one another.
Shiva is the destroyer, although he is typically shown as being content and smiling.
Shiva is occasionally portrayed as a hybrid of a man and a woman. Half of his figure is divided down the middle, with the other half displaying Parvati’s body.
Shiva linga is another image of Shiva. This statue of Shiva’s phallus symbolizes his sheer power and masculinity. According to Hinduism, it symbolizes the universe’s seed and exemplifies Shiva’s capacity for creation. Shiva devotees observe Mahashivratri, a festival during which the Shiva linga is worshipped and washed in water, milk, and honey.
Who is he connected to?
The Mother Goddess, Devi, is Shiva’s spouse. In the past, Devi has assumed a variety of guises, such as Kali, the goddess of death, and Sati, the goddess of happy marriage. She is well known as Parvati, Shiva’s enduring spouse.
Hindus believe that the Kailash mountains in the Himalayas are home to Shiva and Parvati.
Lord of the dance:
Shiva is revered as the master of dance, which is a significant art form in India. The Lord of Dance is a common moniker for him. Shiva is said to keep the cosmos in such expert balance, and the beat of dancing is a symbol of that equilibrium.
The Tandav is his most significant dance. At the conclusion of each era, he performs this cosmic dance of death to obliterate the cosmos.
According to a Hindu myth, Shiva almost caused the cosmos to end by executing this risky dance before it was supposed to. This is the narrative.
The deity Sati’s father made the decision to conduct a prayer service one day. All the gods would be summoned to this prayer event, and offerings would be presented to each of them.
However, Sati’s father was not invited because Shiva had married Sati against his desires. Sati was extremely offended on her husband’s behalf.
On the day of the ritual, Sati was furious and prayed fervently before jumping into the sacred fire.
Shiva had been engaged in intense meditation at the moment. However, Sati’s leap into the fire caused him to awaken in a fit of rage when he realized what his wife had done.
At this point, the tale loses some of its certainty, although it is generally accepted that Shiva initiated the cosmic dance of death. The entire cosmos was going to end before it should have.
The gods in attendance during the prayer service were extremely worried. They covered him with the ashes of Sati to calm him down. This was effective. He stopped dancing after he had collected himself. But he spent many years in meditation, abandoning all of his spiritual responsibilities because he was so distraught at his wife’s passing.
Shiva did not emerge from his meditative state until Sati was reincarnated as Parvati. She educated him about family life and the value of moderation via her love and compassion.
Many Hindus hold up Shiva and Parvati as the ideal representation of a happy marriage, and neither is frequently seen in the art without the other.
Shiva, Parvati & Ganesha:
Parvati, who frequently took the forms of Kali and Durga, was Shiva’s wife. She was really a previous life of Sati, the deity Daksha’s daughter (also known as Dakshayani). Sati’s union with Shiva was disapproved of by Daksha, who even went so far as to hold a special sacrifice ceremony for all the gods other than Shiva. Sati flung herself on the sacrifice fire in wrath at this insult. As a result of this catastrophe, Shiva turned two of his hair into demons (Virabhadra and Rudrakali), who wrecked the ritual and decapitated Daksha. He complied with the other gods’ requests to stop the bloodshed, and after doing so, he revived Daksha but with a ram’s head (or goat). Sati finally underwent reincarnation and married Shiva again as Parvati.
Shiva had a son named Ganesha with Parvati. In reality, the kid was made of dirt and clay to keep her company and safeguard her while Shiva was off on his contemplative travels. Shiva, however, came back one day and asked the lad who he was when he saw him watching over the bathroom where Parvati was taking a bath. Shiva summoned the bhutaganas demons, who fought the youngster and ultimately managed to divert him with the apparition of the lovely Maya, and while he was distracted by the beauty, they chopped off his head. Shiva did not believe the boy was his son and thought him to be an impudent beggar. When she heard the ruckus, Parvati hurried out of the shower and cried out that her kid had been murdered. When he realized his mistake, Shiva sent for a fresh head to restore the boy’s health, but the closest one came from an elephant. Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, was created as a result. Kuvera, the deity of riches, and Skanda, also known as Karttikeya, are other sons of Shiva.
Vishnu, who had three wives at the time—Lakshmi, the goddess of luck, Saraswati, and Ganga—could no longer stand the incessant arguments between them. So he gave Shiva Ganga, the goddess who represented the Ganges. Shiva grabbed Ganga in his topknot, once again displaying his trait of self-sacrifice, to soften her descent to the ground and stop such a vast river from destroying civilization.
Shiva in Mythology:
Like each great deity, Shiva had his share of heroic tales that serve as examples of his virtue and provide guidance on how to live righteously. When Vasuki, the king of the serpents, threatened to spit snake poison over the oceans, for instance, self-sacrifice was highlighted. Shiva gathered the venom in his palm and consumed it while taking the shape of a large tortoise or turtle. One of his numerous names was changed to Nilakantha, or Blue Throat since the poison scorched his throat and left a lasting blue scar.
Another well-known incident explains how Shiva came to be linked to the bull Nandi. One day, Surabhi, the original mother of all cows in the universe, started giving birth to an infinite number of flawlessly white calves. Somewhere in the Himalayas, Shiva’s abode was inundated by the milk from all of these cows. The deity hurled fire from his third eye at the cows in rage because it had interrupted his concentration. As a result, several areas of the cows’ skins went brown. Still furious, the other gods attempted to appease Shiva by offering him Nandi, the majestic bull that was born to Surabhi and Kasyapa. Shiva accepted and mounted Nandi. Nandi also rose to become the defender of all creatures.
Shiva and the Linga (or Lingham), a phallus-shaped emblem of fertility or holy energy seen in temples to the god, are closely related. Shiva moved to the Daru forest to dwell with rishis or sages in grief after Sarti died and before her rebirth. But the rishi’s wives soon started to show an interest in Shiva. Out of jealously, the rishis first sent a big antelope and then a massive tiger to attack the deity, but Shiva dealt with them quickly and went on to wear the tiger hide. Then, the sages cursed Shiva, causing his manhood to disappear. Earthquakes started once the phallus hit the ground, making the crisis fearful and begging for pardon. Shiva granted them this but instructed them to forevermore worship the phallus in the form of the symbolic Linga.
Shiva in Art:
Depending on the specific culture—Indian, Cambodian, Javanese, etc.—Shiva may be portrayed in Asian art in somewhat varied ways, although he is most frequently seen nude, with several arms, and with his hair tied up in a topknot. On his forehead, he frequently sports a third vertical eye and three horizontal stripes. He sports a necklace made of skulls, a bracelet made of snakes, and a hat with a crescent moon and a skull (representing Brahma’s fifth head, which he severed as retribution for the deity lusting for his own daughter Sandhya). He often assumes the identity of Nataraja while dancing the Tandava within a circle of fire that symbolizes the endless cycle of time. Both the drum (damaru), which produces the initial noises of creation, and the divine fire (Agni), which consumes the cosmos, are in his hands. His left foot, a representation of redemption, is pointed to as one hand performs the relaxing abhayamudra motion. Apasmara Purusha, a dwarf figure who symbolizes delusion and pulls people away from the truth, is likewise stamped with one foot by the man.
Shiva may also be portrayed sitting cross-legged with the right leg folded in front of the left knee and a rosary in the right hand, which is the standard ascetic meditation stance. He occasionally also rides his white bull, wields a silver bow (Pinaka), clutches an antelope, and wears an elephant or tiger hide, all of which are emblematic of his renowned hunting ability.
Why is Shiva Blue?
Shiva is shown as having blue skin. Why is he not depicted with a typical human skin tone? Hinduism is rife with symbolism, and Shiva’s blue skin is only one of them.
The colour blue represents the limitless. An effort by the human intellect to give shape to the formless Brahman may be seen in all Hindu deities (The Supreme Truth or God in Hindu Religion). The colour blue represents the formless Brahman, an infinite entity that permeates everything.
Thus, the colour blue reminds us that what appears to be Shiva is actually the all-encompassing truth.
To appease the human intellect, Brahman (the Supreme Reality) assumes a certain shape.
The colour blue also suggests, like the sky, that the Supreme Truth is comprised of many facets, just one of which we have yet to fully comprehend. There are ‘n’ different kinds of the Supreme Truth.
Shiva is also shown in the colors red, ash, and black. These hues are all linked to eternity.
Blue Throat of Shiva:
Shiva is sometimes referred to as Neelakanda, which means “one with blue throat.” This is due to the fact that a black, gooey foam was the first thing to arise as the Devas (Demigods) and Asuras (Demons) used Snake Vasuki as a rope to churn the ocean of milk. It was the terrible toxin Halahala, which was capable of wiping out the whole cosmos.
Lord Shiva promptly grabbed the deadly foam in his hands and swallowed it to rescue the world after realizing that the poison had the potential to destroy the cosmos.
In order to prevent the poison from entering Lord Shiva’s body, Goddess Parvathi grabbed hold of his neck when she became concerned for her husband’s safety. Shiva’s neck stayed blue due to the poison that was still there.
Har Har Mahadev Meaning:
The chant Har Har Mahadev is connected to Lord Shiva.
Why do Hindus recite “Har Har Mahadev”?
This is due to a variety of factors. It is a war cry among Hindus. This phrase was frequently used during battles, especially by the Maratha army. It is used by followers of Lord Shiva to praise him in person or in a group. Those who recite this slogan feel energized. Additionally, it is seen as good Karma to recite a god’s name. Hindus frequently chant “Har Har Mahadev” as a result.
Why does Har Har Mahadev have so many distinct interpretations?
Since Sanskrit is an old language, the same words might have several different meanings. A lot of terms’ definitions have also evolved throughout time. Consequently, there are several ways to interpret this chant.
Various interpretations of Har Har Mahadev:
I believe that many people are unaware of the true meaning of Har Har Mahadev. Mahadev translates as the deity of gods. It is one of Lord Shiva’s most well-known names. Therefore, there is no problem with the word’s meaning. The meanings of the term Har are many.
1. One of Lord Shiva’s names is Har. Har Har Mahadev is hence a simple translation of “Shiva Shiva Shiva.”
2. “To take away” is one of the meanings of the word Har (original Hara). In addition, it implies a destroyer. The worshippers beg Lord Shiva to remove or eliminate their sufferings, ego, ignorance, etc. Because of this, they utter the phrase Har Har Mahadev, which in Sanskrit means “Please remove (delete) negative things from our lives, O Lord Shiva.”
3. Har is the Hindi word for everyone. As a result, Har Har Mahadev signifies that “Lord Shiva is everyone.”