Shiva Image




Rona, Jen and Daniel



     Shiva is often portrayed as an all ecompassing God of destruction, creation, and sustenance. This is because according to the Shaivites (a subsect of Hinduism) Shiva is the supreme God, thus they apply all qualities to Him. In earlier Vedic traditions, there were other predominant gods, but as these gods declined in importance and Shiva rose in popularity, features of these fading deities were applied to Him, making Him rather eclectic and contradictory. However, according to most Hindus, Shiva is just part of a trinity including Brahma and Vishnu and just plays the role of the transformer or destroyer. As the reader can tell, Shiva is very multifacted and has a variety of roles and interpretations.




Shiva Portrayed as an Ascetic





     These are some pictures of Shiva portrayed an ascetic or yogi.There are some common symbols in each portrayal.


The Mountain:The mountain that is portrayed is Mount Kailash. It is considered the abode of Shiva.


Trident: Otherwise known as a Trishula, this symbol resembling a pitchfork has a predominant presence in Hindu mythology. According to stories, the pitchfork was used to rip off the head of Ganesha. The three points represent creation, maintenance and destruction. 


Snakes: The cobras are meant to represent the ego and Shiva's control. The snake coiled around his neck specifically means the present, past and future (time in cycles) because it is coiled around his neck three times. 


Prayer Beads: These are traditional mediums Hindu gurus used when yogis perform their mantras. They are called maalaas.


Sacred Ganga: The sacred Ganga (river Ganges) is what appears to be the fountain coming out of Shiva's head. It is considered a source of purification.


Tiger Skin Mat: Being able to sit on a tiger skin mat was an honour only available to the most accomplished of hindu ascetics.


The Drum: The drum is called damaru and is used when Shiva dances.


Third Eye: The third eye burns desire (or Kuma) to ashes.


Crescent Moon: The waxing and waning of the moon symbolizes the time cycles of creation.

Androgynous: Because in order for there to be life, there must be female and masucline energy, Shiva is depicted as androgynous to represent both creative elements. 








     One of the most common depictions of Shiva is a picture of him dancing. In the first picture it shows Shiva dancing inside of a wheel with fire around it, (the wheel represesnting the process of universal creation), and in the second he is dancing freely. It also shows Shiva on top of a man, with his one leg out, holding fire in one hand and a drum in the other. When Shiva is dancing, he is known as Nataraj, the Lord of Dance. As Nataraj he is the source of all movement in the universe, and his steps are intended to relieving by enlightening the suffering of his devotees. It is in this form that he symbolizes tremendous and eternal "life energy". Shiva is known as the "detroyer and restorer of the universe" and is associated with creative energy. The dancing also represents the patterns of day and night, life and death, and other cycles of life. Shiva's gestures and objects are aspects of his divinity. For instance, the tongue of flame in his back left hand represents destruction, the drum in his back right hand represents creation, his raised leg sybolizes release, his front right arm is practicing a gesture of protection and the dwarf man he is balances on is a representation of stomping on ignorance.



Shiva Linga

Shiva Linga is the representation of the powerful deity Shiva that is also known as “The Lingam”. Shiva Linga (Lingam) is worshipped in the image of his organ of generation. The word “lingam” literally means “sign”. Shiva Linga is the sign of procreation. He is often paired with his female counterpart, and the corresponding female organ, to represent Shiva’s seed. The phallus of Shiva is the lingam, and a symbol of his manhood.




                            Shiva and Shakti in the sacred sexual union                                                                                                                                                      Lingam

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  (three sections)



     There are three sections to The Linga. It is believed that The Linga contains within itself all the three divinities making up the Indian trinity of Supreme Godhead, namely Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.Brahma abides in the lower part that is hidden inside the earth. Vishnu occupies the middle portion of The Linga that is covered by the pedestal, and finally there is Shiva, in the top portion that is visible above the pedestal. The pedestal represents the female organ but is not meant to be worshipped. Since The Linga is shown to encompass the trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and also all creatures of the earth, it is right in deducing that the entire living world, nay the entire universe, is a part of the lingam of Shiva.





     The original Shiva was well known for sexual acts. He had a wife but also was known for being sexually involved with the wives of other deities and sages. The sages felt threatened by Shiva and came to him with a curse. They cursed him with not being able to perform any sexual activity and no procreation. The sages then castrated Shiva and at that point he was without phallus. The world began to darken and Shiva became angered and started the distruction of all things. Since Shiva is the creator of all things and life as we know it. Shiva was able to create his own phallus. Thus being named Shiva Linga he was then worshipped as the almighty procreator and seed of all life.     









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