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The Symbolism of the Great Lord Shiva

The Symbolism of the Great Lord Shiva

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Published by korav
This is about the symbolism of the great Lord Shiva, one of the gods of the Hindu Trinity.
This is about the symbolism of the great Lord Shiva, one of the gods of the Hindu Trinity.

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Published by: korav on Jul 02, 2010
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06/19/2014

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 1
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE GREAT LORD SHIVA:INTRODUCTION
 
A
ccording to the Puranas, in the beginningless beginning there was only the
One
 without a second. It has been given various names such as Parashiva, PurushottamaVishnu, Parabrahma and Parâshakti, etc in the various Puranas, where predominanceis given to one aspect of 
Divinity
. The One then
willed
to become manifest asDiversity (Eko’ham Bahusyâmi). It then assumed the Primordial Aspect of 
Ishvara
 or Ishvari or AUM or Mahavishnu or Sadâshiva Maheshvara, the
Will Divine
(alsocalled
Elohim
in Bible and
Allah
in Coran). Associated with the Divine Will is ItsPotency or Shakti: its active nature.The Divine Will then manifests as the Trimurti, Trikâla and Triguna. It becomesBrahmâ or the
Creative Power
, Vishnu or the
Sustaining Power
and Shiva or the
Constructive
-
Destructive Power
. Each of the three inseparable aspects of the DivineWill is predominated by one particular mode of nature (Guna). Brahmâ is predominated by Rajas or passion/ expansion/activity; Vishnu by Sattva or  purity/stability/light and Shiva by Tamas or concreteness/contraction/ignorance.Brahmâ is also considered as
Substance
, the Unmanifest Potential or Hiranyagarbha(Golden Egg). Shiva is
Structure
, the Manifest or Virat (Cosmic Form). Vishnu isSoul, the Imperishable
Substratum
. Manifestation is thus an interplay of these threemajor forces. The Divine Will also offers Grace, Reward and Protection to thosespiritually connected to It.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SHIVA
In the Shiva Puranas, the Divine Will is identified with Maheshvara Sadâshiva and theCosmic Material and Potency with Maheshvari. Let us examine the Shiva principle atthe three different levels of existence.
 
 2
(A) GEOSPHERE: COSMIC/ UNIVERSAL/ NATURAL LEVEL (BHUH)
At this level, Shiva as
Bhootanâtha
is the manifestation of the five elements(panchamahabhuta) - earth, water, fire, air and space. He is thus depicted with fivefaces or facets:
Panchânana
. The whole universe (
Prapancha
) is made up of the five(pancha) elements. So Shiva is also
Vishvanâtha
, Lord of Universe and
Bhava
or Manifestation and Becoming. He is even called
Guna Sâmbhava:
that is Manifestthrough as well as manifesting the Guna or Modes of Nature.As
Girisha
or 
Kailâshpati
, Lord of Mountains, Shiva represents Earth (solid state of manifest objects); as
Gangâdhara
, Holder of Ganges, He represents water (fluids).As
Trilochana
or 
Tryambakam,
His third eye represents fire (light, heat, energy)and hence His epithet
Kâlâgni
 
Bhairava
.As
Trishulapâni
, His trident (Trishula) stands for air, prana and time (past, present,future). The central dent stands for prâna or life force while the two side dents are air moving from the right and left nostrils to the lungs and back. As
Damaruhasta
,Bearer of mini-drum, He stands for space - as sound moves in space. Shiva’s popular name as
Digambara
means one whose garment is space, one clad with space. Soundis also the mystical symbol of the manifest universe. His
Rudraksha
rosary standsfor evolutionary process and the law of nature, which constantly brings about newforms and species and keeps things turning in cycles.As
Chandrashekhara
or 
Induchooda
or 
Chandramaulishvara
, Bearer of moon ashis crown, the moon stands for the crown of earth and the measurement of time interms of tithis and pakshas. Life forms on earth are influenced by the moon. Shiva iscalled
Kâlabhairava
,
Trikâleshvara, Kâlatmaka
(lord and embodiment of time)meaning Shiva is Time as the beginning and end of everything manifest. He is
Mahakâla
, time as the destroyer.Around his neck is a garland of skulls and bones (
Gale runda mâlâ
) symbolising the physical structure of living entities, including man. It also stands for death: Shiva isequally named
Hara
, The Destroyer. His Three Eyes are sun, moon and fire (
Surya,Sashânka, Vahni
) and they represent Light and Energy forms.In brief, at this level, Shiva is the Structure of the manifest (
Vyakta
) - elements, life-force, space, time, light, darkness and evolution. He is also the death or deconstruction of all structures. So in Shiva’s representation we have
 Structure
along
 
 3
with its phases such as Construction, Destruction and Reconstruction. Structure(
Bhuteshvara Shiva
) has always Shadows or spirits hanging around (Bhutas, pretas,etc) as it is always built from past impressions or vâsanas, which still haunt it.Shiva’s wife or Shakti is
Pârvati
, active power of earth, elements and nature. She is
Simhavâhini
. Her tremendous power is represented by her mount, the king of animals, the Lion. Her power is creative, preservative and destructive: She is
Trigunamayi
. As
Umâ
, She is a serene and wonderful force of nature like a sunset,waterfall, flowery forest, cool breeze, etc. As
Kali
,
Chandika
,
Chamundi
, sherepresents reckless and violent forces of nature like volcanoes, drought, cyclones, plagues, etc, which bring about death, desolation and destruction. Manifestation,Evolution and Destruction are symbolised by the cosmic dance and embrace of Shivaand Shakti.
(B) BIOSPHERE: BIOLOGICAL EVOLUTION (BHUVAH)
As
Pashupati
, Lord of beasts or living entities, Shiva manifests as the
BIOSPHERE
,the world of all living (sentient) creatures. He is all species manifest on earth: snakesor reptiles, bull or mammals like deer, sheep, etc, giant animals like the elephant or small creatures like rats (rabbits, squirrels), flying creatures like the peacock, predators like the lion and tiger and domesticated animals such as the dog. His sittingon an animal’s skin reflects his seat in all animal forms. As
Kailashnath
, He is alsomanifest as all trees (Vanaspati) and all herbs (Aushadhi).At the
biological level
,
Shiva
and his consort,
Sati
, represent the initial unity of gender as
Ardhanarishvara
(half male half female) and the separation butcomplementariness of the sexes is depicted by
Shiva
and
Parvati
. Shiva also standsfor 
Prâna
or Life-force, the Lord of living entities (
Pashupati
) or Emotions/ Urges(
Rudra,
the weeper) and his five heads represent the five major life winds (pranas or vâyus) essential for maintaining a living being-
breath
or 
respiration
,
evacuation
,
motion
-
emotion(circulation)
,
digestion
and
sleep
or 
regeneration
.This is readily observable in the case of a new-born. As it is born, it starts breathing,crying/moving and excreting. It is then fed and put to sleep. Instincts, needs, urges,whims and emotions are irrational just like animals (pashu). His wife is the physicaland vital energy. Both operate at the physical and vital levels, at the seat of impulses,

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