Lord Shiva meditating on Mt Kailas
|School||Saivite (Shaivite, Shaivism)|
|Region||North India, generally|
|Mantra||Om Namah Shivaya|
|Symbol or Weapon||Trishul|
The third of the Hindu Trimurthi (Trinity) of supreme deities of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction and renewal of life. To the Indian mind everything is eternal, all that is created must return to dust. Evolution leads to involution, and everything that is destroyed must appear in another form. Lord Shiva rules over both events.
He is also known as Rudra. In Saivite temples and households the deity Shiva is honoured and worshipped as Shiva-Rudra, the auspicious Rudra. He is prayed to so that he may become auspicious, and be Sankara, be Sambhu (var. shambo) and he is lauded as Siva, auspiciousness. The name Shiva becomes the distinctive for Rudra in the later Yajur Veda, the Atharva Veda and in the Sankhyayana Brahmanas.
Svetasvatara Upanishad lauds Rudra-Shiva as a deity to be worshipped by all Bharathiyas who are acquainted with Vedic ritual and Vedic traditions. Svetasvatara Upanishad is permeated with Vedantic and Sankhya teachings and inculcates a mystic knowledge of the divine through meditation and yogic practices. Mediation on Shiva using the breath is the repitition of the mantram Sivo-ham, meaning "I am Shiva".
Shiva is often shown in his terrible aspect as destroyer of all things, but also as the great god Mahadeva, var. Maheswara, the ruler of all things. Shiva is often depicted as a great ascetic, grey, covered in ash and meditating. In this depiction, Shiva is lord of Yoga and Yogis. He is tri-netra (three-eyed) and due the power of his ascetic practices, can and does destroy that which is appears before his third eye. Shiva reduced the god Kama to ashes at the end of one age of Brahma.
His consort is Parvati (also known as Devi).
Notes and references
- Hastings, James (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol XI, p 90