Shiva Lingam-Yoni Shiva as Lord of the Beasts with Parvati Shiva Nataraja--Lord of the Dance
Images used with permission.
Basic Description: Shiva
is one of the main Deities worshiped in Hinduism.
member of the Hindu trimuti, the others are Brahma and Vishnu.
Shiva is portrayed as a wanderer,
destroyer, and the god of the dance. Shiva-Rudra is considered to be
the destroyer of evil and sorrow, whereas Shiva-Shankara is the doer of good.
Shiva lives on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas.
Alternate Names: Mahadeva (Great god),
Rudra, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja
(Lord of the Dance), Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhole Nath. Parvati’s other names are Uma, Gauri, Durga, Kali, and Shakti.
The name of Shiva is not found
in the Vedas; however he is associated with Rudra. It is possible that Shiva
was a non-Aryan god adopted by the Indo-Aryans. The name Shiva
means auspicious. Worship and practice for
the followers of Shiva closely resemble that of all Hindu worship, with the
addition of the focus on the Lingam. The Lingam is the object of worship and adoration in worship devoted to Shiva.
The lingam is the physical representation of Shiva. The word lingam literally
means a sign or distinguishing mark, and it refers to Shiva's reproductive organ, the symbol of his male virility and power. Shaivites often distinguish themselves by marking themselves with three
horizontal lines on their forheads.
art Shiva is depicted as white, but with a black neck.He is dressed in a tiger skin.His hair is bound up with a snake; he wears
another around his neck and a third across his chest.He wears the symbol of the moon and has a
third eye on his forehead. Shiva is also portrayed as the lingamand as the Lord of the Dance.
myths of concerning Shiva:
Rudra Birth Myth:
lord of beings and the dawn had a child. The child was weeping and his father asked him why.
The child said that it was because his evil
was still with him and because he had not yet been given a name.
His father said that his name would be Rudra
since he was weeping (rud).
Shiva Birth Myth:
Brahma and Vishnu were born first, they were alone together arguing
about who was the most powerful. Suddenly before them appeared a lingam.
The lingam went up as far as they could see and down as far as they
could see. Together they decided to try
and explore it. Vishnu became a boar and
traveled down for a thousand years, but never found a base.
Brahma became a goose and traveled up for a
thousand years, but never found a top. They both returned to where they had started and the lingam became
Shiva, thus proving that Shiva was the most powerful.
Wanderer Myth: This
legend says that Brahma and Shiva were born at the same time and instantly
began fighting for superiority. In the
battle Shiva cut off one of Brahma’s heads and his hand instantly became
paralyzed. Since Shiva was weakened,
Brahma unleashed a powerful demon on him and Shiva ran and took refuge in the
city of Benares. There he was absolved of his crime and the
head was removed from his hand, but he was condemned to a life of wandering.
Black Neck Myth: While
the great milk ocean was being churned the serpant spit poison out at the
ocean. In order to keep it from going
into the ocean, Shiva caught it in his mouth and swallowed it and Parvati, to
keep it from poisoning him choked him, trapping it in his throat.
This is what gives him a black neck.
Marriage to Sati Myth:
Daksha, son of
Brahma, had a daughter named Sati who was quite
lovely. When the time came for her to
marry, he invited all of the gods to come so that she could have her choice. However, he did not invite Shiva because he
thought him not good enough for his daughter. Sati adored Shiva and when she saw that he was not among those assembled
she threw the wedding garland into the air and implored Shiva to come and
receive it. Instantly he appeared and
did so and the stunned Daksha was forced to give Sati to him in marriage.
Death of Sati Myth:
Some time later another assembly of the gods was held and when Daksha
entered Shiva did not rise in respect, this began a feud between them.
Sati came to her father to find out the cause
of his hatred of Shiva and argued to defend him, when her father would not
listen, she threw herself on the sacrificial fire to redeem her husband.
When Shiva heard of this he was infuriated
and went straight to Daksha’s house and killed him, he then took the body of
Sati and in his madness and grief began to dance a furious dance which shook
the world. Vishnu was concerned by the
effect of this dance and feared what would happen if it was allowed to continue,
so he took the body of Sati from Shiva and cut it into many pieces and spread
them over the earth. Once Sati’s body
was gone Shiva came to himself and repented his actions and the death of
Daksha. He restored Daksha to life, but
substituted a goat’s head for Daksha’s. Eventually Sati was reborn as Uma or Parvati.
Third Eye Myth:
day Parvati snuck up behind Shiva and put her hands over his eyes.
Instantly the worlds were plunged into
darkness, but a third eye sprung up on Shiva’s forehead and saved the universe.
first Lingam origin myth is found in the Shiva birth myth given above.
the death of Sati, Shiva wandered the wilderness. One day in the woods he came across the wives
of some hermits, who asked him about his madness. He explained he was sad because of the death
of his wife. One of the women laughed at
this and exclaimed that no one would marry someone looking so ragged and
ill. At this Shiva was infuriated and
grabbed her intending to rape her. Her husband
came just as this happened and cursed Shiva to be forever worshipped in the
form of the Lingam.
Bhrigu’s Curse:The sage Bhrigu came to consult Shiva, but
was forced to wait outside for a long time.When Shiva and Parvati eventually came to the door it was apparent that
they had been making love.The sage,
angry at having been made to wait, cursed Shiva to be worshipped in the form of
Riding Animal: Shiva's
riding animal is a white bull named Nandi, which means the joyful.
Nandi was given to Shiva by Daksa-Brahma, who is also referred to as Prajapati.
who dies and becomes Uma or Parvati.
Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:
Danielou, The Myths and Gods of India. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1991.
The Hindu Pantheon. Los Angeles: Philosophical research society,
Thomas, P. Epics, Myths
and Legends of India. Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons &
Co. Private Ltd, 1961.