The god Shiva

The god Shiva

It is the god of destruction. He is represented with a third eye, symbol of wisdom, in the middle of the forehead and with a cobra around his neck. He wears a trident (trishula) and holds a small percussion instrument (damaru). He sits on a tiger skin, symbol of potential energy. Shiva is indeed the creative source of sleep.

From its hair, in which is a crescent moon, symbol of the cycle of time, flows the Ganges, sacred river of Hinduism. His mount is the bull Nandi which is itself the object of a cult. Shiva is a complex and contradictory character. It represents destruction, but the latter aims to create a new world. The emblem of Shiva is the lingam (a phallus), symbol of creation. He has half-closed eyes because he opens them at the creation of the world and closes them to end the universe and begin a new cycle.

Shiva is represented in different forms (the ascetic, the yogi, the beggar ...) and has, according to the texts, 1008 names (Shambhu, Shankara, Pashupati ...). One of the most famous is the Shiva Nataraja, a cosmic dancer who paced the destruction and creation of the world. It is then represented with 4 arms. The upper right hand holds a bell (damaru) which rhythms creation; the upper left hand holds the flame of destruction (samhara); the lower right hand is held in a protective gesture (abhaya mudra); the lower left hand points to the left foot held in the air, thus showing its power of grace. Under his right foot he crushes a dwarf-demon symbol of ignorance. Its immense hair shows its power and is surrounded by a circle of fire (prabhamandala).

Shiva is married to Shakti, the mother-goddess. She herself has several names according to the function she occupies (Parvati, Durga, Kali, etc.). He has two sons, born of Parvati: Ganesh and Skanda. The family lives on the summit of Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas.

See also:


Religions of India

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