Lord Shiva, also known as ‘Mahadeva’, ‘Maheshwara’, and ‘Parmeshwara’, is one of the three principal deities of the Hindu religion. Together with Brahma and Vishnu, he represents the Trimurti. Shiva is the transformer or destroyer. He is both gentle and fierce; he is the greatest of renouncers as well as the ideal lover. He is both creator and destroyer, young and old. He is omnipresent in all living beings as pure consciousness. Shiva is referred to as “the auspicious one”, the protector of good and destroyer of evil. He is worshipped in all countries with a substantial presence of Hinduism and Hindus. His worshippers are called ‘Saiva’ and he is worshipped in the form of a ‘Shiva Linga’. He is considered eternal; he has no birth and no death. Here are 10 interesting life facts about Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva has many reincarnations; Lord Hanuman is considered the eleventh one and is believed to have been Lord Shiva’s way of devotion to Lord Vishnu. Hanuman is referred to as ‘Rudra avatar’ , the reincarnation of Rudra. Many scriptures have referred to Lord Shiva as Rudra and has been considered to be the “mightiest of the mighty’, often associated with wind or storm. Hanuman, who was also known as the son of the ‘Pavan’, or ‘Pavan Putra’,was born after his mother’s long prayers to Lord Shiva, who is believed to have directed Pavan to bless Hanuman’s parents with a child.
- The story behind Lord Shiva’s vehicle Nandi, the Bull
Nandi Bull, the vehicle of Lord Shiva, has been referred to as the bearer of wisdom and righteousness. How Lord Shiva met Nandi is an interesting tale in itself. When Surabhi, themother of all the world’s cows, gave birth to a large number of perfectly white cows, the cows produced milk in excessive amounts and the milk flooded parts of the Himalyas where Lord Shiva was meditating. When the floods disturbed his meditation, his fierce form became alive and the cows faced the wrath of his ‘Third eye’. The cows turned brown and some of them could not produce milk anymore. To calm down Shiva the other Gods offered him a magnificent bull- Nandi, son of Surabhi and Kasyapa, which Shiva accepted as his vehicle. Since then, Nandi has been Lord Shiva’s faithful assistant and the protector of all animals. He is believed to have powers to grant boons as well.
- Parvati was not Shiva’s first wife, Sati was. However, Parvati is a reincarnation of Sati
It is widely believed that Maa Parvati was Lord Shiva’s only wife and companion. However, various scriptures suggest that Sati, granddaughter of Brahma, was Shiva’s wife. When Shiva was not invited by her father Daksh Prajapati for a grand yagna and was ignored and humiliated on accompanying her to the Yagna, Sati was infuriated by the treatment her husband received from her father and feeling guilty for the incident, she jumped into a fire. Parvati, the daughter of Himavat, is also referred to as Uma, which is another name for Sati. The reincarnation of Sati, Parvati resolved to marry Shiva and through devotion was able to get Lord Shiva to agree.
- Ravana- the King of Lanka, was Lord Shiva’s greatest devotees
Ravana, or ‘Dashanana’ , was a lifelong devotee of Lord Shiva. When Ravana wasn’t allowed to meet Shiva at Kailash, he attempted to uproot the mountain and angered Shiva. Shiva, annoyed with his arrogant ways, trapped him painfully under the mountain. It is believed that Ravana composed a veena, of which he was a master, from one of his heads and tendons and sang songs praising the Lord. Pleased with his devotion, Shiva freed him from his bondage and also presented him with the divine sword ‘Chandrahas’.
- Shiva contained Ganga in his hair when she first descended to Earth
When Bhagiratha prayed to Brahma to make Ganga come down to the Earth and flow over his ancestor’s ashes and grant them salvation, Ganga felt insulted and vowed to swipe all that was available on the Earth as she flew turbulently over it. Bhagiratha then prayed to Shiva to calm Ganga down, and Shiva calmly trapped her in his long locks and then let her out in small streams over time. Her containment in Shiva’s locks pacified her and she flowed to purify the unfortunate souls on Earth.
- Sudarshan Chakra was presented to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva
When Vishwakarma collected Sun dust from Surya , he made three objects namely- a Trishul, Pushpaka Viman, and Sudarshan Chakra. The Sudarshan Chakra is believed to represent the sun rays as it was made from the essence and dust of Surya- the Sun God. When Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva by presenting 999 Lotus flowers and one of his eyes, Lord Shiva was immensely pleased and presented Lord Vishnu with the ‘Sudarshan’ Chakra, which also roughly translates to good vision. The Sudarshan Chakra was also carried by many of Lord Vishnu’s reincarnations like Lord Krishna.
- Lord Shiva drank poison from the oceans to save the Earth
When the Gods and Demons churned the seas in order to obtain ‘Amrit’ or nectar, a poisonous substance known as ‘Halahala’ came from the seas and started to killing both Gods and Demons. When they realized that it was getting out of control, they ran to Brahma who then requested Lord Shiva to help. Lord Shiva consumed the poison and to prevent it from reaching his stomach, Parvati stopped it in his throat, making his throat blue. This earned him the names ‘Viskantha’ and ‘Neelkantha’.
- All of his ornaments and marks on his body symbolize something significant in the world
The ‘third eye’ symbolizes another dimension of perception. The way we perceive existence is illusory, while existence itself is not. The ‘third eye’ represents how meditation and yoga allowed Shiva to refine his energies and enhance his perception of the world around him.
The Trishul represents the three fundamental dimensions of life. The left and right parts represent the basic duality in existence, the logical and intuitive sides of any person. The middle part, or ‘Sushumna’, represents the central dormant space. It is believed that life only begins when you are able to channel energies into the Sushusmna and attain a new inner peace which cannot be disturbed or influenced by outer situations.
The moon on his forehead represents ‘soma’, which essentially means intoxication. Vedic scriptures describe how the brain is capable of being completely intoxicatedand still fully aware and awake. There are millions of receptors in our brain which will receive natural narcotics when certain practices of yoga and meditation are followed.
The snake represents the ‘Vishuddhi chakra’ located in the pit of the throat. It represents a filter to all kinds of poison entering the body. The live snake symbolizes the active state of his Vishuddhi, as snakes are very sensitive to certain energies and substances.
The Damru in his hands created the spiritual sound of ‘Om’ which is present in all living things and is a source of cosmic energy. Shiva uses it to channel his spiritual energy during his ‘Tandava’ cosmic dance.
- Shiva is the cosmic dancer who destroys a weary universe and makes way for Brahma to create a new one
Shiva is often depicted as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer who, through his cosmic moves is the source of all movement throughout the universe. The dance posture is a visual representation of the reality at the time of cosmic destruction, the disappearance of all life.
1 .Kailash mountain, his abode is considered to be a representation of the center of the universe
Shiva resides at the summit of the legendary Kailash Mountain, which is the abode of his family as well. He is believed to sit there in perpetual meditation with his wife Parvati who represents Shakti. The mountain is at the center of six mountain ranges and is believed to represent a lotus as well. It is the only mountain at the base of which both a fresh water and a salt water lake can be found together. The fresh water Mansarovar and the salt water Rakshas tal represent both the positive and negative energies in the world and that Lord Shiva has control over both of these, thus attaining balance.