is shown either meditating or in the form of a Dancing God
(Nataraj) where his dance is to the beat and rhythm of creation. He is also shown in sculptures with many hands. One pair of hands represents the balance between life and death
. Shiva is ′tri netra′ or three-eyed
, and is ′neela kantha′ – blue-necked (having consumed poison to save the world from destruction)
. Besides, there are a lot many attributes associated with Lord Shiva.
The most essential attributes of Shiva are :
The trishul is his weapon.
The damaru is his musical instrument.
The adorning crescent moon and the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair.
The snake Vasuki is around his neck.
An awaiting and patient Nandi.
His tiger skin-clad body.
The third eye on his forehead.
Here is a brief description of some of the important symbols that depict Lord Shiva. Each of his depictions signifies a different aspect of his Supreme Being.
Unclad body covered with ashes: This form of Lord Shiva depicts that Lord Shiva’s presence is much higher than this physical phenomenon. According to some scholars, Shiva’s body smeared with cemetery ash points to the philosophy of life and death and the fact that death is the ultimate reality of life.
Meaning of Lord Shiva Jata (Matted Hair): The flow of his matted hair represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings. Thus it is Shiva who is the lifeline for all living beings. He is Pashupatinath.
Sacred Ganga: The holiest of the holy rivers, Ganga flows from the matted hair of Shiva. According to a legend, Shiva allowed an outlet to the great river to traverse the earth and bring purifying water to human beings. Ganga also denotes fertility – one of the creative aspects of the Rudra.
The Meaning of Lord Shiva’s Third Eye: Lord Shiva is known as the three-eyed Lord or Tryambaka Deva. The sun is his right eye, the moon is his left while the third eye of Shiva on his forehead is the eye of wisdom. It is the eye that looks beyond the obvious. The third eye can search for evil from anywhere and destroys it completely.
Meaning of Half-Open Eyes of Lord Shiva: The half-open eyes show that the cycle of the universe is in the process. When the eyes are completely closed it signifies the dissolved of the universe and when it is completely open a new cycle of creation begins.
Meaning of Moon in Lord Shiva Picture: Shiva bears the crescent of the Panchami (fifth day) moon on his head. This is placed near the fiery third eye and this shows the power of Soma, the sacrificial offering, which is the representative of the moon. It means that Shiva possesses the power of procreation along with the power of destruction. The moon is also a measure of time, thus Crescent also represents his control over time.
The Meaning of Lord Shiva Cobra Necklace: This suggests that Shiva is beyond the powers of death and is often the sole support in case of distress. He swallowed the poison kalketu for the well-being of the Universe. The deadly cobra represents the death aspect that Shiva has thoroughly conquered. The cobras around Lord shiva’s neck also represent the dormant energy, called Kundalini, the serpent power. The snake curled three times around the neck of Lord Shiva depicts the past, present, and future times. The snake looking in the right direction of Lord Shiva signifies that the Lord′s perpetual laws of reason and justice preserve natural order in the universe.
The Meaning of Vibhuti in Lord Shiva looks: Vibhuti is a three line of ashes drawn on the forehead that signifies the Immortality of the soul and manifested glory of the Lord.
Meaning of Tiger Skin of Lord Shiva: Lord Shiva is shown sitting on or wearing a tiger skin. The tiger is the vehicle of Shakti, the Goddess of power and force. Shiva is beyond and above any force. He is the master of Shakti. The tiger skin that he wears symbolizes victory over every force. Tigers also represent lust. Thus sitting on Tiger’s skin, Shiva indicates that he has conquered lust.
Meaning of the Elephant & Deer Skin of Lord Shiva: Shiva also wears elephant skins. Elephants represent pride. Wearing elephant skin, Shiva indicates that he has conquered pride. Similarly, deer represent the flickering mind. Shiva wears deer skin which indicates that he has controlled the mind perfectly.