Lord Shiva-The Destroyer
Lord Shiva is one of the most prominent and sought-after Gods in the Hindu pantheon. He is worshipped by millions of people in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. His popularity however, is not just limited to these countries. He has an ardent following across the world from USA, UK and Europe to Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.
What however is the ideology behind Lord Shiva-The Destroyer? What makes this God so popular with people even though his name bears the tag of being- The Destroyer. What does he destroy?
When one thinks of destruction, an image of chaos and mayhem enters the mind. How does such a negative image make even a God popular least of all venerated? Do people pray to him simply to escape his wrath? Even if that were true, logically He should have been feared, not praised and worshipped! To understand the ideology behind Lord Shiva-The Destroyer one must first understand what does destruction symbolize with regard to him. According to all myths or legends of Lord Shiva that one might encounter, it is said that Lord Shiva is endowed with three eyes, of which only two are open at all times. The third eye is the one with the destructive force. It is believed by many Hindus that when Lord Shiva is angered to a point where he cannot control his emotions any longer, his third eye opens and everything that is in its path is reduced to ashes. So, is it only Lord Shiva’s anger that earns him the infamous title of The Destroyer? Had that been the case, the Ideology behind Lord Shiva would have been fairly simple, and consequently easy to dismiss as a triviality. One cannot simply dismiss Lord Shiva if one were to actually understand what he stands for.
Lord Shiva is a key member of the Hindu trinity, constituted by Lord Brahma (the creator) and Lord Vishnu (the preserver). Hinduism looks at creation and destruction metaphorically. For the cosmos to function properly there needs to be a balance between the forces of creation and destruction. In the absence of death and destruction one is faced with the possibility of eternal stasis. Stasis always invariably leads to degeneration, preventing the path of evolution. So on the one hand Lord Shiva is literally seen as a figure who destroys things around him, be it the imperious King Daksha, or the self assured Kaam Dev or the God of Love. In his grief over the untimely death of his beloved first wife Sati, Lord Shiva unleashes his Tandav Nritya that nearly takes of creation to extinction, yet it is his dance of joy in the form of the Shiva Nataraja that Lord Shiva delivers the world from evil demonic forces, releasing, vital rejuvenating energy for the prosperity of all. A passionate lover and a patron of justice and the art form of dance, Shiva is seen to display multiple characteristics. With The Goddess Parvati, he is also known to be an ideal husband and his two sons Ganesha and Kartikeya find in him a doting father.
One notes therefore that Shiva is the closest to a mortal man in the various occupation that keep his attention. So even if we were to remove the religious colouring to the character of Shiva, we notice a person who strives with all his power to maintain sayyam or balance. The mythological Lord Shiva may stand for superhuman acts like destruction of demons and drinking of halahal (the most toxic poison capable of destroying all of creation) but at the core of his philosophy there exists values that are very identifiably human. The worship of Shiva then entails the destruction of all that the mythological Lord Shiva destroys, namely- vanity, greed lust, ego and ultimately even anger. Now that may sound a bit of stretch because it is Shiva’s anger that brings the destruction, but one must bear in mind that Lord Shiva spends almost all of his time in meditation, trying to control his anger to maintain balance. Such is the leela or divine will of Maheshwar that even when unleashed, his destructive anger works towards the goal of newer and better creation- as evidenced in the creation of Shakti-Peetha’s around Aryavart and in the creation of Lord Ganesha who is praised above all Gods, for being the remover of all obstacles in the lives of people, bringing positive energy and prosperity.
We see therefore that behind the ideology of Lord Shiva-The Destroyer, there exists in equal measure, the ideology of creation and preservation and that is exactly why Lord Shiva is considered foremost among all Gods in the Hindu pantheon.