Shankara is one of the many epithets of Lord Shiva. It means the benevolent one, the kind one.
According to legend when Sati immolated herself, Shiva was very furious. He plucked a lock of his hair and threw it on the ground. From it sprung Veerbhadra. Veerbhadra along with Shiva’s attendants attacked Daksha’s yagna. On seeing Daksha, Veerbhadra beheaded him as Daksha was the reason of the self immolation of Sati. When Shiva appeared at Daksha’s yagna he was filled with pity and grief. Everyone asked for Shiva’s mercy. Shiva was so overcome with grief that he restored back everything. Daksha was also granted a new life buthis head was replaced with that of a goat. Daksha was so overwhelmed by Shiva’s generosity that he gave him the name Shankara, the benevolent one.
The highlight of this story is that, even though Shiva was very furious and sad at Sati’s death he was kind to Daksha. His vengeance did not overpower his merciful nature. Even though Daksha was the reason of his wife’s death, he restored him back.
Lord Shiva is known as the giving god, lord of mercy and kindness. He always protects his devotees from evil forces like lust, greed and anger.
The word Shankar is made up of two words namely ‘Shanka’ and ‘Hara’. ‘Shanka’ means doubts and ‘Hara’ means destroyer. The word itself means he who destroys and dispels all doubts. Sincere prayers to Shankara can be vey effective. Lord Shiva is one who is easily pleased with truthful devotion and responds immediately. Shiva is known for his boon giving nature. He can also be very generous to evil characters if they pray to him with sincere devotion.
A very important aspect of Shiva is that he accepts everything and everyone. Something which has been discarded by the whole world finds solace and shelter in Shiva. Shiva appreciates things for their positive characteristics while ignoring the negative attributes. It is said that he can be appeased easily if the devotee has a pure heart. Shiva is offered bilva leaves, dhatura fruit, water and milk. Shiva likes to keep things simple and finds grandeur unnecessary.Thus Shiva is Shankara, the giver, the one who is easily appeased.