The Power of Shiva
Lord Shiva - the Hindu pantheon is the God of destruction and regeneration. While this is a fact that has been reiterated, the subject to delve into is his many forms. He has many forms including Shiva as a meditating ascetic, Nataraj (Lord of the Dance), Bhairav (Shiva in his wrathful state) and the Ardhanari (half man, half woman). In his various forms he is known to be with his respective consorts Parvati/Uma/Durga/Kali.
Shiva (which means the auspicious one in Sanskrit) forms one of the holy trinity (Trimurti). He has the primary responsibility of maintaining the circle of life. His dramatic physical appearance pretty is an attribute of his strengths and an extension of the same. Despite his dishevelled countenance there are many lessons to learn from Lord Shiva.
When we scrutinize the powers of Lord Shiva the contradictory nature of them is quite evident. This further strengthens the concept of completion of the life cycle. For instance the eminent third eye is the source of destruction, located right at the center of the forehead. While it produces energy that is capable of destroying all evils or anything in its path, he only destroys in order to create. It is death that makes way for a new life and an opportunity.
Shiva perhaps is the most complicated of all Hindu Gods. He is known for his passive disposition. Most of the temples represent him as a phallic symbol of “the Linga” (the male reproductive part) and “the Yoni” (the female reproductive part), one which is representative of both female and male reproductive organs necessary for life. It is in this representation that we know that Shiva symbolizes the energy necessary for life on both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic levels. Shiva bears on his head the crescent of the Panchami (fifth day) moon. It reiterates that Shiva possesses the power of procreation along with the power of destruction.
The sacred Ganga (one of the holiest rivers in the Hindu culture) flows out of Shiva have matted hair. Legend has it that, the river was made to flow from his tresses so it could reach earth and purify the land. It is also representative of fertility, ensuring the continuation of life.
The serpent that coils around the Lord Shiva’s neck represents the aspect of death that Shiva has conquered. The coil three times in number, around the neck signifies the control of this deity over the past, present and the future resulting in maintaining order in the universe.
There is also a creative side to this powerful divine being. Lord Shiva in his form of Nataraja is also known as the Lord of the dance. The bronze statue of the Nataraja is perhaps the most culturally significant statues denoting art. As an idol Shiva is shown with four arms stretched out and dancing within a circle of flames, lifting his leg and standing on a dwarf. The dwarf supposedly is ignorance thus denoting a triumph over the same by the Lord Shiva.
In all, Lord Shiva, the destroyer, is not so much of a destroyer indeed. His various attributes make him the most complex of all Gods responsible for the most basic of all ingredients to make the universe- Life.