Lord Shiva appears in a
meditating but ever-happy posture. He has matted hair which holds the flowing
Ganges river and a crescent moon, a serpent coiled around his neck, a trident (trishul)
in his one hand and ashes all over his body.
The Lord's attributes represent his victory over the demonic activity, and
calmness of human nature. He is known as the "giver" god. His vehicle is a bull
(symbol of happiness and strength) named Nandi. Shiva-Linga, a sign
of the Lord, is adored instead of him. Shiva temples have Shiva-Linga as the
Siva, the last of the Trinities is
the God of destruction & he is assisted in this by his consort
Parvathi, the Goddess of disintegration. Parvathi represents sakthi, to
disintegrate perishable matter, in the absence of which true and complete
destruction by Siva becomes impossible. This could possibly be the meaning of
the idea that Siva becomes nothing in the absence of Sakthi.
Siva is generally worshipped in the form of the linga fixed on a pedestal.
Energy can neither be created nor destroyed & the Linga symbolizes this
scientific fact. The Linga denotes the primeval energy of the Creator. At the
end of Creation all Gods find their resting place in the Linga - Brahma being
absorbed into the right, Vishnu being absorbed into the left & Gayathri Devi
being absorbed into the heart of the Linga.
Siva in his human form is worshipped as the Utsava murthi, taken out on
processions. Siva Lingams worshipped in temples are mostly made of stone &
consists of three parts. The lowest portion in the shape of a square symbolises
Brahma (the God of Creation). The middle part in the shape of an octagon
symbolises Vishnu (the God of Maintenance). These two portions are embedded
inside a pedestal. The cylindrical portion projecting from the pedestal
symbolises Shiva (the God of Destruction). Siva resides high up on snowy
mountain ranges. Image of Siva in his physical form presents him as a soothing
meditative figure. His ornaments are not gold & precious stones.
He wears a necklace made of skulls signifying his role as destructor. He has
snakes coiling all over his body & his hair is matted and long extending over
the whole sky & space. The crescent moon adorns his crown, signifying his
control on the time cycle.(Amavasay & Pournami). He smears his body with ashes &
wears a tiger skin and elephant skin. He has a third eye on his forehead which
is the source of knowledge & wisdom. The holy Ganges is imprisoned in his
flowing locks. In his two arms he holds the Trisulam (the three prongs
representing the three gunas of sattva, tamas & rajas) in one & Damaru in the
other. His vahana is the Nandi, who is also his chief disciple to whom Siva
passed on all his immense knowledge in arts. The above description should convey
him as an angry & destructive image, yet being the source of all knowledge he is
often in a meditative pose with half closed eyes looking out into the universe
as well as in to his inner self, signifying that his act of destruction is in
itself an act of creation for in the absence of destruction there can be no
Other names & manifestations of Lord Siva are Nataraja , Dakshinamurthi ,
Lingodhbava , Haryardhamurthi , Ardhanareeswara , Bhikshatana etc.