Shiva also known as Bholenath, Mahadev and Mahesh is said to be the supreme hindu God. He is a popular hindu God and worshipped in many parts of the world. Lets cross the facts we know about him.
1o. Ganga in his head:
Ganga is considered the holiest river of Hindus. It is assumed that it cleanses and purifies one’s soul. Lord Shiva bears Ganga in his head, thus he is also known as Gangadhar (meaning bearer of Ganga.). King Bhaghirath had once done hard tap to bring Ganga to earth in order that his ancestors get moksha. But, the flow of Ganga was too heavy that it could drown the whole earth. Thus, lord Shiva wore the Ganga in his matted hairs to prevent the earth from being flooded with its heavy flow. He had released only a single flow of Ganga to go to earth from his matted hairs. The flow of Ganges also represent the nectar of fertility.
Lord Shiva is assumed to have many incarnations or avatars. According to the ling Purana, he is assumed to have taken 28 forms. According to svetasvatara Upanishad, he has four avtaars. Even lord hanuman is known to be his incarnation. Actually, hanuman is also known as rudraavatara, rudra being shiva in another form. Even the sage Durvaasa, Agastya and the philosopher Adi shankara are known to be his avtaars according to some tradition. Sharabha and virbhadra are also included in his forms.
The dancing Shiva is known as Nataraja, the term Nataraj means “King of dancers”. Nataraja has four arms. He holds the Damaru in his upper right hand, which signifies sound originating creation; in upper left hand he holds the fire which signifies destruction of all the bad. Both these hands are on same level that shows creation and destruction is both equal. The lower right hand shows protection from evil, this state is known as Abhaya Mudra and the lower left hand is pointing towards feet, which symbolize liberation. This cosmic dance of Lord Siva is known as Anandatandava, meaning the Dance of Bliss, and symbolizes creation and destruction, as well as birth and death.
There’s a story behind lord Shiva being called “neelkanth”. Once, the Gods and the Devils were doing the smudra manthan. While churning, there came out the poison. Neither the gods, nor the devils were ready to accept it. They were in dilemma as to what to do with the poison. Thus, to help them, lord Shiva drank the poison, and his throat became blue. Thus he came to be called as Neelkanth, the one being blue-necked.(neel meaning gala and kanth meaning neck.)
After the death of sati and before her incarnation, he became sad and went to the daru forest. There lived many sages or rishis. Soon, the wives of those sages became interests in lord shiva. Being jealous of this fact, the rishis cursed the manhood of lord Shiva and consequently fell off. The phallus when stuck the ground, the earth began to shake. All the rishis got frightened and asked for forgiveness. Lord shiva did forgive them but asked them to worship phallus after then. Bhojpura, in Madhya Pradesh, India is the place where the largest shivling of the world is found. Another form of shivling can be seen at amaranth, where every winter’s ice shiv ling is formed naturally and then melts away after some time.
Shiva is the only lord who is half female (Prakriti) and half male (Purusha), the left part is depicted by woman. Shiva along with his companion Parvati (also known as Devi, Shakti and Uma) is in form of Ardhanarishvara (Hindu god). It symbolizes “both father and mother, both destructive and constructive and both fearsome and gentle”. The left side is the position of the heart and has feminine traits like creativity and intuition whereas right side identifies with the brain and masculine traits like sense, knowledge and valor. It is one of the most famous iconographic forms of Shiva. The popular temple with this iconographic form is located Tamil Nadu.
4. Kind Hearted:
As Shiva is also known as Bholenath which means kind hearted and can be easily pleased. It’s always said that Shiva use to fulfill wishes and grant booms of their devotee’s by praying him and give them whatever they want. There is a story too that there was a demon “Bhasmasura” who prayed for thousand years by chanting Shiva’s name by which Shiva got pleased and told him that he can ask for whatever he want as boom than Bhasmasura asked him “that whatever he will touch should burn to ashes.” As demon was on Himalaya region there was only snow, so to test the effects he asked Shiva that he want to test it on him. As Shiva was always famous for not refusing a devotee for anything and he cannot die because that will end the world. So Vishnu came about disguised as a beautiful woman called “Mohini” and danced in front of demon and tricked him to touch his own head and that’s how the demon came to death.
3. Destroyer of world:
Lord Shiva is the destroyer of the world in order to re-create it, followed by creator Brahma and preserver Vishnu. It is believed that Lord Shiva has the power to destroy the whole world to get rid of the evils & demons. His powers of destruction and recreation are used to destroy imperfections of the world. That is why Shiva is known for both good and evil illustrations. It is said that whenever he use to get extremely angry and destroy the world he use to open his third eye and destroy the entire world to make it beautiful again.
2. Habitat and lifestyle:
He use to live in the mountains, in the open nature, according to Hindu mythology, mount kailash in Himalayas is the traditional abode. His vehicle is Nandi, the bull. Lord Shiva does not wear any ornaments of god and silver. Neither is he fond of Porsche clothes. In almost all the photos, he can be seen wearing a tiger skin around his waist. In addition, he keeps his body with ashes applied on it. He wears serpent around his neck and as armlets. He holds the crescent moon on his head along with the river Ganga.
Lord Shiva is said to have four arms and three eyes. He holds trident in one hand, the pinaka the trishul has a damaru joined to it. In another hand, he has couch defense. In addition, in another he wears the rosary of rudraksh.
He symbolizes simplicity is beauty.
1. Vibhuti & cobra necklace
The vibhuti are the three lines drawn horizontally across the forehead in white ash. This represent Shiva’s all –infusing nature and his powers and wealth. Also, it covers up his third powerful eye which represents the wisdom and insight that Shiva has. The cobra necklace in Shiva’s neck signifies Shiva’s power over the most dangerous creatures in the world. Power of destruction and recreation represented by snake according to some traditions.