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Shiva (/ˈʃivə/; Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is a popular Hindu deity. Shiva is regarded as one of the primary forms of God. He is the Supreme God within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.
At the highest level Shiva is limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.
The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the crescent moon adorning, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his instrument.
Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Temples of Lord Shiva are called shivalayam.
The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver and Śhiva the destroyer or transformer. These three deities have been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”, often addressed as “Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara.”
- Shiva’s form: Shiva has a trident in the right lower arm, and a crescent moon on his head. He is said to be fair like camphor or like an ice clad mountain. He wears five serpents and a garland of skulls as ornaments. Shiva is usually depicted facing the south. His trident, like almost all other forms in Hinduism, can be understood as the symbolism of the unity of three worlds that a human faces – his inside world, his immediate world, and the broader overall world. At the base of the trident, all three forks unite.
- Third eye: (Trilochana) Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes, called “Tryambakam” (Sanskrit: त्र्यम्बकम् ), which occurs in many scriptural sources. In classical Sanskrit, the word ambaka denotes “an eye”, and in the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as three-eyed, so this name is sometimes translated as “having three eyes”. However, in Vedic Sanskrit, the word ambā or ambikā means “mother”, and this early meaning of the word is the basis for the translation “three mothers”. These three mother-goddesses who are collectively called the Ambikās. Other related translations have been based on the idea that the name actually refers to the oblations given to Rudra, which according to some traditions were shared with the goddess Ambikā. It has been mentioned that when Shiva loses his temper, his third eye opens which can reduce most things to ashes.
- Crescent moon: (The epithets “Chandrasekhara/Chandramouli”)- Shiva bears on his head the crescent moon. The epithet Candraśekhara (Sanskrit: चन्द्रशेखर “Having the moon as his crest” – candra = “moon”; śekhara = “crest, crown”) refers to this feature. The placement of the moon on his head as a standard iconographic feature dates to the period when Rudra rose to prominence and became the major deity Rudra-Shiva. The origin of this linkage may be due to the identification of the moon with Soma, and there is a hymn in the Rig Veda where Soma and Rudra are jointly implored, and in later literature, Soma and Rudra came to be identified with one another, as were Soma and the moon. The crescent moon is shown on the side of the Lord’s head as an ornament. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end.
- Ashes: (The epithet “Bhasmaanga Raaga”) – Shiva smears his body with ashes (bhasma). The ashes are said to represent the end of all material existence. Some forms of Shiva, such as Bhairava, are associated with a very old Indian tradition of cremation-ground asceticism that was practiced by some groups who were outside the fold of brahmanic orthodoxy. These practices associated with cremation grounds are also mentioned in the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism. One epithet for Shiva is “inhabitant of the cremation ground” (Sanskrit: śmaśānavāsin, also spelled Shmashanavasin), referring to this connection.
- Matted hair: (The epithet “Jataajoota Dhari/Kapardina”) – Shiva’s distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Jaṭin, “the one with matted hair”, and Kapardin, “endowed with matted hair” or “wearing his hair wound in a braid in a shell-like (kaparda) fashion”. A kaparda is a cowrie shell, or a braid of hair in the form of a shell, or, more generally, hair that is shaggy or curly. His hair is said to be like molten gold in color or being yellowish-white.
- Blue throat: The epithet Nīlakaṇtha (Sanskrit नीलकण्ठ; nīla = “blue”, kaṇtha = “throat”). Since Shiva drank the Halahala poison churned up from the Samudra Manthan to eliminate its destructive capacity. Shocked by his act, Goddess Parvati strangled his neck and hence managed to stop it in his neck itself and prevent it from spreading all over the universe, supposed to be in Shiva’s stomach. However the poison was so potent that it changed the color of his neck to blue. (See Maha Shivaratri.)
- Sacred Ganges: (The epithet “Gangadhara”) Bearer of Ganga. Ganges river flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The Gaṅgā (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva’s hair. The flow of the Ganges also represents the nectar of immortality.
- Tiger skin: (The epithet “Krittivasana”).He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honour reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis.
- Serpents: (The epithet “Nagendra Haara” or ‘Vasoki”). Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.
- Deer: His holding deer on one hand indicates that He has removed the Chanchalata of the mind (i.e., attained maturity and firmness in thought process). A deer jumps from one place to another swiftly, similar to the mind moving from one thought to another.
- Trident: (Trishula): Shiva’s particular weapon is the trident. His Trisul that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas— Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of sovereignty. He rules the world through these three Gunas. The Damaru in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all languages are formed. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru sound.
- Drum: A small drum shaped like an hourglass is known as a damaru (ḍamaru). This is one of the attributes of Shiva in his famous dancing representation known as Nataraja. A specific hand gesture (mudra) called ḍamaru-hasta (Sanskrit for “ḍamaru-hand”) is used to hold the drum. This drum is particularly used as an emblem by members of the Kāpālika sect.
- Axe: (Parashu):The parashu is the weapon of Lord Shiva who gave it to Parashurama, sixth Avatar of Vishnu, whose name means “Rama with the axe” and also taught him its mastery.
- Nandī: (The epithet “Nandi Vaahana”).Nandī, also known as Nandin, is the name of the bull that serves as Shiva’s mount (Sanskrit: vāhana). Shiva’s association with cattle is reflected in his name Paśupati, or Pashupati (Sanskrit: पशुपति), translated by Sharma as “lord of cattle” and by Kramrisch as “lord of animals”, who notes that it is particularly used as an epithet of Rudra. Rishabha or the bull represents Dharma Devata. Lord Siva rides on the bull. Bull is his vehicle. This denotes that Lord Siva is the protector of Dharma, is an embodiment of Dharma or righteousness.
- Gaṇa: The Gaṇas (Devanagari: गण) are attendants of Shiva and live in Kailash. They are often referred to as the bhutaganas, or ghostly hosts, on account of their nature. Generally benign, except when their lord is transgressed against, they are often invoked to intercede with the lord on behalf of the devotee. Ganesha was chosen as their leader by Shiva, hence Ganesha’s title gaṇa-īśa or gaṇa-pati, “lord of the gaṇas”.
- Mount Kailāsa: Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailāsa is conceived as resembling a Linga, representing the center of the universe.
- Varanasi: Varanasi (Benares) is considered to be the city specially loved by Shiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. It is referred to, in religious contexts, as Kashi.
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Dakshinamurthy or Jnana Dakshinamurti (Tamil: தட்சிணாமூர்த்தி, Telugu: దక్షిణామూర్తి, Sanskrit: दक्षिणामूर्ति (Dakṣiṇāmūrti)) is an aspect of Shiva as a guru (teacher) of all types of knowledge and bestower of jnana. This aspect of Shiva is his personification as the supreme or the ultimate awareness, understanding and knowledge. This form represents Shiva in his aspect as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom, and giving exposition on the shastras. He is worshipped as the god of wisdom, complete and rewarding meditation.
Dakshinamurti literally means ‘one who is facing south (dakṣiṇa)’ in Sanskrit. South is the direction of Death, hence change. In every Siva temple the stone image of Dakshinamurthy is installed, facing south, on the southern circumambulatory path around the sanctum sanctorum. Perhaps, of all Hindu Gods, he is the only one sitting facing south. The great seer Ramana Maharshi, has said in letter 89: one meaning of Dakshina is efficient; another meaning is ‘in the heart on the right side of the body’; Amurthy ’means Formlessness’ . “Dakshinamurthy Stotra” in Sanskrit, means the “Shapelessness situated on the right side”.
Indian tradition accords a special reverence to the Guru or the teacher. Dakshinamurthy, in the Hindu system of beliefs is regarded as the ultimate Guru – the embodiment of knowledge and the destroyer of ignorance (as represented by the demon being crushed under the feet of the deity). The Jnana Mudra is interpreted in this way:- The thumb denotes the God and the index finger denotes the man. The other three fingers stand for the three congenital impurities of man viz. arrogance, illusion and bad deeds of the past births. When man detaches himself from these impurities, he reaches God. Another interpretation is that the other three fingers denote the three states of life: Jagruti (Fully awake through senses and mind), Swapna (Sleep state – When the mind is awake) and Sushukti (Tru-self – When the senses and mind go into soul – Atma). The Abhaya Mudra, a gesture with the hand lifted above thigh with palm facing out, fingers pointing, is interpreted as His grace upon His students. The rosary or the snake signifies Tantric knowledge. The fire represents illumination, removing the darkness of ignorance.
Impact on Indian Life
The fifth day of the week, Thursday is associated with the planet Jupiter and is referred to as Guru (Guruvar or Guruvaaram). Thursdays are considered auspicious to start any educational endeavours. It is on Thursdays that special worship services are offered to Dakshinamurthy in many Saivite temples. Some temple traditions hold full moon nights, particularly the night of the Guru Purnima as the appropriate time for worship services to Dakshinamurthy.
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Bhairava (Sanskrit: भैरव (“Terrible” or “Frightful”) sometimes known as Kala Bhairava, is a Hindu deity, a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation. He is one of the most important deities in Nepal, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand, who originated in Hindu mythology and is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike.
The origin of Bhairava can be traced to the conversation between Brahma and Vishnu recounted in the Shiv Mahapuran where Vishnu asked Brahma who is the supreme creator of the Universe. Arrogantly, Brahma told Vishnu to worship him, he being the supreme creator. One day Brahma thought, “I have five heads, Shiva also has five heads. I can do everything that Shiva does and therefore I am Shiva” Brahma had become a little egoistic. Not only had he became egoistic, he started to forge the work of Shiva. Brahma started interfering in what Shiva was supposed to do. Then Mahadeva (Shiva) threw a small nail from His finger, which assumed the form of Kala Bhairava, and casually went to cut the head of Brahma. The skull of Brahma is held in the hands of Kala Bhairava; Brahma Kapala in the hands of Kala Bhairava and Brahma’s ego was destroyed and he became enlightened. Then onwards he became useful to himself and to the world and deeply grateful to Shiva. In the form of the Kaala Bhairava, Shiva is said to be guarding each of these Shaktipeeths. Each Shaktipeeth temple is accompanied by a temple dedicated to Bhairava.
His temples or shrines are present within or near most Jyotirlinga temples, the sacred twelve shrines dedicated to Shiva across India, including Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi and the Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain, where at the Kal Bhairav Temple, he is worshipped by the Kapalika and Aghori sects of Shaivism, here one can also find the Patal Bhairav and Vikrant Bhairav shrines.
Kaal Bhairava temples can also be found around Shakti Peethas, as it is said Shiva allocated the job of guarding each of 52 Shakti Peethas to one Bhairava. As such it is said there are 52 forms of Bhairava, which are in fact considered as manifestation of Shiva himself.
Traditionally Kal Bhairav is the Grama devata in the rural villages of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, where he is referred to as “Bhaivara/Annadhani” Vairavar. In Karnataka, Lord Bhairava is the supreme God for the community commonly referred as “Gowdas”, especially for the Gangadikara Gowda caste he is considered as the care taker and punisher.
Also another set of people in Kashmir that have their origin from Gorat, or the minister of Mata Sharika worship Bhairava during Shivratri.
The Hindu reformer Adi Sankara has written a hymn on Kala Bhairava of Kashi which is called as Kala Bhairav Ashtakam.
He is depicted ornamented with a range of twisted serpents, which serve as earrings, bracelets, anklets, and sacred thread (yajnopavita). He wears a tiger skin and a ritual apron composed of human bones. Bhairava has a dog (Shvan) as his divine vahana (vehicle). Bhairavi is a fierce and terrifying aspect of the Devi who is virtually indistinguishable from Kali, with the exception of her particular identification as the consort of Bhairava.
Bhairava himself has eight manifestations i.e. Ashta Bhairava:
- Asithaanga Bhairava
- Ruru Bhairava
- Chanda Bhairava
- Krodha Bhairava
- Unmattha Bhairava
- Kapaala Bhairava
- Bheeshana Bhairava
- Samhaara Bhairava
Kala Bhairava is conceptualized as the Guru of the planetary deity Shani (Saturn). Bhairava is known as Bhairavar or Vairavar in Tamil where he is often presented as a Grama devata or village guardian who safeguards the devotee on all eight directions (ettu tikku). Known in Sinhalese as Bahirawa, he protects treasures. Lord Bhairava is the main deity worshipped by the Aghora sect.
ANTHARA ATHUMA, PARAMA ATHUMA, TTHUWAA ATHUMA, POOTHA ATHUMA AND JEEVA ATHUMA are the five Athumas known as Panja Puthangals.
All these athumas are prayed in the form of Lingam. It is believed that after purifying the athuma, only then the Munivargals and Sithargals were able to see the God. Even in the Puranam says that Bhrama, Vishnu and Indran worshipped the Lingam. By praying to Lord Siva, helps to go to Sivalogam without any obstacles. As the ancestors says by conducting athuma pooja one receives Panjasharam Ubadasam. Therefore its necessary to conduct pooja for Lord Siva.
Those who find difficulty in performing this pooja, may go to Kasi Temple in India and fulfil their prayers. As such our temple has the 200 years old Esana tikshi Sivan.Thus all devotees are welcome to perform abishegam for Lord Siva by themselves. Devotees has the privilege of conducting milk, rosewater, water for Lord Siva and fulfil their wishes to achieve victory in all endeavours.
The lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, Sanskrit लिङ्गं, liṅgaṃ, meaning “mark”, “sign”, or “inference”) is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples. In traditional Indian society, the linga is rather seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself.
The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.
Anthropologist Christopher John Fuller conveys that although most sculpted images (murtis) are anthropomorphic, the aniconic Shiva Linga is an important exception. Some believe that linga-worship was a feature of indigenous Indian religion.
There is a hymn in the Atharvaveda which praises a pillar (Sanskrit: stambha), and this is one possible origin of linga-worship. Some associate Shiva-Linga with this Yupa-Stambha, the sacrificial post. In that hymn a description is found of the beginningless and endless Stambha or Skambha and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. As afterwards the Yajna (sacrificial) fire, its smoke, ashes and flames, the soma plant and the ox that used to carry on its back the wood for the Vedic sacrifice gave place to the conceptions of the brightness of Shiva’s body, his tawny matted-hair, his blue throat and the riding on the bull of the Shiva. The Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga. In the Linga Purana the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories, meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the supreme nature of Mahâdeva (the Great God, Shiva).
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