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Shiva Home -› Hindu Trinity -› The Destroyer -› Shiva
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Shiva - the good
Matted Hair:
The flowing Jata of Shiva's matted hair represents him as the lord of wind, Vayu, who is the subtle form of the breath all round.

Sacred Ganga:
The holiest of the holy rivers, namely Ganga, flowing from the crown of Shiva's head represents the causal waters, from which the earth arises. It also represents the essential instrument of ritual purification. Holding the Ganges on his head, Shiva allowed the outlet to the great holy river so as to traverse the earth and bring purifying water to the human beings.

The Trident:
Trishula of Shiva is the symbol of the three functions of the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer. This also represents the instrument of punishment to the evildoer on all the three planes, viz. spiritual, subtle and physical.

In popular representations Shiva stands majestically in the center of the universe, adorned with all his symbols of crescent, cobras, prayer beads, trident and matted hair. Very often a female figurehead adorns his head; she is goddess Ganga who was brought from heavens by Bhagiratha and as earth could not bear Ganga's impact, Shiva took her on his own head. At other times Shiva is shown as riding on his bull, called Nandi, covered with ashes all over his body, his eyes inflamed with intoxicating herbs and with a drum and a horn in his two hands. Here the ashes on the body symbolize him as a YOGI, who has burnt all his evil desires and rubbed himself with the ashes of the ritual fire.

Shiva's bull, NANDI (the joyful) is white as snow with a huge body and soft brown eyes. Its hump resembles the top of a snow-covered mountain. Bull represents lust or the sexual impulse and Shiva is the master of lust fully controlling it by riding on its back.

Shiva and ganga
[shiva - the neelakanta]

Another well-known name of Shiva is RUDRA. In the, Vedas Rudra is called by many names and has many attributes. He is the roaring god, the terrible god, the god of storms, and the god of tempest. On the one hand if angry he can bring disaster to man and his wealth of cattle but if pleased he can be kind and beneficent. In YAJURVEDA, Rudra is also called ' Mahadeva', a name specifically applied today only to Shiva.

According to Vishnu Purana this god Rudra is said to have sprung from the forehead of Brahma and to have separated himself into male and female. This legend is the forerunner of Shiva's another manifestation, called ARDHANARISHWARA, where he is half-male and half-female, combining energies of both the sexes. There Rudra is also given seven other names by Brahma: BHAVA, SARVA, ISHAN, PASHUPATI, BHIMA, UGRA and MAHADEVA. These names are all being given to Shiva. Finally Rudra of the Vedas ceased to have any separate identity and became completely merged into Shiva.

Shiva represents the complete cyclic process of generation, destruction and regeneration.The all embracing nature of this god is reflected in the 1008 names given to him in the scriptures and in the mind of numerous Hindus he is recognized as being essentially no different from the Vedic notion of the multiple forms of a single divine power.

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