General Information about Lord Shiva & Bhakti

Lord Shiva is the destroyer and most powerful God of Hindu religion. He is one of the deities of the Holy Hindu Trinity. The word Shiva refers to “shakti”, which means power. Lord Shiva is popular in many names such as Bhole Nath, Bhava, Vishwanath, Bhairava, Nataraja, Pashupati, Mahayogi, and Mahadeva. Among the Hindu deities, Lord Shiva is probably the most complex one. His shrine in the temple is separated from those of other Hindu deities because Hindus give more recognition to him.

Lord Shiva is worshipped by Hindus in phallic symbol in temples. This symbol is represented in “linga” form, which denotes energies needed for life on both macrocosmic and microcosmic levels. The linga symbol in Shaivite temple is placed on the central underneath the spire where it signifies the earth’s naval.

The actual image of Lord Shiva is more distinct than those of other Hindu deities. His hair is piled high above his head with a crescent tuck in it, and tumbling from his hairs is the holy river of Ganges. Around his neck is a curled serpent that represents Kundalini or the spiritual energy of life. On his left hand, he holds a trident binded by a small leather drum or a “damroo”. On his right hand is a water pot as he sits on a tiger skin. His whole body is smeared with ashes as he wears the beads of “Rudraksha”.

Because of his responsibility for destruction and death, Lord Shiva is believed to be at the heart of the central force of the universe. Compared to other Hindu deities, Brahma and Vishnu, Lord Shiva is the dissolving force in life. On the contrary, Lord Shiva dissolves life in able to create new life. His responsibility relates death as a medium for rebirthing a new life. Thus, his character resides for the opposites of creation and destruction, and life and death.

Though Lord Shiva is the most complicated deity in the Hindu religion, he is also the most fascinating of all Hindu Gods. He is often portrayed as the supreme abstinent with a composed and passive disposition. Sometimes, he is illustrated riding the bull of Nandi while decking in garlands.

Lord Shiva is often regarded as the Hindu God who is always high because of his mighty and destructive power. He is fed with opium to numb his negative potentials. He is also called as “Bhole Shankar”, which refers to someone who is oblivious of the world. During the night of Shiva worship called “Maha Shivratri”, devotees prepare intoxicating drink called the “Thandai”. This drink is made from milk, almonds, and cannabis. Singing and dancing are done as well to praise Lord Shiva along with the rhythm of the drums.

Lord Shiva is referred to many names. The word “Shiva” was derived from the reversing letters of the word “vash”. Vash means to enlighten. Describing Lord Shiva, he is self-radiant, absolute, has prosperity-bestowing principle, and auspicious. Here are some other names and its meanings that are being referred for Lord Shiva:

• Shankar – derived from the word “sham” referring to welfare, and “karoti” who is the doer.
• Mahankaleshvar – derived from the word “Mahakal”, which refers to the presiding deity of the entire universe; and Kshetrapaldev, which is the guardian deity of the place.
• Mahadev – refers to three basic thoughts at the time of creation: absolute spiritual practice, absolute knowledge, and absolute purity.
• Bhalachandra – refers to the one who adores the moon.
• Karpurgour – refers to Shiva’s complexion of white akin.
• Stenapati – refers to caretaker of thieves because during ancient times, Shiva’s temples were located on the hideouts of the robbers.
• Pingalaksha – refers to perceive the past, present, and future.

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