Mahadeva (Mahesh) is one of the three most prestigious male deities in Hinduism. The rest of the two deities are Brahma and Vishnu. Lord Shiva is the sovereign and better known as the ‘destroyer’ among the Tri-Murtis. He is immortal and has been given the name- “Maha Deva” i.e. the greatest God. He is considered among the three main energies, behind the formation of this universe.
According to Shiva Purana, there are more than thousand names of Lord Shiva. Although, mentioning all of them is quite a difficult task but somehow manage to enumerate the popular ones. They are as follows:-
Must Known Characters of Lord Shiva:
Lord of Meditation
Lord Shiva resides and meditates on the isolated snow-capped mountains of Kailasha, unlike other Gods who love to live in their own respective provinces and the kingdoms (domains). We are unaware of the fact that- Lord Shiva always meditates on Lord Vishnu. According to ‘Garuda Purana’- The name ‘Rama’ signifies ‘Ra’ or ‘Om Namo Narayana’ and ‘Ma’ of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. However, the mythical Meaning of SHIVA is “Pure Consciousness” and it can only be achieved through Meditation.
Lord Shiva easily gets pleased and he doesn’t need anyone’s utmost devotion to get blessings and boons. While worshipping him, one need not follow any set of rituals and protocols and is prominent to grant wishes and desires to anyone and everyone. Mahadeva is a tender and one of the most innocent and warm-hearted gods and often grants a boon to people even if they are evil at heart. He wants nothing from his devotees but to offer only a Bel- Patri with true spirituality and saintliness.
Shiva invited the Holy Ganges on the call of Lord Brahma to fall upon his head. From there the river winded off to Earth’s surface through the God’s matted-hair. Subsequently, she divided herself into seven torrents /seven rays. The sacred Ganges then cascaded persuasively over the surface of the earth to purify the unfortunate souls on the sphere. Another story defined in Mythology is- when Bhagiratha worshipped Brahma by penancing vigorously to get divine Ganga come down to the surface of the world as he wished to have Ganga flow down over his ancestor’s ashes and grant them salvation. By this, Ganga felt insulted and affirmed to swipe away all the beings by her intense flow on Earth. Bhagiratha then prayed to Lord Shiva to calm Ganga down and Shiva peacefully trapped her in his long hair- locks then let her flow out in small streams over time. Gangas containment in Shiva’s matted hair soothed her enormously.
‘Ardhanareeshwara’ is a symbolism of Masculinity and Femininity that means Shiva is Ardhanari, the God whose left half is the Goddess herself. SHIVA is a combination of the active and the passive force. This Lord Shiva’s Avatar also defines that every living being has both male (Purusha) and female (Shakti) desires and energies in them. ’Arth’ means Shiva (soul) and ‘Naree’ means Shakthi(nature) are present in every living being and this half-male and half-female incarnation is the symbol for the unity of opposites in the world.
Pashupati (‘Savant of animals’)
Pashupati is an eminent incarnation of Lord Shiva who is a distinguished Lord of animal-like being. The idol of Pashupati portrays- a seated figure, (possibly ithyphallic) surrounded by animals. However, Sir John Marshall asserted that this divine figure of Shiva is a paradigm of God who is having three faces and seated in a “Yoga Posture” with the knees out and feet joined.
Lord Shiva is a prime- mover of human beings. Lord Shiva is so often represented as a “Lingam” or “Shiva- Linga”. And Shivlinga has the same shape of how a human is born. Linga basically means a gesture or a sign. So the lingam (Shiva-Linga) is essentially a symbol of the amorphous universal consciousness of Lord Shiva. Shiva-Linga is described in our Indian Mythology as the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar of fire, the cause of all causes. The word ‘Linga’ means involution, and ‘Gama’ means evolution. So basically Lingam is the principle of involution and evolution combined together, and such a combination can only be traced to God, the starting cause of the whole universe. According to Linga Purana, the lingam is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer – the oval-shaped stone resembles the mark of the Universe and bottom base as the Supreme Power holding the entire Universe in it. A Linga or Lingam is an un-manifested energy and a defined version of Hindu Deity ‘Lord Shiva’.
Lord Shiva is imperishable as during Samudra Manthan when the gods and demons churned the seas in order to obtain ‘Amrita’ (Nectar), a poisonous substance is known as ‘Halahala’ came out from the seas first. Mahadeva drank the deadly poison (halala) that exuded out of the ocean. However, it didn’t reach his body as Goddess Parvati stopped it in his throat, making his throat blue. Thus, due to this, he got popular as Neelakantha- ‘The poison holder’ and saved this entire cosmic Universe.
Victor of Kama (God Of Love)
The Greatest Lover Of all Times is Lord Shiva (Mahadeva). One should aspire to love like Shiva, by controlling our senses.God is love personified, and there is no higher force than love. Lord Shiva preaches us about Love, which is beyond all trivial boundaries such as gender and social mores. Shiva’s love for his consort- Goddess Sati was beyond limitations and hence showcases that- “The best and the most beautiful thing in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”
Lord Shiva is a cosmic dancer and is an exponent of music and dance. He is popularly known as King of dance or Nataraja. His Nataraja Avatara delineates a note to the world- Ignorance can only be overcome by knowledge, music, and dance. Tandava of Nataraja is a vibrant, dynamic and going through the cycles of creation, preservation, and dissolution. Lord Shiva does the Tandava with all his heart, zeal and dedication and is thus the supreme lord of the dance.