Whenever we think about Lord Shiva, we visualise the Lord with all attachments and accessories. Do you know what each of them means?
Read on to know the deeper connection of every symbol and the meaning associated.
Shiva's body is smeared with ashes. The important fact is, this ash is typically from a cemetery. It corresponds to the Hindu philosophy of life and death, that the death is the ultimate reality of life.
Everything, in the end, turns into ashes and the Lord himself goes beyond the circle of life and death.
The flow of his matted hair represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings. It shows that Shiva is Pashupatinath, Lord of all living beings.
The crescent moon is symbolic of waxing and waning of the moon and symbolises the fact that Lord is the master of time and he himself is timeless.
Lord Shiva is also known as Gangadhara - meaning the bearer of Ganga. As per legends, Ganga originates from the head of Shiv ji and flows onto the ground. Hinduism refers to the Ganges as the most sacred river. Therefore, Lord Shiva is not only the Lord of destruction but a conveyor of purity and peace too.
The three-eyed Lord Shiva is also known as Trayambaka Dev. The left eye represents the moon, the right eye represents the sun - and the third eye in the centre - fire. The left and the right eye symbolise the physical world while the third eye signifies to look beyond the obvious - the eye for knowledge.
The devil fears the right eye as it has the power to search the evil and destroy it.
The half-open eyes represent that the cycle of life is in process. The open eyes signify the beginning of the creation and the closed eyes symbolise the end or the destruction. The half-open eyes represent the fact that creation is an eternal, cyclic process.
The snake wraps in three rounds around Lord Shiva's neck. The number three signifies time - past, present, and future. The coiling stands for the cyclic nature of time.
Wearing the snake also implies that the Lord is beyond the wrath of time and death.
The three lines of ashes are symbolic of the immortality of the Lord and praise the glory of the Lord.
The tiger is symbolic of power, strength, force, and lust. Sitting on the tiger skin is a sign that Shiva has the power to conquer lust and is beyond any kind of inevitable power.
Shiva is said to wear the Rudraksha mala with 108 beads known to be made from his own tears. These beads relate to the elements of the world and thereby portray the fact that Shiva is firm about the cosmic laws and is strict in maintaining them.
The Damru when played creates the sound of Aum - the sound of creation. The two sides of the drum separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure represent the two utterly different states of existence, unmanifest and manifest.
The trident, or the spear with three prongs, is one of the accessories of the Lord and depicts his three fundamental powers iccha (will), kriya(action) and gyana(knowledge). The Trishul implies Lord Shiva's power to destroy evil and ignorance. It is also symbolic of Lord Shiva's manner of punishing the evil doers on all the three planes - spiritual, subtle and physical.
The water pot or the Kamandalu is said to be made from a dry pumpkin and contains Amrit (nectar). The Kamandalu is symbolic of the yogic nature of the Lord. Just as a ripe pumpkin has been plucked from a plant, its fruit removed and shell cleaned for containing the nectar, an individual too must detach himself from materialistic pleasures, get rid of his ego and experience the feeling of bliss.
The Kundalas refer to the two earrings, Alakshya meaning which cannot be shown by any sign and Niranjan meaning which cannot be seen by mortal eyes, worn by the Lord. The ornaments in the ears of the Lord denote the imperceptible nature of the lord. It is noteworthy that the kundala in the left ear of the Lord is worn by women and the one in his right ear by men. The dual type of kundalas represent the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation.
Lord Shiva is always depicted with the beautiful Himalayas in the backdrop. Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is known to be his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailash is said to represent the centre of the universe. This implies that Lord Shiva is 'Kailas' - the bestower of peace and also 'Kailashadhipati' meaning Lord of Mount Kailash.
Nandi, the bull of Lord Shiva is a symbol of both power and ignorance. In Sanskrit, a bull is called Vrisha which also means righteousness. The Nandi bull beside Lord Shiva indicates that he is the eternal companion of righteousness.
This isn't all. There is a lot more about Lord Shiva that we don't know. Stay tuned to catch the follow-up. Meanwhile, do not forget to share your views with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.