Sri Shiva

vAgarthAviva sampRuktau vAgartha pratipattayE ||
jagatah pitarau vandE pArvatI paramEswarau ||

I bow to the parents of the universe, Parvati and Parameswara, who are as inseparable as words and their meaning, so that I may attain skill in words and their interpretation.

Lord Shiva is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects devotees from evil forces such as lust, greed, and anger. He grants boons, bestows grace and awakens wisdom in His devotees. Lord Shiva’s consort is Devi Parvati. The creation sustains itself by a delicate balance between the opposing forces of good and evil. When this balance is disturbed and sustenance of life becomes impossible, Lord Shiva continuously dissolves the universe in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation. This continuous cycle presents another opportunity for unliberated souls to liberate themselves from bondage with the physical world. Lord Shiva protects the souls from pain and suffering caused by a dysfunctional universe. Five is a sacred number for Lord Shiva. His most important mantra has five syllables (namas sivaya). Lord Shiva’s body consists of five mantras, called the panchabrahmans, each with a distinct name and iconography: Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora,Tatpurusha, Isana.

These are represented as the five faces of Lord Shiva, and are associated in various texts with the five elements, the five senses, the five organs of perception, and the five organs of action. Lord Shiva is usually worshipped as the Shiva Linga. In images, He is generally represented as immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon the demon of ignorance in His manifestation of Nataraja, the lord of the dance.

Lord Shiva images have several attributes (1) Unclad body covered with ashes symbolizes His transcendental aspect.  (2) Three Matted locks on the head convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.  (3) The river Ganga on His head signifies that He destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.  (4) The crescent moon ornament on the side of His head symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves. (5) Three eyes, Sun is His right eye and moon the left eye indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye, Fire, at the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom. (6) Half-open eyes convey the idea that creation is a cyclic process, with no beginning and no end.  (7) Kundalas (ear rings), the left one is of the type used by women and the right ear ring is of the type used by men. These Kundalas symbolize the Shiva (male) and Shakti (female) principles of creation. (8) Snake around the neck  (Vasuki) symbolizes the yogic power. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future time in cycles. (9) Rudraksha necklace with 108 beads symbolizes the elements used in the creation of the world. (10) Varda Mudra, the Lord’s right hand is in a boon-bestowing and blessing pose showing His compassion and protection  (11) Trident (Trisula), a three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana). (12) Damaru, a small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest. When vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds, which are fused together by resonance to create one sound symbolizing Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM. (13) Kamandalu (water pot) made from a dry pumpkin containing nectar signifies that an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean the inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self, symbolized by the nectar. (14) Lord Shiva sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world. Since birth and death are cyclic, controlling one implies controlling the other. (15) Nandi (bull), the vehicle of Lord Shiva, symbolizes both power and ignorance. (16) Lord Shiva is usually shown as sitting on or wearing a tiger skin, illustrating the idea that He is the source of the creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe.

At Sri Ganesha Temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped on every Pradosham. Major festivals for Lord Shiva worship include Maha Shiva Rathtri, Masi Magham, and Karthigai Deepam.

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