Shiva, all you need to know.
The Lord of all Yoga and Tantra
Shiva (śiva) aka Mahadeva, Yogeshvara, Bholenath or Nataraja; in Sanskrit: शिव Śiva, meaning “auspicious one” is a major Vedic, Himalayan and Hindu deity, and is the destroyer of evil or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power, he lives a life of a sage at Mount Kailasa. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God and has five important works: creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer, and revealer (to bless). In the Smarta tradition, he is regarded as one of the five primary forms of God.
Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (Sanskrit Śaiva). Shaivism, along with Vaiṣṇava traditions that focus on Vishnu and Śākta traditions that focus on the goddess Shakti, is one of the most influential denominations in Hinduism. Shiva is usually worshipped in the abstract form of Shiva linga. In images, he is represented as immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava dance upon Apasmara, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the Lord of the dance. He is also the father of the deities Ganesha, Murugan (Kartikeya), and Ayyappan (Dharma Sastha).
The Sanskrit word Shiva (Devanagari: शिव, śiva) is an adjective meaning “auspicious, kind, gracious”. As a proper name it means “The Auspicious One”, used as a name for Rudra. In simple English transliteration it is written either as Shiva or Siva. The adjective śiva, meaning “auspicious”, is used as an attributive epithet not particularly of Rudra, but of several other Vedic deities. The Sanskrit word śaiva means “relating to the god Shiva”, and this term is the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a member of that sect. It is used as an adjective to characterize certain beliefs and practices, such as Shaivism.
Shiva God in Vedas
There is a famous Rig vedic Verse that says “Ekam Sat” that is “There is one Being, the sages call Him by many names.” The God (Parmeshwara) has three deities who carry on the world. This is Known as Holy Trinity. Brahma – the creator, Vishnu – the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) – the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse . “We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra) , Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment , May He release me ,like the cucumber from its stem , From Mortal Life , But not From Immorality . “(Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12)
The Yajurveda describes Shiva as ascetic kalaripayat warrior whose robe is of Deer Skin and He carries Trishul (triśula). According to the verse Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, the life is described as having three facets Truth (Satyam), Good Grace (Shivam) and the Beautiful (Sundaram). Shiva is also worshipped for internal strength to carry on good deeds. As Guru Govinda Singh pray “Deh Shiva Var Mohe Ahey, Shubh Karman Te Kabhun Na Tarun, Na Darun Arson Jab Jaye Laroon, Nischey Kar Apni Jeet Karoon.” (O! Shiva bless me that I could never desist from Good deeds, I shall never fear if I have to fight Evil, I Shall be victorious with certainty.”
Shiva is a living Heavenly God, Supreme Deva, Mahadeva. The most Sacred and ancient books of India, the Rig Veda narrates His presence in the hymns. Vedic myths, rituals and even astronomy testifies to His existence from the dawn of time. The Mohindaro and Harapa findings confirm Shiva worship in the ancient India. According to the older scriptures, He has three places of His residence. One is Kailasa Parvata another is Lohita Giri under which Brahamputra flows and third is Muzwan Parvat. Another Rigveda name for Shiva is Yahvah means “The Great Lord”!
The four sacred Vedas, mankind’s oldest scriptures, intone, “To Rudra (Siva), Lord of sacrifice, of hymns and balmy medicines, we pray for joy and health and strength. He shines in splendor like the sun, refulgent as bright gold is He, the good, the best among the Gods (Rig Veda 43.45).” “He is God, hidden in all beings, their inmost soul who is in all. He watches the works of creation, lives in all things, watches all things. He is pure consciousness, beyond the three conditions of nature (Yajur Veda, Svet.U.6.11).” Śiva also assumes many other roles, including the Lord of Ascetics (Mahadeva), the Lord of Boons (Rudra), and also the Universal Divinity (Mahesvara). Worshippers of Śiva are called Śaivites who consider Śiva as representing the Ultimate Reality (see Ishta-Deva for fuller discussion).
Shiva or Śiva (Sanskrit: शिव, lit. “Auspicious one”) is one of the principal deities or a form of Ishvara (God). Shiva is referred to as ‘the good one’ or the ‘auspicious one’. Shiva – Rudra is considered to be the destroyer of evil and sorrow. Shiva – Shankara is the doer of good. Shiva is ‘tri netra’ or three eyed, and is ‘neela kantha’ – blue necked (having consumed poison to save the world from destruction). Shiva – Nataraja is the Divine Cosmic Dancer. Shiva – Ardhanareeswara is both man and woman. “There the eye goes not, nor words, nor mind. We know not. We cannot understand how He can be explained. He is above the known, and He is above the unknown (Sama Veda, Kena U. 1.3).” “Fire is His head, the sun and moon His eyes, space His ears, the Vedas His speech, the wind His breath, the universe His heart. From His feet the Earth has originated. Verily, He is the inner Self of all beings. (Atharva Veda, Mund.U. 2.1.4).”
Adi Sankara, in his interpretation of the name Shiva, the 27th and 600th name of Vishnu sahasranama, the thousand names of Vishnu interprets Shiva to have multiple meanings: “The Pure One”, or “the One who is not affected by three Gunas of Prakrti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas)” or “the One who purifies everyone by the very utterance of His name.” Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu Sahasranama, further elaborates on that verse: Shiva means “the One who is eternally pure” or “the One who can never have any contamination of the imperfection of Rajas and Tamas”. Shiva is considered as the Hindu God who has no Aadi or Anta i.e. no birth/death. Shiva’s role as the primary deity of Shaivism is reflected in his epithets Mahādeva (“Great God”; mahā = Great + deva = God), Maheśhvara (“Great Lord”; mahā = Great + īśhvara = Lord), and Parameśhvara (“Supreme Lord”).
There are at least eight different versions of the Shiva Sahasranama, devotional hymns (stotras) listing many names of Shiva. The version appearing in Book 13 (Anuśāsanaparvan) of the Mahabharata is considered the kernel of this tradition. Shiva also has Dasha-Sahasranamas (10,000 names) that are found in the Mahanyasa. The Shri Rudram Chamakam, also known as the Śatarudriya, is a devotional hymn to Shiva hailing him by many names. The worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across all of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some historians believe that the figure of Shiva as we know him today was built up over time, with the ideas of many regional sects being amalgamated into a single figure. How the persona of Shiva converged as a composite deity is not well documented. Axel Michaels explains the composite nature of Shaivism as follows:
Like Vişņu, Śiva is also a high god, who gives his name to a collection of theistic trends and sects: Śaivism. Like Vaişņavism, the term also implies a unity which cannot be clearly found either in religious practice or in philosophical and esoteric doctrine. Furthermore, practice and doctrine must be kept separate. An example of assimilation took place in Maharashtra, where a regional deity named Khandoba is a patron deity of farming and herding castes. The foremost center of worship of Khandoba in Maharashtra is in Jejuri. Khandoba has been assimilated as a form of Shiva himself, in which case he is worshipped in the form of a lingam. Khandoba’s varied associations also include an identification with Surya and Karttikeya.
According to the mystic mythology of the Puraanaas, the Kailasa peak of the Himalayas is the abode of Shiva and He bears the Ganges on His head. As the Lord of creatures, He is metaphorically called as Pashupathi (with Nandi, the bull, His favourite animal) and His fearless nature is euphemised as Sarpabhushana. Shiva’s posture in the meditation is ascribed to Him as the Head of Yogis (Yogiraja) who practises various spiritual feats to attain salvation. Lord Shiva’s divine consort, Goddess Parvati(who is also the daughter of Himalaya), is the deity of strength. Numerous stories in mythology describe the births of their two sons – Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya (or Guha or Shanmukha or Skanda or Murugha) and their various significances.
The Pashupati seal
Seal discovered at Mohenjodaro shows a seated figure surrounded by animals, possibly Shiva,the Pashupati. A seal discovered during the excavation of Mohenjo-daro has drawn attention as a possible representation of a “proto-Shiva” figure. This Pashupati (Lord of animal-like beings) seal shows a seated figure, possibly ithyphallic, surrounded by animals. Sir John Marshall and others have claimed that this figure is a prototype of Shiva and have described the figure as having three faces seated in a “yoga posture” with the knees out and feet joined. However, this claim is not without its share of critics, with some academics like Gavin Flood and John Keay characterizing them as unfounded.
Rudra – Vedic Shiva
Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in a number of Hindu traditions. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity. The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rig Veda, which is dated to between 1700 and 1100 BC based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The name Rudra is still used as a name for Shiva. In RV 2.33, he is described as the “Father of the Rudras”, a group of storm gods. Furthermore, the Rudram, one of the most sacred hymns of Hinduism found both in the Rig and the Yajur Vedas and addressed to Rudra, invokes him as Shiva in several instances, but the term Shiva is used as a epithet for Indra, Mitra and Agni many times.
The identification of Shiva with the older god Rudra is not universally accepted, as Axel Michaels explains: Rudra is called “The Archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva), and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv-, which means “to injure” or “to kill”, and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”. The names Dhanvin (“Bowman”) and Bāṇahasta(“Archer”, literally “Armed with arrows in his hands”) also refer to archery.
Shiva’s rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others.
Shaivism – in Sanskrit: शैव पंथ, śaiva paṁtha; Tamil: சைவ சமயம் is the oldest of the four major spiritual tradition and heritage of Hinduism and Brahmanism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called “Shaivas“, and also “Saivas” or “Saivites”, revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, mostly. Areas notable for the practice of Shaivism include parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
In the Yajurveda, two contrary sets of attributes for both malignant or terrific (Sanskrit: rudra) and benign or auspicious (Sanskrit: śiva) forms can be found, leading Chakravarti to conclude that “all the basic elements which created the complex Rudra-Śiva sect of later ages are to be found here”. In the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as “the standard of invincibility, might, and terror”, as well as a figure of honor, delight, and brilliance. The duality of Shiva’s fearful and auspicious attributes appears in contrasted names. The name Rudra (Sanskrit: रुद्र) reflects his fearsome aspects. According to traditional etymologies, the Sanskrit name Rudra is derived from the root rud-, which means “to cry, howl”.
Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means “wild, of rudra nature”, and translates the name Rudra as “the wild one” or “the fierce god”. R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as “terrible”. Hara (Sanskrit: हर) is an important name that occurs three times in the Anushasanaparvan version of the Shiva sahasranama, where it is translated in different ways each time it occurs, following a commentorial tradition of not repeating an interpretation. Sharma translates the three as “one who captivates”, “one who consolidates”, and “one who destroys”. Kramrisch translates it as “the ravisher”. Another of Shiva’s fearsome forms is as Kāla (Sanskrit: काल), “time”, and as Mahākāla (Sanskrit: महाकाल), “great time”, which ultimately destroys all things. Bhairava (Sanskrit: भैरव), “terrible” or “frightful”, is a fierce form associated with annihilation.
In contrast, the name Śaṇkara (Sanskrit: शङ्कर), “beneficent” or “conferring happiness” reflects his benign form. This name was adopted by the great Vedanta philosopher Śaṇkara (c. 788-820 CE), who is also known as Shankaracharya. The name Śambhu (Sanskrit: शम्भु), “causing happiness”, also reflects this benign aspect.
The Yoga and Tantra Lord, Shiva is depicted as both an ascetic yogin and as a householder, roles which have been traditionally mutually exclusive in Hindu society. When depicted as a yogin, he may be shown sitting and meditating. His epithet Mahāyogin (“the great Yogi: Mahā = “great”, Yogin = “one who practices Yoga”) refers to his association with yoga. While Vedic religion was conceived mainly in terms of sacrifice, it was during the Epic period that the concepts of tapas, yoga, and asceticism became more important, and the depiction of Shiva as an ascetic sitting in philosophical isolation reflects these later concepts.
As a family man and householder, he has a wife, Parvati, and two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. His epithet Umāpati (“The husband of Umā”) refers to this idea, and Sharma notes that two other variants of this name that mean the same thing, Umākānta and Umādhava, also appear in the sahasranama.Umā in epic literature is known by many names, including the benign Pārvatī. She is identified with Devi, the Divine Mother; Shakti (divine energy) as well as goddesses like Tripura Sundari, Durga, Kamakshi and Meenakshi. The consorts of Shiva are the source of his creative energy. They represent the dynamic extension of Shiva onto this universe. His son Ganesha (gańeśa) is worshipped throughout India and Nepal as the Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles. Kartikeya is worshipped in Southern India (especially in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka) by the names Subrahmanya, Subrahmanyan, Shanmughan, Swaminathan and Murugan, and in Northern India by the names Skanda, Kumara, or Karttikeya.
Parvati – Shiva’s wife
Parvati aka Uma, Haimavati or Akarna, in Devanagri: पार्वती, IAST: Pārvatī – is a Hindu goddess, Śrī Devī. Parvati is Shakti, the wife of Shiva and the gentle aspect of Mahadevi, the Great Goddess. Parvati is considered as complete incarnation of Adi Parashakti’, with all other goddesses being her incarnations or manifestations. Parvati is nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Satī, being the reincarnation of Shiva’s first wife. Parvati is the mother of the gods and goddess, Ganesha and Skanda (Kartikeya). Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Vishnu. She is also regarded as the daughter of the Himavat. Parvati, when depicted alongside Shiva, generally appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four or eight arms, and astride a tiger or lion. Generally considered a benevolent goddess, Parvati also has wrathful incarnations, such as Durga, Kali, Shitala Devi, Tara, Chandi, and the Mahavidyas as well as benevolent forms like Kathyayini, Mahagauri, Kamalatmika, Bhuvaneshwari and Lalita.
Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for “mountain”; “Parvati” translates to “She of the mountains” and refers to Parvati being born the daughter of Himavat (Himavant, Himavan), lord and king of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas. Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja (Daughter of the mountains), Nagajaa or Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountains), and ‘Girirajaputri’ (Daughter of king of the mountains). Parvati’s name is also sometimes considered a form of ‘pavitra’, meaning ‘sinless’ or ‘holy’ in Sanskrit. She is also known by 108 names from the Durga Saptashati. These include Ambika (‘dear mother’), Gauri (‘fair complexioned’), Shyama (‘dark complexioned’), Bhairavi (‘awesome’), Kumari (‘virgin’), Kali (“dark one”), Umā, Lalita, Mataji (‘revered mother’), Sahana (‘pure’), Durga, Bhavani, Shivaradni or Shivaragyei (‘Queen of Shiva’), and many hundreds of others. The Lalita sahasranama contains an authoritative listing of 1,000 names of Parvati.
Two of Parvati’s most famous epithets are Uma and Aparna. The name Uma is used for Sati in earlier texts, but in the Ramayana, it is used as synonym for Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna (‘One who took no sustenance’) and then addressed as Uma, who was dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā (‘oh, don’t’). The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the fair one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, can be explained by the following Hindu myth: Once, Shiva rebuked Parvati about her dark complexion. An angry Parvati left him and underwent severe austerities to become fair-complexioned as a boon from Brahma. Parvati is also the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi.
Parvati herself does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature, though the Kena Upanishad (3.12) contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati. She appears as the shakti, or essential power, of the Supreme Brahman. Her primary role is as a mediator who reveals the knowledge of Brahman to the Vedic trinity of Agni, Vayu, and Indra, who were boasting about their recent defeat of a group of demons.
The Puranas repeatedly tell the tale of Sati’s marriage to Shiva against her father Daksha’s wishes and her subsequent self-immolation at Daksha’s sacrifice, leaving Shiva grief-stricken and having lost interest in worldly affairs. In the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Sati appears before Shiva, in her divine form, and reassures him that she will return as the daughter of Himavat. Sati is reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat and Menā and is named Kali, ‘the dark one’, because of her complexion. Sati, as well as Parvati, are considered manifestations of Mahadevi, the great Goddess. In the Ramayana, the river goddess Ganga is depicted as the elder sister of Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati has two younger sisters called Ekaparna and Ekapatala.
Parvati is depicted as interested in Shiva’s tales and appearance from her very birth and eventually remembering her previous life as Sati. As Parvati grows into a young woman, she begins tapas (austerities) to please Shiva to grant her wish to reunite with him. She is portrayed as surpassing all other ascetics in austerity, undergoing severe mortifications and fasting. Finally, Shiva tests her devotion by sending an attendant (or appearing himself in disguise) to criticize Shiva. Untouched by the act, Parvati retains her desire for Shiva, compelling him to marry her. After the marriage, Parvati moves to Mount Kailash, the residence of Shiva.
After the death of Shiva’s first love Sati, Shiva isolated himself into a dark cave buried amongst the snow covered peaks of the Himalayas. He rejected the world outside so distraught was he by the lose of his first true love. Meanwhile the demons lead by Taraka, rose from the netherworld and drove the devas, gods, out of the heavens. The gods sought a warrior who would help them regain the celestial realm based in Himalaya. “Only Shiva can father such a warrior,” informed Brahma. Yet Shiva, immersed in meditation, was oblivious to the problems of the gods. As he performed tapas, meditations that produce great heat and energy, his mind was filled with great knowledge and his body became resplendent with energy. But all this knowledge and energy, bottled within his being, was of not use to anyone.
With Parvati by his side, Shiva God became a family man. But he did not abandon his ways as a hermit Yogeshvara, the Lord of Yogis: he continued to meditate and immerse himself in spiritual dreams. His carefree attitude, his refusal to shoulder household responsibilities sometimes angered Parvati. But then she would come to terms with his unconventional ways and make peace. The consequent marital bliss between Shakti and Shiva ensured harmony between Matter and Spirit and brought stability and peace to the planet Earth. Parvati thus became Ambika, goddess of the household, of marriage, motherhood and family.
Parvati as Durga Devi Warrior Goddess Form
The Holy Sons of Shiva God
Śiva and Parvati are the parents of Karttikeya (Skanda, Murugan, Sanatkumara) and Ganesha(ganeśa). Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of wisdom, acquired his head by offending Śiva, by refusing to allow him to enter the house while Parvati was bathing. Śiva sent his ganas to subdue Ganesha, but to no avail. As a last resort, he bade Vishnu confuse the stalwart guardian using his powers of Maya. Then, at the right moment, Śiva hurled Trishula and cut Ganesha’s head from his body. Upon finding her guardian dead, Parvati was enraged and called up the many forms of Shakti to devour Shiva’s ganas and wreak havoc in Swargaloka. To pacify her, Śiva brought forth an elephant’s head from the forest and set it upon the boy’s shoulders, reviving him. Shiva then took Ganesha as his own son and placed him in charge of his ganas. Thus, Ganesha’s title is Ganapati, Lord of the Ganas. In another version, Parvati presented her child to Shani (Śani, the planet Saturn), whose gaze burned his head to ashes. Brahma bade Śiva to replace with the first head he could find, which happened to be that of an elephant.
Karttikeya is a six-headed god connected with Pleiades (Bahulika) and was conceived to kill the evil demon Tarakasura, who had proven invincible against other gods (devas). Tarakasura had terrorised the devas of Swargaloka so thoroughly that they came to Shiva (Śiva) pleading for his help. Shiva thus assumed a form with five faces, a divine spark emanating from the third eye of each. He gave the sparks to Agni and Vayu to carry to Ganga and thereupon release. In Ganga’s river, the sparks were washed downstream into a pond and found by the Karittikas, five forest maidens. The sparks transformed into children and were suckled by the Karttikas, When Śiva, Parvati, and the other celestials arrived on the scene, there was a debate of who the child belonged to. Further, Parvati, who was the most likely to care for the child, was puzzled as to how she would suckle five children. Suddenly, the child merged into a single being and Shiva blessed him with five separate names for his five sets of parents to settle the debate. The child, despite having been born from five sparks, had a sixth head, a unifying principle which brought together the five aspects of his father’s power into a single being. From here, the campaign in which Karttikeya would vanquish Tarakasura and liberate Swargaloka began.
Shaivita – Shivaism as Yoga philosophy
Shaivism, Shaiva in Sanskrit: शैव पंथ, śaiva paṁtha), also known as Shaivam (zaivaM, śaivam), is the oldest tradition of Hinduism. It is now one of the four most widely followed traditioanl streams of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. The word Shaivam refers to “associated with Shiva”. Followers of Shaivam, called “Shaivas,” and also “Saivas” or “Shaivites,” revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal, Bengal, Tibet and Sri Lanka, mostly. Areas notable for the practice of Shaivism include parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, Poland and Indonesia.
Sacred ash came to be used as a sign of Shaivism. Devotees of Shiva wear it as a sectarian mark on their foreheads and other parts of their bodies with reverence. The Sanskrit words bhasma and vibhuti can both be translated as “sacred ash”. The worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across all of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. It is very difficult to determine the early history of Shaivism. Shaivism has a vast literature that includes texts representing multiple philosophical schools, including non-dualist (abheda), dualist (bheda), and non-dual-with-dualism (bhedābheda) perspectives.
In Hinduism, the Gaṇas (Devanagari: गण) are attendants of Shiva and live in Kailasa. They are often referred to as the Boothaganas, or ghostly hosts, on account of their nature. Generally benign, except when their Lord is transgressed against, they are often invoked to intercede with the Lord on behalf of the devotee. Ganesha was chosen as their leader by Shiva, hence Ganesha’s title gaṇa-īśa or gaṇa-pati, “lord of the gaṇas”. Mount Kailāsa in the Himalayas is his traditional abode. Mount Kailāsa is conceived as resembling a Linga, representing the center of the universe. Varanasi / Benares is considered as the city specially-loved by Shiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. It is referred to, in religious contexts, as Kashi.
Scientists people found that artifacts from Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and other archaeological sites of northwestern India and Pakistan indicate that some early form of Shiva worship was practiced in the Indus Valley. These artifacts include lingams and the “Pashupati seal” that has been the subject of much study. The Indus Valley civilization reached its peak around 2500–2000 BCE, when trade links with Mesopotamia are known to have existed, was in decline by 1800 BCE, and faded away by 1500 BCE. A seal discovered during excavation of the Mohenjo-daro archaeological site in the Indus Valley has drawn attention as a possible representation of a “proto-Shiva” figure. This “Pashupati” (Lord of Animals, Sanskrit paśupati) seal shows a large central figure that is surrounded by animals. The central figure is often described as a seated figure, possibly ithyphallic, surrounded by animals.
Sir John Marshall and others have claimed that this figure is a prototype of Shiva, and have described the figure as having three faces, seated in a “yoga posture” with the knees out and feet joined. Semi-circular shapes on the head are often interpreted as two horns. Gavin Flood characterizes these views as “speculative”, saying that while it is not clear from the seal that the figure has three faces, is seated in a yoga posture, or even that the shape is intended to represent a human figure, it is nevertheless possible that there are echoes of Shaiva iconographic themes, such as half-moon shapes resembling the horns of a bull.
The Śvetāśvatara Upanishad (400 – 200 BCE) is the earliest textual exposition of a systematic philosophy of Shaivism. The Shiva Rahasya Purana, an Upapurana, is an important scriptual text. shaiva agamas in south india shiva temples. It is very difficult to determine the early history of Shaivism. The Śvetāśvatara Upanishad (400 – 200 BCE) is the earliest textual exposition of a systematic philosophy of Shaivism. As explained by Gavin Flood, the text proposes:… a theology which elevates Rudra to the status of supreme being, the Lord (Sanskrit: Īśa) who is transcendent yet also has cosmological functions, as does Śiva in later traditions. During the Gupta Dynasty (c. 320 – 500 CE) Puranic religion developed and Shaivism spread rapidly, eventually throughout the subcontinent, spread by the singers and composers of the Puranic narratives.
Shaivism left a major imprint on the intellectual life of classical Cambodia, Champa in what is today southern Vietnam, Java and the Tamil land. The wave of Saivite devotionalism that swept through late classical and early medieval India redefined Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Shaivite worship legitimized several ruling dynasties in pre-modern India be they the Chola, the Rajput or tribal. A similar trend was witnessed in early medieval Indonesia with the Majapahit empire and pre-Islamic Malaya. Nepal is the only country of the world where Shaivism is the most popular form of Yoga and Hinduism.
Shaivism has many different schools reflecting both regional and temporal variations and differences in philosophy. Shaivism has a vast literature that includes texts representing multiple philosophical schools, including non-dualist (abheda), dualist (bheda), and non-dual-with-dualism (bhedābheda) perspectives. Alexis Sanderson’s review of Shaivite groups makes a broad distinction into two groups, with further subdivisions within each group: Vedic, Puranic and Non-Puranic. These devotees are distinguished by undergoing initiation (dīkṣa) into a specific cult affiliation for the dual purposes of obtaining liberation in this life (mukti) and/or obtaining other aims (bhukti). Sanderson subdivides this group further into two subgroups:
– Those that follow the outer or higher path (atimārga), seeking only liberation. Among the atimārga groups two are particularly important, the Pāśupatas and a sub-branch, the Lākula, from whom another important grup, the Kālāmukhas, developed.
– Those that follow the path of mantras (mantramārga), seeking both liberation and worldly objectives.
The following are concise summaries of some of the major schools of Shaivism, along with maps showing what are popularly believed to be the primary areas of origin or present-day influence and concentration of each school in areas of the Indian subcontinent.
Pashupata Shaivism: The Pashupatas (Sanskrit: Pāśupatas) are the oldest named Shaivite group. The Pashupatas were ascetics. Noted areas of influence (clockwise) include Gujarat, Kashmir and Nepal. But there is plentiful evidence of the existence of Pāśupata groups in every area of the Indian subcontinent. In the far South, for example, a dramatic farce called the Mattavilāsana-prahasana ascribed to a seventh-century Pallava king centres around a Pāśupata ascetic in the city of Kāñcīpuram who mistakes a Buddhist mendicant’s begging bowl for his own skull-bowl. Inscriptions of comparable date in various parts of South East Asia attest to the spread of Pāśupata forms of Śaivism before the arrival there of tantric schools such as the Shaiva Siddhanta.
Shaiva Siddhanta: Considered normative tantric Saivism, Shaiva Siddhanta provides the normative rites, cosmology and theological categories of tantric Saivism. Being a dualistic philosophy, the goal of Shaiva Siddhanta is to become an ontologically distinct Shiva (through Shiva’s grace). This tradition was once practiced all over India. For example the theologians Sadyojoti, Bhatta Nārāyanakantha and his son Bhatta Rāmakantha (ca. 950-1000 AD) developed a sophisticated Siddhanta theology in Kashmir. However the Muslim subjugation of north India restricted Shaiva Siddhanta to the south, where it merged with the Tamil Saiva cult expressed in the bhakti poetry of the Nayanars. It is in this historical context that Shaiva Siddhanta is commonly considered a “southern” tradition, one that is still very much alive in Easth-South India and Sri Lanka.
Kashmir Shaivism: Kashmir Saivism, a householder religion, was based on a strong monistic interpretation of the Bhairava Tantras (and its subcategory the Kaula Tantras), which were tantras written by the Kapalikas. There was additionally a revelation of the Siva Sutras to Vasugupta. Kashmir Saivism claimed to supersede the dualistic Shaiva Siddhanta. Somananda, the first theologian of monistic Saivism, was the teacher of Utpaladeva, who was the grand-teacher of Abhinavagupta, who in turn was the teacher of Ksemaraja. The label Kashmir Shaivism, though unfortunately now widely adopted, is really a misnomer, for it is clear that the dualistic Shaiva Siddhanta was also in North India at one point in time.
Natha (Hatha Yoga): Expounded by Rishi Gorakshanatha (ca 950), this monistic theism is known as bhedabheda, embracing both transcendent Shiva Being and immanent Shiva Becoming. Shiva is efficient and material cause. The creation and final return of soul and cosmos to Shiva are likened to bubbles arising and returning to water. Influential in Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal – so called North India or Himalayan Yoga.
Lingayatism: Made popular by Basavanna (1105–1167), this version of qualified nondualism, Shakti Vishishtadvaita, accepts both difference and nondifference between soul and God, like rays are to the sun. Shiva and the cosmic force are one, yet Shiva is beyond His creation, which is real, not illusory. God is efficient and material cause. Influential primarily in Karnataka in West-South India.
Shiva Advaita: This monistic theism, formulated by Srikantha (ca 1050), is called Shiva Vishishtadvaita. The soul does not ultimately become perfectly one with Brahman, but shares with the Supreme all excellent qualities. Appaya Dikshita (1554–1626) attempted to resolve this union in favor of an absolute identity—Shuddhadvaita. Its area of origin and influence covers most of Karnataka state in West-South India.
Shiva as Nataraja
The depiction of Shiva as Nataraja (Sanskrit: naṭarāja, “Lord of Dance”) is very popular. The names Nartaka (“dancer”) and Nityanarta (“eternal dancer”) appear in the Shiva Sahasranama. His association with dance and also with music is prominent in the Puranic period. In addition to the specific iconographic form known as Nataraja, various other types of dancing forms (Sanskrit: nṛtyamūrti) are found in all parts of India, with many well-defined varieties in Karnataka & Tamil Nadu in particular. The two most common forms of the dance are the Tandava, which later came to denote the powerful and masculine dance as Kala-Mahakala associated with the destruction of the world. When it requires the world or universe to be destroyed, Lord Śiva does it by the tāṇḍavanṛtya and Lasya, which is graceful and delicate and expresses emotions on a gentle level and is considered the feminine dance attributed to the goddess Parvati. Lasya is regarded as the female counterpart of Tandava. The Tandava-Lasya dances are associated with the destruction-creation of the world.
Shiva as Dakshinamurti
Dakshinamurthy, or Dakṣiṇāmūrti (Sanskrit: दक्षिणामूर्ति), literally describes a form (mūrti) of Shiva facing south (dakṣiṇa). This form represents Shiva in his aspect as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom and giving exposition on the shastras. This iconographic form for depicting Shiva in Indian art is mostly from Tamil Nadu. Elements of this motif can include Shiva seated upon a deer-throne and surrounded by sages who are receiving his instruction.
Shiva as Ardhanareshvara
An iconographic representation of Shiva called (Ardhanārīśvara) shows him with one half of the body as male and the other half as female. According to Ellen Goldberg, the traditional Sanskrit name for this form (Ardhanārīśvara) is best translated as “the lord who is half woman”, not as “half-man, half-woman”. In Hindu philosophy, this is used to visualize the belief that the lord had sacrificed half of his body to his consort goddess Parvati as a sign of this love for her.
Shiva as Tripurantaka
Shiva is often depicted as an archer in the act of destroying the triple fortresses, Tripura, of the Asuras. Shiva’s name Tripurantaka (Sanskrit: त्रिपुरान्तक, Tripurāntaka), “ender of Tripura”, refers to this important story. In this aspect, Shiva is depicted with four arms wielding a bow and arrow, but different from the Pinakapani murti. He holds an axe and a deer on the upper pair of his arms. In the lower pair of the arms, he holds a bow and an arrow respectively. After destroying Tripura, Tripurantaka Shiva smeared his forehead with three strokes of Ashes. This has become a prominent symbol of Shiva and is practiced even today by Shaivites.
The Lingam and also, Linga, Ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling; in Sanskrit लिङ्गं liṅgaṃ, meaning “mark”, “sign”, “gender”, or “inference” – is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva God, Absolute, used for worship in temples. The Lingam has been interpreted as a symbol of male creative energy and mistaken sometimes as the symbol of the phallus. The lingam is often represented with the Yoni, a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male (God) and female (Goddess), the passive space and active time from which all life originates”. The lingam and the yoni have been interpreted as the male and female sexual organs since the end of the 19th century by some scholars (mostly from USA and Europe) but this was brought forward by the most thoughtless, and was forthcoming in India in her most degraded times. While to practising Hindus it stands for the inseparability of the male and female principles and the totality of creation, not sexual. Another interpretation suggests that the Lingam represents the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.
Apart from anthropomorphic images of Shiva, the worship of Shiva in the form of a lingam, or linga, is also important. These are depicted in various forms. One common form is the shape of a vertical rounded column. Shiva means auspiciousness, and linga means a sign or a symbol. Hence, the Shivalinga is regarded as a “symbol of the great God of the universe who is all-auspiciousness”. Shiva also means “one in whom the whole creation sleeps after dissolution”. Linga also means the same thing—a place where created objects get dissolved during the disintegration of the created universe. Since, according to Hinduism, it is the same god that creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, the Shivalinga represents symbolically God Himself. Some Western scholars, such as Monier-Williams and Wendy Doniger, also view linga as a phallic symbol, although this interpretation is disputed by others of valid vedic knowledge, including Christopher Isherwood, Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, and S.N. Balagangadhara.
There is a hymn in the Atharvaveda which praises a pillar (Sanskrit: stambha), and this is the old origin of linga-worship. The worship of the Shiva-Linga originated from the famous hymn in the Atharva-Veda Samhitâ sung in praise of the Yupa-Stambha, the sacrificial post. In that hymn, a description is found of the beginningless and endless Stambha or Skambha, and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman. Just as the Yajna (sacrificial) fire, its smoke, ashes, and flames, the Soma plant, and the ox that used to carry on its back the wood for the Vedic sacrifice gave place to the conceptions of the brightness of Shiva’s body, his tawny matted hair, his blue throat, and the riding on the bull of the Shiva, the Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga. In the text Linga Purana, the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories, meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the superiority of Shiva as Mahadeva.
The twelve Jyotirlingas (lingams of light) are sacred shrines of Lord Shiva, and centres for his worship. They are known as Swayambhus, meaning the lingams sprung up by themselves at these places and temples were built there afterwards. Temples are listed in the India tourist guides. Ramakrishna practiced Jivanta-linga-puja, or “worship of the living lingam”. At the Paris Congress of the History of Religions in 1900, Ramakrishna’s follower Swami Vivekananda argued that the Shiva-Linga had its origin in the idea of the Yupa-Stambha or Skambha—the sacrificial post, idealized in Vedic ritual as the symbol of the Eternal Brahman.
Five is the Shiva mystical number
Five is a sacred number for Shiva. One of his most important mantras has five syllables (namaḥ śivāya). Shiva’s body is said to consist of five mantras, called the pañcabrahmans. As forms of God, each of these have their own names and distinct iconography: Sadyojāta (Hiranmaya), Vāmadeva (Narayana), Aghora (Rudra), Tatpuruṣha (Īśvara), Īsāna (Sadaśiva). These are represented as the five faces of 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. Doctrinal differences and, possibly, errors in transmission, have resulted in some differences between texts in details of how these five forms are linked with various attributes. The overall meaning of these associations is summarized by Stella Kramrisch:Through these transcendent categories, Śiva, the ultimate reality, becomes the efficient and material cause of all that exists.
According to the Pañcabrahma Upanishad:One should know all things of the phenomenal world as of a fivefold character, for the reason that the eternal verity of Śiva is of the character of the fivefold Brahman. (Pañcabrahma Upanishad 31).
Shiva, as the god of destroying evil, is the third among the divine trinity of Hindu mythology. The holy mantra consisting of five-syllables: “Na” “Ma” “Shi” “Vaa” “Ya” (Om NamaH Shivaaya) in praise of Lord Shiva is chanted incessantly on special occasions like Shivaratri. His thousands of names, each of which describe His greatness, may also be chanted. Shiva means “auspicious”. As Shankara, He is the giver of happiness to all. Nataraja (the king of dancers) is a favourite form adored by dancers and musicians.
Mahashivaratri – Great Shiva Night
Maha Shivratri is a festival celebrated every year on the 13th night or the 14th day of the new moon in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Maagha or Phalguna (February/March) in the Hindu calendar. This festival is of utmost importance to the devotees of Lord Shiva. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’ and it is also believed that Lord Shiva was married to Parvati. On this day the devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers and Bael leaves to Shiva Linga.
‘Sivaratri’ means ‘night of Lord Siva’. The important features of this religious function are rigid fasting for twentyfour hours and sleepless vigil during the night. Every true devotee of Lord Siva spends the night of Sivaratri in deep meditation, keeps vigil and observes fast. The worship of Lord Siva consists in offering flowers, Bilva leaves and other gifts on the Linga which is a symbol of Lord Siva, and bathing it with milk, honey, butter, ghee, rose-water, etc.
Maha Shivaratri is a Vedic and Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. Alternate common names/spellings include Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivaratri. Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. Mahashivaratri is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha or Phalguna month of the Hindu calendar. Since many different calendars are followed by various ethno-linguistic groups of India, the month and the Tithi name are not uniform all over India. Celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha(waning moon) of the month of Maagha according to the Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama or Phalguna according to the Vikrama era. The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil. In accordance with scriptural and discipleship traditions, penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life’s summum bonum steadily and swiftly. A week-long International Mandi Shivratri Fair held at Mandi in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh every year is one of the major tourist attractions in the state.
From the very early morning, Shiva temples are flocked by devotees and yogis, too young and old, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga worship (puja) and hence hope for favours from the god. Devotees bathe at sunrise, preferably in the Ganga, or any other holy water source (like the Shiva Sagartank at Khajurao). This is a purificatory rite, an important part of all Hindu festivals. Wearing a clean piece of clothing after the holy bath, worshippers carry pots of water to the temple to bathe the Shivalinga. They offer prayers to the sun, Vishnu and Shiva.Women pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons. An unmarried woman prays for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. The temple reverberates with the sound of bells and shouts of “Shankara-Ji ki Jai” meaning ‘Hail Shiva’. Devotees circumambulate the linga, three or seven times, and then pour water over it. Some also pour milk.
According to the Shiva Purana, the Mahashivaratri worship must incorporate six items:
– Bathing the Shiva Linga with water, milk and honey, and Wood apple or bael leaves added to it, representing purification of the soul;
– The vermilion paste applied on the Shiv Linga after bathing it, representing virtue;
– Offering of fruits, which is conducive to longevity and gratification of desires;
– Burning incense, yielding wealth;- The lighting of the lamp which is conducive to the attainment of knowledge;
– Betel leaves marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
Tripundra refers to the three horizontal stripes of holy ash applied to the forehead by worshippers of Lord Shiva. These stripes symbolise spiritual knowledge, purity and penance (spiritual practice of Yoga), so also they represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva. Wearing a rosary made from the rudraksha seed of the rudraksha tree (said to have sprung from the tears of Lord Shiva) when worshipping Lord Shiva is ideal. A rudraksha seed is a mahogany-like color, sometimes black, and sometimes may have traces of sacred sandalwood powder, turmeric, kumkum, or holy ash if the rosary was used in worship ceremonies or anointed.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated widely in the temples all over Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Shiva is considered the Adi Guru (the First Master) from whom the yogic tradition originates. According to tradition, the planetary positions on this night are such that there is a powerful natural upsurge of energy in the human system. It is said to be beneficial for one’s physical and spiritual well-being to stay awake and aware throughout the night. On this day, artists from various fields such as music and dance perform the whole night.
Sahasrakalasabishekam during Mahashivaratri
This is a very special and rare puja conducted during 10 days of Maha Sivarathri festival. It is well known that Lord Siva is abhishekapriya (lover of ablutions). Lord Parasurama and Kroshta Muni, during their worship of the Lord here, are believed to have bathed the deity with Sahasrakalasam or a thousand pots of holy water according to Vedic rites. Now during Mahasivarathri festival days the Head Priest (Thanthri) and his team perform this puja. It is a ten day function, each day an offering of 101 Kalasam or pots of holy water (100 being made of silver, while one is made of gold), surcharged with mantras recited by learned Brahmins seated on the Mukhamantapam. These are emptied on the deity, the golden pot Brahmakalasam being the last one. A magnificent light is the indication or identity of Lord Shiva and the Shiva Lingam is considered to be the symbol of it. Hence, the formal worship on Maha Shivaratri consists of bathing the Shiva Lingam. Lord Shiva is said to be burning with the fire of austerity and so only those items are offered to Him that have a cooling effect. A cool water bath is believed to propitiate Him best. There is a belief among devotees that participation in Sahasrakalasam and offering holy worship materials, will lead to blessings with prosperity and peaceful life. Hundreds of devotees thronging the shrine with chants of “Namah Shivaya”, “Hara hara Mahadeva”, and “Sambho Mahadeva”…
Shiva Puja and Abishekam for all Yogis
Shiva Puja is the name of the action in Hinduism by which one worships Lord Siva through traditional and ancient rites with the use of mantra, tantra, kriyas, mudras, and abhishekam.Popular Puja may take an eclectic or North Indian style, whereas more specific traditions or castes may have their own specific forms. General worship of Shiva God is quite diverse and can range from worshipping an anthropomorphic murti (Such as the famous Tamil Nataraja statues from the ancient Chola Kingdom), a Lingam (one of Shiva’s main symbols), a deified landmark (such as the Ganges or Mount Kailash) or not worshipping a symbol at all (as in the case of the Lingayats).
Among the most important attributed to Shiva is the Shiva Purana, which describes in various stories the mythological origins of puja implements. Shiva Abhishekam is usually performed to a Lingam representing his manifestation as a creator of good (by destroying evil).In many temples, one finds a vessel hung over the Lingam called thaara paathra, that continuously drips water or other offerings onto the Lingam in deference to Shiva’s desire for Abhisheka. Since Shiva is said to wear Nageshwara (Snake God) as an ornament around his neck, it is said that the fragrance of Aloe (which attracts snakes) is also a very holy item to be used for the worship of Shiva. In contrast, it said that Lord Vishnu is Alankara Priyar (Desirous of ornamentation). Hence Vishnu Sthalas (places of worship of Lord Vishnu) have elaborately carved idols of Lord Vishnu with the alankaram (decoration ceremony) post the abhishekam, being a very elaborate ritual. In any discussion of Hinduism, it is important to remember that these rituals are an off shoot of the interpretation of Vedas, the holy text of Hindus. These texts by themselves do not outline the deities or rituals for their worship thereof.
Some of the common items used for Shiva Abhisheka are:
4. Tender Coconut water
5. Vibhuti (holy ash)
6. Panchamruta (Curd based delicacy consisting of Panch(5) items: Milk, Sugar, Ghee (clarified butter), Honey, curd)
8. Sandalwood Paste
9. Ghee (Clarified butter)
Shiva Slokas and Mantras
The below are two of the most popular Shiva Slokas
The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra reads (IAST transliteration):
tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭi-vardhanam |
urvā rukamiva bandhanān mṛtyor mukṣīya māmṛtāt ||
In the translation of Arthur Berriedale Keith, 1914):”OM. We worship and adore you, O three-eyed one, O Shiva. You are sweet gladness, the fragrance of life, who nourishes us, restores our health, and causes us to thrive. As, in due time, the stem of the cucumber weakens, and the gourd is freed from the vine, so free us from attachment and death, and do not withhold immortality.”
Sri Lingashtakam is a popular 8-canto hymn chanted during the worship of Lord Shiva. The lyrics are as below:
Brahma Muraari Suraarchita Lingam
Nirmala Bhashita Shobhita Lingam |
Janmaja Dukha Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 1||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, which is adored by Brahma, Vishnu and other Gods, which is praised by pure and holy speeches and which destroys the cycle of births and deaths.
Devamuni Pravaraarchita Lingam
Kaamadaham Karunaakara Lingam |
Raavana Darpa Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sada Shiva Lingam || 2||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, which is the destroyer of desires, which the Devas and the sages worship, which is infinitely compassionate and which subdued the pride of Raavana.
Sarva Sugandha Sulepitha Lingam
Buddhi Vivardhana Kaarana Lingam |
Siddha Suraasura Vanditha Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 3||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, which is lavishly smeared with variegated perfumes and scents, which elevates the power of thought and enkindles the light of discrimination, and before which the Siddhas and Suras and Asuras prostrate.
Kanaka Mahaamani Bhushitha Lingam
Phanipathi Veshtitha Shobhitha Lingam |
Daksha Suyajna Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 4||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, the destroyer of Dakshas sacrifice, which is decorated with various ornaments, studded with different gems and rubies and which glows with the garland of the serpent Lord coiled around it.
Kumkuma Chandana Lepitha Lingam
Pankaja Haara Sushobhitha Lingam |
Sanchitha Paapa Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 5||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, which is smeared with saffron and sandal paste, which is decorated with lotus garlands and which wipes out all accumulated sins.
Devaganaarchitha Sevitha Lingam
Bhaavair Bhakti Bhirevacha Lingam |
Dinakara Koti Prabhakara Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 6||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga which is worshipped by the multitude of Gods with genuine thoughts full of faith and devotion and whose splendor is like that of a million suns.
Ashta Dalopari Veshtitha Lingam
Sarva Samudbhava Kaarana Lingam |
Ashta Daridra Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam ||7||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga, destroyer of all poverty and misery in its eight aspects, which is the cause of all creation and which stands on the eight petalled Lotus.
Suraguru Suravara Pujitha Lingam
Suravana Pushpa Sadaarchitha Lingam |
Paraatparam Paramatmaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam || 8||
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Linga which is the Transcendent Being and the Supreme Self, worshipped by all Suras and their preceptor (Brhaspathi), with innumerable flowers from the celestial gardens.
Om Namah Shivaya – Panchakshara
Aum Namah Shivaya (Sanskrit: Aum Namaḥ Śivāya ॐ नमः शिवाय) is a popular mantra in Hinduism and particularly in Shaiva. Its translation is “adoration (namas) to Śiva“, preceded by the mystical syllable “Aum“. It is also called Panchakshara, the “five-syllable” mantra (viz., excluding the Aum). It is part of the Shri Rudram Chamakam, a Hindu prayer taken from the Krishna Yajurveda, and thus predates the use of Shiva as a proper name, in the original context being an address to Rudra (the later Shiva), where śiva retains its original meaning as an adjective meaning “auspicious, benign, friendly”, a euphemistic epithet of Rudra.
The meaning of the “Namaḥ Śivāya” mantra was explained by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniya-swami:Namaḥ Śivāya is the most holy name of Śiva God, recorded at the very center of the Vedas and elaborated in the Śaiva Agamas. Na is the Lord’s concealing grace, Ma is the world, Śi stands for Śiva,Vaa is His revealing grace, Ya is the soul. The five elements, too, are embodied in this ancient formula for invocation. Na is earth, Ma is water, Śi is fire, Vā is air, and Ya is ether, or Ākāśa. Many are its meanings.
Namaḥ Śivaaya has such power, the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondage of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect. Namaḥ Śivāya quells the instinct, cuts through the steel bands and turns this intellect within and on itself, to face itself and see its ignorance. Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within.
The holy Natchintanai proclaims, “Namaḥ Śivāya is in truth both Āgama and Veda. Namah Śivāya represents all mantras and tantras. Namaḥ Śivaya is our souls, our bodies and possessions. Namaḥ Śivāya has become our sure protection.” — Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
The book “The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony: Volume I” by Thomas Ashley-Farrand defines Om Namah Shivaya as:
“This mantra has no direct translation. The sounds relate directly to the principles which govern each of the first five chakras on the spine…Earth, water, fire, air, ether. Notice that this does not refer to the chakras themselves which have a different set of seed sounds, but rather, the principles which govern those chakras in their place. A very rough, non-literal translation could be something like, ‘Om and salutations to that which I am capable of becoming.’ This mantra will start one out on the path of subtle development of spiritual attainments. It is the beginning on the path of Siddha Yoga, or the Yoga of Perfection of the Divine Vehicle.”
“Na” refers to the Gross Body (annamayakosa), “Ma” refers to the Pranic Body (pranamayakosa), “Shi” or “Śi” refers to the Mental Body (manonmayakosa), “Va” refers to the Intellectual Body (vignanamayakosa) and “Ya” refers to the Blissful Body (anandamayakosa) and “OM” or the “silence” beyond these syllables refers to the Soul or Life within.
The Lyrics or text of the strotram given below in (Latin alphabet)
Nityaya Shuddhaya Digambaraya
Tasmai Nakaraya Namah Shivaya ||1||
Mandakini salila chandana charchitaya
Nandishvara pramathanatha Maheshvaraya
Mandarapushpa bahupushhpa supujitaya
Tasmai Makaraya Namah Shivaya ||2||
Shivaya Gauri vadanabjavrunda
Suryaya Dakshadhvara Nashakaya
Tasmai Shikaraya Namah Shivaya ||3||
Vasishhtha kumbhodbhava gautamarya
Munindra devarchita shekharaya
Tasmai Vakaraya Namah Shivaya ||4||
Divyaya Devaya Digambaraya
Tasmai Yakaraya Namah Shivaya ||5||
The lyrics or text of Shiva Panchakshari Mantra Strotra in Hindi or Sanskrit script below
नित्याय शुद्धाय दिगम्बराय
तस्मै नकाराय नमः शिवाय ||१||
मन्दाकिनी सलिला चंदना चर्चिताय
नंदिश्वारा प्रमाथानाथा महेश्वराय
मंदारापुश्पा बहुपुश्ह्पा सुपुजिताया
तस्मै मकाराय नमः शिवाय ||२||
शिवाय गौरी वादानाब्जवृन्दा
सूर्याय दक्शाध्वारा नशाकाया
तस्मै शिकाराय नमः शिवाय ||३||
वसिष्ठ कुम्भोद्भावा गौतामार्य
मुनीन्द्र देवार्चिता शेखाराया
तस्मै वकाराय नमः शिवाय ||४||
दिव्याय देवाय दिगम्बराय
तस्मै यकाराय नमः शिवाय ||५||
Meaning of The Shiva Panchakshari Mantra Strotra
Salutations to Shiva, who wears the king of snakes as a garland, thethree-eyed god, whose body is smeared with ashes, the great lord, theeternal and pure one, who wears the directions as his garment, and whois represented by the syllable “NA“.
I bow to Shiva, who has been worshiped with water from the Ganga(Mandakini) and anointed with sandalwood paste, the lord of Nandi, thelord of the host of goblins and ghosts, the great lord, who is worshipedwith Mandara and many other kinds of flowers, and who is represented bythe syllable “MA“.
Salutations to Shiva, who is all-auspiciousness, who is the sun thatcauses the lotus face of Gauri (Parvati) to blossom, who is thedestroyer of the yajna of Daksha, whose throat is blue (Nilakantha),whose flag bears the emblem of the bull, and who is represented by thesyllable “SHI” (ŚI).
Vasishhtha, Agastya, Gautama, and other venerable sages, and Indra andother gods have worshipped the head of (Shiva’s linga). I bow to thatShiva whose three eyes are the moon, sun and fire, and who isrepresented by the syllable “VA‘.
Salutations to Shiva, who bears the form of a Yaksha, who has mattedhair on his head, who bears the Pinaka bow in his hand, the primevallord, the brilliant god, who is digambara (naked), and who isrepresented by the syllable “YA“.
Shiva Holy Mountain – Kailasa
Kailash, Kailāsa (कैलास) in Sanskrit, is the most Holy Mountain of the world near Nepal, Tibet (China) and India border. Elevation is 6,638 m (21,778 ft) and prominence is 1,319 m (4,327 ft). Mount Kailash is a peak in the Gangdisê Mountains, which are part of the Transhimalaya in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the Ganges River). It is considered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Vedism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In Vedic tradition and Hinduism, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and a place of eternal bliss. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarowar and Lake Rakshastal in Tibet.
The mountain is known as Kailāsa (कैलास) in Sanskrit. The word may be derived from the word kēlāsa (केलास) which means “crystal”. In his Tibetan-English dictionary, Chandra (1902: p. 32) identifies the entry for ‘kai la sha’ which is a loan word from Sanskrit ‘kailāsa’ (Devanagari: कैलास). The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che. Gangs or Kang is the Tibetan word for snow peak analogous to alp or himal; rinpoche is an honorific meaning “precious one” so the combined term can be translated “precious jewel of snows”.
“Tibetan Buddhists call it Kangri Rinpoche; ‘Precious Snow Mountain’. Bon texts have many names: Water’s Flower, Mountain of Sea Water, Nine Stacked Swastika Mountain. For Hindus, it is the home of the mountain Shiva God and a symbol of his power symbol Om; for Jains it is where their first leader was enlightened; for Buddhists, the navel of the universe; and for adherents of Bon, the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.” Another local name for the mountain is Tisé mountain, which derives from ti tse in the Zhang-Zhung language, meaning “water peak” or “river peak”, connoting the mountain’s status as the source of the mythical Lion, Horse, Peacock and Elephant Rivers, and in fact the Indus, Yarlung Tsangpo/Dihang/Brahmaputra, Karnali and Sutlej all begin in the Kailash-Lake Manasarovar region.
According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance and illusion, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailāsa, where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Pārvatī. According to Charles Allen, one description in the Vishnu Purana of the mountain states that its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. It is a pillar of the world and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. The largest and most important rock-cut temple, Kailash Temple at Ellora, Maharashtra is named after Mount Kailash. Many of its sculptures and reliefs depict episodes relating to Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati, including Ravana’s tale. (Ravana was a devotee of Lord Shiva. Ramayana does not document Ravana shaking the mountain.) Ravana’s mother had fallen ill. As they were great Lord Shiva devotees, he had attempted to carry the temple on his back to bring it closer to his mother. Shiva, being stunned by his boldness, had blessed him with immortality as Ravana had passed Lord Shiva’s test of devotion.
In Jainism, Kailash is also known as Mount Ashtapada and is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva, attained Nirvana/moksa (liberation). The authenticity of Mount Kailash being Mount Ashtapada is highly debated. Tantric Buddhists and Bon followers believe that Mount Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok (also known as Demchog or Chakrasamvara), who represents supreme bliss as Shiva God. There are numerous sites in the region associated with Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava, Shiva follower), whose Shaiva tantric practices in holy sites around Tibet are credited with finally establishing Buddhism as the main religion of the country in the 7th-8th century CE. The Bön, a religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet, maintain that the entire mystical region and the nine-story Swastika Mountain are the seat of all spiritual power. Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 mi) long. Some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Kailash should be made in a single day, which is not considered an easy task. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek. Some of the devout do accomplish this feat, little daunted by the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions faced in the process.
Indeed, other pilgrims venture a much more demanding regimen, performing body-length prostrations over the entire length of the circumambulation: The pilgrim bends down, kneels, prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers, rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four weeks of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. It is claimed that many people who ventured to defy the taboo have died in the process. It is a popular belief that the stairways on Mount Kailash lead to the Heavens.
Following the political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimage to the legendary abode of Lord Shiva was stopped from 1954 to 1978. Thereafter, a limited number of Indian pilgrims have been allowed to visit the place, under the supervision of the Chinese and Indian governments either by a lengthy and hazardous trek over the Himalayan terrain, travel by land from Kathmandu or from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Lhasa and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan plateau by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving at Darchen at elevation of 4,600 m (15,100 ft), small outpost that swells with pilgrims at certain times of year. Despite its minimal infrastructure, modest guest houses are available for foreign pilgrims, whereas Tibetan pilgrims generally sleep in their own tents. A small regional medical center serving far-western Tibet and funded by the Swiss Ngari Korsum Foundation was built here in 1997.
Walking around the holy mountain—a part of its official park—has to be done on foot, pony or yak, taking some three days of trekking starting from a height of around 15,000 ft (4,600 m) past the Tarboche (flagpole) to cross the Drölma pass 18,200 ft (5,500 m), and encamping for two nights en route. First, near the meadow of Dirapuk gompa, some 2 to 3 km (1.2 to 1.9 mi) before the pass and second, after crossing the pass and going downhill as far as possible (viewing Gauri Kund in the distance). The most holy mountain of Shiva Tradition, Kailāsa (कैलास) in Sanskrit, is in Tibet, so it is clear that near this mountain is the heart of old Shaiva traditions and may be all Arya civilization sources!