Shiva is lord of the lords and it is really not easy to write/explain everything about shiva.However many have tried to explain him and praised him as per their knowledge but the explanation is endless and it is un-imaginable from a human being even devas, asuras and other rishi munis have very little words to explain about the lord almighty.
Shiva means the supreme one, the auspicious one, the pure one and for me the beloved one. Shiva is named as Pashupati which means the Lord of all living beings either it is humans, devas, asuras or any creatures. Another name Mahadeva depicts the great God, supreme in all devas(Gods).
The God staying in a state blissful, enjoying in Its Own Self eternally, without any flaws is the Supreme Lord shiva. The Perfection is the completeness - there is nothing external that is required to make the Self blissful.
Lord Shiva is reckoned among the Tridevas (trimity). Brahma is the creator, Lord Vishnu is the preserver and Lord Shiva is the destroyer. Shiva is the lord of Shakti also.
Lord shiva is absolute which does not have any parents which never takes birth Which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self. God is the only one who is dependable for anybody / anything to surrender to as It is the only perennial Being. Hence God is the Lord of all creatures (lives/souls). For this reason the Lord is hailed as pashupati (Lord of living beings). Whether it is devas or asuras or humans or other creatures all are pashus. That being the case how could the Lord be partial to one section of pashus and withdrawing the Grace for the other ? So anybody who worships the Lord sincerely could get blessed with Its Grace irrespective of the caste, creed, race, power, status and qualities.
It is in fact to be noted that Lord shiva is worshipped by the devas like viShNu, braHma, indra, by asuras like bANa, rAvaNa, tripura, sUrapadma, by humans like sha~Nkara bhagavatpAda, samban^dhar, appar, by other creatures like jaTAyu, sampAdi (eagles), vAli (monkey) and the list goes on and on. One finds in the purANas the variety of people of different backgrounds and qualities worship the Lord shiva. There are many histories of temples which talk of the cranes, bees, elephants, spiders, snakes worshipping the Lord and getting blessed. So the Lord as the Supreme blesses anyone who worships in sincere devotion. There is no discrimination on who the seeker is. The Lord is so merciful that He showers the boons one look for when there is a determination to seek Him. It is evident from the history of asura bANa who attained a great fame of his valor and got the place in the abode of Lord shiva all due to his determined worship of the Lord.
Lord shiva is the God of all. Like the mother He showers the grace for all the children, but the misusing children get punished. This Supreme Lord better than a mother does not withhold the grace, He is our beloved pashupati.
The God would not be biased. It would not differentiate between one group versus the other, whether it be divines or daemons or humans or plats or creatures or on sex or on race etc. All that matters is dharma and the pure devotion towards It. No doubt this lovely Lord shiva is worshipped alike by divines, daemons, scholars, not much learnt simple, and the other creatures.
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Who Is Lord Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu god and one aspect of Trimurti. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is one of the five primary forms of God. Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas. Shaivism, along with Vaisnava traditions that focus on Vishnu and Sakta traditions that focus on the goddess Devi are three of the most influential denominations in Hinduism. Shiva is usually worshipped in the form of Shiva linga. In images, he is generally represented as immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Maya, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the lord of the dance. In some Hindu denominations, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva represent the three primary aspects of the divine in Hinduism and are collectively known as the Trimurti. In this school of religious thought, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer.
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Significance of the Shiv Lingam
The non antrhropomorphic Lingam form of Shiva is what is held in reverence in temples all over the sub continent. The Lingam is a symbol. It is a symbol of that which is invisible yet omnipresent. It is hence a a visible symbol of the Ultimate Reality which is present in us (and in all objects of creation ). The Shivalingam denotes the primeval energy of the Creator.It is believed that at the end of all creation, during the great deluge, all of the different aspects of God find a resting place in the Lingam; Bhrama is absorbed into the right, Vishnu to the left and Gayatri into the heart. The Shivalingam is also a representation of the infinite Cosmic Column of fire, whose origins, Vishnu and Bhrama were unable to trace. (see Lingodbhavar).
Legend has it that Parvati fashioned a Shivalingam with a fistful of sand at Kanchipuram and worshipped Shiva; this lingam is known as the Prithvilingam, denoting the primordial element earth. Shivalingams in several temples are swayambus, or that which appeared on their own, or that which is untouched by a chisel. On the other hand, there are temples where the Shivalingam is carved out of stone and installed. The highly polished Shivalingams of the Pallava period bear several stripes, as in the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. The Shivalingam is generally mounted on a circular or quadrangular receptacle called the Avudaiyar. This pedestal is designed so as to drain off the water offered during ablution ceremonies. In temples such as Kanchipuram, abhishekam is offered only to the pedestal and not to the Shivalingam made of sand. The bottom of the pedestal represents Bhrama, the octogonal middle represents Vishnu and the upper circular portion represents Shiva. The upper portion of the Shivalingam may be of various shapes, cylindrical, elliptical, umbrella shaped. Images may also be (rarely) carved on a Shivalingam. Nandi, the bull is depicted facing the sanctum in all Saivite temples, symbolizing the human soul Jeevatma yearning for realizing its oneness with Paramatma, the ultimate reality.
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Shiva Legends Or Stories
Story of Shiva Lingam - Why Shiva is worshipped in the Phallic Form
This is an interesting story regarding the worship of Lord Shiva in the phallic form. It is believed that once Brahma and Vishnu, the two deities of the Trinity, got into an argument regarding their supremacy. Lord Brahma declared himself to be more admired, being the creator. While the preserver, Vishnu, pronounced that he commanded more admiration. Just then a huge pillar of fire (lingam), called as Jyotirlinga, appeared in flames, before them. This Lingam enthralled both Brahma and Vishnu, with its hastily increasing size. With this incident, they forgot their quarrel and decided to find its size. Vishnu took the form of boar and went to the netherworld. Brahma assumed the form of a Swan and flew to the skies. However both of them were unsuccessful in completing the self-assumed tasks. At that time, Shiva appeared out of the lingam and acknowledged that he was the progenitor of both, Brahma and Vishnu. So, he should be worshipped in his phallic (lingam) form, and not in the anthropomorphic form.
Story of Shiva and the Hunter
Here is one more interesting story of Lord Shiva, showing his merciful nature. Once a hunter was wandering in a dense forest, to chase a deer and suddenly he found himself on the banks of river Kolidum, where he heard the roar of a tiger. In order to defend himself from the tiger, he climbed up a tree close by. The Tiger sat on the ground below the tree without the purpose to leave. The huntsman stayed at the tree whole night and to keep himself awake, he plucked one leaf after another from the tree and threw it down. There was a Shiva Lingam under the tree and gracefully the tree turned out to be a ''bilva'' tree (leaves of this tree are adored by Shiva). Without any knowledge, the huntsman had delighted the deity by pouring Bilva leaves all night. With the arrival of the sun, the hunter looked down and found the tiger gone. In its place, Lord Shiva was standing and he prostate before the lord. With Shiva's blessings, he attained salvation from the bondage of the material world.
Ganga Comes Down to Earth
A legend from the Ramayana speaks of King Bhagirath who once meditated before Lord Brahma for a thousand years for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors. Pleased with his devotion Brahma granted him a wish. He requested the Lord to send the river Ganges down to earth from heaven so that she could flow over his ancestors' ashes and wash their curse away and allow them to go to heaven. Brahma granted his wish but asked him to pray to Shiva, for he alone could support the weight of her descent. Accordingly he prayed to Shiva and he allowed the Ganges to descend on his head, and after meandering through his thick matted locks, the holy river reached the earth. This story is re-enacted by bathing the 'linga'.
The Tiger & the Leaves
Once a hunter while chasing a deer wandered into a dense forest and found himself on the banks of river Kolidum when he heard the growl of a tiger. To protect himself from the beast he climbed up a tree nearby. The tiger pitched itself on the ground below the tree fostering no intention to leave. The hunter stayed up in the tree all night and to keep himself from falling asleep, he gently plucked one leaf after another from the tree and threw it down. Under the tree was a Shiva Linga and the tree blessedly turned out to be a bilva tree. Unknowingly the man had pleased the deity with bilva leaves. At sunrise, the hunter looked down to find the tiger gone, and in its place stood Lord Shiva. He prostrated before the Lord and attained salvation from the cycle of birth and death.
Why Shiva is Worshipped in His Phallic Form
According to another legend, once Brahma and Vishnu, two other deities of the holy Trinity, had an argument as to their supremacy. Brahma being the Creator declared himself to be more revered, while Vishnu, the Preserver, pronounced that he commanded more respect.Just then a colossal 'lingam', known as Jyotirlinga, blanketed in flames, appeared before them. Both Brahma and Vishnu were awestruck by its rapidly increasing size. They forgot their quarrel and decided to determine its size. Vishnu assuming the form of a boar went to the netherworld and Brahma as a swan flew to the skies. But both of them failed to accomplish the self-assumed tasks. Then, Shiva appeared out of the 'lingam' and stated that he was the progenitor of them both and that henceforth he should be worshiped in his phallic form, the 'lingam', and not in his anthropomorphic form.
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