April 1st, 2019

Meet the Gods: Lord Shiva

Merry meet.

Lord Shiva is one of the most important deities in the Hindu religion. He is known by many names including Mahadeva, Rudra, Shambhu and Nataraja. Shiva’s form of Nataraja symbolizes the cosmic dance of creation and destruction, according to an article by Aayush on

Lord Shiva is one of three primary deities of the Hindu trinity and is worshiped as both the destroyer and the transformer of the world. He is the source of art, religion and science.

“In God’s endless dance of creation, preservation, destruction, and paired graces is hidden a deep understanding of our universe. Nataraja’s dance is not just a symbol, it is phenomenon taking place within each of us, at the atomic level, this very moment,” Aayush wrote.

The dance exists in five forms depicting the cosmic cycle from creation to destruction. It is believed that Lord Shiva danced the universe into existence, motivates it and will eventually end it. The dance has the rhythm of divine perfection as a subtle vibration. It manifests in the cyclical nature of the seasons, planetary movement, scientific laws and the body’s biorhythms.

The King of Dance, as he is known, is typically shown with four arms. He holds a sacred drum in his upper right hand representing the rhythm to which he dances, ceaselessly recreating the universe. His lower right hand makes the gesture of the abhaya mudra, meaning to not be afraid, for those who follow the righteous path have his blessing. The upper left hand holds the flame that transforms by destroying illusions. The lower left hand gestures toward his uplifted left foot, which releases the mature soul from bondage, offering everyone the way to liberation, fulfillment and eternal bliss through meditation and mastery over baser appetites. The other foot stands on “a soul temporarily earth-bound by its own sloth, confusion and forgetfulness,” wrote Dr. Meredith Fosque, a professor at NC State University. “The cobra around Nataraja’s waist is kundalini shakti, the soul-impelling cosmic power resident within all.”

Sometimes, rather than the flame, he holds a trisula – a three-pronged sacred weapon.

Every detail – including Lord Shiva’s unkept hair and the ring of fire – have significance. He is unconventional, making and breaking moral codes and social customs to demonstrate his freedom.

His abode is Mount Kailash in the Tibetan Himalayas, which is considered sacred in four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Nandi, usually depicted as a bull, is the guardian of the gate to Kailash and the vehicle for the Shiva. The Goddess Parvati or Shakti is Shiva’s consort. His divine sons Ganesha and Kartikeya occupy important places in the Hindu pantheon.

He is pure in heart and easy to please, a good husband and father.

There are two fundamental approaches to worshiping Lord Shiva: the right hand method and the left hand method. In the first, Shiva is worshipped in the traditional manner with prayers, chants, offerings of flower, water, light, incense, honey, milk, sandal paste, saffron, clothing and food, according to Jayaram V’s article, “The Worship of Lord Shiva” on

“The left hand methods of worship are extreme in nature and followed only by a very limited number of followers in tantric traditions of Saivism. Some of them are extremely disgusting and generally despised by the public,” he wrote.

In India, celebrations and austere practices such as fasting and praying daily are held from July to August to worship Lord Shiva.

Saivism, however, considers devotional worship and services secondary to the more superior methods involving knowledge, yoga and meditation.

An article written by wikiHow staff states, “Though you can pray to Lord Shiva any day, Mondays are considered sacred days of worship in the Hindu religion. Presenting cold milk, traditional bilva leaves, or grains like barley, millet, rice, and wheat are considered good, worthy offers for Lord Shiva. Offerings can increase your favor with the god.”

Consider lighting a diya (lamp) filled with ghee, and chant mantras such as “Om Namah Shivaya” and “Mahamritunjay.”

Remember to remove old offerings when presenting new ones, and keep the shrine or altar area simple and free of clutter that would block energy.

Worshipers are cautioned it is bad luck to offer coconut water, turmeric and Ketaki flowers to Lord Shiva.

Shiva is powerful. He destroys what was to create what is. He helps us move beyond our attachments. He destroys suffering and removes impurities such as ignorance, egoism, delusion and pride from us to facilitate our spiritual growth. That makes him the right deity to worship if you are looking for a change of direction in your life. He protects all animals from disease, death and destruction. All knowledge flows from Shiva, especially liberating knowledge in the form of Ganga. ists and scientists both can turn to him. ians, too, as he was a good musician, singer and dancer.

Merry part. And merry meet again.


About the Author:

Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.

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