He who is without beginning and without end,
in the midst of confusion, the Creator of all,
of manifold form, the One embracer of the universe..
by knowing Him, one is released from all fetters.
SHIVA – THE GOD OF DESTRUCTION
Shiva literally means “auspiciousness, welfare”. He is the third god of the Hindu Triad and he is the god of destruction. He represents darkness, and is said to be the “angry god”.
The term destruction as it relates to Shiva’s cosmic duties can be deceiving. Often Lord Shiva destroys negative presences such as evil, ignorance, and death.
Also, it is the destruction created by Lord Shiva that allows for positive recreation. For example, an artisan may melt down (i.e., destroy) old pieces of metal during his process of creating a beautiful piece of art.
It is for this reason that Shiva holds a complementary role to Brahma, the god of creation. Shiva protects souls until they are ready for recreation at the hands of Brahma. Because of his connections with destruction, Lord Shiva is one of the most feared and heavily worshipped deities in Hinduism.
However, according to Hinduism, creation follows destruction. Therefore Shiva is also regarded as a reproductive power, which restores what has been dissolved. As one who restores, he is represented as the lingam or phallus, a symbol of regeneration.
SHIVA IS IN THE WORLD AND AT THE SAME TIME HE IS BEYOND THE WORLD
In the beginning nothing existed, neither the heaven nor the earth nor any space in between. So non-being, having decided to be, became spirit and said: “Let me become!” He warmed himself, and from this was born fire. He warmed himself further still and from this was born light.
He is the never-created creator of all: He knows all. He is pure consciousness, the creator of time, all-powerful, all-knowing. He is the Lord of the soul and of nature and of the three conditions of nature. From Him comes the transmigration of life and liberation, bondage in time and freedom in eternity.
Some know him as Shiva the Beneficent. Others praise him as the Destroyer. For some he is Shiva the Ascetic, wandering the world. And for others still he is the Great Lord, king of all creation.
But it is as Lord of the Dance that all his aspects come together in one terribly significant form. Nowhere else in the human world is there a clearer symbol of what a god is and does.
He has a 1,008 names, including Mahadeva (the great god), Mahesh, Rudra, Neelkantha (the blue-throated one), and Ishwar (the supreme god). He is also called Mahayogi, or the great ascetic, who symbolizes the highest form of austere penance and abstract meditation, which results in salvation.
Shiva has a thousand names, and a thousand faces. Shiva is the essence of the Vedas, and the source of the Word. He is inextricably woven into all that the eye can see.
He is the first among the gods of this world, who made the world so that others could make the things in it. Energy is his name, and he moves through all things, never static.
All that is made, every generation of life, all the wondrous forms that fill our world, all flow from his dancing loins. He is not male, nor female. He is neither human nor inhuman. He has four arms, and he has none. Shiva’s nature at once transcends and includes all the polarities of the living world.