Shiva is love. Anbae Shivam
Its always nice to appreciate and understand the actual meaning behind the forms of Gods that we worship. Lets see the symbolic representation of Lord Shiva.
1. Triambak : 3 eyes - Sun, Moon, Fire symbolizes Light, Life and Heat thats required for living organisms to exist. 3rd eye also symbolizes Knowledge, wisdom (Omniscience). The 3rd eye neither desires nor shuns
2. Vyomakesa : If sun, moon are his eyes, then, the whole sky and the powerful wind forms his hairs
3. Tiger : Tiger is the desire that will kill us. Shiva has killed it and wears its skin as apparel, showing his full mastery over desire
4. Elephant : Elephant is a powerful animal. He wearing elephant skin represents, he has completely subjugated all Animal Instincts
5. Mundamala : The garland of skulls and ashes of funeral pyre smeared all over his body , symbolizes that he is the lord of Constructive Destruction. The garland also represents the revolution of ages again and again, and successive appearance & disappearance of human races.
6. Meditation : He enjoys in the enjoyment of the bliss of his own self.
7. Ganga : Symbolises he is Cool headed. Ganga is a purifying agent. It represents redeeming power, constantly purification of thoughts. Also Ganga represents the Nature’s force that can overrule the human mind. Shiva has control of that power also.
8. Crescent Moon: Months are calculated based on waxing & waning of moon. He has shown that even the powerful time is a diadem (ornament) to him. Mastery of Time Management. He is the perennial source of power that helps the waning moon to wax. Moon also denotes mind. He has mastered the mind.
9. Snakes: Venomous snake around his neck represents Danger of death. Coiled snakes represent Kundalini sakthi.
10. Halahala poison: He has conquered death and also saves us as Mrintyunjaya. He took the poison to save the worlds. He drinking venon,Shows his sacrifice for his people
11, Trishul: Shows him as the Universal ruler of 3. It can also be taken for the 3 tasks – Creation, Preservation, and Dissolution. It shows that he is the master of all the above 3. Also it represents the Sthula Shareer (Physical body), Sukshma Shareer / the mind that controls the body, Karana Shareer / Karmic links responsible for rebirths
12. Damaru: (Small drum): During the cosmic dance as Nataraj, Siva sounded the damaru for 14 times. It gave birth for the 33 Beejaksharas , from where mantras evolved.
13. Rosary : Shows that he is master of spiritual practices.
14. Khatvanga: ( a magic wand with a skull fixed at 1 end): Shows that he is an adept in Ocult science too
15. Kapala ( Skull cap) : It shows that he is the destroying power of evils
16. Half closed eyes : Withdrawal from worldly things
17.Icy mountain as back drop: (a). Purity around. (b) Withholding of all heat
18. Linga form: A central / level mind, strong and alert and araised by wisdom, and not by wordly stumuli. The vertical shaft represents Purusha. The horizontal base represents Prakriti.
19. Hooded serpent over the linga / around his neck : Stillness but still Alertness of Mind. Cobras hood expands when it is still.
20. Rudraksha : Shiva’s eyes. The fruits are blue in colour, so as the color of the Lord. It’s a symbol of celibacy and continence. Shiva stings the seeds of rudrasksha around his neck, not allowing them to fall on the ground and grow as a plant. He has stopped the germination process. So It’s a representation of celibacy .
21. Varanasi : The river takes a northward bend at Kashi, rather than flowing down towards the low lying south. Means, the mind of Shiva is detached from the worldly pleasures and moves upwards (towards moksha, liberation)
22. Deer on hand: Represents the human mind that is always frightened and restless. He is in control of the restless mind.
23. Holy ash: He is smeared with Holy ash. It represents Atma swaroopam. By burning this mortal body, we get ash. Ash cant be further burnt. Its not further destructible. Same is soul. Soul cant be burnt by fire. Its one with GOD. We should think about this AHAM BHRAMASAMI when we apply the holy ash.
24. Master of 3: Tripurantak. 3 worlds. They are 1. Me 2. Mine 3. Not Mine. 1. Me: my body & mind 2. My belongings, relatives, assets, knowledge, karma.. 3. Not mine: Things other than 1 and 2, that surrounds us. Shiva destroys the Tirupuram using bow and arrow (pinaka. Hence called pinakapaani). Vishnu is the arrow. The shaft of the bow is Mount Meru. The bow is Ananta Seshan. The wheels of the chariot are sun & moon. Bhrama is the charioteer. Te 4 Vedas are the horses driving the chariot.
25. Ardanareeswara : This removes the divide between Purusha and Prakriti.
26. Turtle under Mahameru : Shiva withdraws from all sensory pleasures like a turtle pulls itself inside its hard shell.
27. Jaladhara over Lingam : The Pot represents the Goddess who keeps Shiva awake.
28. Nandhi : Bull represents Wild, undomesticated power / drive.
29. Neelakanta : Shiva drinks the poison which got formed when Devas and Asuras were churining the ocean for Panacea. Before Shiva drank it full, Parvathi stops it at his neck level by pressing his neck. The venom stops at his neck making him blue necked ( Neela kanta). It also says , we are all mortals. Also it says, Even if we are all dead, Prakriti (Shakti) will always survive, and owing to that fact Purusha (Shiva) also will also survive endlessly.
30. Cosmic Dance (NATARAJ): It represents constant Change. One step changes to other step and goes on and on. What is created in a dance is changed for the next dance and so on. Dance requires Time, Space and matter. Dance also traverses time. His left foot is above the ground, (Kunchidapadam) representing samsara, the impermanent world that evokes fear in us. His right foot is grounded. He dances with 1 foot. The right foot represents Spiritual reality. The left foot represents Material relality that is transitory. Under his foot is the demon which represents Ignorance and forgetfulness. His right palm is upraised – the Abhaya mudra – saying – don’t fear. His left hand is below the right hand and is in a posture as if its watching the left leg, drawing attention to the moving leg. The other 2 arms represent the 2 options. The rattle drum represents disturbances / distractions. We can be like monkeys amused by the rattle drum and doing all useless meaningless things till the end. The other hand has the fuel less fire which is generated by introspection. We can meditate, contemplate on us and see the hero and the villan in us. The heros, the villans, the victim within us is all due to Maya and fear and ignorance within us. Shiva will destroy these and liberate us. The outer Wheel or the circular frame represents the cycle of life – continuous creations and destructions.
SHIVA IS LOVE. LOVE IS SHIVA.
OM NAMAH SHIVAYA !