Lord Shiva is one of the most powerful and fascinating Hindu deities. He is not only considered as the aadi yogi but he is also considered as the God of Gods. Shiva is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. In spite of him being considered as the destructor of life one has to understand that he is the reason for re-birth as well. Therefore, he is considered as the one who possesses both the generative and destructive powers of nature.
Shiva is a very complex form who has control over both the macro and micro levels of the cosmic energy. He does not have a separate form and thus he is worshipped as a mark of the male and female union. He communicates the message in silence which is considered as the unmistakable means of communication. Even in temples you will find a separate shrine for Shiva recognising him as the most powerful and fascinating deity of the Hindu trinity.
Maha Shivaratri and its significance
The celebration of Maha Shivaratri is observed all over India. The devotees fast all throughout the day and abstain themselves from sleep by spending the hours of night in reciting Shiva bhajans and Shiva purana. It is believed that observing Maha Shivaratri frees people from all their past sins and helps them attain moksha or salvation.
The story behind this auspicious day cites back to a point when Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma fought among themselves as to who was the most powerful between them. As the Gods predicted disastrous results out of such a controversy, they requested Shiva to intervene and find a solution for this. Shiva then took the form of a lingam and asked them to travel in search of the aadhi which signifies “the beginning” and antham which signifies “the end” of the lingam. Brahma flew upwards by transforming himself into a swan while Vishnu travelled downwards by transforming himself into a boar. They remained unsuccessful even after days of travelling to find the beginning and end points of the lingam. Brahma finds a ketaki flower and requests it to tell a lie to Shiva about his victory over Vishnu in finding the beginning of the lingam. On doing so, Shiva appears from the centrally split part of the lingam and curses Brahma that he would not have any temples and people will never worship him. He passes the curse to the flower as well, by making it unsuitable and ineligible for worship. Since it is believed that this event occurred on the 14th waning moon of the Phalguna month (February – March) when Shiva originally took the form of lingam; maha shivartri is celebrated on this day.
Uniqueness of Shiva
Unlike most of the other Gods, Shiva has never been portrayed with silk drapes or bright jewels. He does not wear a crown on his head but still remains the most powerful in the Hindu community. He drapes the skin of tiger around his waist. He is the God with three eyes and the third eye is believed to cause tremendous destruction. He holds river Ganga in his matted hair locks and also wears the crescent of the Moon as an ornament. Vasuki – the king of snakes embraces itself around his neck while he is fully covered in the sacred ash or vibhuti. He holds a trishool or a trident with a damaru or a drum tied to it. It is said that the damaru produces the sound of AUM which can be perceived only by someone who is in deep meditation. With his unique form Shiva once again remains the most fascinating of all the Hindu Gods.