In Hindu, We believe there are 36 crore Gods and Goddesses! Out of them, Lord Shiv, along with Prajapati Brahma and Shri Hari Vishnu, forms a part of the highest echelons of the hierarchy amongst all the Gods, known as the Trimurti or the divine Trinity. All three fit into the scheme of things perfectly with their respective roles being complimentary to each other.
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Who is Shiva ?
As per Hindu Puranas, Shiva is the Lord who was believed as born by himself in the form of Lingam and was never born in any womb! He never took any Avatar as Vishnu takes to preserve the world. The 11 Rudra’s were born only out of his energy. This theory makes us think that he is the most powerful Lord of Hindu mythology. However, there are debates from millions of years on this comparing him with Shakti and Vishnu. But in this post we will try to enlighten ourselves about, what are the origins of this mighty god and where all he has been worshipped directly or indirectly? Let us try to analyse this enigmatic God and learn what it means to be the Lord of Destruction.
In their mistaken belief, some scholars argue that Shiva had a pre-Aryan origin because he was worshipped in the Indus Valley. The French proto-historian Michel Danino believes there are strong links between Vedas and the Harappan culture.
But if not earlier, was at the very least active to the Indus-Saraswati Civilisation and Vedic scriptures, more likely than not, reflect the literal aspect of the same.
That the Mahabharat follows the Indus perception of Shiva, with same imagery source that this last but one battle between Good and Evil occurred around the same time as in the Indus-Saraswati Civilisation!
Harappan symbols include the Trishul, the Swastika, the Conch shell, the Peepal tree, all of which are central to Indian culture. The Rig-Veda itself is full of references to fortified cities and towns, to oceans, sailing, trade and industry, all of which are found in the Harappan civilisation.
The Pashupati seal (2700 BCE) shows a three-headed figure sitting in a Yogic posture surrounded by animals, sometimes with an erect Linga, and more likely than not is an iconic representation of Shiva-Rudra. Exactly similar description arises in the Mahabharat, where the Lord is referred to as Trishira (having three heads), Digvasas (without clothes); Urddh-linga (with upward erect phallus), and Yogadhyaksha, or the Lord of Yoga.
As you probably know from my other posts on my blog (www.swapnarajput.in ), I love to find out the similarities between the superstitions, mythologies and cultures from different parts. My book ‘Amazing Legends of India’ (link- https://www.flipkart.com/amazing-legends-india-english/p/itmegxvspbuxmjvz?pid=9789385167744 ) also reveals many such true stories from Indian history from the time of mythology.
Keeping up with the tradition, I here share with you the image of the horned god Cernunnos worshipped in Europe around 1st century CE. Just like Shiva, Cernunnos is believed to be the god of Nature and Fertility and is still revered in Celtic mythology as the 'Lord of Animals' (quite similar to the Indus Pashupati!). Whatever the connection between the two, it is not easy to understand Shiva completely as he is described variously at various places with completely opposite attributes.
Source - https://goo.gl/SfRejx and www.wikiwand.com
Shiva and Shakti
Shiva took the form of Ardhanarishwar and generated a female principle from his left half, who was the Rudrani. Shiva's companion Uma or Shakti is the primaeval Goddess who also represents the Yogmaya of Lord Vishnu.
The festival of Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiv was married to Parvati, the final form of Uma who was earlier born as Daksha's daughter Sati.
The union of Shiva and Shakti is represented symbolically in the form of the Lingam and the Yoni. It symbolises Hieros-gamos or the 'Sacred Union' between God and the Goddess that gives birth to creation. It is yet another tribute to the ancient Indians' acceptance of the sexual act as a natural phenomenon and one that needs to be worshipped and not hated or disliked or hidden!
The same union is celebrated in Tibetan Tantrism where it is referred to as Yab-Yum (Father-Mother). While both Shiva and Shakti represent the Male and Female forms, their vehicles also represent their native attributes. Shiva's vehicle Nandi, the bull, represents magnificence, strength and proud masculinity while Parvati's vehicle, the mountain Lion or Singh represents her power or Shakti and the taming of animal instincts by the Mother Goddess.
Archaeologically, as said above, we find this reflected in the Zebu bull seals of Indus-Saraswati Civilization (which may represent Nandi) and guess what?! In a far-off valley in Turkey known as Yazili Kaya! The rock-cut friezes in these caves belong to 16th-17th century BCE and show a God Teshav riding a bull, while the accompanying Goddess Hakat rides a Lion and is accompanied by a young boy Kumarbi (Kumar Kartikeya).
The worship of Shiva and Shakti thus represents an ancient rite of recognising the Universe as a balance of the Male and the Female, the achiever and the energy, the Yin and the Yang and the Yab and the Yum.
As regards the three-eyes, it is interesting to note that the Pineal gland in Human beings is located in the region of the Third-Eye and has tissue similar to that of the normal functioning eye. Indeed the gland in many vertebrates has cells similar to the photoreceptors of the eye used for vision! Could it then be another vestigial organ that we humans possessed earlier but now has a very limited value?
Lord Shiv, then would be the most ancient progenitor of our race in whom the organ functions as it should. But Brahma got terrified of these three-eyed fierce forms and requested Lord Shiva to create a more kind aspect of himself and that is how Shakti was given a form!
Source - https://goo.gl/AkkXEM and rediscoverycoach.wordpress.com
I conclude this post with the chant as there is nothing better to pray for except getting out of this Samsara Chakra, let us remember the Lord with our hearts and minds and pray for deliverance:
Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pustii-vardhanam
urvarukam iva bandhanan mrtyormuksrya mamrtat
Meaning- OM, We worship Shiva, the Three-eyed fragrant Lord,
Who nourishes and nurtures all beings,
As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper),
May He liberate us from Death and take us to Immortality.
The above verse from Rigveda, known as the Mahamritunjaya or the Death-conquering Mantra is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Ironically, It is Shiva himself who is sacred as the forerunner of the final destruction of the World! This Mantra was chanted by Rishi Markandeya, to save his life from Yama at the age of 5. Shiva is depicted here as Yamantaka or End-of-Yama revealing the episode when he rescued Rishi Markandeya from Yamdev's strap literally at gunpoint (actually, Trident point!).
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Above article sources: Dr Vineet Aggarwal article, wiki and Shiv Puran.