Siva (or Shiva)
Siva / Shiva (Skt: kind, friendly)
A major Hindu god who, according to the dominant theory, evolved out of the mythology of the conquering Aryans in the Indian sub-continent.
A bit of a latecomer, Siva nevertheless replaced the earlier Vedic storm god Rudra by becoming part the Hindu Trimurti of Brahma, Visnu and Siva.
In popular folk mythology, Brahma is said to have created the universe, Visnu preserves it and Siva, through his cosmic dance, destroys it.
But this is only a general outline, for Siva first created Brahma and Visnu. And instead of merely destroying, Siva also regulates the universe.
In an incident with the Pine Forest Sages, Siva breaks the sages’ excessive meditation by literally seducing their wives. Otherwise, the tapas (Skt: heat, or spiritual force) generated by the sages’ prolonged and intense concentration would have disrupted the cosmic balance.
While sexually enticing their wives, Siva quite intentionally angers the Sages, disrupts their meditation and diffuses their excessive spiritual power.
Siva is not only a trickster, however.
With his third eye, depicted vertically on his forehead, he emits deathly rays of fire, not unlike the ‘phasers’ of Star Trek. Siva’s death ray incinerates demonic opponents residing in highly volatile spiritual realms.
But Siva’s third eye has a more passive aspect, symbolizing the locus of spiritual ‘seeing’ and peace. Siva’s third eye is sometimes, perhaps inaccurately, equated with Jesus’ teaching, “Let thine eye be single” (Matthew 6:22, Luke 11:34).
Siva is often depicted in temple carvings ityaphallically (i.e. with erect phallus). His linga (Skt: phallus) symbolizes his control over his divine creative power, just as in Hinduism the female yoni (Skt: vagina) represents the cosmic source or life-giving aspects of the divinity.
Siva also rides the sacred bull, Nandi and has a blue throat due to his partial ingestion of a poison which otherwise would have destroyed the universe.
His wife is Parvati and he’s said to reside at Mt. Kailasa in the Himalayas.
In Hindu devotional cults and Western popular spiritualism, Siva is, perhaps uncritically, identified with supposedly ‘active male energy’ that must be united with the Shakti – ‘passive female’ energy – to effect a union of these complementary cosmic energies within an given individual or couple–i.e. balancing the Shiva-Shakti.
» Aliens and Extraterrestrials (ETs), Anima, Animus, AUM, Chakras, Death and Resurrection, Ganesha, Homeopathy, Kali, Karma Transfer, Linga, Nandi, Parvati, Ramanuja, Shakti, Tantra, Tapas, Underworld, Vishnu, Yin-Yang, Yoni
On the Web:
- Other excellent CCL pics of Siva / Shiva (so many we had a hard time choosing for the above!): http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=shiva&l=cc&ss=2&ct=6&mt=all&w=all&adv=1
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