Lord Shiva is the Supreme Lord of Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Concealment and Grace
In the Shiva tradition of India, Lord Shiva is the King of yogis, and the Supreme Guru. He annihilates evil, grants boons, destroys ignorance, and awakens wisdom.
In his mound of matted locks (mountain of our psychic chakras), he holds the Ganga River (flow of subtle consciousness through our chakra, representing one of the two intertwined nadis (energetic channels called ida and pingala) that criss-cross our spine. Lord Shiva invites Mother Ganga to flow inwardly within us as the controlled flow of chetana (illumined consciousness) pervading our world of samsara, maya and ajnana (ignorance of the true nature of our being) to awaken us. As we are ready, so will the Ganga flow. Our practice, openness and readiness regulate her Grace flowing into our receptive purified minds.
Lord Shiva’s third eye represents wisdom, intuition, and destroyer of the non-self. His drum resonates with the sacred universal OM sound, which transcends the triad of creation, preservation and dissolution and the 3 states of awareness; sleep, awake and dream as the 3 integrated vowel sounds of A-U-M in their combined transcendental compounded sound of OM…
His kamandala, pot, or holding water, is a hollowed-out pumpkin. A visual reminder that our ahamkara (ego) can be consciously dissolved through surrender and vigilant practice, then the purified hollowed container of our body system is ready to fully receive Divine Grace to fill us, to be revealed to us (anugraha).
The crescent moon in Shiva’s hair represents yogic mastery over psychological time – a great siddhi (yogic mastery). The lunar time cycle through which the new moon waxes and grows into the full moon and wanes again into the new moon, represents our unconscious attachment to the illusory nature of the cycle of time, the cycle of creation (srshthi), preservation (sthiti) and dissolution (laya) of all that we know and cling to, and to the maya (illusion) of limited consciousness.
Shiva sits in the cremation ground depicting ultimate control over birth and death and transcending both extremes. He is shown with eyes half-open and half-closed, residing in the transcendental state turiya that lies beyond life and death, beyond the maya of multiplicity and the one, beyond division of creation and creator, etc..
The naga (snake) is coiled three times around Shiva’s neck conveying the three aspects of time: past, present, and future. This also represents yogic power, the kundalini–shakti that Lord Shiva blesses as the shakti-manifesting energy that is purified through yogic practice in her ascent up the psychic centers-chakras- along our spine..Through the fully open hood of the cobra, kundalini-shakti reveals her fullness and Grace -always united consciously with Lord Shiva- who represents pure chit – pure consciousness..
Nandi, the bull is his vehicle, representing our animal nature being continually purified in the presence of Divine Grace. Also Nandi represents strength and courage -which are invoked on Lord Shiva’s path. We are the pashu ( unconscious cattle). And Shiva is the Pashupati (lord and master over our unconscious selves).
Shiva’s trident represents the three shaktis of longing/willpower (iccha); action (kriya); and wisdom (jnana). This triad is the basis of the Shakti Tantra or wisdom teachings of the Goddess energies, always linked to the Shaiva Tantra or wisdom teachings of Lord Shiva.
He sits on a tiger skin representing mastery over our animal nature, and taming of the restless active rajasic energy of the tiger within us.. The mudra (sacred gesture) of his right hand is abhaya (fearlessness). His left hand is in the dhyana mudra – a meditative holding of the index finger (ego) touching the thumb (Universal Consciousness)
He wears rudraksha beads which are seeds from a tree that are soothing and calming to our inner raging spirit and are called the “eyes/tears of Lord Rudra”. The japamala of 108 rudraksha beads around the neck – and the wrist beads-show the importance of regular faith-filled spiritual practices- such as repeating the holy name as sets of the sacred number 108.
In Kashmir Shaivism Tantra (aka Bhairava Tantra), Lord Shiva is ever-present in the lotus of our heart chakra as the Witness, the Source, as the endless ocean of pure consciousness, seeking to experience itself through the mirror of multiplicity in all creation, seemingly created just as a wave might seem to be barely moving/arising/sighing with desire – still linked to its source -the ocean.
Copyright Sreedevi K. Bringi 2018