Lord Shiva’s Attributes


Lord Shiva

1. Mount Kailāsa– Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailāsa is conceived as resembling a Lingam, representing the center of the universe.

2. Nandī– Nandī, also known as Nandin, is the name of the bull that serves as Shiva’s mount. Shiva’s association with cattle is reflected in his name Paśupati, or Pashupati, translated as “lord of cattle” and as “lord of animals”, which is particularly used as an epithet of Lord Rudra.

3. Axe- The Parashu is the weapon of Lord Shiva who gave it to Parashuram, sixth Avatar of Lord Vishnu, whose name means “Ram with the axe” and also taught him its mastery.

4. Drum- A small drum shaped like an hourglass is known as a Damaru. This is one of the attributes of Shiva in his famous dancing representation known as Nataraja. A specific hand gesture (mudra) called ḍamaru-hasta is used to hold the drum.

5. Varanasi- Varanasi (Benares) is considered to be the city specially loved by Shiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. It is referred to, in religious contexts, as Kashi.

6. Trident- Shiva’s particular weapon is the trident/ Trishula. His Trishul that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas— Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. That is the emblem of sovereignty. He rules the world through these three Gunas.

7. Serpents-  Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake. His wearing of serpents on the neck denotes wisdom and eternity.

8. Tiger skin- He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honor reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis. Tiger represents lust and pride. His sitting on the tiger’s skin indicates that He has conquered them.

9. Sacred Ganges- Ganges river flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The Gaṅgā (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva’s hair. The flow of the Ganges also represents the nectar of immortality.

10. Blue throat- Lord Shiva drank the Hala hala poison churned up from the Samudra Manthan to eliminate its destructive capacity. Shocked by his act, Goddess Parvati strangled his neck and hence managed to stop it in his neck itself and prevent it from spreading all over the universe supposed to be in Shiva’s stomach. However the poison was so potent that it changed the color of his neck to blue.

11. Matted hair- Shiva’s distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Jaṭin, “the one with matted hair”,and Kapardin, “endowed with matted hair” or “wearing his hair wound in a braid in a shell-like (kaparda) fashion”. A kaparda is a cowrie shell, or a braid of hair in the form of a shell, or, more generally, hair that is shaggy or curly. His hair is said to be like molten gold in color or being yellowish-white.

12. Ashes- Shiva smears his body with ashes (bhasma). Ashes represent the final reality that a human being will face – the end of all material existence.

13. Crescent moon- Shiva bears on his head the crescent moon. The crescent moon is shown on the side of the Lord’s head as an ornament. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Since the Lord is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time. Thus, the crescent moon is only one of His ornaments. The wearing of the crescent moon in his head indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly.

14. Third eye- Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes. It has been mentioned that when Shiva loses his temper badly, his third eye opens which can destroy most things to ashes.


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