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Most of us worship Lord Shiva without understanding the deeper meaning behind him. In Hindu mythology, Shiva is one of the three forms of God (Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh).
The Parmatama or spirit or GOD can be equated to a mixture of three forces representing Generator, (Creator or Brahma); Organizer; (Maintainer or Vishnu); Destroyer (Winding up or Mahesh or Shiva).The same three forces are also present inside our body to perform any work, which can be linked to create or generate an idea, maintain or organize the contents of the idea, and then destroy or wind up so that new work can be undertaken through Ganesha – the Lord of new happenings.
For day to day life, one has to understand and implement the principles of Lord Shiva, which can be known by understanding the meaning of Shiva and its body.
Shiva is classically worshipped in a meditating pose, sitting on a deer’s skin in the white Himalayas in the background of blue sky. Shiva is also depicted as smeared with the ash of graveyard, having a snake on neck, Ganga emerging out of his matted hairs, three eyes, blue neck, trishul in one hand and damru in his other hand.
All these symbolic representations have a deep spiritual meaning and tell us about Shiva’s principles of success.
Shiva’s third eye means thinking differently or using the eyes of our mind and the soul. The message is, whenever you are in difficulty, use your intelligence and wisdom or think differently for getting different options. The third eye opening also represents the vanishing of ignorance (darkness or pralaya).
Shiva sitting in an open-eye meditating pose denotes the significance of being calm in day-to-day life, which helps to achieve better results. In allopathic language, this is equivalent to mindfulness living.
The snake around the neck represents one’s ego. One should keep the ego out and control it and not let it overpower you. The downward posture of the head of the snake represents that ego should be directed towards the consciousness and not outwards.
The blue neck (Neelkanth) represents that one should neither take out negative emotions nor suppress them. Instead, one should alter or modify them. The blue color indicates negative thoughts. All negative emotions are neither to be drunk nor to be spit out but to be held temporarily and with continuous efforts (matted hairs), a cool mind (moon) and with positive thoughts (Ganga). They should be directed towards the consciousness keeping the ego directed towards it (sheshnag).
Any suppressed anger will release chemicals in the body causing acidity, asthma, angina and diarrhea etc. Similarly, the anger should not be taken out, or else it will end up into social unhealthiness. The only way is to alternate or motivate the anger by willful cultivation of opposite positive thoughts in the mind. Therefore the process of silently passing on love to any individual can take away the angry thoughts from the mind (love is opposite of anger).
The ash on the skin of the body of Shiva reminds us that everything in the universe is perishable and nothing is going to remain with the person. The message is that ‘you have come in this world without anything and will go back without anything, then why worry’.
The trishul in one hand represents control of three factors i.e. mind, intellect and ego. It also represents controlling your three mental gunas i.e. satva, rajas and tamas.
The damru, the hollow structure, represents ‘taking all your ego and desires out of the body’.
The blue sky or akash represents vastness and openness and the white mountains represent purity and truthfulness.
On Shivaratri day, it is customary to fast. The fast does not just mean not eating on that day, but its deeper meaning signifies fasting with regard to all bad things in life like – “seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”. Fasting also indicates controlling desire for eating foods (like fermented, sweet, sour and salt) and controlling negative thoughts both in the mind, deed as well as actions.
By adopting all these, principles, one will attain a free flow of knowledge which is represented by the Ganga emerging out of the hair of the Lord Shiva. The matted hair of Shiva represent tapas, which signifies that nothing in the universe is impossible with repeated practice.
If one adopts Shiva’s principles in day-to-day life, one will find no obstacles both in his routine life as well as in one’s spiritual journey.