Gods + Goddesses - Get to Know Shiva

Gods + Goddesses - Get to Know Shiva: The Great God

Who is Shiva?

Wikipedia: Shiva, also known as Mahadeva ("Great God"), is one of the main deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and "the Destroyer" or "the Transformer" among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

[Related: Gods + Goddesses - Get to Know Parvati]

Name Meaning: 

The most common translation of "Shiva" is the auspicious one. Other popular names associated with Shiva are Mahadev, Mahesh, Maheshwar, Shankar, Shambhu, Rudra, Har, Trilochan, Devendra (meaning chief of the gods) and Trilokinath (meaning lord of three realms). 

The Sanskrit word śaiva means "relating to the god Shiva," and it is the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a member of that sect.

Some associate the name with the Tamil word sivappu, which means "red," noticing that he is linked to the sun.

Adi Sankara interpreted the name as "The Pure One,"  or "the One who is not affected by three Gunas of Prakrti (SattvaRajas, and Tamas)" or "the One who purifies everyone by the very utterance of His name."

Who Worships the God: 

Since the worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, it is widely practiced across all of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. 

Shaivism is the oldest of the four major sects of Hinduism, and its followers believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is.Followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites." The Shiva Maha Purana is a genre of Hindu texts dedicated to Shiva. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, as well as parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

A popular Hindu festival is Maha Shivratri, celebrated every year on the 13th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, as Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the "Tandava" and it is the day that Lord Shiva was married to Parvati.

Fun Facts:

A common depiction of Shiva is as Nataraja (Sanskrit: naṭarāja, "Lord of Dance," so when you practice Dancer's Pose, you are practicing a pose to Shiva.

According to Gavin Flood, "Shiva is a god of ambiguity and paradox," whose attributes include opposing themes.