Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of Brahman. That portion of Brahman that is
enveloped by Tamo-Guna-Pradhana Maya is Lord Siva who is the all-pervading Isvara and who
also dwells in Mount Kailas. He is the Bhandara or store-house for wisdom. Siva minus Parvati or
Kali or Durga is Nirguna Brahman Himself. With Maya-Parvati He becomes the Saguna Brahman
for the purpose of pious devotion of His devotees. Devotees of Rama must worship Lord Siva for 3
or 6 months before they take to worship of Rama. Rama Himself worshipped Lord Siva at the
famous Ramesvaram. Lord Siva is the Lord of Ascetics and Lord of Yogins, robed in space
His Trisul (trident) that is held in His right hand represents the three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas
and Tamas. That is the emblem of Sovereignty. He wields the world through these three Gunas. The
Damaru in His left hand represents the Sabda Brahman. It represents OM from which all languages
are formed. It is He who formed the Sanskrit language out of the Damaru.
The crescent moon indicates that He has controlled the mind perfectly. The flow of the
Ganga represents the nectar of Immortality. Elephant represents symbolically pride. His wearing
the skin of the elephant denotes that He has controlled pride. Tiger represents lust; His sitting on
tiger’s skin indicates that He has conquered lust. His holding a deer on one hand indicates that He
has removed the Chanchalata (tossing) of the mind. Deer jumps from one place to another swiftly.
His wearing of serpents denotes wisdom and eternity. Serpents live for a large number of years. He
is Trilochana, the three-eyed One, in the centre of whose forehead is the third eye, the eye of
‘Hoam’ is the Bija Akshara of Lord Siva.
He is Sivam (auspicious, Subham), Sundaram (beautiful), Kantam (effulgent). “Santam
Sivam Advaitam” (Mandukya Upanishad).
LORD SIVA AND HIS WORSHIP
I bow with folded hands crores of times at the lotus-feet of that Lord Siva who is non-dual,
who is the Adhishthana, or support for the world and all minds, who is Sat-Chit-Ananda, who is the
Ruler, the Antaryamin, the Sakshi (silent witness) for everything, who is self-effulgent,
self-existent and self-contained (Pari-purna), who is the remover of the primitive Avidya and who
is the Adi-Guru or Parama-Guru or Jagad-Guru.
That Lord Siva I am in essence. Sivoham, Sivoham, Sivoham.
Snake On The Body Of Siva
Serpent is the Jiva or the individual soul which rests upon Siva, the Paramatman or the
Supreme Soul. The five hoods mean the five senses or the five Tattvas, viz., earth, water, fire, air
and ether. They also represent the five Pranas, which hiss in the body like the serpent. The
inhalation and exhalation are like the hissing of the serpent. Lord Siva Himself became the five
Tanmatras, the five Jnanendriyas, the five Karmendriyas and other groups of five. The individual
soul enjoys the worldly objects through these Tattvas. When the individual attains knowledge
through control of the senses and the mind, he finds his eternal resting abode in Lord Siva, the
Supreme Soul. This is the esoteric significance of Lord Siva wearing the snake on His body.
Lord Siva is absolutely fearless. Srutis declare, “This Brahman is fearless (Abhayam),
Immortal (Amritam).” Worldly people are afraid even at the very sight of a snake but Lord Siva is
wearing serpents as ornaments on His body. This indicates that Lord Siva is absolutely fearless and
Generally serpents live for hundreds of years. Wearing of serpents by Lord Siva signifies
that He is Eternal.
Significance of Bhasma, Nandi, Etc.
Namassivaya is the Mantra of Lord Siva. ‘Na’ represents earth and Brahma; ‘Ma’
represents water and Vishnu; ‘Si’ fire and Rudra; ‘Va’ Vayu and Mahesvara; ‘Ya’ Akasa and
Sadasiva and also the Jiva.
Lord Siva has white complexion. What is the significance of white colour? He teaches
silently that people should have pure heart and entertain pure thoughts and should be free from
crookedness, diplomacy, cunningness, jealousy, hatred, etc.
He wears three white-lined Bhasma or Vibhuti on His forehead. What is the significance of
this? He teaches silently that people should destroy the three impurities, viz., Anava (egoism),
Karma (action with expectation of fruits), and Maya (illusion), and the three desires or Eshanas,
viz., desire for landed property, desire for woman, desire for gold, and the three Vasanas, viz.,
Lokavasana, Dehavasana and Sastravasana, and then attain Him with a pure heart.
What does the Balipitha or altar which stands in front of the sanctum sanctorum of the
Siva’s temple represent? People should destroy their egoism and mineness (Ahamta and Mamata)
before they attain the Lord. This is the significance.
What does Nandi or the bull which is in front of Sivalinga represent?
Nandi is the attendantor doorkeeper of Siva. He is the vehicle of Lord Siva. He represents Satsanga. If you make association with the sages, you are sure to attain God-realisation. Sages will show you the way to reach Him. They will remove pitfalls or snares that lie on your path. They will clear your doubts and instil in your heart dispassion, discrimination and knowledge. There is no other safe boat than Satsanga to reach the other shore of fearlessness and immortality. Even a moment’s Satsanga or association with the sages, is a great blessing to the aspirants and the worldly-minded persons. They get firm conviction in the existence of God through Satsanga. The sages remove the worldly Samskaras. The company of sages is a formidable fortress to protect oneself from the temptations of Maya.
Lord Siva represents the destructive aspect of the Godhead. He is seen absorbed on the
mountain peak of Kailas. He is an embodiment of serenity, renunciation and indifference to the
world. The third eye in the centre of His forehead represents His destructive energy which when let
loose destroys the world. Nandi is His favourite. He is the door-Keeper. He is seen hushing all
nature, so that the Lord may not be disturbed in His Samadhi. The Lord has five faces, ten hands, ten eyes, two feet.
Vrishabha or the bull represents Dharma Devata. Lord Siva rides on the bull. Bull is His
vehicle. This denotes that Lord Siva is the protector of Dharma, is an embodiment of Dharma or
Deer represents the Vedas. Its four legs are the four Vedas. Lord Siva is holding the deer in
His hand. This indicates that He is the Lord of the Vedas. He has sword in one of His hands. This signifies that He is the destroyer of births and deaths. The fire in one of His hands shows that He protects the Jivas by burning all fetters.