Who’s Shiva?

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Shiva is a complex and dualistic god in Hinduism, worshipped by many in the Shaivism tradition. He is both a creator and destroyer, associated with dance, wisdom, and the arts. Shiva’s family includes Parvati, Ganesha, and Skanda, and he is also associated with other gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. His iconography includes a third eye, matted hair, and a crescent or horn on his head, and he is often depicted with a trident and a white bull named Nandi.

Shiva is one of the main gods of the Hindu religion, widely practiced in India. Like many Hindu deities, he has a complex and dualistic nature. Many practitioners of Hinduism focus their worship on Shiva and many aspects of him, in a tradition called Shaivism. Because he is such a prominent member of the Hindu pantheon, some people outside of this religion are vaguely familiar with him.

Various forms of Hinduism have been practiced for thousands of years, with the religion’s oldest beliefs and teachings found in a series of sacred texts known as the Vedas. Originally, Shiva appears to have been worshiped in the guise of Rudra, an older god who was in charge of storms, winds and hunting. Rudra was sometimes known as ‘The Terrible’, in reference to his wild and savage ways.

Like Rudra, Shiva is a very destructive god, capable of wreaking havoc and burning impurities. But he is also a god of creation and considered a god of truth, goodness and beauty. Many people consider him a god of good luck, as well as a god of paradoxical ideas. Many statues, for example, depict him with both female and male attributes, reinforcing the concept of Shiva as a very dualistic and sometimes confusing figure in Hindu mythology. Besides being a creator and a destroyer, he is also associated with dance, the arts and wisdom, and is a respected figure in the yogic tradition.

In most depictions of Shiva, he has a third eye, matted hair, and a crescent or horn on his head. The River Ganges also plays a part in the iconography of Shiva, as the god is closely associated with the Ganges and snakes may also appear coiled around him. He carries a trident in some images, as that is his favorite weapon, and his body is often naked and smeared with ash. When he needs transportation, Shiva rides a white bull named Nandi.

Shiva’s main family consists of Goddess Parvati and their sons, Ganesha and Skanda. He is also associated with other goddesses and gods in the Hindu pantheon, such as Vishnu and Kali. His first consort according to Hindu mythology was Sati, a goddess of loyalty, truth and long life. According to legend, Sati sacrificed herself because her father disapproved of her marriage to Shiva and was reincarnated as Parvati.

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