Shiva, also known as Mahadeva (lit. “Great God”), is one of Hinduism’s most important deities. In Shaivism, one of Hinduism’s primary traditions, he is the Supreme Being.
Shiva has pre-Vedic tribal roots, and the modern Shiva is a combination of numerous ancient non-Vedic and Vedic deities, including the Rigvedic storm god Rudra, who may also have non-Vedic origins.
Within the Trimurti, which also includes Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva is regarded as “The Destroyer.” Shiva is the Supreme Lord of the Shaivite religion, who creates, protects, and changes the cosmos. The Goddess, or Devi, is considered as one of the highest in the Shakta religion, although Shiva is worshiped with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is said to represent each person’s energy and creative power (Shakti), with Shiva’s equal complimentary companion, Parvati (Sati). He is one of the five comparable deities in Hinduism’s Smarta tradition’s Panchayatana puja.
Shiva is the universe’s fundamental Atman (soul, self). Shiva is depicted in a variety of ways, both benevolent and terrifying. He is shown as an omniscient Yogi who lives an austere life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with his wife Parvati and two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, in beneficent forms. He is frequently seen killing demons in his ferocious forms. Adiyogi Shiva is Shiva’s other name, and he is the patron deity of yoga, meditation, and the arts.
The serpent encircling Shiva’s neck, the decorating crescent moon, the sacred river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident as his weapon, and the damaru drum are all iconographical qualities. He is frequently worshipped in the form of lingam, which is an aniconic form of lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu god who is worshipped by Hindus all over the world, including India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
According to Monier Monier-Williams, the Sanskrit word “iva” (Devanagari:, also transliterated as shiva) implies “auspicious, propitious, courteous, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly.” In folk etymology, iva comes from the words iva, which means “all things lay in him, pervasiveness,” and va, which means “embodiment of grace.”
The Rig Veda (about 1700–1100 BC) uses the name Shiva as an adjective and as an epithet for various Rigvedic deities, notably Rudra. Shiva also means “freedom, final emancipation,” and “the fortunate one,” and this adjective connotation is used to a variety of deities in Vedic literature. In the Epics and Puranas, the name Shiva developed from the Vedic Rudra-Shiva to the noun Shiva as an auspicious deity who is the “creator, reproducer, and dissolver.”
Another derivation, Sharva, sharabha, uses the Sanskrit root arv-, which meaning “to hurt” or “to kill,” to interpret the name as “one who can slay the powers of darkness.”
The Sanskrit word aiva means “related to the deity Shiva,” and it is the Sanskrit name for one of Hinduism’s major sects as well as a member of that sect. It is used as an adjective to describe specific religious and philosophical ideas and practices, such as Shaivism.
Shiva has two meanings in the Vishnu sahasranama: “The Pure One,” and “the One who is not influenced by the three Guas of Prakti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas).”
Viswanatha (lord of the cosmos), Mahadeva, Mahandeo, Mahasu, Mahesha, Maheshvara, Shankara, Shambhu, Rudra, Hara, Trilochana, Devendra (head of the gods), Neelakanta, Subhankara, Trilokinatha (lord of the three realms), and Ghrneshwar are some of Shiva’s numerous titles (lord of compassion). The epithets Mahdeva (“Great god”; mah “Great” and deva “god”), Mahevara (“Great Lord”; mah “Great” and vara “lord”), and Paramevara (“Great Lord”) express Shiva’s utmost devotion in Shaivism (“Supreme Lord”).
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