Symbolism of Shiva
Shiva (Sanskrit: “Auspicious One”) is aspect of supreme being, explained as Brahman in the Upanishads that continuously dissolves to recreate the universe. Shiva, i.e., formless, pure, eternal, root of cosmic sound “Om”, originator of Vedas, creator of oldest language “Sanskrit” and dance. Shiva is known by many names – Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pasupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bholenath and so on. Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer. Shiva is the original creator of world, language, dance, music, yoga etc.
According to the Shiva Purana, Brahma lacked the power to create women, until Shiva appeared before him in the androgynous form of Ardhanarishvara, “the Lord whose half is woman”, the right being the male manifestation.
Panchanana Form of Shiva -
In some temples Shiva is shown with five faces. Each of the faces has a name and represents a specific aspect. These five faces are Isana, Tatpurusa, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata.
Tulsidas ji who composed Ram Charit Manas, has explained the various attributes of Shiva in the devotional hymn "Rudrashtakam" appear in the Uttara Kand of Ram Charit Manas. The above hymn explains the attributes of Shiva as under:
The ash is not a normal one, but instead the ash from a cemetery. It corresponds to the Hindu philosophy of life and death, that death is the ultimate reality of life. The ashes represent a reminder that all of material existence is impermanent, comes to an end becoming ash, and the pursuit of eternal Self and spiritual liberation is important.
The three matted locks on the head symbolizes the idea of integration of physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga. So, Shiva is master of yoga.
The right side of the body symbolizes the human activities based upon knowledge, reason and logic. It signifies Shiva preserves natural order in the universe.
The snake also denotes dormant energy of a man, also called Kundalini energy.
It is believed that the Rudraksha contains the secrets of the entire evolution of Cosmos within it. Disciples devoted to Lord Shiva always wear Rudraksha to lead a peaceful life and also for deeper meditation. It helps maintain good health, gain self-empowerment and lead a fearless life.
In the scriptures, it is said that when Shiva mode of creation, his damru vibrates 14 times. These 14 basic formulae contain all the alphabets in Sanskrit arranged in ways to facilitate various grammatical processes. Therefore, the Damaru represents alphabets, grammar, and language itself.
The tiger in Hindu dharma represents the vehicle of Shakti, the Goddess of power and force. Shiva wearing the tiger skin represents his power and that he is the master of Shakti that goes beyond any other force.
Tiger also represents lust, and Shiva sitting on it shows that he has conquered lust.