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Shiva (Eng)

Shiva (IAST: Śiva, also spelled Siva; Hindi, Shiv) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Within Shaivism he is viewed as the supreme deity, whereas in other branches of Hinduism such as the Smarta tradition he is worshipped as one of several manifestations of the divine. Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (Sanskrit Śaiva). His role as the primary deity of Shaivism is reflected in his epithets Mahādeva ("great god"; mahā = great + deva = god), Maheśvara ("great lord"; mahā = great + īśvara = lord), and Parameśvara ("Supreme Lord"). Shaivism, along with Vainsava traditions that focus on Vishnu, and Śākta traditions that focus on the goddess (Devī) are three of the most influential denominations in Hinduism.

Shiva is one of the five primary forms of the Divine in Smartism, a denomination of Hinduism that puts particular emphasis on five deities, the other four being Vishnu, Devi, Ganesha, and Surya. Another way of thinking about the divinities in Hinduism identifies Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as each representing one of the three primary aspects of the divine in Hinduism, known collectively as the Trimurti. In the Trimurti system, Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer.

For the early history see Rudra
The worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across all of India.Modern historians believe that the figure of Shiva as we know him today was built-up over time, with the ideas of many regional cults being amalgamated into a single figure. How the persona of Shiva converged as a composite deity is not well-documented. Axel Michaels explains the composite nature of Shaivism as follows:
An example of assimilation took place in Maharashtra, where a regional deity named Khandoba is a patron deity of farming and herding castes. The foremost center of worship of Khandoba in Maharashtra is in Jejuri. Khandoba has been assimilated both as a name for Karttikya and also as a form of Shiva himself in which case he is worshipped in the form of a lingam. Shakti M. Gupta clarifies the possible confusion between these two identifications by explaining that one of Karttikeya's functions is as the patron deity of thieves, and it is in this capacity that the tribe called Ramoshis, who are thieves by profession, worship Khandoba. Khandoba's varied associations also include an indentification with Surya. The derivation of the name Khandoba has been variously interpreted, and M. S. Mate says that the most commonly-held belief is that it was a distorted form of Skanda, but also notes alternate theories.

Main article: Rudra
Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in a number of Hindu traditions. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity.
The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rig Veda, which is dated to between 1700–1100 BCE based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The name Rudra is still used as a name for Shiva. In RV 2.33 he is described as the "Father of the Maruts", a group of storm gods.
The identification of Shiva with the older god Rudra is not universally accepted, as Axel Michaels explains:
To what extent Śiva's origins are in fact to be sought in Rudra is extremely unclear. The tendency to consider Śiva an ancient god is based on this identification, even though the facts that justify such a far-reaching assumption are meager.
Rudra is called "The Archer" (Sanskrit: Śarva) and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv- which means "to injure" or "to kill" and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as "One who can kill the forces of darkness". The names Dhanvin ("Bowman") and Bānahasta ("Archer", literally "Armed with arrows in his hands") also refer to archery.

Attributes of Shiva

Third Eye: Shiva is often depicted with a third eye with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes. There has been controversy regarding the original meaning of Shiva's name Tryambakam (Sanskrit: त्र्यम्बकम्), which occurs in many scriptural sources. In classical Sanskrit the word ambaka denotes "an eye", and in the Mahabharata Shiva is depicted as three-eyed, so this name is sometimes translated as "Having Three Eyes". However, in Vedic Sanskrit the word ambā or ambikā means "mother", and this early meaning of the word is the basis for the translation "Having Three Mothers" that was used by Max Müller and Arthur Macdonell. Since no story is known in which Shiva had three mothers, E. Washburn Hopkins suggested that the name refers not to three mothers, but to three Mother-goddesses who are collectively called the Ambikās. Other related translations have been "having three wives or sisters", or based on the idea that the name actually refers to the oblations given to Rudra, which according to some traditions were shared with the goddess Ambikā.
Blue Throat: The epithet Nīlakantha (Sanskrit नीलकण्ठ; nīla = blue, kantha = throat) refers to a story in which Shiva drank the poison churned up from the world ocean. (see: Halāhala)
Crescent Moon: Shiva bears on his head the crescent of the moon. The epithet Chandraśekhara (Sanskrit: चन्द्रशेखर "Having the moon as his crest" - chandra = Moon, śekhara = crest, crown) refers to this feature. The placement of the moon on his head as a standard iconographic feature dates to the period when Rudra rose to prominence and became the major deity Rudra-Shiva. The origin of this linkage may be due to the identification of the moon with Soma, and there is a hymn in the Rig Veda where Soma and Rudra are jointly emplored, and in later literature Soma and Rudra came to be identified with one another, as were Soma and the Moon.
Matted Hair: Shiva's distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Jatin, "The One with matted hair" and Kapardin, "Endowed with matted hair" or "wearing his hair wound in a braid in a shell-like (kaparda) fashion". A kaparda is a cowrie shell, or a braid of hair in the form of a shell, or more generally hair that is shaggy or curly.
Sacred Ganga: The Ganga rivers flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The epithet Gangādhara ("Bearer of the river Gangā") refers to this feature. The Ganga (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva's hair.
Ashes: Shiva smears his body with ashes (bhasma). Some forms of Shiva, such as Bhairava, are associated with a very old Indian tradition of cremation-ground asceticism that was practiced by some groups who were outside the fold of brahmanic orthodoxy. These practices associated with cremation grounds are also mentioned in the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism. One epithet for Shiva is "Inhabitant of the cremation ground" (Sanskrit: śmaśānavāsin, also spelled Shmashanavasin) referring to this connection.
Tiger skin: He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin.
Serpents: Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.
Trident: (Sanskrit: Trishula) Shiva's particular weapon is the trident.
Drum: A small drum shaped like an hourglass is known as a "damaru" (Sanskrit: Damaru). This is one of the attributes of Shiva in his famous dancing representation known as Nataraja. A specific hand gesture (mudra) called ḍamaru-hasta (Sanskrit for "Damaru-hand") is used to hold the drum. This drum is particularly used as an emblem by members of the Kāpālika sect.
Nandī, also known as Nandin, is the name of the bull that serves as Shiva's mount (Sanskrit: vāhana). Shiva's association with cattle is reflected in his name Paśupati or Pashupati (Sanskrit पशुपति), translated by Sharma as "Lord of cattle" and by Kramrisch as "Lord of Animals", who notes that it is particularly used as an epithet of Rudra.
Varanasi (Benares) is considered as the city specially-loved by Shiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India.
• Mount Kailāsa in the Himalayas is his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailāsa is conceived as resembling a linga, representing the center of the universe.

Forms and depictions

According to Gavin Flood, "Śiva is a god of ambiguity and paradox", whose attributes include opposing themes. The ambivalent nature of this deity is apparent in some of his names and the stories told about him.
Destroyer versus benefactor
In the Yajurveda two contrary sets of attributes for both malignant or terriffic (Sanskrit: rudra) and benign or auspicious (Sanskrit: śiva) forms can be found, leading Chakravarti to conclude that "all the basic elements which created the complex Rudra-Śiva cult of later ages are to be found here." In the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as "the standard of invincibility, might, and terror", as well as a figure of honor, delight, and brilliance. The duality of Shiva's fearful and auspicious attributes appears in contrasted names.

The name Rudra (Sanskrit रुद्र) reflects his fearsome aspects. According to traditional etymologies, the Sanskrit name Rudra is derived from the root rud- which means "to cry, howl." Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means wild, of rudra nature, and translates the name Rudra as "the Wild One" or "the Fierce God". R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as "Terrible". Hara (Sanskrit हर) is an important name that occurs three times in the Anushasanaparvan version of the Shiva sahasranama, where it is translated in different ways each time it occurs, following a commentorial tradition of not repeating an interpretation. Sharma translates the three as "One who captivates", "One who consolidates", and "One who destroys." Kramrisch translates it as "The Ravisher". Another of Shiva's fearsome forms is as Kāla (Sanskrit: काल), "Time", and as Mahākāla (Sanskrit: महाकाल), "Great Time", which ultimately destroys all things. Bhairava (Sanskrit: भैरव), "Terrible" or "Frightful" is a fierce form associated with annihilation.

In contrast, the name Śankara (Sanskrit शङ्कर), "Beneficent" or "Conferring Happiness" reflects his benign form. This name was adopted by the great Vedanta philosopher Śankara (c. 788-820 CE), who is also known as Shankaracharya. The name Śambhu (Sanskrit: शम्भु), "Causing Happiness", also reflects this benign aspect.

Ascetic versus householder

He is depicted as both an ascetic yogin and as a householder, roles which are mutually exclusive in Hindu society. When depicted as a yogin he may be shown sitting and meditating. His epithet Mahāyogin (The Great Yogi: Mahā = great, Yogin = one who practices Yoga) refers to his association with yoga. While Vedic religion was conceived mainly in terms of sacrifice, it was during the Epic period that concepts of tapas, yoga, and asceticism, became more important, and the depiction of Shiva as an ascetic sitting in philosophical isolation reflects these later concepts.

As a family man and householder he has a wife, Parvati (also known as Umā), and two sons, Ganesha and Skanda. His epithet Umāpati ("The husband of Umā") refers to this idea, and Sharma notes that two other variants of this name that mean the same thing, Umākānta and Umādhava, also appear in the sahasranama. Umā in epic literature is known by many names, including Pārvatī. She is identifed with Devi, the Divine Mother, and with Shakti (divine energy).
Shiva and Parvati are the parents of Karthikeya and Ganesha. Karttikeya is popular in South India by the names Subrahmanya and Murugan, and in North India he is more popular by the name Skanda, Kumara, or Karttikeya.
By Wikipedia