Lord Shiva is simple yet fascinating and is the one who breaks all stereotypes of being a god. Shiva is a god away form materialistic possessions and is smeared with ash on his body with a snake around his neck. Long before ‘feminism’ or ‘gender equality’ came into existence, Lord Shiva introduced us to the concept because of his ‘Ardharishwara’ – an androgynous form of Shiva and his wife Parvati, which is depicted as half male and half female. Lord Shiva is also called ‘Bholenath’ as he is the one who can be appeased easily. Despite being a god, Shiva is offered weed and alcohol.
Snake around his neck
When we see a photograph of Lord Shiva, the first thing that anyone notices is the snake around his neck. The name of the snake is Vasuki and the three coils depict future, present and past. While the right side represents the action of human in terms of knowledge and wisdom. There are numerous tales associated with Lord Shiva and Vasuki. One of which says, during Samudra Manthan (the churning of the ocean) Shiva drank poison. Not just Shiva, the snakes in water also consumed the poison. Impressed by the snakes’ act, Shiva accepted Vasuki as his companion and since then Vasuki is found around Shiva’s neck. According to another legend, the snakes help Shiva to keep poison around his throat.
Hanuman is an avatar of Lord Shiva
Hanuman, devotee of Lord Rama and son of Anjana ad Kesari, is believed to be the eleventh incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is said that the radiance of all celestials came in the form of Shiva’s radiance from which Hanuman was born.
Even Kamadeva could not distract Shiva
Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love and desire, could not distract Lord Shiva. When Indra and other gods were waging war against demon Tarakasura, they approached Shiva for help. Since the demon can only be defeated by Shiva’s son but Shiva was busy meditating. The devas then asked Kamadeva to break Shiva’s meditation. The love god enters Shiva abode in the form of breeze and awakens Shiva with a flower arrow. This angers Shiva and he turns Kamadeva into ashes.
Shiva turned one crore gods and goddesses into stone images
As per Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva along with one crore gods and goddesses were visiting Kashi. He asked them to take a night’s rest in Unakoti, Tripura and wake up before the sunrise the next day. Since none of them were able to wake up on time Shiva cursed them to become stone images.
Story behind Shiva’s tandava
There are many legends associated with tandava, one of which says, the demon Apasmara challenged Shiva. Shiva took the form of Nataraja to suppress Apasmara – the symbol of ignorance. He accepted the challenge and took the form of Nataraja to perform tandava. During the performance, Shiva crushed Apasmara under his right foot. Since Apasmara cannot die to maintain the balance between knowledge and ignorance, Shiva remained in his Nataraja form. This avatar of Shiva gives the message that ignorance can be overcome by knowledge, music and dance.