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Śiva (Skt., ‘auspicious’). Major deity in Hinduism, the third in the Hindu trinity (trimūrti), along with Brahmā and Viṣṇu. In the Vedas, śiva appears as an epithet of Rudra, not as separate manifestation of divine power. The joint form, Rudra-Śiva appears in the gṛhya (household) rites, which suggests that there was a gradual process of assimilation, and that Śiva has roots and origins in the pre-Vedic period. By the 2nd cent. BCE, Rudra was waning in significance, and Śiva began to obtain a powerful separate identity. In Rāmāyaṇa, he is a mighty and personal god, and in Mahābhārata he is at times the equal of Viṣṇu, perhaps even the creator of Viṣṇu and Brahmā, worshipped by other gods. He became associated with generation and destruction, especially in conjunction with Śakti, and is therefore worshipped through the power of the liṅga. The Mahādeva image in the Elephanta caves already depicts Śiva in the threefold guise of creator, destroyer, and preserver: in this and other such images, the two faces on either side represent (apparent) opposites—male and female (ardhanārī); terrifying destroyer (bhairava) and active giver of repose; mahāyogi and gṛhasta—while the third, serene and peaceful, reconciles the two, the Supreme as the One who transcends all contradictions. The three horizontal marks which Śaivites put on their foreheads represent the triple aspect of Śiva. As a personal god (iṣta-deva), he is worshipped in many forms of manifestation, important examples being Nāṭarāja (lord of the dance) and Dakṣiṇāmūrti, spiritual teacher. His mantra is ‘sivo ʾham’. Śiva is particularly associated with the river Gaṅgā (Ganges) which flows through his hair and with Mount Kailāsa in the Himālayas.

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One of the names under which the Supreme Being is worshipped in Hinduism. Together with Brahma and Vishnu he forms the trimūrti, the triple form of the deity, conceived as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the world. Siva is a complex figure and his cult has a long history. Originally a non-Aryan fertility god, he was later identified with the Vedic god Rudra, the god of storm and thunder who is also the "lord of cattle" (paśupati ). An early seal from Mohenjo Daro showing a yogi sitting cross-legged in meditation surrounded by animals is believed to be the earliest representation of Siva. Besides being the god of fertility, whose symbol is the linga, Siva is also the great ascetic who holds the world in being by his power of austerity. He is conceived as the reconciler

of opposites. He is the Destroyer of the world, who haunts the cremation grounds and wears a necklace of skulls, but he is also the divine physician who recreates the world at the end of time. He is absolutely inactive as the pure source of Being, but he also sustains the world as natarāja in the cosmic dance. Furthermore he is both male and female, and is sometimes represented as half man and half woman. Yet this strange ambivalent deity has come to be regarded as the Supreme Being, the Father and Creator of the world; as a personal god who is immanent in all things, dwelling in the heart of man and assisting him by his grace.

[b. griffiths]

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Si·va / ˈshēvə; ˈsē-/ variant spelling of Shiva.

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