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24. 10. 2017
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The story of Lord Shiva part-2

These streams flowed down the Himalayas and the Ganga became the life giving river of the people. The ashes of Sagtff Sagarissons were purified at Ganga Sagax on the Bay of BengatFengalailthey finally gained liberation. So Shiva wears two embesto mbelfents in his hair—the Ganga and the moon that tie had betthad picH up during the churning of the sea of milk.

Shiva is always linked with Shakti—the female jlnKialepor of the Mother Goddess, the Devi. So in our mythologoto-ologpiong all the gods, it is the mendicant Shiva who is poiei portrajd as a family man with a wife and children. Shiva is rtf?1 is marntd to Parvati, one aspect of the Devi who is called ' teled bj iimy names—Uma, Annapurna, Jagaddhatri, Dutga and ItamdKailnd like her consort, the Devi is also a goddesswith ma®» manyfces. She can be the generous, food bearing Ma Atmapurn mwurnaailthe fierce warrior goddess like Durga.

Shiva and Parvati's two sons are Kartiteya, wH«. "who isthe general of the army of the gods and Ganesha, th»4U the btmgn elephant headed deity of good fortune. This family^itrnily stiji at Mount Kailash but when the wanderlust hits ShivaE'flttuva at!tie wanders among the ghosts and goblins in cremation notion groils he is accompanied by his two companions Nandi and tondBhji. Nandi is also the bull that is Shiva's chosen vehicl.ioiihicle,

It is Parvati who is responsible for Shiva's third eyi'td eye. Ore when Shiva was meditating on Mount Kailash, ParavsWtfavatitft up from behind and playfully covered his eyes. Imm^ntMnietty the sun went out and darkness descended on the three^nreeseis and all life was threatened.. But before citation com could be destroyed, a third eye burst out of Shiva's forehead artfW andlight was restored but its rays were so fierce that the HinflHHimata were burnt to ashes. Parvati had to beg for forgivenessenessht Shiva before he restored her father to life.

Merciful Shiva is also very generous with his boons. Many times demons like Hiryanakasipu and Ravana earned boons from him that put the gods in danger. He gave the Pasupata weapon to Arjuna and the battle axe to Parashuram. Yudhishthira received a weapon called Shakta, Janaka got a bow, and Rama powerful arrows. When Arjuna went looking for him, Shiva came disguised as a hunter, Kirata and challenged Arjuna to a duel. He defeated Arjuna and then revealed himself and gave him the powerful Pasupata.

There are many myths of Shiva killing demons but the most interesting is the ambivalent relationship between Shiva and the rakshasa king Ravana. The demon king of Lanka was a scholar who meditated on Shiva for a long time to gain the power to defeat the gods. There is even a hymn to Shiva that is said to have been composed by Ravana. Shiva, always easily pleased, blessed Ravana and granted his request. However, this made him so arrogant that he challenged Shiva himself.

One day Ravana stood below Mount Kailash and called out a challenge to Shiva but the god ignored him. At this Ravana raised the mountain by the strength of his arms, trying to topple Shiva from it. Parvati was full of fear but Shiva just used the toe of one foot to hold the mountain in place. Shiva pressed down so hard that Ravana's arms were crushed under the weight of the mountain and he began to scream in pain. Shiva let him yell for one thousand years and then released him after Ravana had begged for mercy. In this way the demon king got his name of Ravana, the crier.

Shiva's greatest festival is Shivaratri, "The Night of Shiva" when he is worshipped with all-night prayers at his temples. Shiva is said to have married Parvati on this moonless Amavasya night when he also dances the Tandava. There are temples to Shiva everywhere in India but some of them carry a greater sacredness. The most important Shaiva pilgrimage is the city of Varanasi (Kashi) which is said to be his favourite place on earth. Here many lingams are claimed to be the first jyotirlingam and among them is the one at the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple, the most important temple to Shiva. The Pallava kings built temples to the god at Kanchipuram, like the magnificent Kailasanatha Temple, and the Chola king Raja Raja built the Brihadishvara Temple at Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu. Shiva's most sacred temple in the Himalayas is at Kedarnath and devotees worship also at the remote Kailash Mountain.The temple at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu is sacred because Rama worshipped Shiva here with a lingam made by Sita with sand. The Elephanta Cave Temple in Maharashtra has some of the greatest sculptures of Shiva in his many aspects, including the majestic three- headed Mahadeva figure. The classical dances, especially Bharatanatyam, often portray Nataraja, the dancer and there are musical ragas like Bhairav and Shankara that are sung in his praise.

The icons of Shiva show him in a multitude of moods and the sculptors of South India have a special affinity to Shiva. The most famous depiction of Shiva is as Nataraja, the lord of the dance, its finest examples being the Chola bronzes. Shiva stands with one foot raised in a fluid movement of dancing, his hair flowing out like a halo around his head. One hand holds the damaru, the other a deer, the third a ball of fire, and the fourth points to his foot that rests on Apasmara, the dwarf of ignorance. The figure is circled by an aureole of flames. Nataraja is the patron god of Indian classical dance and at his temple at Chidambaram all the postures of Bharatanatyam are carved on the walls of the gateways. In his image called the Kalyana Sundara Murti, Shiva is a handsome young ascetic the women fall in love with, and as the mystic poet Mahadeviakka sings, My husband comes home today Wear your best, wear your jewels The Lord, white as jasmine, Will come anytime now, Girls, come, meet Him at the door.

As Tripurantaka he is the divine archer who destroyed three demon cities with just one arrow. As Hari-Hara, half his body is of Shiva and the other of Vishnu. While as the androgynous Ardhanariswara, the other half is of Shakti, carved with all the womanly curves and soft contours. As Somaskanda he sits with Parvati, both dressed like royalty, with their son Kartikeya in the middle. At times Shiva's image is shown within a lingam as Shiva Lingodbhava and his five faces form a lingam in the Mukhalinga. As Jnana Dakshinamurti he is the handsome young teacher, sitting with one leg crossed over the other, his hair framing a calm, compassionate face and his right hand raised in the posture of teaching. Shiva has one thousand and one names that are recited like a mantra by his devotees. He is Shankara, the auspicious and tranquil, Gangadhara, the bearer of the Ganga; Chandra Sekhara, the moon crested and Girisha, the lord of the mountains; Mahakala, the great time; Ishana, the ruler, Kedara, who lives in the mountains and Pasupati, the lord of the animals; Shambhu, the auspicious; Mahesha, the great lord and Vishwanatha, the lord of the world; Tryambaka, the three-eyed; Hara, the seizer and Aghora, the terrible; Bhuteshwara, the lord of the ghosts; Vyomkesa, with hair like the sky and Ashutosh, who is easily pleased. Shiva is also Rudra, the yeller, Nilalohit, the blue-red god; Diptani, the shining and Kasinath, the lord of Kashi.

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