126 Page, fully illustrated, soft cover book complete with the entire history of Lord Shiva and the many stories surrounding the Hindu God of Destruction & Renewal.
This is an attempt to understand the meaning of Shiva worship in our time exploring various pictorial images of Shiva iconography, taking us through Shaivite philosophy, beliefs, history, folklore and myth. Written in a simple narrative style, and interspersed with familiar and unfamiliar tales retold, the book reaches out to young and old alike.
Highlights include lucid explanations and a pictorial key to numerous symbols associated with Shaivite ritual and festival practices, a map showing important Shiva temples including the twelve jyotir-lingas, a list of 108 sacred names of Shiva with their meanings, a bibliography for those interested in learning more and over 150 illustrations.
"Let me meditate on the supreme god who wears the crescent moon as a crown, whose dazzling form is adorned by the five elements of the universe, who holds in his four hands the weapon of the axe, the deer, who is fulfillment and forgiveness, as his worshipper desires, who sits on the world lotus in perpetual repose, who is of wisdom, desire and action, who is the source and the goal of life and who will embrace all creatures at the end removing their fear of death."
About the Author: Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik graduated in medicine from Mumbai University.
Though a medical man by profession, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik is a mythologist by passion. He topped Mumbai University's course on Comparative Mythology and is now part of 'Sabrang', a cultural organization that aims to demystify the arts. Through lectures, workshops, articles in journals and newspapers, illustrations and books, he is determined to keep alive the ancient heritage of sacred lore and bring out its relevance to modern times.
Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik has a wonderful, Narrative writing style which is extremely easy to follow and entertaining to read.
Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik's has written five books on selected gods in the Hindu pantheon;
Vishnu - An Introduction
Shiva - An Introduction
Devi - The Mother Goddess - An Introduction
Lakshmi - An Introduction
Hanuman - An Introduction
Lakshmi - An Introduction
Other books also available from Lotus Sculpture from Shakunthala Jagannathan are:
Ganesh - The Auspicious - The Beginning
Hinduism - An Introduction
Shiva the Destroyer (Sanskrit: Auspicious One), or Siva, is one of the main Deities of Hinduism, worshipped as the paramount lord by the Saivite sects of India. Shiva is one of the most complex gods of India, embodying seemingly contradictory qualities. He is the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.
Shiva was originally known as Rudra, a minor deity addressed only three times in the Rig Veda. He gained importance after absorbing some of the characteristics of an earlier fertility god and became Shiva, part of the trinity, or trimurti, with Vishnu and Brahma.
Shiva wears a snake coiled around his upper arms and neck symbolizing the power he has over the most deadly of creatures. Snakes are also used to symbolize the Hindu dogma of reincarnation. Their natural process of molting or shedding their skin is symbolic of the human soul's transmigration of bodies from one life to another.
Shiva's female consort and wife is Parvati; because of his generosity and reverence towards Parvati, Shiva is considered an ideal role model for a husband. The divine couple together with their sons - the six-headed Skanda and the elephant headed Ganesh - reside on Mount Kailasa in the Himalayas.
His guardian is Nandi (the white bull), whose statue can often be seen watching over the main shrine. The bull is said to embody sexual energy, fertility. Riding on its back, Shiva is in control of these impulses.
He often holds a trident, which represents the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. It is also said to represent the threefold qualities of nature: creation, preservation and destruction, although preservation is usually attributed to Vishnu.
As the destroyer, Shiva is dark and terrible, encircled with serpents and a crown of skulls.
Shiva often wears sacred Rudaksha beads, perhaps a reference to his earlier name Rudra.
The crescent moon Shiva wears on his crown, besides being a symbol of Kama the goddess of nightly love, also represents the bull, Nandi, a fertility symbol.
Shiva holds a skull that represents samsara, the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Samsara is a central belief in Hinduism. Shiva himself also represents this complete cycle because he is Mahakala, the Lord of Time, destroying and creating all things.
Shiva is represented in a variety of forms. One such form is as a lingam. The ovoid shape is a representation of the absolute perfection of Lord Shiva - if that which is beyond form had to be given form, the lingam would be the closest form to the mystical experience of the absolute perfection of Shiva. Shiva is often pictured in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati, as the cosmic dancer Nataraja, as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi, and as the androgynous union of Shiva and Parvati in one body (Ardhanarisvara).
Another example of Shiva's apparent synthesis of male and female attributes is seen in his earrings. He wears one earring in the style of a man and the other as a female.
Shiva's third eye is a symbol of higher consciousness. It is also a weapon he uses to destroy his enemies by emitting a fire missile which has the power to incinerate the three worlds. He can also kill all the gods and other creatures during the periodic destruction of the universe. Shiva's third eye first appeared when Parvati, his wife, playfully covered his other two eyes, so Shiva opened his third eye emitting his destructive missile endangering the three worlds.
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