Physical Description of Lord Shiva
The Tantras have described innumerable forms of Lord Shiva. Some prominent forms have been described herein-
It is the five-headed form (Panchamukhi). Each face has three-eyes and a crescent moon shining as the head adornment.
The colors of the 5 faces in a sequential order are- White, yellow, cloud blue, red and pearl white.
He has 10-hands. He holds a Trident, spear, sickle, thunderbolt, a bowl for alms, snake, bell, goad, noose, and a hand displaying the Vara mudra. His body is dazzling white in complexion. He sits on a lotus in the Padmasana pose.
He is 4 armed. In two hands he holds a Shakti and a drum while the other two display the Abhaya and Vara mudra. Effulgent in complexion, he has three eyes and a crescent moon resting as a crest. He is present in the north-east direction. The Panchamukha Shiva has Ishan’s face towards the north-east direction.
His complexion resembles a thunderbolt. The Lord holds an axe, deer, hands display the Abhaya and Vara (blessing pose) mudra. He has 4 arms and 4 heads, three eyes, a beautiful crescent moon adorns his face. He meditates in the east direction. The Tatpurush face exists in the Panchamukhi Shiva facing eastwards
He has 8 hands, 4 heads and scary teeth. His complexion is black as kohl and is fearsome. He holds a Rudraksha mala, the Vedas, trident, drum (Damru), sword, horn and a begging bowl. His other hand however shows the Abhaya mudra. He is prevalent in the Southern direction. The south facing face in Panchamukhi Shiva is called Aghor.
He is as red as Kumkum and has three beautiful eyes, 4 arms and a sober complexion. He smiles beautifully. His hands show the Vara (blessing pose) and the Abhaya (protection) mudra. He holds the Rudraksha beads and an axe. He is present in the north-facing direction. The north facing face of Panchamukhi Shiva is called Vamadeva.
Lord Sadyojat is fair and fresh as camphor, has three large eyes, 4 hands and 4 heads. He holds a deer, Rudraksha beads, and his hands display the Abhaya and Vara mudra. He is present in the west direction wearing the crown of a moon.
He is vermillion in complexion, wears a bejeweled crown and a crescent moon shines on his forehead. He has three beautiful eyes and 8 arms. There is a sweet smile on his face and he is decked with divine ornaments. Devi Parvati sits on his left thigh holding a lotus flower.
His three eyes resemble the sun, moon and fire. He has 4 arms, a smile on his face and a complexion that is fair and fresh. Lord Mrutyunjaya sleeps on a bed made of two-lotuses. His hands display the Abhaya mudra, a noose, deer and the Rudraksha mala. Adorned with ornaments, a moon glimmers on his forehead. He is bathed in the nectar splashing from the moon.
Lord Mahesh resides in the Himalayan Mountains. A crescent moon adorns his beautiful forehead. He is seated in the Veerasana pose and has 4 arms. Two of his hands show the Abhaya mudra and a deer while the other two rest on his knees. He has a smiling face, and adorns snake ornaments. He sits around a gathering of enlightened men.
His complexion glows like a diamond. A moon adorns his forehead and his three eyes resemble pitchers of nectar. His hands display the Jnana mudra, Vidya Mudra (symbolisms of wisdom), the Trident and a snake. He is 4-handed. Dakshina Murti is the acharya or guru form of Lord Shiva. This form of lord Shiva is quite famous in South India.
His Complexion is like that of the rising sun. There is a moon ornament on his locks. Lord Nilakantha wears a serpent ornament. He has 4 hands that carry chanting beads, trident, a begging bowl and a rishi’s staff.
All his 5-heads have three eyes each. He clads tiger skin and sits on a lotus. Tiru Neelakanta Nayanar was an ardent devotee of this form.
He has three eyes. His complexion is glamorous like a blue lotus. He has 4 hands and holds a noose, trident, a begging bowl and a red lotus. A crescent moon rests on his forehead. The right side of his body is masculine while the left side is feminine. Ardhanarishwara therefore depicts the two sides of creation, Prakriti (Nature) and Purusha (Soul). Thus, it represents the union of the spirit with matter.
His complexion glows like the mid-day sun. A crescent moon adorns his forehead, His laughter instills fear in hearts. He has three eyes and is decked with snakes. His matted hair is scattered. He has 4 hands, holding a lotus, trident, sword and Shakti. He has terrifying teeth and 4 heads.
Bearing the hue of the rising sun, He has three eyes, wears a red garland and applies red sandalwood. A smile beatifies his lips. His four hands display the Vara mudra and Abhaya mudra, a begging bowl, and a Trident. The moon sits on his forehead. He has a deep-blue colored throat, hence the name Nilagriva (the one with a blue throat).
Resembling the majesty of a blue mountain, he wears a crested moon on his forehead, and a garland of heads around his neck.
He is unclothed and has yellow matted hair. Lord Neelalohita holds a drum, horn, a bent noose, serpent, bell, begging bowl, a Kalash, lotus and a hand shows the abhaya mudra. He has 10 hands, 3 eyes, and ferocious teeth. Snakes, tinkling bells and gems adorn his body.
He is Red in complexion, has three-eyes and is clad in red garments. The lord holds a spear, trident, a Crystal and Rudraksha mala and an ascetic’s pitcher (Kalash). He has 4 arms with the moon adornment on his forehead.
Lord Rudra wears a tiger skin and holds a trident and deer in his hands.
He is the lord of destruction and he stands majestically.
While Lord Shiva is the totality, Rudra depicts a particular quality of Lord Shiva.
As Brahma had ordered Rudra to create, Rudra gave rise to Bhairava, Pishacha, Bhoot, Baital, Yogini and the similar lot.
However, on looking at these unpleasant sights, Lord Brahma stopped him at once.
He said- “Stop making such destructive elements. Do some meditation.”
Having heard Brahma’s command, Lord Rudra situated himself in deep austerities since then.
Who are the 11 Rudras?
There are 11 Rudras-
How was Rudra born?
At the start of creation, Brahma created his first born sons, the 4 Sanak kumaras
Thereafter, Brahma assigned them the task of producing progeny but the brothers plainly refused the proposal.
Brahma was enraged at their refusal. His eyebrows tensed as a reflex. From the midst of his eyebrows appeared an infant who began to wail. At his very birth, the child started crying, so he became widely acclaimed as “Rudra.”
Brahma asked him “Kid, why are you crying?”
The child said- “Please reveal my identity and my place of stay.”
Brahma showered many names upon him. Some of his names are- Manyu, Manu, Rutadhwaja, Ugrareta, Shiva, Bhava, Kala, Mahinasa, Vamadeva, Ghrutavrata and Rudra.
Brahma then revealed his area of residence- They are the senses, life force, heart, ether, wind, fire, water, earth, austerity, the moon and the sun.
Wives of Rudra
Thereafter, Brahma married Rudra to –
Work of Lord Shiva
The word ‘Shiva’ literally means well-being but he is the annihilator.
Rudra is the one who makes one cry. Creation and annihilation means Brahma and Shiva work hand in hand. One thing is created while the other is destroyed. Birth and death occur simultaneously in the universe. Lord Shiva is not the creative energy. He is the Lord of destruction. He destroys all impurities, ill-omens, absurdities and the decaying elements of nature. Hence, Lord Shiva is auspicious for creation.
He works for an auspicious cause.
In the Vedas, Lord Shiva is referred to by the name Rudra.
The Rudra Ashtadhyayi are prayers to please Lord Rudra.
Rudra pervades all of creation. He is Paramatma.
Lord Shiva is the giver of knowledge, liberation and gets easily pleased by his devotees. He is the conqueror of death and is hence known as Mrutyunjaya. His eternal abode is Varanasi and Kailash on this earthly plane.
He is the supreme deity and the topmost guru for the ascetics, yogis and for those who are inquisitive about the spiritual.
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