Śiva | Shiva Mahadeva | Nataraja

1. Śiva

Śiva (Sanskrit: शिव lit. the auspicious one) also known as Mahādeva (lit. the great god) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the Supreme Being within Śaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.

Śiva is known as "The Destroyer" within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahmā and Viṣṇu. In Śaivism tradition, Śiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe.

In the Śaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Śiva is revered along with Viṣṇu and Brahma: A Goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Śakti) of each, with Pārvatī (Satī) the equal complementary partner of Śiva.

He is one of the 5 equivalent deities in Pañcāyatana pū of the Smārta tradition of Hinduism.

According to the Śaivism tradition, the highest form of Īśvara is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Ātman (soul, self) of the universe.

There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Śiva:

In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Pārvatī and his 2 children, Gaṇeśa and Kārtikeya.

In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons.

Śiva is also known as Ādiyogi Śiva, regarded as the patron God of yoga, meditation and arts.

The iconographical attributes of Śiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the 3rd eye on his forehead, the Triśūla or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum.

He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of lingam.

Śiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Śrī Lanka.

2. Etymology and other names

Śiva is also called as Brahman which can also be said as Para-Brahman. Śiva means nothingness.

The word shivoham means the consciousness of one individual, the lord says that he is omnipotent, omnipresent, as he is present in the form of one's consciousness.

Some other popular names of Śiva are:

Śivan, Naṭarāja (Dancing form of Śiva), Rudra (Enraged form of Śiva), and Dakṣiṇāmūrti (Yoga form of Śiva).

Naṭarāja is the only form of Śiva worshipped in a human form.
Elsewhere he is worshipped in Lingam form.

Pañca Bhūta temples are located in South India. Pañca Bhūta Sthalam refers to 5 temples dedicated to Śiva. Tamil literature is enriched by Śiva devotees called 63 Nayanars.

The Sanskrit word "Śiva" (Devanāgarī: शिव) means, states Monier Monier-Williams, "auspicious, propitious, gracious, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly".

The roots of Śiva in folk etymology are śī which means "in whom all things lie, pervasiveness" and va which means "embodiment of grace".

The word Śiva is used as an adjective in the Ṛg Veda (approximately 17–11 BC), as an epithet for several Ṛg Vedic deities, including Rudra.

The term Śiva also connotes "liberation, final emancipation" and "the auspicious one", this adjective sense of usage is addressed to many deities in Vedic layers of literature.

The term evolved from the Vedic Rudra-Śiva to the noun Śiva in the Epics and the Purāṇas, as an auspicious deity who is the "creator, reproducer and dissolver".

The Sanskrit word Śaiva means "relating to the god Śiva", and this term is the Sanskrit name both for one of the principal sects of Hinduism and for a member of that sect. It is used as an adjective to characterize certain beliefs and practices, such as Śaivism.

The Viṣṇu Sahasranāma interprets Śiva to have multiple meanings: "The Pure One", and "the One who is not affected by 3 Guṇas of Prakṛti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas)".

Śiva is known by many names such as:

Viśvanātha (lord of the universe), Mahādeva, Mahāndeo, Mahasu, Maheśa, Maheśvara, Śankara, Śambhu, Rudra, Hara, Trilocanā, Devendra (chief of the gods), Nīlakaṇṭha, Śubhaṅkara, Trilokinātha (lord of the 3 realms), and Grīśneśvara (lord of compassion).

The highest reverence for Śiva in Śaivism is reflected in his epithets Mahādeva ("Great god"; mahā "Great" and deva "god"), Maheśvara ("Great Lord"; mahā "great" and Īśvara "lord"), and Parameśvara ("Supreme Lord").

Sahasranāma are medieval Indian texts that list a 1000 names derived from aspects and epithets of a deity. There are at least 8 different versions of the Śiva Sahasranāma, devotional hymns (stotras) listing many names of Śiva:

The version appearing in Book 13 (Anuśāsanaparva) of the Mahābhārata provides one such list.

The Śrī Rudram Chamakam, also known as the Śatarudrīya, is a devotional hymn to Śiva hailing him by many names.

3. Historical development and literature

The Śiva-related tradition is a major part of Hinduism, found all over the Indian subcontinent, such as India, Nepal, Śrī Lanka, and Southeast Asia, such as Bali, Indonesia.

Scholars have interpreted early prehistoric paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters, carbon dated to be from pre-10,000 BCE period, as Śiva dancing, Śiva's trident, and his mount Nandi.

Rock paintings from Bhimbetka, depicting a figure with a Triśūla, have been described as Naṭarāja by historians, who date them to the Mesolithic.

4. Indus Valley origins

Of several Indus valley seals that show animals, one seal that has attracted attention shows a large central figure, either horned or wearing a horned headdress and possibly ithyphallic, seated in a posture reminiscent of the Lotus position, surrounded by animals:

This figure was named by early excavators of Mohenjo-Daro as Paśupati (Lord of Animals), an epithet of the later Hindu deities Śiva and Rudra.

Though, others state that other archaeological finds such as the early Elamite seals dated to 3-275 BCE show similar figures and these have been interpreted as "seated bull" and not a yogi, and the bovine interpretation is likely more accurate.

5. Vedic origins

The Vedic literature refers to a minor atmospheric deity, with fearsome powers called Rudra:

The Ṛg Veda, for example, has 3 out of 1,028 hymns dedicated to Rudra, and he finds occasional mention in other hymns of the same text.

The term Śiva also appears in the Ṛg Veda, but simply as an epithet, that means "kind, auspicious", one of the adjectives used to describe many different Vedic deities.

While fierce ruthless natural phenomenon and storm-related Rudra is feared in the hymns of the Ṛg Veda, the beneficial rains he brings are welcomed as Śiva aspect of him.

This healing, nurturing, life-enabling aspect emerges in the Vedas as Rudra-Śiva, and in post-Vedic literature ultimately as Śiva who combines the destructive and constructive powers, the terrific and the gentle, as the ultimate recycler and rejuvenator of all existence.

6. Rudra

Śiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Śiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in Hindu scriptures. The two names are used synonymously.

Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity.

The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Ṛg Veda, which is dated to between 1700 and 1100 BC based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Ṛg Veda:

The name Rudra is still used as a name for Śiva. In RV 2.33, he is described as the "Father of the Rudras", a group of storm gods.

The hymn 1.92 of the Ṛg Veda states that deity Rudra has 2 natures, one wild and cruel (Rudra), another that is kind and tranquil (Śiva).

The Vedic texts do not mention bull or any animal as the transport vehicle (vāhana) of Rudra or other deities.

However, post-Vedic texts such as the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas state the Nandi bull, the Indian zebu, in particular, as the vehicle of Rudra and of Śiva, thereby unmistakably linking them as same.

7. Later literature

Rudra's evolution from a minor Vedic deity to a Supreme Being is first evidenced in the Śvetāśvatara Upanishad (4–2 BC), some believe:

Here Rudra-Śiva is identified as the creator of the cosmos and liberator of souls from the birth-rebirth cycle.

The period of 200 BC to 100 AD also marks the beginning of the Śaiva tradition focused on the worship of Śiva as evidenced in other literature of this period:

Śaiva devotees and ascetics are mentioned in Patañjali's Mahābhāṣya (2nd-century BC) and in the Mahābhārata.

The Śaiva Upanishads are a group of 14 minor Upanishads of Hinduism variously dated from the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE through the 17th century:

They extol Śiva as the metaphysical unchanging reality Brahman and the Ātman (soul, self), and include sections about rites and symbolisms related to Śiva.

A few texts such as Atharvashiras Upanishad mention Rudra, and assert all gods are Rudra, everyone and everything is Rudra, and Rudra is the principle found in all things, their highest goal, the innermost essence of all reality that is visible or invisible.

The Kaivalya Upanishad similarly describes the self-realized man as who "feels himself only as the one divine essence that lives in all", who feels identity of his and everyone's consciousness with Śiva (highest Ātman), who has found this highest Ātman within, in the depths of his heart.

The Śaiva Purāṇas, particularly the Śiva Purāṇa and the Linga Purāṇa, present the various aspects of Śiva, mythologies, cosmology and pilgrimage (Tīrtha) associated with him.

The Śiva-related Tantra literature, composed between the 8th and 11th centuries, is regarded in devotional dualistic Śaivism as Śruti.

Dualistic Śaiva Āgamas which consider soul within each living being and Śiva as two separate realities (dualism, dvaita), are the foundational texts for Śaiva Siddhāṅta.

Other Śaiva Āgamas teach that these are one reality (monism, advaita), and that Śiva is the soul, the perfection and truth within each living being.

In Śiva related sub-traditions, there are 10 dualistic Āgama texts, 18 qualified monism-cum-dualism Āgama texts and 64 monism Āgama texts.

Śiva-related literature developed extensively across India in the 1st millennium CE and through the 13th century, particularly in Kashmir and Tamil Śaiva traditions.

The monist Śiva literature posit absolute oneness, that is Śiva is within every man and woman, Śiva is within every living being, Śiva is present everywhere in the world including all non-living being, and there is no spiritual difference between life, matter, man and Śiva.

The various dualistic and monist Śiva-related ideas were welcomed in medieval southeast Asia, inspiring numerous Śiva-related temples, artwork and texts in Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, with syncretic integration of local pre-existing theologies.

Position within Hinduism

8. Śaivism

Śaivism is one of the 4 major traditions of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Śaktism and the Smārta Tradition:

Followers of Śaivism, called "Śaivas", revere Śiva as the Supreme Being:

Śaivas believe that Śiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. He is not only the creator in Śaivism, but he is also the creation that results from him, he is everything and everywhere. Śiva is the Primal Soul, the Pure Consciousness and Absolute Reality in the Śaiva traditions.

The Śaivism theology is broadly grouped into 2:

a) the popular theology influenced by Śiva-Rudra in the Vedas, Epics and the Purāṇas;
b) and the esoteric theology influenced by the Śiva and Śakti-related Tantra texts.

The Vedic-Brāhmaṇic Śiva theology includes both monist (Advaita) and devotional traditions (Dvaita) such as Tamil Śaiva Siddhāṅta and Lingayatism

- with temples featuring items such as Linga, Śiva-Pārvatī iconography, bull Nandi within the premises, relief artwork showing mythologies and aspects of Śiva.

The Tantric Śiva tradition ignored the mythologies and Purāṇas related to Śiva, and depending on the sub-school developed a spectrum of practices:

For example, historical records suggest the tantric Kāpālikas (literally, the "skull-men") co-existed with and shared many Vajrayāna Buddhist rituals,

engaged in esoteric practices that revered Śiva and Śakti wearing skulls, begged with empty skulls, used meat, alcohol, and sexuality as a part of ritual.

In contrast, the esoteric tradition within Kashmir Śaivism has featured the Krama and Trika sub-traditions:

The Krama sub-tradition focussed on esoteric rituals around Śiva-Kā pair.

The Trika sub-tradition developed a theology of triads involving Śiva, combined it with an ascetic lifestyle focusing on personal Śiva in the pursuit of monistic self-liberation.

9. Vaiṣṇavism

The Vaiṣṇava (Viṣṇu-oriented) literature also acknowledges and discusses Śiva. Like Śaiva literature that presents Śiva as supreme, the Vaiṣṇava literature presents Viṣṇu as supreme.

However, both traditions are pluralistic and revere both Śiva and Viṣṇu (along with Devi), their texts do not show exclusivism,

and Vaiṣṇava texts such as the Bhāgavata Purāṇa while praising Kṛṣṇa as the Ultimate Reality, also present Śiva and Śakti as a personalized form an equivalent to the same Ultimate Reality.

The texts of Śaivism tradition similarly praise Viṣṇu. The Skanda Purāṇa, for example, states:

Viṣṇu is nobody but Śiva, and he who is called Śiva is but identical with Viṣṇu.
— Skanda Purāṇa, 1.8.2–21

Both traditions include stories about who is superior, about Śiva paying homage to Viṣṇu, and Viṣṇu paying homage to Śiva. However, in texts and artwork of either tradition, the mutual salutes are symbolism for complementarity.

The Mahābhārata declares the unchanging Ultimate Reality (Brahman) to be identical to Śiva and to Viṣṇu, that Viṣṇu is the highest manifestation of Śiva, and Śiva is the highest manifestation of Viṣṇu.

10. Śaktism

The Goddess-oriented Śakti tradition of Hinduism is based on the premise that the Supreme Principle and the Ultimate Reality called Brahman is female (Devi), but it treats the male as her equal and complementary partner. This partner is Śiva.

The earliest evidence of the tradition of reverence for the feminine with Rudra-Śiva context, is found in the Hindu scripture Ṛg Veda, in a hymn called the Devi Sūkta:

I am the Queen, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship.
Thus gods have established me in many places with many homes to enter and abide in.
Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them, – each man who sees, breathes, hears the word outspoken.

They know it not, yet I reside in the essence of the Universe. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it.

I, verily, myself announce and utter the word that gods and men alike shall welcome.
I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him nourished, a sage, and one who knows Brahman.
I bend the bow for Rudra [Śiva], that his arrow may strike, and slay the hater of devotion.
I rouse and order battle for the people, I created Earth and Heaven and reside as their Inner Controller.
(...)

— Devi Sūkta, Ṛg Veda 1.125.3 – 1.125.8,

The Devi Upanishad in its explanation of the theology of Śaktism, mentions and praises Śiva such as in its verse 19.

Śiva, along with Viṣṇu, is a revered God in the Devi Māhātmya, a text of Śaktism considered by the tradition to be as important as the Bhagavad Gī.

The Ardhanārīśvara concept co-mingles god Śiva and goddess Śakti by presenting an icon that is half man and half woman, a representation and theme of union found in many Hindu texts and temples.

11. Smārta Tradition

In the Smārta tradition of Hinduism, Śiva is a part of its Pañcāyatana pū. This practice consists of the use of icons or anicons of 5 deities considered equivalent. Śiva is one of the 5 deities, others being Viṣṇu, Devi (such as Pārvatī), Sūrya and Gaṇeśa or Skanda or any personal god of devotee's preference (Iṣṭa-devatā).

Philosophically, the Smārta tradition emphasizes that all icons (Mūrti) are meant to help focus on and visualize aspects of Brahman, rather than distinct beings.

The ultimate goal in this practice is to transition past the use of icons, recognize the Absolute symbolized by the icons, on the path to realizing the non-dual identity of one's Ātman (soul, self) and the Brahman.

Popularized by Ādi Śankara, many Pañcāyatana mandalas and temples have been uncovered that are from the Gupta Empire period,

and one Pañcāyatana set from the village of Nand (about 24 km from Ajmer) has been dated to belong to the Kushan Empire era (pre-300 CE). The Kushan period set includes Śiva, Viṣṇu, Sūrya, Brahmā and one deity whose identity is unclear.

12. Yoga

Śiva is considered the Great Yogi who is totally absorbed in himself – the transcendental reality. He is the Lord of Yogis, and the teacher of Yoga to sages.

As Śiva Dakṣiṇāmūrti he is the supreme guru who "teaches in silence the oneness of one's innermost self (Ātman) with the ultimate reality (brahman)."

The theory and practice of Yoga, in different styles, has been a part of all major traditions of Hinduism, and Śiva has been the patron or spokesperson in numerous Hindu Yoga texts:

These ideas are estimated to be from or after the late centuries of the 1st millennium CE, and have survived as Yoga texts such as the Īśvara Gī (literally, "Śiva's song"), which have had a profound and lasting influence on the development of Hinduism.

Other famed Śiva-related texts influenced Hatha Yoga, integrated monistic (Advaita Vedanta) ideas with Yoga philosophy and inspired the theoretical development of Indian classical dance.

These include the Śiva Sūtras, the Śiva Saṁhitā, and those by the scholars of Kashmir Śaivism such as the 10th-century scholar Abhinavagupta:

Abhinavagupta writes in his notes on the relevance of ideas related to Śiva and Yoga, by stating that "people, occupied as they are with their own affairs, normally do nothing for others",

and Śiva and Yoga spirituality helps one look beyond, understand interconnectedness, and thus benefit both the individual and the world towards a more blissful state of existence.

13. Trimurti

The Trimurti is a concept in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the Creator, Viṣṇu the Maintainer or Preserver and Śiva the Destroyer or Transformer.

These 3 deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or the "Great Trinity".

However, the ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism feature many triads of gods and goddesses, some of which do not include Śiva.

14. Attributes

- Third eye: Śiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire (Kāma) to ashes, called "Tryambakam" (Sanskrit: त्र्यम्बकम् ), which occurs in many scriptural sources:

In classical Sanskrit, the word ambaka denotes "an eye", and in the Mahābhārata, Śiva is depicted as three-eyed, so this name is sometimes translated as "having 3 eyes".

However, in Vedic Sanskrit, the word Ambā or Ambikā means "mother” and this early meaning of the word is the basis for the translation "3 mothers". These 3 Mother-Goddesses who are collectively called the Ambikās.

Other related translations have been based on the idea that the name actually refers to the oblations given to Rudra, which according to some traditions were shared with the goddess Ambikā.

- Crescent moon: Śiva bears on his head the crescent moon:

The epithet Candraśekhara (Sanskrit: चन्द्रशेखर "Having the moon as his crest" – candra = "moon"; śekhara = "crest, crown") refers to this feature.

The placement of the moon on his head as a standard iconographic feature dates to the period when Rudra rose to prominence and became the major deity Rudra-Śiva.

The origin of this linkage may be due to the identification of the Moon with Soma, and there is a hymn in the Ṛg Veda where Soma and Rudra are jointly implored, and in later literature, Soma and Rudra came to be identified with one another, as were Soma and the Moon.

- Ashes: Śiva iconography shows his body covered with ashes (bhasma, vibhūti):

The ashes represent a reminder that all of material existence is impermanent, comes to an end becoming ash, and the pursuit of eternal soul and spiritual liberation is important.

- Matted hair: Śiva's distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets Jaṭin, "the one with matted hair", and Kapardin, "endowed with matted hair" or "wearing his hair wound in a braid in a shell-like (kaparda) fashion".

A kaparda is a cowrie shell, or a braid of hair in the form of a shell, or, more generally, hair that is shaggy or curly.

- Blue throat: The epithet Nīlakaṇtha (Sanskrit नीलकण्ठ; nīla = "blue", kaṇtha = "throat").

Since Śiva drank the Halāhala poison churned up from the Samudra Manthan to eliminate its destructive capacity:

Shocked by his act, Pārvatī squeezed his neck and stopped it in his neck to prevent it from spreading all over the universe, supposed to be in Śiva's stomach. However the poison was so potent that it changed the colour of his neck to blue.

- Meditating yogi: his iconography often shows him in a Yoga pose, meditating, sometimes on a symbolic Himalayan Mount Kailash as the Lord of Yoga.

- Sacred Ganga: The epithet Gaṅgādhara, "Bearer of the river Ganga" (Ganges):

The Ganga flows from the matted hair of Śiva. The Gaṅgā (Ganga), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Śiva's hair.

- Tiger skin: Śiva is often shown seated upon a tiger skin.

- Serpents: Śiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.

- Trident: Śiva typically carries a trident called Triśūla. The trident is a weapon or a symbol in different Hindu texts.

As a symbol, the Triśūla represents Śiva's three aspects of "creator, preserver and destroyer", or alternatively it represents the equilibrium of 3 Guṇas of "sattva, rajas and tamas".

- Drum: A small drum shaped like an hourglass is known as a damaru. This is one of the attributes of Śiva in his famous dancing representation known as Naṭarāja.

A specific hand gesture (mudra) called ḍamaru-hasta (Sanskrit for "ḍamaru-hand") is used to hold the drum. This drum is particularly used as an emblem by members of the Kāpālika sect.

- Axe (Paraśu) and Deer are held in Śiva's hands in Odisha & south Indian icons.

- Rosary beads: he is garlanded with or carries a string of rosary beads in his right hand, typically made of Rudraka. This symbolises grace, mendicant life and meditation.

- Nandī: Nandī, also known as "Nandin", is the name of the bull that serves as Śiva's mount (Sanskrit: vāhana).

Śiva's association with cattle is reflected in his name Paśupati (Sanskrit: पशुपति), translated as "lord of cattle" or as "lord of animals", who notes that it is particularly used as an epithet of Rudra.

- Mount Kailāsa: Mount Kailash in the Himalayas is his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount Kailāsa is conceived as resembling a Linga, representing the centre of the universe.

- Gaṇa: The Gaṇas are attendants of Śiva and live in Kailash. They are often referred to as the Bhūta gaas, or ghostly hosts, on account of their nature.

Generally benign, except when their lord is transgressed against, they are often invoked to intercede with the lord on behalf of the devotee.

His son Gaṇeśa was chosen as their leader by Śiva, hence Gaṇeśa's title gaṇa-īśa or gaṇa-pati, "lord of the gaṇas".

- Varanasi: Varanasi (Benares) is considered to be the city specially loved by Śiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. It is referred to, in religious contexts, as Kāśī.

15. Destroyer and Benefactor

In Yajurveda, 2 contrary sets of attributes for both malignant or terrifying (Sanskrit: Rudra) and benign or auspicious (Sanskrit: Śiva) forms can be found.

In the Mahābhārata, Śiva is depicted as "the standard of invincibility, might, and terror", as well as a figure of honour, delight, and brilliance.

The duality of Śiva's fearful and auspicious attributes appears in contrasted names:

The name Rudra reflects Śiva's fearsome aspects. According to traditional etymologies, the Sanskrit name Rudra is derived from the root rud-, which means "to cry, howl".

Hara is an important name that occurs 3 times in the Anuśāsanaparva version of the Śiva Sahasranāma, where it is translated in different ways each time it occurs, following a commentarial tradition of not repeating an interpretation.

The 3 translations of Hara can be translated as "one who captivates", "one who consolidates", and "one who destroys".

Another of Śiva's fearsome forms is as Kāla "time" and Mahākāla "great time", which ultimately destroys all things:

The name Kāla appears in the Śiva Sahasranāma, meaning "the Lord of Time".

Bhairava "terrible" or "frightful" is a fierce form associated with annihilation.

In contrast, the name Śankara, "beneficent" or "conferring happiness" reflects his benign form. This name was adopted by the great Vedanta philosopher Ādi Śankara (c. 788–82), who is also known as Śaṅkarācārya.

The name Śambhu (Sanskrit: शम्भु) "self-shining/ shining on its own", also reflects this benign aspect.

16. Ascetic and Householder

Śiva is depicted as both an ascetic yogi and as a householder (gṛhasta), roles which have been traditionally mutually exclusive in Hindu society:

When depicted as a yogi, he may be shown sitting and meditating. His epithet Mahāyogi ("the great Yogi: Mahā = "great", Yogi = "one who practices Yoga") refers to his association with yoga.

While Vedic religion was conceived mainly in terms of sacrifice, it was during the Epic period that the concepts of tapas, yoga, and asceticism became more important, and the depiction of Śiva as an ascetic sitting in philosophical isolation reflects these later concepts.

As a family man and householder, he has a wife, Pārvatī and 2 sons, Gaṇeśa and Kārtikeya. His epithet Umāpati ("The husband of Umā") refers to this idea, and the 2 other variants of this name that mean the same thing, Umākānta and Umādhava, also appear in the Sahasranāma.

Umā in epic literature is known by many names, including the benign Pārvatī:

She is identified with Devi, the Divine Mother; Śakti (divine energy) as well as goddesses like Tripura Sundarī, Durgā, Kālī, Kāmākṣī and Mīnākṣī.

The consorts of Śiva are the source of his creative energy. They represent the dynamic extension of Śiva onto this universe.

His son Gaṇeśa is worshipped throughout India and Nepal as the Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles.

Kārtikeya is worshipped in South India (especially in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka) by the names Subrahmaṇya, Subrahmayan, Ṣaṇmukha, Swamināthan and Murugan, and in Northern India by the names Skanda, Kumara, or Kārtikeya.

Some regional deities are also identified as Śiva's children:

As one story goes, Śiva is enticed by the beauty and charm of Mohinī, Viṣṇu's female avatar, and procreates with her. As a result of this union, Śāstā – identified with regional deities Ayyappān and Aiyanār – is born.

In outskirts of Ernakulum in Kerala, a deity named Viṣṇumāyā is stated to be offspring of Śiva and invoked in local exorcism rites, but this deity is not traceable in Hindu.

In some traditions, Śiva has daughters like the serpent-goddess Manāsa and Aśokasundarī.

17. Iconographic forms

The depiction of Śiva as Naṭarāja ("Lord of Dance") is popular.

The names Nartaka ("dancer") and Nityanarta ("eternal dancer") appear in the Śiva Sahasranāma. His association with dance and also with music is prominent in the Purāṇic period.

In addition to the specific iconographic form known as Naṭarāja, various other types of dancing forms (Sanskrit: nṛtyamūrti) are found in all parts of India, with many well-defined varieties in Tamil Nadu in particular.

The 2 most common forms of the dance are the Tāṇḍava, which later came to denote the powerful and masculine dance as Kāla-Mahākāla associated with the destruction of the world.

When it requires the world or universe to be destroyed, Śiva does it by the Tāṇḍava, and Lāsya, which is graceful and delicate and expresses emotions on a gentle level and is considered the feminine dance attributed to the goddess Pārvatī.

Lāsya is regarded as the female counterpart of Tāṇḍava. The Tāṇḍava-Lāsya dances are associated with the destruction-creation of the world.

Dakṣiṇāmūrti literally describes a form (Mūrti) of Śiva facing south (dakṣiṇa). This form represents Śiva in his aspect as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom and giving exposition on the śāstras.

This iconographic form for depicting Śiva in Indian art is mostly from Tamil Nadu. Elements of this motif can include Śiva seated upon a deer-throne and surrounded by sages who are receiving his instruction.

An iconographic representation of Śiva called Ardhanārīśvara shows him with one half of the body as male and the other half as female.

Śiva is often depicted as an archer in the act of destroying the triple fortresses, Tripura, of the Asuras. Śiva's name Tripurāntaka, "ender of Tripura", refers to this important story.

18. Lingam

Apart from anthropomorphic images of Śiva, he is also represented in aniconic form of a lingam. These are depicted in various designs:

One common form is the shape of a vertical rounded column in the centre of a lipped, disk-shaped object, the yoni, symbolism for the goddess Śakti.

In Śiva temples, the Linga is typically present in its sanctum sanctorum and is the focus of votary offerings such as milk, water, flower petals, fruit, fresh leaves, and rice.

Linga literally means "mark, sign or emblem", and also refers to a "mark or sign from which the existence of something else can be reliably inferred". It implies the regenerative divine energy innate in nature, symbolized by Śiva.

The worship of the lingam originated from the famous hymn in the Atharvaveda Saṁhitā sung in praise of the Yūpa-Stambha, the sacrificial post:

In that hymn, a description is found of the beginningless and endless Stambha or Skambha, and it is shown that the said Skambha is put in place of the eternal Brahman.

Just as the Yajña (sacrificial) fire, its smoke, ashes, and flames, the Soma plant, and the ox that used to carry on its back the wood for the Vedic sacrifice gave place to the conceptions of the brightness of Śiva's body, his tawny matted hair, his blue throat, and the riding on the bull of the Śiva, the Yūpa-Skambha gave place in time to the Śiva-Linga.

In the text Linga Purāṇa, the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories, meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the superiority of Śiva as Mahādeva.

The oldest known archaeological Linga as an icon of Śiva is the Gudimallam lingam from 3rd-century BCE. In Śaivism pilgrimage tradition, 12 major temples of Śiva are called Jyotirliṅga, which means "Linga of light", and these are located across India.

19. Avatars

Purāṇic scriptures contain occasional references to "ansh" – literally portion, or Avatārs of Śiva, but the idea of Śiva avatars is not universally accepted in Śaivism.

The Linga Purāṇa mentions 28 forms of Śiva which are sometimes seen as Avatārs,  however such mention is unusual and the Avatārs of Śiva is relatively rare in Śaivism compared to the well emphasized concept of Viṣṇu avatars in Vaishnavism.

Some Vaiṣṇava literature reverentially link Śiva to characters in its mythologies:

For example, in the Hanumān Chālīsa, Hanumān is identified as the 11th avatar of Śiva.

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa and the Viṣṇu Purāṇa claim sage Durvāsā to be a portion of Śiva.

Some medieval era writers have called the Advaita Vedanta philosopher Ādi Śankara an incarnation of Śiva.

20. Festivals

There is a Śivarātri in every lunar month on its 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March) and before the arrival of spring, marks Mahā Śivarātri which means "the Great Night of Śiva".

Mahā Śivarātri is a major Hindu festival, but one that is solemn and theologically marks a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and the world, and meditation about the polarities of existence, of Śiva and a devotion to humankind.

It is observed by reciting Śiva-related poems, chanting prayers, remembering Śiva, fasting, doing Yoga and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non-injury to others, forgiveness, introspection, self-repentance and the discovery of Śiva.

The ardent devotees keep awake all night.

Others visit one of the Śiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirliṅgam Shrines. Those, who visit temples, offer milk, fruits, flowers, fresh leaves and sweets to the lingam.

Some communities organize special dance events, to mark Śiva as the lord of dance, with individual and group performances.

Another major festival involving Śiva worship is Kārtik Pūrimā, commemorating Śiva's victory on the demons Tripurāsura. Across India, various Śiva temples are illuminated throughout the night. Śiva icons are carried in procession in some places.

Regional festivals dedicated to Śiva include the Chittirai festival in Madurai around April/May, one of the largest festivals in South India, celebrating the wedding of Mīnākṣī (Pārvatī) and Śiva:

The festival is one where both the Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva communities join the celebrations, because Viṣṇu gives away his sister Mīnākṣī in marriage to Śiva.

Some Śaktism-related festivals revere Śiva along with the Goddess considered primary and Supreme. These include festivals dedicated to Annapūrṇa such as Annakūṭa and those related to Durgā.

In Himalayan regions such as Nepal, as well as in northern, central and western India, the festival of Teej is celebrated by girls and women in the monsoon season, in honour of goddess Pārvatī, with group singing, dancing and by offering prayers in Pārvatī-Śiva temples.

The ascetic, Vedic and Tantric sub-traditions related to Śiva, such as those that became ascetic warriors during the Islamic rule period of India, celebrate the Kumbha Mela festival:

This festival cycles every 12 years, in 4 pilgrimage sites within India, with the event moving to the next site after a gap of 3 years:

The biggest is in Prayāga, where millions of Hindus of different traditions gather at the confluence of rivers Ganges and Yamuna.

In the Hindu tradition, the Śiva-linked ascetic warriors (Nāgas) get the honour of starting the event by entering the Sangam first for bathing and prayers.