Mahashivratri 2019: From Destroyer, Ascetic, Householder to Nataraja, 6 Forms of Lord Shiva Which Show His Multidimensional Personality
Statue of Shiva at Murudeshwar | (Photo Credits: Wikimedia)

Mahashivaratri or Maha Shivratri, also known as the ‘Great night of Lord Shiva,’ is one of the most important Hindu festival observed by devotees across India with much fervour. While Shivratri falls on the 14th day of each month of the lunar calendar, Maha Shivratri is celebrated only once a year before the arrival of summer. On this holy day, devotees worship Lord Shiva and seek his divine guidance. Lord Shiva, who is part of the holy trinity of Hindu Gods (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh), is known as Mahadev (the great god), for it his he who is the destroyer and timeless. Lord Shiva is also known as Mahakal, as he is not bound by time and is eternal. Shiva also has many sides to his personality and is a multidimensional entity who can fulfill the role of an ascetic just as easily as he can be a householder. It is this contradiction in Lord Shiva's personality that fascinates and attracts devotees. Happy Mahashivratri 2019 Messages & Image Greetings: Lord Shiva Quotes & Mantras, Shivratri WhatsApp Stickers, Shankar Bhagwan Photos To Wish on Maha Shivratri.

The festival is popularly celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, there is much more significance to this festival. For instance, according to Puranas, Shivaratri marks the night Lord Shiva saved the universe by consuming a pot of poison during Samudra Manthan- mythical churning of the ocean. According to Shaivism, the festival marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the divine dance of creation, preservation and, destruction. Happy Mahashivratri 2019 Hindi Messages: Lord Shiva WhatsApp Stickers, Wishes, SMS & GIFs to Send Maha Shivratri Greetings to Everyone.

Lord Shiva has been depicted in various forms since the ancient times and in the various religious texts.

Below are the Most Important Forms of Lord Shiva:

1. Destroyer and Benefactor

Though Lord Shiva is considered as the destroyer and Mahakal, he is also depicted as the Benefactor in various texts. Lord Shiva has many names and they denote a specific side of his personality. While Rudra, Bhairava and Mahakal are names used to show the fierce side of the lord, the names Shankara, Shambhu and Bhole are names that show the softer side of Lord Shiva.

2. Ascetic and Householder

Lord Shiva manages the extreme balance of being both a yogi and also the householder. While on one side he is depicted as being lost in meditation, reaching Shunya (state of mindlessness), he is also the householder married to goddess Parvati. The Puranas mention that Lord Shiva is the father of Lord Ganesha and Kartikeya.

3. Iconographic Forms

The depiction of Shiva as Nataraja is popular in society and especially among the artists. The names Nartaka and Nityanarta, which translates to the eternal dancer, appear in the Shiva Sahasranama. Dakshinamurthy form of Lord Shiva show him as a teacher of yoga, music, and wisdom and giving exposition on the shastras. This iconographic form for depicting Shiva in Indian art is mostly from Tamil Nadu. Another iconographic representation of Shiva is the Ardhanarishvara, which shows him with one half of the body as male and the other half as female.

4. Lingam

Shiva is also represented in aniconic form of a lingam. Lingams across India are depicted in various designs but have one common form and shape of a vertical rounded column in the centre of a lipped, disk-shaped object, the yoni- which symbolises the goddess Shakti. The linga is typically present in its sanctum sanctorum and devotees offer milk, water, flower petals, fruit, fresh leaves, and rice to pay respect.

5. Five mantras

The number five is special to Lord Shiva (Panchbhuta). The mantra 'Namah Sivaya' is said to have five syllables. In the holy texts, Shiva's body consist of five mantras, called the pancabrahmans. As forms of God,each of these have their own names and distinct iconography namely the Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusa and Isana. These are represented as the five faces of Shiva and are associated in various texts with the five elements, the five senses, the five organs of perception, and the five organs of action.

6. Avatars 

Puranic scriptures contain references to "ansh" – which means portion, or avatars of Shiva, but the idea of Shiva avatars is not universally accepted in Saivism. The Linga Purana mentions twenty-eight forms of Shiva which are sometimes seen as avatars, however such mention is unusual and the avatars of Shiva is relatively rare in Shaivism compared to Vishnu avatars in Vaishnavism. In the Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman is identified as the eleventh avatar of Shiva. Sage Durvasa is also considered to be a portion of Lord Shiva.

The above are the main forms of Shiva but it is by no means a definitive account of the splendour of Lord Shiva. Besides these forms, Lord Shiva is worshipped by the devotees in various other forms. The Rudraksh mala, Om Namah Shivay mantra, and chants of Har Har Mahadev are also strongly associated with the lord. Whichever form one wants to worship Lord Shiva, one thing is clear that Shiva offers enough scope to devotees to see him in all his aspects. It is not for nothing that Lord Shiva is called the Mahadev (the great god) and is loved and admired by all. A very happy and auspicious Maha Shivratri to all our readers.