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Shiva ( ; Sanskrit: शिव, ; ; meaning "Auspicious one"), also known as Rudra (the "Feared One") or "'The Destroyer"', is a major Hindu god and one aspect of Trimurti. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is one of the five primary forms of God.

Followers of Hinduism who focus their worship upon Shiva are called Shaivites or Shaivas (Sanskrit ). Shaivism, along with traditions that focus on Vishnu and traditions that focus on the goddess are three of the most influential denominations in Hinduism.

Shiva is usually worshipped in the form of Shiva linga. In images, he is generally represented as immersed in deep meditation or dancing the Tandava upon Maya, the demon of ignorance in his manifestation of Nataraja, the lord of the dance.

In some Hindu denominations , Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva represent the three primary aspects of the divine, and are collectively known as the Trimurti. In this school of religious thought, Brahma is the Creator, Vishnu is the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer.

Etymology and other names

A statue of Shiva on Delhi-Gurgaon Highway

The Sanskrit word Shiva (Devanagari: , ) is an adjective meaning "auspicious, kind, gracious". As a proper name it means "The Auspicious One", used as a euphemistic name for Rudra. In simple English transliteration it is written either as Shiva or Siva. The adjective , meaning "auspicious", is used as an attributive epithet not particularly of Rudra, but of several other Vedic deities. In the Rig Veda, Indra uses this word to describe himself several times. (2:20:3, 6:45:17, 8:93:3)

In Tamil, Shiva literally means "the supreme one". Adi Sankara, in his interpretation of the name Shiva, the 27th and 600th name of Vishnu sahasranama, interprets Shiva to mean either "The Pure One", "the One who is not affected by three Gunasmarker of Prakrti (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas)" or "the One who purifies everyone by the very utterance of His name." Swami Chinmayananda, in his translation of Vishnu sahasranama, further elaborates on that verse: Shiva means "the One who is eternally pure" or "the One who can never have any contamination of the imperfection of Rajas and Tamas".

The Sanskrit word means "relating to the god Shiva", 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 Shaivism.

The name Shiva, in one interpretation, is also said to have derived from the Dravidian word Siva, meaning "to be red". It is the equivalent of Rudra, "the red".

Shiva's role as the primary deity of Shaivism is reflected in his epithets ("great god"; = great + deva = god), ("great lord"; = great + = lord), and ("Supreme Lord").

There are at least eight different versions of the Shiva Sahasranama, devotional hymns (stotras) listing many names of Shiva. The version appearing in Book 13 ( ) of the Mahabharata is considered the kernel of this tradition. Shiva also has Dasha-Sahasranamas (10,000 names) that are found in the Mahanyasa. The Shri Rudram Chamakam, also known as the Śatarudriya, is a devotional hymn to Shiva hailing him by many names.

Historical development

The worship of Shiva is a pan-Hindu tradition, practiced widely across all of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some historians believe that the figure of Shiva as we know him today was built up over time, with the ideas of many regional sects being amalgamated into a single figure. How the persona of Shiva converged as a composite deity is not well documented. Axel Michaels explains the composite nature of Shaivism as follows:

Like , is also a high god, who gives his name to a collection of theistic trends and sects: .
Like , the term also implies a unity which cannot be clearly found either in religious practice or in philosophical and esoteric doctrine.
Furthermore, practice and doctrine must be kept separate.

An example of assimilation took place in Maharashtramarker, where a regional deity named Khandoba is a patron deity of farming and herding castes. The foremost center of worship of Khandoba in Maharashtra is in Jejurimarker. Khandoba has been assimilated as a form of Shiva himself, in which case he is worshipped in the form of a lingam. Khandoba's varied associations also include an identification with Surya and Karttikeya.

The Pashupati seal

A seal discovered during the excavation of Mohenjo-daromarker has drawn attention as a possible representation of a "proto-Shiva" figure. This Pashupati (Lord of animal-like beings) seal shows a seated figure, possibly ithyphallic, surrounded by animals. Sir John Marshall and others have claimed that this figure is a prototype of Shiva and have described the figure as having three faces seated in a "yoga posture" with the knees out and feet joined. However, this claim is not without its share of critics, with some academics like Gavin Flood and John Keay characterizing them as unfounded.


Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in a number of Hindu traditions. 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 Rig Veda, which is dated to between 1700 and 1100 BCE based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The name Rudra is still used as a name for Shiva. In RV 2.33, he is described as the "Father of the Maruts", a group of storm gods. Furthermore, the Rudram, one of the most sacred hymns of Hinduism found both in the Rig and the Yajur Vedas and addressed to Rudra, invokes him as Shiva in several instances, but the term Shiva is used as a epithet for Indra, Mitra and Agni many times.

The identification of Shiva with the older god Rudra is not universally accepted, as Axel Michaels explains:

To what extent 's origins are in fact to be sought in Rudra is extremely unclear. The tendency to consider an ancient god is based on this identification, even though the facts that justify such a far-reaching assumption are meager.

Rudra is called "The Archer" (Sanskrit: ), and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root -, which means "to injure" or "to kill", and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name as "One who can kill the forces of darkness". The names ("Bowman") and ("Archer", literally "Armed with arrows in his hands") also refer to archery.

Identification with Vedic deities

Shiva's rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Agni, Indra, , , and others.


Rudra and Agni have a close relationship. The identification between Agni and Rudra in the Vedic literature was an important factor in the process of Rudra's gradual development into the later character as Rudra-Shiva. The identification of Agni with Rudra is explicitly noted in the Nirukta, an important early text on etymology, which says, "Agni is called Rudra also." The interconnections between the two deities are complex, and according to Stella Kramrisch:

The fire myth of plays on the whole gamut of fire, valuing all its potentialities and phases, from conflagration to illumination.

In the Śatarudrīa, some epithets of Rudra, such as ("Of golden red hue as of flame") and ("Flaming bright"), suggest a fusing of the two deities. Agni is said to be a bull, and Lord Shiva possesses a bull as his vehicle, Nandi. The horns of Agni, who is sometimes characterized as a bull, are mentioned. In medieval sculpture, both Agni and the form of Shiva known as Bhairava have flaming hair as a special feature.


The Indologist Koenraad Elst proposes that Shiva of Puranic Hinduism is a continuation of the Vedic Indra. He gives several reasons for his hypothesis. Both Shiva and Indra are known for having a thirst for Soma. Both are associated with mountains, rivers, male fertility, fierceness, fearlessness, warfare, transgression of established mores, the Aum sound, and the Supreme Self. In the Rig Veda, the term is used to refer to Indra. (2.20.3, 6.45.17, and 8.93.3 )


  • Third eye: Shiva is often depicted with a third eye, with which he burned Desire ( ) to ashes. There has been controversy regarding the original meaning of Shiva's name Tryambakam (Sanskrit: त्र्यम्बकम्), which occurs in many scriptural sources. In classical Sanskrit, the word ambaka denotes "an eye", and in the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as three-eyed, so this name is sometimes translated as "having three eyes". However, in Vedic Sanskrit, the word or means "mother", and this early meaning of the word is the basis for the translation "having three mothers" that was used by Max Müller and Arthur Macdonell. Since no story is known in which Shiva had three mothers, E. Washburn Hopkins suggested that the name refers not to three mothers, but to three mother-goddesses who are collectively called the . Other related translations have been "having three wives or sisters" or were 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 .

  • Crescent moon: Shiva bears on his head the crescent moon. The epithet (Sanskrit: "Having the moon as his crest" - chandra = "moon", = "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-Shiva. The origin of this linkage may be due to the identification of the moon with Soma, and there is a hymn in the Rig Veda where Soma and Rudra are jointly emplored, and in later literature, Soma and Rudra came to be identified with one another, as were Soma and the moon.

  • Ashes: Shiva smears his body with ashes (bhasma). Some forms of Shiva, such as Bhairava, are associated with a very old Indian tradition of cremation-ground asceticism that was practiced by some groups who were outside the fold of brahmanic orthodoxy. These practices associated with cremation grounds are also mentioned in the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism. One epithet for Shiva is "inhabitant of the cremation ground" (Sanskrit: , also spelled Shmashanavasin), referring to this connection.

  • Matted hair: Shiva's distinctive hair style is noted in the epithets , "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 (Sanskrit ; nīla = "blue", = "throat") refers to a story in which Shiva drank the poison churned up from the world ocean. (See Halāhala.) The Hari Vanśa Purana, on the other hand, attributes the colour of Shiva's throat to an episode in which Vishnu compels Shiva to fly after taking him by the throat and nearly strangling him.

Shiva bearing the descent of the Ganges River as Parvati and Bhagiratha and the bull Nandi look, folio from a Hindi manuscript by the saint Narayan, circa 1740
  • Sacred Ganga: The Gangamarker river flows from the matted hair of Shiva. The epithet ("bearer of the river ") refers to this feature. The Ganga (Ganges), one of the major rivers of the country, is said to have made her abode in Shiva's hair.

  • Tiger skin: He is often shown seated upon a tiger skin, an honour reserved for the most accomplished of Hindu ascetics, the Brahmarishis.

  • Serpents: Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake.

  • Drum: A small drum shaped like an hourglass is known as a damaru (Sanskrit: ). This is one of the attributes of Shiva in his famous dancing representation known as Nataraja. A specific hand gesture (mudra) called (Sanskrit for " -hand") is used to hold the drum. This drum is particularly used as an emblem by members of the sect.

  • : Nandī, also known as Nandin, is the name of the bull that serves as Shiva's mount (Sanskrit: ). Shiva's association with cattle is reflected in his name , or Pashupati (Sanskrit: पशुपति), translated by Sharma as "lord of cattle" and by Kramrisch as "lord of animals", who notes that it is particularly used as an epithet of Rudra.

  • : The s (Devanagari: ) are attendants of Shiva and live in Kailash. They are often referred to as the Boothaganas, 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. Ganesha was chosen as their leader by Shiva, hence Ganesha's title or , "lord of the ".

  • Mount : Mount Kailashmarker in the Himalayasmarker is his traditional abode. In Hindu mythology, Mount is conceived as resembling a Linga, representing the center of the universe.

  • Varanasi: Varanasimarker (Benares) is considered as the city specially loved by Shiva, and is one of the holiest places of pilgrimage in India. It is referred to, in religious contexts, as Kashi.

Forms and depictions

According to Gavin Flood, "Śiva is a god of ambiguity and paradox," whose attributes include opposing themes. The ambivalent nature of this deity is apparent in some of his names and the stories told about him.

Destroyer versus benefactor

In the Yajurveda, two contrary sets of attributes for both malignant or terrific (Sanskrit: ) and benign or auspicious (Sanskrit: ) forms can be found, leading Chakravarti to conclude that "all the basic elements which created the complex Rudra-Śiva sect of later ages are to be found here." In the Mahabharata, Shiva is depicted as "the standard of invincibility, might, and terror", as well as a figure of honor, delight, and brilliance. The duality of Shiva's fearful and auspicious attributes appears in contrasted names.

The name Rudra (Sanskrit: रुद्र) reflects his fearsome aspects. According to traditional etymologies, the Sanskrit name Rudra is derived from the root rud-, which means "to cry, howl". Stella Kramrisch notes a different etymology connected with the adjectival form raudra, which means "wild, of rudra nature", and translates the name Rudra as "the wild one" or "the fierce god". R. K. Sharma follows this alternate etymology and translates the name as "terrible". Hara (Sanskrit: हर) is an important name that occurs three times in the Anushasanaparvan version of the Shiva sahasranama, where it is translated in different ways each time it occurs, following a commentorial tradition of not repeating an interpretation. Sharma translates the three as "one who captivates", "one who consolidates", and "one who destroys." Kramrisch translates it as "the ravisher". Another of Shiva's fearsome forms is as (Sanskrit: ), "time", and as (Sanskrit: ), "great time", which ultimately destroys all things. Bhairava (Sanskrit: ), "terrible" or "frightful", is a fierce form associated with annihilation.

In contrast, the name (Sanskrit: शङ्कर), "beneficent" or "conferring happiness" reflects his benign form. This name was adopted by the great Vedanta philosopher (c. 788-820 CE), who is also known as Shankaracharya. The name (Sanskrit: ), "causing happiness", also reflects this benign aspect.

Ascetic versus householder

He is depicted as both an ascetic yogin and as a householder, roles which are mutually exclusive in Hindu society. When depicted as a yogin, he may be shown sitting and meditating. His epithet Mahāyogin ("the great Yogi: = "great", Yogin = "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 Shiva as an ascetic sitting in philosophical isolation reflects these later concepts.

As a family man and householder, he has a wife, Parvati (also known as ), and two sons, Ganesha and Skanda. His epithet ("The husband of ") refers to this idea, and Sharma notes that two other variants of this name that mean the same thing, and , also appear in the sahasranama. in epic literature is known by many names, including the benign . She is identified with Devi, the Divine Mother, and with Shakti (divine energy). As a householder, he is known for the great love and respect he has for his consort.

Shiva and Parvati are believed to be the parents of Karthikeya and Ganesha. Karthikeya is worshipped in Southern India (especially in Tamil Nadumarker, Keralamarker and Karnatakamarker) by the names Subrahmanya, Subrahmanyan, Shanmughan, Swaminathan and Murugan, and in Northern India by the names Skanda, Kumara, or Karttikeya. The consorts of Lord Shiva are the source of his creative energy. They represent the dynamic extension of Shiva onto this universe.


The depiction of Shiva as Nataraja ( , Sanskrit: , "Lord of Dance") is popular. The names Nartaka ("dancer") and Nityanarta ("eternal dancer") appear in the Shiva Sahasranama. His association with dance and also with music is prominent in the Puranic period. In addition to the specific iconographic form known as Nataraja, various other types of dancing forms (Sanskrit: ) are found in all parts of India, with many well-defined varieties in Tamil Nadumarker in particular. The two most common forms of the dance are the Tandava, which later came to denote the powerful and masculine dance as Kala-Mahakala associated with the destruction of the world, and Lasya, which is graceful and delicate and expresses emotions on a gentle level and is considered the feminine dance attributed to the goddess Parvati. Lasya is regarded as the female counterpart of Tandava. The Tandava-Lasya dances are associated with the destruction-creation of the world.


Dakshinamurthy, or (Sanskrit: ), literally describes a form ( ) of Shiva facing south ( ). This form represents Shiva in his aspect 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 Nadumarker. Elements of this motif can include Shiva seated upon a deer-throne and surrounded by sages who are receiving his instruction.


Literally translated as "victor over death", this is an aspect of Shiva worshipped as the conqueror of death as manifested in the Hindu lord of death, Yama. The particular legend in question deals with the sage Markandeya, who was fated to die at the age of sixteen. On account of the sage's worship and devotion to Shiva, the lord vanquished Yama to liberate his devotee from death. Shiva is often worshipped as Mruthyunjaya by the aged or ill to ward off death and mitigate its harshness when it does occur. He is worshipped as such at the temples of Thirupainyeeli, near Tiruchirappallimarker, and at a shrine in Thirukadaiyur, near Chidambaram.


An iconographic representation of Shiva called Ardhanarishvara shows him with one half of the body as male and the other half as female. Another term for this state of gender is "Triteeyaprakrti" (Eunuch). According to Ellen Goldberg, the traditional Sanskrit name for this form ( ) is best translated as "the lord who is half woman", not as "half-man, half-woman". In Hindu philosophy, this is used to visualize the belief that the sacred ultimate power of the universe as being both feminine and masculine.


Lord Shiva is often depicted as an archer in the act of destroying the triple fortresses, Tripura, of the Asuras. Shiva's name Tripurantaka (Sanskrit: , ), "ender of Tripura", refers to this important story.

Metaphysically, Tripura has been considered by many scholars to mean the three kinds of bodies of man viz. Sthula sharira—the external embodiment, Sukshma sharira—the intellectual corpus, and Karana sharira—the consciousness or the soul. The Tripurantaka manifestation of the Lord destroys and extinguishes the tri-partite compartmentalisation of the being and merges all three essential componenets of man into the supreme consciousness. The lord as Tripurantaka destroys the veil of Maya, agyaan(ignorance), and affects the unision of the individual soul with the supreme consciousness.


Astamurti represents the eightfold appellations of Shiva in forms of Bhava as Existence, Sarva as the great Archer, Rudra as the giver of sorrow and sufferings, Pasupati as the Herdsman, Ugra as the Fearsome, Mahan, i.e. Mahadeva as the Supreme soul, Bhima as the Tremendous force, and Isana as the Directional ruler of the universe.


Apart from anthropomorphic images of Shiva, the worship of Shiva in the form of a lingam, or linga, is also important. These are depicted in various forms. One common form is the shape of a vertical rounded column. Shiva means auspiciousness, and linga means a sign or a symbol. Hence, the Shivalinga is regarded as a "symbol of the great God of the universe who is all-auspiciousness". Shiva also means "one in whom the whole creation sleeps after dissolution". Linga also means the same thing—a place where created objects get dissolved during the disintegration of the created universe. Since, according to Hinduism, it is the same god that creates, sustains and withdraws the universe, the Shivalinga represents symbolically God Himself. Some scholars, such as Monier-Williams and Wendy Doniger, also view linga as a phallic symbol, although this interpretation is disputed by others, including Christopher Isherwood, Vivekananda, Swami Sivananda, and S.N. Balagangadhara.

The worship of the Shiva-Linga originated from the famous hymn in the Atharva-Veda Samhitâ sung in praise of the Yupa-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 Yajna (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 Shiva's body, his tawny matted hair, his blue throat, and the riding on the bull of the Shiva, the Yupa-Skambha gave place in time to the Shiva-Linga. In the text Linga Purana, the same hymn is expanded in the shape of stories, meant to establish the glory of the great Stambha and the superiority of Shiva as Mahadeva.

Another theory is that Shiva linga might have been originated from the erect memorial topes of Buddhists consecrated in the memory of Buddha; and the very poor, who were unable to build big monuments, used to express their devotion to him by dedicating miniature substitutes for them. Scholars note that similar instances are still seen in the case of Hindu temples in Varanasimarker and other sacred places of India where those who cannot afford to build temples dedicate very small temple-like constructions instead. Scholars note that during the period of Buddhist ascendancy, the rich Hindus, in imitation of the Buddhists, used to erect something as a memorial resembling their Skambha, and the poor in a similar manner copied them on a reduced scale, and afterwards, the miniature memorials of the poor Hindus became a new addition to the Skambha.

The five mantras

Five is a sacred number for Shiva. One of his most important mantras has five syllables ( ).

Shiva's body is said to consist of five mantras, called the . As forms of God, each of these have their own names and distinct iconography:

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. Doctrinal differences and, possibly, errors in transmission, have resulted in some differences between texts in details of how these five forms are linked with various attributes. The overall meaning of these associations is summarized by Stella Kramrisch:

Through these transcendent categories, Śiva, the ultimate reality, becomes the efficient and material cause of all that exists.

According to the Pañcabrahma Upanishad:

One should know all things of the phenomenal world as of a fivefold character, for the reason that the eternal verity of is of the character of the fivefold Brahman.
(Pañcabrahma Upanishad 31)

Relationship to Vishnu

During the Vedic period, both Vishnu and Shiva (as identified with Rudra) played relatively minor roles, but by the time of the Brahmanas (c. 1000-700 BCE), both were gaining ascendance. By the Puranic period, both deities had major sects that competed with one another for devotees. Many stories developed showing different types of relationships between these two important deities.

Sectarian groups each presented their own preferred deity as supreme. Vishnu in his myths "becomes" Shiva. The Vishnu Purana (4th c. CE) shows Vishnu awakening and becoming both to create the world and Shiva to destroy it. Shiva also is viewed as a manifestation of Vishnu in the Bhagavata Purana. In Shaivite myths, on the other hand, Shiva comes to the fore and acts independently and alone to create, preserve, and destroy the world. In one Shaivite myth of the origin of the lingam, both Vishnu and are revealed as emanations from Shiva's manifestation as a towering pillar of flame. The Śatarudrīya, a Shaivite hymn, says that Shiva is "of the form of Vishnu". Differences in viewpoints between the two sects are apparent in the story of (also spelled "Sharabha"), the name of Shiva's incarnation in the composite form of man, bird, and beast. Shiva assumed that unusual form to chastise Vishnu in his hybrid form as Narasimha, the man-lion, who killed Hiranyakashipu, an ardent devotee of Shiva.

Syncretic forces produced stories in which the two deities were shown in cooperative relationships and combined forms. Harihara is the name of a combined deity form of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara). This dual form, which is also called Harirudra, is mentioned in the Mahabharata. An example of a collaboration story is one given to explain Shiva's epithet , "lord of great strength" (Maha = "great", Bala = "strength", = "lord"). This name refers to a story in which was given a linga as a boon by Shiva on the condition that he carry it always. During his travels, he stopped near the present Deogharmarker in Jharkhandmarker to purify himself and asked Narada, a devotee of Vishnu in the guise of a Brahmin, to hold the linga for him, but after some time, Narada put it down on the ground and vanished. When Ravana returned, he could not move the linga, and it is said to remain there ever since.The story of Gokarna in Karnataka is also similar in that Ravana, on the way to Lanka from Kailasa, gave the lingam to Ganesha to keep until he bathes, but Ganesha fits it in the earth, so the lingam is called Mahabaleshwara.

As one story goes, Shiva is enticed by the beauty and charm of Mohini, Vishnu's female avatar, and procreates with her. As a result of this union, Ayyappa or Shasta identified with Ayyanar is born. Shiva is also served by Mohini when a bunch of haughty sages were taught a lesson by Shiva.


Shiva, like some other Hindu deities, is said to have several incarnations, known as avatars. Adi Shankara, the 8th-century philosopher of non-dualist Vedanta, was named "Shankara" after Lord Shiva and is considered to have been an incarnation of Shiva. In the Hanuman Chalisa, Hanuman is identified as the eleventh avatar of Shiva.Sage Durvasa is also incarnation of Lord Shiva. Virabhadra who came as shiva grabbed a lock of his matted hair and dashed it to the ground. And Virabhadra or veerabathra is the who severed the Daksha's head as per Shiva's instruction.


In Shaivism, Shiva is the god of all and is described as worshipped by all, including Devas (gods) like Brahma and Indra, Asuras (demons) like Bana and Ravana, humans like Adi Shankara and Nayanars, and creatures as diverse as Jatayu, an eagle, and Vali, an ape. Deities, rishis (sages), and grahas (planets) worshipped Shiva and established Shivalingas in various places.

The holiest Shiva temples are the 12 Jyotirlinga temples. They are SomnathmarkerPrabhas Patan, NageshwarDwarkamarker, MahakaleshwarmarkerUjjainmarker, Mallikārjuna—Srisailammarker, Bhimashankarmarker, Omkareshwar, Kedarnathmarker Uttaranchalmarker, Kashi VishwanathmarkerVaranasimarker, Trimbakeshwarmarker—near Nasikmarker, RameswarammarkerRameswarammarker, Grishneshwar—near Elloramarker and VaidyanathDeogharmarker.

In South India, five temples of Shiva are held to be particularly important, as being manifestations of him in the five elemental substances:

The five sabha temples where Shiva will perform dive different style of dances are:

Other very famous temples in India include:

Temple in Nepal

Popular depictions in Art

See also


  1. Hawaii's Garden Island Kauai's Hindu Monastery
  2. Flood (1996), p. 17.
  3. Tattwananda, p. 45.
  4. Zimmer (1972) p. 124.
  5. Apte, p. 919.
  6. Macdonell, p. 314.
  7. For use of the term as an epithet for other Vedic deities, see: Chakravarti, p. 28.
  8. Sri Vishnu Sahasranama, Ramakrishna Math edition, pg.47 and pg. 122.
  9. Swami Chinmayananda's translation of Vishnu sahasranama, pg. 24, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.
  10. Apte, p. 927
  11. For the definition "Śaivism refers to the traditions which follow the teachings of ( ) and which focus on the deity ... " see: Flood (1996), p. 149.
  12. Encyclopedia of Indian Tribes By Shyam Singh Shashi, p. 190
  13. Kramrisch, p. 476.
  14. For appearance of the name in the Shiva Sahasranama see:
  15. Kramrisch, p. 477.
  16. For appearance of the name in the Shiva Sahasranama see: .
  17. For as "Supreme Lord" see: Kramrisch, p. 479.
  18. This is the source for the version presented in Chidbhavananda, who refers to it being from the Mahabharata but does not explicitly clairify which of the two Mahabharata versions he is using. See Chidbhavananda, p.5.
  19. For an overview of the Śatarudriya see: Kramrisch, pp. 71-74.
  20. For complete Sanskrit text, translations, and commentary see: Sivaramamurti (1976).
  21. Flood (1996), p. 17
  22. Keay, p.xxvii.
  23. Keay, p. xxvii.
  24. For Shiva as a composite deity whose history is not well-documented, see: Keay, p. 147.
  25. Michaels, p. 215.
  26. Courtright, p. 205.
  27. For Jejuri as the foremost center of worship see: Mate, p. 162.
  28. 'Khandoba: Ursprung, Geschiche und Umvelt von Pastoralem Gotheiten in Maharashtra, Wiesbaden 1976 (German with English Synopsis) pp. 180-98, "Khandoba is a local deity in Maharashtra and been Sanskritised as an incarnation of Shiva."
  29. For worship of Khandoba in the form of a lingam and possible identification with Shiva based on that, see: Mate, p. 176.
  30. For use of the name Khandoba as a name for Karttikeya in Maharashtra, see: Gupta, Preface, and p. 40.
  31. Flood (1996), pp. 28-29.
  32. For translation of as "Lord of Animals" see: Michaels, p. 312.
  33. For a drawing of the seal see Figure 1 in: Flood (1996), p. 29.
  34. Flood (2003), pp. 204-205.
  35. Keay, p. 14.
  36. Michaels, p. 216.
  37. For dating based on "cumulative evidence" see: Oberlies, p. 158.
  38. Doniger, pp. 221-223.
  39. Michaels, p. 217.
  40. For as a name of Shiva see: Apte, p. 910.
  41. For archer and arrow associations see Kramrisch, Chapter 2, and for the arrow as an "essential attribute" see: Kramrisch, p. 32.
  42. For root - see: Apte, p. 910.
  43. Chidbhavananda, p. 33.
  44. For translation of as "Armed with arrows in his hands") see: .
  45. For Shiva being identified with Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others see: Chakravarti, p. 70.
  46. For general statement of the close relationship, and example shared epithets, see: Sivaramamurti, p. 11.
  47. For an overview of the Rudra-Fire complex of ideas, see: Kramrisch, pp. 15-19.
  48. For quotation "An important factor in the process of Rudra's growth is his identification with Agni in the Vedic literature and this identification contributed much to the transformation of his character as ." see: Chakravarti, p. 17.
  49. For translation from Nirukta 10.7, see: Sarup (1927), p. 155.
  50. Kramrisch, p. 18.
  51. For "Note Agni-Rudra concept fused" in epithets and see: Sivaramamurti, p. 45.
  52. Rig Veda: Rig-Veda, Book 6: HYMN XLVIII. Agni and Others
  53. For the parallel between the horns of Agni as bull, and Rudra, see: Chakravarti, p. 89.
  54. RV 8.49; 10.155.
  55. For flaming hair of Agni and Bhairava see: Sivaramamurti, p. 11.
  56. For text of RV 2.20.3a as and translation as "May that young adorable Indra, ever be the friend, the benefactor, and protector of us, his worshipper" see: Arya & Joshi (2001), p. 48, volume 2.
  57. For text of RV 6.45.17 as and translation as "Indra, who has ever been the friend of those who praise you, and the insurer of their happiness by your protection, grant us felicity" see: Arya & Joshi (2001), p. 91, volume 3.
  58. For translation of RV 6.45.17 as "Thou who hast been the singers' Friend, a Friend auspicious with thine aid, As such, O Indra, favour us" see: .
  59. For text of RV 8.93.3 as and translation as "May Indra, our auspicious friend, milk for us, like a richly-streaming (cow), wealth of horses, kine, and barley" see: Arya & Joshi (2001), p. 48, volume 2.
  60. For Shiva as depicted with a third eye, and mention of the story of the destruction of Kama with it, see: Flood (1996), p. 151.
  61. For a review of theories about the meaning of tryambaka, see: Chakravarti, pp.37-39.
  62. For usage of the word ambaka in classical Sanskrit and connection to the Mahabharata depiction, see: Chakravarti, pp. 38-39.
  63. For translation of Tryambakam as "having three mothers" and as an epithet of Rudra, see: Kramrisch, p. 483.
  64. For vedic Sanskrit meaning and "having three mothers" as the translation of Max Müller and Macdonell, see: Chakravarti, pp. 37-38.
  65. For discussion of the problems in translation of this name, and the hypothesis regarding the see: Hopkins (1968), p. 220.
  66. For the variant, see: Chakravarti, pp. 17, 37.
  67. For the moon on the forehead see: Chakravarti, p. 109.
  68. For as crest or crown, see: Apte, p. 926.
  69. For as an iconographic form, see: Sivaramamurti (1976), p. 56.
  70. For translation "Having the moon as his crest" see: Kramrisch, p. 472.
  71. For the moon iconography as marking the rise of Rudra-Shiva, see: Chakravarti, p. 58.
  72. For discussion of the linkages between Soma, Moon, and Rudra, and citation to RV 7.74, see: Chakravarti, pp. 57-58.
  73. Flood (1996), p. 151.
  74. Flood (1996), pp. 92, 161.
  75. Flood (1996), p. 161.
  76. Chidbhavananda, p. 23.
  77. Chidbhavananda, p. 22.
  78. For translation of Kapardin as "Endowed with matted hair" see: .
  79. Kramrisch, p. 475.
  80. For Kapardin as a name of Shiva, and description of the kaparda hair style, see, Macdonell, p. 62.
  81. See: name #93 in Chidbhavananda, p. 31.
  82. For Shiva drinking the poison churned from the world ocean see: Flood (1996), p. 78.
  83. Kramrisch, p. 473.
  84. For alternate stories about this feature, and use of the name see: Chakravarti, pp. 59 and 109.
  85. For description of the form, see: Sivaramamurti (1976), p. 8.
  86. For Shiva supporting upon his head, see: Kramrisch, p. 473.
  87. Flood (1996), p. 151
  88. Michaels, p. 218.
  89. For definition and shape, see: Apte, p. 461.
  90. Jansen, p. 44.
  91. Jansen, p. 25.
  92. For use by , see: Apte, p. 461.
  93. For a review of issues related to the evolution of the bull (Nandin) as Shiva's mount, see: Chakravarti, pp. 99-105.
  94. For spelling of alternate proper names and Nandin see: Stutley, p. 98.
  95. Kramrisch, p. 479.
  96. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend (ISBN 0-500-51088-1) by Anna L. Dallapiccola
  97. For identification of Mount as the central linga, see: Stutley (1985), p. 62.
  98. Keay, p. 33.
  99. For quotation "Śiva is a god of ambiguity and paradox" and overview of conflicting attributes see: Flood (1996), p. 150.
  100. For quotation regarding Yajur Veda as containing contrary sets of attributes, and marking point for emergence of all basic elements of later sect forms, see: Chakravarti, p. 7.
  101. For summary of Shiva's contrasting depictions in the Mahabharata, see: .
  102. For rud- meaning "cry, howl" as a traditional etymology see: Kramrisch, p. 5.
  103. Citation to M. Mayrhofer, Concise Etymological Sanskrit Dictionary, s.v. "rudra", is provided in: Kramrisch, p. 5.
  104. .
  105. .
  106. For translation of as "Time beyond time" see: Kramrisch, p. 476.
  107. For the name translated as "time; death", see: Kramrisch, p. 474.
  108. The name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, where it is translated by Ram Karan Sharma as "(The Supreme Lord of) Time". See: .
  109. For as one of the eight forms of Shiva, and translation of the adjectival form as "terrible" or "frightful" see: Apte, p. 727, left column.
  110. For Bhairava form as associated with terror see: Kramrisch, p. 471.
  111. Kramrisch, p. 481.
  112. For adoption of the name by Shankaracarya see: Kramrisch, p. 481.
  113. For dating Shankaracharya as 788-820 CE see: Flood (1996), p. 92.
  114. For translation of as "Causing Happiness" see: Kramrisch, p. 481.
  115. For speculation on the possible etymology of this name, see: Chakravarti, pp. 28 (note 7), and p. 177.
  116. For the contrast beteween ascetic and householder depictions, see: Flood (1996), pp. 150-151.
  117. For Shiva's representation as a yogin, see: Chakravarti, p. 32.
  118. For name Mahāyogi and associations with yoga, see, Chakravarti, pp. 23, 32, 150.
  119. For the ascetic yogin form as reflecting Epic period influences, see: Chakravarti, p. 32.
  120. For , and as names in the Shiva Sahasranama literature, see: .
  121. For as the oldest name, and variants including , see: Chakravarti, p. 40.
  122. For identified as the wife of Shiva, see: Kramrisch, p. 479.
  123. For regional name variants of Karttikeya see: Gupta, Preface.
  124. For description of the nataraja form see: Jansen, pp. 110-111.
  125. For interpretation of the form see: Zimmer, pp. 151-157.
  126. For names Nartaka (Sanskrit नर्तक) and Nityanarta (Sanskrit नित्यनर्त) as names of Shiva, see: .
  127. For prominence of these associations in puranic times, see: Chakravarti, p. 62.
  128. For popularity of the and prevalence in South India, see: Chakravarti, p. 63.
  129. For iconographic description of the form, see: Sivaramamurti (1976), p. 47.
  130. For description of the form as representing teaching functions, see: Kramrisch, p. 472.
  131. For characterization of as a mostly south Indian form, see: Chakravarti, p. 62.
  132. For the deer-throne and the audience of sages as , see: Chakravarti, p. 155.
  133. Goldberg, p. 1.
  134. Goldberg specifically rejects the translation by Frederique Marglin (1989) as "half-man, half-woman", and instead adopts the translation by Marglin as "the lord who is half woman" as given in Marglin (1989, 216). Goldberg, p. 1.
  135. Search for Meaning By Antonio R. Gualtieri
  136. For evolution of this story from early sources to the epic period, when it was used to enhance Shiva's increasing influence, see: Chakravarti, p. 46.
  137. For the form, see: Sivaramamurti (1976), pp. 34, 49.
  138. Flood (1996), p. 29.
  139. Tattwanandaz, pp. 49-52.
  140. See Monier William's Sanskrit to english Dictionary
  141. For five as a sacred number, see: Kramrisch, p. 182.
  142. It is first encountered in an almost identical form in the Rudram. For the five syllable mantra see: Kramrisch, p. 182.
  143. For discussion of these five forms and a table summarizing the associations of these five mantras see: Kramrisch, pp. 182-189.
  144. For distinct iconography, see Kramrisch, p. 185.
  145. For association with the five faces and other groups of five, see: Kramrisch, p. 182.
  146. For the epithets and , both of which mean "five faces", as epithets of , see: Apte, p. 578, middle column.
  147. For variation in attributions among texts, see: Kramrisch, p. 187.
  148. Kramrisch, p. 184.
  149. Quotation from Pañcabrahma Upanishad 31 is from: Kramrisch, p. 182.
  150. For relatively minor position in Vedic times, and rise in progress by 1000-700 BCE see: Zimmer (1946), p. 125, note 2.
  151. For the rise in popularity of Shiva and Vishnu, and the role of Puranas in promoting sectarian positions, see: Flood (1996), pp. 110-111.
  152. For Visnu becoming Shiva in Vaishnava myths, see: Zimmer (1946), p. 125.
  153. For Vishnu Purana dating of 4th c. CE and role of Vishnu as supreme deity, see: Flood (1996), p. 111.
  154. For identification of Shiva as a manifestation of Vishnu see: Bhagavata Purana 4.30.23, 5.17.22-23, 10.14.19.
  155. For predominant role of Shiva in some myths, see: Zimmer (1946), p. 128.
  156. For the lingodbhava myth, and Vishnu and Brahmā as emanations of Shiva, see: Zimmer (1946), pp. 128-129.
  157. For translation of the epithet (IAST: ) as "salutation to him of the form of Vishṇu" included in the fifth , and comment that this epithet "links with " see: Sivaramamurti, pp. 21, 64.
  158. For as an "animal symplegma" form of Shiva, see: Kramrisch, p. 481.
  159. For incarnation in composite form as man, bird, and beast to chastise Narasimha, see: Chakravarti, p. 49.
  160. Chakravarti, pp. 54-55.
  161. For Harirudra citation to Mbh. III.39.76f see: Hopkins (1969), p. 221.
  162. For the story of and the linga see: Chakravarti, p. 168.
  163. Padma Purana 6.236.7-11
  164. Sri Ramakrishna Math (1985) "Hanuman Chalisa" p. 5
  165. Website on Lord Shiva


  • Arya, Ravi Prakash & K. L. Joshi. : Sanskrit Text, English Translation. Parimal Publications, Delhi, 2001, ISBN 81-7110-138-7 (Set of four volumes). Parimal Sanskrit Series No. 45; 2003 reprint: 81-7020-070-9.
  • (Third edition). The version provided by Chidbhavananda is from chapter 17 of the Anuśāsana Parva of the Mahābharata.
  • Originally published in 1915.
  • Reprint: Motilal Banarsidass, 2002, ISBN 81-208-1381-2.
  • This work compares eight versions of the Śivasahasranāmāstotra with comparative analysis and Śivasahasranāmākoṣa (A Dictionary of Names). The text of the eight versions is given in Sanskrit.
  • First Indian Edition: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2003, ISBN 81-215-1087-2.
  • First revised edition.
  • First Princeton-Bollingen printing, 1972.

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