9 April 2008

Shiva - Lord of the Earth

Rudra-Shiva is the ultimate symbol of the environment. In which is combined the forces of nature and Pancha Bhutas: air, water, earth, fire and space. The five elements or Pancha Bhutas are represented by five Shiva lingas, which are famous Temples and pilgrimage centres.

Many natural forces are imprisoned in Shiva's person: his flowing tresses represent the forests themselves, trapping within them the mighty river Ganga, the source of perennial water and life. His vibhuti or sacred ash is the symbol of fertility, a gift of the earth.

Lord Shiva is Pashupati, Lord of Animals. He is accompanied by Nandi the bull and viewed generally beneath the Bilva Tree. He is Bhupati, Bhuteshvara or Bhutanatha, Lord of the Earth. Bhuta is the spirit of the earth worshipped in rural India.

As the ascetic Rishi meditating on a hill, the mountains become the sacred home of Shiva. Several Shiva temples are found on hills. From Kailasha in the Northern Himalayas to Tiruvannamalai in the South.

By sanctifying them, important watersheds were conserved, preserving forests and providing water for existence.

Shiva holds Agni or fire on the palm of his hand. It symbolises the energy released during creation. The drum represents the sound Om, the origin of creation. The Trishula or Trident in his hand represents the feminine half of creation. Every aspect of this deity invokes nature.

[Thanks to N. Krishna]

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