Lord Shiva is a Hindu deity. He is considered to be one of the most powerful and important gods in Hinduism. Lord Shiva is considered to be the destroyer and the transformer in the Hindu trinity, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva is often depicted as a powerful and fierce deity, but also as a benevolent and compassionate one. Lord Shiva is depicted in many forms, each with its own unique significance and symbolism. The following forms of Lord Shiva are known to us as having typical characteristics:
During the Vedic period, Rudra was known as a destroyer and a fearful God. Rudra means the one who cries (ru) and the one who runs away while crying (dru). Rut also means sorrow of the materialistic world and the one who vanquishes and overcomes it is called Rudra. ‘Rut’ also means the truth, the base principle of the Upanishads. Therefore, one who has realized or expounded the truth is Rudra. Rut is speech consisting of words or the knowledge of self-realization expounded through this medium. One who bestows this to the worshippers is Rudra.
Rudra’s subordinates are many and known by different names. These subordinates reside in heaven, destroy evil-doers, protect the righteous, observe the pashupat (vowed religious observance), vanquish obstacles of the yogis and serve Lord Shiva perpetually. The 11 Rudras as per Shrimad Devibhagwat are Har, Bahuroop, Trayambak, Aoarajit, Shambhu, Vrishakapi, Kapardi, Raivat, Mrigvyadh, Sharva and Kapaali.
The creation and life cycle of this universe are not possible without the unification of male and female forms of humans. Lord Shiva took the Ardhanareeshwar form in order to represent this aspect to mankind. Every human body has bi-sexual characteristics built into itself and it procreates from within itself. Agnishomatmakam jagat, says Shruti (Vedas). Fire is the male principle and is present in the menstrual flow of females. The Moon (Som) is the feminine principle and is present in the sperm of the male. Desire (Kaama) is the force that brings the two together.
The above two principles get attracted to each other due to Kaama. In Adwait Shaivagam, the divine energy is not to be renounced, but it has to be accepted as the energy of the god Brahma, the supreme lord. The permanent union of Shiva and Shakti is considered as adwait or non-duality. The right half of Shiva is a female form, says Hemadri, the writer of Chaturvargachintamani. This Ardhnareeshwar form of Shiva has equal male and female powers (a unified form of Shiva and Shakti).
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He is one of the eight Bhairavs and was created from Shiva’s wrath. After Shiva had severed the fifth head of Brahma through Kalbhairav, He directed Kalbhairav to stay at Kashi (Banaras). Kalbahirav is thus the guardian of Kashi. On entering Kashi, one must pay obeisance to him first.
Bhairav literally means the Earth and Bhairavnath is its Lord. Sixty-four types of Bhairavs have been described, of which Kalbhairav and Batuk Bhairav are more famous. It is said that the Bhairavs guard each seat of divine energy (Shaktipeeth). The Shakti pooja is not considered complete by some sects without the inclusion of Bhairav.
He has made Vetal his vehicle. It is believed that Virbhadra is the first to worship Shiva in the linga form.
Vetal literally means the one who can dance to his tune. When Ahat and Anahat sound fuse, frequencies are generated. They correct the abnormalities. Vetal is also called Agyavetal, Jwalavetal or Pralayvetal. These Vetals are included among the attendants of Shiva. Idols of Vetal are made of wood and many villages, he acts as a village deity.
He is a deity similar to Vetal and if someone is possessed by a spirit, then it is driven off by summoning Bhootnath.
Body movements, which depict a particular event, are called Natan or Natya. The one who performs Natan is a nat. Shiva as Natraj is a promoter of dance and He is a pioneer among actors (nat). The universe is His school of dance. Just as He is the dancer He is also the observer. Nataraj’s dance is considered to represent five actions of God namely creation, sustenance, dissolution, the covering of the great illusion (Maya) and initiation (Anugraha). The Nataraj’s dance form is to liberate a person from the great illusion.
The dance in which the sound (naad) in every cell of the body (bhuvans) is that of Shiva is called tandav dance. It is a dance performed by males and consists of postures (mudras). For instance, the dhyan mudra is performed by touching the index. finger to the thumb. There are seven types of tandav dance: anandtandav, sandhyatandav, kalikatandav, tripurtandav, gauritandav, sanhartandav and umatandav.
At Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, Lord Shiva is doing sandhyatandav. In this form of dance, Lord Shiva performs dance and Devi Gauri (Parvati) sits on a throne studded with jewels.” Devi Saraswati (Goddess of Learning) plays the musical instrument Veena, Indra plays the flute, Devi Lakshmi sings, Lord Vishnu plays the mridang and several other deities watch. In this dance, Lord Shiva has two hands.
Of the seven types, the most fearsome are gouritandav and umatandav, wherein Shiva dances in a crematorium assuming the form of Bhairav or Virbhadra and is accompanied by Gauri.
This is the Kapalik form of Lord Shiva. He is engrossed in various sports of pleasure and Bhagwati Uma accompanies him.