One of the most revered Gods in Hinduism is Siva, the destroyer (of the ego).
Shiva is a God who is unlike any other God and Lord Shiva stories are extremely popular. Shiva is considered to be the most unique of all Hindu gods and also the God of all. A great ascetic, Shiva is the only godhead who is forever in deep meditation, totally absorbed in contemplation in his abode, the Kailasa Mountain in the great Himalayas.
Shiva is often shown with many faces – as creator, destroyer and preserver in total command of the cosmos. He contains both good and evil. He is moody, free of inhibitions, easy to please, protector of the down trodden, and has the power to alter the laws of destiny. Thus, Lord Shiva is known as the God of mercy and kindness. He protects his devotees from all evil that are always around us. He blesses his followers with grace, knowledge and peace. Lord Shiva has many tales to his name and it is always interesting to read stories of Lord Shiva.
Here are a few of the more popular ones!
Why is Lord Shiva Called Neelkanth?
According to the legend, during samudra manthan, while the ocean of milk was being churned by the devas and asuras, there appeared a dark sticky foam – The poison halahala that had the power to destroy the universe. When the fumes started to spread in the air and water, Shiva drank it to save the world. Goddess Parvati caught hold of his neck to stop the poison from entering his body and so it remained in the throat making it blue. This is also one of the reasons that he is perceived as Blue!!
Why did Shiva Fall at Goddess Kali’s Feet?
Once there were a powerful demon named Rakta Beej, who could duplicate himself as soon as a drop of his blood touches the Earth. We learned about him in the story of Kali from an earlier blog post. He was so uncontrollable that Shakti, in the form of Goddess Durga, was summoned to put an end to the demon. But as soon as he was hurt, his blood fell on Earth and he started multiplying. Enraged by this, Shakti took the form of Goddess Kali and killed each demon and drank its blood. After she consumed the army of demons, she became mad with blood lust for which she started slaying innocents. All the Gods assembled and asked Shiva for help. He laid down among the corpses. Accidentally, she stepped on Shiva and soon realized her mistake and calmed down which made her tongue stick out.
Why Does Ganga Flow Out of Shiva’s head?
Once Bhagirathi asked Brahma to bring the River Ganga down to Earth to purify the souls of his ancestors and help them to attain nirvana. Brahma asked Bhagirathi to propitiate Shiva because only he can break Ganga’s landfall. Ganga furiously flew down to Earth, but Shiva calmly trapped her back in his locks and let her out as seven rivers: Bhagirathi, Janhvi, Bhilanga, Mandakini, Rishiganga, Saraswati and Alaknanda. She then followed Bhagirathi, who lead her to his ancestors and with her piousness released her soul.
The Story Behind Shiva’s Tandava?
One of the interesting legends related to Shivas Tandava (which is a sacred dance that only he performs) goes like this. Once, the dwarf demon Apasmara challenged Shiva. Shiva took the form of Nataraja and performed the famous Shiva Tandava crushing the demon under his right foot. Since, the demon should not die as to preserve the balance between Knowledge and ignorance, it is believed that Shiva forever remains in his Nataraja form suppressing Apasmara for eternity. His avatar is a message that ignorance can only be overcome by knowledge, music and dance!!
All of my personal favorite things to do!
Why is There a Snake Around Lord Shiva’s Neck?
There are two tales associating with Snakes and Shiva.
During Samudra Manthan, when Shiva drank the deadly poison, it was believed that there were also some snakes in water who did the same. Impressed by this act of snakes, Shiva accepted Vasuki ( King of snakes ) around his neck.
There is another tale which says that snakes found on his body became ornaments during his marriage with Parvati (the mother of Ganesha). Also it is believed he made ornaments out of snakes and gifted them to Goddess Parvati as a gift. Snakes are believed to carry rubies in their head that served as lamps during the night.
Why is There a Moon in Lord Shiva’s head?
The moon adorns the head of Shiva, which is assumed as the peak point of any human being. During the churning of the ocean, when Lord Shiva consumed halahala, his body temperature rose. As the moon is cool in its nature, he placed the moon on his head to lower his body temperature.
Why is Shiva Associated with a Bull?
Surabhi, the original mother of all cows, began to give birth to a lot of cows and the milk of these cows flooded Shiva’s home. Angry at this disturbance, he struck the cows with fire from his third eye. Seeing this disaster, the Gods tried to call Shiva down by offering him a magnificent bull – Nandi, son of Surabhi and Kasyapa which he made his ride. Nandi also became the protector of all animals.
No wonder Shiva is everyone’s favorite!!