Most of us worship Lord Shiva without understanding the deeper meaning behind him. In Hindu mythology, Shiva is one of the three forms of God (Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh).
The Parmatama or spirit or GOD can be equated to a mixture of three forces representing Generator, (Creator or Brahma); Organizer; (Maintainer or Vishnu); Destroyer (Winding up or Mahesh or Shiva).The same three forces are also present inside our body to perform any work, which can be linked to create or generate an idea, maintain or organise the contents of the idea, and then destroy or wind up so that new work can be undertaken through Ganesha – the Lord of new happenings.
For day to day life, one has to understand and implement the principles of Lord Shiva which can be known by understanding the meaning of Shiva.
Shiva is worshipped in the sitting meditating pose, sitting on a deer’s skin at white Himalaya in the background of blue sky. Shiva is also depicted in the form smeared with the ash of graveyard, having a snake on neck, Ganga coming out of his matted hairs, three eyes, blue neck, trishul on one hand and damru on his other hand.
All these symbolic representations have a deep spiritual meaning and tell us about Shiva’s principles of success.
Shiva’s third eye means thinking differently or using the eyes of our mind and the soul. The message is, whenever you are in difficulty, use your intelligence and wisdom or think differently for getting different options. The third eye opening also represents the vanishing of ignorance (darkness or pralaya).
Shiva sitting in an open–eye meditating pose indicates that in day–to–day life one should be calm as if you are in the meditation rose. Calmness in day–to–day practice helps in achieving better results. In allopathic language it is equivalent to mindfulness living.
The snake around the neck represents one’s ego. One should keep the ego out and control it and not let it overpower you. The downward posture of the head of the snake represents that ego should be directed towards the consciousness and not outwards.
The blue neck (Neelkanth) represents that one should neither take the negative emotions out nor suppress them but alter or modify them. The blue color indicates negative thoughts.
The same in the neck indicates that negative slow emotions akin to negative emotions are neither to be drunk nor to be spitted out but to be hold temporarily and with continuous efforts (matted hairs) with cool mind (moon) and with positive thoughts (Ganga) should be directed towards the consciousness keeping the ego directed towards it (sheshnag).
Suppressed anger or any other negative emotions will release chemicals in the body causing acidity, asthma, angina and diarrhea. Expressed anger on the other hand will end up into social unhealthiness.
The ash on the skin of the body of Shiva reminds that everything in the universe is perishable and nothing is going to remain with the person. The message is that ‘you have come in this world without anything and will go back without anything, then why worry’.
The Trishul in one hand represents control of three factors i.e. mind, intellect and ego. It also represents controlling your three mental gunas i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. The damru, the hollow structure, represents taking all your ego and desires out of the body.
The blue sky represents vastness and openness and the White Mountain represents purity and truthfulness.
If one adapts to Shiva’s principles in day–to–day life, one will find no obstacles both in his routine life as well as to one’s spiritual journey.
On the Shivratri day, the custom is to fast. The fast does not just indicate not eating on that day, but its deeper meaning signifies fasting of all bad things in life like – “seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil”. Fasting also indicates controlling the desires for eating foods (like fermented, sweet, sour and salt) and control the negative thoughts both in the mind, deed as well as actions.