Shiva is one of the most important, popular, and widely celebrated of the Hindu gods. In this article, we are going to consider, is Shiva really the most powerful of all the gods?
Shiva is the most powerful of the gods because he is the great destroyer, which means at the end of each of the Yuga cycles he destroys the universe, cleansing it of all impurities, and allowing for a new creation to be created.
Shiva is part of the holy trinity of gods in Hinduism, along with Vishnu and Brahma. Vishnu is eternal, the only one to survive the destruction of the universe, while Brahma is the creator. Together, the three of them serve the purposes of creating, preserving, and destroying the universe.
Why does Shiva destroy the world?
In Hinduism, there are cycles of time, called the Yuga cycles. A Yuga cycle lasts 432 million years, and at the end of each cycle, Shiva completely destroys the world. He does this because within the Yuga cycle are four ages, and in each age, things get worse in our world. The fourth age, called Kali Yuga, is when things get really bad, and that is the age we are currently living in. Greed, materialism, distrust, and hatred become the characteristics of people, and eventually famine becomes widespread. People stop caring about friends and family and everyone fights to survive.
At the end of Kali Yuga is a cataclysm, and Shiva destroys the world. He does so by performing a dance called the Tandav, which is the cosmic dance of death. His act of destruction is merely a destruction of the physical world, and of the ego, making way for a brand-new creation. That’s when things return to Satya Yuga, the best age. Because Shiva is the great destroyer of the world, he is the most powerful of the gods.
What is the third eye of Shiva?
One of the most important characteristics of Shiva is his third eye. It is a big part of what makes him so powerful. Humans have a third eye too, though it is usually not open, but for those who are able to open it they gain clairvoyant abilities. You can read about opening your third eye by clicking here. The third eye is about perceiving beyond time and space, and Shiva is the god of Time, as time destroys everything that is not eternal.
According to Hindu myths, Shiva had an experience that opened his third eye. There is a god named Kama who is the god of love and lust, and one day he hid behind a tree and shot an arrow at Shiva’s heart. Shiva felt the arrow, and the pain of love and lust, which opened his fiery third eye, and he responded by burning Kama to ashes. He wanted to destroy his own lust, and in the process, it opened an awareness beyond just the physical.
5 Interesting Facts about Lord Shiva the Destroyer
1) Shiva is known by 108 different names
Shiva has 108 different names, and each one describes a different part of who is he, and his role in the Hindu cosmology. Each name describes a different dimension of Shiva, including his good and bad characteristics. These 108 names generally fall into several categories, which describe Shiva as the great Godhead, a benevolent personal god, the hermit, the wise teacher of the Vedas, the fierce destroyer of the wicked, and the seducer of the romantic. You can view the entire list here.
2) Shiva devotees consume marijuana
Each year devotees of Shiva gather for Maha Shivratri, which celebrates the day Shiva saved the universe, as well as married his wife Parvati. The use of cannabis is a major feature in the celebration as the Sadhus, Indian holy men often with dreadlocks, as well as others, gather to celebrate, and smoke and drink marijuana.
The use of cannabis is rooted in the myth of Shiva using marijuana as the remedy to the potion he consumed. During the Samudra Manthan, a famous episode of Hindu mythology, the earth was shaken by gods and monsters. They were hoping that by shaking the earth they could get Amrita, a drink that would give them immortality. However, the shaking actually release a lethal poison, called Halahala, that was very dangerous to all creation.
Demonstrating why Shiva is the most powerful god, at this moment he drank the poison in order to project everyone. He was given the nickname Neelkanth, which means ‘blue throat’, and in order to soothe the pain of the poison, he was given a drink that had the seeds and leaves of cannabis in it.
3) Shiva has a trident weapon
Shiva’s weapon is a trident called ‘Trishool’, and is an important part of Shiva’s power, because he uses it to destroy the world. Shiva also used the trident to sever Ganesha’s head, replacing it with the head of an elephant. The Trishool is an important symbol in Hinduism in its own right, and because it destroys the troubles of the past, it is considered an auspicious symbol.
4) Shiva has a snake coiled around his neck
Around Shiva’s neck is coiled the snake, which is so rich in symbolism. On one level it represents the ego, which when poked at recoils. Having the snake is showing that his ego is not within him, rather he is separate from it. Also, Shiva is above earthly experiences such as the instinctual fear of dangerous wild animals, and sits in total comfort with the deadly serpent around his neck. By allowing the animal to coexist in his space, Shiva is demonstrating compassion, and teaching to live and let live. One of Shiva’s 108 names is Nageshwar, which means ‘lord of the snakes’.
5) Shiva has a crescent moon in his hair
The moon in Shiva’s hair is called Chandrama, which symbolizes the cycles and passing of time. Just as the moon waxes and wanes, the cycles of birth and death, and the ultimate destruction by Shiva, perpetuate.
One of the three principal deities, Shiva is the most powerful god because he is the destroyer, which removes the physical world and the ego, leaving only the eternal and making way for a new creation. His power comes from his third eye which is open, making him the god of time. Known by 108 different names which describes his many sides, he uses his trident weapon to destroy the world, has a crescent moon in his hair, representing time, and a snake around his neck to symbolize the ego.
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