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Tattoo designs - S >> Shiva

Lord ShivaShiva Hindu Tattoos - The Hindu Trinity places Lord Shiva after Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. In the divine scheme of things, first comes creation, then preservation, followed by destruction, and for this reason Shiva is known as the 'destroyer'. Yet of the three Hindu Lords, Shiva is also considered, 'the good one', since his destruction targets evil and sorrow. In fact, Shiva is usually represented as smiling, the very manifestation of tranquility and benevolence.

Shiva's role in the triumvirate is to destroy a disharmonious universe in order that it may be created anew, what one school of psychology refers to as 'positive disintegration'. As the source of both good and evil, he must necessarily combine contradictory elements, confusing many Westerners about his cosmic role. Existence hangs in the creative balance between the forces of good and evil, a precarious situation that may become irreparably dysfunctional, at which point Lord Shiva dissolves the universe to protect billions of souls from the pain and suffering. In a similar cycle of death and rebirth, spring follows winter, just as the dawn is impossible without the night.

Seen in this light, Shiva is the Lord of mercy and compassion. He protects us from the forces of lust, greed, and anger, but also bestows grace and awakens wisdom in his devotees. With such a cosmic workload, no single image can fully convey what Shiva symbolizes. White-skinned but with a dark-blue throat, Shiva has several arms and three eyes. He carries a trident and rides a white bull. His unclad body covered with ashes suggests 'ashes to ashes…' and symbolizes the physical universe by which he is not affected.

Of Lord Shiva's three eyes, the sun emanates from the right, the moon from the left, while fire resides in the third. Open eyes indicate a new cycle of creation, closed eyes mark the universe's dark night awaiting the next cycle, while half-open eyes convey the notion that creation is indeed a cyclic process with no beginning or end. In another sense, infinity. The gaze from this third eye symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is potent enough to annihilate evil. It's also the source of an untamed energy that leads him to extremes - sometimes the ascetic, at other times the hedonist. He can thank his eternal wife, Parvati, for encouraging this deity's all-important sense of balance.

Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Parvati

Parvati is the Mother-goddess, who appears always at the side of Shiva, and speaks of a relationship that enjoys a rare balance of power. Since one is rarely depicted without the other, Hindus see this duo as the perfect example of marital bliss. In fact, Shiva is sometimes shown as half man, half woman.

Shiva is often called 'the Lord of Dance', since the rhythm of dance is such an apt metaphor for the cosmic balance which Shiva is believed to maintain so well.

Shiva's two ear rings ('Kundalas'), one in the style worn by women, and the other a type used by men, symbolize the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation. The snake, coiled three times around Shiva's neck suggests his yogic power. A snake, like a true yogi, manages without spending energy on hoarding or home-building, and survives for lengthy periods in seclusion living on breath alone. The three coils signify past, present and future, and his right-looking orientation is meant to indicate Shiva's eternal laws and justice that preserve order in the universe.

Also around his neck is a necklace with 108 beads, standing for the elements brought together in the creation of the world.

Shiva family with lingaThe trident (or Trisula) is a three-pronged staff symbolizing not only the Hindu triumvirate, but Lord Shiva's three fundamental powers of will, action, and knowledge - Iccha, Kriya, and Jnana. The trident also symbolizes the power to destroy evil and ignorance.

Shiva is also represented by Shiva linga, a phallic statue representing raw masculine power, or seed of the universe, an obvious symbol of Shiva's powers of creation. Shiva worshippers celebrate Mahashivratri, a festival at which the venerated Shiva linga is bathed in water, milk and honey.

Hindus believe that Shiva's powers of destruction and recreation are in play even now, preparing to destroy the illusions and imperfections of this world, paving the way for beneficial change.

Shiva Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!The Elephanta Caves near Mumbai contain a famous portrayal in stone of the five faces of Shiva.

Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Shiva Inspiration Gallery

See also: Religious Tattoos, Brahma, Vishnu, Nandi, Ganesha, Kali, Hanuman, Krishna, Lingam, Trishula, Religious Tattoo Index, Hindu Tattoos

Tattoo designs - S >> Shiva

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