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HINDUISM

SHIVA

"Om Namah Shivaye".

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Shiva (Sanskrit: Auspicious one), or Eashwara is one of the main Deities of Hinduism worshipped as the paramount lord by the saivites sects of india. Shiva is one of the most complex gods of india, employing seemingly contradictory qualities. He is the destroyer and the Restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the benevolent herdsman of souls and the wrathful avenger.
Shiva was originally known as Rudra, a minor deity, addressed only three times in the Rig Veda. He gained importance after absorbing some of the characteristics of an earlier Fertility god and became Shiva, part of the Trinity, or Trimurti with Vishnu and Brahma.
Shaivism or Saivism is one of the most popular Hindu cults. It embraces many theological practices although all agree on three principles: Pati, or God; Pasu, or individual soul; and Pasa, or bonds that comfine the soul to earthly existence. The main aim of Shaivites is to rid the souls of bondage and achieve 'Shivata', the nature of Shiva. They achieve this through ascetic practices and penances with an emphasis on Yoga and Renunciation. Many Shaivites become wandering Sadhus, or holy men. Shaivites mark their forehead with three horizontal marks representing the three aspects of Shiva.

Shaivite with Horizontal markings on his forehead
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He is symbolized by the wisdom of a serpent. Shiva is often worshipped in an abstract manner, as god without form, in the form of Linga. This view in someways similar to the view of god in semitic religions such as Islam and Judaism, which holds that God has no personal characteristics. Hindus on the other hand, believe that God can transcend all personal characteristics and yet can also have personal characterisitics for the grace of embodied devotee. Personal characteristics are way for the devotee to focus on God.
Shiva is often represented in Hindu tradition as immersed in a deep meditation, on mount Kailash (his abode) or on Nandi, the bull (his only mount). As Nadaraj, Shiva is the lord of the dance, and also symbolises the dance of the unverse or nature, with all of its delicately balanced heavenly bodies and natural laws which complement and balance each other. At times he is also said to be doing his great dance of Tandava, at the time of Paralaya, or dissolution of the universe at the end of every Kalpa.

SHIVA LINGAM
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