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Four distinct characters of Shiva


Lord ShivaLord Shiva has at least four distinctive characters, and each of which it has a female (active energizing counterpart), Shakti.

As Shiva, Sada-Siva, Shankara or Shambhu:
• Lord Shiva is the immortally blessed one and is the basis of blessings.
• Lord Shiva is the everlasting reproducing power of universe, continually restoring and reproducing itself after dissolution, under which Shiva is often identified with the eternal creative essence, the great eternal Supreme Being as Maha-Deva or the Supreme Lord termed Ishwara.
• He is characterized by the Lingam and the Yoni combined. Temples hold this symbol, which is a double form to express the unification of the male and female principles in creation, and are possibly the most used symbol in temples of India.
• Shiva and his consort Jagan-Matri (Mother of the universe) are the Supreme creative powers and are universally worshipped throughout India.

As Maha-Yogi:
• Shiva is the supreme Yogi or Tapasvi, who attained highest excellence in meditation and austerity.
• He looks like an austere and naked ascetic (Digambara) with his body covered in ashes and matted hair (dhurjati), and fixed in one spot (sthanu).
• Shiva shows men by his own life the power to be developed by abandonment, control of desires, and abstract meditation as leading to the highest spiritual understanding. In this aspect of the reproducer, He is also called the Blessed one.
• He lives in the Himalaya Mountains with his consort Parvati, and often dances the Tandava dance with her and is surrounded by his dwarfish troops (gana). He is worshipped by Tantrikas.



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As Rudra or Mahakala:
• Shiva is the "ending" or dissolving authority of the universe when he is either an embodiment of all matter resolving itself into its essential origins or of Kala (Time), the great dissolver.
• As the dissolver of nature, He is the dreadful destroyer (Bhairav), with His consort Kali involved in an active role.
• As a Rudra or Mahakala, He is also known as Bhuteswara, or the Lord of spirits or demons, haunting cemeteries as well as burial lands, wearing snake for garlands, and a string of skulls for a necklace.
• As Bhuteswara, He is surrounded by imps and spirits (bhuta), and trampling rebellious demons who have acquired great power. We may notice that in every one of his forms, His consort is not only His counterpart, but usually characterizes an intensification of his powers.
The Siva Linga represents the combination of the male and female doctrines in creation. This Supreme creative power is venerated throughout India under the name of Siva and Jagan-Matri, the mother of the universe. These have been centralized in Shiva and His consort personified as half male and half female known as Ardhanarishwara (signifying the unification of spirit and matter).

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