Shiva. Mahadev. Nataraj. Nilkanth. The god of valour, temper , creation and destruction. The most iconoclastic Indian God ever. Clad in ashes and tiger robe, he sits high in the Himalayas, in the sublime company of his companion, Parvati.
It is said that among the holy trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, Shiva is considered to be supreme. The legend goes that when Brahma and Vishnu were arguing amongst themselves over each other’s supremacy , Shiva arrived in the form of a huge column of fire. Vishnu took the form of a boar to probe the depths of the column of fire, whereas Brahma took the form of a swan to seek the high skies, to find the height of the column. But neither could find either end. It was then that Shiva appeared in his royal avatar out of the ‘lingam’ and stated that he was the progenitor of them both and that henceforth he should be worshiped in his phallic form, the ‘lingam’, and the other two were compelled to concede that he was , indeed, the supreme one among the trinity.
Shiva is worshipped primarily in the form of the phallus, the Shiva Lingam, thus unique among the Indian Gods to be worshipped in a sexual form. The Shiva Lingam is taken to be the bedrock of fertility, and the uninhibited worship of the lingam even by women, points to the hugely popular status of Shiva.
The Nandi bull, carrier of Shiva, signifies strength, load bearing capacity and virility. The legend goes that Surabhi, the mother of all cows started giving birth to a lot of cows, and the cows started flooding Kailash, the abode of Shiva, with their milk. Furious at this, Shiva used his third eye and destroyed many of them. To calm him down, the Gods sought to offer Nandi the magnificent bull to Lord Shiva. Nandi is widely worshipped across the country, especially in South India.
These pictures were taken at the local temple at Bariatu. The Shiva Lingam holds centre stage here, with the other Gods such as Ganapati, Bajrangbali and others, assembled around Him.
Salutations to the God of Gods, Shiva Mahadev. May he keep all of us in happiness and prosperity.