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Lord Shiva: Facts Vs Fiction

Most people are aware that Lord Shiva is the destroyer of the Hindu trinity. But do you know that is just the most simplistic representation of Lord Shiva? Lord Shiva is much more than that. Let’s discuss and find out what is Lord Shiva and what does he represent?

The first mention of Shiva comes in Vedas. It is used as an attribute of the supreme consciousness usually called Brahman in English literature but in reality, means Brahm (ब्रह्मः). Shiva means the one who is Omnibenevolent i.e. it is good-willing for every being and wants the best for everyone. It has done the creation for the well-being or welfare of atman.

Vedas’ understanding is quite deep (suksham) when compared to superficial (sathul) understanding of Puranic literature. But both of them have their place.

In case of Vedas, treat things as Verb rather than noun

But due to the anthropomorphic nature of Puranic literature, it attaches human characters to the attributes and natural forces it describes. Slowly more and more stories get added and now we have a complete deity with its own attributes and characters. In literature, this is known as sathul representation meaning something very superfluous, without depth.

With the advent of Puranic literature, Hinduism went on to become more and more sathul or superfluous. This gave rise to more and more misunderstandings.

इंद्रं॑ मि॒त्रं वरु॑णम॒ग्निमा॑हु॒रथो॑ दि॒व्यः स सु॑प॒र्णो ग॒रुत्मा॑न् ।

एकं॒ सद्विप्रा॑ बहु॒धा व॑दंत्य॒ग्निं य॒मं मा॑त॒रिश्वा॑नमाहुः ॥ ४६ ॥

(भाष्यम) जैसे अग्न्यादि पदार्थों के इन्द्र आदि नाम हैं वैसे एक परमात्मा के अग्नि आदि सहस्रों नाम वर्त्तमान हैं । जितने परमेश्वर के गुण, कर्म, स्वभाव हैं उतने ही इस परमात्मा के नाम हैं, यह जानना चाहिये

They called him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni; and he is heavenly Garuda, who has beautiful wings. The truth is one, but the sages (or learned ones) call it by many names or describe him in many ways; they called him Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

Mandala 01 | Sukta. 164 | Rik 46

Shiva in Vedas & Puranas

PropertiesShiva in VedasLord Shiva in Puranas
Who’s he?One of the names of the BrahamanName of a deity
OmnipresentYesNo
OmnipotentYes, but not unlimitedNo, his powers are divided
OmnibenevolentYesNo
Where does he live?EverywhereLocalized, Kailash
Shiva of Vedas & Lord Shiva of Puranas

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Frequently Asked Questions

People ask all sorts of questions about Lord Shiva without understanding who really Lord Shiva is. Let us answer some of the questions about Lord Shiva.

Who is the mother and father of Lord Shiva?

As discussed above, Shiva means “the auspicious one” and it is one of the names of supreme consciousness or Ishwara but Puranic literature has given him human qualities and treated him as a completely different entity. So there is no question of having a father and mother.

The above-mentioned logic is not invented by us. But it is a critical examination of different stories in various Puranas. These things can be understood from the fact that stories vary from place to place to suit the topic of discussion.

But on the basis of different Puran different stories are given. Let’s discuss some of them one by one:

Shiva Puran: He is called swayambhu meaning the one who exists on its own.

Vishnu Puran: He is said to be born from the forehead of Lord Brahma. This is a wrong translation because he is said to be manas Putra, which means the mind-born son of Lord Brahma.

But in the case of other Purans, different stories of his origin are given depending on the suitability of the main topic of the Puran.

How did Lord Shiva die?

If you clearly understand the meaning and concept of Lord Shiva. Then it will be natural for you to know the answer to this question because Lord Shiva can not die. No one can kill him.

Where is lord shiva now?

Mount Kailash, a high peak in Kailash Range, is considered sacred in Hinduism as it is the abode of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva resided at Mount Kailash along with his consort Goddess Parvati and their children, Lord Ganesh and Lord Kartikeya. Mount Kailash is located in Tibet Autonomous Region, China.

Does Lord Shiva still reside on Mt. Kailash?

This question is related to the stories

Where does Lord Shiva live?

Lord Shiva even though depicted in human form, in reality, is a concept or attribute of the supreme consciousness which Vedas call by different names like Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu, etc. So if we are talking about that, he is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient.

Where is Lord Shiva in Kaliyuga?

Lord Shiva is everywhere because he is not bound by time. So whether it is Kaliyuga, Satyuga, or any other Yuga. He will be everywhere. Shiva is one of the names of supreme consciousness which Vedas call by different names “ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti”

When did Shiva exist on Earth?

Shaivites hold the belief that Shiva is the supreme god and does not depend on the Trimurti to complete the cycle of the universe. This sect formed over 8,000 years ago, at a time that even predates the Vedic time period. (source: emory.edu)

Who is greater Vishnu or Shiva?

In Hindu scriptures, there are 18 Puranas – each dedicated to a particular name for God – and each establishes that name as supreme. The Shiva Purana establishes Lord Shiva as the greatest. The Vishnu Purana establishes Lord Vishnu as the greatest. The Shrimad Bhagavad Purana establishes Lord Krishna as the greatest. (source: simmons.edu)

Is Shiva the most powerful God?

Yes Lord Shiva is the most powerful God in the current Hindu pantheon. He is part of the trinity that sustains life. Lord Shiva can be considered 1/3rd of the trinity.

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