Appearance of Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva is described as Brahman or Supreme Being who is in-charge destruction in the cyclical process of creation, protection, and destruction. Lord Shiva dissolves the Universe for the creation of new cycle giving an opportunity for the unliberated souls to liberate themselves from the Karma. He is a Lord of mercy and compassion protecting his devotees from greed & lust bestowing them with boons and wisdom.

Lord Shiva cannot be symbolized in form, the general perception for Lord Shiva’s appearance described in purana and various images. When a form is given to Lord Shiva, he is identified in:
  • The unclad body covered with ashes:
The unclad body symbolizes the transcendental aspect of the Lord. Since most things reduce to ashes when burned, ashes symbolize the physical universe. The ashes on the unclad body of the Lord signify that Shiva is the source of the entire universe which emanates from Him, but He transcends the physical phenomena and is not affected by it.
  • Matted Locks:
Lord Shiva is the Master of yoga. The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.
Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudra also means "strict or uncompromising" and aksha means "eye." Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He uses His cosmic laws firmly - without compromise - to maintain law and order in the universe. The necklace has 108 beads which symbolize the elements used in the creation of the world.
  • Ganga :
Ganga (river Ganges) is associated with Hindu mythology and is the most sacred river of Hindus. According to tradition, one who bathes in Ganga (revered as Mother Ganga) in accordance with traditional rites and ceremonies on religious occasions in combination with certain astrological events, is freed from sin and attains knowledge, purity and peace. Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground, signifies that the Lord destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge, purity and peace on the devotees.
  • The Crescent Moon:
Crescent moon is shown on the side of the Lord's head as an ornament, and not as an integral part of His countenance. The waxing and waning phenomenon of the moon symbolizes the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. Since the Lord is the Eternal Reality, He is beyond time. Thus, the crescent moon is only one of His ornaments, and not an integral part of Him.
  • Three eyes:
Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva (literally, "three-eyed Lord"), is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye, the moon the left eye and fire the third eye. The two eyes on the right and left indicate His activity in the physical world. The third eye in the center of the forehead symbolizes spiritual knowledge and power, and is thus called the eye of wisdom or knowledge. Like fire, the powerful gaze of Shiva's third eye annihilates evil, and thus the evil-doers fear His third eye.
  • Half-opened eyes:
When the Lord opens His eyes, a new cycle of creation emerges and when He closes them, the universe dissolves for creation of the next cycle. The half-open eyes convey the idea that creation is going through cyclic process, with no beginning and no end. Lord Shiva is the Master of Yoga, as He uses His yogic power to project the universe from Himself. The half-open eyes also symbolize His yogic posture.
  • Kundalas (two ear rings):
Two Kundalas, Alakshya (meaning "which cannot be shown by any sign") and Niranjan (meaning "which cannot be seen by mortal eyes") in the ears of the Lord signify that He is beyond ordinary perception. Since the Kundalain the left ear of the Lord is of the type used by women and the one in His right ear is of the type used by men, these Kundalas also symbolize the Shiva and Shakti (male and female) principle of creation.
  • A snake (Vasuki Naga):
Is shown curled three times around the neck of the Lord and is looking towards His right side. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future - time in cycles. The Lord wearing the curled snake like an ornament signifies that creation proceeds in cycles and is time dependent, but the Lord Himself transcends time. The right side of the body symbolizes the human activities based upon knowledge, reason and logic. The snake looking towards the right side of the Lord signifies that the Lord's eternal laws of reason and justice preserve natural order in the universe.
  • Var Mudra:
The Lord's right hand is shown in a boon- bestowing and blessing pose. As stated earlier, Lord Shiva annihilates evil, grants boons, bestows grace, destroys ignorance, and awakens wisdom in His devotees
  • Trident (Trisul) :
A three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti) of Will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana). The trident also symbolizes the Lord's power to destroy evil and ignorance.
  • Damaru (drum):
A small drum with two sides separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest. When a damaru is vibrated, it produces dissimilar sounds which are fused together by resonance to create one sound. The sound thus produced symbolizes Nada, the cosmic sound of AUM, which can be heard during deep meditation. According to Hindu scriptures, Nada is the source of creation.
  • Kamandalam:
A water pot (Kamandalam) made from a dry pumpkin contains nectar and is shown on the ground in front of (centre) Shiva. The process of making Kamandalam has deep spiritual significance. A ripe pumpkin is plucked from a plant, its fruit is removed and the shell is cleaned for containing the nectar. In the same way, an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean his inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self, symbolized by the nectar in the Kamandalam.
  • Nandi:
The holy Bull: is associated with Shiva and is said to be His vehicle. The bull symbolizes both power and ignorance. Lord Shiva's use of the bull as a vehicle conveys the idea that He removes ignorance and bestows power of wisdom on His devotees. The bull is called Vrisha in Sanskrit. Vrisha also means dharma (righteousness). Thus a bull shown next to Shiva also indicates that He is the etemal companion of righteousness.
  • Tiger skin:
A tiger skin symbolizes potential energy. Lord Shiva, sitting on or wearing a tiger skin, illustrates the idea that He is the source of the creative energy that remains in potential form during the dissolution state of the universe. Of His own Divine Will, the Lord activates the potential form of the creative energy to project the universe in endless cycles.
  • Cremation Ground:
Shiva is sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world. Since birth and death are cyclic, controlling one implies controlling the other. Thus, Lord Shiva is revered as the ultimate controller of birth and death in the phenomenal world.

The Lingarupam of Lord Shiva is in 32 known types:

S. No
Type of Lingam
Lingam Property/Material
Quality of Lingam & Healing powers
Ashtaloga Lingam
Ahsta – Eight, in Hindi; It is made of Eight Metals
Cures Leprosy
Vaidoorya Lingam
Made of precious stone called Vaidooryam(Chrysoberyl / Cat’s Eyes in English; Lehsunia in Hindi) – Lapi
Protects the adorer from enemy’s arrogance
Spatika Lingam
Fulfillment of one’s wishes
Padarasa Lingam
Padarasa/Padarasam(in Tamil) – Mercury
Blessed with inestimable fortune
Trapu Lingam
Tagaram metal
Makes one’s life free from enemies
Ahasa Lingam
Vitriol of Suphate
Relieves one from the menace of enemies
Seesa Lingam
Makes the adorer invulnerable to the foes
Ashtadhatu Lingam
eight dhatu (metals) – Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc, Lead, Tin, Iron, Mercury
Adorer attains  Sarvasiddhi (all super natural powers)
Navaneetha Lingam
Pure Butter
Adorer confered to fame and wealth
Durvakadaja Lingam or Garika Lingam
A kind of grass called Agrostis Linearis,
Protects the adorer from accidental death
Karpura Lingam
Grants the  adorer with liberation
Avskanta Lingam
confers Siddhi - super natural powers
Mouktika Lingam
Ashes obtained by burning pearls
Confers auspiciousness and fortune
Suvarna Lingam
confers Mukti - deliverance of Soul from body
Rajita Lingam
Confers fortune.
Pittala Linam or Kamsya Lingam
Brass and Bell metal
Confers the release of soul from body.
Bhasma Lingam
Bhasma means Ash
Worshipper avails desirable merits
Guda Lingam or Sita Lingam
Jaggery or sugar
Worshipper is conferred with  blissful life that is as sweet as Jaggery
Vamsankura Lingam
Tender bamboo Leaves
Confers a long line of genealogy
Pishta Lingam
Rice and Flour
Blessed with Education
Dahdhidhughda Lingam
Milk and Curd on separating the entire quantity of water
Blessed with prosperity and happiness
Dhanya Lingam
Dhanyam means grains
Blessed with abundance of grain production
Phala Lingam
Blessed with abundance of fruit production
Dhatri Lingam
Amla (Phyllanthus emblica)
Bestowed with liberation
Gandha Lingam
Chandanam (sandal wood paste), three parts of Kumkumam and two parts of musk
Blessed with Shivasayujyamukti  - merging Jeevatma with Paramatma when one is consciousness. The cycle of birth and death comes to an end
Pushpa Lingam
various kinds of fresh, fragrant, multi-coloured flowers
Adorer blessed with kingship and acquisition of land
Gosakru Lingam
dung of brown coloured cow
Adorer will be blessed with wealth, if he worships that Lingam.
Valuka Lingam
Fine sand
Confers the status of Vidhyakara, belonging to one of the denominations of worshipful angels, besides Shiva Sayujya Prapti.
Sitakhanda Lingam
Sugar candy
Blesses the adorer with robust health and disease free easy life
Lavana Lingam
Salt mixed with the powder of Hartal and Trikatukala
Blesses the adorer with Vasikaranasakti  -- the power that subdues other with the help of spells and charms.
Tilapista Lingam
Paste of Gingely seeds
If worshipped, the desires of the adorer are fulfilled
Yavagodhumasali Lingam
rice, maize and wheat flour
Confers Sntana Prapti (blessing of child) in addition to wealth



Deva raja sevya mana pavangri pankajam,
Vyala yagna suthra mindu shekaram krupakaram,
Naradadhi yogi vrundha vandhitham digambaram,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 1

Bhanu koti bhaswaram, bhavabdhi tharakam param,
Neelakanda meepsidartha dayakam trilochanam,
Kalakala mambujaksha maksha soola maksharam,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 2

Soola tanga pasa danda pani madhi karanam,
Syama kaya madhi devamaksharam niramayam,
Bheema vikramam prabhum vichithra thandava priyam,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 3

Bhukthi mukthi dayakam prasashtha charu vigraham,
Bhaktha vatsalam shivam* , samastha loka vigraham,
Vinikwanan manogna hema kinkini lasath kateem,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 4

Dharma sethu palakam, thwa dharma marga nasakam,
Karma pasa mochakam , susharma dayakam vibhum,
Swarna varna sesha pasa shobithanga mandalam,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 5

Rathna padukha prabhabhirama padayugmakam,
Nithyamadwidheeyamishta daivatham niranjanam,
Mrutyu darpa nasanam karaladamshtra mokshanam,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 6

Attahasa binna padma janda kosa santhatheem,
Drushti pada nashta papa jala mugra sasanam,
Ashtasidhi dayakam kapala malikadaram,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 7

Bhootha sanga nayakam, vishala keerthi dayakam,
Kasi vasa loka punya papa shodhakam vibum,
Neethi marga kovidham purathanam jagatpathim,
Kasika puradhi nadha Kalabhairavam bhaje. 8

Kalabhairavashtakam patanthi yea manoharam,
Jnana mukthi sadhanam , vichithra punya vardhanam,
Soka moha dainya lopa kopa thapa nasanam,
Thea prayanthi Kalabhairavangri saniidhim druvam. 9

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