The Lord of Lords
Lord Shiva is one of the most powerful Gods in the Hindu religion and is the third member of the Hindu Trinity, the other two being Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva is associated with "Shakti" or Power.
Lord Shiva is regarded as one of the most complex Hindu deities and his shrine is generally placed separately from other deities in temples.
Shiva is also know by different names - Mahadeva, Nataraj, Kailash, Bholenath, Bhootnath, Pashupati, Bhairav, and Vishwanath. In temples Shiva is usually found as a phallic symbol of "Linga". The "Linga" is generally placed in the centre under a spire, where it symbolizes the naval of earth.
The image of Shiva is somewhat different from other deities as he has his hair piled up high on his head. A crescent is tucked in between his pile of hair and Ganges River is shown flowing out of his pile of hair (Jata). Sitting on a tiger skin, Lord Shiva has a serpent around his neck which represents spiritual energy within life. Holding a trident in his left hand with a "Damroo" bound to it and whole body smeared with ash, Lord Shiva gives an impression of a complicated character.
Lord Shiva is also regarded as the god of death and destruction. And as a mighty destructive power, he is fed with opium so as to numb his negative potential and is sometimes called "Bhole Shankar", referring to the fact he is not worried about the world.
The tasks of Lord Shiva are numerous. He cannot be presented in one form. He is also known as the lord of kindness and sympathy. His devotees are protected from wicked forces such as greed, anger and lust. Grace is bestowed and boon (something that is asked; a favor sought) is granted to his devotees thus awakening wisdom in them.
He is a great god and referred to as Lord of Lords as even the other gods are afraid of him and worship him, as they know that if Shiva gets angry he can destroy the whole universe but if he is pleased he can correct all irreparable conditions and is the supreme power.
Hinduism: An Overview of the Hindu Religion
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4 Central Beliefs: Karma
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