Photographer's Note

In India GOD Shiva is worshipped in form of Shivlinga or as an idol. There are around 30 million Linga in temples in India, famous one formed of Ice at Amarnath, Somnath in Gujarat and it is said Shiva sleeps in all Lingas in Chaturmasya and so if one worships the Shivlinga this time, than it is very auspicious. I found this shivlinga inside a narrow lane of varanasi. I am attracted by the bright red as background.

About GOD SHIVA: Shiva literally means "auspiciousness, welfare". He is the third god of the Hindu Triad and is the destroyer of all evil. He represents darkness (tamas), and is said to be the 'angry god'. However, according to Hinduism, creation follows destruction. Therefore Shiva is also regarded as a reproductive power, who restores what has been dissolved. As one who restores, he is represented as the linga, a symbol of regeneration. He has a 1,008 names, including Mahadeva (the great god), Mahesh, Rudra, Neelkantha (the blue-throated one), and Ishwar (the supreme god). He is also called Mahayogi, or the great ascetic, who symbolises the highest form of austere penance and abstract meditation, which results in salvation Shiva is believed to exist in many forms. His most common depiction is as a dark-skinned ascetic with a blue throat. Usually seated cross-legged on a tiger skin, Shivahis hair is matted and coiled on his head, adorned with a snake and a crescent moon. Ganga is always depicted flowing out of his topknot. Shiva has four arms and three eyes. A garland of skulls, rudraksha beads, or a snake hang from his neck. Shiva also wears snakes as armlets and bracelets. The serpent race, despised and feared by all other creatures, found a place of honour on Shiva's sacred person, simply because he was moved by their plight. In one hand, Shiva holds his trishul, the Pinaka. The trishul usually has a damaru or waisted drum tied to it. In another hand, he holds a conch shell, and in the third, a rudraksha rosary, a club, or a bow. One hand is usually empty, raised in a gesture of blessing and protection. The other points to his feet, where the devotee is assured of salvation. He wears a tiger or leopard skin around his waist, and his upper body is usually bare, but smeared with ashes, as befits an ascetic. His third eye is believed to have appeared when Parvati, in a playful mood, covered his eyes with her hands. Immediately, the universe was plunged into darkness and there w?s chaos. To restore order, Shiva formed another eye on his forehead, from which emerged fire to restore light. The light from this eye is believed to be very powerful, and therefore destructive. Shiva opens his third eye only in anger, and the offender is burnt to cinders. According to the Shiva Purana, Shiva is said to have five faces, corresponding to his five tasks, the panchakriya: creation, establishment, destruction, oblivion, and grace. His five faces are associated with the creation of the sacred syllable Om.

Shiva resides on Mt. Kailash on Himalayas.His vehicle is Nandi and his weapon is Trishul. Parvati is said to be Shiva's wife and his two sons are known as Kartikeya and Ganesh. Shiva is worshipped in form of Shivlinga or as an idol. Flowers are offered to him and Bel leaves, milk, and sandalwood paste are also pleasing to him. There are many stories in the Puranas about the origin of Shiva. According to the Vishnu Purana, at the beginning, Brahma wanted a child and meditated for one. Presently, a child appeared on his lap and started crying. When asked by Brahma why he was crying, the child replied that it was because he did not have a name. Brahma then named him Rudra, meaning "howler". However the child cried seven more times and was given seven more names. Shiva therefore has eight forms: Rudra, Sharva, Bhava, Ugra, Bhima, Pashupati, Ishana, and Mahadeva, which, according to the Shiva Purana, correspond to the earth, water, fire, wind, sky, a yogi called Kshetragya, the sun, and the moon respectively. During the samudra manthan, when Shiva poison was churned out of the ocean, Shiva is said to have swallowed it to save the world from destruction. As he drank the poison, Parvati clasped his throat tightly so that the poison remained there and darkened his neck. Because of this, he is known as Neelkantha, the blue-necked one. Shiva granted a peculiar boon to a demon called Bhasmasura, who wished that if he placed his hand on anyone’s head, that person would turn to ashes. No sooner was his wish granted than he menaced Shiva himself, who took to his heels and was saved by Vishnu, in the form of Mohini, the enchantress Induced by Mohini to join her dance, the demon soon killed himself by placing his hand his own head. Shiva and Mohini combined their energies and produced Hari-hara putra (Vishnu-Shiva’s son). It is also said that once, Brahma and Vishnu were discussing who was the supreme god and then when they came to know from Veda that Shiva is the supreme being, Brahma ignored and spoke bad about Shiva. He got angry and cut off Brahma's head that spoke ill of him, leaving Brahma with four heads instead of five.Shiva is the creator of Dance and of the first 16 rythemic syllabus ever uttered, the Sanskrit language was born. Dance of anger is known as Tandav Nritya, joy as Ananda nritya. Thus, Shiva is also known as Natraja, lord of dance and it is said that on 13th day of each bright lunar fortnight of Hindu calendar, after 6 in the evening, falls a sacred hour called Pradosha and if you worship this time than one gets powers of Universe. It is believed that all Gods gather to witness the dance of Natraja, Shiva.There are around 30 million Linga in temples in India, famous one formed of Ice at Amarnath, Somnath in Gujarat and it is said Shiva sleeps in all Lingas in Chaturmasya and so if one worships the Shivlinga this time, than it is very auspicious. Going for Pilgrimage to all 12 Jyotirlinga means one washes away the sins of last seven births and also reciting the mantras purifies the soul and can attain peacefulness.

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Additional Photos by Partha Pal (partha) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1318 W: 85 N: 1306] (14023)
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