The Reluctant Family Man-Roles of Shiva

The Reluctant Family Man-Roles of Shiva
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Hindu mythology is humungous to the point of sometimes being unwieldy, partly because of certain unique traits it possesses. Layer upon layer of history seems to have got assimilated in myths, which preserve traditions.

This gives birth to outstandingly curious and fascinating stories, which are constantly getting revamped. Since very little seems to get discarded, the result is a large storehouse of myths. The same myth may also have different versions geographically, with each region tossing out its own version of a story.

This gives birth to outstandingly curious and fascinating stories, which are constantly getting revamped. Since very little seems to get discarded, the result is a large storehouse of myths. The same myth may also have different versions geographically, with each region tossing out its own version of a story.

  1. Shiva is the only major god known to be an ascetic. Therefore, he is not just a yogi but a Mahayogi. He has opted out; no mores apply to him as he leads the solitary and contemplative life.
  2. Shiva is very often referred to as the ‘Destroyer’. It is mostly what can be called ‘constructive destruction’. However Shiva’s anger and wrath is feared not only by humans but also be gods. His wrath can destroy the universe and burn it to ashes.
  3. Shiva is also called ‘Mahamrityunjaya-the conquerer of death’. It is a reference and association to his power.
  4. Shiva is also considered to be the lord of the cremation ground; this is amply demonstrated by the large murals and sculptures of him at most crematoriums.
  5. Shiva is Nagbhushan, the one who has serpents as ornaments. This association shows Shiva’s power over dangerous creatures, most of all poisonous cobras. He ‘wears’ snakes as armbands and necklaces. He does not fear them.
  6. Shiva epitomizes balance in his life choices, because not only is he Mahayogi, an ascetic, he is also Shankara, the beneficent married one. He balances two opposites.
  7. Shiva is a householder—a loved and cherished husband and a much-admired father. Shiva does not abstain from the pleasures of the body or from the bliss of family. He is sarvabhogin, that is, one who enjoys all pleasures.
  8. In his role as Dakshinamurti,  Shiva is the guru, imparting the knowledge of yoga, the shastras and music, among other things. Most importantly, he is teaching ultimate knowledge, that is, supreme awareness.
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