Lord Shiva (February 2005)
When we invoke Lord Shiva, we are reminded of His divine power (Shiv Shakti) of rewarding the good and destroying the evil. When we study Lord Shiva’s picture, we find that there is a message in each symbol that adorns the image.
1. The Water of the Ganges from the head has four messages for us.
a. It is very cold. Suggesting that we should always keep a cool countenance and not loose our temper.
b. Purity. This water is considered holy and pure because it never gets stale even after keeping for a long time. We must also practice purity of thoughts and never think ill of others.
c. Cleansing power. Water washes all uncleaned surfaces and leaves them clean and sparkling. We should direct our energies towards eradicating ignorance and spreading knowledge.
d. The Ganges is always flowing. River water is always flowing and does not stagnate like a pond. We must share our knowledge and wealth with others in society so that it remains fresh and useful.
2. Tilak on forehead. With three stripes and a third eye in the center. Third eye symbolizes the existence of rational vision in every individual. Whatever we see, hear or feel must be tested with the third eye (our intellect), and then only put into practice. The three stripes indicate the three main traits of human nature.
We should graduate ourselves from Tamoguni to Satoguni. Tamoguni is a state of inactivity and indolence. Rajoguni is a state of over activity and over ambitiousness. Satoguni is good for doer and good for society.
3. Mala. The mala around the neck reminds us of the bhakti (or devotion) to God. God is omnipresent; He is our creator, preserver and destroyer. We should try and adopt His virtues in our life. Bad deeds are normally done in secrecy. Once we realize that God is watching us all the time, we will be afraid of doing bad deeds.
4. The little drum (damroo) is suggestive of happiness. We should face life with a smile. Under all circumstances, be it prosperity or adversity. There is a lot to learn from adversity. It might be a result of our previous mistakes. And once we realize this, we will try to improve ourselves and become better human beings and be happy.
5. Snake around neck. Snakebite is associated with death and killing. All of our input come to our body through sever organs (or dwaras), namely, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and one mouth. The snake will destroy all the bad input that our intellect does not approve of and allows only the good ones to reach our heart.
6. Trishul. The tree prongs of trishul represent Saraswati, Durga and Lakshmi.
a. Saraswati stands for learning and knowledge
b. Durga represents strength
c. Lakshmi represents wealth
7. Ash on body. Ash reminds us of mortality of human. We must look after our body only as vehicle of our soul. We must not get too involved in worldly pleasure. Rather, soul elevation is very important.