Shiva Symbols and its relevance

Na tasya pratima asti

(There is no image of Him)

Shiva is formless. He is in everything, and everything is Him. He is happy irrespective of the form we assign to Him, but there is no single form that defines Shiva.

However, since the beginning of the Vedic period, many different symbols have been associated with Shiva so that whenever you see them, you are immediately reminded of our Supreme Lord. Here is a look at all the symbols that are attached to Him-

1. The Moon Crescent

Perhaps one of the most significant symbols of Shiva, the crescent moon signifies His control over time with respect to nature. The waxing and waning of the moon denote the passage of time, and the fact that Shiva adorns the symbol means that He alone has control over nature, and He alone is eternal. The other significance of the moon symbol is that it denotes the power of the mind to express and to understand. That is the reason why the moon always sits on Shiva’s head, highlighting the power of his great Yogi mind.

2. The Damru

Shiva’s Damru symbolizes the constant expansion and collapse of the universe, thus signifying the process of creation by the Supreme Lord. If you take a close look at the shape of the Damru, you will see how it expands towards the edges, and as it moves to the centre, collapses again only to start expanding once more. Everything in the cosmos is a rhythm that keeps going up and down, and that non-dual nature of the universe is depicted through His damru.

3. The Third Eye

The third eye of Shiva is another hugely relevant symbol, which signifies the opening up of another perception or view point. If we want our perception and realization to evolve it is imperative that our energy has to also constantly enhance and evolve. In terms of Shiva, whenever his perception evolves further, his third eye opens up, signifying the evolution and refinement of his energies. The third eye helps all of us see beyond the general way of life, and opens our mind to realities that go beyond the dualities of this life.

4. The Serpent

We have all seen how the snake coils three rounds on His neck, and those coils represent time in its most accurate form – the past, the present and the future. The fact that the snake is coiled depicts the cyclic nature of time, and how Shiva is immune to the wrath of time. The coils preserve the order of life, and are meant to guide us towards a higher awareness of the concept of natural justice.

5. The Trishul

Shiva’s trishul is one that has always been feared, yet it symbolizes a much deeper meaning that is perceived. The three prongs in the spear of Shiva represent His three fundamental powers – will, action, and knowledge. As a symbol of something that can destroy, the spear annihilates evil and ignorance from the world. Another way of looking at this symbol is that Shiva punishes evil doers in three planes – spiritual, subtle and physical.

6. Nandi

The much-revered Nandi depicts the meditative virtue that our Lord has. Known as a symbol of eternal waiting, the greatest virtue that one can possess, Nandi patiently waits for Shiva. When you pray to Him or meditate, you don’t expect Him to show up. You simply sit there and pray. You talk to Him through prayer, and you listen to Him through meditation. And that is what Nandi signifies.

7. The Shiva Lingam

The Shivaling, also known as Shiva Lingam, represents Shiva (and Shakti, His feminine principle) in all conceivable forms. The Shiva Lingam denotes the purity of the Lord, and his union with Shakti who is inseparable from Him. Together, the lingam and the yoni symbolize the totality of our existence. The worship of the Shiva Lingam is also one of the prominent practices in our Shaivism.