Who is Shiva?

The Origins of Shiva

Rudra is an earlier aspect of the deity known as Shiva.

रुद्र  (rudra)

  1. ‘Roarer or Howler’.
  2. Name of the god of tempests and father and ruler of the रुद्रs and मरुत्s (in the वेद he is closely connected with इन्द्र and still more with अग्नि, the god of fire, which, as a destroying agent, rages and crackles like the roaring storm, and also with काल or Time the all-consumer, with whom he is afterwards identified ; though generally represented as a destroying deity, whose terrible shafts bring death or disease on men and cattle, he has also the epithet शिव, ‘benevolent’ or ‘auspicious’, and is even supposed to possess healing powers from his chasing away vapours and purifying the atmosphere…
  • Monier William’s Sanskrit-English Dictionary, 2nd Ed. 1899

Who is Shiva?
Shiva is a complex character.

Shiva (or Siva) is one of the most important gods in the Hindu pantheon and, along with Brahma and Vishnu, is considered a member of the holy trinity (trimurti) of Hinduism. He may represent goodness, benevolence and serve as the Protector but he also has a darker side as the leader of evil spirits, ghosts and vampires and as the master of thieves, villains and beggars. He is also associated with Time, and particularly as the destroyer of all things. Nevertheless, Shiva is also associated with creation. In Hinduism, the universe is thought to regenerate in cycles (every 2,160,000,000 years). Shiva destroys the universe at the end of each cycle which then allows for a new Creation. Shiva is also the great ascetic, abstaining from all forms of indulgence and pleasure, concentrating rather on meditation as a means to find perfect happiness. He is the most important Hindu god for the Shaivism sect, the patron of Yogis and Brahmins, and also the protector of the Vedas, the sacred texts.

Cartwright, M. (2018, May 10). Shiva. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/shiva/

In Asian art Shiva may be represented in slightly different ways depending on the particular culture: Indian, Cambodian, Javanese etc. but he is most commonly depicted naked, with multiple arms and with his hair tied up in a topknot.

With the thirst, the longing for God, comes real devotion, real Bhakti. Who has the longing? That is the question. Religion is not in doctrines, in dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation; it is being and becoming, it is realization.


It is in love that religion exists and not in ceremony, in the pure and sincere love in the heart. Unless a man is pure in body and mind, his coming into a temple and worshipping Shiva is useless…


Sattvic Diet

Diet is an important part of yoga.

“Brahmchari mitahari tyagi yogprayanah

Abdadurdhavam bhavet sidhau natra karya vicharna”   

(Hathapradipika – 1/57)

A person who is a devout practitioner of yoga, practices continence, Yogic diet (Mitahara) and renunciation attains success in one year or little more; there is no scope of doubt in this statement.

“Yuktaahaarviharasya yuktachestasya karmasu

Yuktaswapnavbodhasya yogo bhavatidukhah”

(Srimad Bhagvad Gita- 6/17)

He whose food and enjoyment are balanced, whose movements in actions are balanced, whose sleeping and waking is balanced, his yoga becomes eliminator of sorrows.


“I am the Supreme Brahman! I am the Lord of the universe! Such is the settled conviction of the muktas. All other experiences lead to bondage. When the Self is clearly realized not to be the body, the realizer gains peace and becomes free from all desires.”


“That which is neither conscious nor unconscious, which is invisible, impalpable, indefinable, unthinkable, unnameable, whose very essence consists of the experience of its own self, which absorbs all diversity, is tranquil and benign, without a second, which is what they call the fourth state—that is the ātman. This it is which should be known.”


“The Supreme Lord is not two. To me belongs the glory of meditating that I, His devoted servant, am He. As one imagines, so one becomes. Therefore, practice the meditation of “I am He.” Then all your actions will become His action.”