What are Lord Shiva different avatars, ekadasha rudras, bilva, significance

Namaste friends, how are you doing today? Lord Shiva blessings to you and your family!

Dear friends, let us now learn various information related to Lord Shiva one by one:

Lord Shiva has been worshipped since unknown time now. Lord Shiva’s worship is prevailing in Hindu Sanatana Dharma since time immemorial perhaps. 

There are various historical and puranic references are present to the worship of Lord Shiva. 

We can find several divine personalities having worshiped Lord Shiva on different occasions for various reasons.

Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu in his various avatars also worshiped Lord Shiva for Loka Kalyana (welfare of the ordinary people), Loka reetya (to teach how and why to worship Lord Shiva).

Now let us know the more and very important information about Lord Shiva as per our Hindu Sanatana Dharma.

First of all, let us know who is Lord Shiva?

Lord Shiva was born as the son of Sri Brahma Deva.

(Brahma is a padavi / rank. Among all the jeevas, Sri Brahma Deva is greatness. Please remember it is among all the jeevas. The Sarvottama / Supreme Bhagavan is Sri Maha Vishnu.) 

The present Sri Brahma Deva’s name is called as Virinchi.

Lord Shiva instantly emerged out (Sadhyojatha) from center of Sri Brahma Deva’s eyebrows at the time of rachana / creation. 

Soon after Lord Shiva took birth, he started cry and roar fiercely (Roudra) hence called Rudra (Rodanaat-Rudra). 

Lord Shiva is one of the Trinity Lords (Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara) ruling ‘Taamasa guna (Ahankaara Tattva)’.

Lord Shiva is entrusted with the role of ‘Layakaraka’ / destruction by Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu. 

Lord Shiva means ‘mangalakara’ (auspicious), shubha (highly good), one who is incredibly and ever auspicious and thus Lord Shiva’s another name is Sadashiva. Sadashiva means pure, sacred and selfless.

Lord Shiva is called ‘Shambhuh’, because he is full of bliss (Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram). This means, someone who bestows peace, prosperity and happiness. 

As Maha Rudra, Lord Shiva is the eliminator of all agonies and sorrows.

In Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram, we can find Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu eulogized as Shiva and Rudra. 

In Bhagavad Gita-Vibhooti Yoga, Bhagavan Sri Krishna says that He is Shankara among the ‘Ekaadasha Rudras’ (eleven Rudras).

Also, Lord Shiva is popularly known as ‘Hara’, means, the one who destroys all the evil. Hara (Haraye Namah) forms part of 24 Keshava naamaas that we recite during ‘Aachamanam’.

Lord Shiva as Laya-kaaraka is the ‘Maha Rudra’, that is, ‘Ugra’ / great destroyer, fearless. 

Lord Shiva is ‘Shatru Bhayankara’, that is, someone who not only destroys creation as per directions of the supreme Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu, but also destroys both internal and external enemies and also provides cure for all diseases. 

Lord Shiva is called as ‘Mahadeva’ (great God). Though his ‘tattva’ is ‘Taamasa guna, Lord Shiva is ‘Satvika’ and serene in nature and worshiped by one and all irrespective of their temperament. 

Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu also in different avatars, worshiped Lord Shiva for Loka Kalyana (to teach to the ordinary people on how to worship Lord Shiva), welfare of the mankind and to maintain the Loka-reeti (local conventions).

Initially, Lord Shiva married Sati Devi, that is, daughter of Daksha Prajapati. 

After the episode of Daksha Yajna, Lord Shiva gets marries Sri Parvati Devi (manifestation of one of the Goddess Durga). 

Lord Shiva is also called as ‘Vaamadeva’, which literally means the one who is very handsome, fair and pleasant.  

Vaama also means left; and left side for any Purusha is the seat of female energy (Stree Shakti). 

Also, Lord Shiva will always be left of Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu; that’s why Lord Shiva is called ‘Vaamadeva’. 

It is very commone to find Lord Shiva being worshiped in ‘Linga roopa’ due to a curse from Sage Brugu. 

Since that time, ‘Shiva Linga’ has become a symbol of Lord Shiva that is being worshiped in all the temples across the world. 

Lord Shiva’s abode is Kailasa Parvata, that is, ‘Mount Kailasa’.

Now let us learn about the the symbolism of Lord Shiva

Even though Lord Shiva is worshiped in ‘Linga form’, Lord Shiva is depicted as following:

Pure ‘suddha sphatika’ (white crystal clear) in colour

Lord Shiva always will be in meditation

A gigantic form

Lord Shiva will be wearing the skin of a tiger

Dynamic and charming personality, that is as ‘Sundara’

Lord Shiva is having serene looks in a yogic posture

Lord Shiva’s body is smeared with Bhasma (white ash) with mendicant / detached demeanor having.

Lord Shiva is called as ‘Trinetra’, as he is having three eyes. 

Lord Shiva has Sri Surya Deva in his right eye and Sri Chandra Deva in his left eye and Agni in his third eye in between the eye brows.

Lord Shiva is having ‘Panchaanana’, that is, someone who is having five faces.

The different names of the five faces are:

Eeshaana (facing skyward)

Tatpurusha (facing east)

Aghora (facing south)

Vaamadeva (facing north) 

Sadyojatha (facing west)

Lord Shiva has three eyes in each of his five faces

Lord Shiva has long matter hair spread in the vast sky (Vyomakesha) holding Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu’s ‘Padodbhavi’ (born from the legs) holy Ganga on his head and thus Lord Shiva is also called as Gangadhara.

Lord Shiva’s throat is blue in color and thus he is known as ‘Neelakantta / Neelagreeva’. These names came when Lord Shiva drank the ‘haalaahala visha’ (poison) during the ‘amruta manthana’.

Lord Shiva will always be adored with sarpa / serpent around his neck. Thus Lord Shiva is called as ‘Naagashekhara / Sarpabhooshana’.

Lord Shiva has ‘Crescent Moon’ on his head and thus he is known as ‘Chandrasekhara or Somashekhara’.

Lord Shiva’s vahana / vehicle is called as ‘Nandi’ and thus Lord Shiva is known as ‘Nandi Vahana’ and also known as ‘Vrushabha’ (sacred divine Bull).

Lord Shiva is known as ‘Trishooladhari’ (Trident), as he holds the ‘Trishoola’ is his hand. This ‘Trishoola’ is also used as weapon by Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva holds a small drum (Damaru) in his hand.

Lord Shiva is always depicted as both a Yogi. 

Lord Shiva is also a ‘kutumbasta’ / householder with Goddess Sri Parvati Devi, who is inseparable from Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva or Lord Rudra Deva is also depicted as ‘Chaturbhuja’ (four hands) having four hands with ‘Varada mudra’, ‘Abhaya mudra’ in two hands, ‘Trishoola’ in the third hand and ‘Deer’ in his fourth hand.

Different avatars of Lord Shiva

The different avatars of Lord Shiva are: 

1. Dakshinamurthy

2. Veerabhadra

3. Durvasa Muni

4. Ashwattama

5. Sukha Muni – son of Bhagavan Sri Sage Veda Vyasa Ji

Names of Ekadasha (Eleven) Rudras

Ekadasha Rudras are a class of Vedic deities, that is, they are eleven (11) in number along with Dvadasha (12) Aadityas + Ashtta (8) Vasus + Prajapati + Vashatkara, they form a significant group of 33 principal Devatas / Demigods.

Ekadasha Rudras nomenclatures differ in different sacred texts and puranas and there is no unanimity in the list. 

(This could be because of the same set known by various names. This is similar to one person have more than one name.) 

These Ekadasha Rudras represent Lord Shiva the Maha Rudra. 

In Bhagavad Gita (Vibhoothi Yoga), Bhagavan Sri Krishna says that He is Shankara among Ekadasha Rudras. 

Ekadasha Rudras according to Padma Purana/Srimad Bhagavata are as give below:

Manyu                         

Manu 

Mahanasa                           

Mahan 

Shiva                                        

Rta-Dhvaja 

Ugra-Reta                       

Bhava

Kaala                              

Vaamadeva 

Dhrta-Vrata

Other famous names of Lord Shiva

Few of the other famous names of Lord Shiva are:

Chandrasekhara 

Viswanatha

Maheshwara

Ishwara

Virupaaksha 

Nataraja

Dhurjati

Pinaaki

Sarangapaani

Tripuraari etc

To know more names of Lord Shiva with meaning you can visit this link:

Lord Shiva names with correct meaning

Sacred grantas / texts about Lord Shiva

Sacred grantas like Shiva Purana, Linga Purana and Skanda Purana which forms part of the ‘Ashtadasha (18) Puranas’ written by Bhagavan Sri Veda Vyasa Ji have exclusively covered about Lord Shiva. 

Sacred shlokas / hymns of Lord Shiva

Very important sacred shlokas / hymns of Lord Shiva are:

Shiva Panchakshari (Om! Namah! Shivaayah!)

Maha Mrutyunjaya Mantra

Rudram-Namakam-Chamakam

Lord Shiva family

Lord Shiva family comprise of:

Lord Shiva

Goddess Sri Parvati Devi is his consort 

Lord Ganesha is his elder son 

Lord Kartikeya is his younger son 

Nandi is his vehicle and others

What Lord Shiva loves most

Lord Shiva is called ‘Abhisheka Priya’ (anointing) and Lord Shiva is also called as ‘Stotra Priya’ (loves if someone chants his names).

If someone worships Lord Shiva with Abhisheka, Bilva Patra, chanting of his name (Panchakshari manthra etc), worshiping during Pradosha time, Lord Shiva becomes very happy and blesses enormously.

Bilva Patra is very dear to Lord Shiva

Bilva patra (leaves) is considered as ‘Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi Svaroopam’. 

Svayam Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi resides in Bilva Tree. 

Lord Shiva being the ‘Greatest Vaishnava’ will be very much pleased, if someone worships Him with ‘Bilva patra’. This ‘Bilva patra’ got manifested from Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi the divine consort of Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu.

Lord Shiva calendar

Though Lord Shiva can be worshiped on a daily basis, some of the important days earmarked for his worship are as give below:

Kartika maasam

Monday (Somavara / Induvaara)

Pradosha time (1½ hours before Sunset) every day

Maha Pradosha on the 13th lunar day (Trayodashi) of both Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha Maasa

Shivaratri day (14th day of dark fortnight – lunar day Chaturdasi)

Maha Shivarathri

On the lunar day coinciding with Ardra Nakshathra

Soma Pradosha (Pradosha associated with Monday) 

Bhouma Pradosha (Pradosha associated with Tuesday) 

Shani Pradosha (Pradosha associated with Saturday)

About Maha Shivaratri

The great Maha Shivaratri means the auspicious ratri / night belonging to Lord Shiva and this day is his most favorite day for him:

There are several interpretations regarding the origin of Maha Shivaratri. Few of them are as given below:

It is one of the day that Lord Shiva emerged out in the divine world in Linga roopa (Jyotirlinga).

It is the day that Lord Shiva got married with his consort Goddess Sri Parvati Devi. That’s why we find a custom of performing ‘Kalyanotsavam’ of Lord Shiva and Goddess Sri Parvati Devi on the day of Maha Shivaratri. 

It is the day Lord Shiva drank ‘Haalaahala visha’ (poison) in the episode of ‘Ksheerasaagara Mathanam’ (samudra manthanam / churning of ocean). 

It is the day Lord Shiva performed his cosmic dance called Pralaya Taandava.

There may be several reasons for origin of Maha Shivarathri. But it is the most favorite day of Lord Shiva and worshiping Lord Shiva on this day is highly meritorious and sin remover.

How to recognize Maha Shivaratri

As per Hindu Sanatana Dharma Chandramana or Lunar Calendar, every ‘chaturdashi’, that is, 14th lunar day of the Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) is known as Maasa Shivaratri. 

Sometimes it may fall on the ‘Trayodashi’ (13th day) also. 

It is decided based on the presence of ‘Chaturdasi tithi’ (14th day) extending beyond midnight on that particular day. 

At the same time, every ‘Trayodashi’ (13th) or ‘Chaturdashi’ (14th) day of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) is not considered as Maha Shivaratri. These days are considered only as ‘maasa Shivaratri’ (monthly Shivaratri).

It is only the ‘Trayodashi’ (13th) or ‘Chaturdashi (14th) day of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) occurring in the Chandramana / lunar month of Magha Maasam associated with ‘Chaturdashi tithi’ is recognized as ‘Maha Shivaratri’. 

Generally it occurs in the calendar months of February/March.

Customs & traditions related to Maha Shivaratri

The great day of Maha Shivaratri is dedicated exclusively to Lord Shiva is celebrated with great religious significance and fervor across the country by all Hindus irrespective of the caste and creed. 

These customs may differ according to one’s sampradaya / tradition:

In general some of the traditions in vogue are as given below:

Following austerities like doing upavasa / fasting, keeping sleepless vigil (Jaagarana) whole night; break the fast next day morning after worship.

Nine day celebrations called Shivaratri Brahmotsavam are held at famous Shiva Kshetras like Srisailam, Sri Kalahasthi, etc.

Abhisheka with water, Bilva Patra, bathing Shiva Linga with Panchamrutha (milk, curd, ghee, honey, sugar).

Worshiping Lord Shiva four times on this day at successive intervals of three hours (Prahara / Yaama) each during night on the day of Maha Shivaratri

Shiva and Parvati Kalyanam (marriage) is also held at some places on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.

In the Madhva sampradaya / tradition, there is no upavasa / fasting and Jaagarana on the day of Maha Shivaratri. Darshana of Lord Shiva during Pradoshakaala is essentially prescribed.

Special celebrations are held on the eve of Maha Shivaratri at all the holy Shiva Kshetras. Here lakhs of people gather to offer their obeisances and salutations to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is the great destroyer of sins and one of the most the benevolent Demigods.

Very famous Shiva Kshetras (Divine pilgrimage places)

While there are several teertha sthalas / pilgrimage places and temples dedicated to Lord Shiva spread across Indian sub continent, but among them twelve holy places called ‘Jyothirlinga Kshethras’ and five holy places called ‘Pancha Bhoota Linga Kshethras’ are considered as the most revered places for the worship of Lord Shiva. 

The list of the above is as given below:

Bheemashankar in Maharashtra near Pune (Maharashtra)

Ghrushneswhar (Maharashtra)

Rameshwar at Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu)

Vaidyanath at Deogarh (Bihar) – According to some versions Vaidyanath is in Parli (Maharashtra)

Nageshwar (Darukavana) near Dwaraka in Gujarat

Tryambakeshwar at Nasik (Maharashtra)

Kedarnath in Himalayas (Uttarakhand)

Somnath near Veeraval in Gujarat (Sourashtra)

Pancha Bhoota Linga Kshethras

Lord Shiva considered as an embodiment of ‘Pancha Bhootas’, that is, the five basic elements of nature, i.e., Aakaasha (sky / space), Vaayu (air), Prithvi (earth), Jala (water) and Agni (fire). 

Lord Shiva had manifested at the following places which are regarded as the Pancha Bhootha Shiva Kshethras.

Chidambaram (Aakasa Linga), in Tamil Nadu

Kanchi (Prithvi Linga), in Tamil Nadu

Sri Kalahasthi (Vayu Linga) in Andhra Pradesh

Thiruvannaikkaval (Jala Linga) near Trichy (Tamil Nadu)

Tiruvannamalai (Agni Linga) in Tamil Nadu

To know more information on Lord Shiva and Shivaratri, you can visit this below link:

Lord Shiva, Shivaratri, other significances

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