Lord Shiva appears in a meditating but ever-happy posture. He has matted hair which holds the flowing Ganges river and a crescent moon, a serpent coiled around his neck, a trident (trishul) in his one hand and ashes all over his body.
Lord Siva is the pure, changeless, attributeless, all-pervading transcendental consciousness. He is the inactive (Nishkriya) Purusha. Prakriti is dancing on His breast and performing the creative, preservative and destructive processes.
When there is neither light nor darkness, neither form nor energy, neither sound nor matter, when there is no manifestation of phenomenal existence, Siva alone exists in Himself. He is timeless, spaceless, birthless, deathless, decayless. He is beyond the pairs of opposites. He is the Impersonal Absolute Brahman. He is untouched by pleasure and pain, good and evil. He cannot be seen by the eyes but He can be realised within the heart through devotion and meditation.
Siva is also the Supreme personal God when He is identified with His power. He is then omnipotent, omniscient active God. He dances in supreme joy and creates, sustains and destroys with the rhythm of His dancing movements.
He destroys all bondage, limitation and sorrow of His devotees. He is the giver of Mukti or the final emancipation. He is the universal Self. He is the true Self of all creatures. He is the dweller in the cremation-ground, in the region of the dead, those who are dead to the world.
The Jivas and the world originate from Him, exist in Him, are sustained and rejected by Him and are ultimately merged in Him. He is the support, source and substratum of the whole world. He is an embodiment of Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Bliss. He is Satyam, Sivam, Subham, Sundaram, Kantam.
He is the God of gods, Deva-Deva. He is the Great Deity—Mahadeva. He is the God of manes (Prajapati). He is the most awe-inspiring and terrifying deity, Rudra, with Trisul or trident in His hand. He is the most easily pleased (Asutosha). He is accessible to all. Even the untouchable Chandalas and the illiterate rustics can approach Him.
He is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He is an ideal Yogi and Muni. He is the ideal head of an ideal family with Uma as His devoted wife, Lord Subrahmanya, the brave general of strength and courage, Lord Ganesa, the remover of all obstacles.
The Name of Lord Siva chanted in any way, correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, is sure to give the desired result. The glory of the Name of Lord Siva cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can certainly be experienced or realised only through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Name and singing His hymns with Bhava. Every Name is filled with countless potencies or Saktis. The power of the Name is ineffable. Its glory is indescribable. The efficiency and inherent Sakti of the Name of Lord Siva are unfathomable.
Just as fire has the natural property of burning inflammable things, so also the Name of Lord Siva has the power of burning the sins, Samskaras and Vasanas and bestowing eternal bliss and everlasting peace on those who repeat the Name of the Lord.
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If you have looked closely into a Shiva picture, you will see that his throat is blue. That is a very very beautiful story. DEVAS, gods, and the anti-gods, ASURAS, were churning the ocean to find elixirs -- but you cannot find elixir directly. It is hidden deep. The first thing that they came across was not elixir but poison. Now who should drink the poison? Shiva drank it. That's why his throat has become blue. Only HE could drink it. You can drink death only when you know you are deathless. When the disciple comes to the Master, he brings all kinds of poisons. Unknowingly he has been nourishing those poisons. And the ego is the greatest poison. And before your immortality can be revealed to you, your poison has to be removed. Who is going to drink it?! Only one who knows that he is deathless can drink it. The Master drinks all the poison out of the disciple's system. Slowly slowly, he takes away all the poisons from the disciple. And one day, when all the poison has been taken out, the immortal is there in all its glory.