Lord Shiva is one the supreme deity in Hinduism. Shiva is one of the
Trimurti, along with Brahma the Creator and Lord Vishnu विष्णु) the Preserver. Shiva is usually represented by the Shiva linga.
In Hindu scriptures it is called Mahadeva (महादेव), Maheshwar (महेश्वर) and and Parameśvara the Supreme
Lord. Lord Shiva is revered as the ultimate controller of birth and death in the phenomenal world.
Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme Being that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe.
The images of Shiva vary significantly in their symbolism.
The unclad body covered with ashes: The unclad body of Lord Shiva covered the ashes signify that Shiva is the
source of the entire universe which emanates from Him, but He transcends the physical phenomena and is not affected by it.
Matted locks: The three matted locks on the head of the Lord convey the idea that integration of the physical, mental and spiritual energies is the ideal of yoga.
Ganga: Ganga, symbolically represented on the head of the Lord by a female (Mother Ganga) with a jet of water
emanating from her mouth and falling on the ground, signifies that the Lord destroys sin, removes ignorance, and bestows knowledge,
purity and peace on the devotees.
The crescent moon: The crescent moon is only one of His ornaments.
Three eyes: Lord Shiva, also called Tryambaka Deva , is depicted as having three eyes: the sun is His right eye,
the moon the left eye and fire the third eye.
Half-open eyes: When the Lord opens His eyes, a new
cycle of creation emerges and when He closes them, the universe dissolves for creation of the next cycle. The half-open eyes
convey the idea that creation is going through cyclic process, with no beginning no end.
Kundalas (two ear rings): Two Kundalas, Alakshya and Niranjan in the ears of the Lord symbolize the Shiva and Shakti
(male and female) or Ardha-Nariswara principle of creation.
Snake around the neck: The snakes to symbolize the yogic power of Lord Shiva with which He dissolves and recreates the universe.
A snake (Vasuki Naga): The snake is shown curled three times around the neck of the Lord and is looking towards His right
side. The three coils of the snake symbolize the past, present and future - time in cycles.
Rudraksha necklace: Rudra is another name of Shiva. Rudraksha necklace worn by the Lord illustrates that He
uses His cosmic laws firmly - without compromise - to maintain law and order in the universe.
Varda Mudra: Lord Shiva's right hand is shown in a boon- bestowing and blessing pose, which annihilates evil,
grants boons, bestows grace, destroys ignorance, and awakens wisdom in His devotees.
Trident (Trisula): A three-pronged trident shown adjacent to the Lord symbolizes His three fundamental powers (shakti)
of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (jnana).
Damaru (drum): Damaru symbolizes the two utterly dissimilar states of existence, unmanifest and manifest.
Kamandalu: A water pot (Kamandalu) made from a dry pumpkin contains nectar and is shown on the ground next to Shiva signifies
that, an individual must break away from attachment to the physical world and clean his inner self of egoistic desires in order to experience the bliss of the Self.
Nandi: The bull is associated with Shiva and said to be His vehicle.
Tiger skin: A tiger skin symbolizes potential energy.
Cremation ground: Shiva sitting in the cremation ground signifies that He is the controller of death in the physical world.