The season of Mahashivratri is upon us. This is a blessed time of the year when Shiva Tatva, which is pure consciousness, is so alive in the Cosmos. As we concentrate upon the Mahadeva who is the most Supreme of all and visualise Him in our minds, let us look at the various attributes of Shiva that provide some definition to His infinite Being.
Every deity has special traits that are unique to that deity and without these elements, their manifest form is not complete in the devotee’s heart and mind. For instance, there cannot be a Ganpati idol without a mouse or the laddu. The statue of Lakshmi is incomplete without her lotus and Narayan without his Chakra or Brahma without his four heads.
Shiva is your own awakened consciousness. Everyone is Shiva within, which is a reflection of his own self. When you visualise Shiva, He can have a filled out chubby-cheeked face and body, or He can be lean and thin, depending on your consciousness. Every one of you devotees can see Shiva as your own manifestation.
This is the reason there are so many different versions of God’s images. The Chinese make Gods as reflection of their own features, while in the West, they fashion His image as per their appearance. It all depends on the individual devotee’s perception and visualisation.
Basic Traits of Lord Shiva
Here are some basic traits of Shiva, which are characteristic of any Idol or form visualized of Him:
He is indigo in colour.
He has matted locks.
He had a moon perched on the right side of his forehead.
He has a very prominent third eye, which symbolises the all-knowing awareness of Brahman
He carries a trishul, which represents the three gunas.
He carries a damru, the sound of which maintains the heartbeat and creates the Aum vibration in the universe.
He wears a tiger skin, which represents the subjugation of all fears.
He wears a large snake around his neck, which shows that he is fearless and has the Kundalini shakti at his command.
He wears the Rudraksha on his arms, wrists and around his neck.