By Amy Underdown, London, UK
Alongside Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva makes up part of the Hindu triumvirate, considered by the majority of Hindus as the most prolific three gods in their religion. Whilst this triumvirate is supposed to represent balance, it would be incorrect to say that each of these three gods is equally powerful. There is little, if no, argument, for Brahma to be considered as one of the most important gods of Hinduism, but there are very strong cases for both Shiva and Vishnu.
The reason that Shaivites (those who predominantly worship Shiva) make a strong case for their deity is that he possesses the powers of both creation and destruction. Though he is mostly known as the Destroyer, it is Shiva’s responsibility to recreate the universe once he has destroyed it. From an outsider’s perspective, this may seem counterintuitive. Why have a God to destroy a creation, only to make it once more? Hindus believe that the universe is supposed to be created every 2,160,000,000 years in order to have the ideal creation.
This destruction is therefore not arbitrary and instead represents an essential contribution to the cycles of Hinduism. Many therefore claim that if Shiva is capable of destroying universal creation, then his powers ultimately override any other, as Brahma is known as the Creator and Vishnu is known as the Preserver.
Other reasons that Shiva is so important is his positioning as the guardian of the Vedas, the Lord of the Dance (highly important in Indian culture), and a strong representation in mythology of how to lead a true Hindu lifestyle. One strong value consistently demonstrated by Shiva is self-sacrifice. This is most famously exemplified by the story that gives him his famous blue skin. This feature was created when the king of Serpents, Vasuki, claimed he was going poison the seas with snake venom, threatening the existence of the world and all the nature within it. In order to prevent this, Shiva took on the form of a giant turtle and drank the poison himself. As a result, his skin is often seen as blue or sometimes just his throat, earning him the name Nilkantha or Blue Throat. Stories like this demonstrate why Shiva is so important – he is consistently positioned as a do-gooder, protector and creator, which is often why Brahma and Vishnu fall into his shadow.
Both his power and importance are exuded when bringing a Shiva statue into the home. Known for their intense energy, Shiva statues are perfect for protection, devotion and meditation for anyone wishing to channel their Hinduism.