In Hinduism, it is thought that the universe regenerates in 2.160 billion year cycles. At the end of each cycle Shiva destroys the universe which enables a new beginning, the creation of a new universe. Therefore, Shiva is one of the most important gods in Hinduism and, in my opinion, one of the most fascinating. Certainly not your typical god or deity, stories of Shiva describe a multi-faceted and complex character. Known for both anger and calm, love and hate, the god of both utter destruction and divine creation of the universe.
Symbols commonly associated with Shiva
Shiva is often depicted with a damaru, an hourglass-shaped drum, symbolising the music of creation. This is why he is often referred to as the Lord of the Dance, or the Lord of the Cosmic Dance. In Hindu mythology Shiva’s drum produced the first sound in the void of nothingness, it symbolises the creation of the new universe, the first something in a vast nothingness. It represents the rhythm of life and the universe and creates the beat that Shiva dances to which is believed to be the source of all movement in the universe.
The third eye
In Hinduism, the opening of the third eye represents seeing in a different sense, in a way that can only be achieved through true enlightenment. It represents seeing the truth, perceiving life just the way it is.
In many stories when Shiva opens his third eye it destroys everything is sees, this can be taken literally in a cool ‘superpower’ kind of way however in these stories there is also a metaphorical interpretation. With the third eye seeing the true world, opening it represents destroying emotional or carnal thoughts and desires and instead seeing the situation objectively.
As an example, there is a story where Kaam Dev shoots and arrow of desire towards Shiva, with the intention of giving Shiva romantic feelings for Parvati. Shiva, noticing a deep internal shift in his feelings towards Parvati and seeing Kaam Dev nearby, put two and two together and opened his third eye, diminishing Kaam Dev into ashes. This can be interpreted as him being critical and objective towards his emotional reaction to Parvati, allowing him to find true love which will last a lifetime, rather than short-lived lust which Kaam Dev’s arrow awakened within him.
The moon behind his head
The moon, often referred to as the soma, is said to be a source of intoxication. Stories of Shiva tell us that he is a great and dedicated yogi, and through his talented meditative state he is able to reach natural intoxication all the time. This has actually been scientifically proven that through yoga and meditative practices your body can produce its own narcotic, allowing you to be intoxicated all the time yet completely alert.
The symbol of the snake is commonly associated with the vishuddi chakra – located in the pit of your throat – and is said to be Shiva’s center. Vishuddi literally means ‘filter’ and a strong vishuddi chakra allows you to be able to filter anything inside of you, the ability to filter out any poison. This doesn’t just mean literally consumed poisons but also negative thoughts and emotions. Because Shiva’s vishuddi is very strong he is not influenced at all by outside forces, his strength is within himself and is why he is such a powerful being.
Shiva with a modern twist features a mix of classical symbols, such as the snake, the moon and all-seeing third eye, creating the music and rhythm of the universe through pair of vinyl decks. We’d love to know what you think of this design in the comments below! Or check out products in the shop, available for a limited time only.
Want to read some more about Shiva?
Here are a couple of great online resources: