Shiva is one of the members of the Indian trinity. Brahma being the creator, Vishnu being the preserver and Shiva being the destroyer.
Let’s know about him and clear some misinterpretations about him.
Q.1) Are Shiva and Vishnu the same?
Ans) Both are the members of the Hindu pantheon but they are not the same.
Vishnu (also known as Narayana) is the preserver of the universe. He takes avatars(incarnations) whenever there is a need to uplift moral values on Earth. He is destined to take 10 avatars out of which 9 have already taken birth. The most famous out of them is Lord Krishna (8th incarnation). The 10th avatar named Kalki is yet to come.
On the other hand Shiva (also known as Shankar) is the destroyer of the universe. He does not take avatars as Vishnu but provides a part of his powers to some divine beings. For example the monkey God Hanuman had a part of Shiva’s power within him.
Q.2) Are Shiva and Shankar the same?
Ans) Yes, they are the names of the same God.
Though they are the names of the same God, they have different significances. Like all of us have an official name which we use in school, college and office but most of us also have a pet name in our home and often our parents call us by our pet name. It may also be true that your friends or colleagues call you with some other name depending upon your behaviour, demeanour, talking style, temperament and what not (You know it better J).
Similarly Lord Shiva also have various names such as Neelkanth( which means the one with the blue throat), Bholenath(the Innocent God). Likewise Shankar is also one of his names which means the doer of good deeds. Well there are 1000 names that are attributed to Lord Shiva but writing all of them would make this post very long!!!
Q.3) Are Shiva and Kali the same?
Ans) No, they are not.
Kali is the consort of Shiva. The word Kali is derived from “Kala” which means time and therefore she is the goddess of time, creation and destruction.
She lives in cremation grounds and is also known as Parvati and Durga.
She is the destroyer of evil forces and in various paintings we find her standing over her consort Shiva with her tongue hanging out of her mouth.
Q.4) Are Shiva and Krishna the same?
Ans) No they are not.
Krishna is the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is the most famous and revered incarnation out of all the past 9 incarnations. He was the charioteer of Arjun in the most infamous and goriest battle that ever took place on the face of Earth; The Mahabharata.
There are many scenes in the Mahabharata where one can find both Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna praying each other and thus both of them are completely different entities.
Q.5) Are Shiva and Rudra different?
Ans) Rudra is another name for Lord Shiva.
Though Rudra is specifically a Rigvedic God, he shares many features with Shiva. Rudra is derived from the root “Rud” which means “to cry” and therefore has been translated as “The Roarer”.
In the post Rigvedic age, people used to use the word “Shiva” more often and now both these words are used interchangeably.
Q.6) How are Shiva Lingam stones formed?
Ans) Lingodbhava Shiva is the form of shiva in which he appears as an infinite linga fire-pillar. Vishnu tries to find the bottom of the linga and Brahma tries to find its top thereby depicting the infinite stature of Shiva.
The Shiva Ling depicts the phallus(depicting Shiva or the male form) which is surrounded by a yoni (depicting Parvati or the female form). It depicts unison of male and female forms from which life originates.
The Ice lingam at Amarnath cave is a natural shivling which is formed every year in winters. Thousands of pilgrims go to worship it every year.
Q.7) What are Shiva’s powers?
Ans) Shiva is the God of destruction so you better watch out.
- He holds a Trishul (Trident) in his hand which if once released returns only after chopping the enemies head. (He even chopped his younger son’s(Ganesh) head.)
2. He has a third eye on his forehead. It remains closed for most of the time but when it opens, wreaks havoc. It had burned kamdev(god of love).
3. Has many extremely powerful counterparts such as Veerbhadra who chopped Prajapati Daksh’s head.
4. Has an indestructible weapon known as Pashupatastra. In the Mahabharata war, Shiva gave this weapon to Arjun.
Q.8) Did Shiva Smoke?
Ans) There are many paintings in which you can see him doing so but lets not forget the fact that he is God. He can maintain his Godly stature and can keep his senses intact even after smoking.
Also during Samudra Manthan (churning of the ocean) he had drank Halalal (poison). So smoking stands nowhere near to it. Therefore acknowledging his Godly stature, he will not have any ill effects of smoking.
Q.9) Did Shiva gift the sudarshan chakra to Vishnu?
Ans) There are many theories which speak about this but according to the Shiva Purana, it was Shiva who gifted it to Vishnu after he worshipped Shiva by offering him 999 Lotus flowers and 1000th one being one of his eyes.
Q.10) Did Shiva have a daughter?
Ans) Though it his sons Ganesh and Kartikeya who are more famous but yes in some folk tales across India, his daughters can also be found.
One of the most famous names is that of Ashok Sundari who was created from a tree by Shiva’s consort Parvati. Since she was rid of Parvati’s sorrow therefore she was called Ashok(shok means sorrow and sundari means beautiful).
If you have anymore questions about Lord Shiva, do post below in the comments section and I will try my best to answer them.