Lord Shiva, the chief deities of Hindu, is a paradoxical deity having many roles and immense power. Known by many different names like Sambhu, Samkara, Pasupati, Mahesa and Mahadeva, the devotees of Shiva are called Saivites. A synonym of ‘shakti’ or power, Shiva is considered as the most powerful gods in the Hindu pantheon and is the god of all gods in Hindu Trinity.
Lord Shiva is considered as both the destroyer and the restorer, a symbol of sensuality, the wrathful avenger and the benevolent herdsman of souls. Various stories and myths concerning Shiva, introduces him as savior of humanity. It is believed that the poison that had tossed up in the waters and was a threat to the mankind, he took it in his throat and saved the mankind. Owing to this reason, the god is often pictured with a blue neck.
In most of the art forms, Lord Shiva is pictured as the one with four hand, three eyes and four faces. Third eye is always associated with destruction and it is believed that opening of third eye can lead to the end of the entire universe. The ancient sacred texts identify Lord Shiva with the storm god Rudra and share many stories. One of greatest services offered by Lord Shiva to the world was to hold back the sacred Ganges River, which runs through the Himalayas.
At one time, the sacred river Ganges crossed only the heavens, not touching the surface of the earth and leaving it dry. It was only after a wise man altered the course of the river, that it became a raging gush and endangered to flood the earth. Shiva stood below the river and took the water in its fold through his hair, calming the flow. Riding his bull Nandi, Shiva is supreme ascetic having a passive and composed disposition.