Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

14 What Are Siva’s Traditional Forms?§


Siva sits in a remote forest under a banyan tree. This is His Sadyojata form, which means “quick birthing” and represents the power of creation. Two hands bless; the others hold a japa mala & sacred scroll.§


Every form is a form of Siva. Tradition has given us several of special sacredness. Nearly every Siva temple in the world has a Sivalinga, symbolizing His formless state. It is usually a simple oval stone set in a round base. Lingams can also be made of metal or quartz crystal. We revere God as Parasiva when we worship the Sivalinga. Its simple shape speaks of God’s Absolute Being, which cannot be described. We revere Siva as the love that flows through everything when we worship any form of His Shakti, or feminine energy. Ardhanarishvara, Siva as half man and half woman, is the perfect image for this, reminding us that Siva and Shakti are a one being and can never be separated. We adore God as the Primal Soul, creator of all souls and worlds, when we worship Nataraja, the Divine Dancer who animates the universe. This image of Siva dancing in a ring of fire is popular throughout the world. Thus we worship Siva’s three perfections in three forms. Yet His forms are infinite. He is also Dakshinamurti, the silent guru spoken of in the Upanishads. Other scriptures speak of Hari-Hara, half Siva and half Vishnu. This icon symbolizes the union and nondifference of the two major Gods of Hinduism. The Saiva Agamas give us Panchabrahma, Siva with five faces, representing His five powers. The three-pointed Trishula, or trident, is also worshiped as Siva. Its points represent love, wisdom and action. The Tirumantiram reminds us, “Everywhere is the Holy Form. Everywhere is Siva-Shakti.… Everywhere is the Divine Dance.”§


GURUDEVA: God Siva is so close to us. Where does He live? In the Third World [causal plane]. And in this form He can talk and think and love and receive our prayers and guide our karma. He commands vast numbers of devas who go forth to do His will all over the world, all over the galaxy, throughout the universe.§