Shiva – The destroyer in Hindu Mythology

Shiva and his forms


Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. … He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.

For centuries, historians and devotees have romanticized the image of Lord Shiva. A body smeared with ash, a tiger skin, a crescent moon, a snake around the neck, the third eye, matted hair, river Ganga flowing from the hair, a trident in one hand, a dumroo in the other, sometimes consumed in a cosmic dance and sometimes sitting still like a rock. Along with this, there are also 1008 names of God Shiva to describe his attributes.

To truly understand Shiva, it is vital to know that Shiva is not limited to three things: name, form and time. More importantly, Shiva is not a person sitting in some place or up in the sky.


During the Vedic period Rudra was known as the destroyer of evil and a fearful God. Rudra means the one who cries and the one who runs away while crying. Rudra’s subordinates are many and known by many names. These subordinates reside in heaven, destroy evil doers, protect the righteous, observe the vowed religious observance, vanquish obstacles of the yogis and serve lord shiva perpetually. The 11 Rudras as per Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta are Har, Bahuroop, Trayambakam, Aoarajit, Shambhu, Vrishakapi, Kapardi, Raivat, Mrigyuyadh, Sharva and Kapaali.

Rudra is frequently described as the most terrifying of all divine beings. As the divine archer, he rides upon a chariot, constantly in search of beings to devour. He is armed with arrows that inflict disease upon whomever he hits, whether they be human, animal or even a god. Thus, every single being, divine or mortal, lives in fear of Rudra. Rudra is also notable for his unpredictability. Prescribed courses of actions do not always satisfy him, for he is not easily pleased. Even a minor transgression by one of his most faithful devotees can send him into a tempestuous rage. Rudra’s temperament seems to be an anthropomorphic representation of nature’s most ruthless forces, such as lightning, wind and forest fires.


It’s obvious that for the creation of the life cycle of the Universe unification of male and female is a major part. Lord Shiva took the Ardhanareshwar form in order to represent this aspect to mankind. Every human body has bisexual characterstics built into itself and it procreates from within itself. The permanent union of Shiva and Shakti is considered as adwait or non-duality. The right half of Shiva is a female form and the left part is a male form. This form of Shiva has equal male and female power.

The half male, half female deity is representative of the need to unite the opposite sides of ourselves and to embrace both the male and female aspects. The goal of yoga is liberation from samsara (the cyclic of death and rebirth) and union with the Absolute. In many Hatha yoga practices, the union of the physical body with shakti energy brings balance and is a step on the yogic path to the ultimate goal. Such balance would not be possible without unifying the masculine and feminine. Ardhanarishvara, therefore, is symbolic of this inner practice of yoga.


The one who performs natan is a nat. Shiva as Nataraj is a promoter of dance and he is a pioneer among actors. The universe is his school of dance. Just as he is the God of dance, he is also the observer. Natraja’s dance is considered to represent five actions of God namely creation, sustenance, dissolution, the covering of the great illusion, and initiation. The Nataraja’s dance form is to liberate a person from the great illusion.

Shiva natraja

The dance in which the sound in every cell of the body is that of Shiva is called the Tandava dance. It is a dance performed by the males and consists of postures. For instance the dhyana mudra is performed by touching the index finger to the thumb.There are seven types of tandava dance: ananda tandava, sandhya tandava, kali tandav, tripura tandava, gauri tandav, sanhartandava, and, umatandava.


Bhairav literally means the earth and Bhairavanath its Lord. 64 types of Bhairava are described in the Shiva Purana out of which Kalabhairava and Batuk Bhairav are more famous. It is said that the Bhairavas guard each seat of the divine energy. The Shakti pooja is not considered complete by some sects without the inclusion of Bhairava.

Shiva bhairava

Bhairava means “terribly fearsome form”. It is also known as one who destroys fear or one who is beyond fear. One interpretation is that he protects his devotees from dreadful enemies, greed, lust and anger. Bhairava protects his devotees from these enemies.