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Saivaites: Worshippers of Shiva

 

Shiva is one of the most prominent and popular of Hindu deities. To his followers, Shiva is the manifestation of the fullness of God: "he is creator, preserver, destroyer, personal Lord, friend, primal Soul." Siva's power to destroy is often emphasized. This destruction, however, is also creative since the destruction of the old prepares the way for the new. Moreover, Shiva is considered the destroyer of evil, ignorance, bad habits and obstacles to spiritual growth. Shiva is the god of the ascetics and is often shown in meditation. The snake around his neck symbolizes his conquest of the ego. Shiva's weapon is the trident. Siva is often depicted as Siva Nataraja - Siva dancing. The elaborate symbolism of this common image reveals not only the importance of the visual in Hinduism, but also many attributes of the god Shiva.

 

In addition to the many images of Siva, he is also represented in by the symbol of the lingam. The lingam represents a phallus and thus creativity and reproduction. It should be noted that many followers of Siva object to this interpretation and see the lingam as the undifferentiated (aniconic) form of Siva.

 


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