Shri Saibaba Sansthan Shirdi Shri Saileela Main Page
Trishula : Lord Shiva is sometimes shown with his trident (trishula) in his hand. The trishula is a three-pronged weapon which symbolises the destruction of the ego with its three-fold desires of the body, mind and intellect. Lord Shiva with his weapon indicates his victory over his ego and attainment of the state of perfection.
The trident becomes in the hand of Lord Shiva not an instrument of cruel injury but an instrument for bringing people back to righteousness when they stray from the path of dharma and need a persistent reminder and a steady prodding for making them change their course.
The tiger-skin apparel, the matted hair and the ashes are all symbols signifying supreme renunciation. He is the God of austerity. Supreme knowledge cannot; but be followed by austerity. The matted hair proclaims the length and intensity of his ‘tapas’. The ashes that besmear the body recalls to us that this body of which we are proud and obsessed is ultimately bound to end up merely as ashes, which realisation is really the starting point in the march toward the final emancipation. Also the complete dehydration of all the vasanas at the mental level. The tiger-skin apparel stands for vairagya and absolute unconcern for the body and its supposed needs.
The tiger’s skin on which Lord Shiva sits Lord Shiva is the Lord of any manifested system, he is its base, the hidden source from which everything needed in the systems comes. This potential energy, like electrical energy in a charged battery, is ready for any kind of work and it is the fact of its being potential which is symbolized by the tiger’s skin.
The blue colour of the neck symbolises the pervasiveness or maya or vidya up to the neck, and beyond the neck is the seat of jnana leading to eternity and immortality. Blue colour represents distance, the vast distance that we’ll have to traverse from the realms of the body and the heart to the realms of the intellect and beyond.
Crescent moon : The moon is a very apt symbol of the phenomenon of time with its two important features : duration and periodicity. The crescent moon is an ornament of Lord Shiva’s body and not an integral part of it. The unmanifest reality transcends time.
Compiled by Dr. Viraf Minocher Dhalla
Acknowledgement : The Symbolism of
Hindu Gods and Rituals
by A. Parthasarthy