5 Important Forms - Depictions of Shiva

Below are the five important forms and depictions of Lord Shiva. Shiv Bhagwan, one of the Trimurti Gods in Hinduism, is worshipped in various forms and depictions. Among the various forms of Shiva, the five main forms of Lord Siva worship are Shiva as Nataraj, Dakshinamurthy, Shivaling, Ardhanarishvara, and Tripurantaka. Read more details below.

5 Important Forms and Depictions of Lord Shiva

1) Nataraja

Nataraja or Nataraj is one of the popular forms of Lord Shiva. This depiction is due to Lord Shiva’s association with dance and music. Nartaka ("dancer") and Nityanarta ("eternal dancer") names of Shiva can be seen in Shiva Sahasranama, the 1000 names stotra of Shiva.

The Chidambaram Nataraja Temple in Tamilnadu is a popular temple dedicated to Lord Nataraj.

Picture of 5 Important Forms and  Depictions of Lord Shiva

2) Dakshinamurthy

Dakshinamurthy represents Lord Shiva in His aspect as Guru (a teacher) of Yoga, music and wisdom and giving exposition to Shastras. Dakshinamurti literally means “the One who is facing South (Daksina). Dakshinamurthy is regarded as the God of wisdom. Also known as Jnana Dakshinamurti, this form of Shiv is popular in south India, especially Tamilnadu.

Dakshinamurthy Temples

The Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, is a famous Dakshinmurthy Temple in India. The Ettumanoor Mahadevar Temple in Kerala is another famous Dakshinamurthy shrine where the Lord is worshipped in the form of a Shivalingam. The Alangudi Temple in Kumbakonam Tamilnadu is also dedicated to Dakshinamurti.

The Dakshinamurthy Ashtakam written by Guru Adi Shankaracharya is one of the popular mantra dedicated to this form of Shiva Shankara.

3) Shiva Lingam

Lord Shiva is mainly worshipped in the form of Shiva Linga – the most common form is the shape of a vertical rounded column. Shivalinga is regarded as a "symbol of the great God of the universe who is all-auspiciousness".

4) Ardhanarishvara

Ardhanarishvara, one of the 64 manifestations of Lord Shiva, is the combined form of Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This iconographic representation shows him with one half of the body as male (Lord Siva) and the other half as female (Goddess Parvathi). Ardhanarishwara is sometimes known as Uma-Maheshwara.

Ardhanarishvara Temples

The Ardhanareeswarar Hill Temple in Thiruchengode in Namakkal District of Tamilnadu is one of the most famous temples dedicated to Ardhanarishvara.

A dancing eight-armed Ardhanarishvara can be seen at the Parashurameshvara Temple at Bhubaneswar in Orissa. A three-armed Ardhanarishvara sculpture with only Nandi as a vahana can be seen at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Gangaikonda Cholapuram Temple near Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.

6) Tripurantaka

Lord Shiva is often depicted as an archer in the act of destroying Tripura, the Asura. Also called Tripurantakesvara or Tripurantakeshwara, in this form Lord Shiva is depicted with four arms wielding a bow and arrow.

The Tripurantaka Temple in Shivamogga district of Karnataka is one of the famous temples where this form of Shiva is worshipped. This ancient temple was built by Western Chalukyas in the historically town of Balligavi.

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