Lord Shiva and shakti

Shiva and Shakti

With Julian Millane

Shiva is part of a series on Indian Spiritual Mythology on this website

Shiva and his consort with many names – Parvarti, Kali, Durga, Chandi, Uma, Sati etc.- are regarded as the primeval twofold- personalisation of the Absolute.

The are the unfolding of the neutral Brahma into the opposites of the male and female principles.

Often seen gazing at each other with a deep and everlasting rapture they are imbued with the secret knowledge that, though seemingly two, they are fundamentally one.

They are depicted again and again in stone and in bronze in temples and caves throughout the Hindu world. Shiva is often seen with four arms.

With one he holds his consort, another his trident, representing the trilogy of creation, preservation and destruction, others holding a rosary representing the ascetic, an axe of discrimination or a small damaru drum beating Time as he is its master.

Often he holds a lotus emblematic of the divinity’s productive essence.

Shiva and Parvarti are often depicted with their “sons”, the elephant -headed Ganesha  and the war-like Kartikeya.

The God and Goddess are the first self-revelation of the Absolute, the male being the personification of the passive aspect which we know as Eternity, the female of the activating energy (sakti), the dynamism of Time.

Though apparently opposites, they are in essence one. The mystery of their identity is stated in symbol.

The God is he who dwells as the root figure of the Lingam. The Goddess is the yoni, mother-womb of the ever-cycling eons, of every atom in the living cell.

She is known as Parvarti, Kali, Uma, Durga – she has her living counterpart in every woman, as the Goddess in every woman.

Shiva and shakti sex

Indeed Shiva is depicted as the hermaphrodite Ardanarishvara, The Lord who is half woman, a single figure in which the complimentary qualities of male and female are beautifully combined and their division transcended.

Adapted from Myths and Symbols in Indian Art by Heinrich Zimmer and The Hindu Vision by A. Shearer.

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