Representations of Shiva, also called Maheshvara, often show him sitting cross legged in meditation or else dancing. Shiva is Lord of Dance, Nataraja, and Lord of Animals, Pashupati. He is sexual energy symbolized by the phallus. The Destroyer is white in color, has multiple faces and a third eye filled with visionary and destructive power. The Ganges River flows from his matted hair, the moon adorns his head, a cobra garlands his neck, and he carries the trident.

Shiva’s wife, Parvati, is the great mother goddess. She is the personification of female energy known as Shakti and revered as the power behind all creation.

God as the force of destruction appears in the Gita as a frightening power beyond reality and beyond unreality. This manifestation induces both terror and ecstasy. It makes demons flee and saints bow down in awe.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To read more or purchase the book, visit the website at



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