The Meaning Behind Symbols of Lord Shiva

Here is a list of symbols of Shiva which has a great significance.

symbols of shiva

Hindu mythology holds many mysterious facts, events, and stories and it has always stated that the base of this universe is Lord Shiva. Hindus believe that the universe is created from Lord Shiva and will end within him. Shiva is the greatest of them all and has full control over the universe. He is ageless and timeless, it means that he is above the cycle of life and time. Shiva not only destroys evil forces to protect the universe but he can also remove the existence of things that that is full of ego and arrogance. This mighty God doesn’t live on heaven rather he lives on this earth, on Kailash Parvat, which shows his simplicity. He is the base for the existence of living beings and the symbols of Shiva show the right ways to live the life. The symbols of Shiva also motivate us to choose the right path and help to follow the elements of Dharma.

Here is a list of symbols of Shiva which has a great significance. So, let’s dig in to know more about him.

The Meaning Behind Symbols of Lord Shiva

1. The Crescent Moon – Ardha-Chandrama

The crescent moon on the head of Shiva is first in the list of symbols of Shiva. Shiva is the greatest yogi who needs intoxication for concentration and as the moon is also known for his intoxication power therefore, Shiva game him a special place on his head. It helps him in concentrating while he is meditating but he always remains conscious even if he is intoxicated.

2. Body smeared with ashes

Lord Shiva’s body is smeared with ashes which is a symbol that Shiva is above the cycle of birth and death. These ashes are not normal ashes of wood or coal, these ashes are of the cemetery. Every person who is born will die and ultimately they will turn into ashes. These ashes smeared on the body of Shiva depicts that Shiva is above all and he goes beyond the cycle of life.

3.Matted Hair / Jata

Shiva is also known as Jatadhari because of his matted hair. The flow of his matted hair symbolizes the flow of wind or air which is very important of breathing. It shows that all living being relies on Shiva for their life. He is the Lord of all living things and therefore he is known as Pashupatinath.

symbols of shiva - details

4.The Ganga

River Ganga is the most sacred and holy river. There is a story has it that when Ganga came on Earth from heaven, she was full of arrogance and therefore she was flowing with mighty force. When Shiva came to know about her arrogance and flow, he gathered Ganga in his Jata and river Ganga was vanished from the earth. After this Ganga realized her mistake and asked for forgiveness. Shiva forgave her but he allowed only a small jet of water from his matted hair and by this way the mighty flow was controlled. It shows that Shiva can vanish the existence of anything that is full of arrogance and ego.

5.The Third Eye

Lord Shiva is also known as Trinetradhari or Trayambhakam which means the one who has 3 eyes. The third eye of Shiva represents the sight of knowledge, patience and the rejection of desires. This also represents the fact that Shiva can foresee anything and nothing can remain hidden from him. But this third eye of Shiva remains closed until he is calm and patient. Once he becomes angry, the third eye will open and hence it will destroy everything. It summarizes that fact that we can see the difference of good or bad from our eyes until we are calm and compose but when the anger will overpower, we will certainly destroy everything.

6.The Snake Around the Neck

In the pictorial representation of Shiva, you can always notice that the snake coils three times around his neck. It represents the cycle of time i.e. past, present, and future. The snake depicts that Shiva is ageless and is beyond the cycle of time. It also represents the Kundalini or dormant energy that resides within him.


You might have observed the three parallel lines on the forehead of Shiva, these lines are known as Tripunda. It symbolizes the three quality or gunas. The first line represents Sattva Guna which means purity, kindness, goodness, creative, and balanced. Second-line depicts Rajas Guna which means confusion, eagerness, passionate, self-centered, full of ego. Whereas the line represents Tamas Guna which means laziness, heaviness, destructive, and the impurity.

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8.The Rudraksha Necklace

Shiva is depicted wearing a Rudraksha necklace or mala which has 108 beads that are made from his own tears. These beads represent the elements of the universe, which includes the cosmic laws and rules of this world. Shiva wears Rudraksha necklace so that he can maintain the cosmic laws and rules for the survival of all the living being.

9. Damaru, the Drum

Lord Shiva always holds Damaru which is a musical instrument which represents the cosmic sound. It is a representation of the “Shabda Brahma” or Om. The sound that is produced by the Damaru makes the cosmic sound of Om, which purifies the air and spreads peace. Damaru also represents alphabets, grammar, and language.

10. Trishul

The major weapon of Lord Shiva is Trishul which has three prongs and they represent knowledge, action and the will. He has destroyed many evil forces, ignorance, and demons with his Trishul. Therefore, it can be summarized that if you have the will to perform any action from the knowledge you have, then you can surely destroy the evil forces and also the ignorance.

11.Nandi, the Bull

It is believed that if you have worshiped Lord Shiva and forget to worship Nandi then all your efforts will go in vain because Nandi is not only his vehicle but he is his family. Nandi represents power and ignorance. He remains faithful to his master and can do anything for his master. He also depicts the righteousness.

These symbols of Shiva are not just elements, they are the base of one’s life. It shows the right way of living and also removes the negative energy and evil forces that are present around us.

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