‘Kala’ and depicted adorned with garlands of human skulls, and has
his body entwined with snakes symbolising the cycle of time.
• As the passing of time inevitably leads to death, he is called
‘Mahakala’ or ‘Hara’, the remover. Consequently he is said to dance
in cremation grounds and on battle fields.
• As the Lord of Mountains, he is ‘Girisa’.
• As the Lord of Animals and Hunters, he is ‘Pasupati’ who represents
the destruction of life by hunting, war and disease.
• As Lord of Demons (bhutas), he is ‘Bhutanatha’.
• As the supreme yogin, he is ‘Mahayogi’.
• As guru of yogic knowledge, music and the Veda, he is
• As the giver of the bliss arising from absolute knowledge, he is
• As the cosmic Lord of Dance (‘Nataraja’), he embodies the universal
Siva is universally worshipped in the form of the phallus (linga), the
source of manifestation and life, which inevitably contains the seeds of
disintegration and death. The female generative organ (yoni) represents
Siva’s sakti, the personification of his cosmic energy. When represented
together, the linga and the yoni signify the two great generative principles of
Some of the Puranas identify the whole of creation with Siva through the
doctrine of his five faces—Isana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and
Sadyojata. Siva’s five faces are personified as the rulers of the five directions,
the four points of the compass and the zenith, making up the totality of spatial
Saivism flourished under the Gupta dynasty although most of them were
Vaishnavas. In south India, the Pallava king Mahendravarman I was at first a
Jaina and later a Saiva. Royal patronage greatly increased the popularity of
Saivism, as did the mystical and devotional poems composed by the sixty-
three Saiva Nayanars (also called Adiyars).
Nayanars or Saiva Saints