Lord Shiva is one of the gods of the Hindu Trinity, comprising of Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva or Mahesh, the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life. God Shiva is known by several names each of which related to a particular legend. For instance, for his third eye on his forehead, which also is known as the eyes of wisdom Shiva is also called ‘Tryambaka’. Shiva’s another name ‘Hara’, is derived from the root ‘Hru’ to take and the suffix ‘Ati’, as he is the destroyer of all that is evil. The legend of Shiva Linga or Lingodbhavamurthy is associated with the festival of Mahashivaratri. Starting from Neelakantha to Nataraja, there is a story behind each of his names. Apart from these there are innumerable legends associated with lord Shiva. Here, in this article we have included some of the most popular legends associated with lord Shiva. Read on to learn.
About Lord Shiva
Tiger & Leaves
Once in a dense forest of the banks of the river Kolidum, a hunter was wandering in chase of a deer. Suddenly when the hunter heard the roaring of a tiger, he climbed a tree and hid himself. The tiger came and sat under the tree and stayed there all night long. The hunter, named Lubdhaka was compelled to spend the night on the tree and to avoid falling asleep he kept unplucking leaves from the tree and kept throwing them below chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ all night long. Fortunately, all the leaves the hunter threw down all night long were actually ‘bilva’ leaves that fell on a Shiva lingam placed below the tree. Unknowingly, Lubdhaka had pleased the deity and when the sun arrived to his great surprise the hunter found that the tiger was no longer there and Lord Shiva himself was standing instead. The Legend says that the hunter, Lubdhaka attained blessings from the deity himself and attained salvation from the cycle of birth and death.
Lord Shiva & the Ganges
According to a legend, the ancestors of king Bhagirath, the sons of King Sagara once behaved disrespectfully with the great sage Kapil and were consequently turned to ashes by the sage. The souls of these princes were doomed for eternity and their ghosts roamed the earth. However, after repentance and repeated begging by the descendants of these princes, the sage finally relented and prophesized that the sons of Sagara will attain salvation, only after their ashes are wiped off by the water of Ganges. Several generations later, King Bhagirath meditated before Lord Brahma for a thousand years to bring Ganga onto the earth from heaven. Pleased with his relentless prayer Brahma granted Bhagirath’s wish, but ask him to please Shiva as well, as he was the one who could alone bear the weight of Ganga’s descent from the heaven. Bhagirath started praying to Shiva; Shiva responded to his prayers and thus the Ganges descended on his head and after meandering through his matted locks, it appeared on earth.
Once the ocean was churned by the Devas and the Asuras to find what treasure of wealth lies there in. Along with several boons, a dreadful poison also came out which could potentially sabotage the whole creation. However, Shiva came to rescue the mankind and drank the poison after which his throat turned blue. Therefore, lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha, meaning ‘blue throat’.
Lord Shiva & Daksha
Once Prajapati Daksha organized a great yajna and invited all the gods, goddesses, kings as well as sages and Brahmins. Sati, the daughter of Daksha was married to Shiva, which Daksha didn’t approve of. To vent his revenge, he decided to demean Shiva by not inviting him to the grand sacrifice. However, despite being forbidden by Shiva, Sati decided to attend her father’s yajna. Humiliated and scolded by her father and enraged at finding no offering made to Rudra or Shiva, Sati immolates herself by the yoga method to cast her body off. Upon hearing the new, that his wife has casted her body off, Shiva in a fit of rage creates in his anger Vidharva, who kills Daksha.
Grief-stricken and infuriated, Shiva performed the menacing Tandava dance with Sati's charred body on his shoulders. To calm Shiva down, Vishnu dismembered Sati’s body into 51 pieces with his Sudarshan Chakra and the places where the pieces fell are known as Shaktipeethas.