|Suddenly, Arjuna saw a boar. Arjuna thought that this fierce boar might have come to distract him from his
tapasya. Alternatively, it might be a relative of the several demons that he had killed and therefore might wish
him harm. Thinking this, Arjuna picked up his bow and arrow and let fly an arrow at the boar. Meanwhile, Lord
Shiva had decided to subject Arjuna to a test and he had also arrived at the spot disgusted as a hunter. When
Arjuna shot an arrow at the boar, so did Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s arrow struck the boar in its hindquarters and
Arjuna’s arrow struck the boar in its mouth. The boar fell down dead.
A dispute started between Arjuna and the hunter about who had killed the boar. Each claimed it for his own.
They began to fight. But whatever weapons were hurled by Lord Shiva were easily repelled all of Arjuna’s
weapons. When all the weapons were exhausted, the two started to wrestle.
After the fight had gone on for a while, Lord Shiva gave up his disguise of a hunter and displayed his true
form to Arjuna. Arjuna was ashamed that he had been fighting with the very person to whom he had been
After a few months, a boar came near the place where Arjuna was meditating. Arjuna, annoyed by the boar,
shot it with an arrow. At the same time, another arrow came from the opposite direction and hit the boar in the
Arjun didn’t understand who shot the other arrow. At that moment, a hunter appeared there with a gang tribal
people. He told Arjuna that he shot the other arrow and the boar was his kill. Arjuna argued that he shot the
boar first. Arjuna and the hunter started fighting. The hunter easily defeated Arjuna. Arjuna realized with a
shock that the hunter was Shiva in another form. He bowed down to the hunter.
The hunter then turned into Shiva and the tribal people turned into Shivaganas. Arjuna started begging for
forgiveness. Shiva then gave Arjuna the Pashupashastra.
The Rig Vedic story begins with the Gods watching an incest about to take place. The father of creation is
desirous of his own daughter. At that time, the gods chant the sacred word. The power of the sacred word.
The power of the sacred word is immense. There appears before them an archer Sharva, the raudra (the
angry one). The archer aimed and shot, putting a stop to the act. Time and with it the universe had been set
into motion with the flight of the arrow in Space.
There, the passionate father was still in pursuit of his daughter. The gods hung their heads in shame while the
hunter let out a wild cry. There he got his name Rudra where rud means to cry. To appease him the father
gave him the kingdom of animals. “Be Pasupathi, the lord of animals,” he said. But Pasupathi, in his new form
was still with single purpose. He shot another arrow and the seed of the father flowed down on earth and all
Another story says the Lord of all beings was a householder and of his wife Usha was born a child. The child
kept crying so the father questioned him as to why he cried. He said he cried for the want of a name. The
father was quick to name him if that could bring some quiet and he was called Rudra, from the rot word rud
which means, to cry.
The Linga Purana has yet another version to relate. According to this story, Brahma, the creator had five
mind-born sons. Many fathers may be able to sympathize with Brahma, for the father of creation too was
dissatisfied with his sons. None of them showed any promise, the typical progenitor felt. He contemplated on
Siva for solution. Siva himself appeared and told him He was his son. Siva then assumed the
The ardhanareeswara is yet another concept that Shiva stands for. In this aspect he draws the feminine into
his own self. He is half man, half woman. A symbol of the Samkhya philosophy which talks of Purusha (the
male energy) and Prakriti (the female energy) together making the cosmic energy.
As Ardhanareeswara, Shiva destroys the old, for in destruction there is renewal, it cleanses and constructs
anew. In this new construction, he is the Father of Brahma. And the cycle of time, the process of recreation
begin all over again.
Shiva the auspicious one, is also known as Ashtamurti and here is yet another myth that tells you of his
manifestation thus. If the number of stories on Shiva’s birth are discomfiting, remember you are not the only
one, there is a constant struggle to understand them by many because our mind can think only of linear
progress of time as moving forward. But here many cycles seem to be described. Researchers also say,
each birth, as we ourselves find now, is symbolic of one attribute of Shiva. The happening itself is not as
important as the symbolism within it. In Hindu mythology, there are many stories that switch the position of the
primal creator between the three most important deities: Brahma Vishnu and Shiva, the triad, reaffirming as it
were, the equal importance of creation, preservation and dissolution.
Story goes Brahma sat in deep meditation holding all his vital energies and from the sound of Om that he held
close to his heart, emerged Shiva He came out of Brahma’s forehead. He stood before him as Ashtamurti
that is displaying all his eight manifestations, He was in fact the Vishwarupa or the universe for he had the
heaven as his head, the quarters as ears, the sun, moon and fire as eyes, the sky as umbilicus, the winds
blowing at his feet and was clothed in the oceans. He wore for ornaments the constellations. In this version is
the beginning and the end. He is all.
The description of his eyes as fire bring another mythological association where Siva is held almost
synonymous with Agni or fire. He is the Trinetra or the one with three eyes, the third eye being all fire.
In successive kalpas, or age, Shiva donned five roles. The five-form concept later took shape as the
Panchamukha Shiva or Five faced Shiva with each face given a direction – the dimension of space had thus
been added to the dimension of time. As Sadyojata he faced East, as tatpurusha he faced north, as Aghora
he faced west and as Ishana he faced south. As Sadesiva (Eternal Shiva) he was looked above; symbolic of
him being above all space. In the Linga Purana, Vishnu described Sabasiva as a pillar where the Ishana was
the crown, Tatpurusha, the face, Aghora the heart and Vamadeva his sex organ and Sadyojata as his feet.
The metaphor had been gathered into a manageable symbol and while many other stories exist for the
worship of the phallic symbol of Shiva, this was the beginning.
A story is told located at the legendary ashram of Daruvana. Today some say it is the same place as where
the Jageswar temple in Almora stands on the lower Himalayas. Here, some sages were engaged in penance.
To test their dedication, Shiva began dancing in the forests. The wives of the sages who had gone to collect
firewood remained transfixed. At sundown when the sages cam in search of their wives and caught sight of a
man dancing to the joy of their wives, they cursed him, not knowing he was Shiva himself. By the curse, his
penis fell to the ground and rose with the brilliance of fire in both directions. The earth trembled and Vishnu
and Brahma came to look for solutions. They each went south and north respectively in search of its end, but
could not find it; symbolizing both infinity in space and eternity in time. Shiva was then accepted as Supreme
by both Brahma and Vishnu and he withdrew.
(Being of the same rank, there are many stories on the quarrels and disputes between Shiva and Vishnu, their
assertion of superiority one over another is a debate even today amongst their followers!)
Shiva married twice, once the granddaughter of Brahma, named Sati and then Sati again when she was
reborn as Parvati, the daughter of the King of the Himalayas, Daksha. He had two sons, Ganesa and
One of the derivations of the word Rudra denotes running and constant movement, the pulsation of life, its
steps. Therefore Shiva is also perceived as the Cosmic dancer, Nataraja. The magnificent Nataraja who
dances though life has won many a hearts and imaginations. Many temples have been built to the Lord
Nataraja across Kanakasabha (golden hall) at the temple of Chidambaram.
Of Shiva, one can not write and stop. There are sixty-four lilas or sports in which he is said to have partaken
and infinite stories from his tumultuous marriage to his drinking of the poison during the famous incident in
Hindu mythology of the churning of the ocean. Through all the myths Shiva emerges the same, powerful,
impulsive, angry, frightening, charming, one who holds the damru (drum) either sides of which makes our night
and day and one whose ankle bells are the source of all sound. To write on Shiva is as continuous a process
as the idea of Shiva himself.