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(Śiva): “Benevolent” or “auspicious.” The term Shiva has three main connotations:
- In Shaivism, it is the Supreme Reality, the all-encompassing, ultimate essence of everything. The corresponding concept in Vedanta would be Brahman, however, there are some differences in the ways in which these two spiritual systems refer to the Supreme Reality.
- The unchanging aspect of the Divine. Just as Shakti is the feminine, dynamic, creative power, Shiva is the masculine, immobile, eternal, ultimate witness. Shiva and Shakti are inseparable—it is often said that without Shakti, Shiva would be just a corpse.
- Along with Brahma and Vishnu, Shiva is one of the gods of the Hindu Trimurti. He is known as the destroyer of the Universe. From a spiritual perspective, this “destruction” is actually the deconditioning of the ego in order to make it transparent to divine light. Shiva is depicted in many forms, including Ardhanarishvara, Nataraja, and Dakshinamurti. He is known as the patron of yogis. According to the tradition, Hatha Yoga was reintroduced to the world when Shiva taught it to Matsyendranath.