Lord Shiva is one of the three supreme deities in Hindu mythology, and is infamous for his temper. Often known as the destroyer of the universe, Lord Shiva possesses the power to burn down anything in his path and reduce it to ashes if he so chooses. Yet, despite such extreme powers, he is also a lenient deity, who is easy to please and does not demand strict obedience from his devotees.
Shrouded in mystery, this mythological character is referenced across the Indian literature, and is certainly one of the most influential and powerful of all the deities. You may think you know everything about Lord Shiva, but here are a few surprising facts that you never came across:
1. Lord Hanuman is Lord Shiva – We all know Lord Hanuman; the loyal aide to Lord Rama who helped the banished king save his wife and defeat Ravana. Lord Hanuman is believed to be a reincarnation of Lord Shiva. That’s right – Lord Shiva himself came down on Earth from his abode in heaven to help Lord Ram fight his epic battle against evil. Oh, and Lord Ram is actually a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe.
2. Lord Shiva incinerated Cupid to ashes – The Indian version of Cupid is Kamadeva, the god of love. It is said that there once arose an emergency on Earth that could only be resolved by the son of Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva did not have a son at that time, the other gods convinced Kamadeva to incite lust in Lord Shiva so he would procreate. The move backfired, and Kamadeva only managed to enrage Lord Shiva to a point where he opened his dreaded third eye and turned Kamadeva into ashes.
3. Lord Shiva has a third eye that can destroy the universe – According to some Hindu scriptures, all of us have a third eye, which lies dormant and when opened, can lead us to enlightenment. Lord Shiva’s third eye could be opened at this will and gave him incredible powers. An intense fire escaped from his eye and would reduce anything to ash and rubble that was unfortunate enough to be standing in front of him at that time.
4. Lord Shiva is the reason cannabis is not entirely illegal in India – While the government of Indian does like to keep a tight control over the farming and sale of opium and cannabis, there are government regulated stores all over the nation where people can buy cannabis and bhaang legally. This is because Lord Shiva used cannabis and bhaang quite liberally and his modern day devotees are allowed to do the same as part of their freedom to follow and express their religious beliefs. On Shivaratri, the most important Lord Shiva festival of the year, Shiva temples all over the nation distribute bhaang laced drinks openly and anyone can consume them.
5. On Earth, river Ganga sprouts off of Lord Shiva’s hair – An old tale talks about how King Bhagirath prayed for years to bring the holy river Ganga down to Earth. His ancestors could only get salvation if their remains were submerged in the river’s magical and holy water. After his wish was granted, he was told that the impact of this magical river falling from the heavens onto earth will destroy the world. King Bhagirath then prayed to Lord Shiva who agreed to bear the weight of the river. According to Hindu mythology, river Ganga falls from the heavens and first lands on Lord Shiva’s head, where it gets absorbed by his long and unruly hair. Then it slowly the river drips onto earth from his hair and breathes life into the world.