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Shiva, also known as Mahadeva (lit. 'the great god'), is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.
Shiva is known as &The Destroyer& within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the Shaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.
According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.
The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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