The Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu deals with the salvation of the human soul. Reincarnation is a fundamental belief of Hinduism.The universe functions in continuous cycles of life, death, and rebirth. Each day you awaken with breath (life), then you exhale and for a split second or longer there is no breath (death). When you inhale again you are born again and the cycle continues. Shiva’s role in the cycle is as the god of destruction. You often see statues with Shiva encircled by flames which are symbolic of his divine powers. Shiva’s destructive powers are turned against your ego and ignorance so that you can attain Enlightenment. He is shown dancing with one foot up, a cosmic dance, moving to the rhythm of the universe. Shiva may be called Rudra or the howling one, the god of storms. Shiva is an ascetic god, the god of the yogis, who sits atop Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas, as well as the god of the forest, of hunting and fishing. Shiva is also known as Nataraj (the dancing Shiva), Ardanariswara (the divine union Shiva), Mahadev (ascetic or balanced Shiva), Shambo, and Shankara. You might notice snakes on Shiva’s arms or around his ankles or behind the murti. These are the protective nagas which keep his body safe while Shiva is deep in his meditations. Shiva is known for his total surrender, for example lying in bliss at the feet of the divine Mother Kali. A murti of Shiva in any of his manifestations offers you a magnificent tool for your meditations. –
The Shiva statue (shown at left) is located in the Ganga pond on Kashi Ashram.