This is Shiva Temple one of the main Trimurti Temple (Trimurti means three main deities) in the Prambanan compound besides Vishnu Temple and Brahma Temple. The amazing Prambanan temples compound is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s sight is a fulfillment on its own as we had planned it for a long time to visit and photograph these magnificent temples. Shiva Temple is located in the center of the main Trimurti Temple.
The common Shiva Temple in India usually has a Linggam as the main idol but in Prambanan the main idol is in a human form which fascinating as it’s very rare to have a human form Shiva idol in temples. If you do visit the Shiva Temple don’t forget to check out the carvings surrounding the temple, they are beautiful.
Lord Shiva (Trimurti Deity) :
Shiva 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 the “destroyer of evil and the transformer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. In the goddess tradition of Hinduism called Shaktism, the goddess is described as 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 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 Shiva is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailas 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 common known 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 as his weapon and the damaru. He is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The Origin :
The Vedic literature refers to a minor atmospheric deity, with fearsome powers called Rudra. The Rigveda, for example, has 3 out of 1,028 hymns dedicated to Rudra, and he finds occasional mention in other hymns of the same text. The term Shiva also appears in the Rigveda, but simply as an epithet that means “kind, auspicious”, one of the adjectives used to describe many different Vedic deities. While fierce ruthless natural phenomenon and storm-related Rudra is feared in the hymns of the Rigveda, the beneficial rains he brings are welcomed as Shiva aspect of him. This healing, nurturing, life-enabling aspect emerges in the Vedas as Rudra-Shiva, and in post-Vedic literature ultimately as Shiva who combines the destructive and constructive powers, the terrific and the pacific, as the ultimate recycler and rejuvenator of all existence.
The similarities between the iconography and theologies of Shiva with Greek and European deities have led to proposals for an Indo-European link for Shiva, or lateral exchanges with ancient central Asian cultures. His contrasting aspects such as being terrifying or blissful depending on the situation, are similar to those of the Greek god Dionysus, as are their iconic associations with bull, snakes, anger, bravery, dancing and carefree life. The ancient Greek texts of the time of Alexander the Great call Shiva as “Indian Dionysus”, or alternatively call Dionysus as “god of the Orient”. Similarly, the use of phallic symbol as an icon for Shiva is also found for Irish, Nordic, Greek (Dionysus) and Roman deities, as was the idea of this aniconic column linking heaven and earth among early Indo-Aryans, states Roger Woodward. Others contest such proposals, and suggest Shiva to have emerged from indigenous pre-Aryan tribal origins.
Rudra’s evolution from a minor Vedic deity to a supreme being is first evidenced in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (400–200 BC), according to Gavin Flood. Prior to it, the Upanishadic literature is monistic, and the Shvetashvatara text presents the earliest seeds of theistic devotion to Rudra-Shiva. Here Rudra-Shiva is identified as the creator of the cosmos and liberator of souls from the birth-rebirth cycle. The period of 200 BC to 100 AD also marks the beginning of the Shaiva tradition focused on the worship of Shiva as evidenced in other literature of this period. Shaiva devotees and ascetics are mentioned in Patanjali’s Mahābhāṣya (2nd-century BC) and in the Mahabharata. Other scholars such as Robert Hume and Doris Srinivasan state that the Shvetashvatara Upanishad presents pluralism, pantheism, or henotheism, rather than being a text just on Shiva theism.
Shiva-related literature developed extensively across India in the 1st millennium CE and through the 13th century, particularly in Kashmir and Tamil Shaiva traditions. The monist Shiva literature posit absolute oneness, that is Shiva is within every man and woman, Shiva is within every living being, Shiva is present everywhere in the world including all non-living being, and there is no spiritual difference between life, matter, man and Shiva. The various dualistic and monist Shiva-related ideas were welcomed in medieval southeast Asia, inspiring numerous Shiva-related temples, artwork and texts in Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, with syncretic integration of local pre-existing theologies.
More photos of Prambanan Temple here.
Our group trip photos in Instagram.