Shiva Tattva is where there is no mind and the moon signifies the mind. When there is no mind then how can this ‘no mindedness’ be expressed? You need a little bit of the mind to understand, experience and to express. The no-mind, infinite consciousness requires that little bit of mind to express itself in the manifest world. So, to express that inexpressible, that little mind (crescent moon) is on Shiva’s head. Wisdom is beyond the mind, but it needs to be expressed with a tinge of mind and this is symbolized by the crescent moon.
Damru symbolizes the Universe, always expanding and collapsing. From expansion, it collapses and then it re-expands; this is the process of creation. If you see your heartbeat, it is not just one straight line but it is a rhythm that goes up and down. The whole world is nothing but rhythm; energy rising and collapsing to rise again. So the damru signifies that.
Look at the shape of the damru, from expansion it collapses and again expands. The damru is also a symbol of sound. Sound is rhythm and sound is energy. The whole universe is nothing but a wave function, it is nothing but rhythm. The damru signifies non-dual nature of the universe.
A state of samadhi where there is nothing, just the inner sky of consciousness, that is Shiva; where there is alertness and no action. To describe this alertness, they put a snake around Shiva’s neck. So the serpent is a symbol of alertness. In the state of meditation, when the eyes are closed, it gives the impression that the person is sleeping, but he is not asleep, he is alert. To express this state of consciousness, a snake is shown around Shiva’s neck.
Trishul or trident represents the three aspects of consciousness — waking, dreaming and sleeping, and it represents the three gunas — sattva, rajas and tamas. Holding a trishul signifies that Shiva, Divinity, is above all the three states — waking, dreaming and sleeping; yet is the upholder of these three states. Divinity is beyond the three gunas, but it holds the three gunas together. Shul means problems or suffering. Trishul means that which destroys all kinds of suffering.
Ganga means knowledge; knowledge that purifies your soul. Head is always the symbol of knowledge. Heart is the symbol of love. Hence, Ganga is shown flowing from Shiva’s locks. If Ganga were to be love, it should have come out of the heart of Shiva. It is coming out of the head, because it simply means knowledge. Knowledge is liberating, knowledge brings freedom, knowledge is purifying. All these are the characteristics of knowledge. Knowledge is also movement, motion. So Ganga (knowledge) has to come out of Shiva’s head.
Blue means infinite, like the sky. Blue signifies the all-pervading Infinity which has no limits. It has no shape. Shiva does not have a body. Shiva was never a person at all. To symbolize the unfathomable, the infinite Divinity and to make that Divinity comprehensible to people, ancient rishis made a form. Knowledge has no shape but it infiltrates each and every particle of the universe. The whole world is filled with Shiva, whose body is in the whole universe.
Linga means identification, a symbol through which you can identify what the truth is, what the reality is. What is not visible but yet can be identified by one thing; that is linga. When a baby is born, how do you know its gender? Only through one part of the body can you identify whether the baby is a boy or a girl. That’s why the genital is also called linga. How do you identify the Creator? He has no form! So then, they said that there should be a sign to identify Him. So the sign, by which you identify both the male and female forms, combining them both to form one single symbol to identify the Lord who has no form or identity; who is all-pervading in this entire Brahmanda (Creation), is Shiva Linga. Shiva Linga is ancient. From the form, you go to the formless, through the Shiva Linga. It is a symbol that is the representation of the cosmos and the creator of the cosmos, as one. It is the Shiva and the Shakti, the two principles in Creation. The silent unmanifest and the dynamic manifestation together are represented as Shiva Linga, which is not just Shiva, but the completion of total Supreme Consciousness.
Bull has been used as a symbol of dharma (righteousness) for a long time, throughout the world. Shiva riding on the bull simply means that when you are righteous and truthful, the infinite consciousness, the innocent consciousness is with you.
The whole creation is the dance of one consciousness (Shiva). The one consciousness danced and manifested into a million species in the world. So this infinite creation is the dance of Shiva or Shiva Tandav. The whole world is a place of Shiva.
The abode of Shiva is in Mount Kailash, and the smashana, the cremation ground. Kailash means ‘where there is only celebration’, and smashana is where there is only void. Divinity dwells in the void as well as in celebration. And in you there is void, in you there is celebration.