Amish Tripathi calls him “Dude of the Gods”. Others call him by various names – 1008 names to be precise – Bholenath, Mahadev, Shankar, Shambhu, Rudra, Neelkanth, Nataraja or Shiva are some of the more popular ones.
He is a paradox – as a destroyer and a benefactor, as an ascetic as well as a householder – he transcends between the two opposites very easily. He is worshipped as a Rudra – the fierce one, and also as a linga – the symbol of creation. He is also worshipped as a Yogi – the meditator as well as a Nataraja – the lord of the dance. He is the Ardhanarishvara (The Lord who is half woman) – representing the masculine and feminine energies (Purusha and Prakriti) of the universe.
It is this contrast that creates a mystery around him. A mystery that sets Shiva apart from a more popular deity Lord Rama – the ideal man – Maryaada Purshottam – the kind of man most of the women wish to be married to. But is it so?
I for one, think that inspite of his many flaws, Shiva is the one who stands by his woman, protects and loves her as well as fight and takes revenge for her. And Rama for all his idealism fails to do his duty towards his wife – both the times when he asked her to prove her innocence to the world inspite of what he truly believed. And that’s what for me makes Shiva a better consort or a partner in life.
But as Ramchandra Guha describes in his biography of Gandhi – another great man who was not so good as a husband or a father. So in order to be great or an ideal man, at least for society at large, does one needs to sacrifice the self and the family? Perhaps if we go by the examples in the history.
Amish Tripathi points out that the Shiva is increasingly becoming more popular with modern men and women. What is driving that? A need to shift from the paradigm. A wish to be different, a rule breaker? And what better company than the god who calls Mount Kailash as well as the cremation grounds his home. One who wears tiger skin, rubs ash on his body and has snakes as the garland. Has dubious characters as his followers, consumes bhaang and breaks into Tandav when he is in mood. He who is the learned one, a lover as well as a warrior.
I am not perfect and neither do I expect my man to be perfect. It is the contradictions that make the life interesting. It is love and trust that is non-negotiable, standing up for her rights and honour that is important and everything else in between is the drama and spice of life.