1. Body smeared with ashes.
Shiva’s body is smeared with ashes. The important fact is, this ash is typically from a cemetery. It corresponds to the Hindu philosophy of life and death, that the death is the ultimate reality of life.
Everything, in the end, turns into ashes and Shiva himself goes beyond the circle of life and death.
2. Jata/Matted hair
The flow of his matted hair represents Shiva as the Lord of Wind or Vayu, who is the subtle form of breath present in all living beings. It shows that Shiva is Pashupatinath, Lord of all living beings.
The crescent moon is symbolic of waxing and waning of the moon and symbolises the fact that Lord is the master of time and he himself is timeless.
Shiva is also known as Gangadhara – meaning the bearer of Ganga. As per legends, Ganga originates from the head of Shiv ji and flows onto the ground. Hinduism refers to the Ganga as the most sacred river. Therefore, Shiva is not only the Lord of destruction but a conveyor of purity and peace too.
4. Trinetra – the third eye.
The three-eyed Shiva is also known as Trayambaka Dev. The left eye represents the moon, the right eye represents the sun – and the third eye in the centre – fire. The left and the right eye symbolise the physical world while the third eye signifies to look beyond the obvious – the eye for knowledge.
The devil fears the right eye as it has the power to search the evil and destroy it.
5. The half open eyes.
The half-open eyes represent that the cycle of life is in process. The open eyes signify the beginning of the creation and the closed eyes symbolise the end or the destruction. The half-open eyes represent the fact that creation is an eternal, cyclic process.
6. Snake around the neck.
The snake wraps in three rounds around Shiva’s neck. The number three signifies time – past, present, and future. The coiling stands for the cyclic nature of time.
Wearing the snake also implies that the Lord is beyond the wrath of time and death.
The three lines of ashes are symbolic of the immortality of the Lord and praise the glory of the Lord.
8. Tiger Skin
The tiger is symbolic of power, strength, force, and lust. Sitting on the tiger skin is a sign that Shiva has the power to conquer lust and is beyond any kind of inevitable power.
9. The Rudraksha Mala
Shiva is said to wear the Rudraksha mala with 108 beads known to be made from his own tears. These beads relate to the elements of the world and thereby portray the fact that Shiva is firm about the cosmic laws and is strict in maintaining them.
10. Damru – the drum.
The Damru when played creates the sound of Aum – the sound of creation. The two sides of the drum separated from each other by a thin neck-like structure represent the two utterly different states of existence, unmanifest and manifest.