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Ardhanarishvara is Lord Shiva's androgynous form, a hybrid of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati.

By- Khushi Bisht

Lord Shiva is commonly described as the ideal male since he represents absolute masculinity, however, in the Ardhanarishvara figure of Lord Shiva, you will notice that one half of him is a totally divine feminine energy; it is a fully mature woman. Ardhanarishvara is Lord Shiva's androgynous form, a hybrid of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. The right half of Ardhanarishvara's form represents Shiva, while the left half represents Parvati.


The right (masculine) side of the figure is ornamented with typical Shiva ornaments, as found in numerous Indian artworks. The left (feminine) side has hair that has been groomed and braided, a half-tilak (a circular dot) on the forehead, a silk saree with waistband, an anklet, and henna-tinted foot.

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ardhanarishvara The right (masculine) side of the figure is ornamented with typical Shiva ornaments, as found in numerous Indian artworks. The left (feminine) side has hair that has been groomed and braided, a half-tilak (a circular dot) on the forehead. Wikimedia Commons


According to most Hindu texts, the Ardhanarishvara's symbolic aim is to represent the inseparability of masculine and feminine energies. They are inextricably linked and balanced implying that they must cooperate to preserve balance. They are fundamentally opposed in origin, yet they complement each other.

The two aspects; 'Shiva' and 'Parvati' are regarded as 'Purusha' and 'Prakriti' if you consider the tale of Ardhanarishvara as a symbol of existence. Purusha, the masculine form, symbolizes potential energy, whereas Prakriti, the feminine form, symbolizes kinetic energy; allowing the cosmos to be created and sustained.

Origin of Ardhanarishvara

According to different texts and Puranas, there are several distinct accounts of Ardhanarishvara's genesis. Let us now discuss Ardhanarishvara's renowned origin tale.

As per the common interpretation of the Shaivite version of this figure presented in a series of tales referred to as the Shiva-Purana, Lord Brahma formed masculine entities and commanded them to produce more, but they could do nothing about it. Lord Brahma was dissatisfied with his creation since it did not move at the speed he expected. There was no other option for him except to summon Shiva and ask him to accelerate the world's growth.

ardhanarishvara Ardhanarishvara was created by the combination of Shiva with Parvati. The right half of this image depicts Shiva in a tiger skin skirt. The left half shows Parvati holding a lotus. Wikimedia Commons


He sought Shiva's assistance, and Shiva acquired his Ardhanarishwar figure to teach him about creation through intercourse. After that, Ardhanarishwar claimed that birth and existence would be unthinkable without either of them. Brahma discovered his mistake when Lord Shiva stood before him in an androgynous form and thus formed female beings. The creation of the whole universe is brought about by the union of Shiva's Linga and Shakti's Yoni.

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Ardhanarishwar transcends our understanding of gender, demonstrating that God can be masculine, feminine, or even neuter. Lord Shiva is shava (corpse) without Shakti and Shakti is powerless without him, thus, the notion of Ardhanareshwar indicates that the balancing of opposites generates the real flow of existence.


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