Who is Shiva?
Shaivas, those who practice Shaivism, the devotion (bhakti) to Shiva, believe that Shiva is the greatest of the gods, the principle incarnation of ultimate divinity, or Brahman. More specifically, if Brahma is the creator, and Vishnu the preserver, Shiva, in the context of the Brahma/Vishnu/Shiva triad, is the destroyer, he who demands the sacrifice out of which new life can be born. He stands for the fact that life itself, the universe, is a process of death and regeneration. He is the Nataraja, the lord of the cosmic yogic dance, the dance of the universe itself. He is the ultimate guru-yogi, the ascetic who brings release (moksha) to those who follow his asceticism, his yoga.
An ancient pre-Indo-European Indus Valley seal depicts a three-faced divinity sitting cross-legged in a yogic style. It is assumed by many that this is a depiction of an early form of Shiva, later known in the Vedas as Rudra.
Shiva is often shown in union—sometimes sexual union—with his consort or Shakti, his creative energizing power.
Shiva is worshipped by way of his linga (sacred phallus) which reaches endlessly into the heavens. Sometimes his linga is implanted in his consort’s yoni (sacred female organ).