Volume 8 - Issue 02
Other Articles



Right answer on your 1st attempt
3 Points
Right answer on your 2nd attempt
2 Points
Right answer on your 3rd attempt
1 Point

Why is it that there are so many gods especially in the Hindu faith, which actually has its origins in ancient Indian culture and spirituality? Would it not have been simpler if we had just one God? And again, why are there so many names for the same God? These are some of the questions that are raised about the way religion is practiced especially in India.

Responding to similar queries on one occasion Baba said, “How would it be if one were to find just one size of clothes in a retail shop?” Wouldn’t that be a frustrating experience? Every person is unique and has his/her own likes and dislikes. Maybe it is for this reason that in the Hindu faith we have so many Gods, each with a distinctive characteristic and personality. And so, we have some who like the elephant-faced Lord Ganesha, others who are devoted to Lord Krishna, a third group who worship Lord Shiva and so on. Similarly, each one loves to worship and pray in their own way based on their own experience and learning. That is probably how we have so many names for the same Lord. And each of these appellations is pregnant with meaning as they have all emerged from the sincere hearts of devotees.

In the current quiz, we offer the explanation of some of these fascinating names of Lord Shiva as explained by Bhagavan Baba Himself. 

1. BHOLANAATH The Kind hearted Lord

Lord Shiva, the King of yogis, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, form the holy Trinity of Godhead according to ancient Indian culture and spirituality. Lord Shiva is adored as the Ultimate God in the Hindu pantheon, but that does not signify He is all the more inaccessible; in fact He is called Bholanath (one who grants wishes easily) or the simple God who symbolizes divine compassion.

To prove how Lord Shiva grants desires without prejudice or hesitation, during a Divine Discourse in 1995, Swami narrated a story: “Once Eshvara [Lord Shiva] gave a boon to Bhasmaasura as desired by him, namely that whatever he touched should be reduced to ashes. Immediately on getting the boon he lost his sense of gratitude to Eshvara. He wanted to place his hand on Eshvara himself! Eshvara could not protect himself.

“He went to Vishnu, who has the duty of being a protector. Even as protector Vishnu had to observe the laws of Dharma. He could not punish Bhasmaasura straightaway. He staged a drama. He assumed the form of a most beautiful damsel, Mohini.”

As Mohini, what did Lord Vishnu have to do to save Lord Shiva from the consequence of such a compassionate nature of being a Bholanaath?

Mohini went to Lord Shiva and begged Him to change His boon
Mohini put Bhasmaasura in a trance and Lord Vishnu undid the boon
Mohini cast a spell of amnesia on Bhasmaasura and he forgot his boon
Mohini promised to marry Bhasmasuura if he imitated all her actions


2. GANGADHARAA: Lord of River Ganga

In His Divine discourses in the volume Ramakatha Rasa Vahini, Swami narrates the story of what Sage Vishwamitra told Lord Rama regarding how the sacred River Ganga was associated with Lord Shiva’s holy Name: “The Ganga is the supreme stream of Divine purity. The nectarine waters can confer immortality…King Bhagiratha was practicing austere penance like bearing the heat of the sun and taking food only once a month!

At last, appreciating his austerity, God appeared before him and said, ‘Son! Bhagiratha! Ask any boon you wish for, it shall be granted.’ Bhagiratha had the Vision of the One with the brilliance of a thousand suns. He prayed, ‘Lord! Cause the Celestial Ganga to flow on earth, so that my great-grandfathers might be saved from perdition, and be restored to Heaven.”

When God was ready to grant his boon, He said: “When it falls from heaven, the earth will not be able to bear the impact. So, as ruler of the Earth, you have to ponder over the problem and discover means by which dire disaster can be avoided.”

To avoid such a dire disaster, what remedy did the Sage recommend that gave Lord Shiva the auspicious title of Gangadhaara?

Lord Shiva must first empty out all the inhabitants on earth
The River must be made to fall first on Lord Shiva’s head
Lord Shiva must first completely dry up the Ganga before she lands on earth
Lord Shiva must trick Ganga into becoming a small stream first


3. KAILASHVAASI – The Lord who resides in Mount Kailasha

All Hindus believe that Lord Shiva resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailash, where He sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with Goddess Parvathi.

According to ancient religious texts, the abode of creator Brahma is called Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Vishnu is called Vaikunta and the abode of Lord Shiva is known as Kailasha.

During a Divine Discourse in 2005, Swami explained the meaning of this auspicious name of Lord Shiva: “People call Him “Kailashavasi” (the Lord who resides in Kailasha). Where is Kailasha?”

In the Himalayas
In the depth of our hearts
In the depth of silence 
In every single Shiva Temple


4. LINGESHWARA: Creator and Lord of the Lingam

The Linga is one of the most popular and powerful symbols in Hinduism, next only to the symbol of Aum or Om. Lord Shiva is not limited to the personal characteristics as He is given in many images and truly transcends all attributes. Hence, Shiva is often worshipped in an abstract manner, as God without form, in the form of lingam.

Many fortunate devotees have witnessed Lingodhbavam - the emergence of the sacred lingam from Swami’s Holy Body. During a Divine Discourse in 1969, Swami explained in depth the sacredness of the manifestation of Lingams: “The manifestation of the Linga is a part of My Nature. These Pandits (scholars of spirituality) explain it as reminiscent of an epochal event in the past when Shiva challenged Brahma and Vishnu to gauge the height and depth of the Linga Form He assumed. They failed and had to accept defeat.”

According to Swami, why does the sacred lingam emerge out of His Divine physical Self?

As a result of Prayer and Grace
Due to His pre-ordained Will
Because it is part of an Avatar’s Mission
To prove His Divinity


5. SHIVAM: Goodness/Auspiciousness

Lord Shiva represents the vital goodness in the form of Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram i.e., Truth, Goodness and Beauty. On one occasion, Swami said: “Shivam means goodness. It calls for the eschewing of egoism.

Those who know Telegu can see how the letter Sa becomes Si by the shortening of the mark at the end of the letter Sa. The elimination of the ego makes all the difference between Shivam and Shavam (a corpse).”

During a Divine Discourse in 1972, Swami explained the true significance of the sacred Name of Lord Shiva as Shivam: “Man has to learn the lesson of Shivam: swallow the poison of anger and greed, and make it ineffective in its effort to harm the world. Man has to spread consolation and comfort through speech and action.”

According to Swami, “The Shivam does not mean any particular God or unit of the Trinity (Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva). It includes _____________. 

Lord Rama
All gods and demi-gods
Goddess Parvathi
All Mankind


6. SHANKARA: He who dispels all doubts/Giver of Joy

Lord Shiva is popularly also known as Shankara. The word Shankara is made up of two words, namely "shanka" and "hara".  The Sanskrit word shanka means doubt and hara means dispeller or destroyer.

The word "Shankara" thus means He who dispels or destroys all doubts. He rules over our disbeliefs and hesitations and establishes firm faith in us through his compelling nature. By dispelling our doubts and establishing faith, He destroys all our bondage.

During a Divine Discourse in 1995, Swami explains another significance of Lord Shiva’s Name as Shankara: “‘Shankara’" is made up of two words, 'sham' and 'kara.' What does 'sham' mean? 'Sham' is that which is all-pervading like air. The air is filled with bliss. Shankara is one who offers this bliss to all.”

Ananda means bliss. According to Swami, Shankara confers every kind of bliss – one of them is Brahmananda, which is in fact the Supreme Bliss. According to Swami, how can we experience this bliss?

Only when we cultivate firm faith
Only when we chant the 1008 names of Shiva with devotion
Only when we worship Lord Shiva every Monday
Only when we serve and give away in charity


7. TRISHULADHARI: The Lord with the Trident

Swami once explained clearly what the Divine Trishul (three-pronged spear) in Lord Shiva’s hands represents: “Vairagyam (detachment), Bhakthi (devotion and surrender) and Gyanam (realization of the Supreme Reality) to which they lead - these three are represented by the Trishula in Shiva's hands. Develop Gyanam through the stages of Vairagyam and Bhakthi, then, you can yourself be identified as Shiva-swarupam (an embodiment of Shiva).

During the auspicious event of Lingodhbhava (emergence of lingam) in1974, Swami declared: “Having had the unique good fortune of witnessing the emergence of the time-space-embodiment in the Linga-Form, I assure you that you are released from the bondage of birth and death.

People gather in many a sacred place for Shivaraathri, but, you were able to be here on this thrice-holy day and witness the emergence of the Dhasa angula Swaruupa. The Linga, as you can see, is dhasha angulam, ten inches in circumference. It has within it, shining with native light the Trishul (three-pronged spear) of Shiva…”

According to Swami, besides it symbolizing the three phases of time, what else does the Trishul symbolize?

Power of being able to control the senses
The Three dimensions of Space
The Triple Incarnation of Swami
The essential nature of man – Truth, Consciousness and Bliss


8. TRYAMBHAKAM – The Three-Eyed Lord

Lord Shiva is typically shown to have three eyes. While His left and right eyes symbolize Shiva's activity in the physical world, his third eye symbolizes His activity in the metaphysical or spiritual world.

Most Shiva worshippers believe that the universe emerges into a new cycle of creation when Shiva opens His eyes while it dissolves into a void when He shuts His eyes. Often Shiva is shown with half open eyes, signifying the never ending, ongoing nature of the birth and destruction of the universe.

During the Summer Showers Discourses in 2000, Swami sang and explained the significance of the triple features of Lord Shiva:

Tridalam, Trigunakaram, Trinetram Cha Triyayudham,
Trijanma Papa Samharam Eka Bilvam Sivarpanam

(Offer the trifoliate bilva leaf to Lord Siva, the Three-eyed One, who bears three weapons and has the power to wipe out the sins committed in three births)

Swami explained that Lord Shiva has the ability to perceive the past, present and the future with His Three Divine Eyes. According to Swami, we can also have the future entirely in our hands! How?

By meditating on Lord Shiva and asking for that boon
By earning Grace from a seva-filled lifestyle
By having control over our present
By learning the very powerful Raja Yoga

9. UMAPATHI – Divine Consort of Goddess Parvathi, also known as Shiva/Shakthi

During a Divine Discourse delivered in 1993, Swami explains the significance of the inseparable aspect of Lord Shiva and His consort Parvathi as Shiva-Shakthi: “Humanness represents the combination of Shakthi (or Nature) and Shiva. These two are not disparate.

Although both Shraddha (meaning earnestness representing Shiva) and Vishvaasa (signifying faith representing Shakthi) are present in man, by ignoring God man wastes his life. Earnestness and faith together constitute spirituality. Without these, all spiritual exercises have no value.”

According to Swami, how is man to realize the presence of Shiva and Shakthi in him?

By constantly chanting the ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’ mantra
By dedicating all actions to the Divine
By keeping all senses under our control
By meditating on the Shiva/Shakti aspect everyday


10. VIBHUTI SUNDARA: Lord adorned with Holy Ash

Swami once mentioned: “Vibhuthi (sacred ash), is revered as the mark of Shiva. The ash guards the body from evil contacts and the deleterious effects of the vibrations proceeding from others; it also sanctifies and purifies the vibrations of the individual wearing the ash, for, it reminds him always of the inevitable end of everything that one feels as one's own, except the Lord who is the very person himself.”

During a Divine Discourse in 1974, Swami explained the legend how Lord Shiva adorned Himself with this holy ash: “The Vibhuthi is the most precious object, in the truly spiritual sense. You know that Shiva burnt the God of Desire or Kama, called Manmatha (for he agitates the mind and confounds the confusion already existing there) into a heap of ashes. Shiva adorned Himself with that ash.”

According to Swami, what is the significance of the adornment of vibhuti by Lord Shiva?

As the Conqueror of desire
As attainment of triumph over other Gods
As being able to go beyond physical consciousness
As power of indestructibleness


Dear Reader, did you like this quiz? Is it too difficult? Is it interactive enough? Would you like more such quizzes? Please help us in serving you better by writing to h2h@radiosai.org mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


Go to Radio Sai
Go to Publications Division Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust
Go to Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust
counter for wordpress