Shiva was originally known as Rudra, a minor deity addressed only three times in the Rig Veda. He gained importance after absorbing some of the characteristics of an earlier fertility god and became Shiva, part of the trinity, or trimurti, with Vishnu and Brahma. Shiva often wears a snake coiled around his upper arms and neck symbolizing the power he has over the most deadly of creatures. Snakes are also used to symbolize the Hindu dogma of reincarnation. Their natural process of moulting or shedding their skin is symbolic of the human soul’s transmigration of bodies from one life to another.
The Pineal Gland or Third-Eye The pineal gland is considered one of the body's greatest mysteries. Today we know that it is an endocrine gland which secrets the hormone melatonin. It is shaped like a pine cone and placed exactly in the middle of the brain. The French philosopher Descartes suggested that the pineal gland, or the cone gland, as he called it, was the dwelling place of the soul, and the gateway to the spiritual world. But apart from this comment, western science has mainly ignored this gland and considered it more or less useless. Since Darwin it has been described as reminiscent of an eye which no longer is in use, and originates from earlier history of evolution when we were a more primitive species. It is not until the last sixty years that science has started to uncover some of the pineal glands great secrets. After seven years of age small layers of calcification appears in the gland, and makes it look like a small cone in x-rays. Because it is situated in the middle of the brain, it is used to detect tumours of the brain, because this would displace the pineal gland from it's centre.
The popular belief is that the Shiva Lingam represents the phallus or the virile organ, the emblem of the generative power or principle in nature. This is not only a serious mistake, but also a grave blunder. In the post -Vedic period, the Linga became symbolical of the generative power of the Lord Shiva. Linga is the differentiating mark. It is certainly not the sex-mark. You will find in the Linga Purana: Pradhanam prakritir yadahur- lingamuttamam; Gandhavarnarasairhinam sabda-sparsadi-varjitam — The foremost Linga which is primary and is devoid of smell, colour, taste, hearing, touch, etc., is spoken of as Prakriti (Nature). Linga means ‘mark’, in Sanskrit. It is a symbol which points to an inference. When you see a big flood in a river, you infer that there had been heavy rains the previous day. When you see smoke, you infer that there is fire. This vast world of countless forms is a Linga of the Omnipotent Lord. The Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva. When you look at the Linga, your mind is at once elevated and you begin to think of the Lord.
Shiva saw no sense in the transitory pleasures of life, so he rejected samsara, smeared his body with ash, closed his eyes and performed austerities. Shiva's tapas generated so much heat that his body transformed into a pillar of fire - a blazing lingam that threatened to destroy the whole world. The gods did not know how to control Shiva's fire.Suddenly there appeared a yoni - the divine vessel of the mother-goddess. It caught the fiery lingam and contained its heat, thus saving the cosmos from untimely destruction. Shiva is often pictured in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati, as the cosmic dancer Nataraja, as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi Dhakshinamurthy, and as the androgynous union of Shiva and Parvati in one body (Ardhanarisvara).
आनंदमय स्वरूपधारी शिव समस्त जग के कल्याणरूप शिवतत्व हैं। परात्पर सच्चिदानन्द परमेश्वर शिव एक हैं, विश्वातीत हैं और विश्वमय भी हैं। वे गुणातीत हैं, गुणमय हैं। वे एक होते हुए भी अनेक-अनेक रूप प्रकट कर कार्य कराते हैं। वे जब अपने विस्ताररहित अद्वितीय मूल स्वरूप में स्थित रहते हैं, तब मानो यह विविध विलासमयी असंख्य रूपों वाली विश्वरूप जादू के खेल की जननी प्रकृतिदेवी उनमें विलीन रहती है। बह्मा, विष्णु और रूद्र सभी परात्पर महाशिव द्वारा प्रकट किये हुए होने के कारण नित्य शुद्ध और दिव्य हैं। प्रकृति द्वारा रचे जाने वाले विश्व प्रपंच के विनाश होने पर भी इनका विनाश नहीं होता, क्योंकि ये प्रकृति की सत्ता से परे स्वयं प्रभु परमात्मा के ही स्वरूप हैं।