Shiva also known as Mahadeva ("Great God"), is one of the main deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and "the Destroyer" or "the Transformer" among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.
At the highest level, Shiva is regarded limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.
The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the crescent moon adorning, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the an iconic form of Lingam.
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