Siva means auspiciousness.
The River Ganga
Represents the flow of knowledge from the teacher to the disciple.
The Crescent Moon
It represents the nectar of life. It is said that the nectarine rays of the moon fall on earth and nourish the entire vegetable kingdom. But the poison is just the opposite – it brings death. Lord Siva holds both the moon and the poison, yet is ever in meditation. It signifies that our life is full of pairs of opposites – life and death, creation and destruction, joy and sorrow, success and failure. We should be able to bear these pairs of opposites with calmness of mind and not let them destroy our mental equipoise. We should be able to accept pain as well as pleasure with a composed mind.
The Blue Neck
The story is that the milky ocean was churned by the gods and demons in order to get the nectar of immortality. The celestial snake, Vasuki which was used as a churning rope began to vomit a fatal poison. No one wanted this poison. So, everyone ran to Lord Siva as He is the embodiment of compassion. He took the poison and drank it. However, He did not swallow the poison completely but kept it in His throat without letting it go to the stomach. The poison turned His neck blue.
The significance is that only a great and wise person will be able to swallow all the poison in life and yet NOT become bitter.
The Snake Garland
The snake represents the mind that spits out its poison of negative thoughts. Yet if we keep our mind under perfect control so that it is quiet within and no longer agitating us, it will lie peacefully in meditation just like Lord Siva.
Lord Siva wears ashes from the cremation ground smeared all over His body. The ashes are a great Vibhooti for Him. They symbolize the fact that our body is already ‘dead’ since it is perishable and nothing but inert matter. The body will turn into ashes one day. We should therefore, rise above our identification with the body even while we are living.
The Third Eye
Lord Siva’s third eye is the eye of knowledge and wisdom. The other two eyes represent love and justice. When the Lord looks at and deals with the world, He is both loving and just. If one is just without compassion, then justice becomes too harsh. When one is too loving but does not have a sense of justice, one becomes sentimental. Lord Siva exemplifies a good ruler who has both love and justice and also looks at this world with a vision of knowledge that destroys ignorance and passion.
The Deer Skin and Matted Hair
The deer skin, holy ash, and matted hair are symbols signifying supreme renunciation.