The real meaning of Shiv, Shankar and Shakti

Acharya Prashant
5 min readFeb 21, 2020

In the public mind, Shiv and Shankar are one and the same: Shiv-Shankar, Bholenath, Kailashpati: hundreds of names. All names are beautiful. But if we understand the meaning of these names by going into the depths of spirituality, their beauty increases further.

Shiv means the soul, the pure truth. You say Shivoham, just as the Upanishads say, Aham Brahmasmi or Poornoham. You would not ordinarily say Shankroham. When the Supreme Truth is known as nirgun — nitya — nirakaar — nirvishesh (virtueless — timeless — formless –non-subjective), it is addressed by the name Shiv. Shiv can, in fact, have no form, no body, no abode, no gender, no family, and no virtue. This is because all the causes of human suffering are contained in this material, visible, virtuous world.

All that comes under the purview of the senses, becomes the content of the mind and keeps the person in confusion. It is essential that the Ultimate Truth be seen as free of form, color, and shape. If we make the Ultimate Truth also a thing of the world and start giving it form, color and shape, then would there be any possibility left for human liberation? Therefore Shiv has to be formless.

Now let us come to the limitations of the common man. Nirgun and Nirakaar are mere words for the ordinary mind. Since our birth, all our experiences are of shapes, forms…