Shiva’s third eye has always fascinated people. It stands there dramatically on his forehead ready to release a missile of fire and destroy the world. Many people assume that is why Shiva is called the `destroyer’. They also assume that this eye opens when Shiva is angry. Shiva expresses rage and sorrow at the death of his spouse, Sati, threatening to destroy all by opening his third eye, until all the gods salute him, sing songs to his glory and beg him to calm down.
Yes, Shiva is furious when his wife, Sati, immolates herself. The story goes that Sati marries Shiva against the wishes of her father, Daksha, who wants this daughter, like his other daughters, to marry a Deva, or god, rather than an ascetic. In retaliation, Daksha organizes a fire-sacrifice or yagna and invites all his sons-in-laws except Shiva, to partake of the ritual. Angry at the exclusion of her husband, Unable to bear this public humiliation, Sati kills herself by leaping into the sacrificial fire. When Shiva learns of this event, he experiences deep rage and sorrow. He transforms into Virabhadra, a fierce warrior, and goes on a rampage attacking everyone who had been silent witnesses to Sati’s death. He stops only when Daksha is beheaded.
But Shiva opens his third eye much later, when Sati is reborn as the daughter of the mountains, Parvati, and, smitten by Shiva, tries her best to win him. Shiva remains impassive, exasperating both her and the Devas who are eager to get Shiva married. So they send Kama, the god of lust, to raise desire into Shiva’s heart. Unfortunately, the result is not quite what anyone expects. Instead of opening his eyes and expressing his desire for Parvati, Shiva opens a third eye, in the centre of the forehead and out comes a missile of fire that sets Kama aflame. Before Parvati’s horrified eyes, Kama is reduced to a pile of ashes. It is then that Shiva gets the name destroyer. 🔥👁🔥
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