From his snowy abode on Mount Kailasa Lord Shiva travelled far and wide, answering the prayers of his devotees. But he was often in disguise to ensure that his favours went only to the deserving. And so it was that he battled with the dauntless Pandava Arjuna, cast his net into the sea as he mingled with humble fisherfolk, and emerged from the sand to kick aside even the mighty Yama, god of death.
Shiva is the third deity in the Hindu triad. He ought to be the most terrible one because he presides over destruction, whereas Brahma and Vishnu are associated with creation and preservation respectively. Yet Shiva is as much loved by mortals as Vishnu is. He inspires fear in the hearts of the wicked; love and affection in the hearts of the pious. Hindu mythology sometimes attributes all the three acts of creation, preservation and destruction to Shiva. In the Maheshamurti at Elephanta, all these aspects are combined.
The confrontation between Shiva and Arjuna is one of the many dramatic episodes in the Mahabharata. To the warrior-devotee Arjuna, Shiva appears, most appropriately, as a warrior, a Kirata. The Lord takes pleasure in battling with His devotee before rewarding him.
The story of Shiva appearing as a fisherman is told in the Tamil classic, the Tiruvachagam.
The story of Markandeya attaining immortality by the grace of Lord Shiva is taken from the Skanda Purana.
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