This plaque, despite its representational limitations, symbolises three of his major exploits. Shiva has on his forehead in the plaque a third eye. It is said one day, when sporting with him, Parvati covered with her palms Shiva's both eyes. This engulfed the entire universe into darkness and life began to deteriorate. The solar energy flew only through his eyes. Hence when they were closed, the inflow of solar energy stopped. Gods, sages and holy beings rushed to Shiva and prayed him to release it. Sportive Parvati refused to remove her hands. Shiva then opened on his forehead his third eye and allowed solar energy emit out from it. Gods paid homage to him and attributed to him a new epithet 'Trinetra' Shiva.
Shiva in this representation has the mark of sickle moon in the braids of his hair. Both gods and demons wished to be immortal which they could be only after they were able to secure nectar from underneath the ocean and drink it. They reached an agreement and decided to churn the ocean, an episode known in Indian mythology as 'Samudra-Manthana'. One after the other many invaluable jewels came out of it. Suddenly there emerged out of it a fluid with deadly vapours emitting from it. A deadly cry for help rose from both camps as the vapours and smell of the fluid was choking their throats. Shiva came to their rescue. He picked in his hands the entire fluid and drank it. Panicky Parvati caught his throat as she would not allow the deadly arsenic to descend down it. The fluid stayed in his throat and with its effect his neck turned blue. Gods, demons, sages and all human beings worshipped Shiva out of gratitude and Vishnu gave him 'Neelakantha' as his yet another name. The cool soothing moon had also emerged from the churning of ocean. To reduce the heat and poisonous effects of arsenic the moon was offered to Shiva, which he set upon his head.
The female icon on Shiva's head represents Ganga. Under a curse Ganga had to descend to earth. On the other hand Bhagirath, a king of Ikshvaku dynasty, was engaged in rigorous penance for bringing Ganga to earth as thus alone he could effect salvation of the sixty thousand sons of Sagar, his forefather. Ganga out of vanity boasted to Brahma as to who would bear her current on earth, as earth, soil,trees or even mountains could not hold her. Brahma suggested to Bhagirath to approach Shiva as he alone could hold Ganga's mighty flow in the braids of his hair. Bhagirath devoted himself to further penance for pleasing Shiva. Finally Shiva appeared and asked him for a boon. Bhagirath prayed him to hold Ganga into his hair when she descended the earth and release her in minor streaks which the earth might bear. Shiva did accordingly but Ganga loved Shiva and went out of his hair only partially, remaining partially couched forever on Shiva's head.
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