Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

In medieval and modern Hinduism, Vishnu and Shiva are both treated as supreme deity by their respective worshippers. More than any of the supreme Gods of the West – like Odin or Zeus – Shiva combines two contradictory aspects, each clearly articulated and separate, especially in early references. The "Shiva" aspect is the divine physician; the "Rudra" aspect is the great destroyer. The two aspects – even in the Mahabharata, where he is known mainly as Shiva – Shadow one another. Shiva reconciles opposites; he is the ultimate ground upon which the Balance of the world is assured; he is also the Lord of the Dance, and depending on the nature of that dance he brings the world into being (see Creation Myths) or ends it (see Apocalypse).

He is rarely specifically used in Western fantasy as an Underlier, though in a general sense it is reasonable to assume that he provides a rough model for fictional gods who both raven and heal. The hero of Warren B Murphy's Destroyer sequence is based specifically upon Shiva the Destroyer; this aspect is also recreated in Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light (1967), with the help of Technofantasy weaponry. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.