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Lord Shiva is known as God of the Gods- 'Mahadev' and he is hailed as one of the important dieties of the Hindu Trinity. He is known as the 'Destroyer', Brahma as the 'Creator' and Vishnu as the 'Protector'. Here the destruction means the 'constructive destroyer', i.e., the destroyer of the negative traits in the human beings.
If you come across the image or idol of Lord Shiva, you will see a human deity sitting in a human form and completely in a meditative state. He is also worshipped in the form of Linga. Devotees believe that as per the Purnimant calendar, Lord Shiva came into the universe on Chaturdashi Tithi of Krishna Paksha in the month of Phalguna.
It is believed that to fulfil several purposes of his existence, Lord Shiva has incarnated several times. This year Mahashivratri will be celebrated on 01 March 2022 and it is also believed to be the day when Lord Shiva (Purusha) unites with His consort Goddess Parvati (Shakti). Let us know about the 19 avatars of Lord Shiva and their significance.
Mahashivratri Special: 19 Avatars Of Lord Shiva
1. Nandi Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva is born to Sage Shilada. To seek Lord Shiva's blessing, once the sage performed intense penance and pleaded for a child who will be immortal. Bholenath was so pleased and happy to see the sage's devotion, that he Himself took birth as Nandi, who then went on to became the gate-keeper of Kailasha (Lord Shiva's heavenly abode) and the mount of the Lord.
2. Sharabha Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva appears to be partly lion and a bird. It is different from the other avatars of Lord Shiva and in some texts, it is mentioned that this form of Him is said to have eight legs. It appeared to calm Lord Narasimha after the latter killed demon Hiranyakashipu.
3. Piplaad Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva was born to Sage Dadhichi and his wife Swaracha. Lord Shiva lost his parents after birth and was raised by His aunt Dadhimati. When he grew up and learnt about the cause of his father's death. Piplaad cursed Shavi Dev (Saturn) and wanted to avenge him for troubling his father during his lifetime. Due to this Shani Dev fell from the galaxy. 
It was only when other deities intervened, Piplaad forgave Shani saying no one who is under sixteen will get affected by his adverse effects. Due to this, those who have Shani Dosha worship Lord Shiva.
4. Veerabhadra Avatar
This is known to one of the fiercest form of Lord Shiva and it is believed that after Sati's death (Lord Shiva's consort), he incarnated as Veerabhadra. Lord Daksha was responsible for Sati's death and therefore, while doing Yagya, Lord Shiva beheaded him.
5. Grihapati Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva was born to a sage named Vishwanar and his wife, who lived on the banks of Narmada river. It was the sage's consort, who wanted Lord Shiva as their son. Therefore, the sage went to Kashi and performed intense penance. Pleased by Vishwanar's devotion, Lord Shiva blessed him and was born as Grihapati to the couple.
6. Hanuman Avatar
This is believed to be the eleventh for of Lord Shiva and is known to have born to Mata Anjani and Kesari. He is also known as the son of Wind god (Vayu) because of legends and stories associated with Vayu's role in Hanuman's birth.
7. Ashwatthama Avatar
To please Lord Shiva, once Guru Dronacharya had performed intense penance and wanted Lord Shiva to be born as his son. Bholenath was so pleased that, he took birth as Ashwatthama, who was a great warrior and had an important role in the Mahabharata.
8. Bhairava Avatar
It is known to be one of the fiercest avatars of Lord Shiva and is also referred as Dandapani. Devotees believe that this avatar of Lord Shiva punishes when one comes under the influence of greed, lust and arrogance as the negative traits always leads to the downfall of humans.
9. Rishabha Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva is associated with bull and he was born to kill the sons of Lord Vishnu and Patala lok women. It is believed that Lord Vishu's son caused destruction and hence at the order of Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva appeared as Rishabha and saved the creation.
10. Durvasa avatar
This avatar of Lord Shiva was born to Sage Atri and his wife, Anasuya. It is believed that this avatar of Lord Shiva is short-tempered and demanded respect both from the humans as well as the dieties.
11. Krishna Darshan Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva was created to emphasise the significance of Yagya and the importance of remaining detached from situations. The story is associated with a king named Nabhag, his father Shradhadeva and Sage Angiras.
12. Bhikshuvarya Avatar
This avatar of Lord Shiva took the form of a beggar to save King Sathyaratha's child. It is said that the child lost his parents, and was brought up by a poor woman along with Lord Shiva's blessings.
13. Avadhut Avatar
This avatar of Lord Shiva appeared to crush the ego of Indra Dev. He tested Lord Indra while he wa passing through Kailash and took the form of sage and blocked his way. Indra requested him to move, but the sage didn't. Therefore, Indra decided to use ‘Vajra' but his hands was stuck. When he realised the truth, Indra asked for forgiveness.
14. Yatinath Avatar
The avatar of Lord Shiva appeared to test a tribal couple famous for their hospitality. The tribal man named Aahuk lost his life while safeguarding his guest, Yatinath. Instead of mourning, his wife took pride in him for giving away his life for the sake of a guest. Pleased by the couple's devotion, Lord Shiva blessed them by saying that they would be born as Nala and Damayanti in their next birth.
15. Sureshwar Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva appeared in Indra Dev's disguise so that a young boy named Upamanyu's devotion can be tested. He succeeded the test and then the Bholenath had to reveal himself in front of the boy.
16. Brahmachari Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva is associated with a story when Sati took birth as Parvati. She performed intense penance to Lord Shiva. Bholenath then appeared before her as a Brahmachari. To test the devotion of Parvati, he hurled abuses at Lord Shiva. Unable to bear it, Parvati gave a befitting reply to the Brahmachari. Then, Lord Shiva revealed himself and blessed her.
17. Keerat Avatar
This form of Lord Shiva appeared to test Arjuna's bravery. When the Pandavas were in exile, Arjuna meditated to seek Lord Shiva's Pashupat. While he was meditating, a demon named Mooka transformed into a boar and tried to kill Arjuna. It was then, Lord Shiva took the form of Keerat and then he and Arjuna both killed the boar with their arrows. Initially, Arjun was unable to recognise Lord Shiva, but eventually, he realised that only the Lord himself could only be a better archer than him.
18. Sunatnartak avatar
The Sunatnartak avatar of Lord Shiva appeared in the Himalayan King's court and danced with his damru. In the end, he put forward a marriage proposal and expressed his desire to marry Parvati.
19. Yaksheshwar Avatar
The Yaksheshwar avatar of Lord Shiva appeared to crush the pride/complacency of the Devas after they consumed Amrit, the divine nectar. He asked them to cut a blade of grass, and they failed to destroy it even with their combined powers. Subsequently, the apologised to Lord Shiva.
Disclaimer: The information is based on assumptions and information available on the internet and the accuracy or reliability is not guaranteed. Boldsky doesn't confirm any inputs or information related to the article and our only purpose is to deliver information. Kindly consult the concerned expert before practising or implementing any information and assumption.
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