There is duality in manifestation and this duality has the character of complimentary poles of attraction. There can be no creation without the relation of opposites. Shiva contains all opposites within him and even described as half male, half female. In Hindu thought, Parvati is considered to be the cosmic energy, Shakti, and can be benevolent and fierce. In her aspect as Durga, she is a fierce golden-hued woman who rides on a tiger and is called the 'Inaccessible'.
This Ardhanarishvara murti of Shiva in a way symbolizes the syncretic ideology, for it emphasizes the union of the principal cult deities of Shaivism and Shaktism. The cobra raises its head to the right of Shiva’s face. Shiva has matter hair, while the Devi side wears a crown. However, for symmetry they both rise to the same level, making a peaking crown. Shiva's two arms hold a trishula and kamandalu; while one hand of Durga holds a serpent and the other makes a gesture of blessing. The dress and ornaments of the two halves of the body are different in as much as they are made to befit a male and a female. While Shiva’s lower garment made of animal skin ends at his knees, that of the goddess covers her leg completely.
At the feet of Shiva sits Nandi, the bull that is his associated vehicle. At the other side is the fierce lion, belonging to Durga. This beautiful androgyne image portrays the coming together of Parvati as Durga with her lord, the togetherness of female and male and the oneness of prakriti and purusha.
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