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NilaLohita which means the Lord who is both Blue and Red. Nila means blue and Lohita means Red.

NilaLohita is one of the popular name of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is called by the name NilaLohita itself in the Sata Rudriya (10th Anuvaka) as:

द्रापे अन्धसस्पते दरिद्रन्नीललोहित (YajurVeda 16.47)

Oh you who punishes as per sin of people. Oh! Lord of Food. Oh! NilaLohita.

As the Vedas themselves call the Lord NilaLohita which means who is blue and red, there most be something deep meaning inside it.

So, Why is Lord Shiva called NilaLohita? What do the blue and red signify here?

  • sa.wiktionary.org/wiki/… – Vineet Menon Dec 16 '16 at 9:59
  • @VineetMenon Is that a Sanskrit to Sanskrit dictionary? How do u read it if you already don't know Sanskrit :) BTW, I did a meta post about Sanskrit dictionaries. – sv. Dec 16 '16 at 21:00
  • @sv., Yes. It is. Although there is sometimes an entry from Monier Willaims. I agree that if a person has zero knowledge then, it's not really useful, but sometimes a nudge in the right direction is enough to understand the sandhi in the word. eg. Oxford English -> English dictionary. – Vineet Menon Dec 17 '16 at 15:00
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The blue (Nila) and red (Lohita) colour represent Purusha and Prakriti. Since both Prakriti and Purusha merge in him, he is called NilaLohita. Linga Purana 2.18 states it as:

नीलश्च लोहितश्चैव प्रधानपुरुषान्वयात् ।
स्कंदस्ते यतः शुक्ल तथा शुक्लमपैति च ।।

He is of both Blue and Red colour since both Pradhana and Purusha merge in him. Since the semen flows from him, he is known as Shukla.

In one of the incarnation (among many) through Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva comes in NilaLohita form. This is recorded even in Vedas. Atharvaveda describes it as:

व्रात्य आसीदीयमान एव स प्रजापतिं समैरयत् ।।
स प्रजापति: सुवर्णमात्मन्नपश्यत्तत्प्राजनयत् ।।
तदेकमभवत्तल्ललाममभवत्तन्महदभवत्तज्जेष्ठमभवत्तद्ब्रह्माभवत्तत्तपोऽभवत्तत्सत्यमभवत्तेन प्राजायत ।।
सोऽवर्धत स महानभवत्स महादेवोऽभवत् ।।
स देवानामीशां पर्यैत्स ईशानोऽभवत् ।।
स एकव्रात्योऽभवत्स धनुरादत्त तदेवेन्द्रधनुः ।।
नीलमस्योदरं लोहितं पृष्ठम् ।।
नीलेनैवाप्रियं भ्रातृव्यं प्रोर्णोति लोहितेन द्विषन्तं विध्यतीति  ब्रह्मवादिनो वदन्ति ।।
  [Atharva Veda 15:1]

There was Vratya . He roused Prajapati to action. Prajapati beheld gold in himself and engendered it. That became unique, that became distinguished, that became great, that became excellent, that became Brahman, that became Tapas, that became Truth: through that he (Vratya) was born. He grew, he became great, he became Mahadeva. He gained the lordship of the Gods. He became Ishana. He became Eka Vratya. He held a bow, even that Bow of Indra. His front is dark-blue, his back is red (Nila Lohita). With dark-blue he envelops a detested rival, with red he pierces the man who hates him: so the knowers of Brahman say.

The same is described in 1.41 of Linga Purana as:

ललाटमस्य निर्भिद्य प्रादुरासीत्पितामहात् ।
लोहितोऽभूत्स्वयं नीलः शिवस्य हृदयोद्भव ।।
वह्रश्चैव तु संयोगात्प्रकृत्या पुरुषः प्रभुः ।
नीलश्च लोहितश्चैव यतः कालाकृतिः पुमान् ।।
नीललोहित ईत्युक्तस्तेन देवेन वै प्रभुः ।

All pervading lord born of body of Bhava, came out of Brahma by piercing his forehead. The lord who born of the heart of Shiva was originally blue but became red coming in contact with fire. It represents the form of combination of Prakriti and Purusha of the Lord. Because of the form with both blue and red colour resembling Kãla, Lord came to be known by the name NilaLohita.

Thus, the half blue half red form of Lord Shiva is known as NilaLohita. NilaLohita form of Lord Shiva actually denotes the combination of Purusha and Prakriti.

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