I am seeing Lord Shiva's picture since my childhood, past 42 years by now, and unable to find any reference/answer for why eyelid for the 3rd eye is vertical? You check any mammal in this world including humans, eyelids are horizontal with respect to our face/ground and eyelids opens upwards and closes downwards. Whereas Lord Shiva's 3rd eye's eyelid opens sideways, of course based on its orientation (vertical). Can someone please help me to find an answer?

Thanks, -Sachin


1 Answer 1


For starters - the imagery of Shiva you see is invariably created by another human trying to interpret the qualities and descriptions of Shiva like any other god or goddess..

Root of confusions :

It can be observed that there will be limitations of the physical artistic medium in trying to communicate the depth of ideas, specially with concepts relating to the multi-dimensional Spiritual realms.. So there would be a lot of aspects in the art work that are symbolic or have inner meanings or needs to be interpreted in a certain context with a certain framework/ lens (with respect to certain sampradayas) to get the honest picture.

Explanation on thrid eye:

The third eye is not a physical one that only Shiva would have it. It is a representation of the inner (non-physical) eye which every human has.

It is one of the main chakras called "Ajña" located on center of the forehead above the eyebrow line for everybody. It is the center of perception, intuition, intellegence and once active, gives you a true perception of life to "see things as they are". One can activate it by practicing one of many methods of Dhyanas/ Kriyas available in Yoga, selecting one that is suitable for you (ideally initiated by a Guru).

So why is it shown on Shiva's head? It symbolizes that it is active for him (obviously) and he represents the possiblities of what one can achieve by activating it.

He is the one who has taught all the mechanisms of Yoga to the Saptarishis through which one can attain the ultimate realisation and enlightenment and they have travelled down the Himalayas in different directions to share that knowledge with everyone. So in essence he is the first ever Guru and the first ever Yogi. Adiguru, Adiyogi.

The nameless being that he is, we gave him these names referring to various aspects of him. As he achieved a state of nothingness - "that which is not", we called him Shiva. That state of nothingness is the unity with the rest of the existence - and is the definition of "yoga" - so we called him Adiyogi, the first one who achieved it. He is the first master who taught these methods to the Saptharishis - so we call him Adiguru.

The idea that inspired artists to depict the eye vertically as per my guess, is that since Ajña is also associated with the divine light, it flows upward like the flame of a Diya.

It is also the direction of the Kundalini that flows in the upward direction through the network of chakras from the lowest Muladhara to the highest Sahasrara, as you become more consious and reach a higher vibration in practice of Yoga. Hence, a vertical image of the third eye.

And/Or may be just a matter of aesthetics ! But regardless of the artistic inspiration, in my opinion along with understanding the symbolism, only by practicing the Kriyas will amount to "Pratyaksha Pramana" making it real experience for you completes the "true" picture.

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