What is the reasons/significance of Shiva holding deer in his hand?

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  • 2
    You see rabbit and deer are related to moon (Chandra) and moon to mind .. I have read Lord Shiva holds the deer to show that mind is completely under his control .. Without mind being under control spiritual progress is not possible.
    – Rickross
    Jul 27, 2022 at 12:58
  • @Rickross I just wrote the same thing as an answer. Haha.
    – user28152
    Jul 31, 2022 at 14:51
  • I read somewhere it's Yagnadevata/Agni. At Daksha yagna, Agni tried to escape as Deer was captured. But upon request of all the devatas, shiva didn't punish him. Not sure this is something recorded in any puranas..
    – Kanthri
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:19
  • Also, Pashupati Astakam dhyana shloka says "parashu mRiga varaabhi itihastaM". Whether Mriga here is deer and why deer is the question!
    – Kanthri
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


I cannot get sources for this, but I remember reading this somewhere and hearing it from a song. So this an opinionated answer. There may be some other esoteric meaning. This is the meaning I know.

The Saranga or deer represents mind. If you see the way a deer runs, it jumps and runs in zig zag motion all over the place to escape the predator. This jump and zig zag motion is compared with mind's chanchalatva or constant motion.

Lords Shiva holds it. Indicating that he himself has complete mastery over his mind and will also still the mind of his Bhakta and helps a spiritual Sadhaka. As Yoga itself is defined as

Yogaha Chitta Vrutti Nirodha - Yoga Sutras 1.2

Yoga is the subduing and stopping of waves of mind

So it symbolizes that Lord Shiva has complete control over his mind and helps the yogi sadhaka or the spiritual aspirant to attain Yoga Or Union with the divine.

P.S: Just a FYI mention. In this song called Needu Shiva Needade Iru Shiva which means, "Oh Shiva either give or not give, it's your wish", from movie of Gaana Yogi Pachakshra Gawai, the song writer says,

Saranga Manake Nooraru Bayake Mundittu Ramisodu Na Kanene..!?

Don't I see you placing hundreds of desires before my mind which is like a deer, to tempt it?

So this meaning is a popular meaning in the culture.

  • Credit to @Rickross commet for pointing out it may also represent that Lord Shiva has his mind under complete control.
    – user28152
    Jul 31, 2022 at 15:08
  • 1
    Thanks for your views but not sure about the references. This doesn't answer the question on reasons and significance of deer in the hand. Mind stability is important; mind comparison with deer is common. Doesn't explain how shiva came to hold that.
    – Kanthri
    Aug 4, 2022 at 7:41
  • I agree with @Kanthri. If there are no scriptural evidence available, it should not be added as answer.
    – Ketan
    Aug 21, 2022 at 14:50

The anectode of Daruka Vana Rishis could explain, how Lord Shiva came to hold the deer in His hand

In the temple at Chidambaram, on the ceiling of the large maṇḍapa in front of the shrine of Śivakāmasundarī, there is represented the story of the genesis of the Bhikṣāṭana form of Śiva and of Mohinī of Viṣṇu. The plan of Śiva and Viṣṇu to proceed to Dārukāvana to test the Ṛṣis and Ṛṣipatnis, by assuming the strange guise of the naked beggar and the bewitching enchantress, succeeds. Bhikṣāṭana captures the hearts of the Ṛṣipatnis while Mohinī ravishes the hearts of the sages, as narrated at length in long panels, row after row, in bright and beautiful colours. Beyond this story is that of the discomfited Ṛṣis performing the ābhicārika homa to destroy Śiva and how, out of the fire, arose the deer, the snake, the tiger, Muyalaka(Apasmara dwarf represent ing spiritual ignorance) and so forth

The deer(that came out of homa subdued by lord) on one side is the mind, because the mind leaps and jumps from one thing to another as unsteadily as that animal.

This sthala purana can be found in the website of chidambaram temple.

However it seems that , this sthala purana is not a part of any other puraana ( to my knowledge), and is exclusive to Chidambaram temple only.

PS Related post on Chidambara Maahatmya

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