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Like Vishnu, Shiva is held by devotees to be the entire universe, yet he is worshipped in various manifestations and in hundreds of local temples.
Although it is not always clear whether Shiva is invoked as a great god of frightful aspect, capable of conquering demonic power, or as the boon-giving lord and protector, Hindus continue to invoke him in rites.
Major groups such as the In the minds of the ancient Hindus, Shiva was the divine representative of the uncultivated, dangerous, and unpredictable aspects of nature.
Shiva’s character lent itself to being split into partial manifestations—each said to represent only an aspect of him—as well as to assimilating powers from other deities.
Preference for any one of these manifestations is largely a matter of tradition.