Ardhanarishvara is a composite androgynous form of Shiva and his consort Parvati. This form is shown as a fusion of half-male and half-female forms, split down in the center. The right half is depicted as Shiva, while the left half shows the female form of Parvati.
The very name Ardhanarishvara implies "the Lord who is half-woman". Since Ardhanarishvara represents the perfect synthesis of male and female forms, it also embodies the Prakriti and the Purusha, the feminine and masculine energies of the cosmos and also illustrates how Shakti, the Sacred Feminine, is inseparable from Shiva, the male principle of God. This form also symbolizes the all-pervasive, all-enduring nature of Lord Shiva.
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