Shiva: Destroyer and Protector, Supreme Ascetic and Lord of the Universe. He is Ardhanarishwara, half-man and half-woman; he is Neelakantha, who drank poison to save the three worlds--and yet, when crazed with grief at the death of Sati, set about destroying them. Shiva holds within him the answers to some of the greatest dilemmas that have perplexed mankind. Who is Shiva? Why does he roam the world as a naked ascetic covered with ash? What was the tandava? What is the story behind the worship of the linga and what vision of the world does it signify? Namita Gokhale examines these questions and many others that lie within the myriad of stories about Shiva. Even as she unravels his complexities, she finds a philosophy and worldview that is terrifying and yet life affirming--an outlook that is, to many, the essence of Indian thought.