Shiva had no sense in the transitory pleasures of life, so he rejected samsara, smeared his body with ash, closed his eyes and performed austerities. Shiva's tapas generated so much heat that his body transformed into a pillar of fire - a blazing lingam that threatened to destroy the whole world. The gods did not know how to control Shiva's fire. Suddenly there appeared a yoni - the divine vessel of the mother-goddess. It caught the fiery lingam and contained its heat, thus saving the cosmos from untimely destruction.
Shiva is often pictured in a pacific mood with his consort Parvati, as the cosmic dancer Nataraja, as a naked ascetic, as a mendicant beggar, as a yogi Dhakshinamurthy, and as the androgynous union of Shiva and Parvati in one body (Ardhanarisvara). Shiva also takes the form of Ardhanari, his androgynous form. The right side of the sculpture is Shiva and the left side is Parvati. The attributes of each are split directly down the middle.
Another example of Shiva's apparent synthesis of male and female attributes is seen in his earrings. He wears one earring in the style of a man and the other as a female as shown in the two different earrings Shiva wears.The third eye is a symbol of higher consciousness. It is also something with which he can destroy his enemies "with fire." He can also kill all the gods and other creatures during the periodic destruction of the universe. Shiva's third eye first appeared when Parvati, his wife, playfully covered his other two eyes, therefore plunging the world into darkness and putting it in danger of destruction.