Shiva in Final Fantasy vs in Mythology

Shiva in Final Fantasy vs in Mythology

In the Final Fantasy series Shiva is a willowy blue-skinned and blue-haired woman who invokes ice and the deep cold. In the series she doesn’t wear much in the way of clothing (and this reminded me of Elsa when she says “the cold never bothered me anyway”). Shiva has an awesome signature move which freezes the enemy and then with a clock of her slender fingers, she shatters them into a million pieces. Shiva is one of the most popular summons and has been in almost every game since she was introduced, however in the 12th game of the series Shiva is an airship….a battleship. Out of all the summons throughout the series, I think Shiva is the one that went through the most drastic change of them all from real world mythology to Final Fantasy mythology.

Shiva in Mythology

In mythology Shiva is one of the preeminent deities in Hinduism, and Shiva is part of the Hindu Triumvirate, a trio of gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world (yes, you read that right, Shiva is a male deity in Hinduism). Shiva is known as “the destroyer” and is responsible for the destruction of the Universe. Shiva isn’t just responsible for change through death and destruction (after Brahma creates it anew), but through the destruction of the ego, or through the shedding of bad habits and attachments. Everything that has a beginning, ultimately will have an eld, whether it be a death, destruction, or a simple change of being from one state to another. In terms of energy, nothing can be created or destroyed, it simply changes. The destruction that is related to Shiva is more associated to the latter and it’s powerfully purifying on both a personal and universal level.

Shiva is a god of dualism, he is celibate and controlled, but at the same time he is lover to Shakti, his spouse. Shiva has many forms, from a great five-headed being to a dancing god, but in most of his depictions he is shown as an effeminate being with blue skin.

Shiva is the supreme god in a sect of Hinduism called Shaivism. He is one of the supreme gods in the Sumatran traditions, and in another tradition, he is one of the supreme gods alongside Vishnu and Brahma. Shiva is a very complex deity, and he is part of too many traditions, and has many forms and many names he is hard to pin down as being just one thing. In some depictions he is shown as having a third eye which offers him sight beyond the physical. He wears a snake around his neck, and this snake is Pasupathi, the Lord of Animals. This tells the world that Shiva not only has rule over animals, but also over death too – snakes are feared and many are deadly poisonous. Many in Hinduism consider that by wearing the snake as he does, he is telling them that they do not need to fear evil.

Shiva in Final Fantasy

As with any religion Hinduism is far more complex, and far richer in symbolism, and when I first saw Shiva in the Final Fantasy series, I knew it did nothing to show the complexity of the Hindu deity, Shiva. In the Final Fantasy series Shiva is nothing more than an ice-based attack and in other games she is a vengeful ice sprite. There is none of the rich symbolism, none of the deep and rich mythology from Hinduism. In the games Shiva is a woman, and in some depictions, it can be hard to tell if the mythological Shiva is male or female. The biggest similarity between both Shiva’s is that they have blue skin. As with all the summons in the Final Fantasy series there isn’t much (if any) backstory, so it is almost impossible to tell anything about them.

Final Fantasy 10 (my favorite) holds the most information about Shiva, like all the summons in this game are “people who gave their lives to battle Sin (the enemy). Yu Yevon took their souls, willingly given from their still living bodies… Now they live forever trapped in statues. But when a summoner beckons, the souls of the Fayth emerge once again” [Lulu from FFX]. Shiva was a priestess at the Macalania temple before she became a Fayth. That’s it. That’s all there is, and the other games have even less information.

One theory is that because summons are predominantly male and felt that having Shiva as a woman would bring some feminine elegance to the summons and break up all that male testosterone. If you look at how the same version of Shiva is presented – a scantily clad ice maiden, maybe her name “Shiva” is relating to her icy demeanor and nature, and to the word ‘shiver’ which is what her enemies do when they are subjected to her ‘Diamond Dust’ attack.

So, do the games relate to real-world mythology? Not really. The Final Fantasy creators missed the mark with this one. However, Shiva is one of my favorite summons along with Bahamut and Ifrit.

About The Author

Leave a Reply