In the Hindu religion, Shiva the Destroyer is one of the three principle deities of the Trimurti (Hindu Triad) along with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Preserver. He originally evolved from the early Vedic god, Rudra, and is now the supreme deity within Shaivism, a branch of Hinduism that focuses on the worship of Shiva. While he is known as the destroyer, he is also considered to be a benevolent and beneficial force, as without destruction, new creation couldn't take place. He also acts against premature destruction, going far enough to withstand great suffering. He is depicted with up to four arms, a third eye, a blue throat, matted hair, carrying a trident and a drum, is often accompanied by a serpent and rides on the back of the sacred bull Nandi.
The first of Shiva's best known attributes is his third eye, which he once used to burn the god of love, Kamadeva, to ashes. The effulgence from this act was so hot not even the god of fire Agni could handle it and it was used to create the war god Kartikeya. Shiva also has a blue throat that was caused when he swallowed the most deadly poison in the world, Halahala, the poison of the primordial snake Vasuki, earning him the name Vishakantha (one who held poison in his throat). This act is further proof of his benevolent and self-sacrificing nature.
He is the husband of the goddess Parvati, or Shakti, in all her incarnations and has two sons, Ganesha and Skanda. He also has many incarnations that would go on to become sacred figures in their own right such as Shankara and Hanuman. Shiva is also worshiped in forms born from the fusion of himself and other gods, such as Harihara when fused with Vishnu or Ardhanarishvara when he's fused Parvati or Shakti.