Lord Shiva is considered one of the three major gods in Hinduism and is believed to be the most distinguished manifestation of Brahman. According to the Linga Purana, there are five faces of Lord Shiva, known as Panchanana Shiva. These represent the five key aspects of Shiva.
The Hindu God Shiva is sacredly connected with the number five. This is embodied in the five mantras and syllables that represent his power. Each mantra signifies a head that is associated with different feminine energy, referred to as Shakti.
The five aspects of Shiva are described in Puranas, being connected to the five elements, five senses, five organs of perception, and five organs of action.
List of Five Faces of Shiva With Meaning
The name of the five faces of Lord Shiva are:
- Ishana: Associated with Srishti Shakti (Power of Creation)
- Tatpurusha: Associated with Thoridhana Shakti (Power of Concealment)
- Aghora: Associated with Samhara Shakti (Power of Dissolution)
- Vamadeva: Associated with Stithi Shakti (Power of Sustenance)
- Sadjyota: Associated with Anugraha Shakti (Power of Blessing)
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Exploring the Five Faces of Lord Shiva With Mantra
Each face of Lord Shiva symbolizes a unique character.
- Ishana faces southeast and carries Shiva’s Iswara aspect.
- Tatpurusha is east and symbolizes Shiva’s human aspect and the ego of Shiva.
- Aghora’s compass is south and symbolizes Shiva’s destructive and regenerative nature.
- To the north stands Vamadeva, representing Shiva’s healing, protecting, and preserving nature.
- Finally, to the west is Sadyojata, depicting the creative side of Shiva.
Taken together, these five faces of Shiva (Panchanana Shiva) represent his divine power.
The Linga Purana, an ancient sacred text, speaks of five aspects of Lord Shiva which are believed to symbolize the five aspects of creation, the five bodies of humans, five breaths, five directions, five elements, five senses, five colors, five energies, five divisions of time, and five human races.
By understanding each of these aspects, we can gain deeper insights into the figure of the revered deity of Hinduism.
1. Ishana – The Lord
Ishana is known as the lord of creation. He is often associated with chit-shakti or mind power, and commonly represents the element of earth or air in some contexts.
Additionally, Ishana is associated with the ritual knowledge of the Vedas, and the power of manifestation within the mind. In terms of senses, he represents the sense of touch and hands. In terms of iconography, he is represented with an upward-looking face.
Ishana is usually portrayed with bronze skin. In artworks, Ishana is depicted holding symbols of his power, including the Vedas, an elephant hook, a noose, a hatchet, a skull, a drum, a rosary, and a trident.
God Shiva is also often seen with a she-goat. His hands are held up in two ways:
- one in protection (abhaya)
- one in offering wishes (varada).
- Ishana Mantra
ईशान सर्वविद्यानामीश्वरः सर्वभूतानां ब्रह्मादिपति ब्रह्मणोऽधिपतिर्।
ब्रह्मा शिवो मे अस्तु स एव सदाशिव ओम्॥
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2. Tat-Purusha – The Cosmic Being
Tat-Purusha is Vishnu, the Lord of Preservation. He is the cosmic egg, or Hiranyagarbha, the bringer of joy and nourishment and the chief priest of the cosmic sacrifice.
He is also seen as the sun, rising to bring knowledge and materialistic abundance (Sri Siva Tattva). He is associated with the element of water and is seen as the sense of smell among sense organs and the anus among bodily organs.
Tat-Purusha is often depicted with three eyes and four faces in yellow garments. He is frequently shown in the presence of Gayathri. Symbolically, Tat-Purush stands for the direction of the East and is associated with a golden hue.
- Tat Purusha Mantra
तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहि।
तन्नो रुद्रः प्रचोदयात्॥
3. Vamadeva – The Concealer
Vamadeva covers up Tatpurusha, behind a curtain of delusion. He is the opposite of Tatpurusha. His color, red, represents his power of action, known as kriya-shakti, and the element of air. But the most defining aspect of Vamadeva is the egoism that lies within him, or what is known as anava.
Vamadeva is the sense of sight and is associated with the feet in the bodily organs. In representations of him, he is usually either red or lotus-colored and wears red ornaments.
He is seen with four hands, one of them holding a rosary while the second holds a hatchet. The third and fourth hands are posed in the gestures of protection (abhaya) and of granting boons (varada).
- Vamadeva Mantra
वामदेवायनमो ज्येष्ठाय नमः श्रेष्ठाय
नमो रुद्राय नमः कालाय नमः।
कलविकरणाय नमो बलाय नमो
बलविकरणाय नमो बलप्रमथनाय नमः।
सर्वभूतदमनाय नमो मनोन्मनाय नमः॥
4. Sadyojata – The Revealer
Sada Shiva, the eternal being and grants grace. Known for his spontaneity and ability to manifest (sad yojata), Sada Shiva is often seen as a leader of delight (Nanda) and enjoyment (Sunanda). He is a representation of liberating knowledge (jnana shakti) and is associated with the element of space.
His color is white, which is symbolic of sattva, or purity. It is the northern face of the five faces. Being depicted as white, he holds a Vedas and prayer beads in two hands, while the other two hands represent a gesture of both protection and granting boons. In addition, Sadyojata is seen to represent the mind and also the sense of taste.
- Sadyojata Mantra
सद्योजातं प्रपद्यामि सद्योजाताय वै नमो नमः।
भवे भवे नाति भवे भवस्व मां भवोद्भवाय नमः॥
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5. Aghora – The Destroyer
Aghora is a powerful figure mentioned in the Vedas as the father of the war gods Maruts and Rudras. He is known as the one who is not ruled by fear and is battle-ready. He is connected to the element of fire and is the embodiment of desire (known as iccha-shakti).
He is also believed to be the personification of dharma – the power of the law and its punitive action. Moreover, Aghora symbolizes buddhi, discrimination, the sense of hearing, and the organ of speech. At the same time, he is a figure associated with destruction.
Aghora is typically black or dark red. In a panchanana form, he depicts the southern direction. In images, he is depicted as a fierce god with four faces and nine hands, each of which holds various symbols such as an ax, shield, elephant hook, noose, spear, skull, drum, and rosary.
- Aghora Mantra
अघोरेभ्योऽथ घोरेभ्यो अघोरघोरेतरेभ्यः।
सर्वतः शर्वः सर्वेभ्यो नमस्ते रुद्र रूपेभ्यः॥
Five holds a deep significance in Hinduism, especially in regard to Lord Shiva. One of the most venerated mantras of Lord Shiva, Namah-Shivaya, also consists of five syllables.
Lord Shiva, revered among Hindus, is believed to exhibit five essential forms that are essential for our existence, continuation, transformation, purification, and liberation. Consequently, it is important that we are conscious of Shiva’s five faces and worship him accordingly.