I took the slokas from a very popular book named “Thaithreeya Manthrakosham”, the name resonating with one of the famous upanishads “Thaithreeya Upanishad”.
Five basic acts are identified that are done by the Supreme one. Within the parenthesis is the term in Tamil
- Creation (padathaiththal) – In sanskrit, this is Shristi
- Sustenance (kaaththal) – In sanskrit, this is Sthithi
- Destruction (azhiththal) – In sanskrit, this is samhaaram
- Concealment (maraiththal) – In sanskrit, this is thirodhanam – This is the act of maaya, due to which we tend to believe what we gather through our senses as real and permanent.
- Revealment (aruLal) – In sanskrit, this is anugraham – This is the realisation and the removal of the maaya. Interesting to note that both the act of delusion and realisation is seen as the act of god. We can see in the later posts that the form of Nataraja is also a representation of the five acts, as is with Sadhashiva murthy.
Concentrating once again on the Sadhaashiva murthy,
- Act of creation is represented by Thathpurusham (Facing East). By puranas, the creation act is done by Brahma. Its apt to say that Brahma is the east face of Sadaashiva murthy
- Act of sustenance is represented by vaamadhevam (Facing North). The act of sustenance is done by Vishnu. Vishnu is the north face of Sadhaashiva
- Act of destruction is represented by aghoram (Facing South). Rudra is responsible for the destruction. He being the south face of Sadhaashiva
- Act of concealment is represented by Sathyojaatham (Facing West). Maheshwara is responsible for concealing. He being the west face of Sadhaashiva
- Act of reveal is represented by eesaanam (In the top). Sadhaashiva liberates the soul from maaya
Though the identity of the supreme one is said differently in each of the sub-religions in sanatana dharma, the five acts/deeds are common to all the sub-religions. When i say sub-religions of sanathana dharma, they are gaaNapathyam, kaumaaram, saivam, vaishnaivam, saaktham and souram.
To quote Lalitha sahasranama here which praises goddess lalitha as “Pancha-krithya parayana”, “pancha-brahma swaroopini”, “pancha-brahma manchadhi saayini”. All these refer to the five deeds that are mentioned above
Lets medidate on the Sadhaashiva murthy and let him bestow his blessings on us.
Now for your viewing pleasure, i am producing the image of Maha-sadhaashiva murthy.
Agamas describe the following 25 forms of Shiva that emanated from 5 faces of Sadashiva murthy. The details are as follows:
- Rishabha Roodar
- Kalyana Sundarar
- Kaama dhahanar
- Kaala Samharar
- Salandara Vadhar
- Ghaja Samharar
- Veera Bhathrar
- Thiru Neelakantar
- Chakra Dhaanar
- Chandesa Anugraha Moorthy
- Eka Paadhar
- Hariyartha Moorthy
- Uma Makeshar
It is quite possible that some of the forms that you could have noticed, does not have its place in the list mentioned above. But again, this list is from aagamas. You might also know that our sanatana dharma has 18 puranaas as well. Out of which 10 are written on Shiva. Puranas also cause the creation of more forms. It is generally believed that agamas are older than puranas. So one possibility is the addition in forms after puranas are written.
There are texts that talk about 64 forms of Shiva as well. We will try to cover the 25 forms of Shiva as we progress. I intend to do 4 things on each form.
- Grammar of the form (as given in the aagamas)
- Philosophy of the form, if possible
- Puranic significance or story
- And pictures of the froms from the temples i visited or gathered from other sources.
For your pleasure, i attach two forms with this post.
One is that of Sadhashiva murthy. I took this picture from the inner gopuram (temple tower) of Vaitheeswaran Temple, near Kumbakonam.
Another one is of Maha Sadhashiva murthy. Maha Sadashiva murthy is characterized as having countless number of faces and hands. Pretty rare form to spot. I was fortunate to see this form. I had been to Kanchipuram prev weekend and en route to Kailasanatha temple, i stopped in between to visit Jwarahara Moorthy temple. Very beautiful temple but small. The construction of the vimana that houses the garbagriha is a must see. I also got to see a very rare depiction of Sarabheshwara murthy. Atleast i havent seen such a form before for Sarabheshwara.
As is characteristic of our religion, there are various sources of information with respect to the actual number of forms of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva is expressed in three forms:
- Nitkala Swaroopa – One with no form. For eg: “Chidhambara Rahasya”.
- SakhaLa Nitkala Swaroopa – Formless form, like the one in Sivalinga
- SakhaLa Swaroopa – One with human form, like the one seen in this page. My attempt is all about the various sakhaLa swaroopas of Lord Shiva
The origin of the agamas is the same as Vedas and it is said that agamas came from the face of shiva. The image that you find on the right is called as “Sadhashiva murthy”, characterised with 5 faces. Every face has a name.
- Sathyojaatham – Facing West. From Sathyojaatham, it is said that Kaamikam, Yoghajam, Sindhiyam, Karanam and Ajitha aagamas emanated. The forms that i am going to use is in reference to the Kaamika Aagamam. Kaamika Agamam in itself is of two parts: Poorva and Uthara. Poorva Kaamika Aagamam talks about selection of land for temple, Construction of various vimanas (Gopuram), Kumbhabhishekam etc. Uthara Kaamika Aagamam talks about the various forms of deities that we generally find in South indian temples and the rules in performing pooja for them.
- Vaamadhevam – Facing North. From this face emanated the following aagamas: Deeptham, Sookshamam, Sahasram, Amsumaan and Suprabetham
- Thathpurusham – Facing East. From this face emanated: Rouravam, Makudam, Vimalam, Chandra Gnanam, Bimbam.
- Ahoram – Facing South. From this face emanated: Vijayam, Nischvaakam, Swaayambuvam, Anilam, Veeram
- Easaanam – On the top. From this face emanated: PurothGheetham, Lalitham, Siddham, Santhaanam, Sarvoktham, Parameswaram, Kiranam and VaadhuLam.
It is also said that the puranas (18 of them totally, of which 10 praise Lord Shiva as the one and the only one) contains lots of information on the aagamas as well. Not surprisingly, Puranas seem to be the vehicle to carry abstract ideas into the minds of the people.
How do we get started? Many paths to follow. I choose to follow the forms that are attributed to the five faces of Shiva. Is it not apt to have the darshan of Sadhaashiva murthy as the first form.
More to follow.
For quite sometime now, i am interested in getting to know various forms of Shiva. I love visiting temples, pretty old ones in that, mostly in Tamilnadu. The main intent is to go around the temple and look for rare forms of Shiva and capture the image. Also, recently i bought two books on the same subject.
- Uttara Kaamika Aagamam – Aagamam is all about rules. Rules on land selection for temples, construction of temple, Definition of each and every deity in terms of the appearance, Architectural inputs on the dimensions of various forms, placement of various deities in/out the temple, Rituals to perform, Different types of renovations for the temples, Kumbhabhishekam (Term for energizing/re-energizing of the temple premises with the divine powers amongst others.
- “Sindhai niraikkum siva vadivangal” – On the various forms of shiva with ample quote from various puranas.
Having said that, my endaevour is to mix these two sources and capture the essence. The former one is about the grammar of everything whereas the latter will be the actual forms as i have captured in various temples. Of course i have borrowed as well.
Its been in my thoughts for quite sometime now. Hopefully this will blossom fully.
I have provided the scanned image of the book cover of Agamam. Most of the content will be from this one.