Five Faces of Shiva

This is part V of Shiva the Supreme. Lord Shiva has five faces called Ishana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojatha. These five faces of Shiva represent the five basic elements viz. akash, air, fire, water and earth. In fact these faces can be called five forms of Shiva. Any creation has to be made out of these five gross elements. The first form or face called Ishana, is the first physical form of Shiva. This form gives us pleasure that is enjoyed by our physical body. This is represented in the form of organs of hearing and speech in our body and in the form of subtle sound and the celestial sphere or akash. It may be recalled that ancient rishis got the sound of Vedas only from akash. The second form or face is called Tatpurusha, the second physical form of the Lord. This form is identified with prakrti or the source of objectivity. This is the home of atman. This form is represented by organs of touch, organs of action, and is the subtle form of air. The third form is Aghora is the third physical form of Shiva. This is identified with cosmic intellect. This form is represented by eyes, feet and dharma. This is identified with rupa or physical structure and the subtle form of fire. The fourth form is Vamadeva, the fourth physical form of Shiva and exists in man in the form of ego, tongue, rectum and subtle form of water. The next form Sadyojatha is the fifth physical form of the Lord and exists in the form of mind, organs of smell, organs of generation, and the subtle form of earth. Shiva created these five gross elements and his only other creation is Shakthi, the vimarsha form or the kinetic energy. The five faces Shiva should not be taken in literal sense and these faces represent five basic elements, five organs of action, five organs of knowledge and pancha tanmatras. These twenty tatwas along with anthakkaranam (mind, intellect, knowledge and ego) are the cause for creation. In other words, these 24 tatwas are the cause for creation.

We have discussed in detail about these tatwas in ‘finding god’ series. Everybody is attached to his creator. As already discussed you need both static and kinetic energy for creation. In other words you need two to create a third. When Shakthi is creating, She has Shiva as her creator. Therefore, Shakthi is always attached to Shiva. When a baby is born, only the mother introduces the baby to its father. This universe is mothered by Shakthi and fathered by Shiva. Without the help of Shakthi, no one can have darshan of Shiva. Only Shakthi alone can take us to Shiva. That is why She is called Shivajnanapradyini (LS 727) meaning She imparts the knowledge of Shiva to those who seek Him. Shiva is cit and Shakthi is citi. Shiva is the core of every living being. There is no difference between Shiva the Supreme, whom we manifest out of ignorance, as different from our own physical form and the Shiva as atman within our own self. As seen above, our physical body is made up of pancha bhuthas. After the physical body, there is sukshma sarira or the subtle body. While the physical body is made up of five gross elements, the subtle body is made up of five tanmatras derived from the five gross elements. These five tanmatras like sound, touch etc are the perception of five pancha bhuthas. These five tanmatras along with mind, intellect and ego (anthakkaranam) form the subtle body. In this subtle body the jiva with karmas embedded in it is placed. This jiva leaves the physical body at the time of death. Death happens when Shakthi or vimarsha decides to withdraw the prana supplied to the body for its sustenance. Though we say that prana is supplied by Shakthi, the origin of prana is from Shiva. That is why it is said sarvam ishwara mayam jagat, meaning that entire universe is Ishwara. We will continue our discussions on Shiva in the next posting.