Lord Shiva in the form of Sadashiva is the five-faced God who ensures creation, protection, destruction, obscuration and revelation
WORDS: MADHURI. Y
Lord Shiva symbolises moksha, which is liberation from the cycle of life and birth. As the destroyer in the holy trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh – he gives rise to new creation. Popularly known as the destroyer, he symbolises the death of evil, and of illusion, leading to transformation.
Yet, he is also known as Sadashiva, the five-faced God who represents all these aspects and more, and the five faces are known as Pancha Brahma.
Lord Shiva is said to have five visible faces or forms, and one which remains invisible. Shiva with the five faces is known as Sadashiva and his consort is Gayatri Devi. The five visible and the one invisible face are as follows:
Sadyojata: This is the creative aspect and faces West. It represents the earth element and refers to iccha shakti (power of will).
Vamadeva: This is the protective aspect and faces North. It represents the water element. This aspect is attained through the Sun’s energy and is the life force. It enables souls to work out their karma, allowing them to experience dharma, artha and kama.
Aghora: This is the destructive-rejuvenative aspect and faces South. It represents the fire element. It is attained through jnana shakti (power of knowledge). It is tranquil and enables one to remain aware in consciousness.
Tatpurusha: This is the concealing grace, which leaves people in illusion, and faces East. It represents the air element and is attained through ananda shakti (power of bliss) which enables the individual to merge with the infinite.
The five forms reveal Lord Shiva’s aspects of creation, protection, destruction, the soul’s delusion, and subsequent illumination. Nataraja’s posture depicts these five aspects. His upper-right arm, holding the drum, which gives the primordial sound, causes the cycle of creation (srishti). The lower-right arm in abaya mudra, symbolises protection (sthiti). Fire in the upper-left arm stands for destruction (samhara). The right foot upon a person symbolises the concealing grace (tirodhana), which keeps the truth from souls. The raised left foot and lower left arm, which is held in the position of an elephant trunk, symbolises the revealing grace (anugraha) which allows the soul to see that it is one with the Lord.
Pancha Brahma Mantra
The five verses of the Pancha Brahma mantra are chanted in the reverse order (shlokas 21 to 17) and are given here in this order:
īśānassarva vidyānām īśvaras sarva bhūtānām brahmādhipatir brahmaṇo’dhipatir brahmā śivo me astu sadāśivom
tatpurushāya vidmahe mahādevāya dhīmahi tanno rudraḥ prachodayāt
aghorebhyotha ghorebhyo ghora ghoretarebhyas sarvebhyas sarvasarvebhyo namaste astu rudrarūpebhyaḥ
vāmadevāya namo jyeshṭhāya namaḥ śreshṭhāya namo rudrāya namaḥ kālāya namaḥ kalavikaraṇāya namo balavikaraṇāya namo balāya namo balapramathanāya namas sarvabhūta damanāya namo manonmanāya namaḥ
sadyojātam prapadyāmi sadyojātāya vai namo namaḥ bhave bhavenātibhave bhavasva mām bhavodbhavāya namaḥ
Kṛishṇa Yajurveda, Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 10.17-21