Sunday, May 20, 2007

Forms of Shiva

Forms of Shiva are numerous, both in theory and in tradition. No one can truly enumerate how many forms there are in tradition. In Saiva Siddhanta tradition, 25 or 64 or 108 anthropomorphic (iconic) forms are highlighted. The 25 forms of Shiva are most significant. In ancient India, different groups came up with lists of 24 or 25 forms (probably due to competition). The Shaivas have 25 forms of Shiva, the Vaishnavas have 25 avatars of Vishnu, the Buddhists have 25 Buddhas, and the Jains have 24 Tirthankaras. In Sanatana Dharma, the number 25 is significant because 25 is the number of tattvas (principles of reality) in the Sankhya philosophy, and the number of Sanskrit consonents in the 5 x 5 scheme (5 sets of pentad consonents - 5 glutterals, 5 palatals, 5 cerebrals, 5 dentals, 5 labials).

Building up from the number 25, is the number 64. 64 is significant in Shaivite and Shakta Agamic traditions. There are 64 Yoginis, 64 Siddhas, 64 Bhairavas, 64 Bhairava Agamas, 64 Kaula Tantras, 64 Tantric kriyas (rites), 64 Kalas, 64 Tamil Shaivite Saints (63 Nayannars + Manikkavasagar), and thus 64 forms of Shiva are also listed, which are inclusive of the 25 forms. 64 is a holy number because it is 8 x 8. Eight, as we've already seen, is significant because it is the number of existent entities in creation, all of which are Shiva Himself. Eight is also the state of Shiva beyond the seven higher worlds of creation (bhu, bhuva, svaha, maha, jana, tapa, satya) and beyond the seven chakras (muladhara, svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha, ajna, and saharsra).

Finally, building up from the number 64, is the number 108. 108 is significant in the Vedic tradition. There are 108 Upanishads of the Muktika canon, 108 (main) Pancharatra Agamas of the Vaishnavas, 108 Divyadeshas (holy pilgrimage spots) of the Sri-Vaishnavas, 108 beads on japa malas (chanting rosaries), 108 divisions of the eclipctic in Vedic astrology, 108 names in the ashtottarashata namavalis (list of Divine names), etc. Thus 108 forms of Shiva are also listed, which are inclusive of the 64 forms. 108 is a holy number because it represents the completeness or fullness of the manifest Divine (Virat Purusha). Note that 108 is equal to 100 + 8. 100 is the number of Rudras according to the Rudra Adhyaya of the Yajurveda, and 8 represents Shiva, as we've seen in the above paragraph, and in previous posts.

The below list of the forms of Shiva are inclusive of the 25 forms (in bold), the 64 forms (bold + non-bold names), and the 108 forms (bold + non-bold + italicized names) per Saiva Siddhanta traditions. The anthropomorphic (iconic) forms of Shiva are called Maheshvara Murtis (forms of the Great Lord), and not to be considered as Avatars or incarnations. The Maheshvara Murtis are are secondary to the primary (aniconic) form, the Shiva Lingam, which is called the Sadashiva Murti. It should be noted that every school of Shaivism places greater emphasis on the aniconic Lingam rather than the iconic forms, but the iconic forms are deemed beneficial to for the human mind to relate to the Divine.

The list below was complied mainly using sources listed at the end. Every effort has been made to ensure that the same name is not repeated. Any repetition of the same or similar name is either due to ignorance on my part, or truly represents a separate form. The list has been edited to standardize spellings, and when appropriate duplicate names (or synonyms) are listed in parentheses. Therefore, the 108 names may not conform to other available lists. This list should not be confused with the prayer of 108 names (Ashtottarashata Namavali) of Shiva. The list below describes the represented iconic forms of Shiva either in temple iconography or art, and is based on various Vedic, Agamic and Puranic legends. As mentioned above, forms of Shiva are innumerous, literally and philosophically, so this list is far from exhaustive.

108 Maheshvara Murtis of Shiva
अष्टोत्तरशत महेश्वर मूर्ति
  1. Bhikshatana Murti
  2. Nataraja Murti
  3. Aja-Ekapada Murti
  4. Yoga-Dakshinamurti
  5. Lingodhava Murti
  6. Kamadahana Murti (Kamari)
  7. Tripurantaka Murti(Tripurari)
  8. Mahakaleshvara Murti (Kalari/Kalantaka/Kalasamhara)
  9. Jalandharavata Murti (Jalandhari)
  10. Gajasurasamhara Murti (Gajantika)
  11. Virabhadra Murti (Karala)
  12. Kankala-Bhairava Murti
  13. Kalyanasundara Murti
  14. Vrishabharudha Murti
  15. Chandrashekhara Murti
  16. Uma-Maheshvara Murti
  17. Shankaranarayana Murti (Keshavardha/Harihara)
  18. Ardanarishvara Murti
  19. Kirata Murti
  20. Chandeshvaranugraha Murti
  21. Chakradaneshvararupa Murti (Chakrapradasvarupa)
  22. Somaskanda Murti
  23. Gajamukhanugraha Murti
  24. Nilakantha-Maheshvara Murti
  25. Sukhasana Murti
  26. Mukhalinga Murti (Panchamukhalingam)
  27. Sadashiva Murti
  28. Mahasadashiva Murti
  29. Umesha Murti
  30. Vrishabhantika Murti
  31. Bhujangarlalita Murti
  32. Bhujangatrasa Murti
  33. Sandhyanritta Murti
  34. Sadanritta Murti
  35. Chanda-Tandava Murti
  36. Gangadhara Murti
  37. Gangavisarjana Murti
  38. Jvarabhagna Murti
  39. Shardhulahara Murti
  40. Pashupata Murti
  41. Vyakhyana-Dakshinamurti
  42. Vina-Dakshinamurti
  43. Vaguleshvara Murti
  44. Apat-Uddharana Murti
  45. Vatuka Bhairava Murti
  46. Kshetrapala Murti
  47. Aghorastra Murti
  48. Dakshayajnahara Murti
  49. Ashvarudha Murti
  50. Ekapada-Trimurti Murti
  51. Tripada-Trimurti Murti
  52. Gaurivaraprada Murti
  53. Gaurililasamanvita Murti
  54. Vrishabhaharana Murti
  55. Garudantika Murti
  56. Brahmasirachedataka Murti
  57. Kurmasamhara Murti (Kurmari)
  58. Mastyasamhara Murti (Mastyari)
  59. Varahasamhara Murti (Varahari)
  60. Simhagna Murti (Sharabha/Sharabheshvara)
  61. Raktabhikshapradana Murti
  62. Guru-Murti (Gurushiva)
  63. Prarthana-Murti
  64. Shishyabhava Murti
  65. Anandatandava Murti
  66. Shantyatandava Murti
  67. Samharatandava Murti
  68. Kapalishvara Murti (Brahmakapaladhara)
  69. Mahamritunjaya Murti
  70. Tryaksharmritunjaya Murti
  71. Shadaksharamrityunjaya Murti
  72. Andhasurasamhara Murti
  73. Juvarapaghna Murti
  74. Simhasana Murti
  75. Ilakeshvara Murti
  76. Satyanatha Murti
  77. Ishana Murti
  78. Tatpurusha Murti
  79. Aghora Murti
  80. Vamadeva Murti
  81. Ananteshvara Murti
  82. Kumaranugraha Murti
  83. Hayagrivanugraha Murti
  84. Maha Rudra Murti
  85. Nartana Rudra Murti
  86. Shanta Rudra Murti
  87. Yoga Rudra Murti
  88. Krodha Rudra Murti
  89. Vrinji Rudra Murti
  90. Muhunta Rudra Murti
  91. Dvibhuja Rudra Murti
  92. Ashtabhuja Rudra Murti
  93. Dashabhuja Rudra Murti
  94. Trimukha Rudra
  95. Panchamukhabhishana Rudra Murti
  96. Jvalakeshashadbhuja Rudra Murti
  97. Aghora Rudra Murti
  98. Vishnudharmottara Rudra Murti
  99. Bhima Rudra Murti
  100. Svarnakarshana Rudra Murti
  101. Bhishana Bhairava Murti
  102. Kapala Bhairava Murti
  103. Unmatta Bhairava Murti
  104. Krodha Bhairava Murti
  105. Asitanga Bhairava Murti
  106. Ruru Bhairava Murti
  107. Chanda Bhairava Murti
  108. Samhara Bhairava Murti

Sources: html

|| नमः शिवाय ||

© Agnideva, 2007

Related Post: Forms of Shiva II


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog which is very interesting and informative. I have a question about avatars of Shiva.

The wikipidia article on Shiva says that Shiva does have avatars, and lists Adi Shankara as and Hanuman. From what you write I would assume that the wikipedia aritcle was written from a Smarta or Vishnava perspective. I would assume that from a Shaiva perspective:

* Adi Shankara was a guru, with knowledge ofShiva but not an avatar.
* PossiblyHanuman was a Maheshvara Murti, Shiva in another form.

The question is, do Shaivans see Hanuman as a form of Shiva, or is this again given from a Smarta or Vishnava perspective?

Thanks again for this wonderful, inspiring blog.

Agnideva said...

Namaste Chris,

You are interesting and poignant questions.

The belief that Adi Shankara is a literal incarnation of Shiva is a Smarta perspective, not held by Shaivites. However, in both Shaivism and Smartaism, the fully realized Guru is always equated with the Lord, as he has realized his complete oneness with the Divine. In a sense, realized Gurus may be considered veritable "Avatars", but in this sense the "Avatar" is an ascent of man, and not a descent of God. If you read the Guru Gita, you will find that the Satguru is spoken of as the Lord Himself; and that is to be taken with the above understanding.

Agnideva said...

As for the belief that Hanuman is an Avatar of Shiva, that is largely a Vaishnava belief that arose in medieval times with the appearance of newer versions of the Ramayana. In these texts, one finds the idea that when Vishnu descended as Rama, all the Devas descended in the form of monkeys to help him to defeat Ravana. In particular, Brahma is said to have descended as Jambavan and Shiva as Hanuman.

Otherwise, one finds Hanuman mentioned as a form (not incarnation) of Shiva once in the Shiva Purana, which is also a medieval text.

In Shaivism, Hanuman is not considered a form of Shiva, but is rather a Mahadeva, a Son of Shiva like Ganesha or Kartikeya. Hanuman (aka Maruti) is an embodiment of the wind deities of the Vedas known as Maruts. In the Veda, the Rudras and Maruts are considered children of Rudra-Shiva, and are actually representative of the subtle body's various pranas (vital airs). Notice that Hanuman is always associated with the wind -- which is more evidence of the same.

Unknown said...


Do you have the list of 64 Bhairavas and 64 Bhairava Agamas?

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