Friday 19 August 2022

Difference Between Shiva, Sadashiva and Paramashiva

śiva, sadāśiva, paramaśiva. How do these forms differ from one another? We have to first understand the concept of tattvā-s in śaivism.

तस्य भावः तत्त्वम् 

tasya bhāvaḥ tattvam 

A tattva is something that holds a particular aspect/state of an entity. For example, something which has the nature of śiva is said to possess 'śiva tattva'.

So what is the nature of śiva? It is declared in the taittirīya upaniṣat of yajur vedā.

सत्यं ज्ञानं अनन्तं ब्रह्मा

satyaṃ jñānaṃ anantaṃ brahmā

This means, God is the embodiment of absolute truth, wisdom and infinitude.

Anandavalli, second chapter of Taittiriya Upanishad by my whatsapp Veda class student Ishani Paul.

The same truth is expressed in another Upanishadic verse as 'satchitananda'. You find this in the Ganapati Upanishad of Atharva Veda.

त्वं सच्चिद्-आनन्दाऽद्विती-योऽसि

tvaṃ saccid-ānandā'dvitī-yo'si

This refers to the Lord ( Ganapati, who is an embodiment of the absolute consciousness as per this Upanishad ) as the manifestation of the state of experiential truth and awareness of Godhood.

Nada & Bindu

Shiva tattva is also nada. Shiva is pure consciousness. When we map this to the observable Universe, it is vibration. The entire cosmos is reverberating. This is why we say Lord Shiva's body is a mantra-maya sharira ( a body made up of mantras ). This is also why the Vedas which are knowledge downloaded from the cosmos, were received in the form of mantras.

 Bindu refers to Shakti tattva, which is responsible for the play of the Universe. It is like the momentum playing through varying forms of the Universe as planets, beings, galaxies, etc. Shiva is the underlying common skeleton on which different 'bodies' of the Universe are adorned.


Sadāśiva tattva refers to the state of equilibrium between śiva's jñāna śakti ( energy of knowledge ) and kriyā śakti ( energy of action ). The form of this equilibrium is Sadāśiva. 

Sadāśiva has 5 heads and this is the form invoked in śaiva rituals. In any pūja, homā or āvāhanam, we invoke and install Lord śiva  in the form of Sadāśiva, with 5 heads. This includes a śiva liga. The 5 heads represent the pancakṛtya ( five-fold action ) of creation, sustenance, dissolution, obscuration and liberation.

So technically, in a śiva temple, the ācaryā must attend to all five faces of Sadāśiva. For instance, when offering naivedyam, he has to make 5 offerings, each to one face of Sadāśiva represented in the śiva liga

ācamanam ? ...15 times ( 3 times for each head ).. yes, it is very tedious.


Paramaśiva simply means ' the supreme śiva'. This actually refers to mahā sadāśiva ( Great sadāśiva ). We never invoke this form in any deity. In fact, you can only find this form of śiva, with the glorious 25 heads, 50 hands and 75 eyes as a sculpture in the gopuram of a temple. This is the only place where this form can be seen or worshiped.

This form is clearly described in the caryāpāda of makuṭa āgama:

चर्यापादे प्रथमः पटलः
कैलासवासी भगवान् महादेवो महेश्वरः । 
महाकैलासनिलयं महाकारुणिकोत्तमम् ।।१।। 
पञ्चपञ्चमुखं देवं पञ्चाशद्भुजमण्डितम् ।
 पञ्चब्रह्ममयं शान्तं पञ्चकृत्यपरायणम् ।।२।।
caryāpāde prathamaḥ paṭalaḥ
kailāsavāsī bhagavān mahādevo maheśvaraḥ | 
mahākailāsanilayaṃ mahākāruṇikottamam ||1|| 
pañcapañcamukhaṃ devaṃ pañcāśadbhujamaṇḍitam |
pañcabrahmamayaṃ śāntaṃ pañcakṛtyaparāyaṇam ||2||
( Makuta Agama, Carya Pada Chapter 1 ) 


bhagavān who is the mahādeva, the maheśvara, the ruler of mahākailāsa, the supreme among all merciful beings residing kailāsa. He has 25 faces and fifty hands and is endowed with the nature of the pañca brahma mantras. He is immutable but is ever engrossed in performing the pañcakṛtya ( 5 fold actions ).

This 25-headed form is also referred to as 'mahādeva' and 'maheśvara'.

The 25 heads represent an expansion of the pañcakṛtya. For example, the facet of creation ( which forms one face of sadāśiva ) itself has 5 components to it:

(1) creation being created
(2) sustenance of creation
(3) dissolution of creation
(4) obscuration of creation
(5) liberation of creation.

so, apply this to all 5 faces of sadāśiva and you have, 5x5= 25 heads of mahā sadāśiva.


īśvara tattva is born when there is a non-balance between Jnana and Kriya Shakti. When there is a higher percentage of Kriya Shakti and a lesser of Jnana Shakti, the form is īśvara. Shiva needs this form in order to perform the five-fold action to sustain the Universe. 

This is why the term 'īśvara' denotes a ruler or leader. Ravana was called Lankeshwara ( Lanka īśvara ) because he was the king of Lanka.


Shuddha Vidya tattva is the state of non-equilibrium, where there is a higher percentage of jñāna Shakti and a lesser percentage of Kriya Shakti.



  1. I enjoy reading the website like a book. Ishana’s chanting added in really helps. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for this.

  3. plz give me more knowledge plz..add me in ur whats up no 7972822053... Om Namah Shivay

  4. Why only Lord Shiva (neither Lord Bhrama nor Lord Vishnu) has third eye?