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Mahadeva, aka: Mahādevā, Mahādeva; 7 Definition(s)


Mahadeva means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

1) Mahādeva (महादेव):—One of the eight names of Rudra, given to him by Brahmā, according to the Pādma-purāṇa. This aspect became the presiding deity over the moon. The corresponding name of the consort is Rohiṇī. His son is called Budha.

2) Mahādeva:—First of the eleven emanations of Rudra (ekādaśa-rudra), according to the Aṃśumadbhedāgama and the Śilparatna. The images of this aspects of Śiva should have three eyes, four arms, jaṭāmakuṭas and be of white colour. It should be draped also in white clothes and be standing erect (samabhaṅga) on a padmapīṭha. It should be adorned with all ornaments and with garlands composed of all flowers and it should keep their front right hand in the abhaya and the front left hand in the varada poses, while it should carry in the back right hand the paraśu and in the back left hand the mṛga.

Source: Wisdom Library: Elements of Hindu IconograpyŚilpaśāstra book cover
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Śilpaśāstra (शिल्पशास्त्र, shilpa-shastra) represents the ancient Indian science of creative arts such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vāstuśāstra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

Śaivism (Śaiva philosophy)

1) Mahādeva (महादेव, “Supreme among gods”):—One of the eleven epithets of Rudra, as adressed to in the second chapter of Śrī-rudram. These names represent his various attributes.

2) Mahādeva (महादेव) is the Sanskrit name of a deity presiding over Vārāṇasi, one of the sixty-eight places hosting a svāyambhuvaliṅga, which is one of the most sacred of liṅgas according to the Śaivāgamas. The list of sixty-eight svāyambhuvaliṅgas and presiding deities (eg., Mahādeva) is found in the commentary on the Jirṇoddhāra-daśaka by Nigamajñānadeva. The word liṅga refers to a symbol used in the worship of Śiva and is used thoughout Śaiva literature, such as the sacred Āgamas.

Source: Wisdom Library: ŚaivismŚaivism book cover
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Śaiva (शैव, shaiva) or Śaivism (shaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Śiva as the supreme being. Closeley related to Śāktism, Śaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.


1) Mahādeva (महादेव).—An attribute of Śiva;1 presiding deity of the moon;2 in one of his previous births was Kṛṣṇa;3 of the Kailāsa hill;4 drinks soma;5 worshipped by Lavaṇa Asura;6 worshipped by the followers of Bhaṇḍa;7 claimed Bhṛgu as his son;8 made the mind-born creatures of Dakṣa not to grow; blessed Surabhī with eleven sons, Rudras;9 Śukra went to, for learning nītī;10 roamed about in the Mahākālavana with Pārvatī;11 in his name Gārgya performed penance for a son.12 avatārs of, were in Kali and not in the previous yugas;13 his mānasītanu, Candra;14 wife Rohiṇī and son Budha.15

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 26. 1; Matsya-purāṇa 47. 75; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 8. 6.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 246. 61; 265. 42.
  • 3) Ib. 47. 1.
  • 4) Ib. 54. 2.
  • 5) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 28. 89.
  • 6) Ib. III. 3. 70; 7. 91-2.
  • 7) Ib. III. 10. 17; 21. 76; 25. 14; 60. 28; 72. 3, 108, 116. IV. 10. 29; 11. 32; 12. 16.
  • 8) Ib. III. 1. 38.
  • 9) Ib. III. 2. 4.
  • 10) Matsya-purāṇa 47. 75.
  • 11) Ib. 179. 3.
  • 12) Viṣṇu-purāṇa V. 23. 3.
  • 13) Vāyu-purāṇa 26. 2.
  • 14) Ib. 27. 16.
  • 15) Ib. 27. 47, 56.

2) Mahādevā (महादेवा).—A daughter of Devakā and Vasudeva.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 96. 130.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana IndexPurāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Mahādeva (महादेव) is the Sanskrit name for a deity (lit: “creator of all the worlds”), to be worshipped during raṅgapūjā, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 3.1-8. Accordingly, the master of the dramatic art who has been initiated for the purpose shall consecrate the playhouse after he has made obeisance (eg., to Mahādeva).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstraNāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

Dharmaśāstra (religious law)

Mahādeva (महादेव) is the name of a deity to be invoked in a certain ritual, according to the Mānavagṛhyasūtra 2.14. Accordingly, the deity is prescribed when one suffers from possession by the Vināyakas, Śālakaṭaṅkaṭa, Kūṣmāṇḍarājaputra, Usmita and Devayajana. The Baijavāpagṛhyasūtra replaces the names of last two vināyakas with Mita and Sammita. According to R. C. Hazra in his Gaṇapati-worship, “this rite is both expiatory and propitiatory in nature and in which various things including meat and fish (both raw and cooked) and wine and cakes are to be offered”..

The gṛhya-sūtras are a branch of dharma-sūtras and refer to a category of Vedic literature dealing with domstic rites and rituals. The Mānava-gṛhya-sūtra belongs to the Kṛṣṇa-yajurveda. The Baijavāpa-gṛhya-sūtra is known only through references to it in other works (eg., Vīramitrodaya-Saṃskāra).

Source: archive.org: The religion and philosophy of the Veda and the Upanishads (dharmashastra)
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Dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharma-shastra) is a category of Hindu literature containing important instructions regarding religious law, ethics, economics, jurisprudence and more. It is categorised as smṛti, an important and authorative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Mahādeva (महादेव) refers to a class of kimpuruṣa deities according to the Śvetāmbara tradition, while the Digambara does not recognize this class. The kimpuruṣas refer to a category of vyantaras gods which represents one of the four classes of celestial beings (devas). The kimpuruṣas are are golden in appearance according to Digambara, but white in complexion with very bright faces according to Śvetāmbara.

The deities such as the Mahādevas are defined in ancient Jain cosmological texts such as the Saṃgrahaṇīratna in the Śvetāmbara tradition or the Tiloyapaṇṇati by Yativṛṣabha (5th century) in the Digambara tradition.

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism

India history and geogprahy

Mahādeva (महादेव) refers to a mountain (giri).—Pāṇḍraṅhgapalli grant of Avidheya describes the hill Mahādeva-giri, to the east of which flowed the river Ane (Yenna). The Mahādeva-giri has been identified with the Mahadeo Hills, one of the important spurs of the Sahya mountain. The Mahadeo Hills start about ten miles north of Mahābleśvara and stretch across the whole breath of Satara district in Maharashtra. Professor Mirashi, however, points out the difficulty in identifying Mahadeo Hills with the Mahādeva-giri of the grant. The difficulty arises because the Mahodeo Hills lie to the east of the Ane of Yenna river, while according to the grant, the Ane or Yenna river flowed to the east of Mahādeva-giri. He, therefore, suggests that Mahādeva-giri should be identified with the Mahābleśvara hills in the Satara district.

Source: archive.org: Geography in Ancient Indian inscriptions
context information

The history and geography of India includes names of areas, cities, countries and other regions of India, as well as historical dynasties, rulers, tribes and various local traditions, languages and festivals. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom but primarely encourages the path of Dharma, incorporated into religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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