Maheshvara, aka: Maheśvara, Māheśvara, Maha-ishvara; 10 Definition(s)

Introduction

Maheshvara means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit. 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.

The Sanskrit terms Maheśvara and Māheśvara can be transliterated into English as Mahesvara or Maheshvara, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana

[Maheshvara in Purana glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर).—Another name of Śiva.

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Maheśvara (महेश्वर).—(Śiva): cursed the seven sages to be born in every epoch;1 got vṛṣa (bull) from Surabhī for his standard;2 lived long in his father-in-law's house after marriage; Meru insulted him as poor and useless when Umā insisted on her husband to go to his house; he went to Benares after which it became Avimukta;3 also Brahmā;4 Stambha; Kāpāli on earth for having removed one face of Brahmā; to get rid of this brahmicide Śiva's service to Kāmākṣī at Kāñcī; blessed for his samādhi; bathed in Pañcasaras and found himself at Kāśi, from there to Kāñcī; Jyotirmayibhikṣa given; the Kapāla dropped out and he was relieved;5 blessed Kubera to be the lord of the Yakṣas for his penance at the confluence of the Narmadā and the Kāverī.6 Praise of, by Kāvya.7

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 27. 47; III. 1. 9.
  • 2) Ib. III. 3. 78-79.
  • 3) Ib. III. 31. 35. 67. 32, 60.
  • 4) Ib. IV. 1. 203; 2. 221, 257; 4. 35, 73; 7. 49; 14. 18.
  • 5) Ib. IV. 40. 52-59.
  • 6) Matsya-purāṇa 181. 3-5; 185. 12; 189. 10.
  • 7) Vāyu-purāṇa 97, 162-202.

1b) As cosmos; hence acintyātma but the source of all beings; Brahmanas from face, Kṣatriyas, from breast, Vaiśyas from the thighs and Śūdras from the feet;1 created the world, men, devas, asuras, constellation, night, day, Vedas, etc.;2 the smallest atom among the prakṛtis, never failing, absolute; formless, and of form; the darkness becomes illumination by the contact of tejas;3 the six angas of; all wise, all satiating, ever arousing, all free, eternally powerful, and of undiminished strength;4 a Mahāyogi;5 Lokeśa, worshipped in different ways.6

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 9. 122.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 5. 95.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 101. 226.
  • 4) Ib. 12. 31-3.
  • 5) Ib. 21. 36.
  • 6) Ib. 49. 171.

1c) Born of Pradhāna and Puruṣa; father of world creation;1 the universe as limbs of.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 103. 36.
  • 2) Ib. 103. 71-3.

2) Māheśvara (माहेश्वर).—The 29th Kalpa in which Tripuram was burnt.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 290. 10.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

[Maheshvara in Natyashastra glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is the Sanskrit name for a deity 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 Maheśvara).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, 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 (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

[Maheshvara in Shaivism glossaries]

1) Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is a Sanskrit word referring to one of the sixty-eight places hosting a svāyambhuvaliṅga, one of the most sacred of liṅgas according to the Śaivāgamas. The presiding deity residing over the liṅga in this place (Maheśvara) is named Oṃkāra.

2) Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is also the name of a deity presiding over Prayāga, Viśvamadhya and Dīpta, three 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 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: Śaivism

Maheśvara (महेश्वर).—There existed yet another group of Siddhas from the South known as Maheśvara Siddhas. They advocate the pure method (śuddha-mārga). Because, the dakṣiṇa-śrota (the right current), stressed on vidyā (knowledge) through yogic practices, instead of using the five ‘m’s as used by the vāma-śrota (left current), which include blood sacrifices, drinking and female consorts. The Tamil Siddhas belong to the dakśiṇa-śrota.

(Source): DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (shaivism)
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Katha (narrative stories)

[Maheshvara in Katha glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is mentioned in as the “chief of things animate and inanimate”. His dwelling place is the mountain-peak Kailāsa, located within Himavat, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 1. Accordingly, “There (Kailāsa) dwells Maheśvara the beloved of Pārvatī, the chief of things animate and inanimate, attended upon by Gaṇas, Vidyādharas and Siddhas. In the upstanding yellow tufts of his matted hair the new moon enjoys the delight of touching the eastern mountain yellow in the evening twilight.”

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Maheśvara, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara
Katha book cover
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Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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Itihasa (narrative history)

[Maheshvara in Itihasa glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. XIV.8.27, XIV.8) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Maheśvara) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[Maheshvara in Mahayana glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर) is the name of a deity mentioned in the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter IV). Other individuals also know all the dharmas, e.g., Mo hi cheou lo (Maheśvara) [in the languag of Ts’in, ‘Great Lord’]: he has eight arms (aṣṭabhuja), three eyes (trinetra, tryakṣa) and he is mounted on a white bull (vṛṣavāhana) [Nandi]. All these gods are great guides (mahānāyaka). They cannot be omniscient. Why? Because their mind remains attached (abhiniviṣṭa) to hatred (dveṣa) and pride (abhhimāna).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

[Maheshvara in Jainism glossaries]

Maheśvara (महेश्वर) refers to a class of mahoraga deities gods according to the Digambara tradition, while the Śvetāmbara does not recognize this class. The mahoraga refer to a category of vyantaras gods which represents one of the four classes of celestial beings (devas). The mahoragas are are dark or black in complexion and the Nāga is their caitya-vṛkṣa (sacred-tree).

The deities such as the Maheśvaras 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
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

[Maheshvara in Sanskrit glossaries]

Māheśvara (माहेश्वर).—a. (- f.)

1) Belonging to a great lord or to Śiva; अनेन च महाराज माहेश्वरमनुत्तमम् । इष्ट्वा यज्ञं (anena ca mahārāja māheśvaramanuttamam | iṣṭvā yajñaṃ) ... Rām. 6.7.19.

2) Worshipping Śiva.

-raḥ A worshipper of Śiva.

-rī Name of Pārvatī or Durgā.

--- OR ---

Maheśvara (महेश्वर).—

1) a great lord, sovereign; महेश्वरस्त्र्यम्बक एव नापरः (maheśvarastryambaka eva nāparaḥ) R.; गोप्तारं न निधीनां कथयन्ति महेश्वरं विबुधाः (goptāraṃ na nidhīnāṃ kathayanti maheśvaraṃ vibudhāḥ) Pt.2.74.

2) Name of Śiva.

3) of Viṣṇu.

4) a god (opp. prakṛti).

5) the Supreme Being (paramātmā); मायां तु प्रकृतिं विद्यान्मायिनं तु महेश्वरम् (māyāṃ tu prakṛtiṃ vidyānmāyinaṃ tu maheśvaram) Śvet. Up.4.1. °सखः (sakhaḥ) Name of Kubera; यया कैलासभवने महेश्वरसखं बली (yayā kailāsabhavane maheśvarasakhaṃ balī) Mb.9.11.55. (-) 1 Name of Durgā.

2) a kind of bell-metal.

Derivable forms: maheśvaraḥ (महेश्वरः).

Maheśvara is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms mahā and īśvara (ईश्वर).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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