The Shiva Purana

by J. L. Shastri | 1970

This page relates “five faces of shiva (pancanana)” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Appendix 1 - The five faces of Śiva (pañcānana)

Pañcānana: In Hindu Mythology God Śiva has five faces. Pāśupata teachers had developed a special doctrine of Pañca-Brahma in which they ascribed five faces to Śiva symbolising the five elements (Liṅga. 2. 14. 1. 33., ŚP 1. 10. 1-9). It is stated that Śiva has the form of twenty-five tattvas symbolised by his five faces as follows:

N. of faces

Mūrtis

Jñānendriyas

Karmendriyas

Tanmātras

Bhūtas

1. Īśāna

Kṣetrajña puruṣa

Śravaṇa

Vāk

Śabda

Ākāśa

2. Tat-Purusa

Prakrti

Tvacā

Pāni

Sparśa

Vāyu

3. Aghora or Agni

Buddhi

Cakṣu

Pāda

Rūpa

Agni

4. Vāmadeva

Ahaṅkāra

Jihvā

Pāyu

Rasa

Jala

5. Sadyojāta

Manastattva Ghrāṇa

Upastha

Gandha

Pṛthivī


Thus the whole scheme of creation is explained by the doctrine of Pañca-Brahma. The great statue of Śiva in the Elephanta caves represents the Pañca-Brahma form which is also known as Maheśamūrti in which the frontal view depicts three heads only, the fourth one on the back is concealed from view and the fifth one on the top dropped out as the symbol of invisible Ākāśa or Avyakta Prakṛti: See V. S. Agrawal: Matsya PurāṇaA Study PP. 51-52,