64 Forms of Lord Shiva_ The Many Faces of the Divine Destroyer

64 Forms of Lord Shiva: The Many Faces of the Divine Destroyer


Lord Shiva is one of the most important deities in Hinduism. He is part of the Hindu Trinity along with Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva is known by many names including Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Vishwanath, and Bholenath. He is the Supreme Being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within Hinduism.

Followers of Shaivism believe that Shiva is the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. As the destroyer, Shiva conducts the death of the universe, which then allows for its renewal after its destruction. Shiva is also known as Adi Yogi or the first yogi. He transmitted his knowledge of yoga to the ancient sages, who then passed it on to humanity. The worship of Shiva is pan-Hindu and practiced widely across all of India. He is one of the most revered deities in Hinduism.

What are the 64 forms of Lord Shiva?

The 64 forms of Lord Shiva are different manifestations of the Hindu god Shiva. These forms represent the various aspects and roles that Shiva takes on. Each form has its own significance and meaning.

Some of the most well-known and important forms of Shiva include:

  • Tatpurusha – This is the supreme formless aspect of Shiva. Tatpurusha represents the transcendental reality beyond name and form.

  • Aghora – This form depicts Shiva in his aspect as the remover of ignorance. Aghora is associated with the cremation ground and represents the transformation of death into liberation.

  • Sadhojat – This form represents Shiva as the primordial being. Sadhojat is the first manifestation of Shiva during creation.

  • Ishan – This compassionate form of Shiva bestows grace and blessings on devotees. Ishan depicts the Lord as the ruler and conductor of divine will.

  • Shiva – This is the auspicious and benign form of the Lord. As Shiva, he blesses devotees and grants boons. This form also represents the Lord of Yoga.

  • Rudra – This wrathful form represents Shiva as the destroyer and depicts his fierce side. As Rudra, Shiva destroys evil and removes ignorance.

  • Bheema – This terrible form is invoked to destroy negativity and demonic forces. Bheema depicts the fiery side of Shiva.

By worshipping the different forms, devotees can connect with the various attributes and aspects of Shiva. The 64 forms provide a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted nature of Shiva.

1. Tatpurusha

Tatpurusha is one of the 64 forms of Lord Shiva. This form represents Shiva as the supreme creator and source of all existence. The name Tatpurusha is derived from two Sanskrit words – “Tat” meaning “that” and “Purusha” meaning “man” or “supreme spirit”.

As Tatpurusha, Shiva is visualized as an omnipotent, all-pervading entity. He contains the entire universe within himself and is responsible for projecting it outward from himself. Iconographically, Tatpurusha is depicted with four heads representing the four Vedas and with five faces representing the panchabhuta or five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. He has three eyes signifying the three gunas and ten arms holding symbols of power and creation.

The Tatpurusha form is meant to convey Shiva as the primordial being, the source of everything in the cosmos. He brings the universe into existence and also withdraws it back into himself in due course. By meditating on Tatpurusha, devotees seek to realize the unity between their innermost self (atman) and the universal spirit (Brahman). They aim to transcend the illusion of multiplicity and comprehend the true oneness underlying all existence.

2. Aghora

Aghora is one of the 64 forms of Lord Shiva. He is depicted as a fierce form with a terrifying appearance.

The name ‘Aghora’ literally means “not terrifying” in Sanskrit. This is an ironic name as Aghora has a very fierce and scary form. He is typically shown residing in cremation grounds and is smeared in ashes from burnt corpses. Aghora is sometimes referred to as the ‘left-handed’ path of spirituality.

Aghora represents the destruction of ignorance. The cremation grounds represent the transience of human life and ego. His terrifying appearance represents detachment from worldly illusions. For true devotees, Aghora destroys ignorance and grants supreme knowledge. Through his guidance, one gains control over the mind and senses.

The Aghora form of Shiva teaches us to overcome fear. By surrendering to him, we can conquer fear of death and worldly attachments. We realize that pain and pleasure are temporary. Aghora instills deep wisdom to view the world with detachment and equanimity.

Aghora is worshipped by yogis, ascetics and tantriks. He is propitiated through intense tantric rituals and practices. Aghora sadhana is an advanced path requiring guidance from a guru. With sincere devotion and perseverance, Aghora bestows the ultimate spiritual knowledge to attain moksha or liberation.

3. Sadhojat

Sadhojat is one of the 64 forms of Lord Shiva. The name Sadhojat translates to “ever auspicious” or “always good.” This form represents the calm and peaceful side of Shiva.

Sadhojat is depicted with a smiling and pleasing face, sitting in a relaxed posture. His hair is tied up in a topknot and adorned with a crescent moon. A river flows from his matted locks, representing the continuous flow of auspiciousness.

The Sadhojat form is meant to give devotees a sense of optimism, harmony, and tranquility. He radiates an energy of blessing, goodness, and protection. Worshipping Sadhojat can bring happiness, contentment, and relief from troubles.

Sadhojat’s benevolent nature makes him approachable and accessible to devotees. He listens compassionately to their prayers. One can pray to him for relief from difficulties, fulfillment of wishes, and guidance in life.

His hands are held in abhaya and varada mudras, indicating he dispels fear and grants boons. With a pleasant demeanor and an aura of peace, Sadhojat form captivates devotees with his charm.

4. Ishan

Ishan is one of the 64 forms of Lord Shiva. Ishan means “ruler” or “sovereign” in Sanskrit. This form depicts Lord Shiva as a ruler or king.

As Ishan, Shiva is considered the supreme ruler and sovereign of the universe. He governs all realms and maintains divine order and justice. Ishan is typically depicted seated on a throne, holding royal insignia like a scepter. He may have multiple arms and heads, symbolizing his omnipotence and omniscience as the supreme ruler.

Ishan represents the regal, authoritative nature of Shiva. He ensures righteousness prevails through his fair and wise ruling. Ishan also denotes Shiva as the monarch of yogis and ascetics. He is the spiritual ruler governing ascetic orders and monastic traditions. His sovereignty signifies the renunciation of worldly power and attainment of inner spiritual authority.

Devotion to Ishan form helps devotees transcend ego and surrender to the divine order. By worshipping Shiva as the cosmic king, one recognizes the ultimate authority of God in governing the universe. Ishan symbolizes the surrender of the ego to higher wisdom and spiritual sovereignty.

5. Shiva

Shiva is the most commonly known and worshipped form of Lord Shiva. He is depicted as a bluish-skinned deity, with a third eye, wearing a snake around his neck, and the river Ganga flowing from his matted locks.

Shiva is considered the supreme being within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within Hinduism. He is known as “The Destroyer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. However, Shiva destroys only to recreate, regenerate and protect.

The name Shiva means “auspicious, kind, gracious”. He is often depicted in a peaceful, meditative state. Shiva is said to live on Mount Kailash with his family. His consort is Goddess Parvati and his sons are Ganesha and Kartikeya.

Shiva is often worshipped in the form of the Shiva Lingam, symbolising creation. He is said to be pleased by devotees who smear his image with ashes and chant the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. His vahana (vehicle) is Nandi the bull.

Shiva is associated with yoga and meditation, and is said to be foremost among the yogis, having imparted the knowledge of yoga to the world. He is often depicted as the Adiyogi, or first yogi.

Overall, Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme that continuously dissolves to recreate, in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and regeneration.

6. Rudra

Rudra is considered the embodiment of Lord Shiva’s anger. He represents the fierce and terrifying side of Shiva that is manifested to destroy evil.

The name Rudra has its origins in the Sanskrit word “rud” which means “to cry or roar”. Rudra is depicted as having a red body with three eyes, wearing serpents as ornaments and holding a trident and a bow made of snakes.

Rudra is said to be born from Brahma’s fury when the other gods refused to allow Brahma to have his fifth head. He is therefore considered to be Brahma’s son. But some Puranas also state him to be born from Shiva’s third eye as a wrathful form manifested to destroy the Tripura demons.

Rudra is associated with the eleventh lunar day or Ekadashi and is said to rule the Rudra ganas, his troops of storm gods and ghosts. He is the personification of the wildness of nature and is therefore invoked during natural calamities like storms, floods and earthquakes.

Rudra is also called the “Great Archer” for his skills with the bow and arrow. He is the patron of hunters, thieves and mendicants. As the divine healer, Rudra has the power to remove diseases and negative energies from devotees.

The worship of Lord Rudra is believed to help one overcome negative traits like anger, ego, greed and hatred. By propitiating this fierce form of Shiva, devotees can conquer their internal demons. Chanting the Rudram hymns from the Yajurveda is considered extremely auspicious and powerful.

7. Bheema

Bheema is one of the 64 forms of Lord Shiva. He represents strength and valor.

Bheema is depicted as a well-built, muscular deity with a fierce expression. He carries weapons like the sword, trident, mace and spear. Bheema has four arms and is sometimes shown seated on a throne made of precious stones. His skin complexion is reddish-brown.

The name Bheema comes from the Sanskrit word Bheema which means ‘tremendous’ or ‘terrible’. This form highlights the immense power and courage of Lord Shiva. Bheema is the personification of strength. He has the capacity to eliminate evil forces.

Bheema form is particularly revered by wrestlers, bodybuilders, police, army and security personnel. They worship Bheema to gain physical strength as well as mental courage and fortitude. They believe Bheema can bless them with the power to overcome enemies, challenges and obstacles.

Bheema form also denotes that Lord Shiva has control over both destructive and constructive powers. As Bheema he exhibits his warrior nature but is also capable of compassion and protection of devotees.

Overall, Bheema represents the manifestation of Lord Shiva’s infinite vigor and valor. He is the embodiment of supreme masculine energy. Bheema form is for those seeking physical vitality along with mental/spiritual strength.


The 64 forms of Lord Shiva are manifestations of the supreme divine energy. Each form has its own significance and represents an aspect of Shiva’s infinite nature. By worshipping these forms, devotees can connect with the all-pervading consciousness of Shiva.

The first five forms – Tatpurusha, Aghora, Sadhojat, Ishan, and Shiva – represent the panchabrahmas or five faces of Shiva. They symbolize creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment, and revelation.

Rudra is the ferocious form, the one who howls. Bheema is the terrible form. These forms showcase the wrathful side of Shiva. Other benign forms like Chandrashekhara, Ardhanarishwara, and Nataraja highlight Shiva’s grace.

Each form has its own mantra, visual iconography, and rituals of worship. Devotees can choose a particular form based on their personal spiritual inclination. By meditating on these myriad aspects of Shiva, they realize the unity behind the diversity.

Worshipping the 64 forms leads to self-realization and moksha. The forms represent the kaleidoscope of life and ultimately the oneness of all existence. They enable devotees to worship Shiva as the infinite divine in myriad ways.

Why worship the 64 forms?

Worshipping the 64 forms of Lord Shiva is considered highly auspicious and beneficial in Hinduism. Each form represents a different attribute or power of Shiva, allowing devotees to worship the Lord in many ways. Here are some key benefits and importance of worshipping Shiva’s 64 forms:

  • Completeness – By worshipping all 64 forms, devotees believe they are worshipping Shiva’s totality. No aspect of the Lord is left out. This comprehensive worship is said to please Shiva greatly.

  • Accessing Shiva’s powers – Each form grants access to specific powers and boons from Shiva. For example, worshipping Aghora leads to destruction of ignorance, while worshipping Ishan offers divine knowledge. Worshipping all forms allows access to Shiva’s full range of powers.

  • Elevating consciousness – Meditating on the 64 forms is believed to raise one’s spiritual consciousness to higher levels. As the forms represent the entire cosmos, worship unifies the devotee’s consciousness with the universe.

  • Attaining moksha – The 64 forms help remove earthly attachments and ego, allowing one to attain moksha or liberation. By seeing the Divine in all forms, one transcends limitations and achieves oneness with Shiva.

  • Complete blessing – Worshipping this full aspect of Shiva is considered highly auspicious and believed to shower the devotee with the Lord’s complete blessings. All wishes and desires are fulfilled.

Worshipping the 64 forms of Shiva thus provides a comprehensive, powerful and beneficial way for devotees to venerate the Lord in Hinduism. It elevates the devotee spiritually and brings them closer to the Divine.

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