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Panchanana Shiva – Shivling with Five Faces - Lord Shiva Five Faces

Lord Shiva is worshipped as Panchanana Shiva (Siva with five faces) in some temples in India. The five faces are etched on Shivling or Shiva Lingam and is known as Panchamukha Shiva Linga – five heads of Shiva carved on Linga. The five faces of Lord Shiva are known as Sadyojat, Vamdev, Aghora, Tatpurush and Ishana. And they represent direction and an aspect of Lord Shiva. Some ancient temples also have sculptures of Lord Shiva with five faces. Some paintings also depict Shiva with five faces.

An important prayer (Stotra) dedicated to Panchanana Shiva is the Shiva Panchanana Stotram. It explains about the glory of the each face of Lord Shiva in the Panchamukha Shivalinga.

As per the prayer, the four faces of Shiva faces four directions and the fifth faces the sky.

In some texts, the fifth face facing the sky is replaced by a face on the southeast direction. Another symbolism suggests that the fifth face is the energy that sustains all and is present everywhere. Most idols do not show the fifth face that is the Ishana face.

Symbolism Meaning Of Fives Faces Of Shiva

Scholars and saints have given numerous interpretations for the five faces. There are also some symbolisms associated with the each faces.

  1. Sadyojat faces west and represents creation
  2. Vamdev faces north and represents sustenance
  3. Aghora faces south and represents dissolution.
  4. Tatpurusha faces east and represent spirituality that has destroyed the ego.
  5. Ishana face in the Shivling is described differently in various texts. In some texts, it is believed to be the face facing the sky and symbolizes purity and destruction of ego. Another interpretation suggests that Ishana is the Self and the energy that holds all the aspects together. In some interpretations, Ishana face is shown as facing Southeast direction and represents Eternal Shiva or Shiva as the Supreme Soul.

Temples Having Shivling with Five Faces

Pashupatinath Temple in Nepal.

Some of the other important Panchanana Shiva temples are found in eastern parts of India like the one at Baranagar near Berhampur in West Bengal and Akhandalamani Shiva Temple in Bhubaneswar in Orissa.