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Ishana Shiva Gurudeva Paddhati Importance In Hindu Religion – Tantra Paddhati

Ishana Shiva Gurudeva Paddhati is an encyclopedic treatise in 18,000 verses on temple worship, also called tantra paddhati. It describes Hindus god and goddesses and modes of invoking them. It also deal with ways of averting the malicious effects of planets, the use of medicines and medicinal herbs, temple architecture, the consecration of deities, temple festivals and several other related matters.

Ishana Shiva Gurudeva Paddhati is written in a sequential manner, much that is dealth with in the extensive literature on Tantra, Agama, and Samhita texts, to which it refers profusely.

The popularity of this work in Kerala, as indicated by the inclusion of certain peculiar practices in temple worship in Kerala, the use of Malayalam word, and references to texts peculiar to Kerala confirms that Ishana Shiva was a native of Kerala. He is also identified as the teacher of Krishna Leela Shuka, author of Krishna Karnamrita; Lilasuka mentions him in the last verse of his work.

Ishana Shiva Gurudeva Paddhati is set out in four  padas (quarters) : samanyapada, mantrapada, krityapada and mokshapada, divided in all into 119 sections called patalas each dealing with different topics.

Samanyapada proclaims the power of mantras and om. Its second section dwells on the nature and scope of the science of tantra in general. The next twelve sections are devoted to the tantric aspects of several deities, the nature of esoteric hymns, the appropriate modes of reciting the hymns, tantric diagrams and fire altars, sacred fire sticks, grass, and vessels used in rituals, invocation and reception of various deities, physical purity of the devotee, purification ceremonies, purification of the place of ritual, ceremonial vows of the officiating priest and types of sacred fire.

The second quarter of the work, ‘mantrapada’ is devoted to the enunciation of mantras for the propitiation of several gods and goddesses in their different aspects. Hymns for warding off evil spirits that affect children and cause diseases, and for prolonging life also find a place here.

The third quarter of the work, kriyapada describes different types of rituals: nitya (day-to-day), naimittika (necessitated by some event) and kamya (motivated by some specific desire). The qualifications of acharya (priesthood), the underlying philosophical truths, the physical and mental attitudes desirable in the performer and a number of allied matters are dealt with here.

The fourth quarter, ‘yogapada,’ is devoted to the practices to be adopted by human beings for living peacefully and obtaining deliverance from the cycle of life and death. The author specifies that vairagya, or the cultivation of an attitude of detachment from worldly objects, and renunciation are the means for attaining liberation from worldly miseries. Yogasutra of Patanjali forms the basis of this section of the work.

However, the most significant part of the work for the modern scholar is the third pada, where in a number of miscellaneous matters pertaining to contemporary religious and material life are discussed. Among these are methods of physical and mental purification, mudras (hand gestures), construction of altars, and temples, construction of human residences and multi-storied structures of different types, principles of temple architecture, and repair of damaged structures.

Ishana Shiva Gurudeva Paddhati is thus a digest, a compendium, and an exposition of the religious belief and practices of the Hindus down the ages. Incidentally, the work also supplies a wealth of information on the material aspects of early Hindu life and culture.

SourceEncyclopedia of Hinduism Volume V – page 189 – IHRF