Origin of Ashtamurti (Lord Shiva)

It is to be noted that different ancient Vedas largely refer to Lord Rudra as alternatively Lord Shiva with nearly having different qualities and eight different names. It is to be remembered that the aspect of Astamurti originated from such eight attributes that was successfully create the Shiva. It is to be observed that the word Asta means Eight and Murti means Manifestation. Together the word astamurti means Eight-fold manifestation of the Lord.

On the other hand, the Vedic Brahmana texts named Shatapatha and the Shiva Mahimna stava largely states the vedic origin of the names of Lord Shiva and its original meanings. It is to be highly noted that Pashupati Mata (Pashupati Doctrine) and the Shaiva Siddhanta (Shaiva Doctrine), in the Agamas recognize the Ashtamurti iconography. Even the Shaiva philosophies later approved the names of Astamurti.

In glory of Lord Shiva, the Puranic shiva mahimna stotram composed by Gandharva Pushpadanta largely directly invokes the Astamurti form.  On the stanza 28, the text distinctly specifies the eight names of the Lord.

The essential qualities associated with these names are:,

  • Bhava – Existence, Creation,
  • Sarva – All prevading one,
  • Rudra – Dispeller of Sorrows,
  • Pasupati – Lord of all beings
  • Ugra – The Fearsome,
  • Mahan or Mahat i.e. Mahadeva – The Supreme,
  • Bhima – The Tremendous,
  • Isana – The Directional ruler

Lord Brahma gave Rudra as per Bhagavata Purana, eleven other names, they are Manyu, Manu, Mahinasa, Mahān, Śiva, Rtadhvaja, Ugraretā, Bhava, Kāla, Vāmadeva and Dhrtavrata. In the Astamurti ascription several names from the Bhagavata Purana appear.

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