ईश्वर, īśvara


Ishvara is God, the Supreme Being; one of the names of Shiva. The term can have different meanings, depending on the spiritual tradition and the context.

In a broad sense, Ishvara is the Supreme Spirit, the Unchanging Self and the Absolute Ruler of the world order. Ishvara is characterized by omniscience and omnipotence. He is transcendent and has no form, but is the source of creation and appears in innumerable names and forms. Ishvara is the true nature of man and of all beings.

In the book "Introduction to Natha-Yoga" Akshay Kumar Banarjee writes that the worship of Ishvara "is possible with any chosen name and form which is able to inspire the heart of the worshiper with the feeling of transcendental all-pervading spiritual presence of Godhead and to awaken in his whole being a sincere admiration, devotion, love and a sense of self-sacrifice". For the Nath Sampradaya, the name of Shiva has been associated with the highest spiritual ideal for thousands of years, so in this tradition the worship of Ishvara is primarily understood as the veneration of Shiva. Similarly, for other spiritual schools, the personification of Ishvara is their main Deity, such as Vishnu. For a particular practitioner the personification of Ishvara may also be Ishta-devata.

In a narrower sense, according to "Siddha-siddhanta Paddhati", Ishvara refers to one of the images or faces of Absolute as a symbol of awareness of his presence in all the individual manifestations of the universe.

In Kashmiri Shaivism, Ishvara is one of the 36 tattvas. It is the level of consciousness that is described by the formula "This is me" (Idam aham). The manifested universe is seen by Shiva in a clear, distinct, holistic manner and at the same time, it is realized as one with Him.