Who Is Mahadeva?

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Mahadeva (greatest God)

Mahadeva Definition

Mahadeva is a Sanskrit term meaning the greatest or most powerful God. In Hinduism, this is often used as another name for Lord Shiva, one of the chief deities.

Mahadeva Deep Dive

Mahadeva as Shiva

Mahadeva, or Shiva, is the absolute. The unchanging, limitless, transcendent God whose wisdom and knowledge is unsurpassable.

As there are many different views and schools of Hinduism, different groups believe different things about Mahadeva:

1. No differentiation

Mahadeva is not differentiated as solely Shiva, as one third of the triumvirate, but as the whole of the triumvirate

This is because Vishnu, Shiva, and Brahma are one and the same. Vishnu and Brahma are forms of Shiva, they are the names given to the different aspects of the all-pervading unchanging reality.

They are both the oneness of God, and therefore Mahadeva is Shiva in all his forms. It is argued that the Gods are equal in every way, they are both Mahadeva, the same God just with different natures.

2. Mahadeva as Shiva only

This view is mainly taken by Shaivites/schools based on Shaivism (Hindus who worship Shiva as the supreme being).

Some Shaivites believe that Vishnu was the first devotee of Shiva and therefore they are not both the same, but Shiva is the Mahadeva. More accurately, the Mahadeva would be Parashiva or Paramshiva, the highest form of Shiva who is both form and formless.

statue of mahadeva shiva

Who is Shiva?

Shiva is one of the Gods in the triumvirate (the other two being Vishnu and Brahma). Shiva’s role is that of ‘the destroyer‘, destroying that which no longer serves us.

He simultaneously both destroys and recreates, perhaps better known then as the ‘transformer’. He strips away aspects of the fake self so we can see our true nature. He is the formless, cosmic energy that has no ending or beginning.

As well as the Mahadeva, Shiva is also thought of by many as the first ever yogi, Adiyogi.

Mahadeva in your life

Shiva is considered a generally easy god to please, receiving boons without the need for pujas or rituals so long as you offer your worship from your heart. You can try out this mantra:

Har Har Mahadev

There are two meanings to this chant.

  • Firstly ‘har’ means to take away. Therefore, it can be considered a prayer to Shiva to take away ignorance and eliminate obstacles and suffering.
  • Another meaning of ‘har’ is everyone, making the mantra mean ‘everyone is Mahadeva’, fitting to non-dual teachings and their perception that we all form part of the same unchanging, reality.
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To go deep and expand your yogic knowledge, access our free Yoga Terms Encyclopedia, where we host a profound wealth of ancient and timeless yogic wisdom in an accessible modern format.

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Liz is a Qigong and Yoga teacher based in Gloucestershire with a love for all things movement, nature & community. She strives to create a trauma-informed space in which everyone is empowered to be their authentic selves. www.elizabethburns.co.uk

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