Om astamurtipriyaya namaha – Salutations to the One who is the beloved of Shiva and all his forms. Ashta meaning eight, we examine (briefly) the eight forms of Lord Shiva.
asht, āth Hin. ashta San. adj. eight
astamurti refers to the eight significant attributes of Hindu deity Shiva.
mūrti Hin., San. f. shape, form, material body, figure; embodiment, personification, living image, incarnation; statue, image. An image becomes a mūrti once it has been ceremonially installed as the living symbol of God.
Lord Shiva adorns his head with the Moon.
Therefore the Moon is one with Lord Shiva, and therefore, the Moon is beloved of Lord Shiva in his eight forms, ,em>ashtamurthi. Individual Vedas refer to Rudra, alternatively Shiva with eight different names having different qualities.
Rig Veda states Lord Shiva as ‘Pururupa’ or ‘one who has multiple forms.’ and Rig Veda also states ‘Yajatam Vishwarupam’ ie. Who himself is in the form of Whole world. Similarly Sata Rudriyam section of Yajur veda which is a hymn to Lord Shiva also states:
विरुपेभ्यो नमो विश्वरुपेभ्येश्चभो नमोः
Salutations to him who is formless and whose form is the Entire Universe (VishaRupam)
And the Brahmanas of Vedas give detailed explanations on what AshtaMurti represents. In the Yajur Veda Shatapatha Brahmana we see Lord Shiva taking AshtaMurti form as described through his Agni form. Just after birth from Prajapati he cries; then Prajapati begins to give names to him along with the significance:
He said to him,
‘You are Rudra‘ And because he gave him that name, Agni became suchlike (or, that form), for Rudra is Agni: because he cried (rud) therefore he is Rudra….. He said to him,
‘You are Sarva.’ And because he gave the him that name, the waters became suchlike, for Sarva is the waters, inasmuch as from the water everything here is produced… He said to him,
‘You are Pasupati.’ And because he gave him that name, the plants became suchlike, for Pasupati is the plants: hence when cattle (pasu) get plants, then they play the master (patîy)….. He said to him,
‘You are Ugra.’ And because he gave him that name, Vâyu (the wind) became suchlike, for Ugra is Air hence when it blows strongly, they say ‘Ugra is blowing.’…. He said to him,
‘You are Asani.’ And because he gave him that name, the Vidyuta (lightning) became suchlike, for Asani is Vidyuta hence they say of him whom the lightning strikes, ‘Asani has smitten him.’…. He said to him,
‘You are Bhava.’ And because he gave him that name, Parjanya became suchlike; for Bhava is Parjanya, since everything here comes (bhavati) from the rain-cloud… He said to him,
‘You are MahaDeva.’ And because he gave him that name, the moon became suchlike, for the moon is Pragâpati, and Pragâpati is Mahadeva ….. He said to him,
‘You are Ishana (the Ruler).’ And because he gave him that name, the Sun became suchlike, for Ishana is the Sun, since the Sun rules over this All. He said, ‘So great indeed I am: give me no other name after that!’ (YajurVeda Shatapatha Brahmana)
Thus the AshtaMurti as per Shatapatha Brahmana are:
Ashani: Vidyuta: (Electricity/Lightning)
MahaDeva: Moon, Prajapati
The very first experience in the history of Indian thought is the thrill of wonder. This is expressed in the Rks or hymns found in Rig Veda, the earliest revelations of the Bharathiya mind. The Rks are all about the Gods or the Shining Ones (the Devas). Of these Devas, there are many; Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Parjanya – these are the names of a few. They appear in these Rks, one after the other. Of these, Indra with the Thunderbolt (vajra) as his weapon is the chief. He is the mighty One who confers rain upon the earth. Indra is called so, since he is the Master of the Indriyas (the senses) of man, that is to say, he is the Mind which handles the senses. He is also known as Puruhutha – puru meaning ‘often’ and hutha, ‘invited’ – the entire name meaning, ‘the God who is most called upon’. The Mind (which is identified with Indriyas, since it masters them) is also adored in the Vedas as Rudra. The Mind contacts the objective world and experiences it through the instrumentality of the five senses; this aspect of the Mind is the Indra aspect. It has also another capability. It can master the senses, and become aware of the Universal Inner Truth of the multiplicity called the Objective world. This aspect of the Mind is designated as ‘Rudra’. This is the reason why the Vedas describe Indra and Rudra as the One with two names.
Om astamurtipriyaya namaha – Salutations to the One who is the beloved of Shiva and all his forms.
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