Some Shaiva Upanishads

Categories : Spirituality

Rudra, Shiva and Mahadeva have remained associated with the religious discourses of Hinduism from the earliest times. In the Vedic period, we find reference to Him as Rudra who was a bow and arrow-wielding fearsome mountain-dwelling deity who brought diseases. Later on, He began to be described as Shiva or Mahadeva wielding a trident (Trishul) in place of a bow and arrow.

The Shaiva Upanishads describe him both as Rudra and Mahadeva (Shiva). The power of Rudra is exhibited in the Mahamritunjaya Mantra of Yajurveda. The Svetasvatar Upanishad considers Him as the Brahma manifested (chapter-3/2,5). We find the references of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (The Trinity) for the first time in the Maitrayaniya Upanishad (chapter 4/5).

Several Upanishads are now available which are associated with establishing Shiva (Mahadeva) as Paramatma. Some selected Upanishads have been briefly described below.


This Upanishad belongs to the Atharvaveda. The Upanishad describes Rudra in the old Vedic form wielding a bow and arrow. The arrows are dangerous. The Upanishad sings the glory of Rudra and establishes unity between Vishnu and Rudra. Description of Sri Krishna as an avatar of Vishnu is celebrated as the avatar of Rudra Himself.

Rudra has been revered as having a blue neck on account of drinking halahal (poison) which He did for the welfare of the world and his devotees. The Upanishad adores Rudra as the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the Universe.

This is a small Upanishad having only one chapter in praise of Rudra.

Rudra Hridaya Upanishad:

This Upanishad belongs to Krishna Yajurveda. This is also a small Upanishad with only one chapter. Five Upanishads have been mentioned (Rudra-Hridaya, Yoga-Kundali, Bhasma-Jabal, Rudraksha-Jabal and Ganapati) in which the glory of Pranava and its meanings have been described.

The Upanishad describes the discourse between Ved Vyas and Shukachaarya. Ved Vyas is the father of Shuka who taught his son about the supremacy of Rudra among all Gods. The teacher explains that all male forms of Rudra are the forms of Rudra and all female forms represent Uma which sustains the living, Universe.

The Upanishad teaches about Apara and Para Vidyas and says all Knowledge relating to Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda, Atharvaveda, Shiksha, Kalp, Vyakaran, Nirukta, Chhand, Jyotish etc. is Apara Vidya. The Knowledge about Paramatma is the only Para Vidya Knowledge about the eternal attribute less, omnipresent, omniscient Paramatma is difficult but this Vidya can be found manifested in Rudra Himself. The Upanishad bows to Rudra.

Shuka-Rahasya Upanishad:

This Upanishad belongs to Krishna Yajurveda. It extends over three chapters and relates to the Mahavakyas (supreme messages) of the former Upanishads. The four Mahavakyas are:

  1. Aum Pragyanam Brahma
  2. Aum Aham Brahmasmi
  3. Aum Tat Tvam Asi
  4. Aum Ayamatma Brahma

The Upanishad is a discourse between Shiva / Shankar and Shukaacharya. The God Himself is the teacher and Shuka is the disciple. It was at the request of Ved Vyas that Shiva agreed to teach his son about the above-mentioned four supreme messages. It was, however, made clear to Ved Vyas that Shuka would become a renunciant after receiving his sermons. Ved Vyas agreed to this also.

Among the four Mahavakyas, “Tat Tvam Asi” is the one which completely negates any separation from Atma Tatva and Parmatma Tatva. Therefore, this statement was chosen for Mantra Nyas, Kara Nyas etc. for all the Mahavakyas.

The second chapter of the Upanishad shows in detail the mantras for Kara Nyas, Hridayadi-nyas etc. The third chapter contains a full interpretation of “Tat Tvam Asi” Aham Brahmasmi, Pragyanam Brahma and Ayamatma Brahma.

The Upanishad also teaches about the importance of Guru for seeking true knowledge. The following Guru shloka is found in this Upanishad.

“Nityanandam Param Sukhdam Kevalam Gyanmurtim Dvandvateetam Gagan Sadrisham Tatvam Asyadi Lakshayam” (1)

“Ekam Nityam Vimal Achalam Sarvadi Sakshi Bhutam Bhavatitam Trigun Rahitam Sadgurum Tvam Namami Aham” (2)

Ganapati Upanishad:

This is an Atharvavediya Upanishad having only one chapter. Ganapati belongs to the family of Shiva and is celebrated as Vignaharta. This Upanishad contains a prayer of Ganesh and describes the Beeja mantra. Maha mantra and Gayatri. The Beej Mantra has been described as “Aum Gan Ganapataye Namah”. The Ganesh Gayatri Mantra is:

“Ekdantaya Vidmahe Vakratundaya Dhimahi Tanno Danti Prachodayat”

The Maha mantra of Ganapati as described in the Upanishad is as follows.

“Namo Vratapataye Namo Ganapataye Namah Pramathpataye Namasteastu Lambodara Aik Dantaya Vignavinachine Shivasutaya Sri Varadmurtaye Namo Namah”


This is an important Upanishad of Shaiva Pashupat Sampradaya which belongs to Samveda. It interprets the Atma / Parmatma Tatva and illustrates the method of Tripunda Dharan and its significance. The Upanishad is in the form of a discourse between Rishi Jabali and Rishi Paippalad. In reply to a question Jabali said that Jeeva is Pashu and Shiva is Pashupati.

Tripunda is a form of wearing Chandan / Vibhuti for those who are devotees of Shiva. There are Mantras for making Tripunda with Chandan / Vibhuti with three parallel lines on the forehead between the middle of the eyebrow on the left to the middle of the eyebrow on the right. Tripunda is also required to be worn on the left hand, the right hand, the left chest and the right chest. The meanings of each line of the Tripunda are found in the Upanishad. Several mantras, Ved mantras, Rudra Gayatri, etc. are given for Tripunda Dharan.

Mantras for Vibhuti Dharan:

First Mantra:

“Aum Sadyojatam Prapadyami Sadyojataya Vai Namo Namah

Bhave Bhavenativave Bhavasya Mam Vavodvaway Namah”.

Second Mantra:

Aum Vamdevaya Namo Jyesthaya Namah

Shresthaya Namo Rudraya Namah

Kalaya Namah, Kalivikaranaya Namo Valay Namo

Bal Pramathanaya Namah Sarvabhuta Damanaya

Namo Manoman Mathaya Namah”

Third Mantra:

“Aum Aghorebhyo Athah Ghorebhyo Ghorghorateravyah Sarvevyah

Sarva Sarvevyo Namaste Astu Rudra Rupevyah”

Fourth Mantra:

“Aum Tat Purushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya

Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat”

Fifth Mantra:

“Aum Ishanah Sarvavidyanam Ishvarah Sarvabhutanam

Brahmadhipati Brahman Brahma Shivo Me Astu Sada Shivam”