Ishvara

Ishvara

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Ishvara is a philosophical concept in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, meaning controller or the Supreme controller (i.e. God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

) in a theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 school of thought or the Supreme Being
Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...

, or as an Ishta-deva
Ishta-deva
Within Hinduism, an Ishta-deva or Ishta devata is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God...

 of monistic thought.

Etymology


In Sanskrit and in the languages of some Indianized countries that have borrowed vocabulary from Sanskrit, "Ishvara" is also used to denote a "lord" in a temporal sense, as any master or king (a dual usage also found in English). In this sense, "Ishvara" is often used in compounds, to designate the lord of some place or group. For example, "Lokesvara" is a compound of "loka" (world) and "isvara" (lord); it means "lord of the world". "Campesvara" is a compound consisting of "Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

" (the name of a medieval Indianized polity in central Vietnam) and "isvara" that means "lord of Champa".

In Saivite traditions of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, the term is used as part of the compound "Maheshvara" ("great lord") as a name for Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

. In Mahayana Buddhism it is used as part of the compound "Avalokiteśvara
Avalokitesvara
Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism....

" ("lord who hears the cries of the world"), the name of a bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 revered for his compassion. When referring to divine as female, particularly in Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

, the feminine is sometimes used.

Schools of thought


Among the six systems of Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, early Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

 and Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

 reject the concept of Ishvara, i.e., a supreme being, while later Samkhya, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika or ' is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy of India. Historically, it has been closely associated with the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya....

, Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 and Nyaya
Nyaya
' is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic...

  believe in the existence of an Ishvara.

In Vedanta


Ishvara is a transcendent and immanent entity best described in the last chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, known as the Ishavasya Upanishad. It states ishavasyam idam sarvam, which means whatever there is in this world is covered and filled with Ishvara. Ishvara not only creates the world, but then also enters into everything there is:


He created all this, whatever is here. Having created it, into it, indeed, he entered. Having entered it, he became both the actual and the beyond, the defined and the undefined, both the founded and the unfounded, the intelligent and the unintelligent, the true and the untrue. (Taittiriya Upanishad
Taittiriya Upanishad
The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. It is associated with the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda...

 2.6.1)


The conception of Ishvara in Hinduism is very much dependent on the particular school of thought. While any one of five forms of a personal God can embody the concept of Ishvara in Advaita Vedanta, schools of Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, on other hand, consider only Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 and His incarnations as the ultimate omnipotent Ishvara and all other forms of God as merely expansions or aspects of Vishnu.

Advaita Vedanta


Advaitism
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

 holds that when human beings think of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit is projected upon the limited, finite human mind and appears as Ishvara. Therefore, the mind projects human attributes, such as personality, motherhood, and fatherhood on the Supreme Being. An interesting metaphor is that when the "reflection" of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

(; the principle of illusion, which binds the mind), it appears as the Supreme Lord. God (as in Brahman) is not thought to have such attributes in the true sense. However it may be helpful to project such attributes onto God.

Vishishta Advaita Vedanta


In Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

, Ishvara is the supreme cosmic spirit who maintains complete control over the universe and all the sentient beings, which together also form the pan-organistic body of Ishvara. The triad of Ishvara along with the universe and the sentient beings is Brahman, which signifies the completeness of existence. Ishvara is Para Brahman
Para Brahman
Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

endowed with innumerable auspicious qualities (Kalyana Gunas). Ishvara is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, creator of the world, its active ruler and also the eventual destroyer. He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

. He rules the world with His Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

— His divine power.

Dvaita Vedanta


According to the Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 school, Ishvara possesses all the qualities seen in Vishishtadvaita. Ishvara is the efficient and material cause of the universe and the sentient beings and yet exists independently. Thus, Dvaitism does not separate Ishvara and Brahman, and does not believe that the highest form of Brahman is attributeless, or that Ishvara is incorporeal. Instead, Ishvara is the highest form of truth and worship of God involves belief in God as an infinite and yet personal and loving being.

Achintya-Bheda-Abheda


is a school of Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, Ishvara, (Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

), svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

. and also between God and his energies within the Gaudiya Vaishnava
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 religious tradition. In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'one-ness'. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

 and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas.

"Caitanya's philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

. Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 had agreed with
{{Hinduism}}
Ishvara ({{IAST|Īśvara}} in
IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

) is a philosophical concept in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, meaning controller or the Supreme controller (i.e. God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

) in a theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 school of thought or the Supreme Being
Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...

, or as an Ishta-deva
Ishta-deva
Within Hinduism, an Ishta-deva or Ishta devata is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God...

 of monistic thought.

Etymology


In Sanskrit and in the languages of some Indianized countries that have borrowed vocabulary from Sanskrit, "Ishvara" is also used to denote a "lord" in a temporal sense, as any master or king (a dual usage also found in English). In this sense, "Ishvara" is often used in compounds, to designate the lord of some place or group. For example, "Lokesvara" is a compound of "loka" (world) and "isvara" (lord); it means "lord of the world". "Campesvara" is a compound consisting of "Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

" (the name of a medieval Indianized polity in central Vietnam) and "isvara" that means "lord of Champa".

In Saivite traditions of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, the term is used as part of the compound "Maheshvara" ("great lord") as a name for Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

. In Mahayana Buddhism it is used as part of the compound "Avalokiteśvara
Avalokitesvara
Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism....

" ("lord who hears the cries of the world"), the name of a bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 revered for his compassion. When referring to divine as female, particularly in Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

, the feminine {{IAST|Īśvarī}} is sometimes used.

Schools of thought


Among the six systems of Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, early Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

 and Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

 reject the concept of Ishvara, i.e., a supreme being, while later Samkhya, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika or ' is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy of India. Historically, it has been closely associated with the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya....

, Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 and Nyaya
Nyaya
' is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic...

  believe in the existence of an Ishvara.

In Vedanta


Ishvara is a transcendent and immanent entity best described in the last chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, known as the Ishavasya Upanishad. It states ishavasyam idam sarvam, which means whatever there is in this world is covered and filled with Ishvara. Ishvara not only creates the world, but then also enters into everything there is:


He created all this, whatever is here. Having created it, into it, indeed, he entered. Having entered it, he became both the actual and the beyond, the defined and the undefined, both the founded and the unfounded, the intelligent and the unintelligent, the true and the untrue. (Taittiriya Upanishad
Taittiriya Upanishad
The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. It is associated with the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda...

 2.6.1)


The conception of Ishvara in Hinduism is very much dependent on the particular school of thought. While any one of five forms of a personal God can embody the concept of Ishvara in Advaita Vedanta, schools of Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, on other hand, consider only Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 and His incarnations as the ultimate omnipotent Ishvara and all other forms of God as merely expansions or aspects of Vishnu.

Advaita Vedanta


Advaitism
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

 holds that when human beings think of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit is projected upon the limited, finite human mind and appears as Ishvara. Therefore, the mind projects human attributes, such as personality, motherhood, and fatherhood on the Supreme Being. An interesting metaphor is that when the "reflection" of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

({{IAST|Māyā}}; the principle of illusion, which binds the mind), it appears as the Supreme Lord. God (as in Brahman) is not thought to have such attributes in the true sense. However it may be helpful to project such attributes onto God.

Vishishta Advaita Vedanta


In Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

, Ishvara is the supreme cosmic spirit who maintains complete control over the universe and all the sentient beings, which together also form the pan-organistic body of Ishvara. The triad of Ishvara along with the universe and the sentient beings is Brahman, which signifies the completeness of existence. Ishvara is Para Brahman
Para Brahman
Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

endowed with innumerable auspicious qualities (Kalyana Gunas). Ishvara is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, creator of the world, its active ruler and also the eventual destroyer. He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

. He rules the world with His Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

— His divine power.

Dvaita Vedanta


According to the Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 school, Ishvara possesses all the qualities seen in Vishishtadvaita. Ishvara is the efficient and material cause of the universe and the sentient beings and yet exists independently. Thus, Dvaitism does not separate Ishvara and Brahman, and does not believe that the highest form of Brahman is attributeless, or that Ishvara is incorporeal. Instead, Ishvara is the highest form of truth and worship of God involves belief in God as an infinite and yet personal and loving being.

Achintya-Bheda-Abheda


{{IAST|Acintya bhedābheda}} is a school of Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, Ishvara, (Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

), svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

. and also between God and his energies within the Gaudiya Vaishnava
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 religious tradition. In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'one-ness'. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

 and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas.

"Caitanya's philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

. Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 had agreed with
{{Hinduism}}
Ishvara ({{IAST|Īśvara}} in
IAST
IAST
The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration is a transliteration scheme that allows a lossless romanization of Indic scripts as employed by the Sanskrit language.-Popularity:...

) is a philosophical concept in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, meaning controller or the Supreme controller (i.e. God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

) in a theistic
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

 school of thought or the Supreme Being
Supreme Being
The term Supreme Being is often defined simply as "God", and it is used with this meaning by theologians of many religious faiths, including, but not limited to, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Deism. However, the term can also refer to more complex or philosophical interpretations of the...

, or as an Ishta-deva
Ishta-deva
Within Hinduism, an Ishta-deva or Ishta devata is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity.It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God...

 of monistic thought.

Etymology


In Sanskrit and in the languages of some Indianized countries that have borrowed vocabulary from Sanskrit, "Ishvara" is also used to denote a "lord" in a temporal sense, as any master or king (a dual usage also found in English). In this sense, "Ishvara" is often used in compounds, to designate the lord of some place or group. For example, "Lokesvara" is a compound of "loka" (world) and "isvara" (lord); it means "lord of the world". "Campesvara" is a compound consisting of "Champa
Champa
The kingdom of Champa was an Indianized kingdom that controlled what is now southern and central Vietnam from approximately the 7th century through to 1832.The Cham people are remnants...

" (the name of a medieval Indianized polity in central Vietnam) and "isvara" that means "lord of Champa".

In Saivite traditions of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, the term is used as part of the compound "Maheshvara" ("great lord") as a name for Siva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

. In Mahayana Buddhism it is used as part of the compound "Avalokiteśvara
Avalokitesvara
Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism....

" ("lord who hears the cries of the world"), the name of a bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 revered for his compassion. When referring to divine as female, particularly in Shaktism
Shaktism
Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi – the Hindu Divine Mother – as the absolute, ultimate Godhead...

, the feminine {{IAST|Īśvarī}} is sometimes used.

Schools of thought


Among the six systems of Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, early Samkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

 and Mimamsa
Mimamsa
' , a Sanskrit word meaning "investigation" , is the name of an astika school of Hindu philosophy whose primary enquiry is into the nature of dharma based on close hermeneutics of the Vedas...

 reject the concept of Ishvara, i.e., a supreme being, while later Samkhya, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika or ' is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy of India. Historically, it has been closely associated with the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya....

, Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 and Nyaya
Nyaya
' is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic...

  believe in the existence of an Ishvara.

In Vedanta


Ishvara is a transcendent and immanent entity best described in the last chapter of the Shukla Yajur Veda Samhita, known as the Ishavasya Upanishad. It states ishavasyam idam sarvam, which means whatever there is in this world is covered and filled with Ishvara. Ishvara not only creates the world, but then also enters into everything there is:


He created all this, whatever is here. Having created it, into it, indeed, he entered. Having entered it, he became both the actual and the beyond, the defined and the undefined, both the founded and the unfounded, the intelligent and the unintelligent, the true and the untrue. (Taittiriya Upanishad
Taittiriya Upanishad
The Taittiriya Upanishad is one of the older, "primary" Upanishads commented upon by Shankara. It is associated with the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda...

 2.6.1)


The conception of Ishvara in Hinduism is very much dependent on the particular school of thought. While any one of five forms of a personal God can embody the concept of Ishvara in Advaita Vedanta, schools of Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

, on other hand, consider only Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

 and His incarnations as the ultimate omnipotent Ishvara and all other forms of God as merely expansions or aspects of Vishnu.

Advaita Vedanta


Advaitism
Advaita Vedanta
Advaita Vedanta is considered to be the most influential and most dominant sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy. Other major sub-schools of Vedānta are Dvaita and ; while the minor ones include Suddhadvaita, Dvaitadvaita and Achintya Bhedabheda...

 holds that when human beings think of Brahman
Brahman
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...

, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit is projected upon the limited, finite human mind and appears as Ishvara. Therefore, the mind projects human attributes, such as personality, motherhood, and fatherhood on the Supreme Being. An interesting metaphor is that when the "reflection" of the Cosmic Spirit falls upon the mirror of Maya
Maya (illusion)
Maya , in Indian religions, has multiple meanings, usually quoted as "illusion", centered on the fact that we do not experience the environment itself but rather a projection of it, created by us. Maya is the principal deity that manifests, perpetuates and governs the illusion and dream of duality...

({{IAST|Māyā}}; the principle of illusion, which binds the mind), it appears as the Supreme Lord. God (as in Brahman) is not thought to have such attributes in the true sense. However it may be helpful to project such attributes onto God.

Vishishta Advaita Vedanta


In Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta is a sub-school of the Vedānta school of Hindu philosophy, the other major sub-schools of Vedānta being Advaita, Dvaita, and Achintya-Bheda-Abheda. VishishtAdvaita is a non-dualistic school of Vedanta philosophy...

, Ishvara is the supreme cosmic spirit who maintains complete control over the universe and all the sentient beings, which together also form the pan-organistic body of Ishvara. The triad of Ishvara along with the universe and the sentient beings is Brahman, which signifies the completeness of existence. Ishvara is Para Brahman
Para Brahman
Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...

endowed with innumerable auspicious qualities (Kalyana Gunas). Ishvara is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal, independent, creator of the world, its active ruler and also the eventual destroyer. He is causeless, eternal and unchangeable — and is yet the material and the efficient cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He is the subject of worship. He is the basis of morality and giver of the fruits of one's Karma
Karma
Karma in Indian religions is the concept of "action" or "deed", understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect originating in ancient India and treated in Hindu, Jain, Buddhist and Sikh philosophies....

. He rules the world with His Māyā
Maya
-Peoples, languages, numerical systems:* The Maya peoples, peoples of southern Mexico and northern Central America** Maya civilization, their historical civilization** Mayan languages, the family of languages spoken by the Maya...

— His divine power.

Dvaita Vedanta


According to the Dvaita
Dvaita
Dvaita is a school of Vedanta founded by Shri Madhvacharya....

 school, Ishvara possesses all the qualities seen in Vishishtadvaita. Ishvara is the efficient and material cause of the universe and the sentient beings and yet exists independently. Thus, Dvaitism does not separate Ishvara and Brahman, and does not believe that the highest form of Brahman is attributeless, or that Ishvara is incorporeal. Instead, Ishvara is the highest form of truth and worship of God involves belief in God as an infinite and yet personal and loving being.

Achintya-Bheda-Abheda


{{IAST|Acintya bhedābheda}} is a school of Vedanta
Vedanta
Vedānta was originally a word used in Hindu philosophy as a synonym for that part of the Veda texts known also as the Upanishads. The name is a morphophonological form of Veda-anta = "Veda-end" = "the appendix to the Vedic hymns." It is also speculated that "Vedānta" means "the purpose or goal...

 representing the philosophy of inconceivable one-ness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator, Ishvara, (Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

), svayam bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan
Svayam Bhagavan , "The Lord" or Lord Himself, is a Sanskrit theological term. The term refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan within Hinduism....

. and also between God and his energies within the Gaudiya Vaishnava
Gaudiya Vaishnavism
Gaudiya Vaishnavism is a Vaishnava religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in India in the 16th century. "Gaudiya" refers to the Gauḍa region with Vaishnavism meaning "the worship of Vishnu"...

 religious tradition. In Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 achintya means 'inconceivable', bheda translates as 'difference', and abheda translates as 'one-ness'. It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement's theological founder Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a Vaishnava saint and social reformer in eastern India in the 16th century, believed by followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism to be the full incarnation of Lord Krishna...

 and differentiates the Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava Sampradayas.

"Caitanya's philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda-tattva completed the progression to devotional theism
Theism
Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.In a more specific sense, theism refers to a doctrine concerning the nature of a monotheistic God and God's relationship to the universe....

. Rāmānuja
Ramanuja
Ramanuja ; traditionally 1017–1137, also known as Ramanujacharya, Ethirajar , Emperumannar, Lakshmana Muni, was a theologian, philosopher, and scriptural exegete...

 had agreed with {{IAST
Sankara
Sankara can refer to:*Thomas Sankara , Marxist revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso *Adi Sankara, Hindu philosopher of roughly 800 CE credited with reviving Hinduism...

 that the Absolute is one only, but he had disagreed by affirming individual variety within that oneness. Madhva
Madhvacharya
Madhvācārya was the chief proponent of Tattvavāda "Philosophy of Reality", popularly known as the Dvaita school of Hindu philosophy. It is one of the three most influential Vedānta philosophies. Madhvācārya was one of the important philosophers during the Bhakti movement. He was a pioneer in...

 had underscored the eternal duality of the Supreme and the Jīva
Jiva
In Hinduism and Jainism, a jiva is a living being, or more specifically, the immortal essence of a living organism which survives physical death. It has a very similar usage to atma, but whereas atma refers to "the cosmic self", jiva is used to denote an individual 'living entity' or 'living...

: he had maintained that this duality endures even after liberation. Caitanya, in turn, specified that the Supreme and the jīvas are "inconceivably, simultaneously one and different" (acintya-bheda-abheda). He strongly opposed {{IAST|Śaṅkara}}'s philosophy for its defiance of Vyāsadeva's siddhānta
Siddhanta
Siddhanta, a Sanskrit term, roughly translates as the Doctrine or the Tradition. It denotes the established and accepted view of a particular school within Indian philosophy.-Hindu philosophy:...

". (See Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
Satsvarupa das Goswami is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness , better known in the West as the Hare Krishna movement...

)

Ishvara is simultaneously "one with and different from His creation". In this sense Vaishnava
Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is a tradition of Hinduism, distinguished from other schools by its worship of Vishnu, or his associated Avatars such as Rama and Krishna, as the original and supreme God....

 theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 is not pantheistic as in no way does it deny the separate existence of God (Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

) in His own personal form. However, at the same time, creation (or what is termed in Vaishnava theology as the 'cosmic manifestation') is never separated from God. He always exercises supreme control over his creation. Sometimes directly, but most of the time indirectly through his different potencies or energies (Prakrti
Prakrti
Prakrti or Prakriti or Prakruti means "nature". It is, according to Hindus, the basic nature of intelligence by which the Universe exists and functions. It is described in Bhagavad Gita as the "primal motive force". It is the essential constituent of the universe and is at the basis of all the...

).

Worship


Thus, in addition to their belief in the abstract principle of Brahman, most Hindus worship God on a day-to-day basis in one of God's less abstract personal forms, such as Vishnu
Vishnu
Vishnu is the Supreme god in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God....

, Krishna
Krishna
Krishna is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the supreme Being and considered in some monotheistic traditions as an Avatar of Vishnu...

, Rama
Rama
Rama or full name Ramachandra is considered to be the seventh avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism, and a king of Ayodhya in ancient Indian...

, Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

, or Devi
Devi
Devī is the Sanskrit word for Goddess, used mostly in Hinduism, its related masculine term is deva. Devi is synonymous with Shakti, the female aspect of the divine, as conceptualized by the Shakta tradition of Hinduism. She is the female counterpart without whom the male aspect, which represents...

. Some Hindus worship these personal forms of God for a practical reason: it is easier to cultivate devotion to a personal being than to an abstract principle. Other Hindus believe the personal form of God which they worship is Brahman's Supreme form and that the unmanifest (Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman
Nirguna Brahman, signifies in Hindu philosophy the Brahman that pervades the Universe, considered without form , as in the Advaita school or else as without material form, as in Dvaita schools of philosophy.-Advaita:According to Adi Shankara, the famous reviver of Advaita...

) is a less complete aspect of the personal god. Therefore, the Hindu scriptures depict God not only as an abstract principle or concept, but also as a personal being and this is understood differently by different schools and different Hindus.

In popular culture


In the anime and manga Fullmetal Alchemist
Fullmetal Alchemist
, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa. The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is styled after the European Industrial Revolution...

, Ishvara is a god worshipped by people in Ishbal.

In the roleplaying game Exalted
Exalted
Exalted is a role-playing game published by White Wolf Publishing. The game is classified as high fantasy, but may be more accurately described as "mythic fantasy", as the developer specifically avoided drawing on J. R. R. Tolkien, but rather turned to a mixture of world mythologies for inspiration...

, the term "Ishvara" is used to describe a Raksha
Raksha
In Hindu mythology, a Rakshas is a kind of evil demon.-Ramayana:According to the Ramayana, the Raksha people were the mythical inhabitants of Sri Lanka who were said to have lived among the Naga, Yakkha, and Deva, and governed Sri Lanka in 2370 BCE...

 that is so metaphysically powerful that it is effectively a living story that everyone goes along with.

See also


{{Portal|Religion}}
  • Absolute (philosophy)
    Absolute (philosophy)
    The Absolute is the concept of an unconditional reality which transcends limited, conditional, everyday existence. It is sometimes used as an alternate term for "God" or "the Divine", especially, but by no means exclusively, by those who feel that the term "God" lends itself too easily to...

  • Conceptions of God
    Conceptions of God
    The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:...

  • Para Brahman
    Para Brahman
    Para Brahman or Param Brahman - is a term often used by Vedantic philosophers as to the "attainment of the ultimate goal". Adi Shankara has said that there is only one Supreme Para-Brahman and all the other deities are the forms and expansions of this Para-Brahman...