Essays About Shaivism

History, Philosophy, Beliefs and Practices of Shaivism,

The Meaning of Shankara or Samkara


Lord Siva is popularly known as Shankara or Samkara. Samkara (sama+kara) means balanced, equally made or perfectly made. He is equally made of all the polarities in the world. He is both Purusha and Prakriti, known and unknown, with form and without form, manifested and unmanifested, day and night, gross and subtle, subject and object, Shiva (God) and Jjva (the living being), and immanent and transcendental. Thus, in Shiva we find everything balanced and in a state of equilibrium. Samkara also means doer of good deeds or who is the same or stable in all deeds. Since he is completely detached and without desires, his actions do not taint him, whereby he remains the same while performing actions.

We can also make some additional interpretations, which agree with the virtues that are popularly ascribed to him as in the following case. Samkara is also pronounced as Shankara or Shankar. The word can be interpreted as a compound word, made up of two other words namely "shanka" and "hara". Shanka means doubt and hara means dispeller or destroyer.

Thus, Shankara is the dispeller or destroyer of doubt, delusion, confusion and ignorance. As the world teacher and bearer of the divine consciousness, which is represented upon earth by the River Ganga, he imparts knowledge, wisdom, discernment and self-awareness. As the lord of the worlds (Parameswara), and the inner Lord (Isvara) he rules over our disbeliefs and hesitations and establishes firm faith through his compelling nature. By removing all those impurities, he also destroys our bondage to the cycle of births and deaths

Shankara is also Sankata Hara, the destroyer of our problems, difficulties and suffering. He is easily pleased with a simple display of faith, devotion and sincerity. The Puranas suggest that he forgives even the gravest of sinners if they worship him. Hence, many Asuras took advantage of his compassion and sought boons from him. Sincere the Lord is easily pleased with pure devotion and responds immediately, devotees worship him when they are in difficulties or going through adversity.


Source: Jayaram V