The five-faced form of Siva

The five faces (from left to right) are Ishana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata. They radiate, in order, revealment of grace, sublimation of the five senses, omnipresence,omnipotence and omniscience. This sequence is the creative cycle, when reversed the cycle of dissolution is depicted. The five-hooded snakes indicate the need to exercise caution, use wisdom, resist temptation, move carefully and use discrimination. His ten arms denote the consummate ability to tackle difficulties. His hand raised in blessing, facing forward, carries the message “Have no fear; you will attain liberation.” Four faces are said to have revealed the Vedas; the fifth (Ishana) revealed the Agamas. Each face bears a geometric shape above the forehead which represents one of the five elements and identifies the Lord. He sits on a tiger skin which blocks worldly vibrations that keep devotees earth-bound.