Lord Siva, existing in His blinding self-effulgence and love, creates countless souls, an act that is likened to sparks issuing from a blazing fire. Initially souls are incorporeal and enshrouded in the darkness of ignorance. That this veiling darkness may be understood and dissolved, souls need to be embodied in various worlds where they can experience both merits and demerits. Different forms of the Supreme God are necessary for them for the purpose of contemplation and worship. The Agamas speak of a motherly compassion spontaneously arising within Lord Siva to redeem and uplift the shrouded souls, a divine desire (iccha) resulting in a minute impulse or movement (kshobha) within Him. It is from this vibration, this divine love, that manifestation in its myriad forms appears.
That impulse of creativity brings forth a pulse, or Shakti, called Parashakti, which is one thousandth of Parasiva’s brilliant radiance. Next, another Shakti, called Adishakti, arises as a thousandth of Parashakti. Next, Icchashakti manifests as one one-thousandth of Adishakti. Then Jnanashakti arises as one tenth of a hundredth of Icchashakti. Finally, Kriyashakti arises as a thousandth of Jnanashakti. Each Shakti is less subtle than the Shakti from which it arises. These five Shaktis are all transcendental and formless, never depicted as images, only contemplated upon.
Parashakti, profoundly subtle, all-pervasive and immeasurably effulgent, conceives the process of five-fold cosmic function. Adishakti, exceedingly brilliant, pervades embodied souls, as well as liberated souls. Icchashakti, greatly luminous, begins the process of creating the worlds and various bodies for the souls. Jnanashakti illuminates the Deities protecting the worlds and souls living in various planes of existence. Kriyashakti instills power and ability in the cosmic authorities that perform the five-fold cosmic function.
In this same transcendental space, five Sivas manifest, each related to one of the five Shaktis and collectively called the Panchasivas: Anashrita, Anatha, Ananta, Vyomarupa and Vyapaka. Anashrita appears as one part out of a thousand parts of Parasiva. In the same way, Anatha arises out of Anashrita, Ananta out of Anatha, Vyomarupa out of Ananta, and Vyapaka out of Vyomarupa.