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Ishvara ( Sanskrit , m., ईश्वर, īśvara , a combination of the Sanskrit words ish and vara , in German for example: "Lord with the best qualities") is a name in Hinduism for the highest, personal god , regardless of a particular one Faith, because both Vishnu and Shiva are addressed by their followers as "Ishvara". The word seems to be a later creation because it does not appear in the Rigveda and is only rarely used in other scriptures (e.g. in Atharvaveda or Yajurveda ). In the Dharmasutras it appears more frequently, but not yet in its later meaning as "God" or "Lord".

Later Indian philosophers, thinkers, seers and saints understand “Ishvara” to be an eternal, unique, all-powerful and all-knowing Lord of the world. They assume that he created the world and arranged it appropriately, maintained it as well as destroyed it, that he brought the natural and moral laws of the world into existence and proclaimed them through revelations and also kept the law of karma in motion.

Different views

However, when it comes to details, there are great differences between the various philosophies. There are different views, for example, as to whether the Ishvara is not only the causal but also the material cause of the world; whether moral qualities may be ascribed to him, or whether he stands beyond good and evil.

The greatest difference lies between the philosophical schools, which leave it up to the individual whether the Ishvara is identical with a certain person from the Indian world of gods or not, and those groups which in the post-classical period tried dogmatic approaches to demonstrate that the Ishvara was only and could only be Vishnu or Shiva .

In classical Indian philosophy, the view of a world lord, the Ishvara, is taught in a theistic and in a pan-en-theistic form.

Panentheistic expression

The Rigveda already teaches that a personal God has made a quarter of his self become the cosmos, while he reaches beyond him with three quarters of his being. This idea that God is at the same time in the world and reaches beyond it is further developed in the following years in the Upanishads , in the Bhagavad-Gita and in the Puranas .

Theistic expression

In the views of the later Nyaya - Vaisheshika and Yoga , the Pashupatas and Madhvas , the absolute difference between God and the world is emphasized. In contrast to Christian theism , which allows God to create the world out of nothing, Indian theists hold the view that matter and souls have existed alongside the Ishvara for eternity and that the activity of the Lord of the World is limited to the order and control of the cosmos.

Other names

In the Bhagavad Gita (11.3-4) Krishna is referred to as Parameshvara , "the Supreme God" (Parama means "the Most High") and as Yogeshvara , "Lord of the Yogis". Maheshvara is a famous name of Shiva (Maha means "big").


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