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Lalita Sahasranama(the thousand names of Lalitha tripura Sundari) is a hymn found in the Uttara Khanda of Brahmanda Purana. In the Lalitha sahasranama, one of the names is

Pañcabrahmāsanasthitā

The above name translates to the one who sits on the seat of five brahmas.

  • Who are the five brahmas Lalita Devi sits on and why are they called so?

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Note: The above question is not a duplicate of this question although it is related.

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Pancha-Brahmans are the five fold manifestation of Lord Shiva and are named as Sadyojata, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva and Ishana. Each five manifestations further manifest as five deities which are as Brahma from Sadyojata, Vishnu from Vamadeva, Rudra from Aghora, Maheswara from Tatpurusha and SadaShiva from Ishana.

Thus the primary Pancha Brahmas are:
➡➡Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha, Ishana.

The secondary Pancha Brahmas which manifest from above primary Pancha Brahmas are:
➡➡ Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara, SadaShiva.

In the Vyavaiya Samhita Chapter 3 of Shiva Purana, Upamanyu states to Lord Krishna as:

उपमन्युरुवाच:
श्रृणु कृष्ण महेशस्य शिवस्य परमात्मन ।
मूर्त्याभिस्ततं कृत्स्न्नं जगदेतच्चराचरम् ।।
स शिवः सर्वमेवेदं स्वकीयभिश्च मूर्तिभिः ।
अधितिष्ठत्यमेयात्मा ह्योतत्सर्वमनुस्मृतम् ।।
ब्रह्मा विष्णुस्तथा रुद्रो महेशानः सदाशिव ।
मूर्त्तस्तस्य विज्ञेया याभिर्विश्वमिदं ततम् ।।
अथाऽन्याश्चापि तनवः पञ्च ब्रह्मसमाहृया ।
तनूभिस्ताभिरव्याप्तमिह किञ्चिन्न विद्यते ।।
ईशानः पुरुषोऽघोरो वामः सद्यस्तथैव च ।
ब्राहाण्येतानि देवस्य मूर्तय पञ्च विश्रुता ।।

Upamanyu said, “0 Sri Krishna, Lord Shiva who is Paramatman pervades in the entire universe comprising of mobiles and immobiles in the form of Murtis. Shiva presides over all these by means of his own Murtis. His Atman is incomprehensible as said by the sages. His forms comprise of Brahma, Visnu, Rudra, Mahesa and SadaShiva which pervade in the universe. There are other images of Siva known as Pancabrahman, which also pervade the universe. There is nothing in the world in which he is not found present. The well known images of Shiva comprise of Ishana, (Tat)Purusa, Aghora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata.

Significance of Pancha Brahmans:

i) Significance in Cosmic Level:

In the Linga Purana Uttara Bhaga chapter 14 Nandi tells the significance of Pancha Brahmans to SanatKumara as:

सर्वलोकैकसंहर्ता सर्वलोकैकरक्षिता ।
सर्वलोकैकनिर्माता पञ्चब्रह्मात्मकः शिव ।।
सर्वेषामेव लोकानां यदुपादानकारणम् ।
निमित्तकारणं चाहुस्स शिवः पञ्चधा स्मृतः ।।
मूर्तयः पञ्च विख्याताः पञ्च ब्रह्माह्वाः पराः ।
सर्वलोकशरण्यस्य शिवस्य परमात्मनः ।।
क्षेत्रज्ञः प्रथमा मूर्तिः शिवस्य परमेष्ठिनः ।
भोक्ता प्रकृतिवर्गस्य भोग्यस्येशानसंज्ञित ।।
स्थाणोस्तत्पुरुषाख्या च द्वितीया मूर्तिरुच्यते ।
प्रकृतिः सा हि विज्ञेया परमात्मगुह्यात्मिका ।।
अघोराख्या तृतीया च शंभोमूर्तिरीयसी ।
बुद्धेः सा मूर्तिरित्युक्ता धर्माद्यष्टांगसंयुता ।।
चतुर्थी वामदेवाख्या मूर्तिः शंभोर्गरीयसी ।
अहंकारात्मकत्वेन व्याप्य सर्वं व्यवस्थिता ।।
सद्योजातह्वया शंभोः पञ्चमी मूर्तिरुच्यते ।
मनस्तत्त्वात्मकत्वेन व्याप्य सर्वं व्यवस्थिता ।।

In the form of Pancha Brahman, Shiva is the creator of the Universe besides being it's destroyer and protector. The learned people say that Shiva is both material and intellectual cause of the world. The learned people say that Shiva is the material as well as the factual cause of the three worlds, who has five forms. The great forms of Shiva — the supreme soul, who is worthy of the refuge of all the worlds, are five in number and are known as Pancha Brahmanas.  lshana happens to be the first form of Shiva Paramesthi also known as Ksehtrajna. In this form, he is the knower of the field and enjoyer of Prakrti which is fit to be enjoyed. The second physical form of the lord is known as Tatpurusha, which again is equal to Prakriti as the abode of the supreme soul. The third physical form of the lord is known as Aghora, which form pertains to the cosmic intellect. It has eight related parts starting with Dharma. Vamadeva is the fourth physical form of lord Siva which pervades in all the living beings in the form of ego. What is called Sadyojata is the fifth physical form of the lord and is stationed in all the embodied beings in the form of mind.

Thus the PanchaBrahmanas presides over as:

Ishana➡ Kshetrajna and enjoyer of Prakirti
Tatpurusha➡Gunas of Prakirti
Aghora➡ Cosmic Intellect (Buddhi)
Vamadeva➡Ego (Ahamkara)
Sadyojata ➡ Mind (Mana)

ii) Significance in Bodily and Elementary Level:

In the Vyayaviya Samhita Shiva Purana chapter 3, Upamanyu states to Lord Krishna as:

श्रोत्रस्य वाचः शब्दस्य विभोर्व्योम्नस्तथैव च ।
ईश्वरीमीश्वरस्येमामीशाख्यां हि विदुर्बुधा ।।
त्वक्पाणिस्पर्शवियूनामीश्वरीं मूर्तिमैश्वरीम् ।
पुरुषाख्यं विदुः सर्वे पुराणार्थ विशारदाः ।।
चक्षुषश्चरणस्यापि रुपस्याग्नेस्तथैव च ।
अघोराख्यमधिष्ठात्री मूर्तिमाहुर्मनीषिणा ।।
रसनायश्च पायोश्च रसस्यापां तथैव च ।
ईश्वरी वामदेवाख्यां मूर्तिं तन्निरतां विदुः ।।
घ्राणस्य चैवपस्थस्य गन्धस्य च भुवस्तथा ।
सद्योजातह्वयां मूर्तिमीश्वरीं सम्प्रचक्षते ।।

The people of wisdom, consider Ishana as the presiding deity of the ear, speech, sound and all pervasive ethers. The persons Well versed in the Puranas find Tatpurusa as the presiding deity of the skin hands, touch and Vayu. The wise people know that Aghora is the presiding deity of the eyes, legs, colour and the fire. The devotees should understand that Vamadeva happens to be the presiding deity of tongue, anus, taste and waters. According to their Sadyojata is the presiding deity of nose, sex organs, smell and the earth.

Thus the PanchaBrahmans preside over elementary and bodily level as:

Ishana➡ Ether, Sound, Ear, Mouth
Tatpurusha➡ Air, Touch, Skin, Hands
Aghora➡ Fire, Colour, Eyes, Legs
Vamadeva➡ Water, Taste, Tongue, Anus
Sadyojata➡ Earth, Smell, Nose, Sex Organs.

iii) Significance in Panchakshara Mantra:

The Pancha Brahman Upanishad states as:

इत्येतद्ब्रह्म जानीयाद्यः स मुक्तो न संशयः ।
पञ्चाक्षरमयं शम्भुं परब्रह्मस्वरूपिणम् ॥ २४॥
नकारादियकारान्तं ज्ञात्वा पञ्चाक्षरं जपेत् ।
सर्वं पञ्चात्मकं विद्यात्पञ्चब्रह्मात्मतत्त्वतः ॥ २५॥
पञ्चब्रह्मात्मिकीं विद्यां योऽधीते भक्तिभावितः ।
स पञ्चात्मकतामेत्य भासते पञ्चधा स्वयम् ॥ २६

There is no doubt that the one who understands this Brahman becomes freed (emancipated). One should chant the Panchakshara Mantra which is from Na to Ya (Namasivaya) and which is of the shape of five letters and is Lord Shiva’s body. After understanding the philosophy of the soul of Pancha Brahma, One should understand that every form is the form of those five. One who studies this knowledge of the soul of the Pancha Brahma would shine himself as Pancha Brahma.

Thus the Panchakshara Mantra represent Pancha Brahman as:
Sadyojata➡ Na kaara
Vamadeva➡ Ma kaara
Aghora➡ Shi kaara
Tatpurush➡ Va kaara
Ishana➡ Ya kaara

PanchaBrahman Mantra:

The Pancha Brahman mantra are itself from Vedas. Vedas recognizes various fold manifestation of Lord Shiva. For eg. In this chapter of Yajurveda Shatapatha Brahmana Eight Fold manifestation of Lord Shiva are described also known as AshtaMurti. In this form Lord Shiva after being born through Brahma enters Eight places: Fire, Water, Plant, Air, Lightening, Raingod, Moon Sun as Rudra, Sarva, Pashupati, Ugra, Asani, Bhava, Mahadeva, Ishana.

Similarly in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (which is itself part of Shatapatha Brahmana) 11 fold manifestation of Lord Shiva which are known as Ekadash Rudra are described as:

कतमे रुद्रा इतिः दशेमे पुरुषे प्राणाः आत्मैकादशः ते यदास्माच्छरीरान्मर्त्यादुत्क्रामन्त्यथ रोदयन्ति, तद्यद्रोदयन्ति तस्माद्रुद्रा इति ।।

‘Which are the Rudras ?’ ‘The ten pranas in the human body, with the Atman as the eleventh. When they depart from this mortal body, they make one’s relatives weep. Because they then make them weep, therefore they are called Rudras.’

Similarly the Five fold Manifestation of Lord Shiva or Pancha Brahman are also saluted in the YajurVeda Taittariya Arnayaka. And the five mantras present there describing Pancha Brahman are popularly known as Pancha Brahman Mantras. The Pancha Brahman Mantras are as:

सद्योजातं प्रपद्यामि सद्योजाताय वै नमो नमः ।
भवे भवे नातिभवे भवस्व माम् । भवोद्भवाय नमः ॥  (YajurVeda Taittariya Aranyaka 10.17.1)

I take refuge in Sadyojata. Verily I salute Sadyojata again and again. O Sadyojata, do not consign me to repeated birth; lead me beyond birth, into the state of bliss and liberation. I bow down to Him who is the source of transmigratory existence.

वामदेवाय नमो ज्येष्ठाय नमः  श्रेष्ठाय नमो रुद्राय नमः कालाय नमः कलविकरणाय नमो बलविकरणाय नमो बलाय नमो बलप्रमथाय नमः सर्वभूतदमनाय नमो मनोन्मनाय नमः ॥ (Taittariya Aranyaka 10.18.1)

Salutation to Vamadeva [the beautiful and shining One or the generous God]. Salutation to Jyestha [the Eldest, existing before creation]. Salutation to Srestha [the most worthy and excellent]. Salutation to Rudra [He who causes creatures to weep at the time of dissolution]. Salutation to Kala [He who is the Power of time responsible for the evolution of Nature]. Salutation to Kalavikarana [He who causes changes in the evolution of the universe beginning with Prakriti]. Salutation to Balavikarana [He who is the producer of varieties and degrees of strength]. Salutation to Bala [He who is the source of all strength]. Salutation to Balapramathana [He who suppresses all power at the time of retraction]. Salutation to Sarvabhutadamana [the Ruler of all the created beings]. Salutation to Manonmana [He who is the kindler of the light of the soul].

अघोरेभ्योऽथ घोरेभ्यो घोरघोरतरेभ्यः । सर्वतः शर्व
सर्वेभ्यो नमस्ते अस्तु रुद्ररूपेभ्यः ॥ (Taittariya Aranyaka 10.19.1)

Aghora form which is both Ghora (terrific) and aghora (non terrific). Salutation to Sarva (destructive) form of Rudra which is all.

तत्पुरुषाय विद्महे महादेवाय धीमहि । तन्नो रुद्रः
प्रचोदयात् ॥ (Taittariya Aranyaka 10.20.1)
May we know or realize the TatPurusha. For that, may we meditate upon Mahadeva and to that meditation may Rudra impel us.

ईशानः सर्वविद्यानामीश्वरः सर्वभूतानां
ब्रह्माधिपतिर्ब्रह्मणोऽधिपतिर्ब्रह्मा शिवो मे अस्तु सदाशिवोम् ।। (Taittariya Aranyaka 10.21.1)
May the Ishana who is the ruler of all knowledge, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas and the one overlord of Hiranyagarbha, be benign to me. I am the Sadasiva described thus and denoted by Pranava.

Regarding the name "PanchaBrahmanSanasthita" occuring in Lalita Sahasranaama, it denotes the form of Sri Lalita Devi where she sits over the PanchaBrahmans. Here sitting over PanchaBrahmans does not mean sitting over Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Tatpurusha, Aghora and Ishana. But it means sitting over Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara and Ishana which are also PanchaBrahmans (but they are manifestation of PanchaBrahmanas like Sadyojata... Ishana)

So, "PanchaBrahmanSanasathita" in Lalita Sahasranaama means who seats in the Aasana made up of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara and SadaShiva.

As I discuss in my answer here Devi speaks in Devi Gita of Tripura Rahasya as:

My concrete form is the eternal couple — the Supreme Lord and Energy — always in undivided union and abiding as the eternal consciousness pervading the three phenomenal states of waking, dream and sleep, and reclining on the cot, whose four legs are Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Protector), Shiva (the Destroyer) and Ishwara (Disappearance) and whose surface is Sadasiva (grace), which is contained in the mansion known as the ‘fulfilment of purpose’, enclosed by the garden of ‘kadamba’ trees, in the jewel island situated in the wide ocean of nectar surrounding the cosmos and extending beyond.

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I am providing another reference about “ Pancha-Brahmas” you asked in the question , from Linga Purana – Uttara Bhaga – Chapter 14 –Panca-Brahmas .

According to Linga Purana Lord Shiva the form of Panca-Brahmas. In the form of Panca-Brahmas, Shiva is the creator of the universe , beside being its destroyer and protector.

These are Isana , Tatpurusa , Aghora , Vamdeva and Sadyojata.

These are the verses describing them -:

सनत्कुमार उवाच

पच्श्र ब्रह्माणि मे नंदिन्नाचव्क्ष गणसत्तम |
श्रेय: करणभूतानि पवित्राणि शरीरिणाम् ||१||

Sanatkumara said

O best among the Ganas known as Nandikeshwara , you speak about to me about Panca-Brahmas , who purify the embodied beings and bestow welfare.

नन्दिकेश्वर उवाच

शिवस्यैव स्वरुपाणि पच्श्र ब्रह्माह्यानि ते |
कथयामि यथातत्वं पद्मयोने: सुतोत्तम ||२||

Nandikeshwara said

Siva indeed is the form of Panca-Brahmas. O excellent son of Brahma , I shall now speak out to you about them.

सर्वलोकैकसंहर्ता सेर्वलोकैकरक्षिता |
सेर्वलोकैकनिर्माता पच्श्रब्रह्मात्मक: शिव: ||३||

In the form of Panca-Brahmas, Shiva is the creator of the universe , beside being its destroyer and protector.


क्षेत्रज्ञ: प्रथमा मूर्ति: शिवस्य परमेषष्ठीन: |
भोक्ता प्रकृतिवर्गस्य भोग्यस्येशानसंज्ञीत: ||६||
स्थाणोस्तत्पुषाख्या च द्वितीयामूर्तिरुच्यते |
प्रकृति: सा हि विज्ञेया परमात्मगुहात्मिक||७||
अघोराख्या तृतीया च शंभोमूर्तिरीयसी |
बुद्भे: सा मूर्तिरित्युक्ता धर्मादयाष्टाग्ड.संयुता ||८||
चतुर्थी वामदेवाख्या मूर्ति: शंभोर्गरीयसी |
सद्योजाताह्या शंभो: पच्श्रमी मूर्तिरुच्यते |
अहङ्कारात्मकत्वेन व्याप्य सर्वं व्यवस्थिता||९||
मनस्त्त्वात्मकत्वेन स्थिता सर्वशरीरिषु ||१०||

Isana happens to be the first form of shiva Parameshti also known as kestraina. I this form he is the knower of the field and enjoyer of Prakriti which is fit to be enjoyed. The second physical form of the lord is known as Tatpurusa , which again is equal to prakrati as the abode of supreme soul. The third physical form of the Lord is known as Aghora , which form pertains to the cosmic intellect. It has eight related parts starring with Dharma. Vamadeva is the fourth physical form of lord Shiva which pervades in all the living being in the form of ego. What is called Sadyojata is the fifth physical form and is stationed in all the embodied beings in the form of mind.


These verses from same Purana describing the respected places where these Panch-Brahmas are residing.

स्थितस्तत्पुरुषो देव: शरीरेषु शरीरिणम्
त्वगिन्द्रियात्मकत्वेन तत्वविद्भिरुदाह्यत: ||१२||
अघोरोपि महादेवच्श्रक्षुरात्मतया बुधै|
कीर्तित: सेर्वभुतानां शरीरेषु व्यवस्थित: ||१३||
जिव्हेंद्रियात्मकत्वेन वामदेवोपि विश्रुत: |
अग्ड.भाजामशेषाणामग्डेषु परिधिष्ठीत: ||१४|| घ्राणेंद्रियात्मकत्वेन सद्योजात: स्मृतो बुधै |
प्राणभाजां समस्तानां विग्रहेषु व्यवस्थित: ||१५|| सर्वेष्वएव शरीरेषु प्राणभाजां प्रतिष्ठित: |
वागिंन्द्रियात्मकत्वेन बुधैरीशान उच्यते ||१६||

Tatpurusha is stationed in the embodied beings in the form of touch –the sense organ.

Aghora , who is immensely glorified is lodged in the eyes of all the embodied beings.

Vamadeva is established in the sense organ of the tongue of the embodied beings.

It is stated that Sadyojata is stationed in the form of sense organ of smell in the embodied beings. Isana is said to be stationed in the embodied beings as an organ of speech.

So we can see that each of these five brahmas resides in the different sense organs of embodied beings ,So in a another way Lalita Devi sitting on the PanchaBrahmas implies that she is the master of all these senses and ruler of those.

I too agree with the explanation provided by @Tezz regarding the Lalita Devi sitting on the PanchaBrahmas. –

Sitting over PanchaBrahmans does not mean sitting over Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Tatpurusha, Aghora and Ishana. But it means sitting over Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheswara and Ishana which are also PanchaBrahmas.

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Panchabrahma (Mantras) have been described in Mrigendra āgama as well. Note that, they are beyond Māyā Tattva therefore they don't possess body of Buddhi, intellect, flesh etc, the very nature of their body is Mantra.

Therefore when they are beyond space & time, how can she even sit on them? Sthitham seems to signify here contemplation, indwelling etc. E.g someone sthit on Brahman doesn't mean sitting on Brahman, it just means indwelling in Brahman. In chapter 3, we find the roles of these manifestations of Lord Shiva-

  1. Since there are no body-creating seeds such as mala, karma and others for the Supreme Lord, His body is not like our own bodies. His body is of the very nature of Sakti only. The body of Siva is constituted of five mantras so as to be instrumentally useful in performing the five cosmic functions. With these five mantras are designed the head and other parts of the body of Siva. The five constituent mantras are: Isana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vama and Sadyojata.
  2. Because of the nature of bestowing grace upon all, because of its existence and function in the higher plane of pure adhva (pure realm of Māyā) and because of its highly elevated state comparable to the head-portion, Isana mantra is considered to constitute the head of Lord Siva.
  3. Since it exists as the activating and energizing source in the bodies of the higher souls (devas) and of other beings, since it manifests and illumines the knowledge of the beings, since it dispels the fear related to the continuing transmigration and since it protects the souls, Tatpurusha mantra is considered to constitute the face of Lord Siva.
  4. The word hrudaya is synonymous with consciousness. Siva's form which is of the nature of that consciousness is pure and tranquil. Being free from the state of dreadfulness (aghora), the mantra assumes the form aghora hrudaya. Since the assumptive energy (parigraha sakti) otherwise known as adhikara sakti related to impure maya is very dreadful, the form of Siva has been figuratively told to be dreadful.
  5. Since the three goals – dharma, artha and kama – are of inferior nature when compared to the highest state of liberation (moksha), they are collectively known as vama. That effulgence (deva) of Siva which enables the souls experience dharma, artha and kama according to their karmic fruits becomes known as vama deva. Since, by its own nature, it remains very subtle and secret (guhya, not exposed to vision), the Vamadeva mantra is considered to constitute the privy part of the form of Lord Siva.
  • Thanks for your effort you took answering my question. I am particularly interested on who the Panchabrahmas Lalita devi sits on. So, there is no physical body to them? They are in the form of mantras? – Sarvabhouma Jun 9 '17 at 7:56
  • @SreeCharan they are panchabrahma. I don't think she literally sits. Sthitham word has been used. – Mr. Sigma. Jun 9 '17 at 7:59
  • The word used is Panchabrahma asana sthita . One who sits on the of asana of Five Brahmas. – Sarvabhouma Jun 9 '17 at 12:30
  • @SreeCharan Sthit doesn't necessarily mean sit. IMO – Mr. Sigma. Jun 9 '17 at 12:54
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Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Iswara, SadaShiva are pancha bootha in tantric literature

In tantric,

Brahma - privthi (from which all living things get created) - earth
Vishnu - aapa ( one which you can get inside) i.e. water. Literal meaning is the one which goes inside
Rudra - Agni(fire)
Iswara - Vayu(air) because without air or life breath life wont exists
sadashiva - Akasha(sky)

Lalitha devi sits on top indicates its form durga devi or lakshmi the above gets created i.e. panchabootha

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