Shiva is known by various names like Mahadeva and Shambhu.There is another term used for Shiva that is Mahakala. I would like to know if Mahakala is only a name for Shiva or another form of Him. Also if it is just another name what is the reason behind calling Shiva Mahakala?

3 Answers 3


In the city Avanti, according to Shiva Purana, 4 brahmins were worshipping Shiva Linga.

A king of the Daityas called Dūṣaṇa, arrogant with boons obtained from Brahma, he stopped performing of Vedic rites in the shrines and holy centres . On coming to know of the intent of the Daityas, the brahmins were not at all distressed because they were engaged in meditating on Śiva.

They sat firmly engaged in meditation. On seeing them thus the mighty Dūṣāṇa shouted “Let them be killed. Let them be bound.” But the brahmins, engrossed in meditation on Śiva did not hear the shouts.

  1. When the wicked Daitya desired to kill the brahmins, the spot near the Pārthiva idol caved in with a loud report.,

  2. From the chasm thus created, Śiva rose up assuming a hideous form. He became famous as Mahākāla, the slayer of the wicked and the goal of the good.

  3. I am Mahākāla (the great god of death) risen up against the wicked like you. O sinful one, go away, leave the presence of these brahmins.”

  4. After saying this Śiva reduced Dūṣaṇa and his army, to ashes immediately with a mere sound of Hum.


Mahakala is a form of shiva that consumes all things during the dissolution of the universe.it is his highest form and the Veda have a whole hymn to his mahākāla form in the form of kāla. http://www.mahapashupatastra.com/2014/11/the-unfading-glory-of-mahakala.html

mahāKāli consumes mahākAla but he does not cease to exist,rather they both become As Brahmarūpā Kālī.As per Rudrayāmala Tańtra, Brahmarūpā Kālī eternally remains in Her four-armed form after contracting Śiva and Śakti within Herself, residing in the cosmic Mahāśmaśāna.


Let’s explore two unique titles, first is trikāgnikālāya meaning the 3 fires which blaze at all times, are garhapatya, ahavaniya, and agnihotra. Time is always burning or is exhaustive, meaning it doesn’t stop, and trik+āgni+kālāya also depicts the three dimensions of time, which are the memory of the past, the present moment at hand, and the upcoming imaginative future. One might think of past and future as linear events and so are non-existential, but we will address this soon. The second title is kālāgnirudrāya (कालाग्निरुद्र) meaning fire that devours time, why because Rudra itself is TIME, hence the title Kālāya Namaha“कालाय नमः” TA10.18 (I bow to you oh time) and this finally landed in Svetasvatara Upaniṣhad wherein it says ***“अन्त:काले सञ्चुकोच”***SU3.2 meaning He dissolves all beings into Him at end of time. One might consider both past and future to be non-existential, however, though non-accessible in this dimension, the same Upaniṣhad says **“संयोगनिमित्तहेतुः त्रिकालात् परः अकलः अपि दृष्टः”**SU6.5 meaning when one beheld in witness of Rudra, know He is the cause and the beginning of all causes; beyond the past, present and the future and he is not a part of it.

Śrī Kṛṣṇa says to Yudhishthira in Mahābhāratam Anushasnika parvam 161.11 that "Rudra is the past, the present, and the future", the exact statement was repeated by Rśi Vyāsa in Drona Parva 202. Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha’s Ramayana speaks extensively on the accessibility of time through dimensions beyond the current, and how Devi Sarasvatī takes her devotee across time to make her witness the past, present and future unfold at the same instance. This is why Maharśi Vaśiṣṭha says “only concepts like Shiva go beyond time”.

Agni is the first cook in all homes AV19.55, and he is the fundamental element that digests our food and disintegrates our bodies at the end. The vocabulary used to describe Rudra and Agni is identical to the Mitra-Varuna duo. Agni is speech since He is a celestial priest (Hotr) who recites the hymns RV1.1.1, He is the transmitter of Sacrifice of Yajñá (medha) RV1.38,5.60, He holds the life and immortality in His hands RV7.4.6 as he is the deliverer of Soma to Devas. Then who is the lord or hymns, and the lord of Medha (sacrifice) and lord of Soma? It is Rudra, as He is gātha-patim and medha-patim RV1.43 and brahmānaspatim, the lord of knowledge (omniscient) RV1.38.13.

The Brahmāṇa of Taittirīya Śākhā’s Śatarudrāya states in its opening hymns that Agni is Rudra when the sacrifice is submitted into the Yajñá – meaning, based on the cause and event, Agni becomes Rudra SB1.7.3.8. Agni is the one who transmutes and causes change. Addressing Rudra Sri Aurobindo said, “He who both destroys and restructures Creation and propels Creation forward”. This is why the third eye of trayambaka-Rudra is called Agni. Śrī Rudram of the Taittirīya Saṃhitā, again and again, urges Rudra’s missiles not to hit us; the same Veda urges Agni – the heat of those missiles – not to harm us, but to be auspicious for us TS4.61 , and further says "namo hantre cha haniyase cha" meaning "who kills all at the time of Pralaya." this statement concurs with the story of Tripurasura in Mahābhāratam Karna Parva wherein Agni becomes the tip of Rudra’s missiles. The aspect of Rudra synonymous with weeping/roaring comes from the event in Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.5.1 wherein all the knowledge and thoughts and riches were placed in Agni by the Devas in anticipation of a confrontation with the Asuras. Later, to recover their knowledge and thoughts, they harassed Agni – who wept and roared in anger and anguish. Hence, Agni becomes Rudra. As Agni restored this knowledge back to the Devas, Prajāpati, Manu and many cosmic phenomena like metals and seasons came into being. Further prosperity was bestowed upon all when the fire of Agni was re-established, hence Rudra is called “The Intelligence/Wise”AV11.2.17; similarly, Adityas are called “The Brilliance” KYV4.4.1,5.3.6. In this way, the concept of Rudra enters Agni and, at times, Agni becomes Rudra. The last verse of Sri Rudra Chamakam says:

*> the origin of all productions, the sun, the heaven, the head of all,

the infinite, the all-pervading like the sky, time and the like present at the end of total consummation exists at the end of it on the earth as universal form, the Antaryami the immortal, the inner ruler of everything, the omni present and omni potent*

Time is measured for a single being in terms of their breaths, in Sanskrit, it’s Pranas. When it comes to time as a whole and not per individual experience, time is measured as the rate at which Agni (fire) is combusting everything in creation. This might sound unacceptable, so let’s give it a try. Agni is everything, it burning in the Sun, it’s burning in Earth’s core, it’s burning and digesting food in our stomach, it’s the very Tajus that gives birth to beings, it burns the corps, and its what cooks our food. Every cell in our body has Agni. People asked Buddha after his Nirvana state, how does the creation look to you? He said, “everything and anything is burning ways, some fast and some slow”. Anything and everything is combusting, that is why the scientists say we are all carbon-based lifeforms, meaning our end product is always carbon. Hence the artifact dating method is called Carbon Dating. This is why Shiva has bhasma (carbon) on his forehead and His third eye is called Agni. Now compare this with Vedas and ask the question: “If the human life is measured in Prana and cosmic time is in Agni, how is Rudra related?” Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says Rudras are the 10 pranas and all Vedas say Agni is Rudra. As we have seen in the above title Rudra itself is TIME and AGNI.

Kalo Na Jaanaati tava jananam, Kalo Na Jaanaati tava samaapanam, Dhrishto maya tava ahaakaaraha Yogeshwara! Kaala Kaala! Time does not know your origin, Time does not know your end, I have beheld your glorious form O’ Lord of Yoga! The One beyond time! ~Isha Foundation

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