Many are familiar with the three faces of Siva, called Trimurthi, where He is depicted as Creator, Preserver and Dissolutioner (Yes, it’s in the Fictionary.)
Fewer know the Five Faces of Sadasiva, also called Pancha Brahma. It is a mysterious, profound depiction of the Divine One, which the monks are preparing a major article in Hinduism Today for Twenty-Eleven. The faces are named Isana, Tatpurusha, Agora, Vamadeva and Sadyojata.
This form of Siva adds two faces to the better-known Trimurthi, and two cosmic powers or potencies: Concealing Grace and Revealing Grace. These five faces are often seen on lingams, with four facing the cardinal directions and the fifth facing upward.
These five faces and powers are central to the Agamas’ understanding of the cosmos, a hidden key to worship and puja, and our sculptors in India are just finishing making five of them in metal, to adorn the five niches surrounding the Iraivan sanctum. Here is the architectís drawing of Vamadeva, and the resulting metal murthi.
"Temples with multiple deities can be confusing, especially for today's Hindu youth. For clarity, we need to bring forward a more precise understanding of the different Hindu denominations and how the different Gods are viewed from within each denomination. For spiritual advancement it is best to focus on one deity and get to the vibration that deity. When we hear teachings from various Hindus, it is important to understand and identify which denomination they are speaking from. This will avert confusion when that teaching gets contradicted in a different context where someone is talking about the same subject but from a different philosophical background."
Bodhinatha reviews the main characteristic of Saivite philosophy and practice with an indepth focus on the four stages of religions evolution, chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. He highlights how this shows that Saiva Siddhanta is unique and quite from the modern practice of Hinduism as Vedanta