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ISHTA-DEVA or ISHTA DEVATA ( Sanskrit
Sanskrit
: ईष्ट देवता, iṣṭa-deva(tā), literally "cherished divinity " from iṣṭa "desired, liked, cherished, preferred" and devatā "godhead, divinity, tutelary deity " or deva "deity") is a term denoting a worshipper's favourite deity within Hinduism .

It is especially significant to both the Smarta and Bhakti
Bhakti
schools wherein practitioners choose to worship the form of God that inspires them. Within Smartism , one of five chief deities are selected. Even in denominations that focus on a singular concept of God, such as Vaishnavism , the Ishta Deva concept exists. For example, in Vaishnavism , special focus is given to a particular form of Lord Vishnu
Vishnu
or one of his Avatars (i.e. Krishna
Krishna
or Rama
Rama
), and similarly within Shaktism
Shaktism
, focus is given to a particular form of the Goddess such as Parvati
Parvati
or Lakshmi
Lakshmi
. The Swaminarayan
Swaminarayan
sect of Vaishnavism has a similar concept, but notably holds that Vishnu
Vishnu
and Shiva
Shiva
are different aspects of the same God.

CONTENTS

* 1 Smarta worship * 2 Worship forms * 3 See also * 4 References * 5 External links

SMARTA WORSHIP

The "worship of the five forms" (pañcāyatana pūjā ) system, which was popularized by ninth-century philosopher Śaṅkarācārya among orthodox Brahmins of the Smārta tradition, invokes the five deities Ganesha
Ganesha
, Vishnu
Vishnu
, Shiva
Shiva
, Devī , and Sūrya . This system was instituted by Śaṅkarācārya primarily to unite the principal deities of the five major sects (Gāṇapatya, Śaiva, Vaiṣṇava, Shakta and Saura) on an equal status. The monistic philosophy preached by Śaṅkarācārya made it possible to choose one of these as a preferred principal deity and at the same time worship the other four deities as different forms of the same all-pervading Brahman .

WORSHIP FORMS

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