From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Ṣaḍadhvā literally means ‘six paths leading to the Divine’.

This is a special technical term of the Śakti sect, the sect of the Divine Mother. Adhvā means a path and sat means six. According to the sect of the Divine Mother, there are six paths of spiritual discipline that lead to the Divine Mother. They are:

  1. Varṇādhvā - letters of the alphabet
  2. Padādhvā - words made up of these letters
  3. Mantrādhvā - mantras comprising the words
  4. Kalādhvā - aspects such as vidyā or knowledge, śānti or peace and so on
  5. Tattvādhvā - the thirty six categories of Śāktāism
  6. Bhuvanādhvā - various worlds

Alternatively, it can mean the worship of the six deities:

  1. Śiva
  2. Viṣṇu
  3. Durgā
  4. Sūrya
  5. Gaṇapati
  6. Indusambhava<ref.It is a Jain deity.</ref>

By worshiping these six deities in his earlier lives, the śākta-sādhaka becomes fit to worship the Divine Mother. Divine Mother Lalitā is described[1] in the Lalitāsahasranāma to be beyond these six adhvās.[2]


  1. Lalitāsahasranāma 991
  2. Six adhvās means ṣaḍadhvātīta-rūpiṇī.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore