Īśvara (Iswara) is one of the Viśvedeva ( Viswedeva; one genus of the Vedic gods).’Viśvedevāḥ’ is the presiding deity of one of the sūktas (sukta; Vedic hymns) of Ṛgveda. The term ‘Viśvedevāḥ’ means all deities.The first famous encyclopedic commentator of the Vedic words, Yāska (Yaska), wrote in his text, Nirukta –-‘Viśvedevāḥ’ refers to all deities- “viśvedevaḥ sarve devāḥ“. Viśvedevā denotes the thirty-three deities recognised by the Vaidika (Vedic scholars). In the next phase, the twelve Āditya(Aditya), the Rudra(s) and the Vasu(s) were included in the fold of Viśvadeva. In consequence, the number of Viśvedeva increased. At last in the Vedic period, the Viśvedeva were attached with Pitṛgaṇa (Pitrigana; the forefathers) and the clear proof of this is evident in Mahābhārata (Mahabharata). It was said there that Viśvedeva always stay with the forefathers– atra viśve sadā devā pitṛbhiḥ sārdhamāsate.
Viśvedeva along with the Pitṛgaṇa emerge in front of us — viśvedevāśca ye nityaṁ pitṛviḥ saha gocarāḥ.
As the forefathers got assimilated with the Viśvedeva, the names of the gods included among Viśvedeva also changed during the age of Mahābhārata (Mahabharata) and these numbers, too, vary from place to place. Īśvara is one of the names of Viśvedeva, as mentioned in Anuśāsanaparva (Anusasanaparva) of Mahābhārata (Mahabharata).