World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0003047192
Reproduction Date:

Title: Shaiva  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Patanjali, Yoga, Hoysala Empire, Trimurti, Kumbakonam, Upanishads, Sphinx, Hanuman, Bhakti, Indian philosophy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


An article related to
  • Hinduism portal

Shaivism (Sanskrit: शैव पंथ, śaiva paṁtha; lit. "associated with Shiva"), is one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being. Followers of Shaivam, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Shaivites," believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Areas notable for the practice of Shaivism include parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

General features

Sacred ash came to be used as a sign of Shaivism. Devotees of Shiva wear it as a sectarian mark on their foreheads and other parts of their bodies with reverence. The Sanskrit words bhasma[1] and vibhuti[2] can both be translated as "sacred ash".


Main article: History of Shaivism

It is very difficult to determine the early history of Shaivism. Shaivism is the oldest worship of hinduism. Pashupata was the first Lord worshipped.[3] The Śvetāśvatara Upanishad (400 - 200 BCE)[4] is the earliest textual exposition of a systematic philosophy of Shaivism.[5] As explained by Gavin Flood, the text proposes:

... a theology which elevates Rudra to the status of supreme being, the Lord (Sanskrit: Īśa) who is transcendent yet also has cosmological functions, as does Śiva in later traditions.[6]

During the Gupta Dynasty (c. 320 - 500 CE) Puranic religion developed and Shaivism spread rapidly, eventually throughout the subcontinent, spread by the singers and composers of the Puranic narratives.[7]

Major schools

Shaivism has many different schools reflecting both regional and temporal variations and differences in philosophy.[8] Shaivism has a vast literature that includes texts representing multiple philosophical schools, including non-dualist (abheda), dualist (bheda), and non-dual-with-dualism (bhedābheda) perspectives.[9]

Puranic and non-Puranic

Alexis Sanderson's review of Shaivite groups makes a broad distinction into two groups, with further subdivisions within each group:[10]

  • Vedic, Puranic.
  • Non-Puranic. These devotees are distinguished by undergoing initiation (dīkṣa) into a specific cult affiliation for the dual purposes of obtaining liberation in this life (mukti) and/or obtaining other aims (bhukti). Sanderson subdivides this group further into two subgroups:
  • Those that follow the outer or higher path (atimārga), seeking only liberation. Among the atimārga groups two are particularly important, the Pāśupatas and a sub-branch, the Lākula, from whom another important sect, the Kālāmukhas, developed.[11]
  • Those that follow the path of mantras (mantramārga), seeking both liberation and worldly objectives.

Pashupata Shaivism

Pashupata Shaivism influence in India

Pashupata Shaivism: The Pashupatas (Sanskrit: Pāśupatas) are the oldest named Shaivite group.[12] The Pashupatas were ascetics.[13] Noted areas of influence (clockwise) include Gujarat, Kashmir and Nepal. But there is plentiful evidence of the existence of Pāśupata groups in every area of the Indian subcontinent. In the far South, for example, a dramatic farce called the Mattavilāsanaprahasana ascribed to a seventh-century Pallava king centres around a Pāśupata ascetic in the city of Kāñcīpuram who mistakes a Buddhist mendicant's begging bowl for his own skull-bowl. Inscriptions of comparable date in various parts of South East Asia attest to the spread of Pāśupata forms of Śaivism before the arrival there of tantric schools such as the Shaiva Siddhanta.[14]

Shaiva Siddhanta

Shaiva Siddhanta influence in India

Shaiva Siddhanta: Considered normative tantric Saivism, Shaiva Siddhanta provides the normative rites, cosmology and theological categories of tantric Saivism.[15] There is a dualistic dimension to Shaivism, as expounded by Meykandar. The pure, or Shuddha Saivism,however, proclaimed by Rishi Thirumular and his paramparai (guru lineage), is strictly non-dualistic, and proclaims the soul to be at all times one with Shiva. [16] This tradition was once practiced all over India. For example the theologians Sadyojoti, Bhatta Nārāyanakantha and his son Bhatta Rāmakantha (ca. 950-1000 AD) developed a sophisticated Siddhanta theology in Kashmir.[17] However the Muslim subjugation of north India restricted Shaiva Siddhanta to the south,[18] where it merged with the Tamil Saiva cult expressed in the bhakti poetry of the Nayanars.[19] It is in this historical context that Shaiva Siddhanta is commonly considered a "southern" tradition, one that is still very much alive.[20]

Kashmir Shaivism

Kashmir Shaivism influence in India

Kashmir Shaivism: Kashmir Saivism, a householder religion, was based on a strong monistic interpretation of the Bhairava Tantras (and its subcategory the Kaula Tantras), which were tantras written by the Kapalikas.[21] There was additionally a revelation of the Siva Sutras to Vasugupta.[22] Kashmir Saivism claimed to supersede the dualistic Shaiva Siddhanta.[23] Somananda, the first theologian of monistic Saivism, was the teacher of Utpaladeva, who was the grand-teacher of Abhinavagupta, who in turn was the teacher of Ksemaraja.[24][25] The label Kashmir Shaivism, though unfortunately now widely adopted, is really a misnomer, for it is clear that the dualistic Shaiva Siddhanta was also in North India at one point in time.

Siddha Siddhanta

Natha Siddha Siddhanta: Founded by Matsyendranatha (ca 800–1000) and expounded by Rishi Gorakshanatha (ca 950), this monism is known as Bhedabheda, embracing both the transcendent Shiva as well as the immanent Shiva. Shiva is efficient and material cause. The creation and final return of soul and cosmos to Shiva are likened to bubbles arising and returning to water. Influential in Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.


Vira Shaivism influence in India

Lingayatism: Made popular by Basavanna (1105–1167), this version of qualified nondualism, Shakti Vishishtadvaita, accepts both difference and nondifference between soul and God, like rays are to the sun. Shiva and the cosmic force are one, yet Shiva is beyond His creation, which is real, not illusory. God is efficient and material cause. Influential primarily in Karnataka.

Shiva Advaita

Shiva Advaita: This monistic theism, formulated by Srikantha (ca 1050), is called Shiva Vishishtadvaita. The soul does not ultimately become perfectly one with Brahman, but shares with the Supreme all excellent qualities. Appaya Dikshita (1554–1626) attempted to resolve this union in favor of an absolute identity—Shuddhadvaita. Its area of origin and influence covers most of Karnataka state.

Shaivism left a major imprint on the intellectual life of classical Cambodia, Champa in what is today southern Vietnam, Java and the Tamil lands. The wave of Shaivite devotionalism that swept through late classical and early medieval India redefined Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Shaivite worship legitimized several ruling dynasties in pre-modern India, incluidng the Chola and the Rajputs. A similar trend was witnessed in early medieval Indonesia with the Majapahit empire and pre-Islamic Malaya.[26][27] Nepal is the only country in the world where Shaivism is the most popular form of Hinduism.

Shaivite literature and texts

The Śvetāśvatara Upanishad (400 - 200 BCE)[28] is the earliest textual exposition of a systematic philosophy of Shaivism.[29] The Shiva Rahasya Purana, an Upapurana, is an important scriptual text.

One of the most important text of Shaivism is Tirumurai.


The myth of Saivsm and Buddhism was played every year at the 6th day Vaigasi festival of Shri Pathrakali Mariamman temple, Thirumangalam.

See also



  • Third AES reprint edition, 1995.
  • Four volumes.

External links

  • Thirumoolar Vibhuthi -Original Vibhuti from Swadeshi Cows

External links

  • Saivism.Net

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.