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pramana siddhantha

Pramana Tattva
The first part, pramana, means evidence, and the other nine teachings are called ....
So then the next stage; visaya, samsaya, purvapaksa, then siddhanta, the ..

Vaishnav belief

Vaishnavism (Vaishnava dharma) is one of the major traditions within Hinduism


along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. ...
The tradition is notable for its avatar doctrine, wherein Vishnu is revered in one of
many distinct incarnations.

Hinduism sects

There are no definite sects in Hinduism, sects that existed have been influenced by
the events and saints (For eg: Bhakti movement, saints like Kabir, Mira, Tulsidas).
Thus most sects do not exist the way they existed, there have been numerous
sects, some have declined and some are in the rise today than in the past.

There are two types of sects based on the similarities between the sects:
1. Devotional sects: which are categorized based on their deity of worship,
scriptures that are given importance, philosophy followed
2. Philosophical sects: which are categorized based on their beliefs on god,
liberation and ways to attain liberation
Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutras are three of the most basic
scriptures of Hinduism. Hindus can be classified into sects based on the primary
scripture they follow, which is mostly one of these three
Devotional sects
Each cultural group has some of its own practices and can be considered a sect.
Based on certain practices that are common among different groups a few sects
have been identified.
Based on the deity of worship, style of worship, ways of worship and the philosophy
followed Hinduism is differentiated into these sects. There are many sub-sects
within each sect also. These sects aren't very different from each other, they have
common basics of Moksha (enlightenment), Karma, Reincarnation, Guru and others
Major devotional sects
Shaivism (Shaiva)
Shaiva tradition is probably the oldest among Hindu sects. In Shaiva sect Lord Shiva
is the main deity, he is considered as the form of the supreme being. Ishwara which
is another name for Shiva is used in the ancient scriptures to mean the absolute
god.
The sub-sects within the Shaiva tradition worship different forms of Shiva and
attribute different qualities to Shiva.
Sub-sects in Shaiva tradition
1. Pashupata Shaivism
2. Shaiva Siddhanta
3. Kashmir Shaivism
4. Siddha Siddhanta
5. Lingayata
6. Shiva Advaita
Vaishnavism (Vaishnava)
In Vaishnavism Lord Vishnu is considered as the supreme being. The cause,
sustainer and destroyer of all worlds. Vishnu is considered both in the form and as
the formless infinite one. Vaishnava sect is the largest among hindu sects
Sub-sects in Vaishnava tradition
1. Lakshmi sampradaya
2. Brahma sampradaya
3. Rudra sampradaya
4. Kumara sampradaya
Shaktism (Shakteya)
In Shaktism, Shakti (mother divine) is considered as the supreme being. and all
other (female/male) forms are considered the manifestation of the supreme.
Shakti tradition is a major sect in the Bengal, Assam region of India
Smartism (Smarta)
Smarta tradition revers all the above three traditions and worships absolute god in
the form of Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti and other forms as well. Smarta tradition has
higher reverence for Vedas and upanishads

Other sects
Shrautism
word Shrauti comes from Shruti, Shrauti means the tradition of Shrutis. Shrauti
tradition gives higher importance to practices from the earlier portion of Vedas.
Saurism
In Saurism, Surya (sun god) is worshipped as the form of supreme being. This sect
comes from the vedic traditions
Ganapatism
The supreme being is worshipped through the form of Lord Ganesha.
Kabir panthi
Teachings of Guru Kabir form the basic structure of Kabir Panthi, It has wide variety
of Practices and wide variety of followers.
Aghor panth
It is a branch of Shaivism, an usual adherent of this sect is a wandering monk whose
main purpose in life is to attain god through simple living
Tantrik panth
Practice of Tantras is advocated for one's development on the path of self realization
New Hindu movements
Some of these new Hindu movements were/ are intended for social reforms, some
of these movements are aimed at uniting the sects through common spiritual
concepts.
Arya Samaj
Brahmo Samaj
Prarthana Samaj
Ramakrishna Mission
Sathya Sai Organization
Siradi SaiBaba
Shyama charan Lahiri Mahasaya mission
Chinmaya Mission
Philosophical Sects
Theistic sects
1. Samkhya: A logic oriented tradition where enquiry into consciousness and
mind are of importance
2. Yoga: Unification with the consciousness is achieved through Meditation,
contemplation and other body mind controlling practices
3. Nyaya: In this tradition primary importance is given to Logical thinking
4. Vaisheshika: Vaisheshika is based on understanding the nature of objects,
i.e all objects can be further divided into atoms
5. Mims: Enquiry into the nature of Dharma
6. Vedanta: Knowledge is given primary importance
Atheistic Sects
1. Crvka
2. Jainism: Practice of Non-violence along with other practices is considered the
way to liberation
3. Buddhism: enquiring into the nature of suffering and the way out of
suffering form the basic principles of Buddhism

The Four Denominations of Hinduism

A SPLENDROUS LOTUS WITH FOUR SUPERB PETALS

For over 200 years, Western scholars have struggled to understand Hinduism, a
faith whose followers seemed (to outsiders) to arbitrarily worship any one of a
dozen Gods as the Supreme, a religion vastly diverse in its beliefs, practices and
ways of worship. Some Indologists labeled the Hinduism they encountered
polytheistic; others even coined new terms, like henotheism, to describe this
baffling array of spiritual traditions. Few, however, have realized, and fewer still
have written, that India's Sanatana Dharma, or "eternal faith, " known today as
Hinduism and comprising nearly a billion followers, is a family of religions with four
principal denominations Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. This single
perception is essential for understanding Hinduisim and explaining it accurately to
others. Contrary to prevailing misconceptions, Hindus all worship a one Supreme
Being, though by different names. For Vaishnavites, Lord Vishnu is God. For Saivites,
God is Siva. For Shaktas, Goddess Shakti is supreme. For Smartas, liberal Hindus,
the choice of Deity is left to the devotee. Each has a multitude of guru lineages,
religious leaders, priesthoods, sacred literature, monastic communities, schools,
pilgrimage centers and tens of thousands of temples. They possess a wealth of art
and architecture, philosophy and scholarship. These four sects hold such divergent
beliefs that each is a complete and independent religion. Yet, they share a vast
heritage of culture and belief karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity,
temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the guru-shishya tradition and the
Vedas as scriptural authority. In this eight-page Insight, drawn from Satguru Sivaya
Subramuniyaswami's Dancing with Siva, we offer a synopsis of these four
denominations, followed by a point-by-point comparison.

Each of Hinduism's philosophies, schools and lineages shares a common purpose: to


further the soul's unfoldment to its divine destiny. Nowhere is this process better
represented than in the growth of the renowned lotus, which, seeking the sun,
arises from the mud to become a magnificent flower. Its blossom is a promise of
purity and perfection.

Saivism
Saivite Hindus worship the Supreme God as Siva, the Compassionate One. Saivites
esteem self discipline and philosophy and follow a satguru. They worship in the
temple and practice yoga, striving to be one with Siva within.

Shaktism
Shaktas worship the Supreme as the Divine Mother, Shakti or Devi. She has many
forms. Some are gentle, some are fierce. Shaktas use chants, real magic, holy
diagrams, yoga and rituals to call forth cosmic forces and awaken the great
kundalini power within the spine.

Vaishnavism
Vaishnavites worship the Supreme as Lord Vishnu and His incarnations, especially
Krishna and Rama. Vaishnavites are mainly dualistic. They are deeply devotional.
Their religion is rich in saints, temples and scriptures.

Smartism
Smartas worship the Supreme in one of six forms: Ganesha, Siva, Sakti, Vishnu,
Surya and Skanda. Because they accept all the major Hindu Gods, they are known
as liberal or nonsectarian. They follow a philosophical, meditative path, emphasizing
man's oneness with God through understanding

Vaishnavism, also called Vishnuism , one of the major forms of modern Hinduism,
characterized by devotion to the god Vishnu and his incarnations (avatars). A
devotee of Vishnu is called a Vaishnava

Vaishnavism
Vaishnavism is the branch of Hinduism in which Vishnu or one of his incarnations
(usually Krishna or Rama) is worshipped as the supreme God. Members of
Vaishnavism are called Vaishnavites or Vaishnavas. Vaishnavism is the largest Hindu
denomination and it has numerous subdivisions. In addition to the Vedas,
Vaishnavites especially revere the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhagavata Purana, the
Vishnu Samhita and the Gita Govinda, among others. These texts focus especially
on Vishnu or his incarnations Krishna and Rama.
Vaishnava Religious Beliefs
Vaishnavites, like Saivites, believe that there is only one Supreme God, who
simultaneously permeates all creation and exists beyond it, being both immanent
and transcendent. Like other Hindu denominations, Vaishnavism acknowledges the
existence of many lower Gods under the Supreme One. These gods, like all of
creation, are encompassed by Vishnu, either as manifestations of the Supreme
Being or as powerful entities who are permeated by Him.
The distinctive religious belief of Vaishnavism is its emphasis on God as a personal
being; i.e., someone you can know and have a relationship with. Vaishnavas often
identify six qualities of God: all knowledge, all power, supreme majesty, supreme
strength, unlimited energy and total self-sufficiency. One popular name for God
among Vaishnavites is an ancient name from the Vedas: Purushottama, "the
Supreme Person." For most Vaishnavas, the divine Self within is Vishnu himself, but
not all of Vishnu. In other words, Vishnu is more than the Self and more than the
universe. Likewise, when a Vaishnavite merges into God upon liberation, his or her
individual nature is not lost. Vaishnavites believe people are meant to be God's
companions for all eternity.
Many Vaishnavas emphasize Vishnu's consort Lakshmi as much, if not more, than
Vishnu. She is regarded not as another God, but as another aspect of the Supreme
God. Many Vaishnavas call Lakshmi "Sri" (pronounced "shree"), which means
"auspicious one."
Vaishnava Rituals and Practices
Vaishnavites can often be identified by certain sectarian marks on their foreheads
and bodies. Vaishnava marks vary, but usually include a U, Y, or T shape drawn in
white along with a red dot representing Lakshmi.
Like all religions influenced by the Indian religious worldview, Vaishnavites recognize
the importance of meditation in religious practice. However, Vaishnavas generally
emphasize religious devotion, religious feeling and morality over doctrine and
contemplation; to put it another way, they focus on the heart, not the head.
Vaishnavas love to recount the love story between Rama or Sita or daydream about
Krishna's attractive features and amorous antics. Religious ecstasy and feelings of
companionship with Vishnu are the main goals of Vaishnava religious ritual.
Vaishnava Saints
Another distinctive aspect of Vaishnavism is the admiration of numerous Vaishnava
saints. One important group of such saints is the 12 Alvars who lived in South India
in the 8th and 9th centuries. They wrote hymns that expressed the strongest love
and passion for Vishnu and longing for His presence. One group of modern
Vaishnava saints are the Bauls, who live in Bengal. They call themselves "madmen
for God" and sing and dance throughout the countryside. Many other historical
Vaishnavites are admired for their devotion to Vishnu as well. Some of the most
beloved Vaishnava saints are:
- Antal (725-755), one of the 12 Alvars. She insisted she would have no husband but
God until her family finally took her to the Srirangam temple of Vishnu so she could
marry him. It is said that her love for Vishnu was so strong that she physically
merged into an image of him at the temple.
- Jnanadeva (1275-1296), who wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and had
himself entombed alive at the age of 21 so he could die while focusing on attaining
union with Krishna.
- Mira Bai (1498-1546), a Rajput princess. Her ecstatic songs of love to Krishna are
still sung throughout India. She is said to have merged into a statue of Krishna at
Dvaraka.
- Chaitanya (1486-1533), regarded as an incarnation of both Krishna and his consort
Radha. He traveled throughout India chanting Krishna's name and dancing in the
streets.
- Tulsi Das (1532-1623), a poet best known for his retelling of the Ramayana in the
Rama Charita Manasa.
- Tukaram (1600-1650), a poor farmer who became a famous Hindu poet.
- Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982), known as "the Blissful Mother," who is said to have
lived in complete God consciousness from birth. She traveled throughout India
wherever God directed her, sharing her insight into the unity of all things.
Subdivisions of Vaishnavism
The Vaishnavas are usually distinguished into four principal Sampradayas, or sects.
Sri Sampradayins The most ancient Vaishnava sect is the Sri Sampradaya, founded
by Ramanuja Acharya. The followers of Ramanuja adore Vishnu and Lakshmi, and
their incarnations. They are called Ramanujas or Sri Sampradayins or Sri
Vaishnavas. They all repeat the Ashtakshara Mantra: Om Namo Narayanaya. They
put on two white vertical lines and a central red line on the forehead.
Vedanta Desika, a follower of Ramanuja, introduced some reform in the Vaishnava
faith. This gave rise to the formation of two parties of Ramanujas, one called the
Northern School (Vadagalai) and the other the Southern School (Tengalai). The
Tengalais regard Prapatti or self-surrender as the only way to salvation. The
Vadagalais think that it is only one of the ways. According to them, the Bhakta or
devotee is like the young one of a monkey which has to exert itself and cling to its
mother (Markata-Nyaya or Monkey Theory); whereas, according to the Southern
School, the Bhakta or devotee is like the kitten which is carried about by the cat
without any effort on its own part (Marjala-Nyaya or Cat-hold Theory).
The Northern School accept the Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. The Southerners have
compiled a Veda of their own called Nalayira Prabandha or Four Thousand Sacred
Verses, in Tamil, and hold it to be older than the Sanskrit Vedas. Really, their four
thousand verses are based on the Upanishad portion of the Vedas. In all their
worship, they repeat sections from their Tamil verses.
The Vadagalais regard Lakshmi as the consort of Vishnu. Herself infinite, uncreated
and equally to be adored as a means (Upaya) for release. The Tengalais regard
Lakshmi as a created female being, though divine. According to them, she acts as a
mediator or minister (Purushakara), and not as an equal channel of release.
The two sects have different frontal marks. The Vadagalais make a simple white line
curved like the letter U to represent the sole of the right foot of Lord Vishnu, the
source of the Ganga. They add a central red mark as a symbol of Lakshmi. The
Tengalais make a white mark like the letter Y which represents both the feet of Lord
Vishnu. They draw a white line half down the nose.
Both the sects brand the emblems of Vishnuthe discus and the conchon their
breasts, shoulders and arms. The Tengalais prohibit their widows from shaving the
head. The usual surnames of the Ramanuja Brahmins are Aiyangar, Acharya, Charlu
and Acharlu.
Ramanandis The followers of Ramananda are the Ramanandis. They are well-known
in upper Hindusthan. They are a branch of the Ramanuja sect. They offer their
worship to Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Ramananda was a disciple of
Ramanuja. He flourished at Varanasi about the beginning of the fourteenth century.
His followers are numerous in the Ganga valley of India. Their favourite work is the
Bhakti-Mala. Their sectarian marks are like those of the Ramanujas. The Vairagis
are the ascetics among the Ramanandis.
Vallabhacharins Or Krishna Sampradayins The Vallabhacharins form a very
important sect in Bombay, Gujarat and the Central India. Their founder was born in
the forest Champaranya in 1479. He is regarded as an incarnation of Krishna. The
Vallabhacharins worship Krishna, as Bala-Gopala. Their idol is one representing
Krishna in his childhood till his twelfth year. The Gosains or teachers are family men.
The eight daily ceremonials for God in the temples are Mangala, Sringara, Gvala,
Raja Bhoga, Utthapana, Bhoga, Sandhya and Sayana. All these represent various
forms of adoration of God.
The mark on the forehead consists of two red perpendicular lines meeting in a
semicircle at the root of the nose and having a round spot of red between them. The
necklace and rosary are made of the stalk of the Tulasi (holy Basil). The great
authority of the sect is the Srimad-Bhagavata as explained in the Subodhini, the
commentary thereon of Vallabhacharya. The members of the sect should visit Sri
Nathdvara, a holy shrine, at least once in their lives.
The Chaitanyas This sect is prominent in Bengal and Orissa. The founder, Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu or Lord Gouranga, was born in 1485. He was regarded as an
incarnation of Lord Krishna. He took Sannyasa at the age of twenty-four. He went to
Jagannath where he taught Vaishnava doctrines.
The Chaitanyas worship Lord Krishna as the Supreme Being. All castes are
admissible into the sect. The devotees constantly repeat the Name of Lord Krishna.
Chaitanyas Charitamirita by Krishna Das is a voluminous work. It contains
anecdotes of Chaitanya and his principal disciples and the expositions of the
doctrines of this sect. It is written in Bengali.
The Vaishnavas of this sect wear two white perpendicular streaks of sandal or
Gopichandana (a kind of sacred earth) down the forehead uniting at the root of the
nose and continuing to near the tip. They wear a close necklace of small Tulasi
beads of three strings.
The Nimbarkas The founder of this sect is Nimbarka or Nimbaditya. He was
originally named Bhaskara Acharya. He is regarded as an incarnation of the Sun-
God (Surya). The followers worship Krishna and Radha conjointly. Their chief
scripture is the Srimad-Bhagavata Purana.
The followers have two perpendicular yellowish lines made by Gopichandana earth
drawn from the root of the hair to the commencement of each eyebrow and there
meeting in a curve. This represents the footprint of the Lord Vishnu. The Nimbarkas
or Nimavats are scattered throughout the whole of upper India. They are very
numerous around Mathura. They are also the most numerous of the Vaishnava sects
in Bengal.
The Madhvas The Madhvas are Vaishnavas. They are known as Brahma
Sampradayins. The founder of the sect is Madhvacharya, otherwise called Ananda
Tirtha and Purna-Prajna. He was born in 1200. He was a great opponent of
Sankaracharyas Advaita system of philosophy. He is regarded as an incarnation of
Vayu or the Wind-God. He erected and consecrated at Udipi the image of the Lord
Krishna.
The Gurus of the Madhva sect are Brahmins and Sannyasins. The followers bear the
impress of the symbols of Vishnu upon their breasts and shoulders. They are
stamped with a hot iron. Their frontal mark consists of two perpendicular lines made
with Gopichandana and joined at the root of the nose. They make straight black
line, with a charcoal from incense offered to Krishna, which terminates in a round
mark made with turmeric.
The Madhvas are divided into two classes called the Vyasakutas and the Dasakutas.
They are found in Karnataka. Truthfulness, study of scriptures, generosity, kindness,
faith and freedom from envy form the moral code of Madhvas. They give the Lords
Names to their children (Namakarana), and mark the body with His symbols
(Ankana). They practise virtue in thought, word and deed (Bhajana).
Radha Vallabhis Radha Vallabhis worship Krishna as Radha-Vallabha, the Lord or
Lover of Radha. Harivans was the founder of this sect. Seva Sakhi Vani gives a
detailed description of the notion of this sect and more of their traditions and
observances. Charana Dasis, Dadu Panthis, Hari Chandis, Kabir Panthis, Khakis,
Maluk Dasis, Mira Bais, Madhavis, Rayi Dasis, Senais, Sakhi Bhavas, Sadma Panthis,
are all Vaishnava sects.
Sources

Who is VAISHNAVAS?
Vaishnavism (Vaishnava dharma) is one of the major traditions within Hinduism
along with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. It is also called Vishnuism, its
followers are called Vaishnavas, and it considers Vishnuas the Supreme Lord.

How many Hindu sects are there?


Hindu denominations. Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian
subcontinent. It comprises three major traditions, Shaivism, Vaishnavism and
Shaktism, whose followers considered Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti (also called as Devi)
to be the supreme deity respectively.

What are the different sects of Hinduism?


As just seen, the spectrum of Hindu religiousness is found within four major sects or
denominations: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. Among these
four streams, there are certainly more similarities than differences.

How many different types of Hinduism are there?


The main denominations of Hinduism are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and
Smartism. These four denominations may share rituals, beliefs, and traditions,
but each denomination has a different philosophy on how to achieve life's ultimate
goal, Atma Jnana (self-realization).

People also ask


Who is VAISHNAVAS?
Vaishnavism (Vaishnava dharma) is one of the major traditions within Hinduism along
with Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. It is also called Vishnuism, its followers are
called Vaishnavas, and it considers Vishnuas the Supreme Lord.
How many Hindu sects are there?
Hindu denominations. Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian
subcontinent. It comprises three major traditions, Shaivism, Vaishnavism and
Shaktism, whose followers considered Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti (also called as Devi)
to be the supreme deity respectively

What are the different sects of Hinduism?


As just seen, the spectrum of Hindu religiousness is found within four major sects or
denominations: Saivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. Among these four
streams, there are certainly more similarities than differences.

How many different types of Hinduism are there?


The main denominations of Hinduism are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and
Smartism. These four denominations may share rituals, beliefs, and traditions, but
each denomination has a different philosophy on how to achieve life's ultimate goal,
Atma Jnana (self-realization)

Vaishnavite Hinduism, also known as Vaishnavism or Vishnuism, is one of the major sub-
traditions of Hinduism and has the largest numbers of followers within the tradition. The
sectarian branch of Vaishnavism has its origins in the cult of Vasudeva-Krishna, perhaps as
early as the 4th century B.C.E., and by the 2nd century C.E. it had joined with the cult of
Narayana to form what is now known as Vaishnavism. As the name implies, Vaishnavas
regard Vishnu as the supreme God above all other gods. Vishnu is often characterized as
having six qualities: all power, all knowledge, supreme strength, supreme majesty,
unlimited energy, and absolute self-sufficiency. Like other Hindu gods, Vishnu also has
incarnational forms, in the Vaishnava context known as avataras; there are classically ten
of theseKrishna, Rama are two of the most popularalthough there are many others. The
corpus of sacred Vaishnava texts is vast, and includes the Ramayana,
the Mahabharata(especially the Bhagavadgita), the Bhagavata Purana, and many others.
Likewise, Vaishnava philosophical/theological schools cover a vast array of positions, from
dualistic (dvaita) to non-dualistic (advaita), from highly personal understandings of the
divine to more abstract conc

Vaishnavism - ReligionFacts
Vaishnava Religious Beliefs. Vaishnavites, like Saivites, believe that there is only one
Supreme God, who simultaneously permeates all ...
Vaishnavism is the branch of Hinduism in which Vishnu or one of his incarnations
(usually Krishna or Rama) is worshipped as the supreme God. Members of
Vaishnavism are called Vaishnavites or Vaishnavas. Vaishnavism is the largest Hindu
denomination and it has numerous subdivisions. In addition to the Vedas,
Vaishnavites especially revere the Bhagavad Gita, the Bhagavata Purana, the
Vishnu Samhita and the Gita Govinda, among others. These texts focus especially
on Vishnu or his incarnations Krishna and Rama.
Vaishnava Religious Beliefs

Vaishnavites, like Saivites, believe that there is only one Supreme God, who
simultaneously permeates all creation and exists beyond it, being both immanent
and transcendent. Like other Hindu denominations, Vaishnavism acknowledges the
existence of many lower Gods under the Supreme One. These gods, like all of
creation, are encompassed by Vishnu, either as manifestations of the Supreme
Being or as powerful entities who are permeated by Him.

The distinctive religious belief of Vaishnavism is its emphasis on God as a personal


being; i.e., someone you can know and have a relationship with. Vaishnavas often
identify six qualities of God: all knowledge, all power, supreme majesty, supreme
strength, unlimited energy and total self-sufficiency. One popular name for God
among Vaishnavites is an ancient name from the Vedas: Purushottama, "the
Supreme Person." For most Vaishnavas, the divine Self within is Vishnu himself, but
not all of Vishnu. In other words, Vishnu is more than the Self and more than the
universe. Likewise, when a Vaishnavite merges into God upon liberation, his or her
individual nature is not lost. Vaishnavites believe people are meant to be God's
companions for all eternity.

Many Vaishnavas emphasize Vishnu's consort Lakshmi as much, if not more, than
Vishnu. She is regarded not as another God, but as another aspect of the Supreme
God. Many Vaishnavas call Lakshmi "Sri" (pronounced "shree"), which means
"auspicious one."

Vaishnava Rituals and Practices

Vaishnavites can often be identified by certain sectarian marks on their foreheads


and bodies. Vaishnava marks vary, but usually include a U, Y, or T shape drawn in
white along with a red dot representing Lakshmi.

Like all religions influenced by the Indian religious worldview, Vaishnavites recognize
the importance of meditation in religious practice. However, Vaishnavas generally
emphasize religious devotion, religious feeling and morality over doctrine and
contemplation; to put it another way, they focus on the heart, not the head.

Vaishnavas love to recount the love story between Rama or Sita or daydream about
Krishna's attractive features and amorous antics. Religious ecstasy and feelings of
companionship with Vishnu are the main goals of Vaishnava religious ritual.

Vaishnava Saints

Another distinctive aspect of Vaishnavism is the admiration of numerous Vaishnava


saints. One important group of such saints is the 12 Alvars who lived in South India
in the 8th and 9th centuries. They wrote hymns that expressed the strongest love
and passion for Vishnu and longing for His presence. One group of modern
Vaishnava saints are the Bauls, who live in Bengal. They call themselves "madmen
for God" and sing and dance throughout the countryside. Many other historical
Vaishnavites are admired for their devotion to Vishnu as well. Some of the most
beloved Vaishnava saints are:
- Antal (725-755), one of the 12 Alvars. She insisted she would have no husband but
God until her family finally took her to the Srirangam temple of Vishnu so she could
marry him. It is said that her love for Vishnu was so strong that she physically
merged into an image of him at the temple.
- Jnanadeva (1275-1296), who wrote a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita and had
himself entombed alive at the age of 21 so he could die while focusing on attaining
union with Krishna.
- Mira Bai (1498-1546), a Rajput princess. Her ecstatic songs of love to Krishna are
still sung throughout India. She is said to have merged into a statue of Krishna at
Dvaraka.
- Chaitanya (1486-1533), regarded as an incarnation of both Krishna and his consort
Radha. He traveled throughout India chanting Krishna's name and dancing in the
streets.
- Tulsi Das (1532-1623), a poet best known for his retelling of the Ramayana in the
Rama Charita Manasa.
- Tukaram (1600-1650), a poor farmer who became a famous Hindu poet.
- Anandamayi Ma (1896-1982), known as "the Blissful Mother," who is said to have
lived in complete God consciousness from birth. She traveled throughout India
wherever God directed her, sharing her insight into the unity of all things.

Subdivisions of Vaishnavism

The Vaishnavas are usually distinguished into four principal Sampradayas, or sects.

Sri Sampradayins The most ancient Vaishnava sect is the Sri Sampradaya, founded
by Ramanuja Acharya. The followers of Ramanuja adore Vishnu and Lakshmi, and
their incarnations. They are called Ramanujas or Sri Sampradayins or Sri
Vaishnavas. They all repeat the Ashtakshara Mantra: Om Namo Narayanaya. They
put on two white vertical lines and a central red line on the forehead.

Vedanta Desika, a follower of Ramanuja, introduced some reform in the Vaishnava


faith. This gave rise to the formation of two parties of Ramanujas, one called the
Northern School (Vadagalai) and the other the Southern School (Tengalai). The
Tengalais regard Prapatti or self-surrender as the only way to salvation. The
Vadagalais think that it is only one of the ways. According to them, the Bhakta or
devotee is like the young one of a monkey which has to exert itself and cling to its
mother (Markata-Nyaya or Monkey Theory); whereas, according to the Southern
School, the Bhakta or devotee is like the kitten which is carried about by the cat
without any effort on its own part (Marjala-Nyaya or Cat-hold Theory).

The Northern School accept the Sanskrit texts, the Vedas. The Southerners have
compiled a Veda of their own called Nalayira Prabandha or Four Thousand Sacred
Verses, in Tamil, and hold it to be older than the Sanskrit Vedas. Really, their four
thousand verses are based on the Upanishad portion of the Vedas. In all their
worship, they repeat sections from their Tamil verses.

The Vadagalais regard Lakshmi as the consort of Vishnu. Herself infinite, uncreated
and equally to be adored as a means (Upaya) for release. The Tengalais regard
Lakshmi as a created female being, though divine. According to them, she acts as a
mediator or minister (Purushakara), and not as an equal channel of release.

The two sects have different frontal marks. The Vadagalais make a simple white line
curved like the letter U to represent the sole of the right foot of Lord Vishnu, the
source of the Ganga. They add a central red mark as a symbol of Lakshmi. The
Tengalais make a white mark like the letter Y which represents both the feet of Lord
Vishnu. They draw a white line half down the nose.

Both the sects brand the emblems of Vishnuthe discus and the conchon their
breasts, shoulders and arms. The Tengalais prohibit their widows from shaving the
head. The usual surnames of the Ramanuja Brahmins are Aiyangar, Acharya, Charlu
and Acharlu.

Ramanandis The followers of Ramananda are the Ramanandis. They are well-known
in upper Hindusthan. They are a branch of the Ramanuja sect. They offer their
worship to Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Ramananda was a disciple of
Ramanuja. He flourished at Varanasi about the beginning of the fourteenth century.
His followers are numerous in the Ganga valley of India. Their favourite work is the
Bhakti-Mala. Their sectarian marks are like those of the Ramanujas. The Vairagis
are the ascetics among the Ramanandis.

Vallabhacharins Or Krishna Sampradayins The Vallabhacharins form a very


important sect in Bombay, Gujarat and the Central India. Their founder was born in
the forest Champaranya in 1479. He is regarded as an incarnation of Krishna. The
Vallabhacharins worship Krishna, as Bala-Gopala. Their idol is one representing
Krishna in his childhood till his twelfth year. The Gosains or teachers are family men.
The eight daily ceremonials for God in the temples are Mangala, Sringara, Gvala,
Raja Bhoga, Utthapana, Bhoga, Sandhya and Sayana. All these represent various
forms of adoration of God.

The mark on the forehead consists of two red perpendicular lines meeting in a
semicircle at the root of the nose and having a round spot of red between them. The
necklace and rosary are made of the stalk of the Tulasi (holy Basil). The great
authority of the sect is the Srimad-Bhagavata as explained in the Subodhini, the
commentary thereon of Vallabhacharya. The members of the sect should visit Sri
Nathdvara, a holy shrine, at least once in their lives.

The Chaitanyas This sect is prominent in Bengal and Orissa. The founder, Chaitanya
Mahaprabhu or Lord Gouranga, was born in 1485. He was regarded as an
incarnation of Lord Krishna. He took Sannyasa at the age of twenty-four. He went to
Jagannath where he taught Vaishnava doctrines.

The Chaitanyas worship Lord Krishna as the Supreme Being. All castes are
admissible into the sect. The devotees constantly repeat the Name of Lord Krishna.
Chaitanyas Charitamirita by Krishna Das is a voluminous work. It contains
anecdotes of Chaitanya and his principal disciples and the expositions of the
doctrines of this sect. It is written in Bengali.
The Vaishnavas of this sect wear two white perpendicular streaks of sandal or
Gopichandana (a kind of sacred earth) down the forehead uniting at the root of the
nose and continuing to near the tip. They wear a close necklace of small Tulasi
beads of three strings.

The Nimbarkas The founder of this sect is Nimbarka or Nimbaditya. He was


originally named Bhaskara Acharya. He is regarded as an incarnation of the Sun-
God (Surya). The followers worship Krishna and Radha conjointly. Their chief
scripture is the Srimad-Bhagavata Purana.

The followers have two perpendicular yellowish lines made by Gopichandana earth
drawn from the root of the hair to the commencement of each eyebrow and there
meeting in a curve. This represents the footprint of the Lord Vishnu. The Nimbarkas
or Nimavats are scattered throughout the whole of upper India. They are very
numerous around Mathura. They are also the most numerous of the Vaishnava sects
in Bengal.

The Madhvas The Madhvas are Vaishnavas. They are known as Brahma
Sampradayins. The founder of the sect is Madhvacharya, otherwise called Ananda
Tirtha and Purna-Prajna. He was born in 1200. He was a great opponent of
Sankaracharyas Advaita system of philosophy. He is regarded as an incarnation of
Vayu or the Wind-God. He erected and consecrated at Udipi the image of the Lord
Krishna.

The Gurus of the Madhva sect are Brahmins and Sannyasins. The followers bear the
impress of the symbols of Vishnu upon their breasts and shoulders. They are
stamped with a hot iron. Their frontal mark consists of two perpendicular lines made
with Gopichandana and joined at the root of the nose. They make straight black
line, with a charcoal from incense offered to Krishna, which terminates in a round
mark made with turmeric.

The Madhvas are divided into two classes called the Vyasakutas and the Dasakutas.
They are found in Karnataka. Truthfulness, study of scriptures, generosity, kindness,
faith and freedom from envy form the moral code of Madhvas. They give the Lords
Names to their children (Namakarana), and mark the body with His symbols
(Ankana). They practise virtue in thought, word and deed (Bhajana).

Radha Vallabhis Radha Vallabhis worship Krishna as Radha-Vallabha, the Lord or


Lover of Radha. Harivans was the founder of this sect. Seva Sakhi Vani gives a
detailed description of the notion of this sect and more of their traditions and
observances. Charana Dasis, Dadu Panthis, Hari Chandis, Kabir Panthis, Khakis,
Maluk Dasis, Mira Bais, Madhavis, Rayi Dasis, Senais, Sakhi Bhavas, Sadma Panthis,
are all Vaishnava sects.

saivism beliefs
Shaivism or aivism (Sanskrit: , aiva Patha, lit . "Shiva's Path"), also known
as Shivaism (Nepali: ) and Saivam (Tamil: ), is one of the major
branches of Sanathan Dharma (Hinduism), [n 1] revering Shiva as the Supreme
Being. Shiva is sometimes depicted as the fierce god Bhairava.

A Sacred Creed of One of Hinduisms Four Primary Denominations 12 Beliefs Of


Saivism

Every religion has a creed of one form or an - other, an authoritative formulation of


its beliefs. His - torically, creeds have developed whenever religions migrate from
their homelands. Until then, the beliefs are fully contained in the culture and taught
to children as a natural part of growing up. A creed is the distillation of volumes of
knowledge into a series of easy-to-remember be - liefs. A creed is meant to
summarize the explicit teachings or articles of faith, to imbed and thus protect and
transmit the beliefs. Creeds give strength to individuals seeking to understand life
and religion. Creeds also enable members of one faith to express, in elementary and
consistent terms, their traditions to members of another. Though the vast array of
doctrines within Hinduism has not always been articulated in summary form, from
ancient times unto today we have the well-known creedal maha vakya, great
sayings, of the Vedic Upanishads. Now, in this technological age in which village
integrity is being re placed by worldwide mobility, the importance of a creed
becomes apparent if religious identity is to be preserved. We need two kinds of
strengththat which is found in di - versity and individual freedom to inquire and
that which derives from a union of minds in upholding the universal and shared
principles of our faith. Saivism is truly ageless, for it has no beginning. It is the
precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed Hindu - ism. Scholars trace the
roots of Siva worship back more than 8,000 years to the advanced Indus Valley
civilization. But sacred writings tell us there never was a time when Saivism did not
exist. Modern history records six main schools: Saiva Siddhanta, Pashupatism,
Kashmir Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siddha Siddhanta and Siva A dvaita. Saivisms
grandeur and beauty are found in a practical culture, an enlightened view of mans
place in the universe and a profound system of tem - ple mysticism and yoga. It
provides knowledge of mans ev olution from God and back to God, of the souls
unfoldment and awakening guided by enlightened sages. Like all the Hindu sects, its
majority are families, headed by hundreds of orders of swamis and sadhus who
follow the fiery, worldrenouncing path to moksha. The Vedas state, By knowing
Siva, who is hidden in all things, exceedingly fine, like film arising from clarified
butter, the One embracer of the uni - verseby realizing God, one is released from
all fetters. The twelve beliefs on the following pages embody the cen - turies-old
central convictions of Saivism, especially as pos - tulated in Saiva Siddhanta, one of
the six schools of Saivism. They cover the basic beliefs about God, soul and world,
evil and love and more. On the last page is a glossary of words used in the twelve
beliefs.

12 Beliefs Of Saivism chapter 6 Every religion has a creed of one form or an - other,
an authoritative formulation of its beliefs. His - torically, creeds have developed
whenever religions migrate from their homelands. Until then, the beliefs are fully
contained in the culture and taught to children as a natural part of growing up. A
creed is the distillation of volumes of knowledge into a series of easy-to-remember
be - liefs. A creed is meant to summarize the explicit teachings or articles of faith, to
imbed and thus protect and transmit the beliefs. Creeds give strength to individuals
seeking to understand life and religion. Creeds also enable members of one faith to
express, in elementary and consistent terms, their traditions to members of another.
Though the vast array of doctrines within Hinduism has not always been articulated
in summary form, from ancient times unto today we have the well-known creedal
maha vakya, great sayings, of the Vedic Upanishads. Now, in this technological
age in which village integrity is being re placed by worldwide mobility, the
importance of a creed becomes apparent if religious identity is to be preserved. We
need two kinds of strengththat which is found in di - versity and individual
freedom to inquire and that which derives from a union of minds in upholding the
universal and shared principles of our faith. Saivism is truly ageless, for it has no
beginning. It is the precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed Hindu - ism.
Scholars trace the roots of Siva worship back more than 8,000 years to the
advanced Indus Valley civilization. But sacred writings tell us there never was a time
when Saivism did not exist. Modern history records six main schools: Saiva
Siddhanta, Pashupatism, Kashmir Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siddha Siddhanta and Siva
A dvaita. Saivisms grandeur and beauty are found in a practical culture, an
enlightened view of mans place in the universe and a profound system of tem - ple
mysticism and yoga. It provides knowledge of mans ev olution from God and back
to God, of the souls unfoldment and awakening guided by enlightened sages. Like
all the Hindu sects, its majority are families, headed by hundreds of orders of
swamis and sadhus who follow the fiery, worldrenouncing path to moksha. The Ved-
as state, By knowing Siva, who is hidden in all things, exceedingly fine, like film
arising from clarified butter, the One embracer of the uni - verseby realizing God,
one is released from all fetters. The twelve beliefs on the following pages embody
the cen - turies-old central convictions of Saivism, especially as pos - tulated in
Saiva Siddhanta, one of the six schools of Saivism. They cover the basic beliefs
about God, soul and world, evil and love and more. On the last page is a glossary of
words used in the twelve beliefs. A Sacred Creed of One of Hinduisms Four Primary
Denominations s rajam chapter 6: twelve beliefs of saivism 59 Devout followers
bring abundant gifts, prayers and petitions in loving worship of Lord Siva Belief One
regarding gods unmanifest reality Sivas followers all believe that Lord Siva is God,
whose Absolute Being, Parasiva, transcends time, form and space. The yogi silently
exclaims, It is not this. It is not that. Yea, such an inscrutable God is God Siva.
Aum. Belief Three regarding god as personal lord and creator of all Sivas followers
all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature is the Primal Soul,
Supreme Mahadeva, Paramesvara, author of Vedas and Agamas, the creator,
preserver and destroyer of all that exists. Aum. Belief Two regarding gods manifest
nature of all-pervading love Sivas followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose
immanent nature of love, Parashakti, is the substratum, primal substance or pure
consciousness flowing through all form as energy, existence, knowledge and bliss.
Aum. 60 what is hinduism? Belief Four regarding the elephant-faced deity Sivas
followers all believe in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesha, son of Siva-Shakti, to whom
they must first supplicate before beginning any worship or task. His rule is
compassionate. His law is just. Justice is His mind. Aum. Belief Six regarding the
souls creation and identity with god Sivas followers all believe that each soul is
created by Lord Siva and is identical to Him, and that this identity will be fully
realized by all souls when the bondage of anava, karma and maya is removed by
His grace. Aum. Belief Five regarding the deity karttikeya Sivas followers all believe
in the Mahadeva Karttikeya, son of SivaShakti, whose vel of grace dissolves the
bondages of ignorance. The yogi, locked in lotus, venerates Murugan. Thus
restrained, his mind becomes calm. Aum. chapter 6: twelve beliefs of saivism 61 all
art by s rajam Belief Seven the gross, subtle and causal planes of existence Sivas
followers all believe in three worlds: the gross plane, where souls take on physical
bodies; the subtle plane, where souls take on astral bodies; and the causal plane,
where souls exist in their self-effulgent form. Aum. Belief Nine regarding the four
margas, or stages of inner progress Sivas followers all believe that the performance
of charya, virtuous living, kriya, temple worship, and yoga, leading to Parasiva
through the grace of the living satguru, is absolutely necessary to bring forth jnana,
wisdom. Aum. Belief Eight regarding karma, samsara and liberation from rebirth
Sivas followers all believe in the law of karmathat one must reap the effects of all
actions he has causedand that each soul continues to reincarnate until all karmas
are resolved and moksha, liberation, is attained. Aum. 62 what is hinduism? Belief
Ten regarding the goodness of all Sivas followers all believe there is no intrinsic evil.
Evil has no source, unless the source of evils seeming be ignorance itself. They are
truly compassionate, knowing that ultimately there is no good or bad. All is Sivas
will. Aum. Belief Twelve regarding the five letters Sivas followers all believe in the
Panchakshara Mantra, the five sacred syllables Namasivaya, as Saivisms
foremost and essential mantra. The secret of Namasivaya is to hear it from the right
lips at the right time. Aum. Belief Eleven regarding the esoteric purpose of temple
worship Sivas followers all believe that religion is the harmonious working together
of the three worlds and that this harmony can be created through temple worship,
wherein the beings of all three worlds can communicate. Aum. chapter 6: twelve
beliefs of saivism 63 all art by s rajam

The Path to Enlightenment The path of enlightenment is divided naturally into four
stages or padas: charya, virtue and selfless service; kriya, worship - ful sadhanas;
yoga, meditation under a gurus guidance; and jnana, the state of enlightened
wisdom reached toward the paths end as a result of Self Realization through the
Gurus grace. These four padas are quite similar to the four yogas of Vedanta:
karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga. However, there is one key
difference. Whereas in Vedanta you can choose to follow just one of the yogas, in
the Saiva Siddhanta school of Saivism we need to pass through all four stages, or
padas . Lets say the path of life is rocks across a shallow stream. Vedanta gives us
four separate rock paths to choose from, one for each of the four yogas, all of which
lead across the river. Saiva Siddhanta gives us one path for crossing the river which
consists of four stones: charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. The four stages are not
alternative ways, but progressive, cum ulative phases of a one path, much like the
natural development of a butterfly from egg to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa,
and then the final metamorphosis to butterfly. The four stages are what each human
soul must pass through in many births to attain its final goal of moksha, freedom
from rebirth. In the beginning stages, we suffer until we learn. Learning leads us to
service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual striving. Service leads us to
understand - ing. Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distrac -
tions. Finally meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is the straight and certain
path, the San Marga, leading to Self Realization, the inmost purpose of life. Charya
Pada Charya, literally conduct, is the first stage of religiousness and the
foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa marga, meaning
path of servitude, for here the soul relates to God as servant to master. The
disciplines of charya include humble service, attending the temple, performing
ones duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning
for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas, which are:
noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, divine conduct, patience, steadfastness,
compassion, honesty, moderate appetite and purity. It is the stage of overcoming
basic instinctive pat - terns such as the tendencies to become angry and hurtful.
Right behavior and self-sacrificing service are never outgrown. The keynote of
charya, or karma yoga, is seva, religious service given without the least thought of
reward, which has the magical effect of softening the ego and bringing forth the
souls innate devotion. Kriya Pada Saivism demands deep devotion through bhakti
yoga in the kriya pada, the softening of the intel - lect and unfolding love. In kriya,
the second stage of religiousness, our sadhana, or regular spiritual discipline, which
was mostly external in charya, is now also internal. Kriya, literally action or rite, is
a stirring of the soul in awareness of the Divine, overcoming the instinctive-
intellectual mind. We now look upon the Deity image not just as carved stone, but
as the living presence of the God. We perform ritual and puja not because we have
to but because we want to. We are drawn to the temple to satisfy our longing. We
sing joyfully. We absorb and intuit the wisdom of the Vedas and Agamas. We
perform pilgrimage and fulfill the sacraments. We practice diligently the ten
classical observances called niyamas which are: remorse, contentment, giving,
faith, worship of the Lord, scriptural listening, cognition, sacred vows, recitation and
austerity. Our rela - tionship with God in kriya is as a son to his parents. Yoga Pada
Yoga, union, is the process of uniting with God within oneself, a stage arrived at
through perfecting charya and kriya. God is now like a friend to us. This system of
inner discovery begins with asa - nasitting quietly in yogic postureand
pranayama , breath con - trol. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, brings awareness into
dharana, concentration, then into dhyana, meditation. Over the years, under ideal
conditions, the kundalini fire of consciousness ascends to the higher chakras,
burning the dross of ignorance and past karmas. Dhyana finally leads to enstasy
the contemplative experience of Satchidananda, God as energy-bliss, and ultimately
to nirvikalpa sa - madhi, the experience of God as Parasiva, timeless, formless,
space - less. Truly a living satguru is needed as a steady guide to traverse this path.
When yoga is practiced by one perfected in kriya, the Gods receive the yogi into
their midst through his awakened, fiery kundalini, or cosmic energy within every
individual. Jnana Pada Jnana is divine wisdom emanating from an enlightened being,
a soul in its maturity, immersed in Sivaness, the blessed realization of God, while
living out earthly karma. Jnana is the fruition of yoga and tapas, or intense spiritual
discipline. Through yoga one bursts into the superconscious mind, experiencing
bliss, all-knowingness and perfect silence. It is when the yogis intellect is shattered
that he soars into Parasiva and comes out a jnani, a knower. Each time he enters
that unspeakable nirvikalpa samadhi, he returns to con - sciousness more and more
the knower. He is the liberated one, the jivanmukta, the epitome of kaivalya
perfect freedomfar-seeing, filled with light, filled with love. One does not become
a jnani sim - ply by reading and understanding philosophy. The state of jnana lies in
the realm of intuition, beyond the intellect. 64 what is hinduism? Veda study: A
father and his sons chant Vedic mantras together outside their adobe dwelling
during their daily practice sessions Temple worship: With Siva watching, devotees
approach a temple traditionally with offerings of flowers, fruits and water art by s
rajam
Belief One regarding gods unmanifest reality Sivas followers all believe that Lord
Siva is God, whose Absolute Being, Parasiva, transcends time, form and space. The
yogi silently exclaims, It is not this. It is not that. Yea, such an inscrutable God is
God Siva. Aum

Belief Two regarding gods manifest nature of all-pervading love Sivas followers all
believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature of love, Parashakti, is the
substratum, primal substance or pure consciousness flowing through all form as
energy, existence, knowledge and bliss. Aum

Belief Three regarding god as personal lord and creator of all Sivas followers all
believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature is the Primal Soul, Supreme
Mahadeva, Paramesvara, author of Vedas and Agamas, the creator, preserver and
destroyer of all that exists. Aum.

Belief Four regarding the elephant-faced deity Sivas followers all believe in the
Mahadeva Lord Ganesha, son of Siva-Shakti, to whom they must first supplicate
before beginning any worship or task. His rule is compassionate. His law is just.
Justice is His mind. Aum.

Belief Five regarding the deity karttikeya Sivas followers all believe in the
Mahadeva Karttikeya, son of SivaShakti, whose vel of grace dissolves the bondages
of ignorance. The yogi, locked in lotus, venerates Murugan. Thus restrained, his
mind becomes calm. Aum

Belief Six regarding the souls creation and identity with god Sivas followers all
believe that each soul is created by Lord Siva and is identical to Him, and that this
identity will be fully realized by all souls when the bondage of anava, karma and
maya is removed by His grace. Aum

Belief Seven the gross, subtle and causal planes of existence Sivas followers all
believe in three worlds: the gross plane, where souls take on physical bodies; the
subtle plane, where souls take on astral bodies; and the causal plane, where souls
exist in their self-effulgent form. Aum

Belief Eight regarding karma, samsara and liberation from rebirth Sivas followers all
believe in the law of karmathat one must reap the effects of all actions he has
causedand that each soul continues to reincarnate until all karmas are resolved
and moksha, liberation, is attained. Aum

Belief Nine regarding the four margas, or stages of inner progress Sivas followers
all believe that the performance of charya, virtuous living, kriya, temple worship,
and yoga, leading to Parasiva through the grace of the living satguru, is absolutely
necessary to bring forth jnana, wisdom. Aum

Belief Ten regarding the goodness of all Sivas followers all believe there is no
intrinsic evil. Evil has no source, unless the source of evils seeming be ignorance
itself. They are truly compassionate, knowing that ultimately there is no good or
bad. All is Sivas will. Aum

Belief Eleven regarding the esoteric purpose of temple worship Sivas followers all
believe that religion is the harmonious working together of the three worlds and
that this harmony can be created through temple worship, wherein the beings of all
three worlds can communicate. Aum.

Belief Twelve regarding the five letters Sivas followers all believe in the
Panchakshara Mantra, the five sacred syllables Namasivaya, as Saivisms
foremost and essential mantra. The secret of Namasivaya is to hear it from the right
lips at the right time. Au

The Path to Enlightenment The path of enlightenment is divided naturally into four
stages or padas: charya, virtue and selfless service; kriya, worship - ful sadhanas;
yoga, meditation under a gurus guidance; and jnana, the state of enlightened
wisdom reached toward the paths end as a result of Self Realization through the
Gurus grace. These four padas are quite similar to the four yogas of Vedanta:
karma yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga and jnana yoga. However, there is one key
difference. Whereas in Vedanta you can choose to follow just one of the yogas, in
the Saiva Siddhanta school of Saivism we need to pass through all four stages, or
padas . Lets say the path of life is rocks across a shallow stream. Vedanta gives us
four separate rock paths to choose from, one for each of the four yogas, all of which
lead across the river. Saiva Siddhanta gives us one path for crossing the river which
consists of four stones: charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. The four stages are not
alternative ways, but progressive, cum ulative phases of a one path, much like the
natural development of a butterfly from egg to caterpillar, from caterpillar to pupa,
and then the final metamorphosis to butterfly. The four stages are what each human
soul must pass through in many births to attain its final goal of moksha, freedom
from rebirth. In the beginning stages, we suffer until we learn. Learning leads us to
service; and selfless service is the beginning of spiritual striving. Service leads us to
understand - ing. Understanding leads us to meditate deeply and without distrac -
tions. Finally meditation leads us to surrender in God. This is the straight and certain
path, the San Marga, leading to Self Realization, the inmost purpose of life. Charya
Pada Charya, literally conduct, is the first stage of religiousness and the
foundation for the next three stages. It is also called the dasa marga, meaning
path of servitude, for here the soul relates to God as servant to master. The
disciplines of charya include humble service, attending the temple, performing
ones duty to community and family, honoring holy men, respecting elders, atoning
for misdeeds and fulfilling the ten classical restraints called yamas, which are:
noninjury, truthfulness, nonstealing, divine conduct, patience, steadfastness,
compassion, honesty, moderate appetite and purity. It is the stage of overcoming
basic instinctive pat - terns such as the tendencies to become angry and hurtful.
Right behavior and self-sacrificing service are never outgrown. The keynote of
charya, or karma yoga, is seva, religious service given without the least thought of
reward, which has the magical effect of softening the ego and bringing forth the
souls innate devotion. Kriya Pada Saivism demands deep devotion through bhakti
yoga in the kriya pada, the softening of the intel - lect and unfolding love. In kriya,
the second stage of religiousness, our sadhana, or regular spiritual discipline, which
was mostly external in charya, is now also internal. Kriya, literally action or rite, is
a stirring of the soul in awareness of the Divine, overcoming the instinctive-
intellectual mind. We now look upon the Deity image not just as carved stone, but
as the living presence of the God. We perform ritual and puja not because we have
to but because we want to. We are drawn to the temple to satisfy our longing. We
sing joyfully. We absorb and intuit the wisdom of the Vedas and Agamas. We
perform pilgrimage and fulfill the sacraments. We practice diligently the ten
classical observances called niyamas which are: remorse, contentment, giving,
faith, worship of the Lord, scriptural listening, cognition, sacred vows, recitation and
austerity. Our rela - tionship with God in kriya is as a son to his parents. Yoga Pada
Yoga, union, is the process of uniting with God within oneself, a stage arrived at
through perfecting charya and kriya. God is now like a friend to us. This system of
inner discovery begins with asa - nasitting quietly in yogic postureand
pranayama , breath con - trol. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal, brings awareness into
dharana, concentration, then into dhyana, meditation. Over the years, under ideal
conditions, the kundalini fire of consciousness ascends to the higher chakras,
burning the dross of ignorance and past karmas. Dhyana finally leads to enstasy
the contemplative experience of Satchidananda, God as energy-bliss, and ultimately
to nirvikalpa sa - madhi, the experience of God as Parasiva, timeless, formless,
space - less. Truly a living satguru is needed as a steady guide to traverse this path.
When yoga is practiced by one perfected in kriya, the Gods receive the yogi into
their midst through his awakened, fiery kundalini, or cosmic energy within every
individual. Jnana Pada Jnana is divine wisdom emanating from an enlightened being,
a soul in its maturity, immersed in Sivaness, the blessed realization of God, while
living out earthly karma. Jnana is the fruition of yoga and tapas, or intense spiritual
discipline. Through yoga one bursts into the superconscious mind, experiencing
bliss, all-knowingness and perfect silence. It is when the yogis intellect is shattered
that he soars into Parasiva and comes out a jnani, a knower. Each time he enters
that unspeakable nirvikalpa samadhi, he returns to con - sciousness more and more
the knower. He is the liberated one, the jivanmukta, the epitome of kaivalya
perfect freedomfar-seeing, filled with light, filled with love. One does not become
a jnani sim - ply by reading and understanding philosophy. The state of jnana lies in
the realm of intuition, beyond the intellect.

The Sects of Shaivism


In this section we bring you information on the important sects of Saivism, their
major beliefs and practices and how they differ from one another.
Saivism is the name given to the practice of worshipping Lord Siva ( also
spelled Shiva) as the highest supreme Brahman. It is one of the most
popular sects of Hinduism, whose history is probably as old as the religious
history of the Indian subcontinent. Siva was worshipped in prehistoric times
in different forms and with different names by many ancient cultures, both in
the Indian subcontinent and outside of it. There is also an argument that He
was probably the prototype Father God from which emerged "the God" of all
religions.
In course of time the various traditions that were associated with His
worship were assimilated into Hinduism and He was recognized as one of the
Trimurthis. From the earliest times, Saivism was never a homogenous sect.
There were many schools or sects of Saivism in the past of which only a few
survived. In this section we bring you information on the important sects of
Saivism, their major beliefs and practices and how they differ from one
another. Says Tirumantram about Lord Siva, "He is the Ancient One. He
created the beings of Earth and Heaven in days of yore in order divine. The
six faiths seek the feet but of the One Primal, Peerless God. And in them all,
He pervades in measure appropriate." A study of these sects or faiths and
their differences is important for our understanding of the subtle nuances of
Hinduism and Hindu schools of philosophy and their gradual evolution over a
long period of time.

Saiva Siddhanta

The Saiva Siddhanta School is one of the most ancient schools of Saivism. It has a
history of more than 2000 years. Its roots can be traced back to both Kashmir and
southern India. It gained popularity in the south and established itself as a dominant
sect of Saivism. In the past it had sizeable following in other parts of the Indian
subcontinent. But currently it is popular mostly in the south.

Literary Sources

The Saiva Siddhanta tradition draws its authority from the 28 Saiva Agamas, the
devotional works of several saints of Saivism, and the writings of several thinkers and
scholars. The first known guru of Saiva Siddhanta tradition was Nandinatha, who lived
around 250 BC in the present day Kashmir. He left behind a compilation of twenty-six
Sanskrit verses called the Nandikesvara Kasika, in which he laid down the basic tenets
of Saiva Siddhanta school. The next prominent personality of this tradition was
Tirumular, who composed Tirumandiram in Tamil and introduced the Nandinatha
tradition 1 of this school to the people of southern India. He was instrumental in making
Saivism popular in the south by emphasizing the devotional aspect. So important was
his contribution to Saivism that the Nandinatha tradition remains popular in the south
even today.

His work was carried forward by subsequent generations of devotional saints such as
Appar, Sundarar, Sambandhar, whose works are preserved in Tevaram. These saints
moved from place to place and temple to temple, singing the glory of Siva and making
Saivism a popular movement in the face of strong opposition from Jainism and
Buddhism. Manikkavacakar, who came after these great saints, also contributed
substantially to the popularity of Saiva Siddhanta school in the south. His work is
preserved in the collection of poems known as Tiruvasagam.

The works of these four great Saiva saints were compiled into a single collection of
verses named Tirumurai by Nambi Andar Nambi who lived in the 11th century AD.
Tirumurai is an authoritative source of Saiva Siddhanta literature. It consists of about
18316 slokas divided into 12 individual Tirumurais consisting of prayers preserved from
the earlier works mentioned above.

Siva-gnana-bodhanam by Meykandar is another important work on Saiva Siddhata.


Meykandar lived in the 13th Century. He came from a place known as Vennai. Not much
is known about him. His works is based mostly on the twelve sutras from the Raurava
Agama. The Siva-gnana-bodhanam laid emphasis on sivam, gnanam and bodham
declaring Sivam as One, gnanam as the knowledge of Sivam and bodham as the
process of experiencing and realizing such knowledge.

Other important works of the Saiva Siddhanta school include:

Siva-gnana-suddhiya of Arulnandi

Sivaprakasam and Tiru-varut-prayam of Umapathi and

A commentary on the Vedanta-sutras by Nilakantha.

Nilakantha's commentary on the Vedantasutras was an attempt to reconcile the


differences between the Vedanta (the end parts of the Vedas) and the Agamanta ( the
end parts of the Agamas). This idea was shared earlier by Tirumular who declared that
wise men considered them to be not different.

Major Concepts of Saiva Siddhanta


Siva

According to Saiva Siddhanta, Siva is the ultimate and supreme reality, omniscient,
omnipresent and unbound. He is Pati, the primal being and the supreme deity. Siva
alone is the efficient cause of all creation, evolution, preservation, concealment and
dissolution. He brings forth the worlds and their beings through his dynamic power,
Shakti.

The Jivas

The jivas are the individual souls or beings. They are not the same as Siva. But they are
made of the same essence. According to Saiva Siddhanta, Siva is the same as the
souls but also other than the souls. The number of souls remains constant throughout.
Their number can neither be increased nor decreased. They may undergo
transformation but their number remains constant. Thus in Saiva Siddhanta there is a
fine distinction between the souls and God. The difference is not in their essence but in
their constitution. Their relationship with Siva is not a state of oneness but of sameness.
Because Siva and jivas are different but also the same in essence, this school is
considered as pluralistic or dualistic.

The Three Impurities

The soul is neither the gross body nor the subtle body nor the breath body. It should not
be confused with sense organs or the internal organs (tanmantras). In essence it is the
same as Siva (abheda), but also different (abheda), because it is subject to the three
impurities (malas) or bonds. These three bonds (pasas) or impurities (malas) are anava,
karma and maya. They bind the jivas to functional limitations and the experience of
unreality or asat and turn them into pasus (animals) or ignorant beings.

Of the three impurities, anava is the natural impurity (sahaja mala). It is born with the
soul and never parts from it except during the state of kaivalya or sameness with Siva. It
clouds the consciousness of the jivas and makes them act like individual entities of finite
nature (anu) with limited knowledge and limited abilities. It is the cause of ego, which
makes a jiva think itself to be different from Siva and other beings. Karma or binding
action is the second impurity. It binds the soul to the consequences of its actions.
Actions done from a cosmic perspective are not binding. But actions done with an
egoistic attitude, driven by ones desires, are binding.

Major Concepts of Saiva Siddhanta


Maya

Maya, the third impurity, binds the jivas to the sense objects through desires and
ignorance. Maya is an instrument of Siva. In its highest form it is eternal, indestructible
and indivisible. It is of two types, suddha maya (pure maya) and asuddha maya (impure
maya). The suddha maya caters to the adhikara muktas or pure souls. The asuddha
maya caters to the impure souls. Both the pure and impure mayas together give rise to
36 tattvas . Pure maya gives rise to pure tattvas which are five in number, namely:

siva-tattva,

sakti-tattva,

sadasiva-tattva,

isvara-tattva, and

suddhavidya-tattva

Using these five tattvas, Siva creates the bodies, organs, worlds and objects of
enjoyment for the pure souls. The asuddha maya is the cause of prakriti-maya from
which arise 24 tattvas including the pancha bhutas (air, water, ether, fire and earth) and
their five qualities (touch, taste, sound, color and odor), the five organs of action, the five
sensory organs and the four internal organs (manas, buddhi, chitta and ahamkara).
These impure tattvas are used by Siva for the creation of the bodies, organs, worlds and
objects of enjoyment for the impure souls.

Contrary to the popular belief, the purpose of maya is two fold. First, to subject the jivas
to the conditions of material existence and help them acquire pasa-gnana (sensory
knowledge) and pasu gnana (material knowledge). Second, to prepare them for final
liberation by subjecting them to the laws of karma and helping them discriminate
between right actions and wrong actions so that they can gain merit by doing right
actions and avoiding wrong actions. This is of course a long and tedious process and
the jivas may have to spend many lives before they feel the need to work for their
liberation.

Although maya may play some role in bringing the jivas closer to the path of liberation, it
cannot take them far on the path. When it comes to liberation, maya is a clumsy
instrument. The jiva cannot know of God through the knowledge of the senses or the
knowledge gained by the mind. He cannot be known either by speech or by any faculty
of the mind. Yet he is not unknowable. He can be known by pati-gnana obtained directly
from him through a guru who has already been blessed or his own grace (anugraha).

In Saiva Siddhanta true liberation is a gift from God and the result of his direct
intervention. When the jivas are immersed in maya, they learn about the unreal from the
unreal. What they learn is basically theoretical knowledge or lower knowledge. It does
not help them to transcend their conditioned minds and experience their true
consciousness. It is only when Lord Siva bestows his grace upon them and comes to
them in the form of a personal guru, the jivas overcome their illusion and realize their
Siva consciousness.

Major Concepts of Saiva Siddhanta

Liberation

According to Saiva Siddhantha school, liberation is attained through the means of


charya, kriya, yoga and jnana.These four paths are not complimentary. A guru decides
the suitable path based on his study and observation of his disciple and according to the
latter's ability and inclination.

The path of charya involves serving Lord Siva in a temple or religious place by
performing such tasks as cleaning, cooking, carrying water, gathering flowers etc. This
is called dasa-marga or the path of the servant. By this path one gains entry into Kailas
or the world of Siva.

The path of kriya involves performing devotional tasks such as worshipping the idol of
Siva , singing devotional songs, reciting the mantras, narrating stories about Siva or
doing personal service to Siva like a son does to his father. This is called sat-putra-
marga or the path of a good son. By following this path one gains close proximity to Lord
Siva.

The path of yoga involves practicing yoga exercises (asanas) and meditation and
contemplation (dhyana). By following this path one gets an opportunity to live constantly
in the company of Siva and become his spiritual companion. Hence this path is called
sakha-marga or the path of friendship.

The path of knowledge is the the fourth path. It is the best and most direct path to the
world of Siva. The other three are actually considered inferior to it. On this path, jnana or
knowledge is the means. It is called sat-marga because it takes the jivas closer to Sat or
Truth and makes it possible for them to experience or become aware of their true Siva
consciousness.

After liberation, the liberated soul knows that its intrinsic nature is that of Siva but that it
is not Siva or the Supreme Self. Thus in its liberated state it continues to experience
some form of duality, while enjoying Siva (pati) consciousness as its true consciousness
free from all bonds (pasas).

Bheda-Abheda

In Saiva Siddhanta, liberation of a jiva does not mean that its existence as an individual
soul is lost forever. After liberation the jivas enjoy a special relationship with Siva called
bheda-abheda (separation and non-separation), which essentially means the duality
between the two (the linga and the anga) linger, one being the whole and the other
being the part, but the unity of experience prevail. The relationship is not of oneness but
of sameness. In their liberated state the jivas experience unlimited bliss and freedom
from the bonds (pasas) of Samsara. The Siva-gnana-bodham cautions the individual
jivas who have become free while still living on earth to maintain inner purity and
practice austerities so that, when they finally depart from here, the fruit of their previous
actions do not interfere with their final liberation.

Saiva Siddhanta recognizes three types of jivas or souls based on their degree of
bondage to the pasas or impurities. In the first category are the souls that are bound by
all the three bonds (pasas) namely anava, karma and maya. In the second category are
souls that free from two bonds namely karma and maya and are bound by anava alone.
In the third category are souls that become free from maya only during pralaya or the
dissolution of the entire creation.

1. The other tradition based on Nandinatha Sutras was Adinatha Sampradaya of


Gorakshnatha School of Saivism.

Vira Saivism

Vira Saivism is based on Shakti-vishista-advaita philosophy according to which there is


difference as well as non-difference between Siva, the supreme self and jiva, the
individual soul, and that the difference between the two is qualified by the activity of his
power or shakti. According to Vira Saivism, God and soul are inseparable, but their
relationship becomes qualified by the activity of shakti. During the process of creation,
Siva remains immutable while his Shakti issues forth and manifests the phenomenal
world. Shakti, also called, devi or mulaprakriti, is an inseparable aspect of Siva. During
creation it undergoes transformation and evolution to manifest the will of Siva.

Historical Development of Vira Saivism

Vira Saivism became popular in southern India, especially in the region presently known
as Karnataka and Andhrapradesh due to the personality and remarkable efforts of
Basavanna who lived from 1105 AD to 1167 AD. Basavanna is considered by his
followers both as a religious guru and great social reformer. Without confining himself to
religious teaching, he boldly opposed the social and religious maladies afflicting the
Hindu society of his times, inviting those who were denied religious and social privileges
because of their caste to join him.

From an early age he grew dissatisfied with the prevailing teachings of Saivsim, the
predominance of vedic ritualism and caste based prejudices. So at a very early of 16, he
set out to explore the teachings of Saivism on his own. He spent the next twelve years
under the care of a Saivite Guru of Kalamukha Sect, studying the scriptures and
practicing devotion to Lord Siva. After achieving self-realization, he devoted himself to
the propagation of his revolutionary ideas, attracting many followers. His effort led to the
emergence of Vira Saivism as a strong sectarian movement in the Karnataka region.

The chief attraction of this movement was Basavanna's unequivocal emphasis on the
emancipation of individual jivas from the evils of society and from their own ignorance.
Unlike other religious gurus of his time, Basavanna wanted to release not only the
individual but also the entire society from the impurities and illusions of the phenomenal
world. He stood firmly against the evils of caste system, religious superstition and empty
ritualism and advised his followers also to do the same. His firm stand against prevailing
social and religious injustices caused quite a stir among the orthodox circles of
Hinduism, attracting the attention of many from the oppressed sections of society and
contributed richly to the astounding popularity of Vira Saivism as a mass movement.

At the same time the actions of Basavanna caused dissatisfaction among the ruling
classes and the upper castes and resulted in the discrimination of the sect. Followers of
Basavanna were subjected to ridicule, criticism, persecution and social prejudice. But
the inherent strength of the movement and the very fact that social ridicule and criticism
were considered in many sects of Saivism as an ideal condition to transcend social
conditioning and egoism helped the sect to withstand the attacks and grow stronger.
The firm faith and leadership of many of its followers also helped it to survive the
opposition and gain momentum. Prominent among those who contributed to its growing
popularity were Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi and Channa Basavanna.

Followers of Vira Saivism became distinguished as lingayats for their practice of wearing
Siva linga constantly on their bodies as a mark of devotion and surrender to Lord Siva.
The practice continues till date among the lingayats who are found mostly in Karnataka
and parts of Andhrapradesh.

Literary Sources of Vira Saivism

Followers of mainstream Vira Saivism do not accept the authority of the Vedas and
some of them even consider themselves to be outside the scope of Hinduism. The
Saiva Agamas, the sayings or vachanas of the enlightened masters of the sect and
those of some notable saints of Saivism belonging to the other sects form the basis of
the main teachings of Vira Saivism. Prominent literary works of this sect include:

1. Basavanna's principal works

2. Allmma Prabhu's Mantra Gopya

3. Chennabasavanna's Karana Hasuge

4. Shivagna Prasadi Mahadevayya's Shunya Sampadane

5. Singiraja's Singirajapurana,

6. Mallanarya's Veerasaivamrita, Bhavachintaratna and Satyendra Cholakathe,

7. Lakkana Dandesa's Shivatatwa Chintamani,

8. Chamarasa's Prabhulinga Leele,

9. Jakkanarya's Nurondushthala.

10. Bhimakavi's Basavapurana.

11. Tontada Siddesvara's Shatsthalajnanamrita

12. Virakta Tontadarya's Siddhesvarapurana

13. Nijagunashivayogi's Sivayogapradipika and Vivekacintamani.


14. Virabhadraraja's five Satakas and

15. Sarvajnamurti's Sarvajnapadagalu.

Philosophy or Main Concepts of Vira Saivism

Siva, Shakti and the Self

Vira Saivism accepts Lord Siva as the Supreme Lord and the self as its
indistinguishable reality. Siva is linga and the individual jiva is anga. The relationship
between the two is one of difference as well as no difference (bheda-abheda). Siva is
also the Supreme Abode (para-sthala) in which reside all the beings. Siva is the efficient
and material cause of creation through the activity of his Shakti. During creation, Siva
does not under go change, while Shakti does. In Siva the creation exists and in the end
returns to him. Shakti is an aspect of Siva and resides in him eternally. It veils the soul
through its maya and is responsible for its ignorance of its true nature. During creation
Shakti becomes split into kala (time) and bhakti (devotion). Kala brings forth the
manifestation as a projection from Siva. Bhakti resorts to the Jiva and in due course
leads the soul back to its true identity. The soul's ultimate goal is to regain its true
awareness and become one with Siva. The union of the soul with Siva (linganga-
samarasya) produces inexplicable bliss in the Jiva

The Union of Individual Soul with Siva

The soul's real union with Siva happens through a gradual six fold process called
satsthala during which six different qualities resurface or manifest themselves in the
individual soul. This process happens simultaneously both in the lowest (gross) and
highest (subtle) levels of the individual soul suggesting their non-separation. It is called
satsthala in the context of the highest plane and angasthala in the context of the lowest.
It involves the progressive manifestation of the following:

bhakti (devotion),

mahesa (selfless service),

prasada (grace),

pranalinga (experience of unity),

sarana (self-surrender) and


aikya (union).

With the manifestation of each phase, the soul moves closer and closer to Siva and
finally merges into Him. This happens only through the Jiva's surrender toSiva.

Spiritual Discipline and the Code of Conduct.

In Vira Saivism Guru (personal spiritual master), Jangama (an enlightened spiritual
guru) and Linga (Siva) play a very key role in the union of Jiva with Siva. Guru is the
personal spiritual guide who has the knowledge of the path and knows how to guide one
on it. Jangama is the realized soul or the perfect one who has already been through the
path and knows how to lead one there. Linga is the ultimate goal, the journey as well as
the path. One needs to surrender to them and seek their help in intensifying ones
devotion to Siva to obtain his grace and achieve the final union. The entry into Vira
Saivism begins with an initiation rite (diksha). Once on the path, eight observances
(astavarana) and five rules of conduct (panchachara) are prescribed for the adherents to
achieve their liberation. The five rules of conduct are:

1. Daily worship of linga (lingachara)

2. Performing ones vocational and familial duties (sadachara)

3. Acknowledging Siva as the Supreme Lord and all the Jivas as equal and not
different (Sivachara)

4. Humility and respect for all creation (bhrityachara) and

5. Serving the community with loyalty and responsibility (ganachara)

The eight observances are:

1. Obedience to guru

2. Worship of linga

3. Reverence for the jangama

4. Smearing of the sacred ashes

5. wearing the holy beads (rudraksha)

6. Drinking the water used in the cleaning of the linga or the feet of guru or jangama
7. Offering food to the deity, or guru or jangama

8. Recitation of the Siva mantra (om namah sivayah)

Vira Saivism in the Contemporary World

It is ironic indeed that today lingayats stand apart as a distinct social group in Karnataka
and Vira Saivism institutionalized many principles which it once opposed vehemently,
including the caste system, elevation of the Jangamas as a privileged priestly class,
permission to conduct temple worship and purification ceremonies and giving gifts to
gurus (guru dakshina) for the services rendered by them. Vira Saivism continues to be a
strong social and religious movement in Karnataka and provides a viable path for the
liberation of individuals from personal and social impurities and illusions

Kashmiri Saivism

Kashmiri Saivism originated in the trans Himalayan region around 4th century AD. As
the name implies, it grew into prominence in the area presently known as Jammu and
Kasmhir. Kashmiri Saivism derives its beliefs and practices mostly from the concept of
monism or non-dualism (advaita), but differs from the latter in some fundamental ways.
Historians usually credit Adi Shakaracharya as the chief protagonist of the Advaita
school of thought who made it popular and contributed to its success. If we look at the
historical development of Kashmiri Saivism, we cannot overlook its contribution in the
development of Advaita as an important school of Hindu philosophy.

Historical Development

According to tradition, Triambakaditya, a student of sage Durvasa, is regarded as the


first teacher of Kashmiri Saivism. His descendents continued the tradition for the next
several centuries. Around 8th century AD, One of them named Sangamaditya migrated
to the region presently known as Jammu and Kashmir and introduced the tradition there.

Vasugupta's Sivasutras is believed to be the original inspiration for the emergence of


Kashmiri Saivism as a separate school. Kashmiri Saivism also goes by other names
such as Trika Saivism, Spanda Saivism and Pratyabhigna Saivism. These three
represent three distinct approaches or perspectives within Kashmiri Saivism without
disagreeing on the fundamental concepts such as the unity of the soul and Siva. Trika
Saivism emphasizes the three main principles of, pati, pasu and pasa orSiva, Shakti
and anu, as one reality. Spanda Saivism refers to the dynamic power (Shakti) of Siva, or
the first impulse (spanda), which is responsible for the manifestation of the pluralistic
worlds. Pratyabhigna Saivism refers to the realization by an individual soul of its true
identity with Lord Siva.

Literary Sources

Kashmiri Saivism produced many great siddhas and men of wisdom and scholarship.
According to tradition, the knowledge of Kashmiri Saivism was passed on to Vasugupta
directly by Lord Siva himself in the form of Siva-sutras. Vasugupta lived near Mahadeva
mountains in the region of present day Srinagar sometime during the 8th - 9th Century
AD. He passed on the knowledge to his disciples. Notable among them was Kallata who
is credited with the authorship of Spanda-karika or Spanda-sarvasya. Other important
works that emerged out of this school of Saivism include:

1. Sivadristi by Somananda who was believed to be a disciple of Vasugupta

2. Pratyabhigna-sutra by Utpaladeva who was believed to be a disciple of


Somananda

3. Paramartha-sara, Pratyabhigna-vimarsini and Tantraloka by Abhinavagupta who


was also credited with 40 other works.

4. Vartika by Bhaskara

5. Sivasutra-vimarsini and Spanda-sandoha by Kshemaraja (10th-11th Century


A.D.)

The above mentioned works and the works of Sri Sankaracharya on advaita (monism) in
the context of the Agamas constitute the basic literature of Kashmiri Saivism. Among
them, Trika Saivism draws its inspiration from Vasugupta's Siva-sutras and Bhaskara's
Vartika; Spanda Saivism from Kallata's Spanda-karika or Spanda-sarvasya; and of
Pratyabhigna Saivism from the works of Utpala and Abhinavagupta.

Contact With Islam

Kashmiri Saivism suffered a reversal during the Muslim rule of Kashmir beginning from
the 14th centuryAD. It continued for the next 500 years, during which successive Muslim
rulers of Kashmir indulged in wanton destruction of Hindu temples, cruel suppression of
Hinduism and massacre of Hindus. During this period of aggressive Islamic intolerance,
the growing influence of Sufism was the only ray of hope for the Hindus.

Notable among the devotees of Lord Siva who lived during this period and contributed to
the growth of Saivism in Kashmir was Lallesvari or Lalla. She lived in the 14th Century
AD. Like Mirabai who excelled in her devotion to Lord Vishnu, Lallesvari represented the
highest form of devotion to Lord Siva. She composed several devotional poems of high
standard on L0rd Siva in Kashmiri language and contributed to the popularity of Saivism
among the masses. According to Subhash Kak, her poetry formed "the basis of much of
the Kashmiri worldview that emerged later " and shifted the emphasis "to the devotional
aspect of Kashmiri Saivism" and the notion of recognizing one's true self as the basis of
spiritual wisdom. Her poetry drew the attention of some followers of Sufism also like
Nunda Rishi who was a contemporary of Lalla. He regarded Siva as the ultimate reality
and composed several verses on Him reflecting the spirit of Pratyabhigna school and his
belief that Siva could be realized by any one in one's own self through love and
devotion.

Kashmiri Saivism and Mahayana Buddhism

Kashmiri Saivism has some parallels with Mahayana Buddhism, which was popular in
the adjacent Himalayan kingdoms and with which it came into contact during the
medieval period. According to B.N. Lalla, Kashmiri Saivism contributed to the integration
of diverse cultures in Central Asia and interacted with Mahayana Buddhism positively,
despite some fundamental differences. In his words:

"Kashmir Saivism, like Mahayana Buddhism, has played a key role in the assimilation of
different cultures in Central Asia, while adopting the logic of the Buddhist Acharyas; it
refuted the fundamental concept of Shunyavad and looked upon the creation of the
absolute as real and as the manifestation of the light of intelligence or universal
consciousness. It took the cardinal principles of social equality, individual liberty,
absence of dogma and rituals from Buddhism. Like Mahatma Buddha being considered
the saviour of mankind, the Saivas regarded the absolute Parma Siva as the creator,
preserver and absorber. In his different aspects, he mainfests his shakti and withdraws it
when His free will (Swatantrya) demands it. The individual is a mini shiva, who, when he
recognizes his true self, becomes one with the universal consiousness. Somananda,
the father of Pratyabhijna' philosophy, hailed from Tibet and naturally influenced the
thought and ideology of those who lived in Central Asia."

Philosophy - Main Concepts


Lord Siva

According to Kashmiri Saivism, Siva is the one, indivisible, eternal, ultimate, absolute
self, the highest reality, infinite consciousness and a state of unfettered freedom. He is
the self of all animate and inanimate beings, who is both immanent and transcendent.
He is also the changeless, subjective reality underlying the universe from which
everything ensues and into which everything dissolves. He is the absolute, supreme
lord, beyond which there is nothing else. Kashmiri Saivism does not emphasize the
need for devotional worship of Siva as a personal god for self-realization. The
relationship between Siva and the individual soul is not that of a servant and master but
of equality and essential identity. Devotional worship may be suitable for certain types of
personalities but is comparatively inferior to the devotional approach of surrender and
trust prescribed for the most promising and advanced seekers.

Shakti

Shakti is the dynamic aspect or energy of Siva. She has an infinity of aspects such as
chit-Shakti (the power of intelligence), ananda-Shakti (the power of freedom), iccha-
Shakti (the power of will), gnana-Shakti (the power of knowledge) and Kriya-Shakti (the
power of creative action). The objective world or universe that we perceive as ours, with
all its constituent and disparate objects, is an expansion of Shakti. Since Siva is the
ultimate reality, Shakti should not be mistaken as something different from him. There is
no difference between Siva and Shakti. Shakti is an indistinguishable aspect of Siva
performing a specific set of tasks with no distinction of her own. Whatever distinction we
perceive exists, because we cannot understand Siva otherwise. The duality is an illusion
created by our ignorance and limitations. In the highest absolute self all is one without a
second and without any movement.

The Objective World

Kashmiri Saivism differs from Sankara's Advaiata in that it does not consider the
manifest world as unreal. The world in which we live and with which we interact is a
projection of Siva's dynamism and as real as Siva himself. If God is real, everything that
emanates from him must be as real. By his free will Siva manifests the objective reality
within himself using himself as the qualities of nature, the source (tattvas) and
substratum. Siva and his creation are as inseparable as the reflection of objects in a
mirror and the mirror itself. The reflection of the objects and the mirror which reflect
them exist within the mirror and they are inseparable. Similarly the manifested worlds of
Siva and their constituent parts do not exist outside of Siva but only as reflections within
him without any independent existence of their own. Thus according to Kashmiri
Saivism, Siva and his creation are both real and inseparable.

The Purpose of Creation

Siva creates the worlds through his dynamic Shakti for the pure joy (ananda) of
rediscovering himself through his individual selves. He creates this game of creation and
plays it within himself, repeatedly from one creative cycle to another, using himself as
the resource and playground, the subject as well as the object, the goal as well as the
means for his own joy. Using his free will, he hides himself or conceals his God
consciousness in his limited selves, in order to rediscover himself or find himself and
realize through his limited selves that what he was looking for was already there and
never lost.

The Individual Soul

According to Kashmiri Saivism, there is no difference between Siva and the jivas. They
are one and the same. The soul is of the nature of Siva. It is pure Siva consciousness.
However because of the concealing power of Siva, the individual jivas become ignorant
of their original nature and fail to experience their true consciousness which remains
hidden with in them. Through his dynamic shakti he creates temporary ignorance in the
jivas and subjects them to the three impurities of anava, karma and maya, because of
which they believe themselves to be finite and separate and subject themselves to the
laws of karma. The purpose of each Jiva is therefore to recognize its true nature and
experiences its original Siva consciousness.

The Means of Liberation

Recognition (pratyabighna) of ones true consciousness is the door to freedom. This is


achieved either by the direct intervention of an enlightened Guru or by self effort or by a
combination of both. Available scriptures of this sect suggest three principal means of
rediscovering Siva Consciousness, namely a superior sambavopaya, a not so superior
saktopaya and an inferior anavopaya. These practices are not sequential because an
aspirant is not expected to proceed sequentially from the first to the third. The reason
why the help and guidance of a guru is emphasized in all sects of Saivism is because
he alone will have the knowledge and experience to decide which method will be
appropriate for each aspirant depending upon the latter's propensity and previous effort.

Sambavopaya
According to the Tantraloka of Abhinavagupta, sambavopaya is the best and most
effective means of gaining liberation. Sambavopaya means liberation through the grace
of Siva or Sambasiva. In this method an aspirant has to give up all manners of personal
and egoistic effort and place himself or herself at the feet of Lord Siva with complete
faith and trust. It means one should give up all manner of mental and physical effort
including the practice of any discipline or technique such as meditation, yoga, japa or
devotional singing. Instead one should surrender oneself completely to Lord Siva or to
the guru who embodies him consciously and wait for his grace to awaken the latent
purifying energies and make possible the experience of Sambhu (Siva) or supreme
consciousness.

Saktopaya

Saktopaya means liberation through the means of shakti or energy. Most of the methods
used to awaken the latent energies or sublimate them to achieve higher states of
consciousness are usually kept secret from the general public. The practice of Kundalini
yoga may be part of this method. In saktopaya one well known technique is called
madhyam dhatva or centering. It is practiced by focusing ones attention on the space or
junction or the silence between the end of one thought and beginning of another or the
end of one mental activity such as perception and the beginning of another. When an
aspirant learns to focus constantly on such intermittent spots, at some point during the
practice, he would transcend his impurities and experience his true consciousness that
has been hiding from him all along. The experience would be similar in some respects
to the experience of sudden awakening achieved by the practitioners of Zen Buddhism
using some cryptic expressions. No recitation of mantras or prayers or yogic practices
are prescribed in this method either. What is important is to become aware of the gap in
our mental activity and stay with it as often as possible so that someday the door will
open and Siva consciousness will dawn with full brilliance.

Anavopaya

Anavopaya means liberation through anava (ego) or individual or personal effort. It is


considered to be the inferior and most tedious of the three and involves the refinement
and advancement of individual soul (anu) through many mental and physical practices.
Some of the most commonly used practices are breathing exercises, concentration,
meditation and the recitation of mantras and prayers. Breathing exercises may help an
aspirant to cleanse the body and mind of impure energies. The practice of concentration
may help the aspirant to discipline the mind and quieten the thoughts. The practice of
meditation, contemplation and recitation of mantras and prayers may help an aspirant to
stay on the path and remain in a particular spiritual state of mind for longer periods of
time so that one can sow the seeds for a better and spiritually conducive future life.

Anupaya and Moksha

Anupaya means a state where no further effort or technique is needed. It is the state of
highest freedom in which there is no scope for further advancement or no need for any
gain or no desire for any fulfillment. It is a state of complete fulfillment, complete
liberation and situated within itself and by itself. It is also the state of the Jiva that has
been lost sight of. When we realize that a Jiva has always been free and what appears
as bondage for so long has only been an illusion, one realizes the difficulties in
expression the process and path of liberation.

According to Kashmiri Saivism Siva and the individual soul are one and the same reality.
So when a Jiva is created or liberated, we cannot say that it has lost or gained its true
consciousness, for it has never lost or gained its true consciousness, even for a second.
The Siva consciousness has always been there in each Jiva and was never lost or
transformed. Therefore the use of any of the words that imply gain or loss of Siva
consciousness is an anathema in Kashmir Saivism. It denotes duality between Siva and
jiva which is not acceptable in Kashmiri Saivism. Even such expressions as process or
journey or path to denote the progress of the jiva on the spiritual path would imply the
movement of the soul from one point to another in space and time which means duality
and separation in space and time between Siva and the individual soul. From this
philosophical perspective the state of liberation is best described as becoming filled with
wonder to know suddenly what one has always been and all along. In liberation nothing
has been truly gained or nothing has been truly lost but simply one realizes what one
has always been. As in the words of Abhinavagupta it is only a change in the point of
view or in the words of Gaudapada, "a change in vision"

Being and Becoming

What happens when an individual soul realizes this state while still upon earth? Is there
anything for it to do? Will it be able to maintain its absolute state of consciousness all
the time or only during the meditative and contemplative states? Will it alternative
between the two realities or remain always in the highest state? And what happens
when it leaves the body? We have accounts of the lives of people like Utpala who
experienced ecstatic states after regaining the state of Siva and continued to live in the
awakened state. From such examples we understand that once an individual is in the
highest state of Siva, his or her mind and the body may continue to perform their natural
functions but the consciousness remains firmly fixed in Siva. This is the state of anupaya
or no other means. The soul has regained its true consciousness and complete
independence. There is nothing else to be done or nothing else to be realized. Finally
when it leaves the human body, it becomes the mirror, Siva Himself

Gorakhnatha Saivism Or Siddha Siddhanta

Gorakhnath or Gorakshanatha Saivism is also known as Siddha Siddhanta and Nath


tradition. It was founded by Gorakshanatha (Gorakhnath) who lived about 10th century
AD. He is believed to be 3rd, 4th or 5th in a line of 12 prominent teachers of this
tradition, which has followers in both Buddhism and Hinduism. He was said to be a
disciple of Matsyendranatha who was from in Nepal. Followers of this sect believe that
knowledge of this tradition was received by Matsyendranath directly from Siva himself.
Gorakshanatha is credited with such works as Siddha Siddhanta Paddhathi and Viveka
Martanda. He composed them in Hindi. He also created 12 monastic orders across
Northern India in an effort to preserve the Adinatha tradition. Other important works of
this tradition are Hathayoga Pradipika, Gheranda Samhita, Siva Samhita and
Jnanamrita.

The school was predominantly ascetic and adapted many practices of the Pasupatha
sect and the Adinatha Tradition in contrast to the Nandinatha tradition followed in the
south. Although it is a tantric tradition, it differs from many left-handed (vamachara)
schools of tantra with its uncompromising emphasis on the practice of brahmacharya or
celibacy and its stand against the use of sexual energy in yogic practices. In the past
this sect enjoyed some Muslim following in the northern India and some of them even
became heads of the sect's monasteries. The Gorakshanatha sect brought to light many
secrets of hatha yoga, kundalini yoga and samadhi and contributed to their present day
popularity. Members of this sect also dabble in occult sciences and siddhis or super
natural powers.

Followers of this sect believe that it would be possible through yogic practices to prolong
human life and become immortal in the physical body (kayasiddhi). They believe that
through the practice of hathayoga it is possible to channel breath energy through a web
of nerves or nadis and acquire occult powers as well as achieve liberation. No one
knows for sure what these practices are except those who have been initiated into them.
Some followers of this sect claim to have seen or interacted with beings who are several
hundreds of years old. There are claims that Gorakshanatha, the original founder of the
school, is still alive and active in our earth plane but does not appear in public.

Followers of the sect believe that Siva is the material and efficient cause of creation and
that after liberation the jivas would return to Siva, like bubbles in water. Oneness with
Siva can be experienced by serious practitioners of yoga in a deep state of samadhi.
Once the state of samadhi is reached, an individual would remain forever established in
transcendental consciousness even while engaged in the mundane affairs of the outside
world.

The sect is still active in many parts of India and abroad and its followers range from
mendicants and street magicians to the most obscure ascetics living in the Himalayas.
The popularity of hatha yoga, pranayama, kundalini yoga, holistic medicine, astrology
and ayurveda in the modern world can be attributed to a great extent to this tradition.

The International Nath Order is draws its inspiration from the ancient Natha sect,
although it strives to propagate its teachings mostly outside India. It was founded in
1978 by Guru Mahendranath in order to share the knowledge of his own spiritual
awakening and also the wisdom of the ancient tantric schools of Hinduism and
Buddhism.

Pasupatha Saivism

The Pasupatha or Pashupata Saivism is perhaps the most controversial and also the
most ancient of all the sects of Saivism. It is possible that the people of Indus valley
practiced some form of Pasupatha Saivism. Its founder is considered to be Siva himself
who passed on the knowledge to several ancient sages. The Atharvasira Upanishad
mentions Pasupatha rite for the removal of animal bonds, probably a practice initially
associated with this sect. Etymologically, pasupatha means the herdsman's staff.
Symbolically it represents the trident, the weapon of Siva with which He destroys our
ignorance and impurities.

The sect became popular mostly through the contribution of the legendary Lakulisa
(meaning lord with the club) who lived around 200 BC in the Kathiawar peninsula of
present day Gujarat. His teachings are available to us in the form of sutras known as
Pasupatha Sutras. He introduced a strict code of conduct and certain yogic practices
and established a specific procedure for admitting members into the sect. He also
started the tradition of admitting only the three upper castes (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and
Vaishyas) and thereby deviated from the earlier practice of admitting lower castes.
Probably drawing inspiration from Buddhism, he introduced a more lenient path for the
householders.

Somanath in Gujarat was one of the most revered centers of this sect. The Siva temple
that was built there by the patrons of the sect received maximum destruction during the
early raids of the Muslim invaders. At one time the sect was popular in many parts of
India and its followers were both feared and revered. Hsuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler
who visited India during the seventh century AD noted several thousand Pasupathas
gathered in Varanasi alone. They zealously guarded their faith against Buddhism and
would not hesitate to defend it at any cost. By the medieval period, the popularity of the
sect remained confined to a few places in western India, Nepal and the Himalayan
region. To this day the Pasupathinath temple in Nepal stands as a testimony to the
popularity of this ancient sect.

Originally Pasupatha Saivism was dualistic. Its followers believed that Siva was the
efficient cause only of the universe but not its material cause. The individual soul and
Siva were different entities. After liberation, the soul would not merge with Siva but
continue its separate existence as a liberated being without undergoing modifications or
suffering from pain. Lakulisa retained some of the beliefs of the earlier teachers but
considered Siva as both the material and efficient cause of the creation and that the
liberated beings maintain closeness (sayujya) with Siva but would not dissolve into him.

Much of the Pasupatha doctrine is kept secret from non-followers. So little is known
about it outside the fold. Followers are admitted initially into the sect through a diksha
ceremony and are advised to break their fetters of social conditioning through such
practices as laughing, singing and dancing. Once they show progress, they are advised
to go into society and practice the same principle in more obvious and shocking ways to
invite public ridicule and criticism. Getting rid of the social conditioning and becoming
free from the egoistic attachment to ones name and self-image are considered
important first steps in freeing oneself from the three bonds of egoism (anava), karma
and maya.

In the next stage the aspirants are advised to observe austerities and a strict code of
conduct, called yamas and nimayas, with emphasis on celibacy, non-injury and
meditation. They are introduced to the secrets of Kundalini yoga and guided on the path
till they mature in its practice. If the guidelines of the guru are followed strictly an
aspirant would experience supernatural powers and closeness with Siva. He would
become self-aware and Siva-aware and free from the limitations of our existence.

The Kapalika and the Kalamukha 1 sects are close to Pasupatha sect in many ways but
differ in matters of practice. They follow more shocking and outrageous methods to
attract public ridicule and criticism and free themselves from social conditioning and
egoistic attachment to their physical selves. While externally they are encouraged to
indulge in controversial behavior, internally they are advised to lead pure and austere
lives. The Kalamukhas who lived in parts of Karnataka enjoyed a good reputation for
their asceticism, celibacy and inner purity.

Followers of Pasupatha Saivism can still be found in parts of India even today. If you
come across a fierce looking Saivite beggar seeking alms in the streets with unkempt
hair or a huge wig, ashes smeared all over his face and body, wearing a garland of
bones or leaves or a tattered black dress, singing loudly or making strange noises with a
whip or a dumru (a musical instrument) or a staff, promising to do magic with some
grains of rice or wheat, he would probably be either a Pasupatha or Kapalika or
Kalamukha... or a real mad person. And if you fail to distinguish, the seeker has
achieved his objective.

1. Basavanna, the founder of Vira Saivism, was a disciple of a guru belonging to this
sect.

The Ganapatya Sect

The rise of Ganapatya sect was a significant departure from the traditional Saivism and
it coincided with the rise of tantric form of worship in ancient India some time during the
post Gupta period. Followers of Ganesha began worshipping him as the ultimate and
absolute God, there by giving shape to a new cult that went by the name Ganapatya
cult. Some of the basic concepts of this sect can be found in the Ganapathi Upanishad
where Lord Ganesha is extolled as creator, preserver and destroyer and as Brahman
himself. Another development of this sect was the association of the deity with shakti.
Ganesha was originally a bachelor god. But with the rise of shaktism he was associated
with two goddesses and began to be referred as shakti ganapathi. Followers of
Ganapatya sect recognize five esoteric forms of Ganapathi based on the dominant
powers manifested in him. They are Ucchishta Ganapathi, Maha Ganapati, Urdhva
Ganapathi, Pingala Ganapathi and Lakshmi Ganapathi.

Sub Sects

Though not very popular like other sects, the Ganapatya sect has a long history of over
a thousand years and a significant body of literature where we can find the basic beliefs,
traditions and concepts of the sect. Within the sect there was a lot of diversity as its
followers differed in respect of which aspect of Ganesha to be worshipped as the
principal deity and how to worship him. This resulted in the formation several sub sects.
The Sankaradigvijaya of Anandagiri mentions six different sub groups within Ganapatya
sect. These groups accepted Ganesha as Brahman, the ultimate reality, but differed in
details. The first group worshipped Maha Ganapathi as the ultimate reality, the creator of
all gods and the supreme self, who was red in color, was mighty with ten arms and had
his shakti always by his side. The second group worshipped Haridra Ganapathi who
was yellow in color, possessed a third eye and had four arms. They regarded Ganesha
as the leader of all gods and wore an emblematic diagram of his head with a broken
tusk on their arms as a mark of identity and devotion. The third group worshipped
Ganesha as Ucchistha Ganapathi who had four arms and was associated with a shakti.
They wore a red mark on their foreheads and followed left handed tantrik (vamachara)
practice of using the five elements (pancha tattvas) in their worship of Ganesha.
Members of this group disregarded caste restrictions while admitting new members into
their group. The other three groups worshipped Navanita Ganapathi of soft nature,
Svarna Ganapathi of golden form and Santa Ganapathi of peaceful form. They followed
the right handed (vedamarga) methods of worship and accepted Ganesha as the
supreme lord and creator of all.

Literature of Ganapatya Sect

Whatever may be the form of Ganesha, followers of Ganapatya cult were unanimous in
their acceptance of Ganesha as the ultimate lord and creator of all. We can find their
main beliefs in some of the ancient texts extolling Ganesha as the highest god. For
instance the Sarada Tilaka describe him as a primeval god whom even the Vedas could
not attain, who was a playful incarnation of Siva with eight forms (earth, water, fire, air,
ether, sun, moon and ahmakara) and who, seated in the heart as Purusha himself, was
a great dispeller of the darkness of ignorance.

Followers of the Ganapatya sect added two new sub-puranas (upa puranas) named
Ganeshapurana and Mudgalapurana and a new Gita called Ganesha Gita to the body of
Indian religious literature. These texts are devoted to Ganesha and reflect the major
beliefs. practices, method of worship, mantras and philosophical standpoints of the
Ganapatya sect. They were probably composed during the medieval period around 13th
or 14th century by which time the Ganapatya sect lost much of its momentum. No
attempt has been made so far to organize these two sub-puranas into an authoritative
work and with several editions of the same texts in circulation, scholars are not sure
which one of them is authoritative and reliable. The Ganesha gita is a modified version
of the Bhagavad gita in which Ganesha in his incarnation of Gajanana gives a long
discourse to king Varenya. It is similar in many respects with the discourse given by Lord
Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. The Ganesha Purana contains some important prayers
which are recited in the worship of Ganesha in the temples and at homes. It also details
his four incarnations which are described below:

1. The incarnation of Mahotkata Vinayaka in Krita yuga as the son of Kashyapa and
Aditi to slay the two demon brothers named Narantaka and Devantaka, and
another demon by name Dhumraksha.

2. The incarnation of Mayuresvara in Treta yuga as the son of Siva and Parvathi to
slay the demon Sindhu. He used a peacock as his vehicle which he ultimately
gifted to his his younger brother Skanda.

3. The incarnation of Gajanana in Dwapara yuga as the son of Siva and Parvathi to
slay the demon Sindura. He also revealed Ganesha Gita to king Varenya on the
same lines as Krishna revealed the teachings of the Bhagavadgita to Arjuna.

4. The incarnation of Dhumraketu which is yet take place. According to Ganesha


Purana, at the end of kali yuga, Ganesha will incarnate as Dhumraketu. Fierce in
form, he will ride a blue horse and destroy the evil. This incarnation has many
parallels with the final incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Kalki who will also come at
the end of this epoch riding a white horse and bearing a sword to destroy the evil.

The Mudgalapurana is believed to be subsequent to the Ganeshapurana. Scholars differ


with regard to its date and content as many editions of this Purana also are available
with no consensus opinion among the scholars as to their content or authenticity. The
purana describes eight incarnations of Ganesha instead of the four incarnations
mentioned in the Ganeshapurana. These incarnations are listed below:
Incarnation Vehicle Purpose

Vakratunda Lion To slay the demon Matsyasura(envy) in


his aspect of Brahman as the absolute
supreme self.

Ekadanta Mouse To slay the demon Madasura (pride) in


his aspect of Brahman as individual
souls.

Mahodara Mouse To overcome the demon Mohasura


(delusion) in his aspect of Brahman as
creator.

Gajavaktra or Mouse To slay the demon Lobhsura (greed)


Gajnana

Lambodara Mouse To slay the demon Krodhsura (anger) in


his aspect of Brahman as pure Shakti.

Vikata Peacock To slay the demon Kmsura (lust) in his


aspect of Brahman as an illuminating
being like the sun or savitr.

Vighnaraja Serpent To slay the demon Mamsura


(possessiveness) in his aspect of
Brahman as the preserver

Dhumravarna Horse To slay the demon Abhimansura (pride


and attachment) in his final incarnation of
Brahman as the destroyer which is yet to
take place.

Although Ganesha is one of the most popular gods of Hinduism, the Ganapatya sect is
currently not very popular. Very few Hindus actually know that there is a sect that goes
by this name and that its followers worship Ganesha exclusively as the ultimate and
highest reality. Followers of Ganapatya sects can still be found in parts of Maharashtra,
Andhrapradesh and Karnataka and we can still hear stories of gurus and seekers
receiving a personal visitation from Ganesha in a real physical form. However a majority
of the devotees of Ganesha belong to the mainstream Hinduism who consider him to be
the elder son of Siva and leader of gods and worship him as such. The idol of Ganesha
is found in all temples whether they belong to the main stream Hinduism or any of the
sects within Hinduism for Ganesha is the leader of the gods and loved by Hindus of all
ages and backgrounds .

What are some interesting facts about Hindu saivism?


Both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata mention Lord Siva as a prominent Hindu
god. Credit goes to the Saiva Puranas, which were composed mostly in the early
Christian era, in making Saivism a popular religious sect
With body as the temple, with mind ever subject to Him, with truthfulness as purity,
with the light of the mind as his Linga, with love as melted butter and milk together
with the holy water, let us offer sacrifice to the Lord. Tirumurai, Appar. LG, 152
Shaivism or Saivism is the name given to a group of religious traditions which
regard Lord Siva, also spelled as Shiva, as the highest Supreme Self or Brahman and
worship Him accordingly. It is considered to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest,
sect of Hinduism, whose antiquity is said to be rooted in the prehistoric traditions of
ancient India, dating back to the Indus Valley civilization (5000 BC) or even earlier.
Followers of Saivism are popularly known as Saivas or Saivites. The early Vedic
Indians worshipped an aspect of Lord Siva, known as Rudra, whom they both feared
and revered. In the later Vedic period some Upanishads emerged, such as the
Svetasvatara Upanishad and the Katha Upanishad, in which Lord Siva was depicted
as the highest Supreme Brahman. It was also the period during which the Vedic
religion underwent a radical transformation where by Vaishnavism, Saivism and
Shaktism rose to prominence and the ancient Vedic deities such as Brahma, Indra,
Agni and Varuna yielded their place to Vishnu, Siva and Shakti.
By the time the Puranas were composed, Lord Siva was recognized as a part of
Hindu Trinity and His worship became popular in many parts of the Indian
subcontinent. Both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata mention Lord Siva as a
prominent Hindu god. Credit goes to the Saiva Puranas, which were composed
mostly in the early Christian era, in making Saivism a popular religious sect. Of the
18 Puranas originally composed, six were Shaiva Puranas, namely Siva Purana,
Linga Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Skanda Purana and Agni Purana. The
Agamas are the most authoritative works on Saivism. They deal with the methods of
ritual worship and contemplation of Lord Siva.
Many prominent rulers of ancient India such as the Kushanas, the Guptas, the
Barasivas, the Satavahanas and the Cholas were ardent worshippers of Siva. The
Barasivas played an important role in preserving many ancient traditions of Saivism,
at a time when Buddhism was on the rise. Apart from the Indian subcontinent, Siva
was also worshipped in other parts of the world such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia,
Singapore, Cambodia and Indonesia
Lord Siva's connection with ancient fertility cults is well documented. Followers of
Siva regard Him as the Father God and Shakti as the Mother Goddess. There are
indications that the Indus people probably used fertility symbols resembling a
prototype of the present day Sivalingam in their religious rituals. But we do not
know whom they actually worshipped using the fertility symbols. The earliest
archaeological evidence of Sivalingam dates back to 2nd Century BC. But we have
reasons to believe that the practice was prevalent in ancient India centuries before
that. Outwardly, the Sivalingam is a sexual symbol depicting the union of male and
female genital organs. Symbolically it represents the involvement of the Soul and
the Supreme Self with Nature or Prakriti.
There are many subsects with in Saivism. While they all acknowledge Lord Siva as
the Supreme Deity, they differ from one another in respect of other details such as
the modes of worship, nature of Brahman, the nature of individual soul, the
relationship between the two, the nature of reality and the means to liberation.
These schools of Saivism primarily fall under one of the three schools of Hindu
philosophy, namely Advaita (monism), Vishishtadvaita (qualified monism) and
Dvaita (dualism). Of the few sects that survived the vicissitudes of time, the
following five are the most prominent
1. 1. Pasupata Saivism
2. 2. Kashmiri Saivism
3. 3. Siddha Saivism
4. 4. Gorakhnatha Saivism
5. 5. Vira Saivism
The temples of Siva are located all over the world, but the most prominent among
them which house the 12 Jyotirlingas are located in India. The 12 Jyotirlinga temples
mentioned in the Sivapurana are:
1. Tthe Somnath temple,
2. The Mallikarjuna temple at Srisailam,
3. The Mahakaleswar temple at Ujjain,
4. The Omkareshwar temple at Omkareshwar,
5. The Kedarnath temple in the Himalayas,
6. The Bhimashankar temple in Maharashtra,
7. The Kashivishwanath temple at Varanasi,
8. The Triambakeshwar temple at Naski,
9. The Baidyanath temple at Deogarh,
10.The Nageshwar temple in Dwaraka,
11.The Ramalingeshwar temple at Rameswaram and
12.Grishneshwar temple near Ellora caves
The Nayanars of southern India were poet saints who played an instrumental role
between 6th and 8th century AD in popularizing the devotional worship of Siva
among the rural people. Through devotional singing and public display of religious
fervor, they preached the path of devotion (bhaktimarg) to Siva as an effective
means to spread their message of divine love and surrender to God and inculcate
among people the habit of religious worship and ethical living. Their activities also
helped in containing the influence of Jainism and Buddhism in southern India and
reviving the Vedic tradition. The Saiva tradition lists 63 Nayanars. Prominent among
them were Kannappa, Karaikkal, Sundarar, Manikkavachakar, Nambi Andar Nambi,
Sekkilar, Appar and Sundarar. Their compositions are preserved in such works as
Tirumurai and Tevaram. Apart from them, Lakulisa, Vasugupta, Gorakshanath and
Basavanna were some of the religious teachers, who played a prominent role in
ensuring the continuation of Saivism as a major religious sect in the Indian
subcontinent.
Siva and Saivism Sects is wholly dedicated to bring you information on various
aspects of Saivism and worship of Lord Siva, without aligning ourselves to any
particular sect or religious teacher.
History of Shaivism, Lord Shiva in Vedic Literature and Recorded History
Shiva ( Siva) as we know him today was unknown to the Vedic people. They knew a
form of Shiva who was different from the Shiva who was worshipped elsewhere in
the Indian subcontinent. They worshipped a deity who personified their fears and
anxieties in an unfamiliar territory surrounded by hostile tribes and an unfavorable
nature.
We know Shiva as part of the Trinity, as indweller of the world of Kailash, as the yogi
seated on the top of a snowy mountain somewhere in the Himalayas watching the
worlds above and below with his inner eye. We know him to be the source of all
knowledge, arts and crafts and the life force that flows down from the heavens in
the form of an eternal river by coming into contact with which all our karmas are
neutralized. We know him as the father of Lord Ganesha and Kumara, the husband
of both Parvathi and Ganga, who rides the bull Nandi. We worship him both in his
image form and symbolically as a Shivalinga. We worship him ritually, extolling his
virtues and invoking him by his thousand names.
But the Vedic people had a different concept of Shiva. They were not very familiar
with his peaceful or adorable forms. They perceived him mostly as a god of anger,
death and destruction and feared him most. Uttering his very name on some
occasions was considered inauspicious and necessitated the performance of certain
rituals. He was relatively unknown in the early Vedic period, but as time went, by he
superceded most of the vedic gods and was recognized not only as Brahman or the
highest of all gods but also as part of the Hindu Trinity as the destroyer along with
Brahma the Creator god and Vishnu the preserver.
Prior to his integration into Vedic religion, Lord Shiva was worshipped mainly outside
the Vedic society by people with whom they were not very familiar. Even today we
find Lord Shiva being exceptionally popular among many ancient tribes of India such
as the Chenchus and the Malavans who live in the remote areas of South India and
consider Shiva not only as a hunter and a forest deity but also as the ancestor of
their tribes.
The integration of Shiva into Vedic religion took place over a long period of time
probably as a result of the coming together of diverse groups of people speaking
different languages and practicing different religious traditions. Crucial to this
integration was probably the role played by the kings who usually preferred to
worship many deities and followed a policy of religious tolerance. From the many
tribes whom the Vedic people either feared or hated, they picked up certain beliefs
and practices that appealed to them. They picked many practices and traditions
from Saivism also such as image worship, puja or the act of ritual worship of God
with flowers, incense, water, smoke, food and self, and some temple rituals aimed
to express one's love, awe, surrender, reverence and devotion to God. The vedic
people originally frowned upon the practice of the worship of Shiva lingas but
subsequently integrated the practice into a Vedic religion.
Shiva In The Vedic Texts
Shiva is mentioned in the Rigveda in three hymns as the fearful and vengeful Rudra.
He is described as the god of sickness, disease, death, destruction and calamity. For
the Vedic people his very name invoked fear . They believed that the best way to
avoid trouble was by seeking protection from himself through appeasement
because only Rudra would save them from the wrath of Rudra. So they implored him
not to harm anyone, not to hurt pregnancies, not to vilify the dead and not to slay
their heroes in the war.
The Satarudriya invocation in the Yajurveda is perhaps the most discussed and
analyzed hymn. It is part of an invocation offered to the god Agni to avert his wrath
and pacify him after he transforms himself into Rudra. The hymn depicts him both
as terrifying and pleasing. The prayer is offered to Rudra to bring health and
prosperity to the people as a divine physician and also to save them from his own
wrath. He is eulogized as lord of all beings and also called cheat and lord of the
thieves. He is described as a dwarf as well as as a giant. According to some
scholars, the Satarudriya hymn was probably part of several invocations adapted
from the prevailing Saiva literature into the Vedas or probably part of a much longer
hymn most of which was lost to us.
We find in the Atharvaveda more references to this God than in the Rigveda,
suggestive of his growing popularity. Rudra is implored not to harm the cattle and
the people. In the Atharvaveda as well as the Yajurveda, Shiva is addressed
variously as Sarva, Bhava, Nilakantha, Pasupathi, Nilagriva, Sitkantha and Sobhya.
While these names are presumed to be his epithets, in some hymns we find the
names Rudra, Sarva and Bhava, being used to refer different divinities. Some hymns
are also addressed to not one Rudra but several Rudras who were storm deities
associated with violent winds.
The Satapatha Brahmana mentions eight names of Rudra. In one place he is
mentioned as Rudra- Shiva. In some cases he is also identified with Agni. Here we
come to know how Shiva got his name as Rudra. It was because he, as Manyu or
wrath, clung to the Prajapathi, when the later was disjointed, while all other
divinities fled. He remained inside and cried and from the tears that flowed out of
him originated Rudras in thousands. When the gods saw Rudra as a god of hunger
and wrath, with innumerable heads, a strong bow and arrow fitted to it, the gods
were afraid of him. The same Brahmana also alludes to his connection with animal
sacrifices and snakes.
In the Svetasvatara Upanishad Lord Shiva was elevated to the status of Brahman,
by the sage who composed it, after he had a vision of Lord Shiva as the Absolute
and Supreme Brahman. He is described as the god who wields the power of maya or
delusion by which he controls the world. He is also the indweller (antaratman) of all.
Some basic concepts of Saivism are clearly mentioned in the upanishad. Another
important upanishad, though belonging to a much later date than the Svetasvatara
Upanishad is the Atharvasira Upanishad which mentions the many names of Shiva
and recommends the performances of certain rituals such as smearing of the ashes
to obtain the grace of Shiva and achieve liberation from earthly life. Brhajjabala
Upanishad and Bhasmajabala Upanishad are other minor Saiva Upanishads dealing
with some important concepts and aspects of worship of Shiva.
The integration of Yoga and Samkhya Schools of philosophy, the rise of bhakti
movement and the growing popularity of ascetic traditions as a reaction against
caste prejudices and empty ritualism, coupled with the emergence of Buddhism and
Jainism as contemplative and reflective religions with their emphasis on physical
and mental practices to achieve self-control contributed to the growing popularity of
Shiva and the emergence of Saivism as a important part of mainstream Hinduism.
Shiva in the Epics and the Puranas
Shiva is mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Ramayana
he is described as Sitikantha, Mahadeva, Rudra, Trayambaka, Pasupathi and
Shankara. We find in the epic references to the sacrifice of Daksha, the marriage
between Shiva and Parvathi, the account of Shiva saving the worlds by drinking the
poison that emerged during the churning of the oceans, the slaying of the demon
Andhaka and the destruction of the three cities (Tripura) with the help of Lord
Vishnu. The demon king Ravana is described as a great devotee of Lord Shiva and
the Ramayana itself as a narration by Shiva to Parvathi. Anjaneya, who was
instrumental in finding Sita and destroying many demons, is the son or an aspect of
Shiva only, born under strange circumstances as a part of the plan associated with
the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Sri Rama.
In the Mahabharata we find more detailed references to Lord Shiva in several
chapters. In the Anusasana Parva, we are told how Lord Krishna was initiated by
Lord Shiva into Shiva bhakti or devotion to Shiva. In the Santhi Parvan the narration
goes on to show that both Hari and Hara are the same. In the same chapter we also
find some epithets of Shiva included in the list of the thousand names of Vishnu.
According to a narrative account in the epic, after a brief but intense encounter with
Arjuna in a forest, Lord Shiva gifted him a powerful weapon for use in the epic war
that followed.
In the Puranas we find very detailed treatment of many concepts of Saivim in a
language and imagery familiar to the masses. Some of the Puranas deal exclusively
with Shiva and Saivism. They are categorized as Shiva Puranas in contrast to the
Vishnu Puranas, Devi Puranas and Brahma Puranas. The Shiva Puranas describe
Shiva as the highest and Supreme Being and other gods and divinities subordinate
to him as a part of his vast creation. Vayu Purana is considered to be one of the
oldest of the Shiva Puranas, composed probably around 2nd Century BC. Other
important Shiva Puranas are the Matsya Purana, the Brahmanda Purana, Skanda
Purana, Linga Purana, Vamana Purana and of course the Shiva Purana. While the
Vishnu Puranas depict Brahma as originating from the navel of Vishnu, the Shiva
Puranas inform us that Brahma became a creator and Vishnu became a preserver
by virtue of their devotion to Shiva and meritorious deeds in their previous lives.
Three Different World Views
Contrary to the popular belief, Saivism is much older than Brahmanism and Jainism
with its antecedents dating back to prehistoric times. The three shared some
common beliefs such as reincarnation, karma, maya or delusion and existence of
heavenly worlds. The concepts of karma, maya and reincarnation were originally
alien to Vedic religion and later integrated into it through Saivism.
The cult of the Father God and the Mother Goddess, which was the basis of Saivism,
was practiced by many prehistoric cultures with some variations, including the
practice of worshipping stone images and fertility symbols.
Seals found in the Indus valley suggest that the Indus people probably worshipped a
deity who shared some similarities with the earliest forms of Lord Shiva, including
his affinity with animals and his propensity for meditation and yoga.
The Core Philosophy of Saivism
Saivism depicts an absolute God who is both pure consciousness and soul
consciousness and both actively passive and unconditionally dynamic. It projects a
vision in which there is a place for both the individual will and divine will. However,
it does not view fate as a critical factor in human lives. Fate or destiny is man's own
making through his desires and binding actions. Karma is the relentless law that
makes the exercise of free will both a blessing and a curse. According to its tenets,
divine will is the inviolable law which usually manifests as the grace of Shiva. It has
the power to neutralize individual karmas and grant the souls freedom from birth
and rebirth. But this would happen only under exceptional circumstances usually
through the intervention of an enlightened master of guru who has become one
with consciousness of Shiva.
In God's wondrous creation, individuals have the freedom to disobey the divine will
and suffer from the consequences. It does not matter to Shiva whether the beings
obey or disobey His laws. Being an absolute entity, He created universal laws to
deal with the conflict between divine will and free will. Because He is free and
disinterested, with no particular attachment to anything, He would not interfere with
our lives minutely or punish us instantly for our daily transgressions. He would also
not consider it necessary to incarnate Himself upon earth to set things right
because as the knower of all and lord of the universe he would not let things go out
of control without His prior knowledge. Yet we cannot say that He is permissive or
indifferent or unresponsive. He listens and responds to our prayers. He willingly take
upon Himself the task of destroying the evil and the delusion that exists in the
manifest creation and our own consciousness.
Having manifested the worlds through His dynamic energy, He remains in the back
ground, as a knower of the past, the present and the future, watching the events
unfold themselves and letting things go by. For the mortals, He is there, yet He is
not there. He is with us and yet He is not with us. He is the same and yet He is
different. He hides Himself behind a thick veil of ignorance, beyond the senses, the
mind and the objective world. He willfully lets Prakriti or Shakti do her work. He is
the master of the worlds and yet He obeys His own laws for the sake of good order.
This conception of God centric cosmic drama in which the destiny of individual
beings stretched beyond time and space made Saivism particularly popular among
inquisitive minds in the ancient world. This knowledge was not however available to
the public freely. It was kept behind a facade of weird practices and rituals to keep
the weak and the unprepared from entering into it and being overwhelmed by it. In
the same vein, with its emphasis on an Universal and supreme God as the absolute
reality and the cause of all creation, with Prakriti or Nature as his dynamic energy,
Saivism offered a world view that was contrary to the atheistic and agnostic
standpoints of Jainism and Buddhism and the henotheistic position of Brahmanism,
which relied upon rituals to appease a multitude of atmospheric and elemental gods
and obtain favors from them. However the integration between Brahmanism and
Saivism did not happen instantly.
Saivism In The Vedic Times
During the pre vedic period some ancient cults of Saivism were in vogue in the
Indian subcontinent. We have references to believe that Shiva or his aspects were
worshipped by some ancient communities outside India in far away places such as
the Mediterranean, Africa, Central Asia and Europe. According to some the name
Shiva is of Dravidian origin, derived from the word Chivan or Shivan meaning red
color. Sambhu, another name of Lord Shiva, also said to have been of Dravidian
origin, derived from the word Chembu, or Chempu or Sembu, meaning copper or
red metal. According to some the phallic symbol of Shiva is of Austric origin and so
is the name linga.
When we study the ancient Celtic gods like Norse Odin and the Celtic Cernunnos we
cannot miss some similarities between them and Shiva. Some scholars also find
parallels between the Tantric practices of Saivism and the magical-religious
practices of Shamanism of the Mexican, American Indian, Inuit, and Australian
Aboriginal peoples. It is possible that the similarities might be due to the fact that
the religious beliefs of ancient cultures emerged mainly from the fertility rites and
the father god and mother god traditions of prehistoric times.
According to some scholars, Shaktism, Samkhya, Yoga and Tantrism were not new
concepts that developed in the post Vedic India, but very ancient traditions which
were subsequently revived and integrated into the religious life of the subcontinent.
Some of these beliefs and practices of Saivism gradually found their way into
Brahmanism and Buddhism. Many magical rituals, fertility rites and left-hand
techniques and practices of Shaktism and Tantricism aimed to cultivate detachment
and gain control over the senses and the mind, were incorporated with some
variations into Brahmanism and subsequently into Vajrayana Buddhism. The
mentally unsettling and provocative imagery of Tantricism found it way into
Vajrayaana Buddhism.
During the Vedic period Shiva was worshipped mostly by non Vedic tribes, such as
the Sibis who lived on the fringes of the Vedic society and were hardly understood
by vedic people. The Mahabharata mentions the name of Pasupathas, one of the
most ancient and secretive sects of Saivism. Kapalikas, Kalamukhas were other
prominent sects of Saivism in ancient India. Followers of the Ajivika sect were also
probably worshippers of Lord Shiva.
Saivism In The Recorded History
Megasthanese noted the worship of Shiva in his book Indika. He thought that the
deity whom Indians worshipped was Dionysus, a Greek god who had some affinity
with Shiva. From Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, we understand that images of Shiva were
in use probably for religious worship. In the Ashtadhyayi of Panini we have
references to Shiva Bhagats, an ancient Saiva cult. Gautama, the author of Nyaya
sutras, and Kanada, the founder of the Vaisheshika school of philosophy which
proposed atomic theory, were, according to Haribhadra, followers of Lord Shiva.
A great devotee of Shiva named Lakulisa lived some time during the early or pre
Christian era. He played an important role in the revival of Saivism under the name
of Pasupatha (the way of the animal). Not much is known about the details of his life
and works. He probably belonged to the Kalamukha sect before he established the
Pasupatha Saivism. He opposed Jainism, Buddhism and the Ajivaka sect for their
conflicting stand points. Believed by his followers to be a manifestation of Shiva
himself, Lakulisa revived the ancient practices of Hathayoga and Tantrism and
probably reintroduced the practice of human and animal sacrifices. The revival of
Saivism that began during his period was subsequently continued by the
Bharashivas and the Vakatakas.
The Satavahanas ruled a vast territory in the south for over 400 years in the post
Mauryan era. They patronized vedic religion and worshipped many gods including
Shiva and Skanda. They worshipped Shiva under such popular names as Shiva,
Mahadeva, Bhava and Bhutapala. They also worshipped his vehicle Nandi and his
son Skanda both as individual deities and in association with Shiva. Some of the
foreign dynasities who established their rule in the Indian subcontinent such as the
Sakas, the Pahlavas and the Kushanas often turned to Saivism. The Kushanas
worshipped many native and foreign deities including Shiva and Skanda.
Kadhaphises II of the was a follower of Shiva. His successor Kanishka was a
worshipper of Shiva and Skanda. In the later part of his life, he converted to
Buddhism.
The Barashivas ruled parts of central and northern India from about 2nd Century
AD. They were also known in history as the Nagas. The Bharashiva reestablished
Hindu traditions. They were great devotees of Lord Shiva, a tradition that was
continued later by Vakatakas and the Guptas. They played a very significant role in
the revival of Hinduism at at time when the Indian subcontinent was facing a series
of foreign invasions and Buddhism was on the raise. According to scholars,
Hinduism would not have been what it is today but for the patronage of Barashivas
in the north and the Satavahanas in the south during a critical period when it was
facing challenges from several directions. It is said that the Huna king Mihirakula
was also a follower of Shiva.
Saivism rose to prominence during the Gupta period. The Guptas were mainly
followers of Vishnu, but inscriptions belonging to their period show that they also
worshipped Lord Shiva, Skanda and Parvathi. They erected temples in their honor.
Ganesha was popular deity, but probably not as popular as Skanda. The inscriptions
of the Gupta period bear many epithets of Shiva and Parvathi and suggests to the
extent of their popularity. The Gupta rule also witnessed the composition of many
Hindu sacred texts and new developments in Hindu art and architecture. Ujjain rose
to prominence as an important Saivite center. Many sacred texts of Saivism were
composed during this period, which included Agamas, Tantras and Puranas
connected with Lord Shiva and the Mother Goddess. Famous Sanskrit scholars
Kalidasa, Vishnusharma and Bharavi, astronomers Aryabhata, Varahamihira and
Brahmagupta and the Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu lived during this period.
They contributed to the development of astronomy, medicine and Sanskrit
literature. Kalidasa was a worshipper of Kali, the mother goddess. He excelled in
Sanskrit drama.
Saivism continued to flourish during the post Gupta period despite the fact that
many rulers like Harshavardhana continued to patronize Buddhism. There were
however some pockets of Hindu influence such as as the Chandelas of Bundelkhand
(9th century AD) who built 30 or so temples of Shiva and other deities at Khajuraho.
During the same period else where also Rajput rulers built many temples in honor of
Shiva and Shakti.
In the south the Chalukyas, the Pallavas and the Cholas built many temples in honor
of Shiva. Worth mentioning are the cave temple of Shiva at Badami, the
Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Briahdiswara temple at Tanjore. All the three
dynasties were great patrons of Hinduism. The Pallva kings witnessed the
development of Saiva literature of the Tamils. It was also the period during which
the bhakti movement became popular in the south. Sundaramurthy lived during this
period and worked for the reformation of many Saiva traditions. Kanchi became a
prominent center of religious education to which royal families sent their children.
The Cholas were also great devotees of Shiva. They built many temples in his honor.
They were instrumental in the creation of greater Hindu civilization that extended
beyond the Indian subcontinent to Cambodia and adjoining territories.
The Nayanars
The Nayanars of south lived between 6th and 8th Century AD. They were poet
saints who spread the awareness of Shiva and Saivism expressing their intense love
and devotion by visiting various parts of the country and singing devotional songs in
public at holy places, temples and pilgrim centers. They also countered the growing
influence of Buddhism, Jainism and Vaishnavisim through their discourses and
compositions, rendered not in Sanskrit but in Tamil the language of the common
people. Saiva literature records the names of 63 Nayanars, a few of whom were
women. They came from different backgrounds, from the highest to the lowest
strata of society, including the caste of untouchables. The most prominent
Nayanaras are considered to be Appar, Sambanthar and Sundarar. In 11th century
Nambi Andar Nambi composed Tirumurai, in which he recorded the lives of all the
63 saints. It has immense historical and spiritual value and considered as an
important text of Saiva canon.
The Growth of the Sectarian Movements
Between 9th and 13th centuries, a new movment now known as Kashmiri Saivism
grew into prominence. It gained popularity in parts of northern India, especially
Kashmir, because of the teachings and compositions of eminent personalities like
Vasugupta, Somananda, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta and Kshemaraja. Kashmiri
Saivism follows Advaita or the philosophy of monism . It regards Shiva as the
Supreme Lord and the only reality by realizing whom people are liberated for ever
from their state of bondage to identity, delusion and karma. With its emphasis on
master (guru) and disciple relationship, awakening of kundalini energy and the
teaching of Pratyabhigna or realization of Shiva as one's hidden self, Kashmiri
Saivism caught the attention of many including some Buddhists and Muslims during
the medieval period.
Saiva Siddhanta was another school of Saivism that grew into prominence in
southern India. It was inspired by the compositions of the Nayanars and others like
Manikkavachakar, author of the famous Tiruvachakam (10th century) and
Mekyandar the composer of Shivajnanabodhanam (13th century). Saiva Siddhanta
school follows dvaita or dualism. It regards Shiva as the Supreme Lord of all but
acknowledges a marked distinction between the Supreme Self and the individual
selves. According to it, when individual selves are liberated from the bonds of
karma, egoism and delusion they do not merge with Shiva. They attain the same
consciousness as Shiva and continue to remain as free souls for ever.
In the 13th century another school of Saivism, known as Virasaiva movement rose
to prominence in Karnataka. It was influenced by the bhakti movement that swept
across the country during the medieval period. It was initiated by the legendary
religious leader Basavanna, who was not just a religious leader but a social reformer
also. He opposed the orthodox elements of society by castigating the prevailing
caste and gender prejudices and the excessive emphasis on rituals. Some of the
salient features of Virasaivism include the importance of guru, lingam, jangama
(wandering teacher), grace of God, holy ash, ruraksha beads and the sacred mantra
Om Namah Shivayah. For several centuries, followers of Vira Saivism continued the
ideas and ideals of Basavanna against heavy odds. The movement still enjoys good
following in the south.
Gorakshanatha school of Saivism is the most esoteric of all schools of Saivism. It
lays heavy emphasis on magical religious rituals of tantric nature verging on the
supernatural. They are kept mostly secret from the general public and revealed only
to the chosen few.Also known as Natha yoga sect , it was said to have been founded
originally by Matsyendranatha and brought to prominence by Gorakshanath who
lived in 12the century. Followers of this sect believe he is still alive physically
because of his supernatural yogic powers and makes himself visible occasionally to
a chosen few. They also believe that it is possible to prolong human life and even
achieve immortality in the physical body (kayasiddhi) through the practice hatha
yoga and self-control. They also practice magic and use certain chemicals and
substances to gain supernatural powers. These practices are usually kept secret
from the public. Gorakshanatha Saivism is a variation of the ancient Kapalika and
Kalamukha traditions. Conceptually it follows qualified monism, accepting Shiva as
both the transcendental and immanent reality. Followers of this sect indulge in
antisocial behavior purposefully to invite criticism and public ridicule.
Saivism In The Contemporary World
Although Saivism is probably the most ancient of all schools of Saivism and
contributed greatly to the development of the body of Hindu rituals which are now
practiced in most of the Hindu temples, presently it is not as popular as
Vaishnavism. According to some estimates almost two thirds of the Hindus are
followers of Vaishnavism and worshippers of Vishnu or his various incarnations and
aspects. It is true many Hindus worship several gods and goddesses nonexclusively.
But even while worshipping many deities, they will have faith in one family god
(kula devata) or favorite god (ishta devata). For many it is Vishnu or his various
incarnations.
Popularity wise, among the gods of Hindu trinity, Lord Vishnu enjoys considerable
following among the Hindus, probably because of his role as the preserver and
rescuer and his association with the goddess of wealth and his identification with
several popular incarnations who in many ways are perhaps more popular than he
himself. The popularity of Vishnu Puranas, the Bhagavadgita and the epics, the
Ramayana and the Mahabharata, also play a significant role in keeping his appeal
intact among the masses. The Ramayana and the Bhagavadgita are found in almost
every household and there is hardly any Hindu who is familiar with these texts.
Lord Shiva has immense appeal among the masses. But in comparison, he comes
next, with a devoted following that is probably less than one fourth of the devoted
following of Lord Vishnu. One may find solace in the fact that his position is better
than that of Brahma, who is not at all worshipped in the Hindu temples and who has
but a few temple existing in his honor. Lord Shiva is still a popular deity. He has
mass following throughout the length and the breadth of the Indian subcontinent.
There are a large number of temples build in his name. His children, Lord Ganesha
and Kumaraswami and his associate goddesses, have large following and are
immensely popular among the masses.
It is also true that many popular pilgrim centers of Hinduism such as Benares and
Amarnath and some most frequented temples of India such as the jyotrilingas and
the temples of Tanjore and Ujjain are associated with Lord Shiva only. Many ancient
temples of India are also Saiva temples only. However if people are asked to choose
between the two, people would perhaps choose Vishnu rather than Shiva. His
description as a destroyer, his fierce forms, his identification with the quality of
tamas, his formal association with grave yards, death and destruction and his role in
the practice of intense forms of tantric rituals and yogic practices and the rigors of
discipline expected of the followers of various schools of Saivism discourage many
people from entering into the various spiritual paths of Saivism. Today people
worship Shiva in his most benign forms. They visit his temples and offer him
prayers. They sing songs and bhajans extolling his virtues and qualities. But few are
familiar with the various schools of Saivism or the philosophical truths, concepts and
practices associated with them.
Suggestions for Further Reading

dwaita belief

Dvaita ( ) is a Sanskrit word that means "duality, dualism, doubt". ... The
Dvaita Vedanta school believes that God (Vishnu, supreme soul) and the
individual souls (jvtman) exist as independent realities, and these are
distinct.

How does Dvaita philosophy explain Moksha?

From what I've understood, Moksha means attaining union with the Supreme
Soul. But Dvaita philosophy says that the individual souls (jiivatma) are
different from the Supreme Soul (paramatma).

If jiivatma and paramatma are different, how exactly does the Dvaita theory
explains the attainment of moksha?

Followers of Madhvacharya, the chief exponent of Dvaita, do not believe in


Moksha as conventionally understood by other schools, where the jivatma
acheives unity with paramatma. In Madhva's view, the jivatma will always
remain distinct from paramatma; he believed that Mukti or salvation involved
the Vishnu's elevation of the jivatma to an exalted state where you are almost
(but not quite) equal to Vishnu himself, living in Vaikunta (the abode of Vishnu)
and experiencing eternal bliss. Here is how the Muktas (those who have
attained Mukti) are described in the Shrimadhvavijaya Mahakavya:
The liberated souls here [in Vaikunta] have four arms, lotus eyes, wear yellow
golden dresses and wear superior ornaments. They have effulgence like the
rising sun and the blue black colour of dark clouds (colour of Sri Narayana).
They sport here with bliss.... It is not only that the bliss of those who obtain
proximity with the Supreme Being is unmatched. The bliss of all those who,
after Mukti have reached Vaikunta, which exceeds the great qualities of other
worlds like that of Brahma etc. and cannot be secured by any one without
completion of their Sadhana to earn the grace of the God, is unmatched (in
accordance with their own worth).... There are no births, deaths or aging in
this place. The three kinds of suffering (Adhyatmika, Adhibhautika and
Adhidaivika) are not there. Thus, there can be no other kind of sorrow. There
are no defects (of character) like jealousy etc., as the root causes of such
defects the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas and Thamas) are not there. Though
the Mukta souls have their intrinsic gradation amongst themselves, they have
great mutual love for each other. They have realised that Vishnu is their
selfless benefactor (without any expectation of return) and have devotion to
the souls superior to themselves. They enjoy bliss always (which is part of
their own essential nature) up to the limits of their own complete satisfaction.
The Mukta souls are very beautiful, eternally young and wear Harichandana
paste with sweet scent on their bodies, which is red like the newly born moon.
They are fanned with attractive Chamaras by servants.
And here is how Madhva's view of Mukti is described in the book "The
Philosophy of Madhvacharya" by B.N.K Sharma (pages 473-475):

Madhva, therefore, lays, great stress on the survival of every individual


personality, as such, in release. This is the corollary of his belief in the
distinctiveness of the Svarupa of each Jiva. As release is the realisation of the
intrinsic bliss of selfhood by each one of us, it must be a positive experience,
to be felt and be realised by each and at the same time incommunicable to
others....
The Lord is pleased to lift the veil of His 'Maya' and manifest the true and
essential nature of the soul to it in full.... Madhva, therefore, regards Mukti as
a complete self- expression, self-manifestation and self-realisation, in short, a
complete unfolding of the self in all its promise and potency.... Madhva has left
us in no doubt as to the manner of life led by the freed souls in release. Like
the Lord, they are for ever contented.... Wisdom and enjoyment of perfect
bliss are their own nature.

Madhvacharya considers Jivas and God as eternally different. Thus an


Advaita style moksha is not possible. (In fact Dvaitins regard the Advaita
Moksha as destruction of the Jiva and thus to be avoided.)
Madhvacharya prefers Bimba-pratibimba (ray and its reflection) relation
between God and Jiva, where God is the original ray and the Jiva is the
reflection. The Jiva as a reflection of God is absolutely dependent on God and
also has some characteristics of God. Thus Jiva also has a conscious and
blissful nature which is masked by the oppressive influence of Karma but in
liberation expands to full capacity. But even in liberation there is no equality
between Brahman and Jiva. This is not the entire story.

Dvaita doctrine suggests that there are differences between the liberated
Jivas, i.e., liberated Jivas are not only not equal to God and also not equal to
each other.
According to dvaita philosophy, souls are eternal but are not created by
God, ... Madhwacharya's doctrine differed significantly from traditional Hindu
beliefs in

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