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Saivism or Saivadarsana, an ancient Indian system of

philosophy is deeply rooted in the remote antiquity. Philosophy

and religion though both of them have separate domains of their

own, converge harmoniously in Saivism. The earliest sprouts of

Saivism can be traced back to Indus Valley culture and it still

continues to inspire the masses in different parts of India and

abroad with its fascinating principles of monotheism. It is a

system of philosophy and religion rolled into one. Saivism could

also be viewed as a religious philosophy entering into the realm

of metaphysics. As a religious sect, Saivism is characterised by

the exaltation of Siva above all other Gods, the intensively

personal nature of the relation between Him and his devotees.

With its remorseless anti-vedic approach towards van}asrama-

dharma, it turned to be a popular religion throughout the length

and breadth of India. It stretches out across the sea to farther

Indus and the Archipelago and beyond the mountain to central

Asia.1 Still it serves as a source of inspiration to a vast majority

of people and as such it is a living religion with all its vigour and

vitality. Saivism is an important cult which claimed a large

number of adherents among the people in ancient lndia. 2 Even

in the days of the remote past, it was not confined to a particular

area, but it had spread far and wide from Kashmir to the extreme

South. The Agamasaiva-s however assumed local characteristics

in the extreme South and in the north western mountaineous

region of Kashmir. 3 It has millions of followers in all strata of

society all over India from Kedarnath in the Himalayas down to

Rameswaram in the South and from Pasupatlswaram in Nepal to

Somanath in the west coast of the Arabian Sea. 4

Saivism and Vai?r:1avism are the two major theistic Hindu

sects. They extended over the whole of India and across the sea
to Malay Archipelago and beyond the northern mountains to
Central Asia, though it is dominant over Southern Peninsula
including SrTlanka. Saivism has many philosophical stand points
common to Vai?r:1avism which is also an influential system of
philosophy and religion in India. Both of them propagate bhakti
as the only means to attain the Supreme goal of life, i.e.,
1Nilakanta Sastri, K.A., A Historical Sketch of Saivism, Cultural Heritage of India,
Vol. II, p. 18.
Pranabananda Jfsh, History of Saivism, Roy Chowdharin, Calcutta, 1974, p.1.
Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya, Forward to History ofSaivism, p.47.
Tagare, G.V. , Saivism, D.K. Printworld, New Delhi, 1996, Preface, p.v.

Liberation. Both Vai?i:,avism and Saivism do not recognise any

distinction based on caste, creed, or religion. In eradicating

caste distinction and other modes of exploitation both these

religions worked a lot. Saivism, anti-vedic in theory and practice,

challenged the vedic authority following Mahavira and Buddha.

The popularity of Saivism and Vai?t:1avism among the

masses created cleavages within the strong fortresses of

Hinduism and vedic religion.


Saivism is a religious concept and faith in which the object

of worship is Lord Siva. A system of Philosophy in Sanskrit is

called a darsana that provides a vision of the universe. It tries to

answer fundamental questions regarding the origin, development

and the final dissolution of the universe as put in the


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Taittiriyopani?ad, Chapter II[, Lesson 1.

Saivism answers these questions in terms of Siva. From

Siva all bhuta-s are originated. Siva causes the maintenance of

the bhuta-s and finally all bhuta-s dissolve into Siva. In Saivism

Lord Siva stands on a par with the concept of Bhrahman, the

Supreme Reality of the Advaitavedanta. Saivism had got so

many regional variations in course of time. As a result Siva­

worship flourished in different parts, varying in details with

regard to rituals and practices without deviating from the main

standpoints. It has a well- developed philosophy combined with

a practical method to attain the Supreme goal. Saivism thus

fulfils all the requirements to be considered as a system of


Generally Indian darsana-s are classified under two major

divisions: astika (orthodox) and nastika (heterodex). The

darsana-s which accept the vedic authority are called astika

darsana-s. The nastika darsana-s are purely anti- vedic. Manu

defines nastika thus .-Jlf«icb'I tj�f1--Gcf>:6 One who despises veda

is called a nastika. In short, the astika and nastika classification

is not based on the existence or the non- existence of the

Supreme Reality but on the basis of the acceptance and non

acceptance of the vedic authority. Since Saivism is more remote

Manu, Manusmrti, 2-2.

than the vedic literature, such a criteria cannot be applied in its


A classification of Darsana-s on the basis of materialism

and idealism appears more reasonable and scientific to a certain

extent. Idealism and meterialism are the two major streams of

thought of world philosophical tradition. The former considers

the entire universe as the manifestation of an idea which can be

described in terms of Brahman, God and the like. On the

contrary the latter counts matter as primary and the world as its

evolution. Development of philosophical thoughts is marked by

constant conflicts between idealism and materialism assuming

different forms in different countries. While it developed into

feudalism and capitalism in the West, it led to the emergence of

castes and sub-castes in the East. However, a consoling factor of

these conflicts is that they have activated thought process and

led to the development of knowledge.

Following the above observation it can be safely stated

beyond doubt that Saivism is an idealistic philosophy since it

takes Siva, having all auspicious qualities as the cause of the

origin, sustenance and final dissolution of the universe. Idealistic

Sisupala Panicker, V. Dr., Dvaita -Advaita polemics, Swantham Books, Trivandrum,
2004, p.77.

darsana-s are mostly spiritualistic in character. Saivism also

played its role properly in bringing about the spiritualistic

heritage of India. Dr Radhakrishnan asserts : Philosophy in India

is essentially spiritual. It is the intense spirituality of India and not

any great political structure or social organization that it has

developed, that has enabled it to resist the ravages of time and

accidents of history. 8 He continues: The dominant character of

Indian mind which has coloured all its culture and moulded all

its thoughts is the spiritual tendency. Spiritual experience is the

foundation of India's rich cultural history. 9 However, a series of

conflicts between materialism and spiritualism resulted in the

development of Indian Philosophy. 10

Different schools of Saivism have their own fundamental

works, mostly written in Sanskrit. Saiva Agama-s and Saiva

Siltra-s contain the sacred principles of Saivism. Saiva Agama-s

are held in high veneration equal to that of the veda-s, by the

adherents of Saivism. The Saiva system of philosophy is

generally known as Agama. The word agama means a

traditional doctrine or a system which commands faith.11 Saiva

Agama-s are believed to be the words which are directly

Radhakrishnan, S. Dr., Indian Philosophy, Vol. I, Bombay, 1983, p.24-25.
Ibid., p.41.
10 Damodaran. K., lndian1f10ught, Asia Publishing House, New Delhi, 1967, p.81.
Sivasutras, Tr. by Jaidev Singh, Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1979, p.4.

addressed to ParvatT by Lord Siva himself. 12 Saivasutra-s though

of later origin, carry the fundamental philosophy of Saivism and

are also in high esteem. Among the various schools of Saivism

some are monistic in its content and spirit. But Southern

schools are mostly dualistic in their approach. The influence of

tantricism is clearly visible in certain schools.


The term siva is derived from several roots having different

meanings. In the sense of one possessing an auspicious nature, it

is derived from the root ~ ~-(fuct Cf)(Yllloj ~ ~). In

the Sabdakalpadruma one of the mean ings given to the term Siva

is one who attenuates sin. (asubhavarakal)) cfW P1~II~, -W

Ci1\cp'{ul err ~ \!5IO'§\[j~ ~'+f+f). One possessing all sorts of

glory IS also called Siva. (~'-

31fUIJiI~£lIS15C'l "TTf= ~ ~) Siva always fulfils the desires of

His devotees. This aspect of Siva as a merciful God who is

always prepared to grant any boon for which prayers are offered

to Him is very well depicted in the Mahabharata and many

other Purana . -5. .

12 Pranabananda J~h, op.cit, p.13.

Later Siva, the God of an auspicious nature, was identified

with Rudra as a God of fury. The word Rudra is derived from the

root rud and it means one who causes misery to the demons or

sinners-'<lGll,ll'{j,'<li, q1r)-r1: '<IGllRI err. It is also explained as

w: , � �lcbl"1 �
'<i,lllY '(11'1 GGI RI . 13 In due course there arose a

synthesis of both Siva and Rudra. Vayavfyasamhitfi remarks:

siva represents the auspicious and dreadful nature of one and the

same God. Ancient men being frightened at the sight of dreadful

and destructive scenes of nature were forced to believe in a

supernatural and omnipresent destructive power. Later, the

dreadful nature of the divine power was viewed as a symbol of

its wrath. There arose the concept of Siva, the auspicious one, in

the place of the dreadful deity. This marks the beginning of the

worship of Lord Siva both as an embodiment of destructive

power, i.e., Rudra and a symbol of auspicious power, i.e., Siva.

Sankara, Sambhu, etc., are also used in the sense of Siva.

Satarudrf ya chapter of Yajurveda, Taittirfyararyaka and

Svetfisvataropani�ad extol Rudra and Paramesvara. But an

13 !Jgvedabha�ya, 1.114-3.
Cited by Sayar;ia in his bha�ya on Atharvaveda from Vayavfyasamhita, 2.27-6.

account of Pasupati is not at all seen in all these scriptures.

However, Atharvasiropani�ad elaborates the significance of

terms like Pasupati, Pasa, etc.

The sources of Saivism are to be found in the veda-s and

Saivagama-s in Sanskrit and Tamil works from the Sangham

period onwards. All Tamil works begin by saying that the

initiation of all sastra-s is to expand the nature of God, the

individual selves, and their bondage, which consists of three

elements of innate impurity, the world and Karma.

Vedic pantheon is mostly polytheistic in character. When

the multitudes of Gods caused much difficulty to the followers,

the Trimurti cult might have come into vogue. Brahma, who was

put in charge of creation was very powerful in the beginning and

later was pushed to an insignificant role. Vi�;r:iu, who was in

charge of sustenance later gained much significance, being the

hero of Vai?r)avism, the most popular sect of the modern India.

Siva put in charge of destruction and equal to Vi?r)U in

prominence occupied a lofty position in the puranic literature.

Sivapurfil)a-s speak high of Lord Siva, highlighting the auspicious

qualities of Siva. Sivapurfil)a exclusively, Kilrma and other

purfil)a-s partially extol the virtues of Siva. The Saiva Upani�ad-s,

Dravidian Encyclopaedia, vol. V, p.625.

mostly written on a later date, such as Ak�amalikopani�ad,

Atharvasikhopani�ad, Kaivalyopani�ad, etc., bringout the

greatness of Lord Siva. Svetasvataropani�ad is fully devoted for

the presentation of the Siva's greatness. Kumarasambhava of

Kalidasa clearly points out the greatness of Siva, as revealed in

the words of Parvatl-

x=r '41Ji '{tjq = fucr � ,;gcf1 4a

� � <IT��fqG: fi'l..-Jlfct:5..-J: 11

Kalidasa himself might have been an ardent follower of

Siva as evident by the references found in his works. His famous

drama, Abhijfianasakuntala commences with the nandisloka in

praise of Lord Siva. It runs:

m � x5f�"{1t11 � � m gfq<1f � �
<l � cnlc{ !CftITJ: �Rlfq�<1:Jio11 m � clllcll fcr� I

Kalidasa, Kumarasambhava, V-77.
Kalidasa, Abhijfianasakunta/a, Act I, Sloka 1.


Saivism, a system of philosophy and religion rolled into

one, is an important cult that claimed a large number of

followers in different parts of India. The origin of Saivism is

almost lost in obscurity and it can be traced to the hoary

antiquity. 18 Saivism with all its later developments ranging from

the idealistic monism of Kashmir to the pluralistic realism of the

South Indian regions has a glorious history of its own. The

contribution of Saivism to Indian life, culture, philosophy and

religion stands on a par with that of any other system of Indian

Philosophy. Thus the philosophy of Saivism, in this respect, has

been said to be typical of the entire range of Hindu thought. 19

For want of reliable sources it is difficult to assign a

particular date to the origin of Saivism. The historical origin and

early development of Saivism go back to at least the beginnings

of civilization in lndia. 20 One thing is definite that Saivism is one

of the oldest cults that originated in Indian soil. While it is

difficult to trace the origin of Saivism, scholars are of opinion

that two sources can be said to have contributed to its growth.

Pranabananda Jash, op.cit., p.15.
Suryanarayana Sastri, S. S., The Philosophy of Saivism, in cultural Heritage of India,
Vol. II, p.35.
20 Pathak, V.S., History of Saiva Cult in North India, Avinash Prakasan, Allahabad,
1980, p.XI.

One is Aryan or vedic and the other is Pre-Aryan. The complex

figure of Siva which harmonizes both the vedic and Dravidian

elements throws light on this dual development.

Pre-Aryan origin of Saivism deserves detailed examination.

The period of Indus Valley Civilization, that flourished before the

arrival of Aryans into India falls between 2500 B.C. to 3500 B.C.

It is reliably understood that Siva cult was popular during the

Indus Valley culture. People believed in a male deity who was

later identified with Siva of the vedic period. The archaeological

remains unearthed from the pre-historic sites of the Indus Valley

Culture prove the prevalence of this cult among the pre-Aryan

people of India.

Siva, the Lord of dancing, truely reveals the rhythm of the

origin and dissolution of the universe. The eternal rhythm of

evolution and destruction of the universe is exquisitely expressed

by the modern thinkers like Coomaraswamy. Indus valley people

were fond of music. Tradition associates each fine art with a

God. Music was the common fine art enjoyed by all irrespective

of age-young, and old alike. Dancing is always associated with

music. Dance performances accompanied by music might have

been offered to Gods. Music is the best offering to the creator of

21 John Marshall, Mohanjodaro and Indus Valley Civilization, Vol.!. p.48.

loveliness and grace of the world. So Siva might have been
associated with music too.

A thorough examination of the archaeological and literary

sources alone will enable us to reconstruct a comprehensive

history of Saivism in India. However, John Marshall strongly

asserts: Among the many revelations that Mohanjo-Daro and

Harappa have had in store for posterity, none is perhaps more

remarkable than the discovery that Saivism has a history going

back to the chalcolithic age or perhaps even further still and that

it thus takes its place on the most ancient living faith in the
world. Pre-Vedic Siva is represented as seated in a yogic

posture, surrounded by animals and as bearing three visible faces

with two horns on two sides of a tall head dress. However, a

Siva having two horns is hardly found in any of the scriptures or

pural)a-s of later days. But, on the score of the information on

Indus Valley Culture provided by the archaeologists one can

arrive at a conclusion that Siva and Saivism were popular in

India even before the arrival of Aryans.

22 Krishna Chaitanya, A New History ofSanskrit Literature, Manohar Book Service,

New Delhi, 1977, p.3.
23 Tagare, G.V., op.cit., 1996, p.6.

24 John Marshall, op.cit., vol.l, p.VII.

In the IJgveda, the most prominent among the veda-s, there

are references to Rudra. The word Rudra has generally been held

to come from the root 'rud' to cry and has been interpreted as

the 'Howler'. But the suggestion has also been made that it is

derived from 'rud' with the conjectural meaning 'to shine' or to

be ruddy, so that Rudra is the Red God. VajasaneyJsamhitfi

quotes Siva as an adjective or name of Rudra. This

identification of Siva with Rudra culminates in the later Saiva

Upani~ad-s particularly the Svetfisvataropani?ad. Here Siva is

described not as an epithet or attribute of Rudra, but Rudra Siva

as one God. The period witnesses the gradual decline of

polytheism and the emergence of monotheism. Keith rightly

remarks: The period of Brfihmal)a-s was one when the old

polytheism was in a condition of decline and the new faith

which presents itself in Indian religious history as Saivism was

gaining ground.

Rudra was a God of the frontier region and thus this God

naturally absorbed many characteristics of the pre-Aryan people

living on the other side of the Aryandom. Thus He came to be

regarded as the protector, and Lord of the animals or Pasupati, as

25 Tam Sivanamasi, Vajasaneyisamhita - 3-63.

26 Pranabananda Jcish, op.cit., p.1 .
27 Keith, A.B., IJgveda Brahmafla-s, p.26.

find it in the Satarudrfya, but the earliest trace of which is found

on the Indus seal. Beyond the frontiers of Aryandom, He was the

god of the dasa-dasyu-s, while a perusal of the Satarudrfya text

would reveal that Rudra was gradually being transformed into

the god of th ieves, robbers and wi Id tribes. But the vedic Vi~rJu

connected with Surya later on was Universally accepted as the

world preserver, while Rudra connected with Indra and Maruts

become the world - dissolver-Siva. Some scholars tried to trace

the origin of Saivism to the Vratya-s of eastern India. But they

did not get much appreciation since the Vratya hymns of ~gveda

record a particular religious practice in which Yoga plays an

important role. Besides the Vratya hymn is quite unconnected

with the Lord Siva.

ParJini in his monumental work on Sanskrit grammar,

A?tadhyayf refers to Rudra and his titles M[da, Bhava, and

Sarva. 29 Megasthanes had described the worship of a God in the

hill region, and that God had been identified with Siva, who was

otherwise called Girlsa or Giritra. Arthasastra of Kautalya also

28 Pranabananda Jash, op.cit., p.2.

29 Pat;lini, A~tadhyayJ, 1-49, II-53, IV-l00.

speaks of the construction of the shrine of Siva together with the

shrines of other deities in the centre of the city.3D

Mahabharata and Rarnayal)a bear clear references of the

worship of Siva. Balakal)da of Rarnayal)a contains reference to

Siva worship. Anusasanaparvan and Sauptikaparvan of the

Mahabharata give detailed accounts of Siva worship.31 In

Mahabharata Siva is described as a bestower of boons. Arjuna

secured pasupata weapon by worshipping Siva. KiratarjunJya

written by Bharavi describes how Arjuna acquired Pasupatastra

from Siva. In the Mahabha~ya Pataiijali refers to Siva and His

devotees as the Sivabhagavata-s. He also mentions different

names of Rudra-Siva Viz., Rudra, Siva, Girisa, Mahadeva,

Triambaka, Bhava and Sarva and used the word Saiva under

which the sectarian Siva-worshippers are generally known.

Again while commenting on Par)inian SLitra ;Jvikarthe

Capal)ye,33 Pataiijali explains: 3fllU<l ~,~iZI~ ~ -;:r RiCf(lI~

"fucr:, "fCP.-tr: 'R! ~ II ~ : ~ I f¢ Cf) 1'< 0 i l=J1t1 f5'< 0 1I1 ~

~ II '+l~"t1I'{j) -;:r ~ 1I1{fCldl: ~ ~2:lf{dl'{j)

~ I This passage distinctly refers to the prevalence ofthe

30 Kautalya, Arthasastra II Ch. IV.

31 Vyasa, Mahabharata, Anusasanaparvan, Ch.14, Sauptikaparvan, Ch.7.
32~ ~ ~ ftrcr~ -Mahabha?ya II, pp. 387-88.
33 . . Op.CIt.,
. V - 3 - 99 .

image worship of Siva, Skanda and Visakha. Besides, the

Maurya-s used to sell the image of Siva with a view to earn

money. The association of Skanda and Visakha with Siva

mentioned in the passage is probably due to the fact that Siva's

mythology was already much developed and His worship a

. 34
common practice.

Kal idasa, the great poet of poets was probably a Saiva and

he refers Siva in almost all his works. In Meghasandesa he refers

to the Mahakala temple and advises the cloud to visit there.

Abhijfianasakuntala begins with the benedictory verse in praise

of Siva. In the beginning of his monumental work Reghuvamsa

he praises both Siva and ParvatT as the father and mother of the
whole world. It indicates the high regard Lord Siva acquired

during his time. Kumarasambhava is wholly devoted to the

description of Siva and ParvatT. The prominence of Siva - Parvati

cult is also suggested here. Besides, the predominance of Siva

over Brahma and Vi?l)u is also noted here.

The prevalence of Saivism in the pre- historic age can also

be established on the basis of numismatic evidences. A bronze

seal unearthed from the Sirkap site of Indus culture contained the

34 Pranabananda Jash, op.cit., p.3.

35 CJTTT~ ~ CJTTr0>1R14'(j~
\JfTRf: ~ ~ 4Icld14x4.llCR1 II Reghuvamsa I-I

figure of Siva with the impression Sivarak~ita-s inscribed on one

side on Brahmi and Khar6~ti characters. It evidently shows that

Sivarak~ita was a devout follower of Siva as his name "0ne

protected by Siva" alone would suffice to indicate. 36 The bull as

Siva's symbol was represented on some of the early Yaudheya in

Arjunayana coins, while the trident (trisOla) was depicted on the

coins of Rudragupta, the Pancala king. Again the Pancala king

Dhruvamitra was also a staunch follower of Siva. Ku~ana coins

too contained the figure of Siva. ? As such the numismatic

evidences, as pointed out also suggest the popularity of Siva

worship in the early Christian era. The beginning of the Gupta

rule marked the decline of Buddhism and the reformation of

Hinduism. In due course Saivism also gained great prominence.

Gupta rulers dedicated cave temples to Siva and erected Siva-

liriga-s in different parts of the country. After the fall of the

Guptas the Maukhari-s who came into power in the Northern

India, also followed Saivism. In epigraphs they were called

Parama Mahesvara-s or the great 'worshippers of Lord Siva.

36 Comprehensive History of India II, pAD1 .

37 Pranabananda Jash, op. cit., p.3.


The worship of Liriga or Phallus was a common practice in

those days among the followers of Saivism. The antiquity of the

representation and worship of Rudra - Siva in the Phallic form is

proved by unimpeachable evidence of seals from Mohanjo-Daro

and other sites. Barth is of opinion that the origin of Liriga-

worship can be traced to the Dravidian races, or to the western

nations and perhaps to the Greeks.

The Liriga-worship was referred to in the ~gveda with

· 139
d Isapprova. It is interpreted that the aborigines who

worshipped the liriga were mentioned in the ~gveda. It does not

mean that the ~gvedic Aryans were linga worshippers. It is

assumed that the Indus people were liriga-worshippers in

general. Later Aryans absorbed this cult and gradually developed

a philosophy which totally denied the phallic character of the

linga. It is still doubtful when liriga worship was associated with

the worship of Phallus or generative organ symbolising a

Universal creative power. It is stated that the Buddhist stDpa-s

and the Vai~l)ava pillars like Garudadhvaja had influenced

Saivism in the making of liriga. In course of time, however, Iiriga-

38 John Marshall, op.cit., p.59.

39 f.?gveda, x- 99-3, VII- 21.5

worship came to be accepted as a usual practice among the

Saivites. Puranic works moulded several episodes praising Siva

and linga-worship with a view to popularise Saivism. In the

Brhatsamhita, varahamihira gives detailed instructions for the

construction of various types of liriga-s. The liriga form of

worship was in practice in the pre and post Christian era.

Lirigapurara/ Sivapurara/ Vayupurara/ and Brahmar9apurara

speak of liriga as a symbol of Siva. Some sort of philosophic

interpretations were given to the liriga in later purara-s. It may

therefore, be reasonable to surmise that phallic worship in the

pural)ic age came to be clothed with a mystic and philosophical

meaning and recognized as an inseparable part of the Saiva

re I··
Iglon. 40

In the light of the above discussions it can be assumed that

the liriga form of worship was prevalent among the pre- Aryan

people of the Indus culture. Secondly, though it was not

accepted by the Aryans during the early vedic period, it has got

inseparable connections with Siva from the time of Indus culture.

Thirdly, the abundance of materials, both literary and

archaeological, available disclose that liriga-worship formed an

important religious element in Aryan society in the early

40 Pranabananda jash, op.cit., p.l O.

centuries of the Christian era and from this period onwards the

conception of liriga was modified with the addition of some

philosophical tenets. 41

During the 6th century onwards different sects and systems

of Philosophy assumed independent existence having a long line

of followers and preceptors attached to each of them. In

Har�acarita Bal)abhana gives a list of Philosophers practising

their respective doctrines. While king Har�a was wandering

among the Vindhya forests, he finds seated on the rocks and

reclining under the trees Arhata/ begging monks, Svetapada-s/

Mahapasupata-s/ Pal)darabhik�u-s/ Bhagavata-s/ Varnin-s/

Kesa/uncana-s/ Lokayatika-s/ Kapila-s/ Kal)ada-s/ Aupani�ada-s/

lsvarakarin-s/ Dharmasastrin-s/ Paural)ika-s/ Saptatantava-s/

Sabda-s/ Pancaratrika-s etc., all listening to their own accepted

tenets and zealously defending them.42 Some of the schools

mentioned in the list such as Mahapasupata-s/ Bhagavata-s etc.,

can be identified with the different sects of later Saivism.


On the basis of the different forms of Siva - worship and

the ritualistic procedures, different sects and subsects were

Ibid, p.10.
42 Ba abha a, Har?acarita, p. 204.
r;i g

developed within Saivism in course of time. It is well known

that the various streams of Saiva tradition vary not only in

superficial externalities but also in their metaphysical points of

view. Some agama-s are dualistic while others are non­

dualistic.43 All sects believe in Lord Siva and they differ in modes

of worship. Brahmasiltra refers to them-the Saiva-s, the

Pasupata-s, the KarUIJikasiddhantin-s and the Kapalika-s.44

Bhaskaracarya on the same siltra also mentions these groups but

he reads Kafhakasiddhantin-s in lieu of KarwJikasiddhantin-s.

Vacaspatimisra in his commentary called Bhamatf also identifies

four sects of Mahesvara-s: the Saiva-s/ the Pasupata-s, the

KarwJikasiddhantin-s and the Kapalika-s. Ramanuja in his

Srfbha�ya enumerates the following four branches: Kapa/a/

45 th
Kalamukha/ Pasupata and Saiva. But Gui:1aratna, a 14 century

commentator of ,?acjdarsanasamuccaya of Haribhadrasuri

replaces Kapalika-s by a new name Mahavratadhara-s.

Vamanapura,:,a mentions four subsects: Saiva/ Pasupata/

Kaladamana and Kapalika. In short Saiva sects in the early

mediaeval period were divided into the following groups:

4 Pathak, V. S. ,op .cit., 1980, p.XII.
, "k ara, Bra hmasutra, 11- 2-37.
44 San
45 Ramanuja, Srlbhawa, II- 2.35.

- 22
1. The Siddhanta School or the ordinary Saiva-s who followed
the Puranic doctrines.

2. The Agamic Saiva-s

a) The Tamil Saiva-s or the Saiva sects of the Far South

b) The Lirigayats or the Vfra- Saiva-s

c) The Kashmfra Saiva-s

3. The Pasupata-s:

a) Kapalika-s

b) Kalamukha-s 46


Bhakti Movement, that started its victorious campaign in

the 7th century A.O. had its strong influence on all systems of
thought including Saivism. Bhakti movement did not admit any
sort of distinction in the name of caste, creed, and religion. Most
of the preceptors of the movement sprang mainly from the lower
strata of society. The movement became instrumental to bring
about a revolutionary change in Indian religious thinking. It was
also a revolt against tantric practices rooted in the vedic

46 Pranabananda Jash, op.cit. 11

The term bhakti is usually used to express love. The

religious attitude of bhakti includes a personal God to whom

love and devotion are showered . The best description of bhakti

includes interpersonal participation and communion between

god and man in mutual love and surrender. The god showers

His grace and compassion to all. But He is very particular to His

devotees. God is the object of bhakti. The reciprocity of the

surrender of love forms the basis of the Bhakti theology. Bhakti

always entails atheistic attitude with strong leanings towards

. I monot h e,sm.
pract,ca .


Tantra in fact enunciated a new form of Sadhanfi or

technic in which one finds the Karma of the Veda-s, the jfiana of

the Upani�ad-s/ and the Bhakti of the Purara-s/ and the great
epics. In the present age the term Tantra is used to denote a

class of literature dealing with mystical and magical worship of

various deities.

The term agama is believed to be that class of Tantra

which is addressed to ParvatT by Siva, where as Nigama refers to

words spoken by ParvatT to Siva. The words are supposed to be

Mariasurai Dhavamony, Love of Cod According to Saiva Siddhanta, p.43.
Ibid, p.23.
Brahma, N.K., Philosophy of Hindu Sadhana, p. 274.

formed by the initial letters of agata/ gata and mata, on the one

hand and nirgata/ Girfsa and mata on the other. 50 Pasupata

Saivism is mainly depended on agama-s and hence called

Agamanta Saivism. Agamanta Saiva-s differ from vedanta Saiva-s

who depend mainly on Veda-sand Upani�ad-s. They take the

agama-s as the direct revelations from Siva and hence they are

more authoritative than Veda-s. Vedantasaiva-s attach more

importance to Van;,asramadharma and Sm.rti rules.

The 18 Agama-s which describe the doctrines of the

Pasupata school had undoubtedly come into existence in the

Gupta period. With the popularity of the Tantra-s, the number of

these Saiva-agama-s had been increased into 28; and the added
ten texts were designated as Yamala-s. In the first centuries of

the X'ian era, the 18 Saiva-agama-s were evolved and grew.

They are Vijaya/ Nisvasa/ Svayambhuva/ Vatula/ Vfrabhadra/

Raurava/ Makuda/ Vfresa/ Chandrahasa/ Jfiana/ Mukhabimba/

ProdgitfL Lohita/ Siddha/ Santhana/ SarvodgitfL Kirara/ and

Paramesvara. The ten yamala-s which were probably composed

between 6th and 9th centuries are as follows: Rudra-yamala/

Kardayamala/ Brahmayamala/ Vi�[luyamala/ Yamayamala/

Vayuyamala/ Kuberayamala/ lndrayamala/ Pingalayamala and

so Bagchi, P.C., Studies in the Tantras, p.18.

Jayadradhayamala. Each of these Agama-s is then attended by a

group of Upagama-s, the total number contained in the list

amounts to 198.


Saivism is not a single cult, but a federation of allied cults,

whose practices range from the serenest form of personal life in

the faith to be the most repulsive excesses that alienate one's

sympathy for the cult. Pural)a-s divide Saivism under three

heads: Vedic, Tantric, and Mixed. In the mixed school of

Saivism, the main deity Siva was worshipped along with other

four gods, viz., Ravi, Sakti, Vighnesa and Janarddana. 53

Kilrmapural)a gives a detailed account of the major three

categories of Saivism as follows.

51 Pranabananda Jash, op.cit. p.l 3.

52 Nilakanta Sastri, K,A. .op.cit., the cultural Heritage of India,
Vol. IV-Ramakrishna Missio"n Institute, Calcutta, 1965, p. 63.
53 Pathak, V.S., op.cit, p.2.

The followers of the Tantrika School bear heated linga, the

triad, etc., always with them. The Vaidikasaiva-s carry with

them the linga, the sacred bead and they apply the holy ashes on

their body. Those who come under the mixed category, i.e.,

Vaidika and Tantrika-worship, Siva along with other four gods,

Viz., Ravi/ Sakti/ Vighnesa and janardhana.

Vaidika School appears to be the same as LakulJsa

Pasupata, where as Tantrika School was perhaps constituted by

Kalfinana/ Kapalika and other extreme sects. It may however be

noted that even Lakulisa Pasupata is originally Agamic. But it is

described in the purar)a-s as vedic, because it is comparatively

more orthodox than the other categories and in the beginning it

recognized the vedic institution of Var[1a.

Vamanapura[1a enumerates four schools as Saiva-s,

Pasupata-s/ Kalavadana-s/ and Kapalika-s.

It is said:

Vacaspatimisra recognizes four schools such as sarva-s/

Pasupata-s/ Karu[1ika-s and Kapalik-s. But some South Indian

inscriptions refer six schools as Bhairava/ Vama/ Kalamukha/

Mahav.,rta/ Pasupata and Saiva.


Since Saivism has got a lot of regional variations it is very

difficult to collect the original characteristics of Saivism. Though

worship of Siva is the central theme of all sects and sub-sects of

Saivism, the practices and the methods to attain Siva-hood differ

considerably from one another. The special features given by

K.A. NllakaQtha Sastri are given below.

The characteristics of Saivism consist the exaltation of Siva

above all other gods, the highly concrete conception of the deity,

and the intensely personal nature of the relation between Him

and His devotees. These traits are most clearly seen in the

Svetasvataropani?ad, a treatise which resembles the

Bhagavadgfta in many ways, but seems to have been the work of

an earlier age. Just as the Gha voices the intense theism of

Vai?navism in very general terms, and in close relation to broad

philosophical principles so does the Svetasvatara expound the

supremacy of Siva as the result of the theistic strain of thought

developed in the Upani?ad-s. On the one hand, Siva is here

identified with the eternal absolute. There is no form of Him

whose name is Supreme celebrity.54 On the other hand, He is the

God of Gods, potent for good and evil. He is Girlsa, He holds

the arrow in His hand ready to shoot: He is the great master

(lsana) the giver of boons, the origin of Gods, Rudra, the great

seer, the Supreme Lord (Mahesa) and so on; and His nature is

clearly revealed in the repetition of the \3.gvedic prayer to Rudra

imploring Him to accept the havis (oblation) and spare the lives

and property of the worshipper and His kindred. He is attained

by true tapas (austerity) and then comes the removal of the

bondage. There is nothing else to be known and there is no other

way. The end of the Upani~ad-s differs from the rest of it in its

style and is most probably a later addition. A man would sooner

be able to roll up the ether like a skin than reach the end of
sorrow without the knowledge of the Lord. Intense devotion to

the Lord and equal devotion to the Guru constitute the essential
preliminaries to a realizer of the true path. All the major

doctrines of Saivism are put in brief. Further growth of the creed

meant only the elaboration of the details of the doctrine and the

54 CHI,IV-19.
55 Ibid,VI-20.
56 Ibid, VI-23.

rise of local variation in the practice of the cult, leading to the
formation of different schools or sub sects.


Saivism, an idealistic and theistic system of philosophy had

developed a strong leniency towards ViSi~tadvaita formed by

Ramanuja, who propagated bhakti and prapatti as unfailing

means to attain liberation. The various philosophic doctrines

commonly understood as falling under Saivism also differ one

another even in fundamental concepts like the identification of

Siva with a personal God or a super-personal Absolute, the

relation of Siva with the souls and the state of soul in union with

Siva. It is usually believed that what is known as Kashmir

saivism is monistic, while Southern Saivism is pluralistic. But

5.5. SDryanarayaf)a Sastri observes: Between the idealist non-

dualist school of Saivism developed in Kashmir and the realist

pluralist Saiva doctrine that has grown in South India, there is

considerable agreement In externals, but difference In


57 Nilakantha 5astri, K.A., op. cit.,. p.63.

58 Visi?tfidvaita in History of Philosophy, Eastern and Western, Chapter XIV, p.51.
59 Murugesa Mudaliar, N., The Relevance ofSaiva Siddhfinta PhilosophYt Annamalai
University, 1979, p.59.
60 5uryanarayana 5astri, 5.5., Collected Papers, Madras University, p.148.

Northern commentator of Kashmirsaivism like

Ramakal)tha, Narayaf)akaf)!ha and others are said to be Saivities,

not of the monistic school but of the pluralistic school. It also

sails close to the theistic monism of Sivadvaita of Srikan!ha.

However, different sects and sub-sects of Saivism with slight

differences were located in different parts of India. Dasgupta

writes: The Agamic Saivism belongs principally to the Tamil

country, the Pasupata to Gujarat and Pratyabhijna to Kashmir

and the northern parts of India. The Vfrasaivism is found mostly

· . 61
among t he Kanareese spea k mg countnes.


Saivism also envisages liberation as the final end of life.

Among the paths that lead to liberation, Saivism postulates

mostly bhakti along with jnana. Realisation is not the monopoly

of any mode or path. It may come through spiritual intuition, or

through the melting of the heart in devotion or through self-

surrender in service.

It is said that ancient Saiva saints like Kaf)f)appa, got

liberated through deep bhakti. Kaf)f)appa, a hunter who melted

his heart in love for God enshrined on the lonely hill at

61 Dasgupta, S.N., A History ofIndian Philosophy, Vol. V, Cambridge University Press,

1955, p.18.

Kalahasti, pulled out his eye when he found blood trickling

down from one of the eyes of the deity and when he noticed the

same in another eye and proceeded to pull out his other eye, the

God appeared and stopped him. By his love he attained

realisation in six days. The melting of the heart in love is not less

noble than the expansion of it in wisdom; and the transcendence

of the gulf between Karta and Karma in action is not less

noteworthy than the transcendence (doer and the deed) of that

between seer and seen in knowledge jfiatr and jfieya. The unity

appears and breaks through multiplicity every movement in

emotion and violation no less than in intellection. One of these

is not more sacrosanct than the other. 62 Saivism holds that even

the jfvanmukta should continue the adoration of God in temples

and symbols of His devout servants till the fall of his mortal

body. So Saivism as a system of philosophy and religion tried to

establish integrative synthesis between emotion and


Sarikara, the founder of Advaitavedanta introduced jfiana

as the only means to attain liberation. However, he prescribed

62 5astri. 5. 5., op.cit., p.72.

63 Murugesa Mudaliar, N., op. cit., p.17l.

bhakti to those who are not capable to follow the path of
knowledge. He observes:

Saivism does envisage complete identity of the supreme

Soul and the individual soul as put forward by the Advaitins. But

according to Saivism liberation is granted as the grace of God

when the worshipper proves his eligibility through devotion and

knowledge. The term Sivoham does not mean complete identity

but dependence and self surrender.

In mukti, the soul is really only the servant of God, but is in

ineffable union with it. Just as iron becomes one with the fire

when it reaches the stage of red hotness, so also the soul will

become merged in the Divine Light. In this state the Lord

becomes the in-dwelling spirit of the soul in its human condition,

so also the soul should become one with Him by perceiving its

actions to be the action of the Lord. This is the stage which is

spoken of as the union at the feet of God. Sri Aurobindo writes:

The first true formation (of a liberated soul) takes the shape of a

64 Sarikara, Vivekacudamani, Khanda VIII, Sioka 31.

spiritualisation of our natural activities a permeating influence on

them or a direction. The last or the highest emergence is the

liberated man who has realised the self and spirit within him,

entered into cosmic consciousness, passed into union with the

Eternal and so far as he still accepts life and action, acts by the

light and energy of the power within his working through his

human instruments of nature. The largest formulation of this

spiritual change and achievement is a total liberation of soul,

mind, heart and action, a casting of them all into the sense of the
cosmic self and the Divine Reality. By the grace of God the

devotee enjoys complete bliss when he is liberated. In Saivism

liberation is not a negative concept but something positive.

Sivapurara emphasizes bhakti as the royal path that leads

to liberation. Bhakti alone, not mere penance, vows, discipline

etc. is the secret of spiritual success. The faith or devotion can

be attained by following the natural d4ties.

Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Grey Stone press, New York, 1949, p. 784.
Sivapurana, Uttarabhaga - 20-59.

As a matter of fact, the grace of Lord Siva is produced out

of devotion and the devotion is produced out of grace. Just as a

tree grows out of a seedling and a seedling out of a tree.

~ ~ '{i ~ t5 'hi;Q I <Jm1 oR! Jj)iZ/ d

J;HiIGI~C1 W ~ >l'{il~1 ~ 11 67

At the end of the long process of bhakti and meditation,

the devotee is Iiberated and becomes equal to Siva.

But Lingapura(1a proposes Yoga as an unfailing means to

attain liberation. Sivapura(1a also endorses Yoga method, but

attaches a secondary importance to it. Lingapura(1a draws the

eightfold Yoga system directly from Pataiijali. But Sivapura(1a

adopts only six kinds of Yoga leaving Yama and Niyama.


Saivism admits a personal God, under whose dispensation

the creation, sustenance and destruction of the world are taken

place. God is full with compassion and kindness. Theistic

Saivism conceives God as a moral governor who guides all

activities of the world. Creation of the world is treated as a sport

of Siva. It is not merely a sport but an act of grace for souls to

67 Ibid- 20-65.

fulfil their destiny and God in his dispensation is strictly guided

by the merit or demerit of the souls which enjoy or suffer

according to them. Saivism does not look upon God as an

automatic dispenser of the results of Karma but as one who in his

final stage of mukti by the power of His grace invalidates the

remnant effects of do~a. Hence God as a moral governor is not

limited into His omnipotence. In otherwords the soul instead of

identifying itself with the modes of the earth identifies itself with

the modes of the spirit. In this way the prarabdhakarma which

otherwise will continue interminably, completely loses its force,

the soul assumes the form, the nearness and union with the Lord,

which are called the Sarupya/ SamJpya/ Sa/okya and Sayujya. In

the Sayujya state of realisation complete identity is not intended.


Siva - worship must have been adopted at least a section of

people even before the time of Atharvaveda. In the epic age

Saivisim and Vai~l)avism had taken deep roots in the soil as

bhakti cult. Sayal)amadhava enumerates three categories In

Saivism/ viz. Pati/ Pasu and pasa. Among them pati is the most

important category which is nothing else but Lord Siva.

68 Aurobindo, op. cit., p. 164.

Sivagrayogin of Tamil Saivism offers a new interpretation

to the term pati stands for Pasupati, the whole name being

apprehendIJ.9through a part there of, even as Indra means

Devendra. Pasupati means Lord of the souls - q~!,,"1i ~


The individual soul is called Pasu and it is beginningless

and associated with Arava or impurities - (~ ~cq'{illlJllq)

Pasa is so called because it beginninglessly binds and

limits the pervasive intelligence of souls. Pasa is the common

name for arava/ Karma and maya. (6f.-tl"iI(;""qI~IJj)ilId).

Referring to three, instead of one bondage IS not a

figurative assumption. Because arava obstructs the omniscience

of the soul, it is pratibandha. Karma ceaselessly follows the soul,

directing it towards enjoyment of pleasures rather than

attainment of release. Hence it is anubandha. Maya limits the

69 Madhava, SDS, Chowkamba, 1964, p.322.

pervasIveness of the soul making it partial. It is therefore
Sambandha. Predomination of Pati is established since Pasu-s

or individual souls are dependent on Pati and Pasu-s are devoid

of intelligence. Pati is independent and sentient. Pasu-s are

sentient but not independent. Pasa-s are totally insentient.

>f2Pi :!~ ~ I: 1 =il d ~ C"Cl '{i ItI J=\Q kl q ~J:11

ql~II~IJi;fl ~ ~ ~ 1

The Saiva-s have considerable resemblance to the Theistic

Sarpkhya; they hold that God, Souls, and matter are from eternity

distinct entities, and the object of philosophy is to disunite the

soul from matter and gradually to unite it to God. Siva is the

Chief deity of this system and the relation between the three is

quaintly expressed by the allegory of a beast, its fetters, and its

owner. Pasupti is a well known name of Siva, as the master or

creator of all th ings. 72

Lord Siva is called Paramesvara or the Supreme Lord

endowed with the power of creation etc. In fact God is the

universal agent under whose direction all human beings act. It is

70 Devasewapati, V.A. , Saivasiddhanta, University of Madras, 1996, p.69.

71 Madhava, op. cit.., p. 322.
72 50S., English Translation by E.B. Cowell and Gough. Parimal publishers, Delhi,

wisely said: The ignorant jivatman unaware of its own true

pleasures or pain, if it were only Gods direction (and its own

merits not taken into account), would always go to heaven or


~ ,jF~'Fn~nS\qJiI,Ji1: '{j~<i:~lll: I

~~ ~ IiUC1, x:crt err ~'Wfq err I ,73

God's omniscience can be proved from his being identical

with everything and also from the fact that an ignorant being

cannot produce a thing. It is said by Mrgendra thus: He is

omniscient from his being the marker of all things, for it is an

established principle; that he only can make a thing who knows

it with its means, parts and end.

It must be understood that the word Siva includes in its

proper meaning lithe Lord', all those who have attained the state

of Siva, as the Lord of the Mantra-s/ Mahesvara/ the emancipated

souls who have become Siva-s, and the inspired teachers

73 Vyasa, op.cit., 111- 1144.

74 Madhava, op.cit., p.161 .

( Vacakas) together with all the various means such as initiation,

etc. for attaining the state of Siva.

� � �lq�l�.--J �lqfcllflr'I.--Ji '·F·51J-I§�, l-ffl°�'<�tlilf'-1-

�lq1.--Ji •{iq li.1451.--Ji �lqfc:15,l l�'<!i ltR--1" cfta-1l�--l141�45c11q1 W


Saivism a system of Philosophy and Religion originated in

India in the remote past and developed with several

characteristics, is still functioning as a source of inspiration to

millions of people in the country and abroad alike. Its glory has

not ceased with the past, but continues even today. Such has

been the vitality of the religion that it has given rise to numerous

sects, differing from each other in matters of detail but agreeing

in the fundamental belief in Lord Siva. Thus we find all shades

of differences in the exposition of the Saiva philosophy, ranging

from the idealistic monism of the Kashmir School to the

pluralistic realism of the Saivasiddhanta. The philosophy of

Saivism, in this respect, has been said to be typical of the entire

range of Hindu thought. 76

Ibid, p.163.
Devasenapati, V.A., op. cit., p.1.

It is not merely a system of philosophy but it is a religion as

well. As a religious sect and as a philosophy it cannot be viewed

historically as two parallel lines of development. One finds in

Saiva literature from the earliest periods - a blend of theistic or

devotional aspects as wel I as the metaphysical ideas of Saiva
religion. Similarly development of Saivism in the North and in

the South cannot be considered as mutually exclusive for

reference to Siva and Siva worship are found in the earliest

Sanskrit as well as in Tamil literature. 77

Saivism is one of the earliest systems of Indian Philosophy,

deeply rooted in Indian soil from the very beginning. No other

system can claim such an antiquity as Saivism does. Saivism

gradually acquired great popularity owing to its simplicity and its

monotheistic approach. Bhakti movement that inspired large

masses gave a new direction towards India's renaissance

movement in the later centuries. The leaders of this movement

mostly hailed from the lower strata of society. It paved the way

in reducing the caste distinctions and other inequalities to a great

extent. The social philosophy of Saivism is more agreeable than

that of any other systems in India.

77 Dravidian Encyclopedia, op.cit, p. 628.

It also covers all usual topics of philosophy such as

Supreme Soul, individual soul, the world, liberation, etc. The

interpretation on these topics are purely independent and free

from outside influence to a great extent. Saivism is not at all a

topic for intellectual discourse but it is a way of life to be put in

practice. As a whole Saivism appears not just one system among

others, but the system of par excellence.


Saivism originated in the period of Indus Valley civilization

and later developed considerably during the vedic period. It

continued its expansion incorporating philosophical ideas of

other systems of Philosophy. Other orthodox darsana-s also

enriched themselves with the philosophical Principles of

Saivism. It closely agrees with the Samkhya in its dogmatics and

with the Yoga School in its practical discipline. Even the founder

of the Vaise?ika philosophy is reputed to have entered on his

work after securing the grace of Mahesvara by his excellent

Yoga. Haribhadra, an early Jaina writer states that the followers

of Gautama and Kal)ada were Saivas. 79 But the affiliation of

Saivism with these systems of thought and discipline was

78 Devasenapati, V.A., op. cit., p.1.

79 Bhandarkar, R.G., Vai~fJavism, Saiviasm and Minor Religious systems, p.117.

apparently no more than a passing phase, for the tendency of

Saivism, in its later history, was to develop along peculiar lines

of its own.

The Mahabharata contains several passages attesting the

spread of Saivism and its increasing hold on society. Kr~r)a

himself figures as the chief devotee of Siva, and true to the

injunction that" Illumination comes through the teaching of the

Guru", he is initiated into Siva-Yoga by Upanayana. "Equipped

with a staff, shaved, clothed with rags, anointed with ghee, and

provided with a girdle, living for one month on fruits, for four

months on water, standing on one foot, with the arms aloft, he,

at length, obtained a glorious vision of Mahadeva and his wife,

whom all the gods were worshipping, and among them Indra,

Vi~r)u and Brahma, all uttering the rathantara Saman. 80


Mysticism in Saivism is not a sentimental one, but it is an

integral part of its philosophy. Mysticism is a word ill favoured

by the rational ist as well as by the dogmatic theologicians . It is

criticized as a tendency to see all things cloudily in a golden

light or sentimental haze, to justify the habit of human mind to

entertain contradictory beliefs at the same time to exalt

80 Nilakaltha Sastri, K.A., op.cit., Vol. IV. p.68.

confusion of thought. Mysticism is none of these. It is the
admission of mystery in the universe. There is no mystery in

Siva's final grace because everything from creation to dissolution

and concealment are all aspects of His anugraha. Siva's five

actions are called anugraha, which we have often translated as

in the absence of a better word as Grace. In reality it means

God's Power that manifests itself in all worldly phenomena

leading to bondage and liberation everything depending on the

Karma of the individual. 82

Saiva ethics is based on hita and ahita and it gives due

importance to Karma and causality. It is based on absolute

standards and there is no expiation by rituals and ceremonies.

The fruits of Karma are regarded as bond and their repeal does

not consist in giving up desire as in BhagavadgJta, but in basing

all actions in love. This reveals some sort of social, philosophical

and religious ethics. Saivism makes no distinction between the

secular and the sacred because all actions should be love -based

and God- centred. 83

In the modern age that witnessed the rise of socialism and

the abolition of imperialism, Saivism acquired greater

81 Radhakrishnan, 5., Eastern Religions and Western Thought, Oxford University Press,
82 Das Gupta,S. N., op.cit., p.161.
83 Murugesa Mudaliar, N.,op. cit., p. 232.

importance, since it views the service to mankind as more

desirable than service to God. Saivism conveys the message of

love and compassion that transcend the barriers of caste, creed,

and religion. The cosmopolitan outlook of Saivism really

encourages the progress of the nation and the entire mankind.

Saivism views Siva as love and both Siva and love are

inseparable. A Saivite cannot love God without loving his fellow

men. Saivism as rei igion of love and tolerance carries great

significance in the present Indian context which is cruely

tormented destructive activities of religious fundamentalists and

the black forces of national disintegration.


ViriJpak~apancasika, a metaphysical work of great rarity

closely follows the tenets of Kashmir Saivism as described by

Sayal)amadhava in his Sarvadarsanasangraha. The work was

edited based on two palm leaf manuscripts written in Malayalam

characters by Prof.T.Ganapati Sastri, the then Curator of the

Manuscripts Library, Thiruvananthapuram. Nothing is definitely

known about the author ViriJpak~anathapada. Vidyacakravartin,

an ardent follower of Saivism wrote a learned commentary on it.

ViriJpak~apancasika containing principal principles of Kashmir

Saivism is written in the verse form. The entire thoughts are put

in fifty verses and hence it is called paficasika. Since the subtle
metaphysical thoughts are compressed in these verses, it is not at

all easy to comprehend their inner significance even with the

help of the learned commentary of Vidyacakravartin. However,

no further studies have been carried out on this work in these

centuries. In this context my humble attempt to carry out a

thorough study and bring out the philosophical excellence of

Virilpak�apaficasika is quite relevant.


Saivism, a system of philosophy and religion, rolled into

one is deeply rooted in Indian soil, since the period of Indus

valley civilization. The remnants of Indus valley culture

unearthed by Sir John Marshall had brought to light the

popularity of the religion in the remote past. It was not limited to

a particular area but to different regions of India extending from

Kashmir to Kanyakumari. But its origin is still lost in the hoary

antiquity. Saivism or Saivadarsana attracted large number of

followers from all walks of society by means of its simplicity and

its mono-theistic approach towards the Supreme truth. It also

fulfil all the requirements to be considered as a traditional

darsana. It aims at the liberation of mankind from ignorance and

sufferings through the means of bhakti and knowledge.

Eventhough it does not accept the vedic authority it follows the

principles laid down in the Saiva-Xgama-s which are treated on

a par with the veda-so However, it exalts Lord Siva above all

other Gods, making it as an idealistic system of philosophy.

Without deviating from the fundamental principles

Saivism developed into various schools in the different parts of

India. In the extreme North it came to be called Kashmir Saivism,

where as in the South it turned to be called Siddhanta Saivism. In

Kanarese, Andhra, and Gujrat it took the form of Vlrasaivism

otherwise called Lingayat-s. Pasupata-s/ Kapalika-s/ Kalamukha-s

are a few among several sub-sects that developed in various

parts of Ind ia.

The word Siva can be derived from the root. ~, ~, ftr

f.1~I1~ and W dlCbQul lOne who brings something auspicious
having removed all sins and sufferings can be called Siva. Vedic

Rudra is treated on a par with Siva.

Two theories have been put forwarded to explain the

origin of Saivism , viz. Pre-vedic and vedic. Pre-vedic theory

points to the Indus culture. Vedic origin refers to the hymn

addressed to Rudra. However, Rudra theory is held equally

important along with the pre-vedic concept.

Both Vi~':lavism and Saivism, being pluralistic schools of

thought gave a strong support in bringing about the modern

renaissance movement in India, which had put to light the

concept of equality, fraternity and Secularism. Saivism served a

lot in warding of social evils such as castism, untouchability etc.

Later Saivism, particularly Kashmirsaivism was fully

influenced by the non-dualistic theory of Advaita vedanta.

Influence of Advaitavedanta on Saivism is an interesting topic to

be studied in detail. There is a vast literature in Sanskrit, Tamil

and other vernaculars to the credit of Saivism. Tamil A/wars,

Nayanars and Kashmiri writers like Abhinavagupta made original

contribution to this branch of learning. Saivism, an idealistic and

theistic system of philosophy developed a strong affinity towards

VaiSi~!advaita and Dvaita school of UttaramJmamsa philosophy.

Saivism also admits emancipation as the final end of life

which can be attained through spiritual intuitions or melting of

heart in devotion to God or the self-surrender in service to Him.

In mukti, the soul really acts as the servant of God but it is in

inseparable union with it. Complete identity of the Supreme Soul

and the individual soul is not intended. Saivism accepts four

stages of mukti/ Salokya/ Samfpya/ Sarupya and Sayujya.

It accepts a personal God under whose dispensation

creation, sustenance and destruction of the world are taken

place. God is full with compassion and kindness. The concept of

God is identified with the concept of Lord.

As a system par excellence, Saivism still serves as a source

of inspiration to millions of people in and around India. The

Renaissance Movement that brought about radical changes in

the society owes much to Saivism and Vaig1avism.

Saiva ethics is based on hita and ahita and it gives due

importance to Karma and causality. It envisages equality and

unity and hence it makes no distinction between secular and the

sacred. Besides, the social outlook of Saivism giving stress on

universal love and compassion it is also relevant in the modern

age of Socialism.

Virilpak�apaficasika written by Virupak�anatha, in fifty

verses is an authoritative work on Saivism. It closely follows the

main tenets of the Pratyabhijfia school of Kashmir Saivism. Very

little is known about the author. Even with the help of the

learned commentary composed by Vidyackravartin, the treatise

remains too difficult to comprehend. No further studies have

been carried out on this work. Hence, a deep study to highlight

the philosophical excellence of Virilpak�apaficasika is relevant.