Saiva Siddhanta or Siddha Shaivism
Shaiva Siddhanta is a more traditional form of Shaivism, with its roots in
the early Bhakti movement, which took roots in the post Mauryan period. It
played an important role in the rise of Shaivism as a major sectarian movement
within the historic Vedic fold and the present-day Hinduism. Its philosophy and
practice are derived mainly from the Vedas and the Vedic Agamas.
Unlike Kashmiri Shaivism, Shaiva Siddhanta or Siddha Shaivism is a dualistic
philosophy (dvaita), which recognizes a subtle distinction between Shiva, the
lord of the universe and jiva, the embodied soul. Shiva is the controller, the
lord (Isvara), the husband (pati). Bound souls are subject to limitations caused
by the impurities of the mind and body. They can gain liberation only through
the grace of Shiva, which they can earn through their knowledge, service,
devotion, purification and practice of various yogas. The the goal of Shaiva
Siddhanta is to become an enlightened soul through Lord Shiva's Grace.
Shaiva Siddhanta was once practiced all over India. During the medieval
period as large territories of North India came under the Muslim rule, the sect
moved its base to the South, where it interacted with the Tamil Shaiva Bhakti
movement as expressed in the devotional renditions of Nayanars. It is in this
historical context that Shaiva Siddhanta is commonly considered a "southern"
tradition, one that is still very much alive. The Tamil compendium of devotional
songs known as Tirumurai, the Shaiva Agamas and "Meykanda" or "Siddhanta"
Shastras, form the scriptural canon of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. Currently
Shaiva Siddhanta has a strong presence in the South, with Tamil Nadu and Sri
Lanka accounting for ten million adherents. It has thousands of active temples
there and numerous monastic and ascetic traditions, along with its own community
of priests, the Adishaivas, who are qualified to perform Agama based Shaiva
Siddhi means perfection or accomplishment. Siddhanta literally means reaching
the end of perfection or accomplishment, which in this case is liberation or
nearness (samipya) to Shiva. Shaiva Siddhanta is that body of knowledge which
provides the aspirants with the means to attain or accomplish that perfection.
Saiva Siddhanta is not a speculative theory, but a settled, established or
validated doctrine or perfected knowledge, which is bound to produce results if
it is correctly practiced under the guidance of an adept guru. Therefore,
initiation into the path by a guru is an important part of the tradition. Siddha
Shaivism or Shaiva Siddhant can be translated as "the settled view of Shaiva
doctrine" or "perfected Shaivism."
The origins of the school are unknown. The early Śaiva Siddhānta might have
developed somewhere in Northern India as an independent body of knowledge around
the notion of a ritual initiation which through transformative practices led to
liberation. In the formation of its theory and practice, earlier forms of
Shaivism such as the Pashupata Shaivism or Adi Shaivism might have played some
role. The philosophical notions of duality, which drew a clear distinction
between Shiva and Jiva might have been a later development. However,
nondualistic schools of Saiva Siddhanta also exist, who do not perceive any
distinction between the individual Self (Atman) and the Supreme Self (Brahman)
and consider everything Brahman only.
Three monastic orders were instrumental in Shaiva Siddhanta's diffusion
through India; the Amardaka order, identified with one of Shaivism's holiest
cities, Ujjain, the Mattamayura order, in the capital of the Chalukya dynasty
near the Karnataka, and the Madhumateya order of Central India. Each developed
numerous sub-orders. (see Nandinatha Sampradaya) Siddhanta monastics used the
influence of royal patrons to propagate the teachings in neighboring kingdoms,
particularly in South India. From Mattamayura, they established monasteries in
regions now in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra and Kerala.
Saiva Siddhanta today
Presently, Saiva Siddhanta is practiced by a large number of Saiva's of
southern India and Sri Lanka, especially by members of the Vellalar community.
It is also prevalent among Saiva's of the Tamil diaspora around the world.
Prominent Siddhanta societies, temples and monasteries also exist in a number of
other countries. The United States island of Kauai, a part of Hawaii, is home to
the Saiva Siddhanta Peetam, an organization that promotes the union of worldwide
Hindus, through a publication called Hinduism Today. It was founded by Satguru
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927–2001. The lineage, which traces itself back to the
Shaiva Siddhars of Northern Sri Lanka, adheres to the philosophical position
that the original Shaiva Siddhanta as expounded by Tirumular, was and is
monistic, and propagates this teaching as Advaita Saiva Siddhanta. The famous
songs of the Sri Lankan Shaiva Sage, Shiva Yogaswami, attest to this view of the
nature of God, Soul and World as being ultimately one.
1. The introduction is adapted from Wikipedia with necessary
modifications and improvements.
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