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Encyclopedia > Shaivite

Shaivism, also Saivism, is a branch of Hinduism that worships Siva as the Supreme God. Followers of Saivism are called Saivites.

Saivism is a monotheistic faith. Saivites believe that there is only one God, who simultaneously permeates all creation and exists beyond it, being both immanent and transcendent. The concept is in contrast with many Semitic religious traditions, where God is seen as transcendent only. As all other Hindu denominations, Saivism acknowledges the existence of many lower Gods under the Supreme One. These Gods are encompassed by Him, seen as either as manifestations of the Supreme Being or as powerful entities who are permeated by Him, as is all Creation. This type of Monotheism is called Panentheism or Monistic Theism.

Saivism is a very deep, devotional and mystical sect of Hinduism. It is considered the oldest of the Hindu denominations, with a long lineage of sages and saints who have outlaid practices and paths aimed at self-realization and the ultimate goal of moksha, liberation. As a very broad religion, Saivism encompasses philosophical systems, devotional rituals, legends, mysticism and varied yogic practices. It has both monistic and dualistic traditions.

Saivites believe God transcends form, and devotees often worship Siva in the form of a lingam, symbolizing all universe. God Siva is also revered in Saivism as the anthropomorphic manifestation of Siva Nataraja.

Originated in India, Saivism has appeal all over India and is particularly strong in South India (especially, Tamil Nadu) and the island of Sri Lanka. Some traditions credit the spreading of Saivism into southern India by the great sage, Agastya, who is said to brought Vedic traditions as well as the Tamil language.

There can be found almost innumerable Saivite temples and shrines, with many shrines accompanied as well by murtis dedicated to Ganesa, Lord of the Ganas, followers of Siva, and son of Siva and Sakti. The twelve Jyotirling, or "golden Iingam", shrines are among the most esteemed in Shaivism.

Benares is considered the holiest city of all Hindus and Saivites. A very revered Saivite temple is the ancient Chidambaram, in South India.

One of the most famous hymns to Siva in the Vedas is Shri Rudram. The foremost Saivite Vedic Mantra is Aum Namah Sivaya.

Major theological schools of Saivism include Kashmir Shaivism, Saiva Siddhanta and Virasaivism.

Nayanars (or Nayanmars), saints from Southern India, were mostly responsible for development of Shaivism in the Middle Ages.

External links


  • Additionally, please see excerpts from the book, "Dancing with Siva" which discusses Hinduism and Shaivism in particular on the web site,


See also

Topics in Hinduism
Shruti (Primary Scriptures):

Vedas | Upanishads | Bhagavad Gita | Itihasa (Ramayana & Mahabharata) | Agamas

Smriti (Other texts):

Tantras | Sutras | Puranas | Brahma Sutras | Hatha Yoga Pradipika | Smritis | Yoga Sutra | Tirukural


Avatar | Brahman | Dharma | Karma | Moksha | Maya | Ishta-Deva | Murti | Reincarnation | Samsara | Trimurti | Turiya

Schools & Systems:

Schools of Hinduism (Overview) | Early Hinduism | Samkhya | Nyaya | Vaisheshika | Yoga | Mimamsa | Vedanta | Tantra | Bhakti

Traditional Practices:

Jyotish | Ayurveda


Aarti | Bhajans | Darshan | Mantras | Puja | Satsang | Stotras | Yagnya

Gurus and Saints:

Shankara | Ramanuja |Madhvacharya | Ramakrishna | Vivekananda | Aurobindo | Ramana Maharshi | Sivananda | Chinmayananda | Sivaya Subramuniyaswami


Vaishnavism | Saivism | Shaktism | Madhva | Smartism | Agama Hindu Dharma | Contemporary Hindu movements | Survey of Hindu organisations

  Results from FactBites:
KashmirShaivism (816 words)
He began his Shaivite studies at a young age, mastered Sanskrit and learned the texts under the guidance of local scholars who were in touch with the oral tradition.
There is no doubt that he achieved the widest dissemination of Shaivite learning in history, both in his own work and in the still growing impact of his students.
The Shiva School of Meditation is a school of Kashmir Shaivite study and practise.
An Introduction to the Tamil Siddhas - Layne Little (2979 words)
This appellation is evident even in the Shaivite devotionals known as the Tevaram hymns of the 6th and 7th centuries that would later become part of the Saiva Siddhanta canon.
It is a movement born of a synthesis of Vajrayana Buddhism, Shaivite Tantrism, Indian Alchemy, magic, and the hatha yoga and pranayama disciplines as expounded by the ascetic saint Goraknath.
As a Tamil scholar and Shaivite authority, the orthodox religious leaders throughout the area, were confident that he could expose the fallacy of Ramalingar's teaching and defrock the heretical saint.
  More results at FactBites »



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