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Shaivism
Shaivism is the second largest" religious community" in modern India with its roots deeply seated in the Hindu Vedic per
 
More on Shaivism (19 Articles)
 Buddhism and Jainism were heterodox and revolutionary in character while the other two sects also arose in this century. And these are named as Saivism and Vaisnavism. These two can be regarded as reformist movements. Buddhism and Jainism passed over in silence the doctrine of the existence of God and laid down self-renunciation and a course of strict moral conduct as the way of salvation. The new theistic sects of Saivism and Vaisnavisms however, centered round the idea of a Supreme God conceived as Visnu, Siva, Sakti or some other form. Salvation was possible through His grace alone and this could be attained only by Bhakti i.e. intense love and devotion leading to complete surrender of self to the personal God.

The Harappan people according to some scholars were of the Mediterranean race. Their original home was the islands of the Aegean Sea and tracts of the Mediterranean race. The Aegean Sea can be named as Greece and Aia-Minor. They worshipped the Mother Goddess having her vehicle the Lion. They also worshipped the Father God having as his vehicle the bull. Thus Siva and Uma were most probably the deities of the Dravidians. The figure of a god that seems to be a prototype of Siva has three Characteristics of Siva. It is lord of animals or pasupati, it is three-faced i.e. trimukha and a great yogi or ascetic because it is shown sitting in a cross-legged posture with his eyes turned towards the tip of the nose. The conical stones found at Harappan sites suggest that the worship of phallus or sivalinga was also prevalent among these people. This fact is corroborated by a reference in the Rigveda where the non- Aryans worshippers of the phallus.

In the Rigveda, Rudra is mentioned only in three suktas. According to Bhandarkar Rudra represents the destructive power of nature. He destroys men and animals but in the Rigveda itself at some places he is described as a benevolent god. People pray to him for having children and being prosperous. He is called the best physician and kapardin having long hair.

In the Atharvaveda the malignant aspect of Siva is emphasized. He is called fearful i.e. bhima and destroyer i.e. upahantu. He is described as having dark blue colour or nilasikhandin and is for the first time called the lord of animals.

The Atharvan hymns suggest the presence of a Siva cult quite different from that presented by the Vedic world. In these hymns extravagant respect is paid to the Vratyas. Either these hymns were composed by the followers of the Vratya cult or by the Vedic Aryans themselves fascinated by their non-Aryans practices and wild mysticism. The Vratyas were worshippers of Siva. Their chief gods were Rudra, Isana and Mahadeva. The worshippers of Rudra were generally regarded irreligious in those days hence the Vratyas have been called irreligious.

In the Yajurveda there are references to Rudra in two suktas i.e. Tryambaka-homa and Satarudriya. In one of these i.e. in Tryambakahoma he is called a physician and the lord of animals. In the other sukta i.e. in Satarudriya he is called Siva, Sivatara and Sankara. From the above references it appears that by the time the above two suktas of the Yajurveda were composed some features of a non-Vedic tribal aboriginal god of vegetation were absorbed with the Vedic god Rudra.

In the Brahmanas Rudra is called the chief of gods i.e. devadhipati, Lord Isana and the Great god Mahadeva. He is also called Bhutapati and is a dread figure who took over the dominion of Prajapati over all cattle.

In the Svetasvatara Upanishad Siva is called the super god or parabrahma and it is stated that with his power the prakrti or Nature becomes active. This statement shows the influence of Sankhya philosophy. In the Manavagrhya-sutra he is associated with the cremation ground. In some Grhyastras his wife is called Durga. She is called by various names such as Arya, Bhagavati, Devasamkirti, Mahakali Mahayogini and Sankhadharini. In the Apastamba grhyasutra Siva is still classed among the minor gods.

The Astadhyayi mentions Mahesvarasutra in some parts. Kautilya refers to the construction of Siva temples but Siva was still a minor god. In the Ramayana and the Mahabharata the full development of Saivism can be seen. There are many stories connected with Siva such as the descent of the Ganga, the Burning of Ananga and the Birth of Sakanda. In the Mahabharata is called the creator and destroyer of the universe. Siva is called Mahayogin. There are also references to Siva lives in the cremation ground. He moves about at night and eats the meat of dead bodies. There are Saivite coins of Gondopherenes i.e. Beginning of Christian era. On the coins of Wim Kaphises Siva is shown with a trident in the right hand. On the coins of Kaniska the figure of four-armed Siva with a trident can be found. A damaru i.e. a musical instrument and a kamandalu i.e. the bowl used by mendicants are at his hand. On the coins of Haviska the figure of Skandakumara can be found. On the punch- marked coins of the second and the third centuries A.D. the figure of Nandi carved on the reverse can be found.

Dissatisfied with the classical position of the Smritis and the Mahabharata the authors of the Puranas seemingly accumulated a parallel learning of their own, more in tune with the needs of the Hindu public. The earlier Hindu scriptures had excluded the non-Hindus from the Vedic learning. The Pauranikas keeping their eye on various types of humanity before them mediated on the slow, unsteady upward march of man`s background and man`s potential appealed to the people and at times the Sastras borrowed the Puranic lore. They incorporated whole sections of the Puranic learning.

In the Purana he is called Siva. From his name Tryambaka he came to be called three eyed. On the basis of his name Nilasikhandin the story of his taking poison was invented. Because he had long hair he was called kapardin and kesin. And because of his abode on the mountains he came to be called Kailasavasin.

By the time of the completion of the Puranas in their present form, the amalgamation of the non- Vedic tribal god with the Vedic god Rudra was completed. The Vedic Aryans looked down upon the worship of phallus and the worship of Shakti was non-Vedic. Both these non-Vedic elements were absorbed in the cult of Siva worship before A.D. 300.

(Last Updated on : 10/09/2009)
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