About the Author:
A versatile scholar, untiring researcher and prolific author, Dr. Tagare has written on diverse themes from Indology, linguistics and education. In addition, his published work includes translations of over half-a-dozen Mhapuranas, critical edition of Sanskrit texts, and histories (in Marathi language) of Prakrit, Pali and Assamese literature. Dr. Tagare also has the credit of discovering several old, unpublished manuscripts: in both Marathi and Sanskrit.
It existed before the Indus (Sarasvati?) civilization. The series of Siva's names in the 'Rudradhyaya' of the Taittiriya Samhita (IV. 5.7) and 'Sata-Rudriya', in the Vajasaneyi Samhita (Ch. 16, 18) show that Siva-worship is as old as the Yajurveda. Lord Krsna's initiation in Pasupatism mentioned in the Anusasana Parva (14.379-380) of the Mahabharata shows that it was a respectable sect of Saivism in the fourth millennium BC, if the consensus of Brahmanical Puranas on the date of Krsna's death in 3101 BC (the very day on which Kaliyuga began) is to be believed. This ancient religion is still a living faith is shown in Gunther-Dietz Sontheimer's Pastoral Deities in Western India. It is perhaps the only faith that continues to be so vibrant and popular that it continues to attract millions of pilgrims to the various sites sacred to Lord Siva.
Saivism is more than mere theology. It is a philosophy that keenly attracted the attention of ancient and modern sages and thinkers. With faith in Siva as the Ultimate Reality, these sages pondered and meditated over Siva deeply and expressed their speculations about the nature of Siva (the Ultimate Reality). His relations with man and the world. Some glimpses about Siva and His relations with man and world flashed before their "inward eye". These were recorded by them or by their disciples and we have a rich vista of Saivism. Its philosophies, mythology rituals, etc.
It is neither possible nor necessary for a layman to enter into the intricate subtleties of the various doctrines promulgated by them. I propose to elucidate the main features of the following prominent schools of Saivism:
(2) Kasmir Saivism;
(4) Sivadvaita; and
These schools are meant for decent people. They advise worship, japa (repetition of mantra in undertone), and yoga for the realization of Siva and do not advise black-magic, reprehensible types of worship like the Panca Makara Puja (involving intake of wine, meat, sexual intercourse and the like). Those are Vamacara (left-handed) types of Saiva sects. (As an instance see Kapalikas pp. 132-35).
Curiously enough, the main tenets or broad features of these Saiva (right-handed) schools are similar to those of some schools of Vaisnavism. Thus the Monism of Kasmir Saivism is similar to that of the advaita of Sankara with the exception of the special type of his Mayavada. Siddhanta Saivism, which is dominant in Tamil Nadu shares a number concepts of Duality (dvaita) with those of Madhva, the promulgator of Vaisnava Dualism. Srikantha's Sivadvaita is akin to Ramanuja's Visistadvaita.
Not that these acaryas borrowed from the other Saiva or Vaisnava acaryas. That is totally against Indian (not merely Brahmanical) tradition. In telling the Rama story, a Svetambara Jain author never borrows or mentions a Digambara Jain predecessor. The similarity in the philosophical speculations of Saiva and Vaisnava acarayas shows that great minds think alike. Call the ultimate Reality Siva or Visnu, thinkers thought in similar patterns called Monism, Dualism, etc. The spirit of syncretism so warmly espoused in Puranas, has expressed itself iconographically.
It is hoped that the wisdom of the old will prevail and may lead to social integration.
Siva is the fountain-head of all arts according to Puranas like the Vayu or Brahmanda. A peep through modern Art critics like A. Coomaraswami, Stella Kramarisch, H. Zimmer will convince anyone is the matter.
After deeply pondering over the problem, I believe that Saivism has relevance in the present world of cut-throat competition and tremendous nerve-racking tensions. If one spares some time for upasana [worship, prayer meditation or some sort of communion with some spiritual entity, (call it Siva, Visnu, Sakti, etc.)] one can gain some peace of mind, and poise and successfully cope with one's job, however intricate or difficult it may be. 'Have faith in me and do your duty conscientiously' This message of Karma-Bhakti Samuccaya shows the relevance of Saivism to the present age.
I sincerely thank Shri Susheel K. Mittal, Director of the D.K. Printworld, New Delhi for his kind encouragement and forbearance shown to this aged author. This beautiful production of this book is due to him and his associates.
What is Saivism
Saivism is a school of Indian Philosophy which believes that there is some ultimate principle para tattva: at the basis of the universe, which, within itself, creates, sustains and withdraws within itself (annihilates) the universe. It believes: that principle is both immanent and transcendent to the universe. For the sake of the convenience of linguistic expression, it is called "Siva" (the Auspicious). Hence the school came to be designated as Saiva (Saivism).
The school speculates about the nature of Reality called Siva (or pati in the jargon of Saivites), its relation with the Individual Soul (jivatman or pasu in Saivite jargon) and with the world at large and among themselves. When you designate this ultimate Principle as Visnu (the pervader of the universe), it is Vaisnavism. It is, however, interesting to note that the speculations of both these isms about the nature of the Reality or the Ultimate Principle, the individual soul and the world, run in certain similar thought-patterns. Broadly speaking, the school or thought pattern which believes that the Ultimate Reality and the Individual Soul are one (or equal) may be called Monists or Advaitins or Isvaradvaya-Vadins (holding non-difference between God and man).
This is a very broad statement as there are several differences between both these schools. For the sake of brevity and simplicity we shall mention Isvaradvaya-Vada as Kashmir Saivism (KS). When God, Individual souls and objects in the world are regarded as different mutually and inter se, that school is called dvaitin or Dualist. Madhva was the exponent of Vaisnava Dualism. The Saiva Dualists are known as Saivism (SS). Though this school originated in Kashmir and was dominant up to AD 800, it shifted to Madhya Pradesh in the tenth century AD. King Bhoja of Dhar (AD 1018-60), a patron of this school, has contributed to its philosophy. At present Tamil Nadu is its stronghold. The credit of establishing it here goes to Saiva Tamil Saints and authors like Aghora-Siva (AD 1200).
There is a third thought-pattern about the relation between God, Man and the world. It believes that the individual soul (a conscious entity, cit) has a sort of qualified identity with God (be he Siva or Visnu) and the world (unconscious a-cit) has a qualified relation with God. A sort of identity "qualified non-duality" is posited between God, Man and the world. Hence it came to be known as Visistadvaita. Ramanuja is the Vaisnava exponent while the Saiva promulgator of this doctrine is Srikantha. Another very powerful group of this type is Virasaivism who advocate Sakti-Visistadvaits.
Though these Saiva and Vaisnava schools are broadly clubbed together as Monists, Dualists etc., there are very important differences in Saiva and Vaisnava schools. We shall consider here the most important Saiva schools viz:
(1) Kashmir Saivism (KS)
(2) Siddhanta Saivism (SS)
(3) Sivadvaits or Srikantha's schools (SA)
(4) Sakti-Visistadvaits (SV) or Vira-Saivism
These are originally based on Saiva Agamas.
There is a Vedic School of Saivism called Pasupatism. Though it shares the fundamental concepts of Saivism along with others, it is treated separately as it is non-Agamic.
Cultural Contribution of Saivism
Saivism is not a dry philosophy. Its cultural contribution is a superb fusion of Art and Philosophy. Kroeber and Kluckhohn have recorded more than one hundred and sixty formal definitions of culture in Culture: A Critical Review of the Concepts and Definitions. But instead of going into the complexities of those definitions, I would like to adopt an earlier definition by Sir E.B. Tylore who describes culture as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, customs and other capabilities, acquired by man as a member of the society". Literature or literary aspect of Saivism, the glory and legends of Lord Siva sung in epics, (Mahakavyas), Puranas, dramas, stotras (eulogies and prayers) is already familiar to all and are adequately appreciated by literary critics. I would like to present just a glimpse of the Art-aspect of Saivism.
Saiva Art is not flippant. It is pregnant with Vedanta, Bhakti with its intensely appealing lyricism and such other serious concepts. But they are presented in such an attractive form as conveys its message to a common man without his being aware of it.
Let me take up the art of dancing. In the bronzes of the Cola period of the tenth century AD or those of Tanjore of the twelfth century AD, Indian artists have conceived of the cosmic rhythm in the most imaginative and symbolic manner in the icon of Dancing Siva (Nataraja). Siva ia traditionally regarded as the Lord of Dancing. The eternal rhythm of evolution (srsti) and destruction (pralaya of the universe is exquisitely expressed. Ananda Coomaraswamy explains the famous image of Nataraja: "The upper hand of the God holds a damaru to sumbolize the primal musical Nada of creation. The mystic experience of a Tibetan Lama noted by Mrs. Alexandra David in her Tibetan Journey is interesting. The Lama told her:
All things are aggregrate of atoms - each
atom perpetually sings its song and the
sound at every moment creates dense and subtle form
A Coomaraswamy continues (about Nataraja):
The upper left hand bears a tongue of a
flame, fire, the element of destruction. The
balance of these two hands, represents the
dynamic balance of creation and destruction.
It is further accentuated by Siva's calm and detached face in the centre of those two hands in which the polarity of creation and destruction is dissolved and transcended.
The second right hand is raised to express (abhaya mudra the gesture "do not fear"). It symbolizes maintenance and protection of the universe and peace. The remaining hand points down to the uplifted foot. It symbolizes release from the illusion of maya. Siva is shown as dancing on the body of a demon the symbol of man's ignorance. It must be annihilated before the attainment of moksa (Liberation from Samsara Dance of Siva).
Another eminent art critic, Heinrich Zimmer says about Dancing Siva,
The cosmic illusion. His flying arms and legs
and the swaying of his torso produce indeed-
they are the continuous creation,
destruction of the universe, death exactly
balancing birth, the annihilation, the end of
everything coming forth.
A.L. Basham calls it "the greatest and most triumphant achievement of bronze casting."
This cosmic dance of Siva, in a way, represents the scientific reality in sub-atomic world as discovered by Modern Physics. Dr P. Fritjof Capra who had been doing research in theoretical high energy Physics in the universities many papers about the relation between modern Physics and Oriental mysticism. His book, The Tao of Physics is an exploration of the parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism. Capra says, "For the Modern Physicist, then Shiva's dance is the dance of sub-atomic matter
The bubble-chamber photographs of interacting particles, which bear testimony to the continual rhythm of creation and destruction in the universe, are visual images of the dance of Shiva equaling those of Indian artists in beauty and significance". (p. 259).
The metaphor 'cosmic dance' thus unifies ancient mythology, religious arts and modern Physics. It is indeed, as Coomaraswamy says, "Poetry but non-the-less-science.
The cultural influence of Saivism is not limited to performing arts but extends to architecture and sculpture, but I have taken up this image of Dancing Siva at first as Dr. Kapila Vatsyayana says, "Over a period of 2000 years, the image of Dancing Siva has fascinated, the poet, the sculptor, the painter, the musician, while Indian drama and poetry, sculpture and painting have immortalized these eternal myths, it is Indian performing arts which have provided a living link into contemporary times".
It is not merely the icon of Siva but we have the use of beautiful female forms, scantily dressed, as a decorative motif. The Indian artist is not averse to sensuous beauty, though he expresses Vedantic concepts symbolically as in the case of dancing Siva. The floral embellishment on door-frames and columns in temples is simply superb.
Siva is associated with music both vocal and instrumental. The Vayu Purana gives a list of nine musical instruments such as bheri (war-drum), dindinma, jharjhara; dundubhi; wind-instruments like venu (flute), gomukha; string instruments like tumbevina (i.e., tanpura). Some of these are not mentioned in the Rg Veda but Siva's followers of lower status like bhutas play on them. Just as many ragas and raginis bearing local or provincial names such as Gurjari, Karnataki, Bangali etc. show their base in local folksongs.
A visit to some ancient temples and prominent museums will convince anyone about the great cultural contribution of Saivas.
From the Jacket:
Along with Brahma and Visnu, Siva makes the Hindu trinity: the trimurti. The name, Siva signifies 'auspiciousness'. But he is Rudra: the fierce, as well. Often looked upon as the principle of cosmic destruction, he also creates and reproduces. In abstract terms, Siva is the first cause, the source of consciousness, the very substratum of the universe.
Saivism: the worship of Siva, is not just a dominant religious tradition. It is also a philosophy which, over the centuries, has evolved metaphysical doctrines on different issues of universal concern, specially the nature of Reality: Siva (pati), and of its interrelatedness with the 'Individual Soul' (jivatman / pasu) and world at large. Dr. Tagare's book is a brilliant effort to quintessentially unfold Saivism and its principal philosophical expressions.
Spelling out a range of fundamental concepts like, for instance, pati (Siva), pasu (individual soul), and moksa (liberation), the author offers a stimulating highly systematic discussion of the major, agama-based Siva Schools, namely, Kashmir Saivism, Siddhanta Sivism, Sivadvaita (or Saiva Visistadvaita of Srikantha), and Vira-Savisim (or Sakti-Visistadvaita); besides the Vedic Pasupatism - with emphasis on how one school of Saiva thought differs from the other. Finally describing some of its synthesis of yoga, karma and bhakti, inheres a strong relevance to the tension-riven world of our times.
Together with a glossary of Sanskrit terms and many bibliographic references, the book holds out a lasting appeal to the scholars of Indology, traditional Indian philosophy, and religion.
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