Saiva Siddhanta

Saiva Siddhanta
   Saiva Siddhanta is a form of SHAIVISM practiced in Tamil-speaking regions, particularly Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka. It is based on the 28 Shaivite AGAMAS, authoritative texts that interpret and extend Vedic knowledge, and on the teachings of the 63 NAYANMARS, the Tamil Shaivite saints. Other authorities include MANIKKAVACAKAR, who wrote the beloved TIRUVACAKAM (Sacred utter-ances) (c. 10th century), and Meykanda, with his Sivajnanabodham (Awareness of the knowledge of Siva) (c. 13th century).
   Saiva Siddhanta focuses on the three cat-egories of pati, pashu, and pasha. Pati is SHIVA, transcendent and pristine. Though he takes on a manifest aspect to enter the world, the world Sai Baba of Shirdi (c. 1856–1918), the shrine of a holy man and miracle worker in Maharashtra (Gustasp Irani) is always and eternally separate from Shiva. One can realize one’s Shiva nature at the core of one’s soul, but souls are eternally separate from one another and separate from Shiva. In this sense Saiva Siddhanta is a completely dualistic system. Pashu is the individual self that strives to realize its “Shiva nature.” Pasha are the bonds of KARMA that hold one. Knowing one’s Shiva nature confers liberation from birth and rebirth. Shiva can be realized only by worship, knowledge, and the aid of a GURU.
   Saiva Siddhanta is characterized by its abject devotion and the sense of helplessness of the indi-vidual self in the face of a supreme that it can only understand, but with which it can never merge. Grace plays an important role in Saiva Siddhanta. There is an element of the system that speaks of Shiva/SHAKTI, or the divine masculine/divine femi-nine, which constitutes the totality of Shiva; this differs from the similar tantric idea, in which there is a complete identity between the level of the soul and the ultimate.
   Further reading: S. N. Dasgupta, History of Indian Philosophy, vol. 5 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975); T. M. P. Mahadevan, The Idea of God in Saiva-Siddhanta (Madras: Annamalai University, 1955); S. N. Singara-velu, Glimpses of Saiva Siddhanta (Madras: Saiva Sid-dhanta Perumanram, 1992).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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