Friday, June 19, 2009


Early Siddhanta

The Siddhanta tradition, like Kashmir Shaivism and Kaula, differs from the Vedic and Puranic cult of Shiva and also from the ancient Pasupati tradition by its adherence to texts called Agamas or Tantras, which lay down rites that may be performed by any able man in his prime and describe a progressive, four-fold spiritual path of virtuous and moral living (charya), ritual (kriya), individual practice (yoga) and knowledge (jnana, vidya). Flood and Alexis Sanderson refer to these traditions as the "mantra way" (mantramārga).

Saiva Siddhanta's original form is uncertain. Some hold that it originated as a monistic doctrine, espoused by Rishi Tirumular in approx. 2,200 bce. This Monistic Saiva Siddhanta, or Advaita Isvaravada Saiva Siddhanta, teaches that Siva is both Creator and creation, all pervasive and transcendent. In Tamil, this idea is encapsulated in the phrase "Anbe Sivamayam Sathiyame Parasivam," which means "Siva is immanent love and transcendental reality." The Tamil Saiva saint Meykandar formulated a dualistic school of Saiva Siddhanta in approx. 900 ce. Meykandar and the dualists content that the world and soul are eternal, were never created, and are inherently flawed. These views are completely counter to the monistic school.

It seems likely to others, however, that the early Śaiva Siddhānta may have developed somewhere in Northern India, as a religion built around the notion of a ritual initiation that conferred liberation. Such a notion of liberatory initiation appears to have been borrowed from a Pashupata (pāśupata) tradition.[9] At the time of the early development of the theology of the school, the question of monism or dualism, which became so central to later theological debates, had not yet emerged as an important issue.

Sanskrit Siddhanta

The name of the school could be translated as "the settled view (siddhānta) of Shaiva doctrine". There are of course many other Shaiva doctrines, and so it may seem odd that this particular one should have been known by a name that makes such a large claim, but widespread epigraphical and literary evidence suggests that this is because it simply was the dominant school of Shaiva liturgy and theology for a long period and across a wide area. Early works of the school do not appear to use the label Śaivasiddhānta:[10] one the earliest datable attestations of the label is probably that in the eighth-century Sanskrit inscription carved around the central shrine in the Kailasanatha temple in Kancheepuram.

Siddhas such as Sadyojyoti (ca seventh century[11]) are credited with the systematization of the Siddhanta theology in Sanskrit. Sadyojyoti, initiated by the guru Ugrajyoti, propounded the Siddhanta philosophical views as found in the Rauravatantra and Svāyambhuvasūtrasaṅgraha. He may or may not have been from Kashmir, but the next thinkers whose works survive were those of a Kashmirian lineage active in the tenth century: Ramakantha I, Vidyākaṇṭha I, Śrīkaṇṭha, Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha, Rāmakaṇṭha II, Vidyākaṇṭha II. Treatises by the last four of these survive. King Bhoja of Gujarat (ca 1018) condensed the massive body of Siddhanta scriptural texts into one concise metaphysical treatise called the Tattvaprakāśa.

Three monastic orders were instrumental in Shaiva Siddhanta’s diffusion through India; the Åmardaka order, identified with one of Shaivism’s holiest cities, Ujjain, the Mattamayura Order, in the capital of the Chalukya dynasty near the Punjab, and the Madhumateya order of Central India. Each developed numerous sub-orders. (see Nandinatha Sampradaya)

Tamil bhakti

From the fifth to the eighth CCE Buddhism and Jainism had spread in Tamilnadu before a forceful Shaiva bhakti movement arose. Between the seventh and ninth centuries, pilgrim saints such as Campantar, Appar and Cuntarar used songs (bhajan) of Shiva’s greatness to refute concepts of Buddhism and Jainism. Manikkavacakar's heart-melting verses, called Tiruvacakam, are full of visionary experience, divine love and urgent striving for Truth. The songs of these four saints are part of the compendium known as Tirumurai which, along with the Vedas, Siddhanta Shastras and Shaiva Agamas, are now considered to form the scriptural basis of the Śaiva Siddhānta in Tamil Nadu. It seems probable that the devotional literature was not, however, considered to belong to the Śaiva Siddhānta canon at the time when it was first composed:[12] the hymns themselves appear to make no such claim for themselves.

The bhakti movement, which both parallels and was an influence upon northern Vaishnava bhakti, asserted a positive and devotional quality missing in Buddhist and Jain asceticism, yet still inherited from those religions a certain antinomianism, particularly a rebellion against caste and privilege.[7]

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 the regions now in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra and Kerala.


In the twelfth century Aghorasiva, the head of a branch monastery of the Åmardaka Order in Chidambaram, took up the task of amalgamating Sanskrit and Tamil Siddhanta. Strongly refuting monist interpretations of Siddhanta, Aghorasiva brought a change in the understanding of the Godhead by reclassifying the first five principles, or tattvas (Nada, Bindu, Sadasiva, Èsvara and Suddhavidya), into the category of pasa (bonds), stating they were effects of a cause and inherently unconscious substances, a departure from the traditional teaching in which these five were part of the divine nature of God.

Aghorasiva was successful in preserving the Sanskrit rituals of the ancient Ågamic tradition. To this day, Aghorasiva’s Siddhanta philosophy is followed by almost all of the hereditary temple priests (Sivacharya), and his texts on the Ågamas have become the standard puja manuals. His Kriyakramadyotika is a vast work covering nearly all aspects of Shaiva Siddhanta ritual, including dîksha, saMskaras, atmartha puja and installation of Deities.

In the thirteenth century Meykandar and his disciple Arulnandi Sivacharya further spread Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. Meykandar wrote 'Sivagnana Botham' and Arulnandi Sivacharya wrote 'Sivagnana Sithiar'. The twelve-verse Sivajñanabodham and subsequent works by other writers laid the foundation of the Meykandar Sampradaya, which propounds a pluralistic realism wherein God, souls and world are coexistent and without beginning. Siva is an efficient but not material cause. They view the soul’s merging in Siva as salt in water, an eternal oneness that is also twoness. source:

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