Jump to Content Jump to Main Navigation

Hinduism Shaiva Siddhanta
by
Ginni Ishimatsu

Introduction

Shaiva Siddhānta (Śaiva Siddhānta, Śaivasiddhānta, Saiva Siddhanta, Caiva cittāntam), “the established conclusion of Shaivism,” is a school of thought and ritual practice based on twenty-eight Shaiva āgamas or tantras, authoritative scriptures in Sanskrit that proclaim their origins as divine knowledge revealed by Shiva. The system was originally grounded in a dualist doctrine that regards Shiva (pati or Lord) and souls (pashu/paṡu) as eternally distinct, divine entities; materiality (pasha/pāṡa), which makes up the rest of the universe, is inanimate, but also real. Rites of initiation and the daily worship of Shiva were understood as necessary acts leading to liberation. The earliest known Siddhāntin āgamas are first seen in northern India around the 6th century CE. From then until the 12th century, the school spread across India, its members connected with monastic institutions and temples; a number of its preceptors became royal gurus. After this period, however, Shaiva Siddhānta remained active only in the southern Tamil country, where its doctrines developed along such different lines that some scholars mark it as a separate system. From the 12th to the 14th centuries, preceptor-scholars wrote a series of doctrinal works in Tamil and Sanskrit that together came to be called the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ (Meykanda Shastras). This collection became the new Shaiva Siddhānta “canon” in the Tamil country, containing a number of features that move away from the doctrines of the earlier Sanskrit āgamic literature. While the Brahmin priests focused on the rituals, especially those performed “for the sake of others” (parārthapūjā) (i.e., temple rituals), high-caste, non-Brahmin preceptors practiced Shiva worship “for one’s own sake” (ātmārthapūjā), established monasteries, wrote theological works and commentaries on the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ, and embraced as part of their tradition not only the āgamas but also the Vedas (and especially the medieval devotional literature of the Tamil Tirumuṟai), so that the distinction between Shaiva Siddhānta and Tamil Shaiva bhakti has become blurred. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Dravidian cultural nationalists attempted to appropriate Shaiva Siddhānta by portraying it as the original, “pre-Aryan” religion of the Tamil people, a move that led to the common but inaccurate view that the school is essentially or originally a Tamil tradition. Today, Shaiva Siddhānta is seen mostly in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, in the ritual traditions of the gurukkaḷ temple priests and ōtuvar singers, and in monastic institutions, as well as in temples and monastic organizations in the Hindu diaspora.

Early History

The origins and early history of Shaiva Siddhānta have only recently begun to be understood. Goodall 2004 and Sanderson 2009 present the latest understanding of Shaiva Siddhānta through the 12th century, although beginners should start with the concise summary in Ganesan 2003 and then move on to Sanderson 1990–1991, whose short, dense introduction to early Shaivism puts the early development of Shaiva Siddhānta into new historical and comparative context. Hatley 2010 provides a valuable overview of recent research on early history. Sanderson 2010 summarizes the author’s research on the development of Siddhāntin temple ritual, while Davis 1991 offers the most accessible book-length introduction to Shaiva Siddhānta thought and ritual as seen in Sanskrit sources.

  • Davis, Richard H. Ritual in an Oscillating Universe: Worshiping Śiva in Medieval India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Accessible introduction to Shaiva Siddhānta. Important for its explanation of the correlation between doctrine and ritual practice as understood in Sanskrit sources. The scope of discussion is limited to the doctrines and practices that would have been known in the South Indian Chola country of the 11th and 12th centuries.

    Find this resource:

  • Ganesan, T. “Schools of Śaivasiddhānta.” In Śivajñānabodha: With the Laghuṭīkā of Ṡivāgrayogī. By T. Ganesan, vii–xxvii. Chennai, India: Ṡrī Aghoraśivācārya Trust, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The introduction offers a simple and accessible account of the theological texts both of the early, pan-Indian system and the later Tamil traditions. Available online.

    Find this resource:

  • Goodall, Dominic. “Preface: Explanatory Remarks about the Śaiva Siddhānta and Its Treatment in Modern Secondary Literature.” In The Parākhyatantra: A Scripture of the Śaiva Siddhānta. Edited and translated by Dominic Goodall, xiii–xxxiv. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Useful critique of the scholarly literature on Shaiva Siddhānta, in light of Alexis Sanderson’s and Goodall’s own scholarship on the early history of Siddhānta literature in Sanskrit. Does not treat Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta except to note where scholars have mistaken it for the pan-Indian tradition.

    Find this resource:

  • Hatley, Shaman. “Tantric Śaivism in Early Medieval India: Recent Research and Future Directions.” Religion Compass 4.10 (2010): 615–628.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2010.00240.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Well-written introduction to the recent scholarship on the earliest extant tantras, the development of different Shaiva schools, their relationship to one another, and comparisons with Buddhist groups.

    Find this resource:

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “Conférences de M. Alexis Sanderson: Summary of ‘Tantric Śaivism’: 24 Lectures Delivered at the École Pratique des Hautes Études.” Annuaire: Résumés des conférences et travaux, École pratique des Hautes Études, Ve Section—Sciences Religieuses 99 (1990–1991): 141–144.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An up-to-date summary of the historical origins and development of Shaiva Siddhānta and other Shaiva tantric schools.

    Find this resource:

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “The Śaiva Age: The Rise and Dominance of Śaivism during the Early Medieval Period.” In Genesis and Development of Tantrism. Edited by Shingo Einoo, 41–349. Tokyo: Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A groundbreaking, text-historical study of Sanskrit texts and inscriptions that argues for the importance of tantric Shaivism, including Shaiva Siddhānta, in the religious cultures and societies throughout medieval India, 6th through the 12th centuries CE.

    Find this resource:

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “Ritual for Oneself and Ritual for Others.” In Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual. Vol. 2, Body, Performance, Agency, and Experience. Edited by Angelos Chaniotis, Silke Leopold, Hendrik Schulze, et al., 9–20. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Accessible summary of his argument, well documented in previous articles, about how the ritual worship of Shiva, as known from the earliest āgamas and ritual manuals, was transformed and adapted to temple ritual settings. All of his publications, as well as many useful handouts for the specialist, are available online.

    Find this resource:

Reference Works

There are few accessible reference works on Shaiva Siddhānta. For the specialist working on Sanskrit texts, Brunner, et al. 2000–2004 offers the first two of a projected five-volume dictionary of Hindu tantric terms.

  • Brunner, Hélène, Gerhard Oberhammer, and André Padoux, eds. Tantrikābhidānakośa: A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature. 2 vols. Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens 35, 44. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2000–2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The first two volumes of a projected five-volume dictionary of tantric terms in Sanskrit, including those of the Shaiva āgamas. Volume 1 covers a–au, and Volume 2 covers ka–ḍa. Terms are fleshed out by erudite commentaries written variously in French, English, and German, and both volumes have excellent bibliographies that cover the most important works from the scholarly literature on Hindu tantra.

    Find this resource:

Edited Volumes

The most recent edited volumes on Shaiva Siddhānta, in English, French, and Tamil, typically contain highly specialized essays on narrowly defined topics. Goodall and Padoux 2007 and Kameswari, et al. 2001 offer the most thematically coherent volumes on historical and textual topics in Shaiva Siddhānta. Janaki 1988 offers mostly descriptive articles on Siddhāntin temple rituals, while Filliozat, et al. 1994 includes a few useful essays on texts and contemporary subjects. Bergunder, et al. 2010 offers a number of articles on Shaiva Siddhānta in the British colonial period.

  • Bergunder, Michael, Heiko Frese, and Ulrike Schröder, eds. Ritual, Caste and Religion in Colonial South India. Wiesbaden, Germany: Franckesche Stiftungen, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a number of articles relevant to 19th- and early-20th-century Shaiva Siddhānta. Subjects include ritual performance, the reformers Nallaswami Pillai and Maraimalai Adigal, and Shaiva responses to Christian rule in Jaffna.

    Find this resource:

  • Filliozat, P. S., S. P. Narang, and C. P. Bhatta, eds. Pandit N. R. Bhatt Felicitation Volume. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This Festschrift includes a biographical sketch of N. R. Bhatt’s groundbreaking work on āgamic studies, as well as a handful of articles on Shaiva Siddhānta textual analyses and a description of contemporary temple rituals in Tamil Nadu.

    Find this resource:

  • Goodall, Dominic, and André Padoux, eds. Mélanges tantriques à la mémoire d’Hélène Brunner / Tantric Studies in Memory of Hélène Brunner. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A valuable collection dedicated to Hélène Brunner, a pioneer of Sanskrit āgamic ritual studies. Articles specifically on Shaiva Siddhānta focus on festivals, summaries of āgamic texts, an edition of a short āgama, a study of levels of sound (nāda, vāc), and meaning in Siddhāntin rituals.

    Find this resource:

  • Janaki, S. S., ed. Śiva Temple and Temple Rituals. Chennai, India: Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Mostly descriptive articles in English and Tamil. Topics include temple rituals in Kerala, historical development of temple rituals, Vedic mantras in late Shaiva ritual texts, summary of a Sanskrit text on temple ritual, constructing a yāgaśālā, festival rules (mahotsava, pavitrotsava), temple architecture, flagpole symbolism, and devadāsī traditions.

    Find this resource:

  • Kameswari, V., K. S. Balasbrahmanian, and T. V. Vasudeva, eds. Śaiva Rituals and Philosophy. Chennai, India: Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A valuable collection dedicated to S. S. Janaki, another pioneering scholar of Sanskrit āgamic ritual. Most of the articles here focus on Shaiva Siddhāntin doctrinal points and rituals; some articles explore the Tamil branch, others the Sanskritic. The articles are either in English or Tamil.

    Find this resource:

Bibliographies and Online Collections of Texts

For bibliographies of sources in English, Potter 1977 and Ramachandran 1994 are good places to start. For the specialist, a rich collection of online primary texts in Sanskrit and Tamil are available. Catalogue and On-Line Digital Library of the Paper Manuscripts of the French Institute of Pondicherry is available at the website of the Muktabodha Indological Research Institute; the Institut français de Pondichéry and GRETIL offer searchable primary texts. Āgamic manuscripts in Nepal’s National Archives are available through the Nepalese-German Manuscript Cataloguing Project. In addition, the Himalayan Academy has made available downloadable scans of a few published āgamas, along with downloadable Tamil Siddhāntin works and English translations from small publishers such as the Aghoraśivācārya Trust. Most of the Tamil texts of the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ are available from Project Madurai.

Comparative Studies

The earliest comparisons of Shaiva Siddhānta and other religious traditions were written by Christian missionaries. Scholarly comparative work such as Sanderson 1988 puts Shaiva Siddhānta in historical context vis-à-vis other āgamic and tantric sectarian traditions. Sanderson 2007 examines the development of different Shaiva groups in Kashmir, showing their similarities, differences, and borrowings. In addition, Watson 2006 explores a Siddhāntin contribution to the Hindu-Buddhist debate on the nature of the self, while Torella 1998 compares specific concepts shared by Siddhānta and Vaiṣṇava tantric texts.

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions.” In The World’s Religions. Edited by S. Sutherland, L. Houlden, P. Clarke, and F. Hardy, 128–172. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An accessible account of Śaivism that places Shaiva Siddhānta in the context of other tantric traditions, including the Pāśupatas, Lākulas, the Trika, and other medieval Shaiva groups.

    Find this resource:

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “The Śaiva Exegesis of Kashmir.” In Mélanges tantriques à la mémoire d’Hélène Brunner / Tantric Studies in Memory of Hélène Brunner. Edited by Dominic Goodall and André Padoux, 231–442. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Sets medieval Shaiva Siddhānta in comparative and historical context vis-à-vis other Shaiva groups in Kashmir, such as the Krama, Trika, and Pratyabhijñā schools.

    Find this resource:

  • Torella, Raffaele. “The Kañcukas in the Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava Tantric Tradition: A Few Considerations between Theology and Grammar.” In Studies in Hinduism II: Miscellanea to the Phenomenon of Tantras. Edited by Gerhard Oberhammer, 55–86. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    For specialists, this is a useful comparison of Shaiva understandings of the term kañcuka, “cuirass,” used to describe a group of tattvas or principles that make up the universe, with the Vaiṣṇava tantric dhāraṇās. The author concludes that the Vaiṣṇava Ahirbudhnyasaṃhitā and the Lakṣmītantra borrowed the idea from one of Shaiva traditions. Along the way, the Shaiva Siddhāntin use of the term kañcuka is explained in detail.

    Find this resource:

  • Watson, Alex. The Self’s Awareness of Itself: Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Arguments against the Buddhist Doctrine of No-Self. Vienna: De Nobili Research Library, 2006.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important contribution to the study of Shaiva and Buddhist arguments for or against the existence of a self, including excerpts from the 10th- to 11th-century Siddhantin Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s two commentaries, on Sadyojyotis’ Nareśvaraparīkşā and the Mataṅgapārameśvarāgama.

    Find this resource:

Āgamas/Tantras and Commentaries

Tamils now use the term āgama and typically think of “tantra” as referring only to socially transgressive forms of worship or to the authoritative texts of temple practices in Kerala; however, the terms are synonymous from a historical perspective. In the context of Shaiva Siddhānta, either term refers to revealed knowledge originating from Shiva and passed down to other deities, divine sages, and finally to humans, who know of it in the form of twenty-eight “root” or fundamental texts (mūlāgama) and multiple “secondary” texts (upabheda; also upāgama), all in Sanskrit. With the founding of the Institut français in Pondicherry in the 1950s, director Jean Filliozat conceived of a plan to collect the Shaiva āgamas, because, although they were understood to be authoritative for the dominant Shaiva temple ritual tradition in Tami Nadu, the texts were not well known. A team under the leadership of N. R. Bhatt traveled throughout South India, visiting temple priests, scholars, and libraries to obtain copies of palm-leaf manuscripts, notebooks, and old editions of āgamas. The French Institute commenced an ongoing program to publish critical editions of the Shaiva Siddhānta āgamas, (e.g. Bhatt 1961–1988), as well as translations (e.g., Brunner-Lachaux 1985). In recent years, the French Institute has produced joint publications with the École française d’Extrȇme-Orient (French Institute of Asian Studies), such as Barazer-Billoret, et al. 2004–2009, and commentaries such as Goodall 1998. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts has also published a few āgamas (e.g., Bhatt, et al. 2005).

  • Barazer-Billoret, Marie-Luce, Bruno Dagens, and Vincent Lefèvre, eds. Dīptāgama. 3 vols. With the collaboration of S. Sambandha Śivācārya and Christèle Barois. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 2004–2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition of a text on temple architecture and the installation of images, with preface, introductions to each volume and chapter summaries in French, index of pādas, and bibliography.

    Find this resource:

  • Bhatt, N. R., ed. Rauravāgama. 3 vols. Pondicherry, India: Institut français d’Indologie, 1961–1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition of a text that focuses mostly on temple iconography, architectural rules, and rules for installing images but also includes rules for the worship of Shiva, rites of initiation, and funerals. Comprising the Sanskrit text, with short introductions in French and Sanskrit and notes in Sanskrit and French.

    Find this resource:

  • Bhatt, N. R., Jean Filliozat, and Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat, eds. The Great Tantra of Ajita. 5 vols. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition and translation of a text that focuses on temple rituals and temple architecture, with an introduction, notes, index of pādas, glossary of substances, plates, and illustrations.

    Find this resource:

  • Brunner-Lachaux, Hélène, ed. Mṛgendrāgama: Section des rites et section du comportement, avec la vṛtti de Bhaṭṭanārāyaṇakaṇṭha. Pondicherry, India: Institut français d’Indologie, 1985.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    French translation of a treatise on the ritual worship of Shiva, rites of initiation, and correct conduct of initiates. Focuses on the kriyāpāda (section on ritual) and caryāpāda (section on conduct) and is based on N. R. Bhatt’s critical edition, with a learned introduction, notes, appendices, diagrams, bibliography, summary in English, and index.

    Find this resource:

  • Goodall, Dominic. Bhaṭṭarāmakaṇṭhaviracitā Kiraṇavṛttiḥ / Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Commentary on the Kiraṇatantra. Vol. 1. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition and annotated translation of the first six chapters of the Kiraṇatantra and its 10th- to 11th-century commentary, which focus in detail on Siddhāntin doctrine. Includes a learned introduction, appendices, bibliography, indices of pādas and quotations, and a general index.

    Find this resource:

Theological/Exegetical Texts in Sanskrit

The earliest authors to write on the Siddhāntin āgamas lived in northern India from approximately the 7th century to the 12th century. They systematically discussed the theology of the āgamas, wrote commentaries on various āgamas, and defended Shaiva Siddhānta against the views of other religious groups. Several of these early authors came from a single lineage in 10th-century Kashmir. Dvivedi 1988 offers an edition of eight of their exegetical texts with medieval commentaries. Borody 2005 provides an English translation of one of these texts. French translations include Filliozat 1984, Filliozat 1988, and Filliozat 1991. Sanderson 2006, Davis 1986–1992, and Goodall 1998 provide biographical information and dates for some of the authors (e.g., Sadyojyotis, Aghoraśiva, and Rāmakaṇṭha II).

  • Borody, Wayne A., trans. Bhoga Kārikā of Sadyojyoti: With the Commentary of Aghora Śiva. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the eight early exegetical texts. Includes an English translation of the text and its commentary, a short introduction, and the transliterated Sanskrit text.

    Find this resource:

  • Davis, Richard H. “Aghoraśiva’s Background.” Journal of Oriental Research (Madras) 56–62 (1986–1992): 367–378.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Life of the 12th-century South Indian preceptor Aghoraśiva and the monastic centers he was associated with, based on evidence from his own writings and external sources. Aghoraśiva seems to be the last major writer to have adhered to the pan-Indian dualist system.

    Find this resource:

  • Dvivedi, Vrajavallabha, ed. Aṣṭaprakaraṇa. Yogatantra Granthamala 12. Varanasi, India: Sampūrṇānandasaṃskṛtaviśvavidyālaya, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Comprising eight early exegetical texts in Sanskrit, along with commentaries or glosses, of Bhojadeva’s Tattvaprakāśa; Sadyojyotis’s Tattvasaṃgraha, Tattvatrayanirṇaya, Bhogakārikā, Mokṣakārikā, and Paramokṣanirāsakārikā; Śrīkaṇṭha’s Ratnatraya; and the Nādakārikā of Rāmakaṇṭha I. Also included in Sanskrit: an introduction; pāda index; list of texts, authors, and religious groups mentioned in the texts; quotations given in the commentaries; and a glossary of terms.

    Find this resource:

  • Filliozat, Pierre-Sylvain. “Les Nādakārikā de Rāmakaṇṭha.” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrȇme-Orient 73 (1984): 223–255.

    DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1984.1635Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition, based on a 1923 printed text and four manuscripts, of one of the eight early exegetical texts. Includes transliterated Sanskrit text and commentary, along with a French translation.

    Find this resource:

  • Filliozat, Pierre-Sylvain. “Le Tattvasaṃgraha ‘Compendium des essences’ de Sadyojyoti.” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrȇme-Orient 77 (1988): 97–163.

    DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1988.1743Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition, based on a 1923 printed text and four manuscripts, of one of the six early exegetical texts. Includes transliterated Sanskrit text and commentary, along with a French translation.

    Find this resource:

  • Filliozat, Pierre-Sylvain. “Le Tattvatrayanirṇaya ‘La détermination des trois essences’ de Sadyojyoti avec le commentaire d’Aghoraśivācārya.” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrȇme-Orient 78 (1991): 133–158.

    DOI: 10.3406/befeo.1991.1770Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition, based on a 1923 printed text and four manuscripts, of one of the eight early exegetical texts. Includes transliterated Sanskrit text and commentary, along with a French translation.

    Find this resource:

  • Goodall, Dominic. Bhaṭṭarāmakaṇṭhaviracitā Kiraṇavṛttiḥ / Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha’s Commentary on the Kiraṇatantra. Vol. 1. Pondicherry, India: Institut français de Pondichéry and École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The introduction provides information on Rāmakaṇṭha II’s lineage, dates (c. 950–1000), and works.

    Find this resource:

  • Sanderson, Alexis. “The Date of Sadyojyotis and Bṛhaspati.” Cracow Indological Studies 8 (2006): 39–91.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Provides dates for the medieval Kashmiri authors and makes a case for dating Sadyojyotis and Bṛhaspati from c. 675 to c. 725 CE.

    Find this resource:

Ritual Texts in Sanskrit

The ritual tradition of Shaiva Siddhānta was originally centered on the liberating ritual of initiation (nirvāṇadīkṣā), as well as the initiate’s individual worship of Shiva (ātmārthapūjā). Brunner 1963–1998 offers the most comprehensive view of this tradition, in the author’s monumental translation and study of Somaśambhu’s manual of ritual for Siddhāntin initiates. Davis 2010 examines the annual nine-day festival in South Indian Shiva temples, in an example of how 12th-century temple rituals performed “for the sake of others” (parārthapūjā) differed from individual worship. Brunner 1990 draws attention to the parallels between the two.

  • Brunner, Hélène. “Ātmārthapūjā versus Parārthapūjā in the Śaiva Tradition.” In The Brahmanic Tradition and Tantrism. Edited by T. Goudriaan, 4–23. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A useful examination of the similarities and differences between the ritual elements of Shiva-worship “for one’s own sake” and “for the sake of others.”

    Find this resource:

  • Brunner, Hélène, ed. and trans. Somaśambhupaddhati. 4 vols. Pondicherry, India: Institut français d’Indologie, 1963–1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Exemplary scholarship on the texts and practices of Shaiva Siddhānta, based on a manual of ritual rules (paddhati) authored by the 11th-century Somaśambhu. A rich work with the Sanskrit text, French translation, learned introductions, copious explanatory notes, and important supplementary essays.

    Find this resource:

  • Davis, Richard H., trans. A Priest’s Guide for the Great Festival: Aghoraśiva’s Mahotsavavidhi. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Translation of a 12th-century manual of ritual rules by the important South Indian preceptor Aghoraśiva, focusing on the performance of the “great festival” (mahotsava) in Shiva temples. The introduction provides an accessible account of the different types of festivals in the Siddhāntin tradition, the structure of the annual festival, and the types of participants, both divine and human.

    Find this resource:

Development of Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta

The Tamil branch of Shaiva Siddhānta begins with the writings collectively known as the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ, theological and devotional texts composed by six preceptors who wrote in Tamil and Sanskrit in the 13th and 14th centuries. “Meykaṇṭa” refers to Meykaṇṭār, the author of the foundational Civañāṉapōtam (Skt. Śivajñānabodha). Although he and the other preceptors acknowledge their debt to the āgamic literature in Sanskrit, they also view as authoritative the Vedas and especially the Tamil devotional corpus known as the Tirumuṟai, and they consciously try to connect the ideas in the latter to the earlier, pan-Indian Shaiva Siddhānta doctrine: they also emphasize devotion, Shiva’s grace, and his mantra of five syllables. Zvelebil 1975 discusses Tamil Shaiva Siddhāntin authors and texts in historical context, while Dhavamony 1971 provides an important overview of the teachings of the Meykaṇṭa texts. Prentiss 1999 usefully discusses the rise of Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta against the background of āgamic temple practices. Tamura 2007 provides a useful guide to the scholarly literature on Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta.

  • Dhavamony, Mariasusai. Love of God According to Śaiva Siddhānta: A Study in the Mysticism and Theology of Śaivism. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the theme of devotion in classical Sanskrit and Tamil texts. Part 4 analyzes all fourteen texts of the Tamil Meykaṇṭa corpus (13th–14th centuries) but erroneously presents the material as representative of Shaiva Siddhānta as a whole. Written before the larger history of Shaiva Siddhānta was understood.

    Find this resource:

  • Prentiss, Karen Pechilis. The Embodiment of Bhakti. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Updates Dhavamony’s historical survey of devotionalism and usefully discusses medieval Tamil temple practices. Translates two theological writings of the 13th-century Umāpati Śivācārya, who played an important role in localizing and transforming Shaiva Siddhānta by finding continuity between the texts of the Tamil Shaiva Tirumuṟai and those of the Sanskrit Siddhānta tradition.

    Find this resource:

  • Tamura, Koya. “Characteristics of the Studies of Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta.” Journal of Indian and Buddhist Studies 55.3 (2007): 45–50.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief, useful overview of the scholarly literature.

    Find this resource:

  • Zvelebil, K. V. Tamil Literature. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1975.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Groundbreaking early work documenting the history of Tamil literature through its printed literature. Chapters 10–11 provide detailed references to the study of Shaiva Siddhānta in the Tamil land.

    Find this resource:

The Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ

Irattiṉacapāpati 1988 provides the best scholarly Tamil edition of the Meykaṇṭa collection. Dhavamony 1971 summarizes the contents of the corpus, while Pechilis 1999 and Balasubramanian 2007 provide English translations of two of the texts. Sivaraman 1973 and Devasenapathi 1960 represent early academic studies of Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta doctrine; more recently, Janaki 1996 fruitfully examines the works and traditional biographies of one of the main authors, Umāpati Civaṉ, who may have consciously distanced Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta from the āgama-based temple ritual tradition, as Prentiss 1996 argues.

  • Balasubramanian, Ranganathan. “The Tirukaḷiṟṟuppaṭiyār: Transition from Bhakti to Caiva Cittāntam Philosophy.” MA thesis, McGill University, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Centers on a translation of what is probably the earliest text included in the Meykaṇṭa collection. The groundbreaking translation is accompanied by a transliteration of the Tamil text and a useful explanatory gloss.

    Find this resource:

  • Devasenapathi, V. A. Śaiva Siddhānta as Expounded in the Śivajñāna-Siddhiyār and Its Six Commentaries. Madras: University of Madras, 1960.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Classic study of one of the fourteen texts of the Meykaṇṭa corpus, Aruṇanti Civācariyar’s Civañāṉacittiyār, “Completion of the Knowledge of Shiva” (or “Completion of the Civañāṉa[pōtam]”), which establishes the sources of valid knowledge (pramāṇa), refutes non-Shaiva religious traditions, and defends the superiority of the doctrines of Shaiva Siddhānta.

    Find this resource:

  • Dhavamony, Mariasusai. Love of God According to Śaiva Siddhānta: A Study in the Mysticism and Theology of Śaivism. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Usefully summarizes all fourteen texts of the Meykaṇṭa corpus, though the historical material now requires updating.

    Find this resource:

  • Irattiṉacapāpati, Vai, ed. Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ. Chennai, India: University of Madras, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    This is the best complete edition of the fourteen texts of the Meykaṇṭa corpus.

    Find this resource:

  • Janaki, S. S., ed. Śrī Umāpati Śivācārya: His Life, Works, and Contribution to Śaivism. Chennai, India: Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, 1996.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays written in Tamil and English on various works by Umāpati Civaṉ, the author of the majority of the works in the Meykaṇṭa corpus. The volume includes the Sanskrit and Tamil texts of traditional biographies of his life and a bibliography of his writings and translations of his works.

    Find this resource:

  • Pechilis, Karen. The Embodiment of Bhakti. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Includes translations of Umāpati Civaṉ’s Tēvāra Aruḷmuṟaitiraṭṭu and Tiruvaruṭpayaṉ; the latter is included in the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ. The first work attempts to connect verses from the Tamil Tēvāram with Siddhāntin principles. The second elaborates on the nature of Shiva, souls, and fetters; the importance of Shiva’s grace; and his mantra. Also includes a valuable analysis of the Tiruvaruṭpayaṉ.

    Find this resource:

  • Prentiss, Karen Pechilis. “A Tamil Lineage for Śaiva Siddhānta Philosophy.” History of Religions 35.3 (1996): 231–257.

    DOI: 10.1086/463426Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that the Tamil authors consciously distanced themselves from the Siddhānta tradition in Sanskrit, by their disconnection from the Shaiva temple ritual texts and their construction of a Tamil spiritual lineage going back to the Tirumuṟai devotional corpus.

    Find this resource:

  • Sivaraman, K. Śaivism in Philosophical Perspective: A Study of the Formative Concepts, Problems and Methods of Śaiva Siddhānta. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta theology, based mostly on the Meykaṇṭa corpus. The work does not differentiate between the early system and the later Tamil texts, so it must be used with caution.

    Find this resource:

Later Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta Texts

Tamil preceptors and priests continued to write commentaries and to compose exegetical and ritual texts in Tamil and Sanskrit. Some continued the trend that began with the Civañāṉapōtam to move away from the dualist Sanskrit tradition, as Michaël 1975 relates, while Ganesan 2009 and Dagens 1979 provide evidence that many others continued to conform to teachings in the āgamas or the Meykaṇṭa Cāttiraṅkaḷ. Of note are the writers Jñānaprakāśa, Śivāgrayogin (in Capārattiṉam 2003), Nigamajñāna I, and Nigamajñāna II, all belonging to the 16th century, the same period that saw the founding of the Dharmapuram and Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai monasteries, which continue today. Koppedrayer 1993 examines the authority of śūdras to be Siddhāntin preceptors.

  • Capārattiṉam, S. P., ed. Civaneṟippirakācam. Chennai, India: Ṡrī Aghoraśivācārya Trust, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A recent Tamil edition of “Illumination of the Shaiva Religion,” by the 16th-century Tamil scholar Civākkirayōki (Śivāgrayogin). With an English introduction by T. Ganesan. Available online.

    Find this resource:

  • Dagens, Bruno, ed. and trans. Śaivāgamaparibhāṣāmañjarī de Vedajñāna: Le florilège de la doctrine śivaïte. Pondicherry, India: Institut francais de Pondichéry, 1979.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical edition and French translation of a Sanskrit work covering the essentials of Shaiva Siddhānta, compiled by the 16th-century Tamil preceptor Vedajñāna, a.k.a. Nigamajñāna II.

    Find this resource:

  • Ganesan, T. Two Śaiva Teachers of the Sixteenth Century: Nigamajñāna I and His Disciple Nigamajñāna II. Pondicherry, India: Institut francais de Pondichéry, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Valuable study of the complete oeuvres of two important Tamil preceptors who helped advance Shaiva Siddhānta in South India.

    Find this resource:

  • Koppedrayer, K. I. “The Varṇāśramacandrikā and the Śūdra’s Right to Preceptorhood: The Social Background of a Philosophical Debate in Late Medieval South India.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 19 (1993): 297–314.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examination of a text written by a non-Brahmin preceptor of the South Indian Dharmapuram monastery in the late 17th or early 18th century. The text defends the right of Tamil non-Brahmins, categorized as śūdras, to receive all levels of Siddhāntin initiation, including the rite that authorizes the initiate to become a preceptor.

    Find this resource:

  • Michaël, Tara, ed. and trans. Śivayogaratna de Jñānaprakāśa: Le joyau du Śiva-Yoga. Pondicherry, India: Institut francais d’Indologie, 1975.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Critical Sanskrit edition and French translation of “The Jewel of Śivayoga,” by the author of a Tamil commentary on Aruṇanti Civācariyar’s Civañānacittiyār. Jñānaprakāśa claims to base his work on several āgamas, but in fact combines Vedāntic and Siddhāntin notions into his exposition and advances śuddhādvaita (pure nondualism) as the soul’s ultimate aim.

    Find this resource:

Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta and Dravidian Nationalism

In the 19th century, under British colonial rule, Tamil revivalists in South India and what was then called Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) attempted to use Shaiva Siddhānta to counter criticisms of Hindu traditions by European Christian missionaries and Orientalists, as Ravindiran 2003 recounts. Hudson 1992 analyzes one early Shaiva revivalist, Āṟumuka Piḷḷai, who was the first to promote a reinvigorated Shaiva Siddhānta as a defense against Christian missionary attacks. Another early revivalist was J. M. Nallaswami Pillai, who in 1897 founded, edited, and wrote for Siddhanta Deepika or The Light of Truth, a journal devoted to English translations and articles on Indian religion and philosophy; it foregrounded Shaiva Siddhānta. Although Tamil reformers at this time were fighting against Brahmin dominance in South Indian religion and society, Nallaswami Pillai himself argued against anti-Brahmanism and understood that Shaiva Siddhānta had been developed by people of various castes, both in Tamil and Sanskrit. The idea that Shaiva Siddhānta was the “original” religion of the Dravidians, superior to Brahmanical Hinduism, failed to unify non-Brahmin groups, but the notion contributed greatly to the contemporary idea that Shaiva Siddhānta originated among the Tamils.

  • Hudson, D. Dennis. “Arumuga Navalar and the Hindu Renaissance among the Tamils.” In Religious Controversy in British India: Dialogues in South Asian Languages. Edited by Kenneth W. Jones, 27–51. Albany: State University of New York, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reconstructs the life of Āṟumuka Piḷḷai, a.k.a. Āṟumuka Nāvalār (b. 1822–d. 1879), and his role in revitalizing Shaiva Siddhānta and contributing to the development of Tamil nationalism.

    Find this resource:

  • Ravindiran, V. “Discourses of Empowerment: Missionary Orientalism in the Development of Dravidian Nationalism.” In Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities. Edited by Timothy Brook and Andre Schmid, 51–82. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the mutual exchange of ideas between Christian missionary Orientalists and Tamil reformers in the construction of Dravidian nationalism, which developed through efforts to give South Indian languages a linguistic and literary heritage that was distinct from the Indo-Aryan, as well as through the promotion of Shaiva Siddhānta as the “original” religion of the Tamils.

    Find this resource:

  • Siddhanta Deepika or The Light of Truth.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Originally published as a monthly journal from 1897 to 1914; reprinted in ten volumes by Asian Educational Services in 1994. J. M. Nallaswami Pillai (b. 1864–d. 1920) was its general editor from its beginnings until 1909, after which the periodical, with V. V. Raman as editor, was titled The Siddhanta Deepika and Agamic Review or The Light of Truth, emphasizing the āgamic origins of Shaiva Siddhānta.

    Find this resource:

Contemporary Shaiva Siddhānta

Contemporary Shaiva Siddhānta is scattered among mostly separate groups: temple priests, monastics, and international groups. In Tamil Nadu, with the exception of the Chidambaram Naṭarāja temple, all the large temples and many small shrines to Shiva are governed by Shaiva Siddhānta ritual (parārthapūjā), the knowledge of which is passed down by Brahmin temple priests called gurukkals (kurukkaḷ) through āgamic schools, hands-on practice, and refresher courses, as Fuller 1984 and Fuller 2003 have documented; L’Hernault and Reiniche 1999 describes the rites in detail. Significant monastic lineages established in the Tanjore region in the 16th century or later continue the practice of individual ritual “for one’s own sake” (ātmārthapūjā) and are important centers of traditional Tamil Shaiva Siddhānta learning. Koppedrayer 1990 provides an analysis of three such lineages. Finally, Shaiva Siddhānta now has a global presence, due both to popular and academic websites, the needs of diaspora groups, and a prominent convert group. Gurukkals are often recruited to work at temples in the diaspora, while the Hawaii-based Himalayan Academy spreads its message via the Internet and publications such as the magazine Hinduism Today.

  • Fuller, Christopher J. Servants of the Goddess: The Priests of a South Indian Temple. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A well-documented study of the priests of the Meenakshi-Sundareswara temple, with important ethnographic detail, as well as information on how the temple is run and how the priests adapted to changes in their social and economic status.

    Find this resource:

  • Fuller, Christopher J. Renewal of the Priesthood: Modernity and Traditionalism in a South Indian Temple. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A valuable update to Fuller 1984. Examination of the changes in the economic and educational status of the priests of the Meenakshi-Sundareswara temple.

    Find this resource:

  • Hinduism Today.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Monthly magazine published by the Himalayan Academy, containing news about Hindus and Hinduism as well as articles on the religious life. Online archives go back to 1979.

    Find this resource:

  • Koppedrayer, Kathleen Iva. “The Sacred Presence of the Guru: The Velala Lineages of Tiruvavatuturai, Dharmapuram, and Tiruppanantal.” PhD diss., McMaster University, 1990.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the structure of three monastic institutions (based on spiritual lineages) and uses ethnographic research, inscriptions, hagiographies, and writings on Shaiva Siddhānta doctrine and ritual in order to understand the construction of group membership and identity, the relationship between ātīṉam and maṭam, and the historical relationship between temple and ātīṉam.

    Find this resource:

  • L’Hernault, Françoise, and Marie-Louise Reiniche. Tiruvannamalai: Un lieu saint śivaïte du Sud de l’Inde. Vol. 3, Rites et fȇtes: Supplement: Le Parārthanityapūjāvidhi, règle pour le culte quotidien dans un temple: Introduction, partial translation and notes by Hélène Brunner. Paris: École française d’Extrȇme-Orient, 1999.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Meticulously documented study of the Siddhāntin rituals practiced today at the great Arunachalesvara temple at Tiruvaṇṇāmalai, accompanied by a partial translation of what is probably a relatively recent manual of temple ritual that maps on well to the rituals in practice.

    Find this resource:

LAST MODIFIED: 05/23/2012

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195399318-0084

back to top

Article

Up

Down