The Monistic Theism of Saiva Siddhanta

Path to Siva, Lesson 10


Our doctrine in Saiva Siddhanta is Monistic Theism, Advaita Ishvaravada. To experience oneness with God, to really do well in meditation, first, as a foundation, perfect theism. Become a great monist afterwards. Temple puja awakens the amrita within you; go into that and experience successful meditation after the puja.

Path to Siva, Lesson 10.

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Looking this morning at Lesson 10 from our recently published book, Path to Siva, which is entitled:

"What Is Monistic Theism?

"Monistic theism is the combination of two concepts: monism and theism. Monism is the doctrine that reality is a one whole. It holds that everything is God. Theism is the belief that God exists as a loving, personal Lord and creator. These are like two sides of a coin, present in most Hindu systems. Our Saiva Siddhanta philosophy is a form of monistic theism. We see God as our personal Lord; as the essence of all that exists; and also as Absolute Being, Parasiva, beyond all form. In our theistic practices, we worship God and the Gods in the spirit of devotion and humble submission. In our monistic practices, we meditate deeply to experience the essence of our soul, which is identical with God Siva's essence, which is present throughout the universe. Siva has both a monistic aspect and a theistic aspect. Through our two-sided practice we honor and draw close to both. The most complete and perfect path requires both monism and theism. The opposite of monism is dualism, which teaches that God and creation are separate realities. Dualists believe that God, like a potter, creates the universe (a pot) from 'clay,' cosmic matter which has always existed and is not part of Him. In Saiva monism, Siva is all and in all: the potter, the clay and the resulting pot. Some forms of Hindu monism do not include much theism. Ours does. We worship Siva as the God of love, Parameshvara, Siva as creator, preserver and destroyer, Siva as separate from us, who loves us as His creation. That is the theism part. Yet we also believe He is not separate from us. He is within us as Parashakti, pure consciousness flowing through all form, and as Absolute Reality, Parasiva. That is the monism part."

Gurudeva's quote.

"Monists from their mountaintop perspective, perceive a one reality in all things. Dualists, from the foothills, see God, souls and world as eternally separate. Monistic theism is the perfect reconciliation of these two views."

The term we use which isn't here because this is written for teenagers and keeps the terminology simple: Advaita Ishvaravada. Of course these are Sanskrit terms for Monistic Theism. And for those of you not familiar with it vada just means doctrine. So. you can have all kinds of doctrines. A popular doctrine is Shankara's mayavada. Shankara's followers are called mayavadins, followers of the doctrine of mayavada or the unreality of the world, mayavada.

So Ishvaravada, advaitavada and you can put them together advaita-Ishvaravada. So Ishvaravada means theism, advaitavada means monism and put it together you get monistic theism, the doctrine of monistic theism.

The other word we use is the English word panentheism which means God is in everything. Have a very simple way of explaining monistic theism. Make the monks morning routine. Sometimes I get asked about, what the monks' morning routine is. Their group activity starts at 5:30 with a Siva puja in Kadavul Temple. And that's our theism. And then we go around to the Guru temple and we meditate for an hour and that's our morning routine. So every morning we practice monistic theism or theistic monism it's just that theism is first. Practice both.

And many Hindu groups only have one or the other. Common or emphasize one or the other and they have both but they really put the emphasis on one. One of the largest groups in the U.S., ISKCON, they're theists. Vaishnavites are generally theists; they focus on personal God. If you see them meditating, they're meditating on the personal God. They're not meditating on their identity with God. They're not monistic in their thinking. And then certain Vedanta groups focus a lot on jnana yoga and the high philosophy of being God: Aham Brahmasmi and don't focus that much on theism. They don't even have a traditional temple; they just have a shrine.

But we, we have both and emphasize practicing both. And more specifically Gurudeva stresses that in Saiva Siddhanta, to really do well in meditation we have to... and to experience our oneness with God, we have to be a good theist first. So perfect our theism in the form of service at the temple, in the form of devotional practices at the temple. Become a great theist. A great dualist. And that's a good foundation for becoming a great monist afterwards. That's the idea of Saiva Siddhanta.

I was doing a webinar on Saiva Siddhanta and doing a little research. As I explained a few weeks ago [C.R. Sun 1-11/9/16] that there's charya, kriya, yoga and jnana but within each one you have charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. So we have charya and... charya and charya, kriya and charya, yoga and charya, jnana and charya, etc. Cause we have sixteen all together. And yoga in, well here, the charya and charya is to help with the chores of the temple: picking flowers, sweeping, being the servant of the Deity. Doing what a servant would do in a mansion. So we're just the servant to the Deity, not to the priest, not to the monk. Servant to the Deity.

Then we attend the puja, that's kriya and charya. Yoga and charya is meditating after the puja. So the first form of meditation, Saiva Siddhanta, involves the temple. You attend puja then afterwards you take all that within you. Gurudeva has a beautiful writing on how to meditate after the puja. Says the puja awakens the amrita within you and you can go into that and experience successful meditation just by sitting after the puja and meditating.

So you can't get away from the temple in Saiva Siddhanta. Even your first form of meditation is supposed to be after the puja.

So thank you very much.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Watch for those small incidents that imperceptively get under your skin and create an eruption a few days later.
—Gurudeva