Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

8 What Is Saivite Hinduism?§


God Siva sits in the Himalayas. This form, called Sadasiva, has five faces & ten arms. These faces denote His five powers of creation, preservation, dissolution, concealment & revealing grace.§


Saivism is the world’s oldest religion. Worshiping God Siva, the compassionate One, it stresses potent disciplines, high philosophy, the guru’s centrality and the path of bhakti and raja yoga, leading to oneness with Siva within. Saivism is ancient, truly ageless, for it has no beginning. It is the precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed Hinduism. Scholars trace the roots of Siva worship back more than 8,000 years to the advanced Indus Valley civilization. But sacred writings tell us there never was a time when Saivism did not exist. There are six schools of philosophy and tradition within Saivism: Saiva Siddhanta, Kashmir Saivism, Pashupata Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siva Advaita and Siddha Siddhanta. They differ in many ways, philosophically, historically, linguistically and geographically. Still, they share an overwhelming similarity of belief and practice. In addition to the Vedas, the Saiva Agamas are the shared scriptures of all six schools. All six identify Siva as the Supreme Lord, both immanent and transcendent, worshiped as the personal Lord and realized through meditation as the Absolute, Parasiva, beyond all form. All hold these principal Agamic doctrines: 1) the five powers of Siva (creation, preservation, destruction, concealing and revealing grace); 2) the three primary elements of existence, Pati, pashu and pasha (God, souls and bonds); 3) the three bonds, or malas (anava, karma and maya); 4) the threefold energy of Siva—iccha, kriya and jnana shakti (desire, action and wisdom); 5) the thirty-six tattvas, or categories of existence; 6) the need for a satguru and initiation; 7) the power of mantra; and 8) the four padas or stages of spirituality, charya, kriya, yoga and jnana (service, devotion, union and wisdom).§


GURUDEVA: Saivism is the greatest religion in the world, and we are all very fortunate and proud to be Saivites. It has the most ancient culture on the planet. It has scriptures that are utterly profound. It has sacred hymns that stir the soul. It has unparalleled disciplines of yoga and meditation. It has magnificent temples that are truly holy. It has devoted sages and holy men and women.§