Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

9 What Is Saiva Siddhanta?§


The heart of Saiva Siddhanta is love—God Siva’s love for His creation and our love for Him. Here the 16-year-old Markandeya is saved from death by clinging with all his might to Siva, refusing to let go.§


Saiva Siddhanta is the name of our school of Hinduism. It is today the oldest, most vigorous and widely practiced of the six forms of Saivism. It has many millions of devotees, tens of thousands of active temples and dozens of living monastic and ascetic traditions. Saiva Siddhanta once enjoyed a glorious presence throughout India. Today it is strongest within the Tamil traditions of South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and elsewhere. In fact, it is sometimes referred to simply as Tamil Saivism. The term Saiva Siddhanta means “the final, or established, conclusions of Saivism.” Today there are two primary schools of Saiva Siddhanta. One is the pluralistic school of Meykandar, which holds that God, soul and world are eternally separate. The other is the monistic school of Tirumular, which stresses the ultimate oneness of man and God. We follow Tirumular’s lineage, which is specifically called Shuddha Saiva Siddhanta. For both schools, Siva is All, and His divine, manifest energy, Shakti, is inseparable from Him. In temples we often see Siva and Shakti enshrined as two separate beings, a divine couple, but in truth they are one. We worship Ganesha and Murugan as great Lords who serve their creator, God Siva. We chant the holy mantra Namaḥ Śivāya. We wear rudraksha beads and holy ash. We revere the many Saivite saints. We believe it is necessary to have a living guru. We cherish the holy Sivalinga, keep company (sangam) with other devout seekers, and revere the great many Siva temples. These four—guru, Lingam, sangam (fellowship) and valipadu (worship)—are the essence of Saiva Siddhanta as found in ancient Sanskrit and Tamil literature.§


GURUDEVA: Saivism—and most especially the traditions and philosophy expressed in Saiva Siddhanta—is more able to provide for mankind’s resurgent demands for direct spiritual awakening and enlightened living than any other religion on the planet.§