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Shaiva Siddhanta


shrauta shaiva siddhAnta is based on shaivAgamas:

shrautAshrautavibhedena dvividhAstu shivAgamAH |

The shaiva Agamas are twofold: shrauta and ashrauta. shrauta are those following the shruti, and are again of two kinds:

1. svatantra
2. itara

svatantra is again of ten kinds [svatantro dashadhA purA]

tathAShTadashadhA pashchAt siddhAnta iti gIyate |

Siddhanta is of eighteen types.

itaraH shrutisArastu shatakoTipravistaraH ||

Though several shaivaite scholars have tried to propose shrauta shaiva siddhAnta as the pure representation of the shruti or that it faithfully adheres to the shruti, the claim has been refuted by several others. Now, the same is true with the Tantra as well, as also some aspects of purANa which is reflective of such ideas. smArtas many times have remained quiet possibly because of the use of the words shrauta and shaiva, but vaiShNavas (especially the mAdhvas) have refuted the claim of many of these Agamas for shrutiparatva extremely well! Now call it vitaNDavAda or whatever, mAdhvas know their tarka well!

Yes, everyone is free to follow what they believe is correct, but if one thinks one is following the siddhAnta and is adhering to shruti or smR^iti, no one but the siddhAnti himself would agree with such a statement. Following this siddhAnta does not get one any closer to shruti or smR^iti and following tantra does not take one away from these any further than the shaiva siddhAnta. Works of famous followers of shrauta shaiva siddhAnta, especially the ArAdhyas like mallikArjuna paNDita, shrIpati paNDita, manchana paNDita etc. have been refuted sufficiently well and that would be proof enough for us. These have not been refuted by adherents of kevalAdvaita or shAnkara siddhAnta alone, as many would like to fantasize, but by various others sects as well. The points raised by them are not merely related to jivAtma-paramatmAa alone, as some of these Agamas are quasi-monistic in nature based on the charyA prescribed in these Agamas as well.

The Vedic origin of the shaiva siddhAnta is not really acceptable to even many shaivaite scholars today. There seem to be four different views regarding the origin of shaiva siddhAnta, in a broad sense:

1. Shaivaites like Kanda Pillai etc. maintain that shaiva siddhAnta or path of worship of a deity named shiva has its origin in saura siddhAnta or worship of the Sun.

2. Another group relates the following story: Ages before the emergence of the Himalayas, the Mahendra Mountain in Kumari Nadu, now under the ocean, was the seat of the Tamil sages. It was here that the marais were bestowed upon four of them. These marais were four in number and dealt with virtu,e wealth, pleasure and bliss and came to be known as nAnmarais. To distinguish these from Sanskrit works that came only much later, they were called pANdya nAnmarai. So, this is one view.

3. Some trace the origin of the siddhAnta to the period of 28 shaivAgamas and 108 upAgamas and this indeed seems to be the currently popular view.

4. Some believe the siddhAnta to be a later form of the Vedic worship of Rudra. The vrAtyas who re-aligned their faith from the mainstream practice of yajna, developed practices that gradually led to the evolution of what is known today as shaiva siddhAnta.

The siddhAntins are not always unanimous in ascribing to Vedas the importance that they attach to the shaivAgama lore. The differences between the siddhAntic school and other popular schools on the key concept of mokSha or liberation is what can give a quick and precise look at the essence of the somewhat imperfect but soulful teachings of this path. shrIkaNTha bhAShya is a valuable source of reference here.

On account of its theories, siddhAnta contends with the following schools of thought:

1. lokAyata, bauddha, jaina
2. sAmkhya, vedAnta, mImAmsA and pAncharAtra
3. shaiva schools such as pAshupata and aikyavAda
4. shaiva schools such as shivasamavAda, bhedavAda, pAShANavAda, IshvArivikAravAda, pariNAmavAda etc.

According to materialists of the lokAyata school, the perceptible external world is reality and there is no mokSha external to sensory enjoyment. This clearly conflicts not only with shaiva siddhAnta but also with other schools like vedAnta. Theory of chArvAka has been dealt so thoroughly with by our AchAryas like sha~Nkara and rAmAnuja that nothing remains to be said here. On similar grounds, various sub sects of this school such as dehAtmavAda, indriyAtmavAda, sUkShamdehAtmavAda, prANAtmavAda, tattvasamUhAtmavAda, antahkaraNAtmavAda etc. are refuted.

To the bauddha, nirvANa simply means a blank of non-existence attained by dissolution of the skandhas, which is marked by end of suffering. siddhAnta hopes not merely for the ending of suffering but for an everlasting bliss as well. The sautrAntika, who believes neither in jIva or Ishvara, is heavily criticized by the siddhAntin.

Jaina school improvises on bauddha concepts and does not try to escape altogether from existence, but rather from bodily existence. Here, the attainment, apart from cessation of suffering, is peace. While Jainas hold that the soul can achieve emancipation by its own efforts, siddhAnta does not view the soul, covered by mala-traya, as being capable to achieve mokSha by itself.

sAmkhya again proposes that the puruSha can achieve salvation that can arises out of the knowledge on the part of the puruSha that he is not prakR^iti. siddhAnta rejects this to be mere pashu jnAna and states that attainment of pati jnAna alone can grant higher deliverance. siddhAntin also rejects the ArambhavAda theory of the naiyAyikas and tends to agree with satkAryavAda.

Mukti of the mImAmsAkas can be crudely explained as attainment of the heavens of the devas, attained through ceremonial sacrifices. siddhAnta, like other schools, points out that such a state is short lived for the soul resumes its earthly existence when the rewards have been reaped. mokSha, once attained, is ever lasting. mImAsA upholds apauruSheyatva of the Veda which is both agreed upon and contested by the siddhAntin for he believes shiva to be the author of the Veda and at the same time does not regard shiva as a mere puruSha. The vaidika rituals and ceremonies are of negligible significance and serve the purpose of some purification in preliminary stages, according to the siddhAnta. Many saints held highly by the siddhAntins never performed any vedic ritual and this point is stressed by the siddhAntins.

pAncharAtra holds that the universe of jIvas and material things is a transformation of the paramAtman. The jIva here, instead of being an integral being, is a phenomenal manifestation of the unmanifest and its release lies in losing itself in the substrate. As the individuality of the soul is denied here, siddhAnta rejects this school. vAma and bhairava schools of shaivAgama express concepts similar to pAncharAtra and insists that the universe, consisting of both intelligent and non-intelligent beings, is a transformation of shiva. siddhAnta refutes both these schools on similar grounds.

pAshupata sees no difference between jIva and shiva in mukti and jIva can perform the panchakR^itya of Ishvara. pAshupatas use this analogy to illustrate their point: when a father decides to undertake vAnaprastha, he entrusts all his duties as a gR^ihastha to his son. Similarly, pashupati entrusts all his duties to the jIva when mukti is attained. Clearly, this does not agree with the siddhAnta. kApAla and mahAvrata schools have identical concepts of mokSha and rituals are the main ways to attain liberation. siddhAnta refutes these schools as well.

aikyavAda, again a shaivaite school, holds that jIva and shiva are equals, and as water joins water, jIva merges in shiva losing its individuality and that is mukti. siddhAnta does not agree with either of these concepts. Moreover, an aikyavAdin accepts only two malas, mAyika and kArmika.

shivasamavAda holds the same view as siddhAnta regarding malas or impurities but explains jIva to be equal to shiva after the removal of malatraya. siddhAnta however sees a jIva free from mala as only fit to experience Shiva but not his equal as jIva is viewed to be incapable of performing panchakR^itya. An associated school, shivasankrAntavAda holds that the material karaNas used to perceive the world, transform into shivakaraNas at a certain stage and that these can be used to know shiva. siddhAntin refutes these with the claim that shiva is above the category of karaNas.

Dualists or bhedavAdins maintain that jIva and shiva are different at all points in time. They hold that the jIva, after cleansed of the malas, is still inferior and separate from shiva even in the state of mukti. While siddhAnta agrees about the inferior state of jIva, it has its own arguments on jIva not being withdrawn from shiva at mukti.

pAshANavAdins hold that Anava does not leave the jIva even on mukti, and jIva, covered by Anava, remains like a stone. Thus, the jIva is described to be stone-like at mukti, unconscious and experiencing neither suffering or happiness. But a siddhAntin propounds removal of ANava mala and rejects a mere painless existence as mokSha.

IshvarAvikAravAda maintains that there is no change in shiva and in the process of attaining mukti, shiva remains as he is. He serves as a goal that is attractive and satisfying to the jIva but there is really no activity on his part in this whole mukti thingie. The move towards mukti is solely made by the jIva. siddhAntin thinks that this concept refutes the freedom of shiva to act and hence rejects this concept.

pariNAmavAda, also known as shivAdvaita, my favorite among its peers, holds that shiva transforms into the world and the jIvas. On mukti, jIva loses its transient individuality and becomes shiva. siddhAntin sees this loss of identity of jIva as baseless. While a pariNAmavAdin can refute the siddhAntin ceaselessly, we shall not get into those details for the subject of this post is siddhAnta and not shAkta pariNAmavAda.

Finally, vedAnta or ekAtmavAda accepts only one Atma, who is the paramAtman. When avidyA is dispelled, mukti occurs here. Though siddhAnta places both shiva and jIva in the same category of beings, there is a clear nIchoccha bhAva here and thus never complete identity between them. siddhAntin, who observes the jIva to be undergoing births and deaths and other limitations, objects to it being termed as the Supreme One at any point, be it after mokSha. Several Vedantins including AchArya bhagavatpAda have refuted the siddhAnta using shruti as mukhya pramANa rather than Agama. That Agama is considered as an a~Nga of shruti has been explained later, which automatically grants a higher priority for shruti pramANa over that from the Agama.

There was another query in the recent past related to lakulIsha pAshupata, which I chose to conveniently ignore then. It now seems to be the right time to take that up again. Some believe that shiva incarnated as lakulIsha and dwelt at Karohana in the lAta desha and trained four disciples Kushika, Gargya, Maitreya and Kaurushya, and from them originated the four branches. Some believe that lakulISha reincarnated as maNinAtha to resurrect his doctrine. Commentators on the vedAnta sUtras speak of four associated schools, shaiva, pAshupata, kArukasiddhAnta and kApAlika. vAchaspati mishra calls the third, kAruNika siddhAnta. rAmAnuja calls it kAlAmukha. It is evident that the word kAruka is a corruption or a colloquial form of Kaurushya. The five tenets of pAshupata are:

1. kArya: the effect
2. kAraNa: pradhAna or pashupati
3. yoga: contemplation
4. vidhi: rites, mainly bhasmasnAna
5. duHkhAnta: the deliverence

A related verse from the vidyApAda of pauShkarAgama describing the six padArthas is as below:

patirvidyA tathAvidyA pashuH pAshashcha kAraNam |
tannivR^ittAviti proktAH padArthAH ShaT samAsataH ||

Some details of vidhi and charyA from nakulIshAgama and pAshupata sUtra are reproduced below:

"One should besprinkle the body at the three sandhis of the day and lie down in the ashes. The six definite practices are laughing, singing, dancing, huDukkAra, prostration and japa. With these, one should worship pashupati. Laughing means making the sound Ha Ha Ha by the forcible stretch of the throat and the lips. Singing is the contemplation of the attributes of pashupati. Dancing should be resorted to by contracting and stretching forth hands, feet, etc. HudukkAra is a sound resembling that of an ox, made by striking the tongue on the palate". I think I like all of these, except the ashes part :-)

Nature of pashu or jIva, of pati, the malas, mantra and mantreshvara, lakShaNa of a mukta, categories of pashus such as vijnAnAkala etc., the concept of rodhashakti etc. need to be understood to have an idea of this system. One can refer to pAshupatAgamas or works like shaivasiddhAntasAra to get a deeper understanding and we shall not discuss them at length here for it really is of no interest to us. That said, pAshupata is certainly one of the wildest and most extreme schools among the other relatively more rational and moderate branches of shaivism, and hence is classified correctly as atimArgika. kApAla and kALAmukha sects fit this category as well. Most scholars studying and writing about these sects underplay the actual charyA pAda or the practice part and elaborate endlessly on the pashvAdi theory which really makes no sense for rituals are indispensable here. And there is also the effort to suppress the "wild" part! Many works published by Kamaraj and Bangalore Universities are good examples for this trend.

kApAlika siddhAnta states that the one who knows mudrikA rahasya attains the highest bliss by concentrating his mind on the soul seated in the generative organ of the female. The six marks or mudras are necklace, chest ornament, ear ornament, crest jewel, ashes and yajna sUtra. He, whose body bears these marks, is said to be free from transmigration and this aspect is severely attacked by the later AchAryas. A certain Daoist priest from a sect tracing its origin to the Mao Shan mountain ranges, which seems to incorporate a lot of vajrAyaNa, said something so similar to this, that kapAla vrata was the first thing that popped into my mind! kALAmukhas propose the following six tenets as the path of attaining desires, whatever they may be: eating the food in a skull, besmearing the body with chitA bhasma, eating chitA bhasma, holding lagula, lakula or lakuDa, meaning a club, keeping a pot of liquor, worshiping Shiva as stationed in surA. As stated in one of the Agamas, brAhmaNya can be attained by all by the performance of certain kApAlika rites:

"One becomes a brAhmaNa immediately after the process of initiation. He becomes a saint after undertaking the vow of kapAla".

To get a historical perspective, one can examine bhavabhUti's mAlatImAdhava, where shrIshaila is described as the primary seat of kApAlika sect. A female member of this sect, kapAlakuNDalA, who wears a garland of human skulls, carries way mAlatI and places here before an image of karALA chAmuNDA to sacrifice her, as ordered by her preceptor aghoraghaNTa. Such pictures of kApAlikas visible in most literature, does seem to showcase the actual practices of this sect in those times. kAlAmukhas are described as mahavratadhArins by some authorities including rAmAnujAchArya. However, jagaddhara and others interpret mahAvrata to mean kapAla vrata undertaken by the kApAlikas. Early commentators and scholars have referred to different shaiva sects commonly as pAshupata. It is quite apparent that there is a delieberate effort made by the later schools, especially the pratyabhij~nA and spanda schools of kAshmIra, to distance themselves from this older and traditional aspect of shaivism. It thus is no surprise that vasugupta claimed a fresh revelation for his school, though the tenets of older and sober schools of shaivas were indeed preserved in the spanda system. A word or two about vIrashaivas would have been appropriate here but the current state of lingAyatas and their outlook today in karNATaka instills in me no encouragement to write in this regard. Mahadevi Akka has been a constant source of inspiration however.

The five srotas of shaiva Agama, or tantra to be more precise, are defined as below:

srotAmsi kAmikAdUrdhvaM asitA~NgAdi dakShiNam |
sammohAduttaraM prAchyaM trotalAdi suvistaram ||

These five are considered to be mukhya srotas and the secondary streams or anusrotas, eight in number, are listed below:

shaivaM mAntreshvaraM gANaM divyamArShaM cha gauhyakam |
yoginIsiddhakaulaM cha srotAsyaShTau vidurbudhAH ||

While some speak of shAkta tantra as being associated or subsidiary to shaivAgama, the shaivAgamas themselves do not accept vAma, dakShiNa and other shAkta margas as shuddha or pure from the shaiva perspective:

shAstraM chaturvidhaM j~neyaM vAmadakShiNamishrakam |
siddhAntena samAyuktaM chaturdhaivaM prakIrtitam ||
siddhAntaM sarvasAraM hi shuddhashaivamiti smR^itam |
vAmaM cha dakShiNaM chaiva mishrakaM cha trayo hyamI |
shaivabAhyAH samAkhyAtA te tu shaive.apyapUjitAH || [suprabhedAgame]

The same seems true when the classic Vedic tradition is considered. Some Agamas undermine the classic Ashrama system in preference to shaiva dharma, projected as a superior and universal Ashrama:

sarveShAmeva varNAnAM shivAshramaniSheviNAm |
shivadharmaH shivenokto dharmakAmarthamuktaye |
brAhmaNaH kShatriyo vaishyaH strI shUdro vA shivAshramI || [mR^igendrAgame]

The four gotras for a shaiva, siddhAnta shaiva to be specific, are described thus in the charyApAda of the same Agama:

shivagotraM shikhAgotram jyotirgotraM tR^itIyakam |
sAvitrIgotramityetat shaivagotrachatuShTayam ||

But there is pramANa within the Agama itself to identify as a derivative or limb of the Veda:

na vedaH praNavaM tyaktvA mantro vedasamanvitaH |
tasmAdvedaparo mantro vedA~NgashchAgamaH smR^itaH ||

I would suspect that this rule would practically apply to those Agmas and tantras which fall within the category that is not considered veda bAhya by the sAmpraDayikas.

That vAmAdi AchAra bheda is not limited to shAkta tantra becomes vident from the following Agamokti, specific to shaivAgama:

upAsanA tridhA proktA shreShThA tatra tu sAttvikI |
tasyAM na mAnasau pUjAjapau mukhyatamau smR^itau ||
rAjaso dakshiNo mArgaH pratimAyAM prapUjanam |
bAhyopacharaiH puShpAdyaiH tadAdyAnAM vishiShyate ||
tAmasonpAsanaM proktaM pIThAdau balidAnataH |
vAmamArgeNa tacchAdyaM varNaM hitvA prashasyate ||

Though not specifc to shAkta tantra, this division is extremely similar to the three divisions outlined by shrI lakShmIdharAchArya, someone who is referred to reverentially and quoted even by
bhAskararAya, as samaya, dakSha and vAmAcharas, and the pramANas quoted for tatpuShTi.

hare krShNa