A History of Indian Philosophy Volume 5

Southern Schools of Śaivism

by Surendranath Dasgupta | 1955 | 79,816 words | ISBN-13: 9788120804081

This page describes the philosophy of the literature and history of southern shaivism: a concept having historical value dating from ancient India. This is the first part in the series called the “literature of southern shaivism”, originally composed by Surendranath Dasgupta in the early 20th century.

Part 1 - The Literature and History of Southern Śaivism

The earliest Sanskrit philosophical literature in which we find a reference to Śaivism is a bhāṣya of Śaṅkara (eighth century) on Brahma-sūtra II. 2. 37. In the commentary on this śūtra, Śaṅkara refers to the doctrines of the Siddhāntas as having been written by Lord Maheśvara. The peculiarity of the teachings of the Siddhāntas was that they regarded God as being only the instrumental cause of the world. Here and elsewhere Śaṅkara has called the upholders of this view Īśvara-kāraṇins. If Śiva or God was regarded as both the instrumental and the material cause of the world, according to the different Siddhānta schools of thought, then there would be no point in introducing the sūtra under reference, for according to Śaṅkara also, God is both the instrumental and the material cause of the world. Śaṅkara seems to refer here to the Pāśupata system which deals with the five categories, such as the cause (kāraṇa), effect (kārya), communion (yoga), rules of conduct (vidhi) and dissolution of sorrow (duḥkhānta)[1]. According to him it also holds that Pāśupati (God) is the instrumental cause of the world. In this view the Naiyāyikas and the Vaiśeṣikas also attribute the same kind of causality to God, and offer the same kind of arguments, i.e. the inference of the cause from the effect.

Vācaspati Miśra (a.d. 840), in commenting on the bhāṣya of Śaṅkara, says that the Maheśvaras consist of the Śaivas, Pāśupatas, the Kāruṇika-siddhāntins and the Kāpālikas. Mādhava of the fourteenth century mentions the Śaivas as being Nakulīśa-pāśupatas who have been elsewhere mentioned as Lākulīśa-pāśupatas or Lakulīśa-pāśupatas, and they have been discussed in another section of the present work. Mādhava also mentions the Śaiva-darśana in which he formulates the philosophical doctrines found in the Śaivāgamas and their cognate literature. In addition to this he devotes a section to pratyabhijñā-darśana, commonly called Kāśmīr Śaivism. This system will also be dealt with in the present volume. Vācaspati mentions the Kāruṇika-siddhāntins and the Kāpālikas. Rāmānuja in his bhāṣya on Brahma-sūtra II. 2. 37 mentions the name of Kāpālikas and Kālamukhas as being Śaiva sects of an anti-Vedic character. But in spite of my best efforts, I have been unable to discover any texts, published or unpublished, which deal with the special features of their systems of thought. We find some references to the Kāpālikas in literature like the Mālatī-mādhava of Bhavabhūti (a.d. 700-800) and also in some of the Purāṇas. Ānandagiri, a contemporary of Śaṅkara and a biographer, speaks of various sects of Śaivas with various marks and signs on their bodies and with different kinds of robes to distinguish themselves from one another. He also speaks of two schools of Kāpālikas, one Brahmanic and the other non-Brahmanic. In the Atharva-veda we hear of the Vrātyas who were devotees of Rudra. The Vrātyas evidently did not observe the caste-rules and customs. But the Vrātyas of the Atharva-veda were otherwise held in high esteem. But the Kāpālikas, whether they were Brahmanic or non-Brahmanic, indulged in horrid practices of drinking and indulging in sex-appetite and living in an unclean manner. It is doubtful whether there is any kind of proper philosophy, excepting the fact that they were worshippers of Bhairava the destroyer, who also created the world and maintained it. They did not believe in karma. They thought that there are minor divinities who perform various functions in world creation and maintenance according to the will of Bhairava. The Śūdra Kāpālikas did not believe also in the caste-system and all these Kāpālikas ate meat and drank wine in skulls as part of their rituals. Sir R. G. Bhandarkar thinks on the authority of Śiva-mahāpurāṇa that the Kālamukhas were the same as the Mahāvratadharas. But the present author has not been able to trace any such passage in the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa, and Bhandarkar does not give any exact reference to the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa containing this identification. The Mahāvrata, meaning the great vow, consists in eating food placed in a human skull and smearing the body with the ashes of human carcasses and others, which are attributed to the Kālamukhas by Rāmānuja. Bhandarkar also refers to the commentary of Jagaddhara on the Mālatī-mādhava, where the Kāpālika-vrata is called Mahāvrata. Bhandarkar further points out that the ascetics dwelling in the temple of Kāpāleśvara near Nasik are called the Mahāvratins[2]. Be that as it may, we have no proof that the Kāpālikas and Kālamukhas had any distinct philosophical views which could be treated separately. Members of their sects bruised themselves in performing particular kinds of rituals, and could be distinguished from other Śaivas by their indulgence in wines, women, and meat and even human meat. Somehow these rituals passed into Tāntric forms of worship, and some parts of these kinds of worship are found among the adherents of the Tāntric form of worship even to this day. Tāntric initiation is thus different from the Vedic initiation.

Frazer in his article on Śaivism in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics says that, in some well-known temples in South India, the ancient blood-rites and drunken orgies are permitted to be revived yearly as a compromise with the aboriginal worshippers, whose primitive shrines were annexed by Brahmin priests acting under the protection of local chieftains. These chieftains, in return for their patronage and countenance, obtained a rank as Kṣatriyas with spurious pedigrees. Frazer further gives some instances in the same article in which non-Brahmins and outcastes performed the worship of Śiva and also offered human sacrifices, and one of the places he mentions is Śrīśaila, the Kāpālika centre referred to by Bhavabhūti. These outcaste worshippers were ousted from the temple by some of the Buddhists, and thereafter the Buddhists were thrown out by the Brahmins. By the time of Śaṅkara, the Kāpālikas developed a strong centre in Ujjain. We, of course, do not know whether the South Indian cult of blood-rites as performed by Brahmins and non-Brahmins could be identified with the Kāpālikas and Kālamukhas; but it is quite possible that they were the same people, for Śrīśaila, mentioned by Bhavabūti, which is described as an important Kāpālika centre, is also known to us as a centre of bloody rites from the Sthala-māhātmya records of that place as mentioned by Frazer. The Kāpālikas and Kālamukhas were anti-Vedic according to the statement of Rāmānuja in Brahma-sūtra II. 2. 37. Śaṅkara also, according to Ānandagiri, did not hold any discussion with the Kāpālikas, as their views were professedly anti-Vedic. He simply had them chastised and whipped. The Kāpālikas, however, continued in their primitive form and some of them were living even in Bengal, as is known to the present writer. The habit of smearing the body with ashes is probably very old in Śaivism, since we find the practice described in the Pāśupata-sūtra and in the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya.

The Kāruṇika-siddhāntins mentioned by Vācaspati have not been referred to by Mādhava (fourteenth century) in his Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha, and we do not find a reference to these in any of the Śaivāgamas. But from the statement of Śaiva philosophy in the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā of the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa, as discussed in another section (pp. 106-29), it is not difficult for us to reconstruct the reasons which might have led to the formation of a special school of Śaivism. We find that the doctrine of grace or karuṇā is not always found in the same sense in all the Āgamas, or in the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā, which was in all probability based on the Āgamas. Ordinarily the idea of grace or karuṇā would simply imply the extension of kindness or favour to one in distress. But in the Śaivāgamas there is a distinct line of thought where karuṇā or grace is interpreted as a divine creative movement for supplying all souls with fields of experience in which they may enjoy pleasures and suffer from painful experiences. The karuṇā of God reveals the world to us in just the same manner as we ought to experience it. Grace, therefore, is not a work of favour in a general sense, but it is a movement in favour of our getting the right desires in accordance with our karma. Creative action of the world takes place in consonance with our good and bad deeds, in accordance with which the various types of experience unfold themselves to us. In this sense, grace may be compared with the view of Yoga philosophy, which admits of a permanent will of God operating in the orderliness of the evolutionary creation (pariṇāmakrama-niyama) for the protection of the world, and supplying it as the basis of human experience in accordance with their individual karmas. It is again different from the doctrine of karuṇā of the Rāmānuja Vaiṣṇavas, who introduce the concept of Mahālakṣmī, one who intercedes on behalf of the sinners and persuades Nārāyaṇa to extend His grace for the good of the devotees.

The word ‘śiva’ is supposed to have been derived irregularly from the root ‘vaś kāntan. This would mean that Śiva always fulfils the desires of His devotees. This aspect of Śiva as a merciful Lord who is always prepared to grant any boons for which prayers are offered to Him is very well depicted in the Mahābhārata and many other Purāṇas. This aspect of Śiva is to be distinguished from the aspect of Śiva as rudra or śarva or the god of destruction.

We have seen that we know practically nothing of any importance about the Kāpālikas and the Kālamukhas. The other doctrines of Śaivism of the South are those of the Pāśupatas, the Śaiva doctrines derived from the Āgamas and the Vaiṣṇavas. The other schools of Śaivism that developed in Kāśmlr in the ninth and tenth centuries will be separately discussed. The Pāśupata-sūtra with the Pañcārtha bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya was first published from Trivandrum in 1940, edited by Anantakriṣṇa Śāstrī. This bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya is probably the same as the Rāśīkara-bhāṣya referred to by Mādhava in his treatment of Nakulīśa-pāśupata-darśana in Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha. Some of the lines found in Kauṇ-dinya’s bhāṣya have been identified by the present writer with the lines attributed to Rāśīkara by Mādhava in his treatment of the Nakulīśa-pāśupata system. Nakulīśa was the founder of the Pāśupata system. Aufrect in the Catalogus Catalogorum mentions the Pāśupata-sūtra[3]. The Vāyavīya-saṃhitā II. 24. 169, also mentions the Pāśupata-śāstra as the Pañcārtha-vidyā[4]. Bhandarkar notes that in an inscription in the temple of Harṣanātha which exists in the Śikar principality of the Jaipur State, a person of the name of Viśvarūpa is mentioned as the teacher of the Pañcārtha-lākulāmnāya. The inscription is dated v.e. 1013 = a.d. 957. From this Bhandarkar infers that the Pāśupata system was attributed to a human author named Lakulin and that the work composed by him was called Pañcārtha. This inference is not justifiable. We can only infer that in the middle of the tenth century Lakuliśa’s doctrines were being taught by a teacher called Viśvarūpa, who was well reputed in Jaipur, and that Lakulīśa’s teachings had attained such an authoritative position as to be called āmnāya, a term used to mean the Vedas.

In the Pāśupata-sūtra published in the Trivandrum series, the first sūtra as quoted by Kauṇḍinya is athātaḥ paśupateh paśupataṃ yogavidhiṃ vyākhyāsyāmaḥ. Here the yoga-vidhi is attributed to Paśupati or Śiva. In the Sūtasaṃhitā iv. 43. 17, we hear of a place called Nakula and the Śiva there is called Nakulīśa. The editor of the Pāśupata-sūtra mentions the names of eighteen teachers beginning with Nakulīśa[5].

These names are

  1. Nakulīśa,
  2. Kauśika,
  3. Gārgya,
  4. Maitreya,
  5. Kauruṣa,
  6. Īśāna,
  7. Paragārgya,
  8. Kapilāṇḍa,
  9. Manuṣyaka,
  10. Kuśika,
  11. Atri,
  12. Piṅgalākṣa,
  13. Puṣpaka,
  14. Bṛhadārya,
  15. Agasti,
  16. Santāna,
  17. Kauṇḍinya or Rāśīkara,
  18. Vidyāguru.

The present writer is in agreement with the view of the editor of the Pāśupata-sūtra, that Kauṇḍinya the bhāṣyakāra lived somewhere from the fourth to the sixth century a.d. The style of the bhāṣya is quite archaic, and no references to the later system of thought can be found in Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya. We have already seen that according to the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa there were twenty-eight yogācāryas and that each of them had four disciples so that there were 112 yogācāryas. Out of these twenty-eight yogācāryas the most prominent were Lokākṣī, Jaigīṣavya, Rṣabha, Bhrgu, Atri and Gautama. The last and the twenty-eighth ācārya was Lakulīśa, born at Kāyā-vatarana-tīrtha. Among the 112 yogācāryas, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanātana, Kapila, Āsuri, Pañcaśikha, Parāśara, Garga, Bhārgava, Aṅgira, Śuka, Vaśiṣṭha, Bṛhaspati, Kuṇi, Vāmadeva, Śvetaketu, Devala, Śālihotra, Agniveśa, Akṣapāda, Kaṇāda, Kumāra and Ruru are the most prominent[6].

Mr Dalai in his introduction to Gaṇakārikā says that the Lākuliśa-pāśupata-darśana is so called from Lakulīśa, who originated the system. Lakulīśa means “a lord of those bearing a staff”. Lakulīśa is often regarded as an incarnation of God Śiva with a citron in the right hand and a staff in the left. The place of the incarnation is Kāyārohaṇa in Bhrgu-kṣetra which is the same as Kāravaṇa, a town in the Dabhoi Taluka of the Baroda State. In the Kāravaṇa-māhātmya it is said that a son of a Brahmin in the village Ulkāpuri appeared as Lakulīśa and explained the methods and merits of worshipping and tying a silken cloth to the image of the God Lakulīśa. This work is divided into four chapters; the first is from the Vāyu-purāṇa, the remaining three are from the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa. At the commencement of the work, there is obeisance to Maheśvara, who incarnated himself as Lakuta-pāṇīśa. There is a dialogue there between Śiva and Pārvatī, in which the latter asks Śiva of the merits of tying a silken cloth. Śiva then relates the story of his incarnation between the Kali and Dvāpara yugas as a Brahmin named Viśvarāja in the family of the sage Atri. His mother was Sudarśana. Some miraculous myths relating to this child, who was an incarnation of Śiva, are narrated in the Kāravaṇa Māhātmya, but they may well be ignored here.

We have already mentioned the name of Atri as being one of the important teachers of the Pāśupata school. But according to the account of these teachers as given above, Nakulīśa should be regarded as the first founder of the system. We have seen also that by the middle of the tenth century there was a teacher of the Pañcārtha-lākulāmnāya, which must be the same as the doctrine propounded in the Pāśupata-sūtra. It is difficult to say how early the concept of Paśupati might have evolved. From the Mohenjo-daro excavations we have a statuette in which Śiva is carved as sitting on a bull, with snakes and other animals surrounding Him. This is the representation in art of the concept of the lord of paśus or paśupati, which is found in pre-Vedic times. The concept of Śiva may be traced through the Vedas and also through the Upaniṣads and particularly so in the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad. The same idea can be traced in the Mahābhārata and many other Purāṇas. The religious cult of Śiva, which defines the concept of Śiva in its various mythological bearings, has to be given up here, as the interest of the present work is definitely restricted to philosophical ideas and the ethical and social attitude of the followers of Śiva[7].

It must, however, be said that the Śaiva philosophy and the worship of Śiva had spread itself far and wide throughout the whole of the peninsula long before the eighth century A.D. We have the most sacred temples of Śiva in the north in Badrikāśrama, in Nepal (Paśupati-nātha), in Kāśmīr, in Prabhāsa, in Kathiawar (the temple of Somanātha), in Benaras (the temple of Viśvanātha), the Nakulīśvara temple in Calcutta, and the temple of Rāmeśvaram in extreme South India. This is only to mention some of the most important places of Śiva-worship. As a matter of fact, the worship of Śiva is found prevalent almost in every part of India, and in most of the cities we find the temples of Śiva either in ruins or as actual places of worship. Śiva is worshipped generally in the form of the phallic symbol and generally men of every caste and women also may touch the symbol and offer worship. The Śaiva forms of initiation and the Tāntric forms of initiation are to be distinguished from the Vedic forms of initiation, which latter is reserved only for the three higher castes. But as the present work is intended to deal with the philosophy of Śaivism and Tāntricism, all relevant allusions to rituals and forms of worship will be dropped as far as possible.

The Jaina writer Rājaśekhara of the middle of the fourteenth century mentions the name of Śaiva philosophy in his Saḍ-darśana-samuccaya and calls it a yoga-mata[8]. He describes the Śaiva ascetics as holding staves in their hands and wearing long loin cloths (prauḍha-kaupīna-paridhāyinaḥ ). They had also blankets for covering their bodies, matted locks of hair, and their bodies were smeared with ashes. They ate dry fruits, bore a vessel of gourd (tumbaka), and generally lived in forests. Some of them had wives, while others lived a lonely life. Rājaśekhara further says that the Śaivas admitted eighteen incarnations of Śiva, the Overlord, who creates and destroys the world. We have already mentioned the names of the teachers that are found in Ṣaḍdarśana-samuccaya. These teachers were particularly adored and among them it was Akṣapāda who enunciated a system of logic in which he discussed the pramāṇas, perception, inference, analogy and testimony and also described the sixteen categories that are found in the Nyāya-sūtra of Gautama or Akṣapāda. Rājaśekhara mentions the names of Jayanta, Udayana, and Bhāsarvajña. Thus according to Rājaśekhara the Naiyāyikas were regarded as Śaivas. It does not seem that Rājaśekhara had made any definite study of the Nyāya system, but based his remarks on the tradition of the time[9]. He also regards the Vaiśeṣikas as Pāśupatas. The Vaiśeṣika saints wore the same kind of dress and the marks as the Naiyāyikas and admitted the same teachers, but they held that the perception and inference were the only two pramāṇas and that the other pramāṇas were included within them. He also mentions the six categories that we find in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtra. Rājaśekhara calls the Naiyayikas Yaugas. The Vaiśeṣika and the Nyāya are more or less of the same nature and both of them regard the dissolution of sorrow as ultimate liberation. Guṇaratna, the commentator of Haribhadra Suri’s Saḍdarśana-samuccaya was a Jaina writer like Rājaśekhara and he was in all probability a later contemporary of him. Many of his descriptions of the Naiyāyikas or Yaugas seem to have been taken from Rājaśekhara’s work, or it may also have been that Rājaśekhara borrowed it from Guṇaratna, the descriptions being the same in many places. Guṇaratna says that there were found kinds of Śaivas such as the Śaivas, Pāśupatas, Mahāvratadharas and the Kālamukhas[10]. In addition to these both Guṇaratna and Rājaśekhara speak of those who take the vow (matins) of service to Śiva and they are called Bharatas and Bhaktas. Men of any caste could be included in the class of Bharatas (servants) and Bhaktas (devotees) of Śiva. The Naiyāyikas were always regarded as devotees of Śiva and they were called Śaivas. The Vaiśeṣika philosophy was called Pāśupata[11]. Haribhadra also says that the Vaiśeṣikas admitted the same divinity as the Naiyāyikas[12].

Excluding the Kāpālikas and the Kālamukhas, about whom we know very little except the traditional imputations against their rituals and non-Vedic conduct, we have the text of the Pāśupata system and the Śaiva philosophy as described in the Śaiva Āgamas. We have also the Pāśupata-śāstra as described in the Vāyavīya saṃhitā, the Śaiva philosophy of Śrīkaṇtha as elaborated by Appaya Dīkṣita, and the Śaiva philosophy as expounded by King Bhoja of Dhāra in his Tattva-prakāśa as explained by Śrīkumāra and Aghora-śivācārya. We have also the Vīra-śaivism which evolved at a later date and was explained in a commentary on Brahma-sūtra by Śrīpati Paṇḍita who is generally placed in the fourteenth century[13]. Śrīpati Paṇḍita was posterior to the Pāśupatas and Rāmānuja, and also to Ekorāma and the five ācāryas of the Vīra-śaiva religion. Śrīpati was also posterior to Mādhavācārya. But it is curious that Madhava seems to know nothing either of Vīraśaivism or of Śrīpati Paṇḍita. He was of course posterior to Basava of the twelfth century, who is generally regarded as being the founder of Vīra-śaivism. As Hayavadana Rao points out, Śrīpati was posterior to Śrīkaṇtha, who wrote a bhāṣya on the Brahma-sūtra[14]. We have treated in a separate section the philosophy of Śrīkaṇtha. Śrīkaṇtha lived somewhere in the eleventh century and may have been a junior contemporary of Rāmānuja. Śrīkaṇtha in his treatment of Brahma-sūtra ill. 3. 27-3°, criticises the views of Rāmānuja and Nimbārka. Hayavadana Rao thinks on inscriptional grounds that Śrīkaṇtha was living in A.D. 1122[15].

Meykaṇḍadeva, the most famous author of the Tamil translation of the Sanskrit work Śiva-jñāna-bodha belonged to Tiru-venneyllur near the South Arcot district. There is an inscription in the sixteenth year of the Chola King Rājarāja III (a.d. 1216-48) which records a gift of land to an image set up by Meykaṇḍa. This fixes the date of Meykaṇḍadeva, the disciple of Parañjoti muni to about the middle of the thirteenth century. Hayvadana Rao after a long discussion comes to the view that Meykaṇḍa actually lived about A.D. 1235, if not a little earlier[16]. From inscriptional sources it has been ascertained that Śrīkaṇtha, the commentator of Brahma-sūtra lived about A.D. 1270. It is quite possible that Meykaṇḍa and Śrīkaṇtha were contemporaries. The philosophical difference between Meykaṇḍa and Śrīkaṇtha is quite remarkable, and the two persons cannot therefore be identified as one[17]. Śrīkaṇtha thinks that the world is a transformation of the cicchakti of the Lord. It does not provide for the creation of the material world, does not speak of the āṇava-mala, and is apparently not in favour of jīvan-mukti. Further Śrīkaṇtha appears to establish his system on the basis of the śruti. Meykaṇḍa, however, tries to establish his system on the basis of inference, and there are many other points of difference as will be easily seen from our treatment of Meykaṇḍadeva. It does not seem that Śrīkaṇtha had any relation with Meykaṇḍadeva.

Śrīpati quotes from Haradatta in very reverential terms. Hayvadana Rao refers to an account of the life of Haradatta as given in the Bhamṣyottara-purāṇa, and to the writings of his commentator Śiva-liṅga-bhūpati, which would assign Haradatta to the Kali age 3979, corresponding roughly to A.D. 879. In the Śiva-rahasya-dīpikā, however, Kali age 3000 is given as a rough approximation of the date of Haradatta. Professor Shesagiri Śāstrī accepts the former date as a more correct one and identifies the Haradatta quoted in Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha as being the same as the author of Harihara-tāratamya and the Caturveda-tātparya-saṃgraha. As we have mentioned elsewhere, Haradatta was the author of the Gaṇakārikā. Mr Dalai in all probability had confused the two in his introduction to the Gaṇakārikā, in which he says that Bhāsarvajña was the author of Gaṇakārikā. In reality Haradatta wrote only the Kārikā, and the Nyāya author Bhāsarvajña wrote a commentary on it called the Ratnaṭīkā[18]. Śrīpati also quotes from Siddhānta śikhāmaṇi, a Vīraśaiva work written by Revaṇārya.

It is curious to note that though Vīra-śaivism was founded at least as early as the time of Basava (a.d. 1157-67), Mādhava in the fourteenth century does not know anything of Vīra-śaivism. It is, however, doubtful if Basava was really the founder of Vīra-śaivism in India. We have got some sayings in Canarese known as the vacanas of Basava, but we find that his name is seldom mentioned as a teacher of any articles of the Vīra-śaiva faith. There is a semi-mythical account of Basava in a work called Basava-purāṇa. It is said there that Śiva asked Nandin to incarnate himself in the world for the propagation of the Vīra-śaiva faith. Basava was this incarnation. He was a native of Bāgevādi from where he went to Kalyāṇa where Vijjala or Vijjana was reigning (a.d. 1157-67). His maternal uncle, Baladeva, was the minister, and he himself was raised to that position after his death. Basava’s sister was given away to the king. He was in charge of the treasury and spent large sums in supporting and entertaining the Liṅgāyat priests or mendicants called Jaṅgamas. When the king came to know of this, he became angry and sent troops to punish him. Basava collected a small army and defeated these troops. The king brought him back to Kalyāṇa and there was apparently some reconciliation between them. But Basava later on caused the king to be assassinated. This depicts Basava more as a scheming politician than as a propounder of new faith.

Returning to our treatment of the literature of the Pāśupatas, we see that between the Vaiṣṇavas and the monists like the Śaṅkarites we have a system of thought representing the monotheistic point of view. This view appears in diverse forms in which God is sometimes regarded as being established as upholding the universe, but beyond it; sometimes it is held that God is beyond the world and has created it by the material of His own energy; at other times it has been held that God and energy are one and the same. Sometimes it has been held that God has created the world by His mercy or grace and that His grace is the inner dynamic force which follows the course of creation and maintenance. It is in this way that a compromise has been made between the theory of grace and the theory of karma. There are others, however, who think that we do not as of necessity have a right to reap the fruits of our actions, but we have to be satisfied with what is given to us by God. The Pāśupatas hold this view, and it is important to notice that the Nyāya which admits the doctrine of karma also thinks that we are only entitled to such enjoyments and experiences as are allotted to us by God. The fact that both the Nyāya and the Pāśupatas think that God can be established by inference, and that the grace of God is ultimately responsible for all our experiences, naturally leads us to link together the Nyāya-vaiśeṣika view with the Pāśupata view. The tradition is preserved in the two Saḍdarśana-samuccayas of Rājaśekhara and Haribhadra with Guṇaratna, which, as well as the benedictory verses in most Nyāya works until the tenth and eleventh centuries, justify the assumption that the Nyāya-vaiśeṣika was a school of Pāśupatas which paid more emphasis to evolving a system of logic and metaphysics. The Pāśupata system generally accepted the caste-division, and only those belonging to higher castes could claim to attain spiritual liberation. Yet as time rolled on we find that men of all castes could become devotees or servants of God and be regarded as Śaivas. We find the same kind of gradual extension and withdrawal of caste system among the Vaiṣṇavas also. Both in Śaivism and Vaiṣṇavism, bhakti or devotion to God came to be regarded as the criterion of the faith.

We have already referred to the statement in the Kāravaṇa-māhātmya about how the Lord incarnated Himself as a descendant of Atri. He is said to have walked to Ujjain and taught a Brahmin there called Kuśika who came from Brahmāvarta. These teachings were in the form of the present sūtras called the Pañcārtha, the main substance of which has already been described. It is generally believed that the original sūtras, divided into five chapters (pañcārtha), were composed somewhere in the first or the second century A.D. The bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya is probably the same as the Rāśīkara bhāṣya. Kauṇḍinya does not mention the name of any writer contemporary to him. He refers to the Sāṃkhya-yoga but not to Vedānta or the Upaniṣads. It is interesting to note therefore that this system does not pretend to claim the authority of the Upaniṣads or its support. The authority of the sūtras is based on the assumption that they were composed by Paśupati himself. There are many quotations in the work of Kauṇḍinya, but it is not possible to identify their sources. The style of Kauṇḍinya’s bhāṣya reminds one of the writings of Patañjali the grammarian, who probably lived about 150 B.C. Kauṇḍinya is generally believed to have lived between a.d. 400-600, though I do not know why he could not be placed even a century or two earlier. The date of Gaṇakārikā is rather uncertain. But Bhāsarvajña wrote a commentary on it called Ratnaṭīkā. He seems to have lived in the middle of the tenth century A.D. It is interesting to note that the temple of Somanātha is also mentioned in the Kāravaṇa-māhātmya as one of the most important Pāśupata centres.

In the Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha of Mādhava of the fourteenth century, we find a treatment of Nakulīśa-pāśupata system, the Śaiva system and the Pratyabhijñā system of Kāśmīr. The Nakulīśa-pāśupata system is based upon the Pāśupata-sūtra and the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya called also the Rāśīkara-bhāṣya. The Śaiva system is based on the various Śaivāgamas and also on the Tattva-prakāśa of Bhoja. Thus Mādhava mentions about ten Śaiva works which, with many others, have been available to the present writer either in whole manuscripts or in fragments[19]. Śaṅkara, in his bhāṣya on the Brahma-sūtra II. 2. 37, speaks of the Māheśvaras along with others who regarded God as the instrumental cause, but not the material cause. He does not seem to distinguish the subdivisions of the Maheśvaras. But Vācaspati speaks of four subdivisions of the Maheśvaras. Mādhava, however, treats the two types of the Śaiva school as Nakulīśa-pāśupata and Śaiva in two different sections. From Śaṅkara’s bhāṣya it appears that he was familiar only with the Pañcārtha of the Pāśupata-sūtra. But Ānandagiri in his Śaṅkara-vijaya refers to six different kinds of Śaiva sects such as Śaiva, Raudra, Ugra, bhaṭṭa, Jaṅgama and Pāśupata. These different sects bore different kinds of marks on their bodies and distinguished themselves from one another by various rituals. But most of their specific religious literature now in all probability has long disappeared. The Pāśupatas have a literature, and the sect is still living. But the external signs of the Pāśupatas as found in Śaṅkara-vijaya are entirely different from those which are found in Guṇaratna’s commentary. Guṇaratna (fourteenth century) regards the Kāṇādas as Pāśupatas. He also regards the Naiyāyikas, called also the Yaugas, as being Śaivites of the same order as the Kāṇādas, and behaving in the same manner, and bearing the same kind of marks as the Kāṇādas. From the description of the Śaiva sects by Ānandagiri very little can be made out of the doctrines of those Śaiva sects. One can only say that some of those Śaivas believed that God was the instrumental cause (nimitta kāraṇa), besides the material cause (upādāna kāraṇa). Śaṅkara refuted this type of Śaivism in his commentary on Brahma-sūtra II. 2. 37. Both Pāśupatas and the followers of the Śaivāgama held the instrumentality of God, while Śaṅkara regarded God as being both the instrumental and material cause. In the Śaṅkara-vijaya we also find reference to some schools of Śaivism, the members of which wore the stone phallic symbols on their bodies. They held a doctrine similar to the ṣat-sthala doctrine of the Vīra-śaivas, though we find the proper formulation of the Vīra-śaiva system at least five hundred years after Ānandagiri. We have seen that Vācaspati Miśra in his Bhāmatī speaks of four types of Śaivas. Mādhava of the fourteenth century describes only two sects of Śaivas as Nakulīśa-pāśupata and the Śaivas of the Āgamas, excluding the separate treatment of the Pratyabhijñā system generally known as the Kāśmīr school of Śaivism.

The Śaivāgamas or Siddhāntas are supposed to have been originally written by Maheśvara, probably in Sanskrit. But it is said in Śiva-dharmottara that these were written in Sanskrit, Prākṛt and the local dialects[20]. This explains the fact that the Āgamas are available both in Sanskrit and some Dravidian languages such as Tamil, Telegu, and Kanarese. It also explains the controversy as to whether the Agamas or Siddhāntas were originally written in Sanskrit or in the Dravidian tongue. The present writer had the good fortune to collect a large number of the Āgamas either as complete wholes or in fragmentary portions. Many of the manuscripts are in a decaying state and some of them have been completely lost. The Sanskrit manuscripts on which our present attempt is founded are available in the big manuscript libraries at Triplicane, Adyar and Mysore. It is curious to note that Benares, the principal seat of Śaivism, has but few manuscripts of importance. The important Siddhāntas and Āgamas are quite numerous and most of them are in manuscripts mainly in South India[21]. The same works may be found also in many cases in the whole Dravidian language; but the inspiration and the thought are almost always taken from Sanskrit. The essence of Dravidian culture is therefore almost wholly taken from Sanskrit, at least so far as philosophy is concerned.

The study of old Tamil is fairly difficult, and those who had made a lifelong study of Tamil, like Pope or Schomerus, had but little time to dig into Sanskrit to any appreciable extent. The present writer, being unacquainted with the Dravidian languages, had to depend almost wholly on the Sanskrit literature, but has taken good care to ascertain that the works in Dravidian, pertinent to the subject, are well represented in the Sanskrit manuscripts.

It is difficult to ascertain the respective dates of the Āgamas. We only feel that most of the Āgamas mentioned above were completed by the ninth century A.D. Some of them were current in the time of Śaṅkarācārya, who lived some time in the eighth or ninth century A.D. Some of the Purāṇas also mention the names of some of the Āgamas referred to above. The bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya on the Pāśupata-sūtras has many untraceable quotations, but there is no mention of the names of the Āgamas referred to above, though one might have expected reference to the names of some of these Āgamas, as they carry on the same faith in different fashions. On the other hand, the Āgamas do not mention the name of the Pāśupata-sūtras or the bhāṣya of Kauṇḍinya. It seems, therefore, that though later writers sometimes mixed up the Pāśupata and the Āgamic systems, as for example the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā, or in later times Appayadīkṣita, Śaṅkara himself speaks only of the Siddhāntas written by Maheśvara. Vācaspati refers to four schools of Śaivism, and Mādhava refers to two schools of southern Śaivism, Nakulīśa-pāśupata and the Śaivas. In still later times, in the Jaina tradition as kept by Rājaśekhara and Guṇaratna, we find the names of a long list of teachers of the Pāśupata school. We find also the names of twenty-eight yogācāryas, each having four disciples, in the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā.

We have already discussed in a separate section the essence of the Āgamic system as preserved in the Tattva-prakāśa of Bhoja with the commentary of Śrīkumāra and Aghora-śivācārya. Mādhava in his Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha also mentions the names of some of the Āgamas and Āgamic writers referred to above.

Schomerus in his Der Śaiva Siddhānta, in which he describes the particular form of Śaiva monism, speaks of the names of various other schools of Śaivism as he picks them up on a commentary on Śiva-jñāna-bodha[22]. The Śaiva-siddhānta view dealt with by Schomerus is one of the many trends of Śaiva thought that was prevalent in the country. Schomerus thinks that they are more or less the same except the Pāśupata, the Vīraśaiva and the Pratyabhijñā. Schomerus does not seem to utilise the texts of the Āgamas and to show in what way they proceeded with the subject. We have, however, in our treatment of Āgamic Śaivism, tried to utilise the materials of the Āgamas that are still available as complete wholes or in fragments. But a large part of the Āgamas deals with rituals, forms of worship, construction of the places of worship and mantras, and the like. These have no philosophical value and could not, therefore, be taken account of and had simply to be ignored.

The Agamic Śaivism belongs principally to the Tamil country, the Pāśupata to Gujarat and Pratyabhijñā to Kāśmīr and the northern parts of India. The Vīra-śaiva is found mostly among the Kanarese-speaking countries. Schomerus points out that it is sometimes claimed that the Āgamas were written in the Dravidian languages in prehistoric times, and that they owe their origin to revelation by Śiva, to Nandiperuman in the form of Śrīkaṇtha-rudra in the Mahendra Parbata in Tinivelly District. Owing to a great flood much of these twenty-eight Āgamas were lost. The rest is now available in the Sanskrit translations and even the Dravidian texts abound with Sanskrit words. But this claim cannot be substantiated in any way. The reference to the Āgamas is found in the Vāyavīya-saṃhitā of the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa and the Sūta-saṃhitā[23]. The references show that the Kāmika and other Āgamas were written in Sanskrit, as they formed a cognate literature with the Vedas. Portions of the Kāmika in Sanskrit quotations have been available to the present writer; similarly Mṛgendra, which formed a part of the Kāmika, is wholly available in Sanskrit. In the section on the Āgamic Śaivism the present writer has drawn his materials from these Āgamas. It has already been noted that there is a definite text in the Svāyaṃbhuvāgama that these Sanskrit works were translated into Prākṛt and other local dialects. We are, therefore, forced to think that the assertion that these Āgamas were originally written in Dravidian and then translated into Sanskrit, seems only to be a mythical patriotic belief of the Tamil people.

Schomerus mentions the names of twenty-eight Śaivāgamas, though he sometimes spells them wrongly[24]. He further mentions the names of fourteen canonical texts forming the materials of the Śaiva-siddhānta Śāstra. They are written in Tamil and the present writer only has the privilege of having the Sanskrit texts of the most important of them called the Śiva-jñāna-bodha of Meykaṇḍa-deva[25].

Meykaṇḍadeva’s Śiva-jñāna-bodha is a brief summary in twelve verses of an argumentative character taken from Rauravāgama. These twelve verses have also commentaries called Vārtika and a number of other sub-commentaries. Meykaṇḍadeva’s real name was Svetabana, and there are a number of mythical statements about him. A great scholar Arul-nanti Śivācārya became the disciple of Meykaṇḍadeva. Namah-śivāya-deśika was the fifth disciple in succession of Meykaṇḍadeva, and Umāpati, who was the third successor of Meykaṇḍadeva, lived in a.d. i 313 . It is held, therefore, that Meykaṇḍa lived in the first third of the thirteenth century. Umāpati was also the author of the Pauṣkarāgama.

The earliest Tamil author of Śaiva-siddhānata is Tirumular, who probably lived in the first century a.d. Only a part of his writings has been translated in the Siddhānta-dīpikā by N. Pillai. The later four Ācāryas of Śaiva-siddhānta are Māṇikka-vāchakar, Appar, Jñāna-sambandha and Sundara, who flourished probably in the eighth century. Later on we have two important Śaiva-siddhānta writers, Nampiyāṇḍār and Sekkilar. The former has a collection of works which passed by the name of Tamil-veda. He flourished probably towards the end of the eleventh century.

This Tamil-veda is even now recited in Śaivite temples of the south. It consists of eleven books; the first seven are of the nature of hymns. Of three Ācāryas, Appar, Jñāna-sambandha and Sundara, the eighth book is Tiru-vāchaka, the ninth again consists of hymns. In the tenth book we find again some hymns of Tirumular. A part of the eleventh book contains mythological legends which form the groundwork of Periya-purāṇa, the basis of the most important Tamil legends of the Tamil saints. The book was completed by the eleventh century. The Śaiva-siddhānta school sprang forth as a school of Śaivism in the thirteenth century with Meykaṇḍadeva and his pupils Arulnanti and Umāpati.

The account of Śaivism, as can be gathered from the Tamil sources, may be found in Pope’s translation of Tiru-vāchaka, Der Śaiva-siddhānta by Schomerus, and in the writings of N. Pillai. The present writer is unfamiliar with the Tamil language and he has collected his account from original Sanskrit manuscripts of the Āgamas of which the Tamil treatment is only a replica.

Footnotes and references:


The skeleton of this system has already been dealt with in another section as Pāśupata-śāstras.


Vaiṣṇavism, Śaivism and Minor Religious Systems, by Sir R. G. Bhandarkar (1913), p. 128.


Bhandarkar notes it in his section on the Pāśupatas, op. cit. p. 121 n.


The present writer could not find any such verse in the edition of Śiva-mahāpurāṇa printed by the Venkateśvara Press, as 11. 24 contains only seventy-two stanzas.


These names are taken from Rājaśekhara’s Saddarśana-samuccaya composed during the [middle of the fourteenth century. Almost the same names with slight variations are found in Gunaratna’s commentary on Saddarśana-samuccaya.


See Śiva-mahāpurāṇa, Vāyavīya Saṃḥitā 11. 9, and also Kūrma-purāṇa 1. 53. The Vāyu-purāṇa describes in the twenty-third chapter the names of the four disciples of each of the twenty-eight ācāryas. Viśuddha Muni mentions the name of Lakulīśa in his work called Atma-samarpaṇa. See also Introduction to the Pāśupata-sūtra, p. 3n.

The list of twenty-eight teachers given in the Śiva-mahāpurāṇa does not always tally with the list collected by other scholars, or with that which is found in the Ātma samarpaṇa by Viśuddha Muni. It seems therefore that some of these names are quite mythical, and as their works are not available, their names are not much used. Viśuddha Muni summarises the main items of selfcontrol, yama, from the Pāśupata-śāstra, which are more or less of the same nature as the yamas or measures of self-control as found in the Yogaśāstra introduced by Patañjali. It is not out of place here to mention that the concept of God in Yogaśāstra is of the same pattern as that of the Paśupati in the Pāśupata-sūtra and bhāṣya.


Those who are interested in the study of the evolution of the different aspects of God Śiva, may consult Bhandarkar’s Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism, and also the article on Śaivism by Frazer in the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.


atha yoga-mataṃ brumaḥ, śaivam-ity-aparā-bhidham.
      Rājaśekhara’s Saḍdarśana-samuccaya, p. 8 (2nd edition, Benares).


śrutānusārataḥ proktam naiyāyika-mataṃ mayā.
p. io.


śaivaḥ pāśupataścaiva mahāvrata-dharas tathā,
turyāḥ kālamukhā muhhyā bhedā ete tapasvinām.
Gunaratna’s commentary on Haribhadra’s Saḍdarśana-samuccaya, p. 51 (Suali’s edition, Calcutta, 1905).

According to Gunaratna, therefore, the Mahāvratadharas and the Kālamukhas are entirely different. The Kāpālikas are not mentioned by Gunaratna. These four classes of Śaivas were originally Brahmins and they had the sacred thread. Their difference was largely due to their different kinds of rituals and behaviour (ācāra):

sva-svācārādi-bhedena caturdhā syus tapasvinaḥ.

Rāmānuja mentions the names of Kāpālikas and Kālamukhas as being outside the pale of the Vedas (veda-bāhya). In Śaṅkara-vijaya of Ānandagiri also the Kāpālikas are represented as being outside the pale of the Vedas. But the Kālamukhas are not mentioned there.


See Gunaratna’s commentary, p. 51.


devatā-viṣayo bḥedo nāsti naiyāyikaiḥ samam,
vaiśeṣikāṇām tattve tu vidyate’sau nidarśyate.
Haribhadra’s Saddarśana-samuccaya, p. 266.


C. Hayavadana Rao’s śrīkara-bhāṣya, Vol. 1, p. 31.


Ibid. p. 36.


Ibid. p. 41.


Ibid. p. 48.


Ibid. p. 49. The systems of Śrīkantha and of Meykaijḍa have been dealt with in separate sections of the present work.


The colophon of the Gaṇakārikā runs as follows:

ācārya-bhāsarvajña-viracitāyāṃ gaṇakārikāyāṃ
ratnaṭīkā parisamāptā.

This led to the confusion that the Gaṇakārikā was the composition of Bhāsar-vajña, who only wrote the commentary. This Haradatta must be distinguished from the Haradatta of the Padamañjarī on the Kāśikā-vṛtti, and also from the commentator of the Āpastamba-sūtra.


The works mentioned by Mādhava in his Sarva-darśana-saṃgraha are as follows:

  • Mṛgendrāgama,
  • Pauṣkarāgama,
  • Tattva-prakāśa of Bhoja,
  • Soma-sambhu’s bhāṣya,
  • Aghora-śivācārya’s commentary on Tattva-prakāśa,
  • Kālotta-rāgama,
  • Rāmakaṇḍa’s commentary on Kālottarā,
  • Kiraṇāgama,
  • Saurabheyāgama and
  • Jñāna-ratnāvati.


saṃskṛtaiḥ prākṛtair vākyair yaśca śisyānurūptaḥ
deśa-bhāṣā-dyupāyaiś ca bodhayet sa guruḥ smṛtaḥ.
quoted in Śiva-jñāna-siddhi. (MS. no. 3726, Oriental Research Institute, Mysore.)


Some of the Āgamas are as follows: Kāmika, Yogaja, Cintya, Kāraṇa, Ajita, Dīpta, Sūkṣma, Aṃsumāna, Suprabheda, Vijaya, Niḥśvāsa, Svāyaṃbhuva, Vīra, Raurava, Makuta, Vimala, Candra-jñāna, Bimba, Lalita, Santāna, Sarvokta, Parameśvara, Kiraṇa, Vātida, śiva-jñāna-bodha, Anala, Prodgīta.

In the Śiva-jñāna-siddhi we find extensive quotations from other Āgamas and Tantras as illustrating the philosophical and religious position of Siddhāntas. The works from which the quotations have been taken are as follows: Hima-saṃhitā, Cintya-viśva, Śiva-dharmottara (purāṇa), Pauṣkara, Siddha-tantra, Sarva-matopanyāsa, Parā, Ratna-traya, Nivāsa, Mṛgendra, Jñāna-kārikā, Nāda-kārikā, Kālottara, Viśva-sārottara, Vāyavya, Mātaṅga, Śuddha, Sarva-jñānottara, Siddhānta-rahasya, Jñāna-ratnāvalī, Meru-tantra, Svacchanda and Devī-kālottara.

Most of the above Āgamas are written in Sanskrit characters in about half a dozen Dravidian languages, such as Tamil, Telegu, Kanarese, Grantha and Nandi-nāgri. Several Tantras based on these Āgamas are also found as Sanskrit compositions in Dravidian scripts. So far as the knowledge of the present writer goes, there is hardly anything of philosophical value or systematic thought which is available in Dravidian, and not available in Sanskrit.


He puts them in two groups: (i) Pāśupata, Māvrata-vāda (possibly Mahāvrata), Kāpālika, Vāma, Bhairava, Aikya-vāda; (ii) Ūrdha-śaiva, Anādi-śaiva, Ādi-śaiva, Mahā-śaiva, Bheda-śaiva, Abheda-śaiva, Antara-śaiva, Guna-śaiva, Nirguna-śaiva, Adhvan-śaiva, Yoga-śaiva, Jñāna-śaiva, Anu-śaiva, Kriyā-śaiva, Nālu-pāda-śaiva, Śuddha-śaiva.


In Sūta-saṃhitā, part I, ch. 2, we find that the Vedas, Dharmaśāstras, Purāṇas, Mahābhārata, Vedāṅgas, Upavedas, the Āgamas such as Kāmika, etc. the Kāpāla and the Lākula, the Pāśupata, the Soma and the Bhairavāgamas and such other Agamas are mentioned in the same breath as forming a cognate literature. Sūta-saṃhitā is generally regarded as a work of the sixth century a . d .


Kāmika, Yogaja, Cintya, Kāraṇa, Ajita, Dīpta, Sūkṣma, Sāhasraka, Aṇsumān, Suprabheda, Vijaya, Niḥśvāsa, Svāyaṃbhuva, Anila, Vīra, Raurava, Makuta, Vimala, Candrahāsa, Mukha-jug-bimba or Bimba, Udgīta or Prodglta, Lalita, Siddha, Santāna, Nārasiṃha, Pārameśvara, Kiraṇa and Vātula. Most of these have been already mentioned by the present writer and some of them are in his possession. Schomerus says that these names are found in Śrīkantha’s bhāṣva, but the present writer is definite that they are not to be found there.


The Tamil works referred to by Schomerus as forming the group of the Śaiva-siddhānta Śāstra are as follows: Śiva-jñāna-bodha, Śiva-jñāna-siddhi, Tirupavirupatḥu, Tiruvuntiyar, Tirukkalirrupadiyar, Unmaivilakka, Śiva-prakāśa, Tiruvaruḍpayan, Vinā-venba, Poṛṛipakrodai, Kodikkavi, Nencuvidutūtu, Uṇmaineṛivilakka and Saṅkalpa-nirākarana. The Śiva-jñāna-bodha of twelve verses is supposed to be a purport of the Rauravāgama and it has eight commentaries.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: