Hindu Pluralism

by Elaine M. Fisher | 2017 | 113,630 words

This thesis is called Hindu Pluralism: “Religion and the Public Sphere in Early Modern South India”.—Hinduism has historically exhibited a marked tendency toward pluralism—and plurality—a trend that did not reverse in the centuries before colonialism but, rather, accelerated through the development of precolonial Indic early modernity. Hindu plur...

Śaivism and Brahminical Orthodoxy

[Full title: The sectarianization of hinduism: Śaivism and Brahminical Orthodoxy]

In spite of the wide-ranging transformations of the Śaiva Age, Hinduism as we know it did in fact emerge, and a number of scholars have argued that it emerged quite a bit earlier than previously suspected, independent of the meddling gaze of European colonial regimes. For instance, in his book Unifying Hinduism, Andrew Nicholson marks the years between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries as the interstitial period in which the notion of Hinduism as a unitary religion began to crystallize in the minds of Indian thinkers. During these centuries, Nicholson argues, scholars begin to compose doxographical compendia that, by virtue of their very scope, implicitly assert the unity of the āstika or Vaidika discourses they group together. Only after these centuries, which Nicholson refers to as the late-medieval period, did the unity of Hinduism become irrevocably naturalized in Indic theological discourse. Perhaps it is no coincidence, in fact, that this late-medieval period followed immediately on the tail end of the Śaiva Age, suggesting another systemwide shift in the paradigms of religious practice, stretching well beyond the boundaries of doxographical treatises.

Within Śaiva circles as well, the unimpeded independence of Śaivism began to give way to a circumspect deference to Vaidika normativity as the Śaiva Age drew to a close. In fact, the Śaivism of the late-medieval period began to position itself less as an independent religious system than as an orthodox exemplar—or, one might even say, a sect—of Brahminical Hinduism. In south India, for instance, theologians of the Sanskritic Śaiva Siddhānta tradition launched a truly unprecedented campaign to align the social constituency of the Śaiva fold with the norms of varṇāśramadharma, violating centuries of precedent that excluded Śaiva initiates from caste regulations.

Such a position was advocated, for instance, by the twelft-hcentury Śaiva Siddhānta theologian Trilocanaśiva in his Prāyaścittasamuccaya,[1] a handbook on the expiation of sins for Śaiva initiates who have lapsed in their observance of Brahminical purity codes:

When eating, one must always avoid forming a single line with members of different castes.

Should a Brahmin eat in such a way out of ignorance, with Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, or Śūdras,
Having realized it in the midst [of eating], he must stop, and then, having sipped water many times,

He should recite [the Aghora mantra] ten times, twenty times, or thirty times, respectively,
[Or, likewise,] should he realize it at the end of the meal, one, two, or three hundred times, respectively.

Having eaten in a line with members of unknown castes, he should repeat it three hundred times.
Or with others who may not form a line, unknowns, or others born against the grain....

Having eaten something that was touched by the leavings of Śūdras and the others, or by Antyajas,

Having eaten something that is by nature impure, or made impure by touch or action,
He should bathe, going without food, and should also drink the five cow substances.[2]

Judging from the Prāyascittasamuccaya, scant difference can be discerned between the Śaiva and Brahminical views on intercaste purity rules. Had Trilocanaśiva not ceaselessly advocated use of the Aghora mantra, one of the five aṅga mantras of the Śaiva Siddhānta, as a virtual cure-all for expiable sins,[3] one would scarcely realize that the above passage belonged to a Śaiva-specific handbook rather than a treatise on Brahminical Dharmaśāstra. In fact, in Trilocanaśiva’s stance, we find a mirror image of the early Śaiva rejection of caste difference, which had elevated one’s status as a Śaiva initiate above any markers of social standing, which were considered extrinsic to one’s true identity. Instead, by Trilocanaśiva’s day in the twelfth century, Śaivas defended the orthodoxy of their lineages not on strictly Śaiva theological grounds but rather by citing their conformity to the social mores of the classical Vaidika tradition. In terms of social conduct, Śaiva Saiddhāntikas, for Trilocanaśiva, were by definition Vaidika Hindus.

In the domain of theology as well, Trilocanaśiva’s contemporaries and succes sors adopted a surprisingly accommodationist strategy with regard to currents of Vaidika theology that were soaring in popularity in the early centuries of the second millennium—most notably among these, Advaita Vedānta. Historically, the Śaiva Siddhānta tradition had maintained a staunchly dualist cosmology, asserting the immutable difference between Śiva and his creation, and between individual souls, or jīva s, who maintained their discrete identities even after liberation. Such a theology blends poorly, on strictly logical grounds, with the nondualist precepts of Advaita Vedānta philosophy. Nevertheless, by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Saiddhāntika exegetes had so thoroughly assimilated the conventions of an Advaita-inflected theology that Saiddhāntika treatises in both Sanskrit and Tamil—and even redactions of Saiddhāntika scriptures[4] —were habitually sprinkled with the idioms of Vedānta. Scholars spared no opportunity, moreover, to genuflect to the authority of the Vedic corpus, defending Śaiva-specific scriptures and practice on the grounds of their ostensibly Vaidika pedigree.

One particularly striking example of this trend is the commentary of a certain Kumārasvāmin (circa fifteenth century) on the Tattvaprakāśa of Bhojadeva,[5] a succinct encapsulation on Śaiva Siddhānta theology. Unlike previous commentators, such as Aghoraśiva, who scrupulously adhere to the canon of Saiddhāntika doctrine, Kumārasvāmin repeatedly launches into extended digressions about the Vedic roots of the Śaiva Āgamas and Tantras, never hesitating to intersperse his discourses with references to Mīmāṃsā categories of ritual, even going so far as to assert that Śiva himself consists of the Vedas. He writes, “‘He is victorious’ means that he exists on a level above everything else. Why? Because his body, unlike other bodies, lacks the qualities of arising and destruction, and so forth. And that is because he consists of the Vedas, because the Vedas are eternal [nitya].”[6] Having thoroughly accepted the Mīmāṃsaka principle of the apauruṣeyatva—the authorless eternality—of Vedic scripture, Kumārasvāmin apparently felt it natural to equate Śiva, being similarly eternal, with the very substance of Vedic revelation. The remainder of Kumārasvāmin’s commentary, in fact, proceeds in a similar vein, never straying far from his veritable obsession with the Vedas themselves.

To illustrate just how far Kumārasvāmin’s exegetical agenda has wandered away from the mainstream of his own tradition, we can contrast the tenor of his commentary with that of an earlier commentator, the twelfth-century theologian Aghoraśiva, one of the most celebrated theologians of the south Indian Śaiva Siddhānta, head of the southern branch of the Āmardaka Maṭha at Cidambaram.[7] Aghoraśiva, quite logically, approaches the Tattvaprakāśa as a primer on the foundational theological concepts of Śaiva Siddhānta, highlighting the disagreements of his own system with those of his philosophical rivals.

Take, for instance, Aghoraśiva’s analysis of the first verse of the Tattvaprakāśa, a maṅgala verse in praise of Śiva:

The one mass of consciousness, pervasive, eternal, always liberated, powerful, tranquil—
He, Śambhu, excels all, the one seed syllable of the world, who grants everyone his grace.[8]

Unpacking the theological significance of each of these seemingly inconsequential adjectives, Aghoraśiva elaborates on this verse in the following commentarial passage. The prototypically Śaiva terminology that inflects his prose has been italicized for emphasis below:

Here, the teacher, for the sake of completing the work he has begun without obstacles, with this first verse in the Ārya meter, praises Paramaśiva, who is without kalās, transcending all of the tattvas, who is the efficient cause of the undertaking of the treatises of the Siddhānta: “The one mass of consciousness,” and so forth. Here, by the word “consciousness,” the powers of knowledge and action are intended. As it is stated in the Śrīman Mṛgendra Āgama: “Consciousness consists of the [goddesses] Dṛk and Kriyā.” The compound “a mass of consciousness” means he of whom the body is an aggregate of consciousness alone. It is not the case that he is inert, as held by those who believe Īśvara to consist of time, action, and so forth, because it would be impossible for something that is not conscious to undertake action without the support of something conscious. Nor is it reasonable that he is facilitated by a body consisting of bindu, because that would entail the consequence that he would not be the Lord, and, because he himself would then require another creator, one would arrive at an infinite regress with regard to his having another creator or having himself as a creator....

“Pervasive” means that he exists everywhere; he is not confined by a body, as the Jains and others believe, nor does he have the property of expansion and contraction, because such a one would necessarily be flawed with properties such as nonsentience and impermanence. “Eternal” means that he lacks any beginning or end; he is not momentary, as Buddhists and others believe, because, being destroyed at the very moment of his coming into existence, he could not possibly be the creator of the world. Now, if one says that the liberated souls as well have just such characteristics, he says, “Always liberated.” He is eternally liberated; it is not that he, like the liberated souls, is liberated by the grace of another Lord, because this would result in infinite regress....

“Grants everyone his grace”: grace, here, is a subsidiary property to creation and the others. And thus, he bestows enjoyment and liberation to all souls by means of the five acts: creation, preservation, destruction, concealment, and grace.[9]

Here, Aghoraśiva adheres faithfully to the canonical theological models of the Śaiva Siddhānta, seizing the opportunity to compile the classic refutations of non-Śaiva explanations for the creation of the world. His proof texts, likewise, are drawn exclusively from the Saiddhāntika Āgamas, such as the Mṛgendra Āgama and the Mataṅgapārameśvara. Throughout, his commentary is sprinkled with technical terminology that virtually never appears in non-Śaiva Brahminical the ology, such as his reference to Dṛk and Kriyā as the two powers (śakti s) of Śiva, a stock trope that preceded the more familiar three śakti model—jñāna, icchā, and kriyā. Perhaps best known is the category of the five acts of Śiva—sṛṣṭi (creation), sthiti (preservation), saṃhāra (destruction), tirobhāva (concealment), and anugraha (grace)—the latter of which, the grace that uplifts individual souls from bondage, provides Aghoraśiva with the most natural, and certainly the historically correct, explanation for the term sarvānugrāhaka, “granting everyone his grace,” in the root text.

Kumārasvāmin, for his part, takes little interest in the obvious explanation for sarvānugrāhaka, preferring to import a model for how Śiva liberates individual souls that is entirely foreign to classical Śaiva theology, one that instead suspiciously resembles the core theology of Advaita Vedānta:

For, unmediated [aparokṣabhūta] knowledge [jñāna], in fact, is the cause of supreme beatitude [apavarga]. And its unmediated quality arises when the traces [saṃskāra] of ignorance [avidyā] have been concealed through intensive meditation [nididhyāsana]. And intensive meditation becomes possible when the knowledge of Śiva arises through listening to scripture [śravaṇa] and contemplation [manana]. And those arise because of the purification of the inner organ [antaḥkaraṇa]. That [purification] occurs through the practice of daily [nitya] and occasional [naimittika] ritual observance, with the abandoning of the forbidden volitional [kāmya] rituals. Volitional scriptures, resulting in worldly fruits, such as: “One who desires animals should sacrifice with Citrā sacrifice” [Taittirīya Saṃhitā], have come forth to cause Brahmins whose minds are preoccupied with worldly results to set forth on the Vedic path; those that result in heaven, [likewise, do so for] those who are eager for heaven; and scriptures such as the Śyena, which prescribe the procedure for ritual murder, to cause those who are eager to destroy their enemies to proceed on the Vedic path.

Thus, in sequence, through practicing daily and occasional rituals, from maintaining the sacred fires, from performing the Agnihotra oblation, and so forth, and through practicing those rituals that destroy sin, such as the enjoined bathing procedure, when the purification of the mind becomes possible, when one turns away from volitional activity, when the purification of the inner organ arises, which takes the form of the desire to know the self [ātman] through the practice of daily and occasional rituals, when the knowledge of Śiva has arisen through listening to scripture and contemplation, after the destruction of ignorance and its traces through repeated practice at intensive meditation, when unmediated knowledge of the essence of Śiva arises, liberation [mokṣa] occurs. Such is stated in the Mokṣadharma and other scriptures: “Dharma is enjoined everywhere; heaven is the arising of its true fruit. The ritual practice of dharma, which has many doors, is indeed not fruitless here.” In this passage, those who engage in ritual prescribed by Śruti and Smṛti, as enjoined by Maheśvara, are liberated; those who do not do so continue to transmigrate.[10]

The textual register of Kumārasvāmin’s commentary could scarcely be more directly opposed to that of his predecessor. The neo-Brahminical exegete not only imported the entirety of his philosophical apparatus from the most quintessentially orthodox of the Brahminical darśanas—namely, Vedānta and Mīmāṃsā—but also effectively subordinated the goals of Śaiva religious practice to an Advaitin soteriology. In place of the Saiddhāntika Āgamas, Kumārasvāmin quotes the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, and the Mahābhārata in support of his unconventional claims. Most strikingly, the knowledge of Śiva, for Kumārasvāmin, bears no relationship to Śaiva initiation, ritual practice, or Śiva’s grace-bestowing power, but arises strictly as a result of constant meditation on the truths of Upaniṣadic scripture, serving as the direct cause of liberation, here referred to as mokṣa. By equating Śiva himself with the goal of Vedāntic contemplation, Kumārasvāmin overturned a centuries-long precedent of not merely indifference but active hostility to the philosophical precepts of the Vedānta school of thought. Śaivas, in fact, had traditionally expressed a thoroughgoing disdain for the term mokṣa for the Vedāntin assumptions it imported into discussions of liberation. Such a sentiment was perhaps best captured by the lion’s roar of the Saiddhāntika theologian Bhaṭṭa Rāmakaṇṭha II in his provocatively titled Paramokṣanirāsakārikā (Stanzas on the refutation of the mokṣa doctrines of others), and his autocommentary (Vṛtti) on these aphorisms.[11]

As Rāmakaṇṭha opines, scathingly:

“To aim for the annihilation of the self is the ultimate in foolishness: ‘The greatest heavyweights among the fools are those for whom the Self is destroyed [in liberation].’”[12]

Writing from Kashmir in the tenth century, Rāmakaṇṭha II spared no effort in demolishing the edifice of Vedāntin soteriology, approaching the tradition with hostility equal to the scorn which he showed other āstika and nāstika perspectives. And yet the vehemence of his arguments was lost on his successors in the south, who—beginning around the twelfth century or thirteenth century with our earliest Śaiva commentaries on the Brahmasūtras, Śrīkaṇṭha’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya and Śrīpati’s Śrīkarabhāṣya—began to approach the Vedānta tradition not merely as a cogent analytical system, worthy of incorporation within the Śaiva fold, but as a fundamental cornerstone of Śaiva sectarianism. In other words, for Śrīkaṇṭha and Śrīpati, it was Vedānta that secured the status of Śaivism as a full-fledged representative of Vaidika, or Hindu orthodoxy. Our earliest known examples of a Vedānta-inflected Śaivism,[13] which include the Śrīkaṇṭhabhāṣya, Śrīkarabhāṣya, and Haradatta’s Śrutisūktimālā, proved enormously influential first on the fledgling Sanskritic Vīraśaiva lineages of the greater Vijayanagara region—which had gradually incorporated local communities of Kālāmukhas and reformed Pāśupatas, who appear to have been particularly amenable to Śaiva Advaita theology. Śaiva Saiddhāntikas from both Tamil and Sanskrit lineages were increasingly swayed by the popularity of Advaita across the region, increasingly abandoning their commitment to a philosophical dualism. Subsequently, the Smārta-Śaiva community of the Tamil country generated an enormous output of Advaita Vedānta speculation, particularly following the community’s introduction to Śrīkaṇṭha’s Bhāṣya through the pioneering efforts of Appayya Dīkṣita, who allegedly “reinvented” Śrīkaṇṭha’s philosophy in the Tamil South.[14]

Indeed, by the time of Appayya Dīkṣita in the sixteenth century, south Indian Śaivism had so thoroughly assimilated itself to the demands of a monistic Advaita Vedānta that Appayya himself, much like Kumārasvāmin, found it natural to equate knowledge of Śiva with the central mysteries of Advaita Vedānta. In a particularly telling interlude at the outset of his Śivārkamaṇidīpikā, his commentary on Śrīkaṇṭha’s Brahmasūtrabhāṣya, Appayya narrates Śrīkaṇṭha’s fondness for the daharākāśavidyā, the Upaniṣadic meditation on the subtle void at the center of the heart,[15] which, for Śaivas, had become the dwelling place of Śiva himself.

Seamlessly integrating Śaiva and Vaidika worldviews, Appayya aims to dispel all doubts in the minds of his readers that the ātman, or Self, revealed in the Upaniṣads is none other than Śiva himself:

This Teacher is devoted to the daharavidyā. For precisely this reason, to give it form, he will repeatedly gloss the passage “the supreme brahman, the divine law, the truth” throughout his commentary, owing to his inordinate respect. And because he himself is particularly fond of the daharavidyā, he will explain in the Kāmādhikaraṇa that the daharavidyā is the highest among all the other vidyā s. Thus, he indicates the reference he intends to offer by the word “to the supreme Self,” which indicates a qualified noun, referring specifically to the daharavidyā as received in his own śākhā. For, it is revealed in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad: “In the middle of that top knot is established the supreme Self.”

Some people, saying that the supreme Self is different from Śiva, delude others. As a result, with the intention that virtuous people might not go astray, he qualifies [the supreme Self] as follows: “to Śiva.” The Teacher will quite skillfully prove in the Śārīrādhikaraṇa that the supreme Self is, quite simply, Śiva himself.[16]

For the Śaivas of early modern south India, then, Śiva was none other than the ātman, or brahman, the highest truth of Vedic revelation, and consequently, Śaivism was none other than the epitome of Hinduism. Unlike the Śaivism of the Śaiva Age, Appayya Dīkṣita’s Śaivism could no longer stand alone, outside the purview of a preestablished Hindu orthodoxy. What defines early modern Śaivism unmistakably as a sectarian community, a unit within a larger whole, is at once its deference to the norms and canonical beliefs of a Hinduism grounded in Vedic revelation, and its stubborn insistence that Śaivism itself—the traditions of interpretation set forth by worshippers of Śiva—constituted the whole, and indeed the very essence, of the Vedas themselves.

The following aphorism, which circulated freely among Appayya’s generation, encapsulates this contention:

Among the disciplines of knowledge, Scripture is best; within Scripture, the Śrīrudram;
Within that, the five-syllable mantra; and within that, the two syllables: Śiva.[17]

Footnotes and references:


Trilocanaśiva was the disciple of both Aghoraśiva of Cidambaram and Jñānaśambhu of Varanasi, perhaps the two most important Śaiva Siddhānta theologians of his day. He is most famous for his commentary on the Somaśambhupaddhati, which has been cited extensively by Brunner-Lachaux (1963) in her annotated translation of the work. Goodall (2000) offers a historical contextualization of these figures in his review of BrunnerLachaux’s work.


ekapaṅktiḥ sadā varjyā bhojane bhinnajātibhiḥ || bhuñjāno ‘jñānato vipraḥ kṣatraviṭśūdrajātibhiḥ | jñātvā viramya madhye tadācānto bahurūpakam || japed daśa ca viṃśac ca triṃśac caiva yathākramam | bhojanānte yadi jñānam ekadvitriśataṃ kramāt || ajñātajātibhiḥ paṅktau bhuktvā tattriśataṃ japet | apāṅkteyais tathājñeyair aparair anulomajaiḥ

||... śūdrādyucchiṣṭasaṃspṛṣṭaṃ spṛṣṭaṃ vāpyantyajātibhiḥ || bhuktvā svabhāvaduṣṭānnaṃ kriyāsparśanadūṣitam | bhuktvā snāto nirāhāraḥ pañcagavyaṃ pibed api || Trilocanaśiva, Prāyaścittasamuccaya, v. 220–223, 231–232 (Goodall and Sathyanarayanan 2014).


In later Śaiva procedures for prāyaścitta such as Trilocanaśiva’s Prāyaścittasamuccaya, all manner of sins come to be addressed purely through the repetition of the Aghora mantra, rather than through an array of mantras tailored for distinct applications as in early Śaiva literature. Dominic Goodall, personal communication.


For instance, the Sarvajñānottara, a Saiddhāntika scripture, shows quite a number of such nondualist accretions dating to the middle of the second millennium. After this point, the Sarvajñānottara came to be used as a key proof text for Saiddhāntika theologians who advocated the pervasive trend toward nondualism within both the Tamil and the Śaiva lineages during this period.


The Bhojadeva who authored the Tattvaprakāśa has often been erroneously conflated with King Bhoja of Dhārā, author of the Sarasvatīkaṇṭhābharaṇa and other works.


jayatīti. sarvasmād upari vartate ity arthaḥ. kutaḥ. asya vigrahasyottaravigrahavadut pattināśādyabhāvāt. tac ca vedamayatvād vedasya ca nityatvād iti.


This Aghoraśiva is the same as the author of the Mahotsavavidhi, which has been edited and translated by Richard Davis (2010). For further information on Aghoraśiva, see Davis (1986–1992).


cidghana eko vyāpī nityaḥ satatoditaḥ prabhuḥ śāntaḥ | jayati jagadekabījaṃ sarvānugrāhakaḥ śambhuḥ ||


tatra tāvad ācāryaḥ prāripsitasya prakaraṇasyāvighnaparisamāptyarth aṃ siddhāntaśāstrapravṛttinimittaṃ sakalatattvātītaṃ niṣkalaṃ paramaśivam ādyayā “ryayā stauti—cidghana iti. cicchabdenātra jñānakriye vakṣyete. tad uktaṃ śrīmanmṛgendre—caitanyaṃ dṛkkriyārūpam iti. cid eva ghanaṃ deho yasya sa cidghanaḥ. na tu karmakālādīśvaravādinām iva jaḍaḥ, acetanasya cetanādhiṣṭhānaṃ vinā pravṛttyayogāt. na cāsya baindavaśarīrādyupagamo yuktaḥ, anīśvaratvaprasaṅgāt. tasya ca kartrantarāpekṣāyāṃ svakartṛkatve ‘nyakartṛkatve vā ‘navasthāprasaṅgāc ca... vyāpī sarvagataḥ na tu kṣapaṇakādīnām iva śarīraparimitaḥ, saṅkocavikāsadharmī vā, tādṛśasyācetanatvānityatvādidoṣaprasaṅgāt. nityaḥ ādyantarahitaḥ. na tu bauddhādīnām iva kṣaṇikaḥ, utpattikāla eva naśyatas tasya jagatkartṛkatvāsaṃbhavāt. nanu muktātmāno ‘py evaṃbhūtā evāta āha—satatoditaḥ. nityamuktaḥ. na tu muktātmāna iveśvarāntaraprasādamuktaḥ, anavasthāprasaṅgāt.... sarvānugrāhakaḥ. anugrahaś cātropalakṣaṇaṃ sṛṣṭyāder api. ataś ca sṛṣṭisthitisaṃhāratirobhāvānugrahākhyaiḥ pañcabhiḥ kṛtyaiḥ sarveṣām ātmanāṃ bhogamokṣaprada ity arthaḥ.


tathā hi—jñānaṃ tāvad aparokṣabhūtam apavargakāraṇam. āparokṣyaṃ ca nididhyā sanenāvidyāsaṃskāratiraskāre saty udbhavati. nididhyāsanaṃ ca śravaṇamananābhyā ṃ śivātmajñāne saṃjāte sambhavati. te cāntaḥkaraṇaśuddhitaḥ saṃjāyete. sā kāmyapratiṣiddhakarmaparihāreṇa nityanaimittikakarmānuṣṭhānād bhavati.... kāma nāśrutayaś caihikaphalāḥ citrayā yajeta paśukāma ḥ ityādaya aihikaphalaniviṣṭacittān viprān vaidikamārge pravartayituṃ pravṛttāḥ, svargaphalāś ca tadutsukān iti. ye ca śatrunāśotsukās tān vaidikamārge pravartayituṃ śyenā[ci?] rādyabhicārakarmavidhayaś ceti. tataś ca vihitasnānapā pakṣayakarmānuṣṭhānānvādhānāgnihotrādinā kramāt manaḥśuddhisambhave sati kāmanānivṛttau nityanaimittikakarmānuṣṭhānād ātmavividiṣārūpāntaḥkaraṇa-śuddhyudbhave śravaṇamananābhyāṃ śivātmajñāne saṃjāte nididhyāsanābhyāsād avidyātatsaṃskārāpanayanāntaraṃ śivātmāparokṣye sati mokṣa iti. taduktaṃ mokṣadharmādau—sarvatra vihito dharmaḥ svargaḥ satyaphalodayaḥ. bahudvārasya dha rmasya nehāsti viphalā kriyā iti. atra ye maheśvaraniyukte śraute smārte vā karmaṇi prava rtante, te mucyante; ye tu na pravartante, te saṃsaranti.


For Rāmakaṇṭha II as theologian see Goodall (1998). For Rāmakaṇṭha II as philosopher see Watson (2006).


Paramokṣanirāsakārikā, 3.4.1. Translation by Alex Watson et al. (2013). Rāmakaṇṭha appears to be particularly fond of the verse he quotes after this kārikā, as it reappears elsewhere in his oeuvre, in the Nareśvaraparīkṣāprakāśa.


Note that Śrīkaṇṭha originally describes his position as a Śaiva Viśiṣṭādvaita, on the model of Rāmānuja’s sampradāya, which was rapidly gaining momentum among the intellectual circles of Śrīkaṇṭha’s day. In contrast, Appayya vacillates between a commitment to the partisan Śaiva stance of Śrīkaṇṭha’s Śaiva Advaita “school” and the emerging orthodox position that Advaita Vedānta itself had begun to occupy in Smārta-Śaiva society.


See McCrea (2016) for the argument that Appayya singlehandedly reinvented Śrīkaṇṭha’s Śaiva Advaita. For evidence to the contrary, see Fisher (2017) for the case that nondual Śaiva Vedānta (Śivādvaita) in Tamil Nadu owes its origins to the wholesale import of the Śaktiviśiṣṭādvaita, or Śivādvaita philosophy of the Sanskritic (Ārādhya) Vīraśaivas, whose core lineage was based at Śrīśailam in present-day Andhra Pradesh.


The scriptural locus for this meditation is Chāndogya Upaniṣad 8.1.1–8.1.5.


daharavidyāniṣṭho ‘yam ācāryaḥ. ata eva tasyāṃ rūpasamarthakam ṛtaṃ satyaṃ paraṃ brahmeti mantram iha bhāṣye punaḥ punar ādarātiśayād vyākhyāsyati. kāmādyadhikaraṇe ca svayaṃ daravidyāpriyatvāt sarvāsu paravidyāsu daharavidyotkṛṣṭeti vakṣyati. ataḥ svaśākhāmnātadaharavidyāyāṃ viśeṣyanirdeśakena padena svopāsyaṃ namaskāryam nirdiśati paramātmana iti. śrūyate hi taitirīyopaniṣadi—tasyāḥ śikhāyā madhye paramātmā vyavasthitaḥ. iti. kecana sa paramātmā śivād anya iti kathayantaḥ parān bhramayanti tadanuvartanena sādhavo mā bhramiṣur ity abhipretya viśinaṣṭi śivāyeti. daharavidyopāsyaḥ paramātmā śiva evety ācāryaḥ śārīrādhikaraṇe nipuṇataram upapādayiṣyati. Appayya comments here on the verse oṃ namo ‘haṃpadārthāya lokānāṃ siddhihetave | saccidānandarūpāya śivāya paramātmane ||


Vidyāsu śrutir utkṛṣṭā rudraikādaśinī śrutau | tatra pañcākṣarī tasyāṃ śiva ity akṣaradvayam || The Śrīrudram, a hymn found in all recensions of the Yajur Veda, which had been central to the ritual practice of Śaivism long before the sixteenth century, is in fact the first textualized occurrence of the pañcākṣarī mantra: oṃ namaḥ śivāya. See also Gonda (1980).

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