Shaiva Upanishads (A Critical Study)

by Arpita Chakraborty | 2013 | 33,902 words

This page relates ‘Theistic Philosophy’ of the study on the Shaiva Upanishads in English, comparing them with other texts dealing with the Shiva cult (besides the Agamas and Puranas). The Upaniṣads are ancient philosophical and theological treatises. Out of the 108 Upanishads mentioned in the Muktikopanishad, 15 are classified as Saiva-Upanisads.

6. Theistic Philosophy

[Note: Cf. Merging with Śiva p.xxiii.]

The above mentioned theistic philosophical schools are based firmly on the Vedās and Śaiva Āgamās, and thus have much in common, including the following principle doctrines:

1) the five powers of Śiva–creation, preservation, destruction, revealing and concealing grace;

2) The three categories: Pati, Paśu and Pāśa (“God, souls and bonds”);

3) the three bonds: āṇava, karma and māyā;

4) the three-fold power of Śiva: icchā śakti, kriyā śakti and jñāna śakti

5) the thirty six tattvās,[1] or categories of existence;

6) the need for initiation from a satguru;

7) the power of mantra;

8) the four padās (stages): caryā (selfless service), kriyā (devotion), yoga (meditation), and Jñāna (illumination);

9) the belief in the Pañcākṣara as the foremost mantra, and in Rudrākṣa and Vibhūti as sacred aids to faith;

10) the beliefs in satguru (preceptor), Śivaliṅga (object of worship) and saṅgama (company of holy persons).

Śaiva Siddhānta first distinguished itself in the second century bce through the masterful treatise of a Himalayan pilgrim to South India, Ṛṣi Tirumūḷar. It is Śaiva’s most widespread and influential school. Hence the tamil dictum “Tennāḍuḍaiya Śivane Potri, Enṇāttavarkkum Iraivā PotriPāśupata Śaiva emerged in the Himalayan hills over 25 centuries ago. Ancient writings chronicle it as a Śiva ascetic yoga path whose most renowned guru was Lakulīśa. Kāshmīr Śaiva, a strongly monistic lineage, arose from the revelatory aphorisms of Śri Vasugupta in the tenth century. Vīra Śaiva took shape in India’s Karnataka state in the 12th-century AD under the inspiration of Śrī Basavanna. It is a dynamic, reformist sect, rejecting religious complexity and stressing each devotee’s personal relationship with God. Siddha Siddhānta, also known as Gorākṣanatha Śaiva, takes its name from the writings of the powerful 10th-century yogi, Sri Gorākṣanātha, whose techniques for Śiva identity attracted a large monastic and householder following in North India and Nepal. Śiva Advaita is a Śaivite interpretation of the Vedānta Sūtras, based on the writings of Śrīkaṇṭa, a 12th-century scholar who sought to reconcile the Upaniṣads with the Āgamās.

Footnotes and references:


See Appendix VII.

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