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What Is Saiva Siddhanta?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 9

Saiva Siddhanta is our school of Hinduism. Siva and Shakti are a one gender-less being represented as Ardhanarishvara. It is Siva-Shakti and not Siva and Shakti. Guru, Lingam, sangam (fellowship) and valipadu (worship) are the essence of Saiva Siddhanta. The heart of Saiva Siddhanta is Love.

Path to Siva, Lesson 9

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

Lesson 9 from Path to Siva:

"What Is Saiva Siddhanta?

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

And there's a nice quote around the photograph, I mean picture.

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

One of the common questions from Hindus visiting the temple is... I get asked on a regular basis and I'm sure those who host do too: "Where is the shrine for Shakti?" The Shakti shrine is missing. And, of course, I consider that a great opportunity for teaching. The fact that the Shakti shrine is missing creates a question which then gives you a chance to answer it. And, of course, the answer is: Oh, Shakti's there, Shakti has a a shrine as Ardhanarishvara. Siva and Shakti as a one being right in the back right side of the temple. And we have the shrine there because we follow the tradition that Siva and Shakti are a one being; they're not two beings. And to make them two beings, we start to think of the Gods as male and female which is okay for children but not for adults. We don't want to think of God as either male of female. God is a divine being, a soul. And, just as the human soul can be born as a man or a woman, you know, obviously, it doesn't have inherent gender; it can be born as both. So the Gods don't have gender, they're gender-less, divine beings. And Siva-Shakti as one being, known as Ardhanarishvara, represent that.

I was looking, get some other sources on that point, and certainly don't know much about the Devarams but the little I've seen of Tirujnana Sambandar's Devarams, he's seventh century. So this is the idea. If we look long ago that teaching is there.

This is describing a temple:

"The water flows near the fields, the red carp fish jumps, rising high. (Sounds like our place, huh?) The plantain trees yield fruits within reach of the hand. In Kattupalli where the honey flowing from some flowers spread its fragrance through the sea-shore gardens. Meditating upon the Lord who has one half of his form a lady with shoulders like bamboo and Maal who lies on the bed of serpent of five hoods in which there is poison near the hood. Those who have left their attachments will ascend into the upper world."

Sounds like Kauai Aadheenam. But the two sentences:

"Meditating upon the Lord who has on one half of his his form a lady with shoulders like bamboo..." It's very common in his songs, and this is seventh century. So seventh century the teaching is there that Shakti is not separate; it's one half of Siva's form. Like there, there's an interesting group in South Africa called Saiva Siddhanta Sangam which has a lot in common with Gurudeva's teaching but a lot of differences too. But this shows the in common on the, what we have in common on Shakti.

This is historical.

"To counteract the sacrificing of innocent animals in the name of religion and especially during porridge prayers [thanksgiving] and Mariamman prayers, the founder instituted the Mahashakti prayer in which devotees pray and worship the mother aspect of Siva Peruman. This is not to be confused with the of another god or goddess. It is Siva-Shakti and not Siva and Shakti."

That's a nice way of putting it. It is Siva-Shakti not Siva and Shakti. So he sounded very strong in worshiping Siva in fact that's all they worship. They're monotheistic. They don't worship Ganesha and Murugan. One of their first lines is, you know: We believe in the worship of Siva Peruman and not the other minor gods.

Well we don't go that far. But the point of Siva-Shakti is the same in both traditions. Many other teachers, also, in the modern world; this wasn't that long ago. Other teachers in the modern world also prefer this same idea. So, it was there in the seventh century, this idea is there in the modern world. It's just, in common Hinduism, it's not thought about as much as it should be.

Thank you very much. Nice to be back to our Homa, particularly on a cold morning. Nothing like a warm Homa.

Wonderful day.

Photo of  Gurudeva
Contentment is there, inside you, and needs to be brought out. It is a spiritual power. Santosha is being peaceful in any situation.