Introduction to some of the sects of Shaivism-
It is the oldest sect of the Shaivites, originating in the second century BC. According to the Puranas, this sect was founded by a celibate named Lakulish or Lakuli. Followers of this sect consider Lakulish to be the incarnation of Shiva. People of this sect used to carry an agud or danda in their hand, which was considered to be the symbol of Shiva. Its earliest inscription is found on a coin of the Kushan ruler Huvishka (2nd century). There were followers of this sect even in the Gupta period. In the Chandragupta II period Mathura article, there is a mention of a Pashupat Matanuyai named Uditacharya, who had established two sexes.
Banabhatta has mentioned this sect in the novel. And it is written that its followers used to carry ashes on their heads and hold Rudraksha garland in their hands. Hwensang calls the people of Sindh and Ahichatra as Pashupat followers. This sect was widely propagated in the Rajput period and many rulers were its patrons. An article by Chahman Vigrahapal discusses the Pashupat sect. The rulers of the Kalchuri-Chedi dynasty were also adherents of this view. In some places Pashupat and Shaiv have been said to be synonymous with each other. The name Pashupat Acharya is used for Shaivite saints. The Pashupatasutra and Vayu Purana written by Maheshwar reveal the principles of Pashupat sect. Under the Pashupat sect, the power of five substances has been accepted-
- Action – That which does not have independent power is called action. It also includes the powers of Jang and Chetan.
- Cause – The one who creates and destroys all things, that is the reason. It is an independent element, with infinite knowledge and power. That is God (Shiva).
- Yoga- It establishes the relationship between the living being and God through the mind. There are two types of it – Kriyatmak (Jai, Tap etc.) and Akriyatmak (retiring from Kriyas and acquiring elemental knowledge.)
- Law – The means by which the living entity attains Maheshwar is called law. Main (charya) and secondary are its two distinctions. Burning on the body, mantra, chanting, pradakshina etc. are considered to be its major parts.
- Tragedy – It means to get rid of sorrows. There are two distinctions of it – Anatmak, that is, liberation from mere sorrows, and Satmak, that is, attaining supernatural powers by the power of knowledge and karma.
The Pashupat sect is still propagated in India and some other parts of the world. The Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is still a special center for the devotees of this faith.
The second sect of Shaivism is Kapalik, whose worshipers worship Bhairav as a cure for Shiva. Followers of this sect drink Sura-Sundari, keep jata-jute, eat meat, apply cremation on the body and hold Narmund in their hands. Worshipers of this religion are of extremely cruel nature. Bhavabhuti’s Maltimadhav Natak shows that a place called Srishail was the main center of the Kapalikas. They used to wear garlands of Narmunds. They used to sacrifice even human beings to please Bhairav.
Lingayat or Veer was a sect of Shaivism which had its twelfth century. Occurred extensively in South India (Karnataka and Telugu states). This sect initiated a mass movement to bring a real revolution in the socio-religious life of the South. The founder of the Lingayat sect was the minister of Basav Kalyani’s Kalchuri king Vijjal (Vijayaditya, 1145-1167 AD). According to the Shaivagam tradition, the founders of this sect were five sages – Renukacharya, Darukacharya, Akoramacharya, Panditaradhya and Shivaradhya. All of them were born from the five distinct lingas of Shiva. Some authors attribute its principles to the Rigveda and Upanishads. But there is no solid evidence for such a belief. The reality is that we get authentic information about Lingayat faith only on the basis of Basava and his disciple Channabasava. Basava was born in a village called Vagewadi in Bijapur district. He was the son of Madiraja and Madalambika, who were devout Brahmins. According to tradition, he was born for the salvation of the Shaiva sect which was in decline at that time.
At the age of eight, he acquired sufficient knowledge of Shaivism. He described himself as a special devotee of Shiva and declared that he had come to end the caste system in the world. Kalyani King Vijjal appointed him as his prime minister, chief general and treasurer. While in these posts, he campaigned vigorously for his vote. In this work he got the help of his worthy nephew Channabasava. Gradually the number of their followers increased and their sect took the form of a movement. One of his staunch followers is known as Ekantad Ramayya, who played an important role in the propagation of this faith. Fleet sir says that this was the real Leader of Lingayat movement and Basava provided political support to it much later. This is confirmed by Basava Purana. The preachers of Lingayat school wrote their entire literature in Kannada. This is called the promise. Proverbs are separate paragraphs from each other. At the end of each, some name of Shiva comes, from which he is worshipped. There were almost 200 Veer Shaiva writers, some of whom were women. Pride of wealth, vanity of ritual and bookish knowledge, uncertainty of life, spiritual privileges of Shiva devotees etc. People have been instructed to renounce worldly wealth and means of pleasure, to lead a life of detachment in the world and to take refuge in Shiva. The teachings of the Word are very didactic, devotional and succinct. Basava gave his Janeu, denying Varnashrama religion, austerity etc., gave the right of salvation to all the castes. The followers of Lingayat sect always carried a small Shivling with them. It usually lived in a silver box. Which he used to hang in his neck by tying it with a thread. They worshiped Linga and Nandi. Basava is said to be an incarnation of Nandi. They are anti-Brahmins and do not believe in idol worship and reincarnation.
They do not accept the authenticity of the Vedas and they do not even believe in the sacrifices offered on the occasion of Yagyas. In these, child marriage was viewed with contempt and widow-marriage was recognized. This satire given by Basava on religious and social hypocrisy is remarkable- The sheep brought from the slaughterhouse eat the leaves of the garland with which it is decorated. The person who is pushed lying in the mouth of a snake drinks milk and ghee. When they see a snake carved in stone, they offer milk to it, and if a living snake is seen, they cry out. Those who can eat food when served to the servant of God – they say, run away, run away, but those who cannot eat the promise of God – they make bhog. Mathas had a prominent place in the organization of Lingayats. There is complete social and religious equality among all the members of this sect. This was possible due to the influence of Islam and Jainism. Basava opposed pilgrimage, yagya-sacrifice etc. They were also opposed to cremation and talked about cremation of the dead. Some of his followers are still buried in the ground. Due to the more liberal social views of the Lingayats, they got the support of the lower caste people and their religion took the form of a folk religion. 63 Nayanars show their reverence to the saints. And he is considered as his element. Who is completely egoistic and independent. Creation originates from Shiva. And because of devotion he is identified with Shiva. Linga worship has a special place in this sect.
There are three distinctions of gender – 1: Bhava Linga – This is the supreme supreme element, which is beyond the limits of space. It is artless and true form. It can be interviewed only with faith. 2: Prana Linga – It is both artless and artless. Its knowledge can be from a subtle point of view. This is a subtle element. 3: Ishta Linga – This is the gross form, which can be seen with the eyes. These three are respectively called Sat, Chit and Ananda. The power of the linga is called art and the power of the body is called Bhakti. Shiva has two distinctions – Anga Sthal and Linga Sthal. The first is worship and the second is the worshiper (Jiva). According to the Lingayats, one who is duly initiated into their faith attains liberation. Some scholars believe that here the linga is not a symbol of penis but a symbol of attainment of Paramatma.
Thus the Lingayat sect emerged in the twelfth century as a socio-religious movement, which strongly attacked the evils of its contemporary society and religion. But in spite of this, the practice of Varnashrama religion continued in the south and the caste superiority of the Brahmins continued. Lingayats still maintain their power in some parts of Hyderabad and Mysore. Kashmiri Shaivism: A new sect of Shaivism developed in Kashmir, which was different from other sects in doctrine and conduct. It is a purely philosophical or knowledge-oriented sect, in which the abominations of the Kapalikas such as sura-sundari paan, putting ashes on the body of the cremation ground, eating in hell, sacrificing human and animal etc. have been strongly condemned. Knowledge is considered as the only means of realization of Pratmatma. In Kashmiri Shaivism, Shiva is accepted as Advaita Shakti. He is omnipresent and the world is his form. Together with Shakti, he creates the universe. Chit, Ananda, Jnana Kriya, Desire – these are considered to be his powers. Jiva is Shiva in his real form, but due to ignorance he is unable to understand reality. As soon as the cover of ignorance is removed, he attains Shiva. This is salvation. The importance of devotion has also been accepted in this view.
By the way, the entire Tamil region had monasteries and temples of Shaivism. Shivaputra Kartikeya first propagated Shaivism here. Saint Tirumular was a devotee of Shiva and the author of the famous Tamil text Tirumantram. The Tamil region saw the birth of a notable Shaivite devotee, who was also a poet, between the 6th and 9th centuries. Three of them are well known for their resemblance to Vaishnava Alvars. Like other religious leaders, they were called ‘Nayanars’. Their names were ‘Nan Sambandar’, Appar and Sundarmurti, the first two appeared in the seventh century and the third in the ninth century. Like the Alvars, he was also a singer-poet, who was full of devotion towards Shiva. The Alvars used to travel from one temple to another and sang self-composed hymns while dancing in emotion in front of the idol of Shiva. There was a crowd of spectators and devotees behind him. They were not dependent on Agamas, but followed Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. Only a few of his verses have been translated into other languages. Tirumular (800 AD) is the first poet of the sect to follow the religious rules of the Agamas in his poem ‘Tirumantaram’. Manikkavachkar is the second great man of this belief, whose compilation of countless verses is famous in the name of ‘Tiruvachakam’, which means ‘sacred’ speech. He was a resident and eminent person of Madura. By renouncing his position under the influence of the Guru, he became a monk.
He has followed a lot of Puranas, Agamas and earlier Tamil works. He was opposed to the Mayavada of Shankar Swami. In its second development (1000–1350 AD) Pattipattu Pillai, Nambi, Nambi Ander, Maykand Dev, Arunanandi, Marai Jnanasambandha and Umapati emerged. Maykand etc. The last four saints are called Acharyas. Because they were respectively each other’s disciples. In this way the Tamil Shaivites created their own system of worship, which is called Tamil Shaivism. His doctrines are 14 in total. There was no change in the above principles under the third development. This sect was never completely organized. The incomplete communal system used to run around the monasteries through literature. The Mahants used to roam around and keep in touch with the disciples. Most of the Maths were in the hands of non-Brahmins and a few under Brahmins. The reason is that most of the Brahmins in the Tamil country were Smarta or Vaishnavite. The best learned writer of this period was Shiva Gyan Yogi (1785 AD). The collection of Shaivite songs composed by Tayumanvar of this century is considered to be the largest Shaivite text. Its philosophical point of view is known as Shivadvaita, which is different from the Sanskrit doctrine-branch.