The path of Śiva is the proven path. It led them to Hara. It is the royal path that renowned souls have walked. By this path divine, the devout pervade the universe. That path do seek, enter and persevere.
Tirumantiram 1563. Tm
What Is the Nature of Śaivite Theology?
God Śiva is Love, both immanent and transcendent, both the creator and the creation. This world is the arena of our evolution, which leads by stages to moksha, liberation from birth and death. Aum.
Śaivism is a unique religion in which God is both manifest and unmanifest, dual and non-dual, within us and outside of us.
It is not strictly pantheistic, polytheistic or monotheistic. Its predominant theology is known as monistic theism, panentheism, or Advaita Īśvaravāda.
Monism, the opposite of dualism, is the doctrine that reality is a one whole or existence without independent parts.
Theism is belief in God and the Gods, both immanent and transcendent.
Śaivism is monistic in its belief in a one reality and in the advaitic, or non-dual, identity of man with that reality.
Śaivism is theistic in its belief in the Gods, and in God Śiva as a loving, personal Lord, immanent in the world.
Śaivism expresses the oneness of Pati- paśu-pāśa, God-soul-world, encompassing the non-dual and the dual, faithfully carrying forth both Vedanta and Siddhāṅta, the pristine Sanātana Dharma of the Vedas and Śaiva Āgamas.
The Tirumantiram states:
“Śuddha Śaivas meditate on these as their religious path: Oneself, Absolute Reality and the Primal Soul; the categories three: God, soul and bonds; immaculate liberation and all that fetter the soul." Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
For Hindus the Divine is both immanent and transcendent, within and beyond. Śiva is often considered formless and Śakti is manifest form, with the two united in Ardhanārīśvara.
How Do Śaivites Regard Other Faiths?
Religious beliefs are manifold and different. Śaivites, understanding the strength of this diversity, wholeheartedly respect and encourage all who believe in God. They honor the fact that Truth is one, paths are many. Aum.
Since the inner intent of all religions is to bind man back to God, Śaivite Hindus seek not to interfere with anyone’s faith or practice. We believe that there is no exclusive path, no one way for all.
Śaivites profoundly know that God Śiva is the same Supreme Being in whom peoples of all faiths find solace, peace and liberation.
Nonetheless, we realize that all religions are not the same. Each has its unique beliefs, practices, goals and paths of attainment, and the doctrines of one often conflict with those of another. Even this should never be cause for religious tension or intolerance.
Śaivites respect all religious traditions and the people within them. They know that good citizens and stable societies are created from groups of religious people. Śaivite leaders support and participate in ecumenical gatherings with all religions.
Still, Śaivites defend their faith, proceed contentedly with their practices and avoid the enchantment of other ways, be they ancient or modern.
The Vedas explain:
“Let us have concord with our own people, and concord with people who are strangers to us. Aśvīns, create between us and the strangers a unity of hearts." Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
Lord Śiva watches over followers of all faiths. While regarding their tradition as uniquely blessed, Śaivites love, respect and honor all religious votaries.
How Does Śaivism Stay Contemporary?
Inner truths never change, but outer forms of practice and observance do evolve. Śaivism seeks to preserve its mystical teachings while adapting to the cultural, social and technological changes of each recurrent age. Aum.
Śaivism is an orthodox religion, conservative in its ways and yet pliant and understanding. It is simultaneously the most demanding spiritual path and the most forgiving.
Śaivites have persisted through many ages through successfully adapting work, service and skills according to the times while internalizing worship and holding firmly to the eternal values.
The external form of service or occupation does not change the spiritual search. Be he a skilled farmer, factory worker, village merchant, computer programmer or corporate executive, the Śaivite is served well by his religion. Śaivism has all of the facilities for the education of humankind back to the Source.
Each futuristic age does not reflect a difference in the Śaivites relationship with his family, kula guru, teacher, satguru, Gods or God in his daily religious life. The Śaiva Dharma: it is now as it always was.
The Vedas implore:
“O self-luminous Divine, remove the veil of ignorance from before me, that I may behold your light. Reveal to me the spirit of the scriptures. May the truth of the scriptures be ever present to me. May I seek day and night to realize what I learn from the sages." Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
What Is the Nature of Life for Śaivites?
To the Śaivite Hindu, all of life is sacred. All of life is religion. Thus, Śaivite art is sacred art, Śaivite music is devotional music, and the Śaivite’s business is not only his livelihood, it is his service to man and God. Aum.
Each Śaivite is unique in his or her quest, yet all seek the same things in life: to be happy and secure, loved and appreciated, creative and useful.
Śaivism has an established culture which fulfils these essential human wants and helps us understand the world and our place in it.
To all devotees it gives guidance in the qualities of character so necessary in spiritual life: patience, compassion, broadmindedness, humility, industriousness and devotion.
Śaivism centers around the home and the temple. Monastic life is its core and its power. Family life is strong and precious.
Śaivism possesses a wealth of art and architecture, traditions of music, art, drama and dance, and a treasury of philosophy and scholarship.
Śaivite temples provide worship services daily. Scriptures give ethical guidelines. Satgurus offer advanced spiritual initiation.
These three—temples, scriptures and satgurus—are our pillars of faith.
The Vedas implore:
“O learned people, may we with our ears listen to what is beneficial, may we see with our eyes what is beneficial. May we, engaged in your praises, enjoy with firm limbs and sound bodies, a full term of life dedicated to God." Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
Lived deeply, life is a communion with God in every experience.
What Is the Symbolism of Śiva’s Dance?
The symbolism of Śiva Naṭarāja is religion, art and science merged as one. In God’s endless dance of creation, preservation, destruction and paired graces is hidden a deep understanding of our universe. Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
Naṭarāja, the King of Dance, has four arms:
The upper right hand holds the drum from which creation issues forth.
The lower right hand is raised in blessing, betokening preservation.
The upper left hand holds a flame, which is destruction, the dissolution of form.
The right leg, representing obscuring grace, stands upon Apasmārapurusha, a soul temporarily Earth-bound by its own sloth, confusion and forgetfulness.
The uplifted left leg is revealing grace, which releases the mature soul from bondage.
The lower left hand gestures toward that holy foot in assurance that Śiva’s grace is the refuge for everyone, the way to liberation.
The circle of fire represents the cosmos and especially consciousness. The all-devouring form looming above is Mahakala, “Great Time.” The cobra around Naṭarāja’s waist is kundalini śakti, the soul-impelling cosmic power resident within all.
Naṭarāja’s dance is not just a symbol. It is taking place within each of us, at the atomic level, this very moment.
The Agamas proclaim:
“The birth of the world, its maintenance, its destruction, the soul’s obscuration and liberation are the five acts of His dance.” Aum Namaḥ Śivāya.
To the strong Rudra bring we these, our songs of praise, to Him the Lord of heroes, He with braided hair, that it be well with our cattle and our men, that in this village all be healthy and well fed.
Rig Veda 1.114.1. rvg, vol. 1, 161
Instill in us a wholesome, happy mind, with goodwill and understanding. Then shall we ever delight in your friendship like cows who gladly rejoice in meadows green. This is my joyful message.
Rig Veda 10.25.1. ve, 302
He is the never-created creator of all: He knows all. He is pure consciousness, the creator of time, all-powerful, all-knowing. He is the Lord of the soul and of nature and of the three conditions of nature. From Him comes the transmigration of life and liberation, bondage in time and freedom in eternity.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.16. upm, 96
All this universe is in the glory of God, of Śiva, the God of love. The heads and faces of men are His own, and He is in the hearts of all.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.11. upm, 90
God is, in truth, the whole universe: what was, what is and what beyond
shall ever be. He is the God of life immortal and of all
life that lives by food. His hands and feet are everywhere. He
has heads and mouths everywhere. He sees all, He hears all. He is in all, and He Is.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 3.15-16. upm, 90
He is the God of forms infinite, in whose glory all things are, smaller than the smallest atom, and yet the creator of all, ever living in the mystery of His creation. In the vision of this God of love there is everlasting peace.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 4.14. upm, 92
Devoid of beginning, duration and ending, by nature immaculate, powerful, omniscient, supremely perfect—thus is Śiva spoken of in Śaivite tradition.
Ajitā Āgama 2.2618.1. sa, 56
Unequalled, free from pain, subtle, all-pervading, unending, unchanging, incapable of decay, sovereign—such is the essence of Śiva, Lord of the summit of all paths.
Svāyambhūva Āgama 4.3. sa, 56
They are not for outward form and attire, nor for pomp and ceremony. Uprooting all bond and desire, abiding in the immaculate Lord, they bring to dire destruction the soul’s egoity and its troublesome attachments. They, indeed, are pure Śaivas.
Tirumantiram 1438. tm
Now have I realized the path of Hara. In the past I sought Him in narrow paths and strayed. Lo! All the while He stood before me like a beacon light in firmament, guiding my voyage across the sea of my soul’s longing. The path of Śiva is the proven path. It led them to Hara. It is the royal path that renowned souls have walked, the path divine that took the devout to cosmic space. That path do seek, enter and persevere. Still your wandering thoughts, chant the sacred syllable Si and so persevere on the path of Hara. You shall envision primal light effulgent.
Tirumantiram 1562-1563. tm
If you could see the arch of his brow, the budding smile on lips red as the kovai fruit, cool, matted hair, the milk-white ash on coral skin and the sweet golden foot raised up in dance, then even human birth on this wide Earth would become a thing worth having.
Tirumurai 4.81.4, Appar. ps, 31
With body as temple, with mind ever subject to Him, with truthfulness as purity, with the light of the mind as his Linga, with love as melted butter and milk together with the holy water, let us offer sacrifice to the Lord.
Tirumurai, Appar. lg, 152
Hara, Hara! Śiva, Śiva, who in Thy lover’s heart dost dwell, who art the essence of the Vedas! O wealth! O jewel! O beauteous king, our ruler whom the poets praise, who art commingled with the eyes that see and dost, like the sunlight, everything pervade!
Natchintanai, “Hara! Śiva... ” NT, 209