Shaivite Hinduism Explained


Śaivite Hinduism explained, by Satguru Śivāya Subramuniyaswami, the head of Śaiva Siddhāṅta lineage of Śivaism.

The work is large and in progress….please check back often, as new parts and knowledge will be updated constantly here….

Click on Titles of Chapters for full articles!

Upanishad One
Eternal Truths

MAṆḌALA 1 Self Realization

We are immortal souls living and growing in the great school of earthly experience in which we have lived many lives. Vedic rishis have given us courage by uttering the simple truth, “God is the Life of our life.” A great sage carried it further by saying there is one thing God cannot do: God cannot separate Himself from us. This is because God is our life.

Here You will learn:

1. Who Am I? Where Did I Come From?
2.Where Am I Going? What Is My Path?
3.What Is Meant by “Dancing with Śiva”?
4.How Can We Learn to Dance with Śiva?
5.What Is the Ultimate Goal of Earthly Life?

MAṆḌALA 2 Hinduism - 4 Principal Sects

The Sanātana Dharma, or “eternal faith,” known today as Hinduism, is a family of religions that accept the authority of the Vedas. Its four principal denominations are Śaivism, Śaktism, Vaishnavism and Smārtism. The Supreme Deity for Vaiṣṇavites - Lord Vishnu is God. For Śaivites God is Śiva. For Śāktas - Goddess Śaktī is supreme. For Smārtas, liberal Hindus, the choice of Deity is left to the devotee.

Here You will learn:

6. What Are Hinduism’s Principal Sects?
7.What Is the Deeply Mystical Śaiva Sect?
8.What Is the Magic and Power of Śaktism?
9.What Is the Devotional Vaishnava Sect?
10.What Is the Universalistic Smārta Sect?

MAṆḌALA 3 Shaivite Hinduism - Śaiva Dharmaḥ

Śaivism proclaims: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.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.

Here You will learn:

11. What Is the Nature of Śaivite Theology?
12.How Do Śaivites Regard Other Faiths?
13.How Does Śaivism Stay Contemporary?
14.What Is the Nature of Life for Śaivites?
15.What Is the Symbolism of Śiva’s Dance?

Upanishad Two
God and Gods

MAṆḌALA 4 Śiva - Our Supreme God

God Śiva is all and in all, one without a second, the Supreme Being and only Absolute Reality. He is Pati, our Lord, immanent and transcendent. To create, preserve, destroy, conceal and reveal are His five powers. As Absolute Reality, Śiva is unmanifest, unchanging and transcendent, the Self God, timeless, formless and spaceless.He is our personal Lord, source of all three worlds.

Here You will learn:

16.What Is the Nature of Our God Śiva?
17.What Is God Śiva’s Unmanifest Reality?
18.What Is God Śiva’s Pure Consciousness?
19.What Is the Nature of the Primal Soul?
20.What Are God Śiva’s Traditional Forms?

MAṆḌALA 5 Ganesha - Kartikeya - Dharma Devas

Gaṇeśa, Kārtikeya, Indra, Agni and all the 330 million Gods of Hinduism are beings just as we are, created by Lord Śiva and destined to enjoy union with Him. The Gods are souls of high evolution.The devas are benevolent beings of light abiding in the higher Antarloka. They help to guide evolution from their world between births.

Here You will learn:

21.Do Other Gods Exist Apart from Śiva?
22.What Is the Nature of Lord Gaṇeśa?
23.What Is Lord Gaṇeśa’s Special Duty?
24.What Is the Nature of Lord Kārtikeya?
25.What Does Lord Kārtikeya’s Vel Signify?

Upanishad Three
Our Immortal Soul

MAṆḌALA 6 The Nature of the Soul - Ātmasvarūpam

Our soul is God Śiva’s emanational creation, the source of all our higher functions, including knowledge, will and love. Our soul is neither male nor female. It is that which never dies, even when it’s four outer sheaths—physical, prāṇic, instinctive and mental—change form and perish as they naturally do.The soul body matures through experience,ultimately realizing Śiva totally in nirvikalpa samadhi.

Here You will learn:

26.What Is the Nature of Our Individual Soul?
27.How Is Our Soul Different from Śiva?
28.How Is Our Soul Identical with Śiva?
29.Why Are We Not Omniscient Like Śiva?
30.How Do Hindus Understand Moksha?

MAṆḌALA 7 Karma and Rebirth - Samsara

Karma is not fate, for man acts with free will, creating his own destiny. The Vedas tell us, if we sow goodness, we will reap goodness; if we sow evil, we will reap evil. Reincarnation, punarjanma, is the natural process of birth, death and rebirth.At death, we leave the body through the crown chakra, entering the clear white light and beyond in quest of videhamukti.

Here You will learn:

31.How Do Hindus Understand Karma?
32.Is There Good Karma and Bad Karma?
33.What Is the Process of Reincarnation?
34.How Should We View Death and Dying?
35.How Does One Best Prepare for Death?

MAṆḌALA 8 The Way to Liberation - San Mārgaḥ

The path of enlightenment is divided naturally into four stages: charyā -virtue and selfless service; kriyā -worshipful sādhanas; yoga - meditation under a guru’s guidance; and jñāna, the wisdom state of the realized soul. Jñāna is divine wisdom emanating from an enlightened being, a soul in its maturity, immersed in Śiva-ness, the blessed realization of God, while living out earthly karma.

Here You will learn:

36.What Are the Four Stages on the Path?
37.What Is the Nature of the Charyā Pāda?
38.What Is the Nature of the Kriyā Pāda?
39.What Is the Nature of the Yoga Pāda?
40.What Is the Nature of the Jñāna Pāda?

Upaniṣad Four
Śivamaya - The World

MAṆḌALA 9 The Three Worlds - Trilokam

There are three worlds of existence: the physical, subtle and causal, termed Bhūloka, Antarloka and Śivaloka. The Creator of all, Śiva Himself is uncreated.As supreme Mahādeva, Śiva wills into manifestation all souls and all form, issuing them from Himself like light from a fire or waves from an ocean.The universe ends at Mahāpralaya, when time, form and space dissolve in God Śiva.

Here You will learn:

41.Where Did This Universe Come from?
42.What Is the Nature of the Physical Plane?
43.What Is the Nature of the Subtle Plane?
44.What Is the Nature of the Causal Plane?
45.Does the Universe Ever End? Is It Real?

MAṆḌALA 10 The Goodness of All - Sarvabhadra

The intrinsic and real nature of all beings is their soul, which is goodness. Ultimately, there is no good or bad. God did not create evil as a force distinct from good. He granted to souls the loving edicts of dharma and experiential choices, thus to learn and evolve.Āṇava, karma and māyā are the source of the seeming suffering.

Here You will learn:

46.Are Souls and World Essentially Good?
47.Why Do Some Souls Act in Evil Ways?
48.What Is the Source of Good and Evil?
49.How Can a Benevolent God Permit Evil?
50.Should One Avoid Worldly Involvement?

MAṆḌALA 11 Sin and Suffering

When we act wrongly, we create negative karma for ourselves and must then live through experiences of suffering to fulfill the law of karma.God is the God of all—of the believers within all religions, and of the nonbelievers, too. God does not destroy the wicked and redeem the righteous; but grants the precious gift of liberation to all souls.

Here You will learn:

51.Why Is There Suffering in the World?
52.What Is Sin? How Can We Atone for It?
53.Does Hell Really Exist? Is There a Satan?
54.What Is the Consequence of Sinful Acts?
55.Does God Ever Punish Wrongdoers?

Upaniṣad Five
Dharma - Right Living

MAṆḌALA 12 Four Dharmas

Dharma is God’s divine law prevailing on every level of existence, from the sustaining cosmic order to religious and moral laws which bind us in harmony with that order. When we follow dharma, we are in conformity with the Truth that inheres and instructs the universe, and we naturally abide in closeness to God. Adharma is opposition to divine law.

Here You will learn:

56.What Is Dharma? What Are Its Forms?
57.What Is Signified by Universal Dharma?
58.What Is the Nature of Social Dharma?
59.What Is the Nature of Human Dharma?
60.What Is the Nature of Personal Dharma?

MAṆḌALA 13 Good Conduct - Yama and Niyama

Good conduct is right thought, right speech and right action. It is virtuous deeds in harmony with divine law, reflecting the soul’s innate purity. Good conduct, or sadāchāra, for the Hindu is summarized in five obligatory duties, called pañcha nitya karmas.The yamas and niyamas are scriptural injunctions for all aspects of thought and behavior. They are advice and simple guidelines, not commandments.

Here You will learn:

61.What Is the Meaning of Good Conduct?
62.What Are Good Conduct’s Four Keys?
63.From Whom Is Good Conduct Learned?
64.What Are the Ten Classical Restraints?
65.What Are the Ten Classical Observances?

MAṆḌALA 14 Ahimsa - Non-injury

Ahiṁsā, or non-injury, is the first and foremost ethical principle of every Hindu. It is gentleness and non-violence, whether physical, mental or emotional. It is abstaining from causing hurt or harm to all beings.The actions of all Hindus living in the higher nature are rendered benign, or Ahiṁsā. One would not hurt that which he reveres.

Here You will learn:

66.What Is the Great Virtue Called Ahiṁsā?
67.What Is the Inner Source of Non-injury?
68.What Is the Inner Source of Violence?
69.Is Vegetarianism Integral to Non-injury?
70.How Can Peace on Earth Be Achieved?

Upaniṣad Six
Family Life - Gṛihastha Dharmaḥ

MAṆḌALA 15 Husband and Wife

The two purposes of marriage are: the mutual support, both spiritual and material, of man and wife; and bringing children into the world. Marriage is a religious sacrament, a human contract and a civil institution.They are equal partners in joy and sorrow, companions and helpmates, yet their functions differ.The purpose of sexual union is to express and foster love’s beautiful intimacy and procreation.

Here You will learn:

71.What Is the Central Purpose of Marriage?
72.What Are the Duties of the Husband?
73.What Are Special Duties of the Wife?
74.What Is the Hindu View of Sexuality?
75.What Is the Relation of Sex to Marriage?

MAṆḌALA 16 Hindu Marriage

A happy marriage is based first and foremost on a mature love, not a romantic ideal of love. It requires selflessness and constant attention. For marriage to serve its spiritual purpose to the highest, husband and wife should hold the same beliefs and share the same religious practices. Their harmony of minds will be reflected in the children.The couple should be prepared to work with their marriage.

Here You will learn:

76.What Is the Basis for a Happy Marriage?
77.Must We Marry Within Our Religion?
78.How Are Hindu Marriages Arranged?
79.What Is the Hindu Family Structure?
80.How Are Marital Problems Reconciled?

MAṆḌALA 17 Children in Hindu Family

Children are the greatest source of happiness in marriage. Householder life is made rich and complete when sons and daughters are born, when the marriage becomes a family and a new generation begins.The fundamental duty of parents is to provide food, shelter and clothing and to keep children safe and healthy. The second is to bestow education, including instruction in morality and religious life.

Here You will learn:

81.What Is the Fulfilment of a Marriage?
82.What Are the Main Duties of Parents?
83.How Strictly Must Children Be Guided?
84.Should All Youths Be Urged to Marry?
85.How Is Family Harmony Maintained?

Upanishad Seven
Sacred Culture - Maṅgala Kriyā

MAṆḌALA 18 Ways of Wisdom - Bodhi Tantraḥ

In the subconscious mind, there are subliminal traits or tendencies, called vāsanās, which shape our attitudes and motivations. The troublesome vāsanās clouding the mind must be reconciled and released.There are beneficial tantras by which absolution can be attained for unhindered living, including āyurveda, jyotisha, daily sādhana, temple worship, selfless giving, the creative arts and the several yogas.

Here You will learn:

86.How Do We Overcome Life’s Obstacles?
87.What Are the Hindu’s Daily Yoga Practices?
88.How Are Āyurveda and Jyotisha Used?
89.How Do Hindus Regard Art and Culture?
90.What Is the Hindu Outlook on Giving?

MAṆḌALA 19 Hindu Celebrations | Sacraments

Hindus celebrate life’s crucial junctures by holy sacraments, or rites of passage, called saṁskāras, which impress the subconscious mind, inspire family and community sharing and invoke the Gods’ blessings.Through Vedic rites and mantras, family members or priests invoke the Gods for blessings and protection during important turning points, praying for the individual’s spiritual and social development.

Here You will learn:

91.What Are Hinduism’s Rites of Passage?
92.What Are the Sacraments of Childhood?
93.What Are the Sacraments of Adulthood?
94.What Are the Child-Bearing Sacraments?
95.Are There Rites for the Wisdom Years?

MAṆḌALA 20 Hindu Festivals

Festivals are special times of communion with God and Gods, of family and community sharing and sādhana.Among the major Deity festivals are Mahā Śivarātri, Vaikāsi Viśākham, Gaṇeśa Chaturthī, Skanda Ṣaṣṭhī, Kṛittikā Dīpam, Vināyaka Vratam, Ārdrā Darśanam and Tai Pusam.Besides the temple festivals, there is a multitude of home, community and national celebrations.

Here You will learn:

96.What Are the Festival Days of Śaivism?
97.What Are the Primary Festivals to Śiva?
98.What Are the Major Gaṇeśa Festivals?
99.What Are the Main Kārtikeya Festivals?
100.What Are Other Important Festivals?

MAṆḌALA 21 Shiva Temples

The Śiva temple is the abode of God Śiva and Gods and the precinct in which the three worlds consciously commune. The three pillars of Śaivism are the temples, the scriptures and the satgurus. These we revere, for they sustain and preserve the ancient wisdom. Śiva temples, whether they be small village sanctuaries or towering citadels, are esteemed as God’s home and consecrated abode.

Here You will learn:

101.What Is the Nature of the Śiva Temple?
102.How Are Temples Founded and Built?
103.When Should One Attend the Temple?
104.How Does One Attend a Śiva Temple?
105.What Occurs Within the Śiva Temple?

MAṆḌALA 21 Pūjā - Temple Rites

The traditional rite of worship, called pūjā, is a sanctified act of the highest importance for the Hindu. It is the invoking of God Śiva and the Gods, the expression of our love, devotion and surrender.We worship God Śiva and the Gods who by their infinite powers spiritually hover over and indwell the image, mūrti, which we revere as their temporary body.

Here You will learn:

106.What Is the Inner Importance of Pūjā?
107.What Is the Special Rite Called Archana?
108.What Is the Nature of Image Worship?
109.Who Are the Priests of Śiva Temples?
110.What Does the Pujārī Do During Pūjā?

MAṆḌALA 22 Bhakti - Love of God

Temple worship is for all men and women at every level of spiritual development. Its meaning and experience deepen as we unfold spiritually through the service, devotion, yoga and enlightened wisdom. Every Śaivite home centers around the home shrine, a special room maintained to create a temple-like atmosphere in which we conduct pūjā, read scripture, perform sādhana, meditate, sing bhajana and do japa.

Here You will learn:

111.Is Temple Worship Only for Beginners?
112.How Do Devotees Prepare for Worship?
113.How Do Our Prayers Reach the Gods?
114.Do Śaivites Worship Only in Temples?
115.What Is the Home Shrine’s Significance?

Upanishad NINE
Mahātmā - Holy Men and Women

MAṆḌALA 24 Monastic Life - Sannyāsa Dharma

Certain men are by nature inclined toward realization of the Self, and disinclined toward desires of family, wealth and property. Some among them are sādhus dressed in white,living as anchorites in the seclusion of distant caves and remote forests or wandering as homeless mendicants, itinerant pilgrims to the holy sanctuaries of Hinduism. Others dwell assembled with fellow monastics, often in the āśrama.

Here You will learn:

116.What Is the Hindu Monastic Tradition?
117.What Are the Goals of Renunciate Life?
118.What Is the Sannyāsins Kundalini Path?
119.What Is the SanWhat Are the Holy Orders of Sannyāsa?nyāsin’s Initiation Rite?
120.What Are God Śiva’s Traditional Forms?

MAṆḌALA 25 Spiritual Leaders of Hinduism

The saints, sages and satgurus who commune with God and Gods through devotion and meditation are Hinduism’s holy men and women. We revere them and strive to follow their example and words of wisdom.It is very difficult to be so disciplined and devoted, and so we honor and love those who have attained God’s grace, and worship the Divine within them, not their personality or humanness.

Here You will learn:

121.Who Are Hinduism’s Spiritual Leaders?
122.What Is a Saint, a Sage and a Satguru?
123.Are There Other Terms for Holy Ones?
124.What Is the Nature of Guru Protocol?
125.What Is the Satguru’s Unique Function?

Upanishad Ten
Sacred Scripture - Śāstras

MAṆḌALA 26 Śruti - Revealed Scriptures

The Vedas and Āgamas, revealed by God, are Hinduism’s sovereign scriptures, called śruti, “that which is heard.” Their timeless truths are expressed in extraordinarily profound mystical poetry known to man.Veda, from vid, “to know,” means “supreme wisdom or science.” Similarly, Āgama, which names the sacred sectarian revelations, means “descent of knowledge.In imparting religious practice, rules and doctrine, the Vedas are general and Āgamas specific.”

Here You will learn:

126.What Are Hindu Revealed Scriptures?
127.What Is the Nature of the Veda Texts?
128.How Are the Vedas Significant Today?
129.What Is the Nature of the Holy Āgamas?
130.How Are the Āgamas Significant Today?

MAṆḌALA 27 Smriti - Secondary Scripture in Hinduism

Smṛiti means “that which is remembered” and is known as “the tradition,” for it derives from human insight and experience and preserves the culture. While śruti comes from God and is eternal and universal, the ever-growing smṛiti canon is written by man.In addition to the epics, legends and supplements to the Vedas and Āgamas, there is a wealth of Hindu metaphysical, yogic and devotional writings.

Here You will learn:

131.Do Smṛiti and Sacred Literature Differ?
132.What Texts Amplify Vedas and Āgamas?
133.Does Hinduism Have Epics and Myths?
134.Are There Other Types of Sacred Texts?
135.What Is the Source of This Catechism?


Namaḥ Śivāya is among the foremost Vedic mantras. It means “adoration to Śiva” and is called the Pañchākshara, or “five-letters.” Om Namaḥ Śivāya is the most holy name of God Śiva, recorded in the Vedas and elaborated in the Śaiva Āgamas. Sages declare that mantra is life, action and love, that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within.

Here You will learn:

136.What Is the Holy Namaḥ Śivāya Mantra?
137.How Is Namaḥ Śivāya Properly Chanted?
138.Is Initiation Necessary to Perform Japa?
139.What Is Śaivism’s Affirmation of Faith?
140.How Is the Affirmation of Faith Used?

Upanishad Eleven
Monistic Theism - Advaita Īśvaravādaḥ

MAṆḌALA 29 Monism or Dualism | Advaita or Dvaita

At one end of Hinduism’s complex spectrum is monism, Advaita, which perceives a unity of God, soul and world, as in Śankara’s cosmic pantheism and Kashmīr Śaiva monism. At other end is dualism, dvaita—exemplified by Madhva —which teaches two or more separate realities.In between are views describing reality as one and yet not one, dvaita-advaita such as Rāmānuja’s Vaishnava Vedan­ta.

Here You will learn:

141.What Are the Many Hindu Philosophies?
142.How Do Monism and Dualism Differ?
143.Are Monism and Dualism Reconcilable?
144.What Is the View of Monistic Theism?
145.Is Monistic Theism Found in the Vedas?

MAṆḌALA 30 Monistic Theism with Pluralistic Theism compared

There are two Śaiva Siddhāṅta schools: pluralistic theism, in the lines of Aghoraśiva and Meykandar, and Tirumular’s monistic theism. While differing slightly, they share a religious heritage of belief, culture and practice. In South India, their points of agreement are summarized as guru, preceptor; Linga, holy image of Śiva; saṅga, fellowship of devotees; and valipadu, ritual worship.

Here You will learn:

146.What Are Śaiva Siddhāṅta’s Two Schools?
147.What Are the Two Views on Creation?
148.What Are the Views on God and Soul?
149.What Are the Differing Views on Evil?
150.What Are the Views on Mahāpralaya?

Upanishad Twelve
Sampradāyaḥ - Lineage of Transmission

MAṆḌALA 31 Kailāśa Paramparā - Himalayan Lineage

Nātha means “lord or adept,” and sampradāya refers to a living theological tradition. Today two main Nātha streams are well known: the Nandinātha Sampradāya, made famous by Maharishi Nandinātha (ca 250 bce), and the Ādinātha Sampradāya, carried forth by Siddha Yogi Gorakshanātha (ca 900).Kailāśa Paramparā honors the illustrious Rishi Tirumular and his generations of successors.

Here You will learn:

151.What Is Hinduism’s Nātha Sampradāya?
152.What Is the Lofty Kailāśa Paramparā?
153.Who Were the Early Kailāśa Preceptors?
154.Who Were Kadaitswami and Chellappan?
155.Who Are the Most Recent Kailāśa Gurus?