Saivism: The Oldest Practice of Hinduism Essay

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Saivism is a pan-Hindu religion that focuses on the traditions of Hinduism that worships the deity Shiva (or sometimes his consort and power, Sakti), practiced widely across India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Saivism is also the oldest form of Hinduism worship. Like Vaisnavism, Saivism has obtained many varieties of ritual practices and ideologies, though it has leaned more towards ascetic ideals. An important myth in the tales of Shiva is the story of Daksa, which is told in the Mahabharata, where we learn that Shiva was originally excluded from the vedic sacrifice, and conceivably a deity from outside the pantheon, but came to be accepted as a god. Many can interpret the myth as a metaphor for the development of Saivism. As Shiva is outside …show more content…

There are other early references to Siva and Saiva worship, notably in Patanjali’s “Great Commentary” and with Puranas, ancient Hindu texts rhapsodizing various deities. It is with Puranic literature and texts in the Gupta Dynasty (c. 320 - 500 CE) that Saivism began to spread rapidly. The Saiva Puranas contained the usual puranic subjects as well as exclusive Saiva elements, and it is with those that we see Saivism develop as a major strain of Hinduism.Apart from material on the worshipping of Shiva, Puranas such as the Linga also withhold information asceticism and yoga of the Pasupatas, which is the earliest sect of Saiva that people of today know of. The bulk of the material contained in the Puranas was established during the reign of the Guptas, with subsequent information being added slowly over time, information reaching all the way to the medieval times. There are eighteen major Puranas, and these are traditionally classified into three groups of six each, with Shiva considered to be the central deity in the Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma purana, Skanda Purana, and Agni Purana. Within the atimarga, the higher path, two important orders existed, which are the Pasupata order (along with its sub-branch the Lakula) and the Kalamukha order. The Pasupatas are the oldest Saiva sect, assumed to be from the second century

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