Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Sociology, Philosophy) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph. D
Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee,
During the pre vedic period some ancient cults of Saivism were in vogue in the Indian subcontinent. We have references to believe that Shiva or his aspects were worshipped by some ancient communities outside India in far away places such as the Mediterranean, Africa, Central Asia and Europe. According to some the name Shiva is of Dravidian origin, derived from the word Chivan or Shivan meaning red color. Sambhu, another name of Lord Shiva, also said to have been of Dravidian origin, derived from the word Chembu, or Chempu or Sembu, meaning copper or red metal.
According to some the phallic symbol of Shiva is of Austric origin and so is the name linga.SHIVA- This is a word with many meanings. In the Hindu trinity of Gods it means the God who dissolves us from the Earth, the power called the destroyer which releases humans from the earth-body. It is a ‘God’venerated by Yogis who seek release from the flesh.We have three forms, which is birth, life, and death.
There is a ‘God’ which determines when we shall beborn. There is a ‘God’ which supervises us during life,and there is a ‘God’ (Shiva) which gives us release
Actually LINGA is a sign representing God Shiva, but it is also used to indicate a phallic symbol.Since the beginning of civilization the peoples of the Earth had the most interesting task of populating the Earth as quickly as they could. Iit is that the priests, who thought that the more subjects they had the more powerthey would have, made an order and called it a Divine Order. The order was to the effect that everyone should be fruitful and multiply. People had great hordes of children because that strengthened individual tribes,and the bigger the tribe, the more powerful it became.
So, under the ‘Divine Instruction’ of the priests the warriors of the big tribes invaded small tribes and killedoff the men and captured the women so that these women could be used for making more little tribesmen, who then could go out and capture more and more small tribes. .
The male organ, or a representation of it, thus became an object of great worship, and in various partsof the world even today such stone pillars are regarded with awe and veneration. It is an amusing fact that the cupolas and minarets of mosques and temples, and thespires of Christian churches, were of phallic-symbolorigin.
In Harappans culture a powerful class of priests, drawing authority from their role asintermediary between the populace and gods, dominated society. Promoting fertility was a paramount concern. The most prominent deity depicted was a fierce-faced naked male with ahorned head. The concern with fertility was demonstrated by numerous naked female figures (devis, or mother-goddesses, and sacred animals—especially bulls), and phallic-shaped objects.
Megasthanese noted the worship of Shiva in his book Indika. He thought that the deity whom Indians worshipped was Dionysus, a Greek god who had some affinity with Shiva.
From Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, we understand that images of Shiva were in use probably for religious worship.Shiva ( Siva) as we know him today was unknown to the Vedic people. They knew a form of Shiva who was different from the Shiva who was worshipped elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent. They worshipped a deity who personified their fears and anxieties in an unfamiliar territory surrounded byhostile tribes and an unfavorable nature.
Interesting fact about Kabba is that it has been in existence way before the birth of Islam. In the Pre-Islamic Era, it was a holy site for the various Bedouin tribes of the area. Few historian even today believes that .
As in the headquarters of Christianity (namely the Vatican in Rome) at the headquarters of Islam too (namely in the Kaaba temple in Mecca city of Saudi Arabia) the ancient Hindu Shiva Linga may still be seen.
This cylindrical stone, rendered immovable for security by being fixed in the outer corner of a wall, is the object of reverence of all Muslims. Here Muslims still continue the seven perambulations
in the age old Hindu style except that they move anti-clockwise. White silver foil shrouds the stone. The oval uncovered central portion gives the pilgrims an idea of how the stone looks. Syrians had once carried away the stone as a war trophy and kept it for 22 years.When we study the ancient Celtic gods like Norse Odin and the Celtic Cernunnos we cannot miss some similarities between them and Shiva. Some scholars also find parallels between the Tantric practices of Saivism and the magical-religious practices of Shamanism of the Mexican, American Indian, Inuit, and Australian Aboriginal peoples. It is possible that the similarities might be due to the fact that the religious beliefs of ancient cultures emerged mainly from the fertility rites and the father god and mother god traditions of prehistoric times.
In Ireland, a very, very old land indeed, there are what are called ‘the round towers.’ These towers,cylindrical, and sometimes taller than a church tower, had a rounded top. They were phallic symbols, symbols of fertility, symbols that one must not forget that the more numerous a nation the stronger it became, and themore easily it could conquer lesser nations.
As the Irish became converted to Christianity they found a fresh use for their phallic-symbol roundtowers ; they used to climb up a special staircase inside the tower and peer out from the top so that they could see if invaders were coming to steal things from their lands or to capture people to use as slaves. The roundtowers were very useful for keeping watch for the predatory English, who looked upon hunting the Irish as almost a national sport. Naturally enough, the Irish looked upon such ‘sport’ with considerable disfavour.While on the subject it might be worth mentioning that in addition to the phallic symbol of the male organ there are also phallic symbols of the female organ. In female organ !
Prior to his integration into Vedic religion, Lord Shiva was worshipped mainly outside the Vedic society by people with whom they were not very familiar. Even today we find Lord Shiva being exceptionally popular among many ancient tribes of India such as the Chenchus and the Malavans who live in the remote areas of South India and consider Shiva not only as a hunter and a forest deity but also as the ancestor of their tribes.
The integration of Shiva into Vedic religion took place over a long period of time probably as a result of the coming together of diverse groups of people speaking different languages and practicing different religious traditions The vedic people originally frowned upon the practice of the worship of Shiva lingas but subsequently integrated the practice into a Vedic religion.
Shiva In The Vedic Texts
Shiva is mentioned in the Rigveda in three hymns as the fearful and vengeful Rudra. He is described as the god of sickness, disease, death, destruction and calamity. For the Vedic people his very name fear . They believed that the best way to avoid trouble was by seeking protection from himself through appeasement because only Rudra would save them from the wrath of Rudra. So they implored him not to harm anyone, not to hurt pregnancies, not to vilify the dead and not to slay their heroes in the war.The Satarudriya invocation in the Yajurveda is perhaps the most discussed and analyzed hymn. It is part of an invocation offered to the god Agni to avert his wrath and pacify him after he transforms himself into Rudra. The hymn depicts him both as terrifying and pleasing. The prayer is offered to Rudra to bring health and prosperity to the people as a divine physician and also to save them from his own wrath.
the Satarudriya hymn was probably part of several invocations adapted from the prevailing Saiva literature into the Vedas or probably part of a much longer hymn most of which was lost to us.
We find in the Atharvaveda more references to this God than in the Rigveda, suggestive of his growing popularity. Rudra is implored not to harm the cattle and the people. In the Atharvaveda as well as the Yajurveda, Shiva is addressed variously as Sarva, Bhava, Nilakantha, Pasupathi, Nilagriva, Sitkantha and Sobhya. While these names are presumed to be his epithets,
The Satapatha Brahmana mentions eight names of Rudra. In one place he is mentioned as Rudra- Shiva. In some cases he is also identified with Agni
In the Svetasvatara Upanishad Lord Shiva was elevated to the status of Brahman, by the sage who composed it, after he had a vision of Lord Shiva as the Absolute and Supreme Brahman. He is described as the god who wields the power of maya or delusion by which he controls the world. He is also the indweller (antaratman) of all Brhajjabala Upanishad and Bhasmajabala Upanishad are other minor Saiva Upanishads dealing with some important concepts and aspects of worship of Shiva.
Shiva in the Epics and the Puranas
Shiva is mentioned in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Ramayana he is described as Sitikantha, Mahadeva, Rudra, Trayambaka, Pasupathi and ShankaraThe demon king Ravana is described as a great devotee of Lord Shiva and the Ramayana itself as a narration by Shiva to Parvathi. Anjaneya, who was instrumental in finding Sita and destroying many demons, is the son or an aspect of Shiva only, born under strange circumstances as a part of the plan associated with the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Sri Rama.
In the Mahabharata we find more detailed references to Lord Shiva in several chapters. In the Anusasana Parva, we are told how Lord Krishna was initiated by Lord Shiva into Shiva bhakti or devotion to Shiva. In the Santhi Parvan the narration goes on to show that both Hari and Hara are the same.
In the Puranas we find in some of the Puranas deal exclusively with Shiva and Saivism. They are categorized as Shiva Puranas. The Shiva Puranas describe Shiva as the highest and Supreme Being and other gods and divinities subordinate to him as a part of his vast creation. Vayu Purana is considered to be one of the oldest of the Shiva Puranas, composed probably around 2nd Century BC. Other important Shiva Puranas are the Matsya Purana, the Brahmanda Purana, Skanda Purana, Linga Purana, Vamana Purana and of course the Shiva Purana.
Saivism In The Vedic Times
During the pre vedic period some ancient cults of Saivism were in vogue in the Indian subcontinent.
We have references to believe that Shiva or his aspects were worshipped by some ancient communities outside India
in far away places such as the Mediterranean, Africa, Central Asia and Europe. According to some the name Shiva is of Dravidian origin, derived from the word Chivan or Shivan meaning red color. Sambhu, another name of Lord Shiva, also said to have been of Dravidian origin, derived from the word Chembu, or Chempu or Sembu, meaning copper or red metal. According to some the phallic symbol of Shiva is of Austric origin and so is the name linga.
When we study the ancient Celtic gods like Norse Odin and the Celtic Cernunnos we cannot miss some similarities between them and Shiva. Some scholars also find parallels between the Tantric practices of Saivism and the magical-religious practices of Shamanism of the Mexican, American Indian, Inuit, and Australian Aboriginal peoples. It is possible that the similarities might be due to the fact that the religious beliefs of ancient cultures emerged mainly from the fertility rites and the father god and mother god traditions of prehistoric times.
According to some scholars, Shaktism, Samkhya, Yoga and Tantrism were not new concepts that developed in the post Vedic India, but very ancient traditions which were subsequently revived and integrated into the religious life of the subcontinent. Some of these beliefs and practices of Saivism gradually found their way into Brahmanism and Buddhism. Many magical rituals, fertility rites and left-hand techniques and practices of Shaktism and Tantricism aimed to cultivate detachment and gain control over the senses and the mind, were incorporated with some variations into Brahmanism and subsequently into Vajrayana Buddhism. The mentally unsettling and provocative imagery of Tantricism found it way into Vajrayaana Buddhism.
During the Vedic period Shiva was worshipped mostly by non Vedic tribes, such as the Sibis who lived on the fringes of the Vedic society and were hardly understood by vedic people. The Mahabharata mentions the name of Pasupathas, one of the most ancient and secretive sects of Saivism. Kapalikas, Kalamukhas were other prominent sects of Saivism in ancient India. Followers of the Ajivika sect were also probably worshippers of Lord Shiva.
The Satavahanas ruled a vast territory in the south for over 400 years in the post Mauryan era. They patronized vedic religion and worshipped many gods including Shiva and Skanda. They worshipped Shiva under such popular names as Shiva, Mahadeva, Bhava and Bhutapala. They also worshipped his vehicle Nandi and his son Skanda both as individual deities and in association with Shiva. Some of the foreign dynasities who established their rule in the Indian subcontinent such as the Sakas, the Pahlavas and the Kushanas often turned to Saivism. The Kushanas worshipped many native and foreign deities including Shiva and Skanda. Kadhaphises II of the was a follower of Shiva. His successor Kanishka was a worshipper of Shiva and Skanda. In the later part of his life, he converted to Buddhism.
The Barashivas ruled parts of central and northern India from about 2nd Century AD. They were also known in history as the Nagas. The Bharashiva reestablished Hindu traditions. They were great devotees of Lord Shiva, a tradition that was continued later by Vakatakas and the Guptas.
Saivism rose to prominence during the Gupta period. IInscriptions belonging to their period show that they also worshipped Lord Shiva, Skanda and Parvathi. Ujjain rose to prominence as an important Saivite center. Many sacred texts of Saivism were composed during this period, which included Agamas, Tantras and Puranas connected with Lord Shiva and the Mother Goddess.
Saivism continued to flourish during the post Gupta period despite the fact that many rulers like Harshavardhana continued to patronize Buddhism. There were however some pockets of Hindu influence such as as the Chandelas of Bundelkhand (9th century AD) who built 30 or so temples of Shiva and other deities at Khajuraho. During the same period else where also Rajput rulers built many temples in honor of Shiva and Shakti.
In the south the Chalukyas, the Pallavas and the Cholas built many temples in honor of Shiva. Worth mentioning are the cave temple of Shiva at Badami, the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Briahdiswara temple at Tanjore. The Pallva kings witnessed the development of Saiva literature of the Tamils. It was also the period during which the bhakti movement became popular in the south. Sundaramurthy lived during this period and worked for the reformation of many Saiva traditions. Kanchi became a prominent center of religious education to which royal families sent their children. The Cholas were also great devotees of Shiva. They built many temples in his honor. They were instrumental in the creation of greater Hindu civilization that extended beyond the Indian subcontinent to Cambodia and adjoining territories.
The Nayanars of south lived between 6th and 8th Century AD. They were poet saints who spread the awareness of Shiva and Saivism expressing their intense love and devotion by visiting various parts of the country and singing devotional songs in public at holy places, temples and pilgrim centers. Saiva literature records the names of 63 Nayanars, a few of whom were women. They came from different backgrounds, from the highest to the lowest strata of society, including the caste of untouchables. The most prominent Nayanaras are considered to be Appar, Sambanthar and Sundarar. In 11th century Nambi Andar Nambi composed Tirumurai, in which he recorded the lives of all the 63 saints. It has immense historical and spiritual value and considered as an important text of Saiva canon.
The Growth of the Sectarian Movements
Between 9th and 13th centuries, a new movment now known as Kashmiri Saivism grew into prominence. It gained popularity in parts of northern India, especially Kashmir, because of the teachings and compositions of eminent personalities like Vasugupta, Somananda, Utpaladeva, Abhinavagupta and Kshemaraja. Kashmiri Saivism follows Advaita or the philosophy of monism . It regards Shiva as the Supreme Lord and the only reality by realizing whom people are liberated for ever from their state of bondage to identity, delusion and karma. With its emphasis on master (guru) and disciple relationship, awakening of kundalini energy and the teaching of Pratyabhigna or realization of Shiva as one’s hidden self, Kashmiri Saivism caught the attention of many including some Buddhists and Muslims during the medieval period.
Saiva Siddhanta was another school of Saivism that grew into prominence in southern India. It was inspired by the compositions of the Nayanars and others like Manikkavachakar, author of the famous Tiruvachakam (10th century) and Mekyandar the composer of Shivajnanabodhanam (13th century). Saiva Siddhanta school follows dvaita or dualism. It regards Shiva as the Supreme Lord of all but acknowledges a marked distinction between the Supreme Self and the individual selves. According to it, when individual selves are liberated from the bonds of karma, egoism and delusion they do not merge with Shiva. They attain the same consciousness as Shiva and continue to remain as free souls for ever.
In the 13th century another school of Saivism, known as Virasaiva movement rose to prominence in Karnataka. It was influenced by the bhakti movement that swept across the country during the medieval period. It was initiated by the legendary religious leader Basavanna, who was not just a religious leader but a social reformer also.
Gorakshanatha school of Saivism is the most esoteric of all schools of Saivism. It lays heavy emphasis on magical religious rituals of tantric nature verging on the supernatural. They are kept mostly secret from the general public and revealed only to the chosen few.Also known as Natha yoga sect , it was said to have been founded originally by Matsyendranatha and brought to prominence by Gorakshanath who lived in 12the century
1. The Mool (Main) Mantra of Lord Shiva is a five syllable mantra, known as panchakshri mantra. It is believed that the chanters are bowing to themselves, as the Lord Shiva is considered as the ultimate reality.
OM Namah Shivaya
Meaning: I bow to Shiva.
2. Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is the greatest Mantra for Lord Shiva found in Rig Veda.
OM. Tryambakam yajamahe
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat
3. Shree Shiva- Parvati Stuti is the mantra which praises Lord with his consort Parvati.
Karpoor Gauram Karunnaavataram Sansaar Saaram
Sadaa Vasantam Hridyaarvrinde
Bhavam Bhavaani Sahitam Namaami.
Meaning: I Bow to Bhavani as well as to Lord Shiva who is white as camphor, who is compassion incarnate, who is the essence of the world, who wears a garland of a large snake and who always dwells in the lotus like hearts of his devotees.
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4a. Shree Rudraashtak Stotram is the eight fold hymn recited by Brahma to please Shiva. This mantra can be used by anyone to get the blessing from the Lord Shiva.
Vibhum Vyaapakam Brahma-Veda-Svaruupam
Nijam Nirgunnam Nirvikalpam Niriiham
Meaning: I Salute the Lord Ishana. It is the Form that represents the state of the highest Nirvana. This is the form that manifests the essence He is pervading everywhere and The Lord embodies the Highest Knowledge of Brahman present in the core of the Vedas. He who remains absorbed in His own self which is beyond the three Gunas. Beyond any change and Manifoldness, and which is free from any movement. I worship Ishana, who abides in the spiritual sky.
Karaalam Mahaakaala-Kaalam Krpaalam
Meaning: I bow to the supreme Lord who is the formless source of “OM” The Self of All, transcending all conditions and states. Beyond speech, He understands the sense perception. Awe-full, but gracious, the ruler of Kailash, Devourer of Death, the immortal abode of all virtues.
Lasad-Bhaala-Baale[a-I]ndu Kanntthe Bhujanggaa
Meaning: I offer salutations to Sri Rudra, Who is shining white resembling a mountain of snow; and He resides deep in the mind in Millions of Rays of Splendor, which expresses His Auspicious Body. Over whose Head, the Beautiful Ganga Throbs and Surges forth towards the Worlds. The newly risen moon shines in His forehead spreading its rays and His Neck adorns the beautiful Serpents.
Calat-Kunnddalam Bhruu-Sunetram Vishaalam
Prasanna-[A]ananam Niila-Kannttham Dayaalam
Priyam Shangkaram Sarva-Naatham Bhajaami
Meaning: The beloved Lord of All, with shimmering pendants hanging from his ears, Beautiful eyebrows and large eyes, Full of Mercy with a cheerful countenance and a blue speck on his throat. I Worship Him Who is Beloved of His Devotees, Who is Shankara, the Lord of All.
Pracannddam Prakrssttam Pragalbham Pare[a-Ii]sham
Akhannddam Ajam Bhaanu-Kotti-Prakaasham
Bhaje[a-A]ham Bhavaanii-Patim Bhaava-Gamyam
Meaning: I worship Shankara, Bhavani’s husband. I owe to the fierce, exalted, luminous and the supreme Lord Shiva. Indivisible, unborn and radiant with the glory of a million suns; Who, holding a trident, tears out the root of the three-fold suffering, And who is reached only through Love.
Sadaa Sajjana-[A]ananda-Daataa Pura-Arii
Prasiida Prasiida Prabho Manmatha-Arii
Meaning: Salutations to Sri Rudra, Whose Auspicious Nature are Beyond the Elements of the gross material world and He who Brings an end to the cycle of creation when all gross elements are dissolved. He is the one who always give to the wise men and is the destroyer of Adharma. By Taking Away the Great Delusion, He plunges the prepared Soul in the Fullness of Cidananda (the Bliss of Brahman or Pure Consciousness). O, the signifying Destroyer of Manmatha; Please be Gracious to me; Please be Gracious to me, O Lord.
Na Yaavad Umaa-Naatha-Paada-Aravindam
Bhajanti-Iha Loke Pare Vaa Naraannaam
Na Taavat-Sukham Shaanti Santaapa-Naasham
Prasiida Prabho Sarva-Bhuuta-Adhi-Vaasam
Meaning: Oh Lord of Uma, so long as you are not worshiped, there is no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering in this world or the next. You who dwell in the hearts of all living beings, and in whom all beings have their existence, Have mercy on me, Lord.
Na Jaanaami Yogam Japam Naiva Puujaam
Natoham Sadaa Sarvadaa Shambhu-Tubhyam
Prabho Paahi Aapanna-Maam-Iisha Shambho
Meaning: O my lord, I do Not Know how to perform Yoga, Japa or Puja. I always at All Times only Bow down to You, O Shambhu. Please protect me from the Sorrows of Birth and Old Age, as well as from the sins which lead to Sufferings. Please protect me O Lord from Afflictions; protect me O My Lord Shambhu.
Rudraastak Midam Proktam. Vipreyn haratoshyey,
Yey pathanti paraa bhaktayaa. Teyshaam Shambhu Praseedati.
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5a. Lingashtakam Mantra is one of the main mantras of Lord Shiva.
Brahma Muraari Surarchita Lingam
Nirmala Bhaashita Sobhitha Lingam
Janmaja Dhukha Vinaasaha Lingam
Tatpranamaami Sadaashiva Lingam
Devamuni Pravaraarchita Lingam
Kaama Dahana Karunaakara Lingam
Ravana Darpa Vinaasaha Lingam
Tatpranamaami Sadaashiva Lingam
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Lingam, which is worshiped by great sages and devas (God). He is the destroyer of Kama, Linga, the compassionate, and which destroyed the pride of Ravana.
Sarva Sugandha Sulepitha Lingam
Buddhi Vivaardhana Kaarana Lingam
Siddha Suraasura Vandhitha Lingam
Tatpranamaami Sadaashiva Lingam
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Lingam, which is well anointed with all fragrances, leads to growth of wisdom. It is worshiped by sages, devas and asuras (Demons).
Kanaga Mahaamani Bhooshitha Lingam
Panipati Veshthitha Sobitha Lingam
Daksha Suyajna Vinaasana Lingam
Tatpranamaami Sadaashiva Lingam
Meaning: I salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam, Which is decorated with Gold and other Precious Gems, which is adorned with the Best of the Serpents Wrapped around it, and which destroyed the Grand Sacrifice of Daksha. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam.
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Kunkuma Chandhana Lehpitha Lingam
Pankaja Haara Susobhitha Lingam
Devaganarchita sevita lingam bhavairbhaktirevacha lingam
Dinakarakoti prabhakara lingam tatpranamami sadasivalingam
Meaning: I salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam Which is anointed with Saffron and Sandal Paste, which is Beautifully Decorated with Garlands of Lotuses, and which destroys the accumulated Sins. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam.
Astadalopari vestithalingam sarvasmudva karanalingam
Astadaridra vinasana lingam tatpranamami sadasivalingam
Suruguru suravara poojita lingam surapushpa sadarchita lingam
Paramapadam paramatmakalingam tatpranamami sadasivalingam
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Lingam, Which is enveloped with eight-fold petals, which is the cause of all creation, and which destroys eight types of poverty. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam Which is Worshiped by the Preceptor of Gods and the Best of the Gods, which is Always Worshiped by the Flowers from the Celestial Garden, Which is Superior than the Best and which is the Greatest. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Linga.
Lingastakam punyam ya pathecchivasanndhu
sivaloka mavapnoti sivena sahamodithe
Whoever Recites this Lingasthakam near Shiva, Will Attain the Abode of Shiva and enjoy His Bliss