12 Beliefs Of Saivism
A Sacred Creed of One of Hinduism’s Four Primary Denominations
EVERY RELIGION HAS A CREED OF ONE form or another, an authoritative formulation of its beliefs. Historically, creeds have developed whenever religions migrate from their homelands. Until then, the beliefs are fully contained in the culture and taught to children as a natural part of growing up. A creed is the distillation of volumes of knowledge into a series of easy-to-remember beliefs. A creed is meant to summarise the explicit teachings or articles of faith, to embed and thus protect and transmit the beliefs. Creeds give strength to individuals seeking to understand life and religion. Creeds also allow members of one faith to express, in elementary and consistent terms, their traditions to members of another.
Though the vast array of doctrines within Hinduism has not always been articulated in summary form, from ancient times unto today, we have the well-known creedal mahavakya, “great sayings,” of the Vedic Upanishads. Now, in this technological age in which village integrity is being replaced by global mobility, the importance of a creed becomes apparent if religious identity is to be preserved. We need two kinds of strength—that which is found in diversity and individual freedom to inquire and that which derives from a union of minds in upholding the universal and shared principles of our faith.
Saivism is truly ageless, for it has no beginning. It is the precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed Hinduism. Scholars trace the roots of Siva worship back more than 8,000 years to the advanced Indus Valley civilisation. But sacred writings tell us there never was a time when Saivism did not exist. Modern history records six main schools: Saiva Siddhanta, Pasupatism, Kashmir Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siddha Siddhanta and Siva Advaita.
Saivism’s grandeur and beauty are found in a practical culture, an enlightened view of man’s place in the universe and a profound system of temple mysticism and yoga. It provides knowledge of man’s evolution from God and back to God, of the soul’s unfoldment and awakening guided by enlightened sages. Like all the sects, its majority are families, headed by hundreds of orders of swamis and sadhus who follow the fiery, world-renouncing path to moksha.
The Vedas state, “By knowing Siva, who is hidden in all things, exceedingly fine, like film arising from clarified butter, the One embracer of the universe—by realizing God, one is released from all fetters.”
The twelve beliefs on the following embody the centuries-old central convictions of Saivism, especially as postulated in Saiva Siddhanta, one of the six schools of Saivism. They cover the basic beliefs about God, soul and world, evil and love and more. On the last page is a glossary of words used in the twelve beliefs.
REGARDING GOD’S UNMANIFEST REALITY
Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose Absolute Being, Parasiva, transcends time, form and space. The yogi silently exclaims, “It is not this. It is not that.” Yea, such an inscrutable God is God Siva. Aum.
REGARDING GOD’S MANIFEST NATURE OF ALL-PERVADING LOVE
Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature of love, Parashakti, is the substratum, primal substance or pure consciousness flowing through all form as energy, existence, knowledge and bliss. Aum.
REGARDING GOD AS PERSONAL LORD AND CREATOR OF ALL
Siva’s followers all believe that Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature is the Primal Soul, Supreme Mahadeva, Paramesvara, author of Vedas and Agamas, the creator, preserver and destroyer of all that exists. Aum.
REGARDING THE ELEPHANT-FACED DEITY
Siva’s followers all believe in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesha, son of Siva-Shakti, to whom they must first supplicate before beginning any worship or task. His rule is compassionate. His law is just. Justice is His mind. Aum.
REGARDING THE DEITY KARTTIKEYA
Siva’s followers all believe in the Mahadeva Karttikeya, son of Siva-Shakti, whose veil of grace dissolves the bondages of ignorance. The yogi, locked in lotus, venerates Murugan. Thus restrained, his mind becomes calm. Aum.
REGARDING THE SOUL’S CREATION AND IDENTITY WITH GOD
Siva’s followers all believe that each soul is created by Lord Siva and is identical to Him and that this identity will be fully realised by all souls when the bondage of anava, karma and Maya is removed by His grace. Aum.
THE GROSS, SUBTLE AND CAUSAL PLANES OF EXISTENCE
Siva’s followers all believe in three worlds: the gross plane, where souls take on physical bodies; the subtle plane, where souls take on astral bodies; and the causal plane, where souls exist in their self-effulgent form. Aum.
REGARDING KARMA, SAMSARA AND LIBERATION FROM REBIRTH
Siva’s followers all believe in the law of karma—that one must reap the effects of all actions he has caused—and that each soul continues to reincarnate until all karmas are resolved and moksha, liberation, is attained. Aum.
REGARDING THE FOUR MARGAS, STAGES OF INNER PROGRESS
Siva’s followers all believe that the performance of charya, virtuous living, kriya, temple worship, and yoga, leading to Parasiva through the grace of the living satguru, is absolutely necessary to bring forth jnana, wisdom. Aum.
REGARDING THE GOODNESS OF ALL
Siva’s followers all believe there is no intrinsic evil. Evil has no source unless the source of evil’s seeming is ignorance itself. They are truly compassionate, knowing that ultimately there is no good or bad. All is Siva’s will. Aum.
REGARDING THE ESOTERIC PURPOSE OF TEMPLE WORSHIP
Siva’s followers all believe that religion is the harmonious working together of the three worlds and that this harmony can be created through temple worship, wherein the beings of all three worlds can communicate. Aum.
REGARDING THE FIVE LETTERS
Siva’s followers all believe in the Panchakshara Mantra, the five sacred syllables “Namasivaya,” as Saivism’s foremost and essential mantra. The secret of Namasivaya is to hear it from the right lips at the right time. Aum.