Pashupata Shaivism

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Pashupata Shaivism (Pāśupata, Sanskrit : पाशुपत) is the oldest of the major Shaivite Hindu schools. [1] There is a debate about pioneership of this school and Goan school of Nakulish darshan believes that Nakulish was pioneer and Lakulish and Patanjalinath were his disciples while Gujrat school believes that Nakulish and Lakulish are one. Sarwdarshansangrah written by Madhavachary mentiones it as "Nakulish Darshan" not as "Lakulish Darshan". Both sub schools are still active in their own areas. The philosophy of the Pashupata sect was systematized by Lakulīśa also called Nakulīśa [2] ) in the 2nd century A.D. The main texts of the school are Pāśupatasūtra with Kauṇḍinya's Pañcārthabhāṣya, and Gaṇakārikā with Bhāsarvajña's Ratnaṭīkā. Both texts were discovered only in the twentieth century. Prior to that, the major source of information on this sect was a chapter devoted to it in Vidyāraṇya's Sarvadarśanasaṅgraha.

Shaivism A Hindu tradition inspired by god Shiva

Shaivism is one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being. The followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivites" or "Saivites". It is one of the largest sects that believe Shiva — worshipped as a creator and destroyer of worlds — is the supreme god over all. The Shaiva have many sub-traditions, ranging from devotional dualistic theism such as Shaiva Siddhanta to yoga-oriented monistic non-theism such as Kashmiri Shaivism. It considers both the Vedas and the Agama texts as important sources of theology. The origin of Shaivism may be traced to the conception of Rudra in the Rig Veda.



The date of foundation of the school is uncertain. However, the Pashupatas may have existed from the 1st century CE. [3] Gavin Flood dates them to around the 2nd century CE. [4] They are also referred to in the epic Mahabharata which is thought to have reached a final form by 4th century CE. [5] [ full citation needed ] The Pashupata movement was influential in South India in the period between the 7th and 14th century. [6]

<i>Mahabharata</i> One of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India

The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. It narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pāṇḍava princes and their succession. Along with the Rāmāyaṇa, it forms the Hindu Itihasa.

South India Group of Southern Indian states

South India is the area including the five Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, as well as the three union territories of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry, occupying 19% of India's area. Covering the southern part of the peninsular Deccan Plateau, South India is bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west and the Indian Ocean in the south. The geography of the region is diverse with two mountain ranges–the Western and Eastern Ghats, bordering the plateau heartland. Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Tungabhadra, Periyar and Vaigai rivers are important non-perennial sources of water. Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam, Madurai, Mysore, Mangalore, Kozhikode and Kochi are the largest urban areas.


Pashupata Shaivism was a devotional (bhakti) and ascetic movement. [6] [7] Pashu in Pashupati refers to the effect (or created world), the word designates that which is dependent on something ulterior. Whereas, Pati means the cause (or principium), the word designates the Lord, who is the cause of the universe, the pati, or the ruler. [8] To free themselves from worldly fetters Pashupatas are instructed to do a pashupata vrata. Atharvasiras Upanishsad describes the pashupata vrata as that which consists of besmearing one's own body with ashes and at the same time muttering mantra — "Agni is ashes, Vayu is ashes, Sky is ashes, all this is ashes, the mind, these eyes are ashes." [9]

Bhakti literally means "attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity". In Hinduism, it refers to devotion to, and love for, a personal god or a representational god by a devotee. In ancient texts such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the term simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor, while in the Bhagavad Gita, it connotes one of the possible paths of spirituality and towards moksha, as in bhakti marga.


Pashupati is an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva as "lord of the animals". He is revered throughout the Hindu world, but especially in Nepal, where he is unofficially regarded as a national deity.

Mantra sacred utterance

A mantra is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers. A mantra may or may not have a syntactic structure or literal meaning.

Haradattacharya, in Gaṇakārikā, explains that a spiritual teacher is one who knows the eight pentads and the three functions. The eight pentads of Acquisition (result of expedience), Impurity (evil in soul), Expedient (means of purification), Locality (aids to increase knowledge), Perseverance (endurance in pentads), Purification (putting away impurities), Initiation and Powers are [8]

Acquisitionknowledgepenancepermanence of the bodyconstancypurity
Impurityfalse conceptiondemeritattachmentinterestednessfalling
Expedientuse of habitationpious mutteringmeditationconstant recollection of Rudra apprehension
Localityspiritual teachersa caverna special placethe burning groundRudra
Perseverancethe differencedthe undifferencedmutteringacceptancedevotion
Purificationloss of ignoranceloss of demeritloss of attachmentloss of interestednessloss of falling
Initiationsthe materialproper timethe ritethe imagethe spiritual guide
Powersdevotion to the spiritual guideclearness of intellectconquest of pleasure and pain merit carefulness

The three functions correspond to the means of earning daily food — mendicancy, living upon alms, and living upon what chance supplies. [8]


Pashupatas disapprove of the Vaishnava theology, known for its doctrine servitude of souls to the Supreme Being, on the grounds that dependence upon anything cannot be the means of cessation of pain and other desired ends. They recognize that those depending upon another and longing for independence will not be emancipated because they still depend upon something other than themselves. According to Pashupatas, spirits possess the attributes of the Supreme Deity when they become liberated from the 'germ of every pain'. [10] In this system the cessation of pain is of two kinds, impersonal and personal. Impersonal consists of the absolute cessation of all pains, whereas the personal consists of development of visual and active powers like swiftness of thought, assuming forms at will etc. The Lord is held to be the possessor of infinite, visual, and active powers. [11]

Pañchārtha bhāshyadipikā divides the created world into the insentient and the sentient. The insentient is unconscious and thus dependent on the conscious. The insentient is further divided into effects and causes. The effects are of ten kinds, the earth, four elements and their qualities, colour etc. . The causes are of thirteen kinds, the five organs of cognition, the five organs of action, the three internal organs, intellect, the ego principle and the cognising principle. These insentient causes are held responsible for the illusive identification of Self with non-Self. The sentient spirit, which is subject to transmigration is of two kinds, the appetent and nonappetent. The appetent is the spirit associated with an organism and sense organs, whereas the non-appetent is the spirit without them. [12]

Union in the Pashupata system is a conjunction of the soul with God through the intellect. It is achieved in two ways, action and cessation of action. Union through action consists of pious muttering, meditation etc. and union through cessation of action occurs through consciousness. [12]


[ disputed (for: Not verified by local sources.) ]

Rituals and spiritual practices were done to acquire merit or puṇya. They were divided into primary and secondary rituals, where primary rituals were the direct means of acquiring merit. Primary rituals included acts of piety and various postures. The acts of piety were bathing thrice a day, lying upon sand and worship with oblations of laughter, song, dance, sacred muttering etc. Postures involved absurd actions such as, snoring or showing signs of being asleep while awake, limping, wooing or gestures of an inamorato on seeing a young and pretty woman, talking nonsensically etc. Secondary rituals involved bearing marks of purity after bathing. [13]

See also


  1. For the Pāśupatas as the oldest named Śaiva group, see: Flood (2003), p. 206.
  2. Cowell and Gough, p. 108.
  3. For dating as first century AD, with uncertainty, see: Michaels (2004), p. 62.
  4. For dating from probably second century AD, see: Flood (2003), p. 206.
  5. Buitenen (1973) pp. xxiv–xxv
  6. 1 2 Lorenzen, David N. Śaivism. An Overview, [in]: Gale's Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 12, 2005, ISBN   0-02-865981-3
  7. For Pāśupata as an ascetic movement see: Michaels (2004), p. 62.
  8. 1 2 3 Cowell and Gough, p. 104-105.
  9. Indian History, V. K. Agnihottri, 2003. ISBN   81-7764-393-2.
  10. Cowell and Gough, p. 103
  11. Cowell and Gough, p. 106
  12. 1 2 Cowell and Gough, p. 107
  13. Cowell and Gough, p. 108-109.

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