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THE THOMAS WAY: Saivism and Nasranees

What form of Church did Thomas Institute?

The question now is, what happened to these churches? Looking at the story of Thomas as a rationalist doubter turned believer, who unhesitatingly declared Jesus as “My Lord, and My God “, we should have no doubt about the theology of the churches he established. He certainly emphasized the God incarnate as the Jesus ben Joseph, the Carpenter, his Lord and Master. He was no Gnostic. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed God and Lord

The first Council of the Churches at Jerusalem (49 AD) under James set the standards for gentile churches. It was Paul of Tarsus who proposed the model for Gentile Churches. The Council decided that the central core of the Gospel is not to be confused with the cultural forms of worship and life of the Christians. The Church was to interpret the Gospel, which was revealed in the Jewish cultural context to the other cultures in a culturally relevant manner. Paul illustrated the working of the model in transferring the gospel in Greco-Roman culture. This was already in process before Thomas left Jerusalem and Middle East. Thomas therefore knew the Apostolic mission and must have established norms and standards, which were culturally relevant to the Indian context. Hence we should not expect Thomas Churches of India to have the ritualism and structures of Greco-Roman or Asia Minor. There would be no church building with a cross on the top, no altars nor candles and candle stands. We should expect a replication of the events of the early Christian Churches in Jerusalem soon after the resurrection. These emphasized communal living, fellowship, sharing, singing, worship, common meals with God and Man. For a very long time Christianity left no artifacts. Institutionalization came most probably after a century of Christian existence. Symbols and church buildings and rituals came into existence as a means of communication. In the Bible we do have these initial stages of the Christian Church in the Greco-Roman Churches under the leadership and guidance of Paul and Peter. While the embedding of the message of salvation through Yesua is central to every mission, how it plays out in different cultures vary. How was this working out in India?



Thomas found a people who were very similar to the Hebrews in the Dravidians who were at that time concentrated in the Southern States. We have reason to believe that at least a part of the blood of Dravidans came from Abraham through his second wife Keturah. They worshipped a God of love who was willing to die for his creation and practiced animal sacrifice for the propitiation of sins. There were also a large Jewish presence in the South Indian coast who migrated as long ago as the time of Solomon. So it was easy for Thomas to preach to the Dravidian population rather than to the Aryans. There are some who believe that one of the wise men who visited baby Jesus was from these people. Compared to the Dravids, Aryans were still pagans, worshipping the elementary forces of nature and involved deep in magic and witchcraft (Yajur Veda). This shows why Thomas had greater success in supplanting the Buddhism, Jainism and Vedism in the South rather than in the North.

The introduction of Christianity in the Indian religious arena brought forth an explosion of change, which can be easily seen by comparing the religious theology and practice before and after the arrival of St.Thomas.

Yesu Paran



At any rate after a million years of “Hindu” existence in India, (as is claimed) something happened in Indian religions that drastically changed its content and form during the first century. The lower nature gods of Rig Veda and their worship as expressed in the four Vedas were replaced with the concept of Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman and a new understanding of a Personal God who is love and who pervades his creation

The name for God became Iswaran which expanded is Yesu Paran (Jesus is Lord)

Parameshwara. [Iswara = God. Param = Most High.]

The prescript Param can be replaced with Maha meaning “The Great” to give Maheshwara – The Great God.

These words Parameswara and Maheswara occur in Indian religious scenario only after the first century.

The name of God as Isa stands in sharp contrast to the devas of the Pre-Christian Period.

It is a personal name as opposed to a generic name for god. The name appears only in the post Christian Upanishads written in Sanskrit. The name “Isa”. “Iswara” etc is never found before the Christian era anywhere in the Indian literature even in oral tradition.

Isavasya Upanishad is one of the first Upanishads written in Sanskrit language which originated as early as 150 AD. Regarding the starting word “Isavasya” this is what the Sanskrit Scholar Dr. A. Stone states:  “It is clear that the first word, ii;saa, could theoretically be a proper noun in compound with the second word (which might begin aa- or with no vowel), OR the instrumental singular of either ii;s or ii;sa or ii;saa.“  If this is true then this upanishad specifically is naming Jesus as God.

The Hebrew name of the person whom we refer as Jesus was  Yehoshuav which is rendered in English as Joshua . A shortened form of the name is Yeshua from which we get the Dravidian translation through St. Thomas as Yesu, Easow, Isa, Iswara

In contrast, the name given in Greco-Roman culture is derived from their context as follows: When the good news of the gospel was translated into to the Greco- Roman culture by Paul and his group it was rendered in Greek as Iesous , pronounced as Yesous. Y in some languages is pronounced as J (ya as ja) rendering it as JESUS. While we have no hesitation to accept the name Jesus, even though it is only a Greco-Roman version of the real name, we should have no problem in seeing the name Isa, Maheswara, Parameshwara as equivalent to Jesus. Evidently this was brought into Indian scenario by Thomas who arrived in India by 52 AD and traveled all around into for twenty years and was finally martyred in 72 AD in Madras, Tamil Nadu. Shiva's epithet Mahābaleśvara, "The Lord God Almighty" (Maha = "great", Bala = "strength", Īśvara = "God") is an exact translation of the Jewish concept.

In fact there is no Isa in Vedas. It was after the Gnostic infiltration by the third century they took away the historical Jesus, and the word Isa was reinterpreted to mean “any favorite deity name” according to which religious sect quoted it. Thus Vaishnavite equate Isa with Hari or Krishna, and Saivite with Siva. It is not difficult for any reader to see what was happening. Isa became a generic name than a personal name. This moves the pawn one step into “New Age” of the Early Christian Period.

This was very new to the Indian continent. It transformed all the religions of India – Vedism, Buddhism, and even Jainism to some extent. The idea that there is a Personal God who is Omnipotent and loving changed the whole theology of Indian continent as the later religious scenario shows. The extent of this impact indicates that Thomas established churches with Jesus as center of worship as the Parameshwara throughout India.

Sufficient records are there to show that:

* There existed a thriving Christian community in Kerala at that time.

There are palm leaf records, which show that:

* Among the Dravidians in Central India (Kaveri Area)

there was a Church as early as 293 AD. These documents show that, Seventy-Two families of Christians of Vellala origin from Kavery Poopatanam of Puhur

District on the River Kaveri arrived in Kollam (Quilon) in Kerala as refugees fleeing from the persecution in AD 293

Original Thomas Christians of Dravids

In Kerala itself the first Christian Church was established among the Jews. Hence at least for these Jewish Christians, historians are of the opinion, that Thomas established the early liturgy in Aramaic (Syriac) the language spoken by Jesus and the Jews of that period. They were therefore called Nazaranees (Those who follow the Nazarene).


But for the Churches that he established in his second visit among the non-jewish Indians he must have used local cultural symbols and expressions as well as modes of worship. In these areas Isa worship took the form of Saivism. I would rather say that Saivism formed the first denomination of Christians in South India while in Kerala they remained as Nazaranees. In Kerala he used the Jewish symbolism and communication media while elsewhere he used the Indian symbolism and communication media. These two forms developed side by side. In the North India, the church was essentially Saivism as the distribution of Sivalingas indicate. In South India Nazareens were predominant as the distribution of the crosses indicate.


The existence of Sivalingams all over suggests that at least in the early Christian era Saivism extended all over India from Taxila to Tamil Nadu.

There existed a Tantric cult based on worship of the Phallus the male organ placed in Yoni the female organ, which were later integrated with the Saivite tradition. These traditions go back to around 250 BC from Kashmir. The original Savism was of South Indian origin and had no connection with these Tantric religions until the 6th century. These were attributed to Savism to denigrate them by the later Vaishnavites.

Worship of the Phallus
According to some scholars, worship of Shiva Linga in effect means worship of the reproduction function. For, they say that the other meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘Linga’ is gender in general and phallus (the male reproductive organ) in particular. They believe that the base of the Lingam corresponds to the Yoni which mean vagina or the female reproductive organ. Correspondence of Linga and Yoni in a Shiva Linga is therefore interpreted as the representation of the process of copulation. Scholars further opine that the Kalash (container of water) that is suspended over the Shiva Linga from which water drips over the Linga also correspond to the idea of intercourse.

Connecting the origin of Shiva Linga to the early Indus Valley civilization, scholars opine that tribes of the Indus Valley took to the togetherness of Lingam and Yoni in a Shiva Linga as the point of energy, creation and enlightenment.

Interpretation in Tantra

According to Tantra, Lingam is a symbol of Shiva's phallus in spiritual form. They say, the lingam contains the soul-seed within which lies the essence of the entire cosmos. The lingam arises out of the base (Yoni) which represents Parvati according to some or Vishnu, Brahma in female and neuter form according to others.

Interpretation in Puranas
Puranas, especially the Vamana Purana, Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Matsya Purana and Visva-Sara-Prakasha attribute the origin of Shiva Linga to the curse of sages leading to the separation of and installation of the phallus of Lord Shiva on earth.


Swami Vivekananda gave a lecture at the Paris Congress of the History of Religions in 1900 ………To this Vivekananda objected, …….to the effect that the Shiva-Linga had its origin in the idea of the Yupa-Stambha or Skambha—the sacrificial post, idealized in Vedic ritual as the symbol of the Eternal Brahman. According to Vivekananda, the explanation of the Shalagrama-Shila as a phallic emblem was an imaginary invention. Vivekananda argued that the explanation of the Shiva-Linga as a phallic emblem was brought forward by the most thoughtless, and was forthcoming in India in her most degraded times, those of the downfall of Buddhism” http://www.mahashivratri.org/shiva-linga.html


Dr. Alexander Harris puts this as follows:

In its section on the history of the Indian Subcontinent, the Encyclopedia Britannica (1982 edition) describes major changes in the religions of India. For instance the Vedic religion underwent changes with the gradual fading out of some of the Vedic deities, and further they state that,

"The two major gods were Visnu and Siva, around whom there emerged a monotheistic trend . . ."

"Sacrificial ritual was beginning to be replaced by the practice of bhakti (personal devotion), positing a personal relationship between the individual and the deity"

Thus we see a new religion arise, based on a monotheistic doctrine, and God who is first called Isa.

"The cult of Siva or Saivism emerged first, and the Vishnu-Krishna cult or Vaishnavism came afterwards as an imitation or duplication. The earlier appearance of Siva is indicated in the first instance by the fact that it is he alone who is called Isa or Isvara."


"This peculiar character of the cult makes it permissible to infer that Siva was probably the first and only god of the monotheistic Hinduism which replaced Vedic polytheism as the highest expression of the religious sentiment of the Hindus. That is to say, originally the monotheism was unitary. In fact, even in recent times the Saivas of the south maintained that Siva was the only supreme deity." “…..

By the time the Puranas were composed, Lord Siva was recognized as a part of Hindu Trinity and His worship became popular in many parts of the Indian subcontinent. Both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata mention Lord Siva as a prominent Hindu god. Credit goes to the Saiva Puranas, which were composed mostly in the early Christian era, in making Saivism a popular religious sect. Of the 18 Puranas originally composed, six were Shaiva Puranas, namely Siva Purana, Linga Purana, Matsya Purana, Kurma Purana, Skanda Purana and Agni Purana. The Agamas are the most authoritative works on Saivism. They deal with the methods of ritual worship and contemplation of Lord Siva.

Jayaram V


It is clear that Saivism was one of the first sects that existed. Other sects developed later as a result of developments within Saivism and with interaction with local cults and religions. I have dealt with these in my book, ‘Development of Hinduism”

Those of us who have been collaborating closely with the Bible Translators in Africa know the innuendos of the translation. There are occasional traps in translation. It can go at a tangent and the concept can be misconstrued and misinterpreted. This is because the symbols we use to build has long and obscure values which we don’t recognize as they are used.

Siva Kovils – Early Indian Christian Churches

All the places associated with Thomas are Saivite Temples. Those who place “Hinduism” - whatever that means - to have been in existence millions of years has it that this indicate the destruction of Temples and take over of temple sites by Christians. One such series is elaborated in “The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple”. Mylapore Shiva Temple was most probably one of the Kovils established by Thomas and was probably his seat in the Southern India. For all probability the Saivite temples were really the original Christian Churches. They flourished for at least three centuries when Gnostics and Brahmins took over these “churches” and converted them to “temples”. In this sense there is a truth in the claim that some of the churches today are on ancient temples. It may be argued the otherway round also.

The Mahavanirvana Tantra (chapter 14):

Thirty-five million known and unknown places of pilgrimage and all the holy places abide near Shiva. The land within a radius of a hundred cubits of the linga is declared to be Shiva-kshetra (9-10). This land of Isha is very sacred. It is more excellent than the most excellent of holy places, because there abide all the Immortals and there are all the holy places (11). He who in a devout spirit lives there, be it even for but a little while, becomes purged of all sins, and goes to the heaven of Shangkara after death (12).

Sivlinga – Form of the Formless


The development of the symbols of Sivlinga and the development of Makan as Ganapathy are interesting studies in the concept developments. They also show how symbols can be misinterpreted by later generations and an edifice of myths and legends can come out of something very simple and direct. Today Sivlinga has been given a sexual interpretation assuming that it represents the penis. However any Saivite will be horrified by such a reference and will tell you that this is a misrepresentation of the concept by people who wanted to denigrate the Saivites. Since the God of creation do not have a form, the best visible representation of Invisible formless form is a formless form - the lingam. All symbols are meant to convey some deep mental and spiritual concept. These may be in sound as in languages and music, or form as in icons, idols and artifacts and architecture.


Later in order to represent that this incomprehensible God incarnated in human form a face was added to the lingam. The earliest Ekmukh lingams (Udayagiri, Madhya Pradesh) are still in existence. “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

In the same way it is not difficult to see the distribution of the Jyotirlingas all over India fall on the route of Thomas and its density proportional to the number of years Thomas labored in those areas most probably during his Taxila tour.. Thus we have a large number of Jyotir lingams near Taxila and Tamil Nadu area during his south Indian tour. What is conspicuously missing is the Kerala area because of its contact with Syria and because of the presence of the Jewish Christians. All along the route of Thomas, schools of theologies developed and major teachers arose from these schools in the years that followed as attempts in revival of original Christian theology.

12 Jyotirlingas

Mallikarjuna swamy (Andhra pradesh); Mahakaleshwar (Madhya pradesh);
Trimbakeshwar (Maharashtra); Vaidyanath (Bihar);Omkareshwar (Madhya pradesh);

Rameswaram (Tamil nadu); Nageshwar (Gujarat); Bhimashankar (Maharashtra); Kedarnath (Uttara khand); Somnath (Gujarat); Ghushmeshwar (Maharashtra);

Vishwanath (Uttar pradesh)

There are two other places which are considered as Jyotirlingas by Maharashtrian people:

Naganath (Aundha, Maharashtra)
Vaidyanath (Parli, Maharashtra)





Kushan worshipper with Shiva/Oesho (the Iso the Saviour), Bactria, 3rd century CE

Notice that Kerala do not have the Saivism. Thus we see two denominations already in existence because of the Jewish, Brahminic and Syrian presence. They were called Nazaranees.

Compare this with the distribution of Nasranee crosses



How would you translate the Christian concept of God and incarnation into Indian cultural context which never had that concept defined?

The concept of Trinity

Again there is no Trinitarian concept found in any of the four Vedas.

Except for Dravids, there probably was no name for God. For Dravids the word translated as Isa or Maheswara or Param Eswara– El Elyon – “Great God”, God the Father. That was exactly the experience of Thomas when he said “My God and My Lord”. How would the Apostle translate the holy Trinity, Father, Spirit and the Son in Dravidian language? Father is evidently Appan. (Abba – Father) The Aramaic female gender Holy Spirit that gives life is best translated as Amma and Son, evidently as Makan. And the original true Saiva Siddhantha was born. The correlation goes much deeper.

Nirguna Brahman is the ultimate God who cannot be comprehended, who resides in the darkness, cannot be seen or known. This God revealed himself as Saguna Brahman, who can be comprehended, seen, heard and touched and is a person, not just a force of nature. He is a person with a purpose and so created the cosmos. Purpose cannot come within monism.


Sada Siva Murthy, Elephanta Caves, Bombay 4-6 century AD?

The Form of The Eternal God.”

The three faces are called:

Tatpurusha-Mahadeva, (Self Existent Great God)
Vamadeva-Uma (feminine - right side), (The Right Hand Lady God) and
Aghora-Bhairava (Masculine Fierce - left side).



Three-headed Shiva, Gandhara, 2nd century CE

One of the oldest Siva representation

Dr. M. Deivanayagam and Dr. Devakala in their studies on “Hinduism – Dravidian Religion” - The Revival Movement of Dravidian Religion mentions five new doctrines that appeared all of a sudden in the Indian religious scenario in the first century:

  • Doctrine of Avatar - God becoming a man in order to redeem human beings. Trinity or Triune doctrine - God in triune stage - Appan, Ammai, Makan (Saivism); Siva, Vishnu, Brahma (Vaishnavism)

  • Doctrine of fulfillment of sacrifice - The offering of sacrifice has ceased even though there is sacrificial altar in the temple. People do not offer sacrifice while they worship God.

  • Doctrine of forgiveness of sin - There is forgiveness for the sins of human beings by the grace of God and this doctrine is totally controversial to the saying that ‘the actions of one person would definitely yield its fruits’.

  • Doctrine of bhakthi - Appreciating the bhakthi which is in ones heart irrespective of one’s appearance, color, culture etc. (Kannappa Nayanar)

The five doctrines mentioned above are the basic doctrines for the religion of the Tamils or the religion of the Dravidians or for the Hindu religion. These doctrines are the Taproots for Hindu religion (Saivism, Vaishnavism).”

These form the back bone of the St.Thomas Christianity or Hindu Sanadhana Dharma, the Indian Catholic Church. Thus just as Roman Catholic Church developed in the cultural context of Greco-Roman culture, Indian Catholic Church was developed in the Indian cultural context just as Thomas expected it to be. Just for the fun of it, if you remove Jesus from the Roman Catholic Church, you will probably be surprised to see the modern Hindu Sanadhana Dharama.

Later another interesting representation was the placement of the Tamil Om on top of the lingam, which later led to the form of Ganapathy, the elephant faced. None of these symbolisms are found earlier than the first century AD.

Om as Logos


Aum, is the root mantra and primal sound from which all creation issues forth. It is associated with Lord Ganesha

AUM is an aspect of God — it is the divine creative vibration of the whole universe. Word is the outer part and meaning or thought is its inner part. Every word has a meaning or a thought and so every thought finds expression only through word. It is the hovering of this vibration in the beginning that created. John calls it the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, the word was with God and the word was God.” This word is a symbol of primal vibration through which the universe manifests. It is the very first thought of God. It is the power differentiating the oneness into multiplicity.” This concept originated in Christianity as it appears in John and is not found in any prior religions without involved interpretation.

B.K.S. Iyengar, says, "Sound is vibration, which, as modern science tells us, is the source of all creation." (This is in his commentary on the 27th sutra of the first chapter, which refers to the meaning of pranava or Aum. in Light On The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)

Aum first appears in the Taittareya Samhita in the post Christian period. Yet it appears on every early St.Thomas Church. It can be seen even today in several churches. It was certainly the greatest contribution of Thomas to Indian culture.

When the Word became flesh, when Om took form we have the simple expression of Om overlapping the Lingam.

Amen and Aum

A century ago, the German scholar Max Müller, ( M. Müller, Three Lectures on the Vedânta Philosophy, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1894) who introduced the Indian Scriptures to the west, had the idea that om might be a contraction of the word avam, “a prehistoric pronominal stem, pointing to distant objects, while ayam pointed to nearer objects…… Avam may have become the affirmative particle om, just as the French oui arose from hoc illud.” This follows the common everyday use of a syllable produced by the “up sound” or exhalation producing om to mean “Yes, I agree” Chândogya Upanishad clearly spells out the equation between the words udgîtha and pranava. The first record of this usage is in the Brihad-Âranyaka-Upanishad (3.9.1) itself, where om is employed seven times in this manner. Indeed, the Chândogya-Upanishad (1.1.8) clearly states: “That syllable is a syllable of assent, for whenever we assent to anything we say aum [= om].” “If, then, om meant originally that and yes, we can understand that, like Amen, it may have assumed a more general meaning, something like tat sat, and that it may have been used as representing all that human language can express.” (Max Muller)

In this sense it is an expression of how an idea begins and expresses into reality. This is the creation process. And God said: “Let there be ….and it was so” It also indicate the presence of the trinity in the process of creation in the agreement.

First appearance of Aum

The study of the sacred sound Om indicates that it is the representation of the Logos concept. In fact John 1:1 is replicated in exact form in the later Indian scriptures. Surprisingly the Om is not found directly or indirectly in any document or Vedas before the advent of Thomas. The earliest direct references are found in Prashna Upanishad and in Mandukya Upanishad which were written after 150 AD. . On the other hand Om is inscribed in all Kerala Christian Churches of antiquity at the entrance.

Just as various theological stands produced various denominations and sects in the Western World in the later period, various sects were also developed in India emphasizing one or the other aspect of God and or ritual.

Saivism and Vaishnavism developed as a Bhakti movement around 6th, 7th c. A.D. in South Indian Thomas Churches. Yet in years to come these were disfigured and manipulated by Gnostics and the Aryans from Persia under the influence of Mani. Thus the modern Hinduism is an outgrowth of the Gnostic Christianity, and is a heresy of Christianity

We can only make guesses regarding the original form of Indian Catholic Church prior to the 3rd century.

are the offshoot of
 Early Indian Christianity.


Sivagnanapotham, the theological foundation for Saivism says as follows,

"Avan aval athu yenum avai moovinaimayin
thotria thithiye odungi malaththulathaam
antham aathi yenmanaar pulavar"
(In the beginning God created man (avan-first man), woman (aval-first woman) and the world (athu) in three different actions and they were holy. But, later on they fell into the sin or malam, which ended the life of holiness and was the beginning of sin say the scholars.)

(Sivagnanapotham - 1)

"Muththi mutharkodikkae mogak kodi padarnthu
aththi paluththathu yenru vunthee para
appalham vunnaathae vunthee para"
(Amongst the creatures which were holy, on the first creeper (first man), the creeper of sin crept over it and bore the fruit of evil. Speak this forth. Do not partake of that fruit. Speak this forth.)

(Thiruvuntiyar 41)

"Aimpula vaedarin ayarnthanai valarnthena
thammuthal guruvumoi dhavaththinil vunarththa vittu
anniyam inmaiyin aran kalhal selumae"
(God who came into this world as a Guru on seeing the souls who are living in worldly pleasure by enjoying the pleasures of the five senses, made them to feel through his penance of suffering of death that they have forgotten their creator and are living in sin. Once the soul is enlightened through his suffering, it repents of its sins, and the separation with God is removed and it reaches the feet of God)

(Sivagnanapotham - 8)

'Aviyaai aviyumaagi arukkamaai perukkamaagi
paaviyar paavam theerkum paramanoi Brahmanaagi'
(The supreme God became Brahma and he is the sacrifice and sacrificed himself in order to redeem sinners)

(Thirunavukkarasar Devaram – pa. a. 320)

"Pori vaayil ainthaviththaan poitheer olhukka
neri ninraar needu vaalhvaar"
(Those who follow the one, who sacrificed his five senses on an instrument and showed us the way and who is the life and truth, will have eternal life)

(Thirukkural – 6)

Saiva Sidhanta
The basic creed of the saiva sidhantha is given by the Saiva Sidhantha Church as follows:

A Creed of Saivite Hindus

1.  We BELIEVE Lord Siva is God, whose Absolute Being, Parasiva, transcends time, form and space.

2. We BELIEVE Lord Siva is God, whose immanent nature of love, Parasakti, is the substratum, primal substance or pure consciousness flowing through all form as energy, existence, knowledge and bliss.

3.  We BELIEVE 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.

4. We BELIEVE in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesa, son of Siva-Sakti, to whom we must first supplicate before beginning any worship or task

5. We BELIEVE in the Mahadeva Karttikeya, son of Siva-Sakti, whose vel of grace dissolves the bondages of ignorance

6. We BELIEVE that each individual soul is created by Lord Siva and is identical to Him, and that this identity will be fully realized by all souls when the bondage of anava, karma and maya is removed by His grace.

7.  We BELIEVE in three worlds of existence: the Bhuloka, where souls take on physical bodies; the Antarloka, where souls take on astral bodies; and the Sivaloka, where souls exist in their own self-effulgent form

8.  We 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.

9.  We BELIEVE that the performance of charya, virtuous living, kriya, temple worship, and yoga, leading to Parasiva through grace of the living satguru, is absolutely necessary to bring forth jnana, wisdom

10.  We BELIEVE that there is no intrinsic evil.

11.  We 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.

12.  We BELIEVE in the Panchakshara Mantra, the five sacred syllables “Namah Sivaya,” as Saivism's foremost and essential mantra.”


Compare this with the Nicean Creed of the Chrsitian Churches outside of India in which one of the Indian delegate also was present.

The Nicean Creed

“ We believe in one God, the Father All-sovereign, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, and the only-begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father before all the ages, Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was made flesh of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man, and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended into the heavens, and sits on the right hand of the Father, and comes again with glory to judge living and dead, of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and the Life-giver, that proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and Son is worshipped together and glorified together, who spoke through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.

We acknowledge one baptism unto remission of sins.

We look for a resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. “

Evidently the basic understanding of the trinitarian Godhead and the salvation through faith is seen as the basis. Though later additions to the substratum is clear they must have identical basis. It may be safey assumed that this was the faith that existed until the third and fourth centuaries in India when the idol worship became prevalent and the inner core of faith was lost.

Thus Dr. M. Deivanayagam and Dr. D. Devakala in The Revival Movement of Dravidian Religion lists the follwing factors which emerged independent of Vedic influence.

1. Emergence of the basic doctrines of Saivism and Vaishnavism depending not on Aryanism or the Vedas.
Development of these doctrines which are not seen in the Vedas
Emergence of new Agamas, totally contrary to the Vedas.
Emergence of temple worship, contrary to the Vedas.
Emergence of Nayanmars and Alwars who did not belong to the Vedicreligion.
The doctrinal explanation of Sankara, Ramanuja and Mathva which arecontrary to the Vedas.
Emergence of the names of Gods viz. Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Sakthi ....who are contrary to the Vedic deities.
Emergence of the worship of God in Triune form instead of worshipping the Vedic deities'.

They conclude thus:

When Christianity came to India, the New testament was not compiled at that time. Naturally this would lead to the lack of historicity. The need of presenting Christianity at the grass root level in the later period led to the development of myths. Since the doctrine of trinity, doctrine of avatar, and the doctrine of fulfillment of sacrifice have to be explained in the mythical aspect at the grass root level, mythical Christ is seen in the Indian religions in different languages in different terms.

Though the terms are different and seem to be different Gods and Goddesses, they all refer to one God. An unbiased examination of myths would unveil the hidden Christ. “ http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/1412/origin.html


Biblical Christianity, Judaism and Shaivite Hinduism Share the Same Names for God.

Judaism Shaivism
Ish; Yish; Is; Isa; Issa; El; Al; etc.
(Suffixes and prefixes to mean "God")
The same in Shaivism
Yahve; Jahve; Tseeva (God) Shiva; Shaiva; Siva (God)
Elohim; Elokhim (God intellectualized) Lakhimi (Goddess of Prosperity); Lokhi; Lukh (Shiva)
El Shaddai (The Almighty) Saday; Sada (Shiva)
Ha-Kadosh (The Holy One) Hakh-e-Kheda (God's Duty)
El Elyon (Possessor of Heaven and Earth) Il Layun (Absorption in God)
Yesoda (Dual Sexual Nature of Life) Yeshoda (Shiva's Dual Sexual Nature)

Similar sacred symbolism and iconography are associated with both the Hebrew Yah-Veh and the Kashmiri Shaiva: The Holy Trinity; the flame; the cherub; the guardian angel; the snake; the bull; blowing of bull's horn, etc.

Hebrew and Kashmiri Cabalistic Terminology Is About the Same.

Hebrew Kashmiri
Ani (he spark of life) Agni (Vedic god of fire)
Avoda (work; labor) Vud; Wud (skilled labor)
Ayeen (void; non-being) Ayen (eternity)
Cabala (acceptance) Cabul (acceptance)
Guevara (force) Gav'r (surrounding and attacking)
Keter (crown) Kash'r (crown of the head)
Kijum (destiny) Ko-Yimi (path to death)
Klim (nothing) Kholi (nothing)
Malkuth (kingdom) Mulakh (kingdom)
Nefesh (soul) Naph's (soul; spirit self)
Sephiroth (spiritual energy centers) Sipath (spiritual energy centers)
Yesu; Yesh; Yeh; Yahu; Yakhu; Yah; Yao; Ie
(The Material Universe)
The same as in Judaism
Yesh me Ayeen (The Goal of Creation) Yech me ayen (Creation Fused to the Void)
Zohar (brilliance) Swar; Svar (Heaven; light; brilliance)


Development of Sects and Gnostic infiltration – Enter Mani

As time went on evidently new thought patterns and theologies brought in varying sects emphasizing the various aspects and rituals of the Church. This resulted in competing and practically opposing groups. Gnostic infiltration into Christianity started early - even during the Apostolic era. Simon Magnus who is revered as a saint in the Gnostic Church is referred to in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 8:9ff.). While they were thwarted off by collective churches that emphasized the historical Jesus, the Gnostics thrived in many countries, especially in Persia.

Gnosticism is a philosophical and religious movement, which started in pre-Christian times. The term is derived from the Greek word gnosis, which means "knowledge”. It introduced novel beliefs and new gods and goddesses who exist in “divine dimension”. They insisted on universal revelation and insisted on considering all religions as equal and the ultimate salvation being achieved through the inner knowledge or enlightenment. Some of the early Gnostics include, Simon Magnus and Simonians, Nicolaitans, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, (130-150 AD), Theodotus (140-160 AD), Valentinus, (140-160 AD), Heracleon, (170-180AD), and The Sethians. All these were dealt with by the early church. However the idea that Man can become God had always been a tender spot and temptation for man from the beginning with Adam and Eve. The Gnosticism always revived.

The land route to India brought in Gnosticism into India from its home land of Persia and impacted it to the utmost in the North India. It transformed Buddhism and Christian Churches of Inner India. Even though Gnosticism practically died out in Persia it still survives in China and India. Today we still call it “New Age” if we want to avoid calling it Hinduism.

It is told that Bardaisan came to Kerala during AD 154 – 222. (35). We have no details about this visit. But there are evidences that indicate that Bardesai met Mani in Kerala in Ranni. It was after this visit he wrote the Acts of Thomas to present Thomas as a Gnostic. Apparently his labors were not fruitful in Kerala. Since at the end of his life Bardaisen returned to Christian faith, his followers probably returned to faith or merged with Manicheans.

Mission of Bardesai was followed by the ministry of Manichean (Mani or Manes) (c.216-300 AD). “About the year 242, he undertook an extensive journey as an itinerant preacher, proclaiming himself as the "Messenger of Truth," the Paraclete promised by Christ. Traveling throughout the Persian Empire and as far as India, he gathered a considerable following.” Manicheanism was centralized in Kanchipuram Pallava Dynasty of Dravidia with its capital in Kanchi is known to be of the Persian race. Pallavas trace their origin to Syrian immigration. .

Pallava: Encyclopedia II - Pallava - Persian Origins

Pallava - Persian Origins

The Pallavas are believed to be hereditary Hindu rulers who dominated southeastern India between the 4th and 9th centuries. Presently the Palav is one of 96 Maratha clans.

One view is that they belonged to Kuruba(Kurumbar) Clan. But recent historical, anthropological, and linguistic evidence indicates that the Pallavas were of Parthian origin and the name Pallava is just a variant of a well known Sanskrit Pahlava. According to Dr Carnegy, the Pahluvas were the peoples who spoke Pehlvi, a language of Persia. And according to Dr Buhler, Pahlava and its Iranian prototype Pahlav are corruptions of Parthava. It is also notable that for the same people, the different recensions of Puranas interchangeably write Pahlava as well as Pallava

The Pallavas represent a section of the Pahlavas who, in alliance with Sakas and Kambojas, had encroached into India during second/first century BCE and settled in south-western and southern India around the beginning of Christian era. The Markendeya Purana and Brhat Samhita ] indeed attest Pahlava and Kamboja settlements in south-western India (i.e. nairRtyAM dizi dezAH Pahlava-KAmboja.....Brhat Samhita) …… This evidence shows that a section of Pahlavas (Parasikas) were also residing in southern India as late as first quarter of the 8th century AD. Thus, it appears that the Pallavas of Kanchi were indeed a branch of the Iranian Pahlavas, who with passage of time, had embraced Hinduism and become followers of Brahmanical way of life. French scholar George Coedes, among numerous others, identifies the Pallavas with the Iranian Pahlavas and further also sees close affinity between the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Kambuja rulers of Cambodia


The Pallava kingdom of southern India began when Parthians migrated from the region of ancient Iran to southern India in the 4th century AD (according to this link) and their empire continued for centuries afterwards. This perfectly fits the Parthian timeline as the Parthian Empire fell in the 3rd century AD and refugees could have consolidated a new position of dominance in southern India by the time of the following century. The link below extensively documents the Parthian origin of the Pallavas, but it is a secular source which does not realize the Israelite origin of the Parthians. It notes similarities between Pallava and Bactrian king”


See also http://www.cais-soas.com/CAIS/History/ashkanian/parthian_colony.htm

India's Parthian Colony On the origin of the Pallava empire of Dravidia, By: Dr. Samar Abbas, India


Mani is associated with peacock and he is said to have had the ability to fly as a peacock. Probably the city of Mylapore was the headquarters of Mani also. He practically took over Thomas Churches. Some people think that it is probably this concept of Mani the Ambasador of Light, that crystallized later in the Subramaniam myth associated with Saivism

He called himself the Prophet of Jesus and Jesus was one of the first emanations from godhead.

In Mani’s own words: “At the close of King Ardashir’s years I set out to preach. I sailed to the land of the Indians. I preached to them the hope of life and I chose there a good selection.” And what did Mani teach? “The Bride is the Church, the Bride Groom is the Light Mind; the Bride is the soul and Jesus is the bridegroom! If he rise in us, we too shall live in him, if we believe in him, we shall transcend death and come to Life” (http://www.gnosis.org/thomasbook/ch11.html) Mani’s work were in Chola region where he had a great following. He removed the Jesus of Nazareth as an incarnation and replaced him with a teacher who showed the inner path to realization. As a result the historical Jesus was of no consequence nor his life and death and resurrection. Gnostics differentiated Jesus from the Christ. The experience of the divine within each person was only important. As a result Inner Indian Churches became Gnostic Churches and dropped off Jesus as a whole. After returning to Persia, Mani sent his Father and one of his disciples called Thomas to India to continue to evangelize the nation. Mani was executed for heresy in Persia and all his followers in Persia went to the East – to India and China. All his apostles and his mother Mary were buried in Kashmir in a place called Barmulla. It is this last Aryan Brahminic migration that made a great difference in Indian Religious scenario. Mani’s version of the Christianity is still seen in the Gnostic Churches of America and the Church of the East which presents the Yoga of Jesus. Thus Indian Christian Churches took a new form. - the form of Sanadhana Dharma, meaning Eternal Religion – Religion that started even before Man. In the process of historic growth it became the “Hinduism” as we know today

The early Gnostic Hidutva unleashed a war on historic Christianity - ideological, social and physical. . In the North India the believers went underground as a group of Fakirs, who were sworn in secrecy as to their true identity. These Fakirs surface occasionally. Sadhu Sunder Singh report to have seen them on his journey to the Himalayas. When the poor Indian missionaries need help, they always appear from nowhere. Among the Sindhi’s of the North India there is a group called Tatanagar Fakirs, who venerate Thomas as Thuma Bhagat.

It was probably during this time Pantaneus was sent to India from the School of Alexandria to counter the teachings of Mani. The Manigramakkar, a sect of Hindu Nairs found in Quilon and Mavelikara, still preserve certain Christian customs. They are said to be the descendants of those apostatized early Christians.

When the cloud clears off we have a large number of sects of varying faith and practices all over India. The Inner India Churches became Gnostic (“Hinduism”) since they had little or no contact with the Christian Churches elsewhere. The Malabar Churches however because of its geographic position was in constant contact with other churches in Alexandria, Ethiopia, Rome and Antioch through the sea route. Because of this they remained within the Apostolic traditions – the faith that was handed over once and for all at the shores of India by Apostle Thomas – as was practiced in the rest of the world especially in Alexandria, Ethiopia, Rome and Syria. By the third century while the rest of India became Hindu, Hinduism came to stay in Malabar Coast only by the eighth century. Malabar remained a safe haven for Christians for several centuries.

As a result when the Gnostic (Hindu) persecution broke out in the Chola and Pandya region, many believers fled to Malabar. One such mention is seen in the Palm Leaf documents.

AD 293. The Vallala converts to Christianity in Kavery poopattanam were persecuted by their King. So 72 families embarked on a ship and came to Korakkeni (Kollam, Quilon) where there were Christians at that time.”

This is followed by another citation, which says:

AD 315 A certain sorcerer called Manikka Vachakar came (to Kollam) and converted back to Hinduism 116 persons belonging to eight of the 72 families from Puhur”

This story is also cited by other historians such as Moraes, White House, and Ittup.

Another Palm Leaf says:

A certain sorcerer called Manikka Vachakar came to Kollam and converted back to Hinduism 116 persons belonging to 72 families from Puhur, 4 of about half a dozen families subsequently came from Coromandel Coast (perhaps from Puhur itself) and 20 families of local Christians (presumably from Quilon)”. Pam-leaf quotation.

We are not sure who this Manikka Vachakar is. The mention of the term Sorcerer and the name Manikka leads us to identify this person as Gnostic.

The impact of this Persian Gnosticism is seen in the appearance of idols and temples and an endless system of myths and legends and visions. By the end of third century most of the region beyond the Sahya Mountains became “Hindu” . It took at least three centuries more for it to reach Kerala.

Taproot of the Hindu religion:

  • Doctrine of Avatar - God becoming a man in order to redeem human beings. (Unborn Prime God was born in order to give us eternal pleasure)

  • Trinity or Triune doctrine - God in triune stage - Appan, Ammai, Makan (Saivism); Siva, Vishnu, Brahma (Vaishnavism)

  • Doctrine of fulfillment of sacrifice - The offering of sacrifice has ceased even though there is sacrificial altar in the temple. People do not offer sacrifice while they worship God.

  • Doctrine of forgiveness of sin - There is forgiveness for the sins of human beings by the grace of God and this doctrine is totally controversial to the saying that ‘the actions of one person would definitely yield its fruits’.

  • Doctrine of bhakthi - Appreciating the bhakthi which is in ones heart irrespective of one’s appearance, color, culture etc. (Kannappa Nayanar)

The Revival Movement of Dravidian Religion Dr. M. Deivanayagam, Dr. D. Devakala

Pillayar Concept


 In the Savite Trinity of Appan, Amma and Makan – while the concept of Appan (Father), Amma (Sakthi – Holy spirit) and Makan ( Son) - we oftern confront the son in the form of the Elephant. Pillaiyar is depicted as Gana Pathy which in itself simply means Lord or Saviour of People – Emmanuel. Yet the Elephant figure have come to dominate the religious ceremonies. Though it blows off the stretch of imagination, this was a natural development of the concept of incarnation. It is a sybolisation the “The only begotten Son of God” as the following research indicates.


In “The Wonder that is Pillaiyarpatti” Sivashankar Chandrasekaran describes this original concept thus:

 Pillaiyarpatti is a small town twelve kilometers from Karaikudi, near Madurai, in the Sivagangi District of Tamil Nadu. The town is named after the Ganesa Temple that adorns it. Here, Lord Ganesa is known as Pillaiyar, Tamil for revered and noble son, and 'Karpaga Vinayakar', Lord who offers his blessings like the celestial tree Kalpaka whose specialty is ' you ask and it will be given'.

This temple is 1,600 years old. It contains fourteen stone inscriptions dated between 400 AD and 1238 AD that reveal that the place was known as 'Ekkattur', 'Thiruveengaikudi', 'Maruthankudi' and 'Raja Narayanapuram' before it became to be called Pillaiyarpatti. An inscription dated 1284 AD, on the right side wall of the Thiruveesar sanctum, suggests that the original name of the Ganesa was 'Desi Vinayaga Pillaiyar',

Pillaiyarpatti Temple is a rock cut temple. The image of Karpaga Vinayakar and that of a Siva Linga were carved out of stone by a sculptor called 'Ekkattur Koon Peruparanan' who put his signature on a stone inscription found even today in the sanctum. He put his name in the ' Tamizhi language' which was in use between 2nd and 5th century AD. It can concluded that the icon of Karpaga Vinayakar must have been carved around 4th century AD



Elephant Headwith one Tusk on Lingam


This is an image of the rock cut Karpaka Vinayakar Shrine at Pillayarpatti near Karaikkudi at one of the oldest Cave Temples (Rock Cut) temples of Tamilnadu. Pillayarpatti is situated between Pudukkottai and Karaikkudi.

Karpaga Vinayakar is one of the oldest Vinayakar images in the world for it has only two arms. The significance of the two arms is that the first god evolved by ancient man was in the shape of man. This male god created out of stone was called Yaksha and the female god was called Yakshi. Later on to show the superiority of god to man the head of the man was removed and in its place a head in the shape of OM was fixed. The OM head was similar to that of an elephant. There are only two images of Vinayakars with two arms in the world. One is at Pillaiyarpatti the other is in Afghanistan. The one at Afghanistan must have been made later, for it is in a standing posture and has a number of ornaments adorning it. The one at Pillaiyarpatti is in a sitting posture mediating. He does not have Modakam (the most favourite sweet of Pillaiyar) but a Siva Linga in his palm. He mediates for the well being of the people and so their prayers are answered immediately.

Both Arjuna and Krishna worshipped Him and obtained favors from Him. In the Ramayana too we come across several references to Him. Sage Valmiki depicted Ravana, the demon king and chief villain of the epic, as a great devotee and daily worshipper of Lord Shiva. It is believed that worship of His icons was widely prevalent as early as 2nd or 3rd Century B.C.,.

The concept of Son of God is clearly indicated in this icon represention where the word Om is superimposed on the Formless Form of Sivlinga to represent the incarnate God who mediates between God and Man. God reaching down to man.

Heb 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me;

In fact the similarity goes much deeper as explained in detail by Dr. Devakala in Theological Foundation of Hindu Religion (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/1412/theology.html )



Siva-linga at Baramula in Kashmir

Does the face suggest any one?

Trinity as expressed in Saivism groups


Holy Spirit










Saivism and Saiva Sittantha

The devotional literature of the Bhakthi movement is known as 'Panniru Thirumurai' and the fourteen Sastras of the theological exposition are known as 'Saiva Sittanta Sastras'. Sivagnanapotham by Meykanta Tevar is regarded as the basic text of the Saiva Sittanta Sastras. The Saiva Sittanta Sastras are also known as the Meykanta Sastras.

Sivagnanapotham, the basic text of Saiva Sitthanta explains from the creation of man to salvation. To quote a few examples from the first book of Saiva Sittanta Thiruvunthiar:



Neelakhanda – One who drank the poison of cosmos
which otherwise would have killed all the living

(i) Sin
“Avan aval athu yenum avai moovinaimaimayin
Thotria thithiye odungi malaththulathaam
anthan aathi yenmanaar pulavar

In the beginning god created man (avan), woman (aval) and the world (athu) in three different actions and they were holy. . But later they fell into sin (malam) which end the life of holiness and was the beginning of sin say the scholars. ( Sivagnanapothan –1)

Muththi mutharkodikkae mogk kodi padarnthu
aththi paluththathu yenru vunthee para
appalhan vunnaathaw vunthee para”
Among the creatures which were holy, on the first creeper, the creeper of sin crept over it and bore the fruit of evil. Speak this forth. Do not partake of that fruit. Speak this forth.

(ii) Avatar
'The hitherto unknown God came down as one of us and gave up Himself to save us from evil'.

(iii) Salvation through His sufferings
'He who has accomplished the works of salvation through His sufferings will not come again in His body, He has no birth or death again'.

(iv) Eternal life
'If you join Him who shared His home with the thieves you will attain the heavenly abode which is light'.

Songs from other literature are also quoted. In defining the Trinity as three persons in one God head:

(v) Trinity and Avatar
" The eternal God( Siva) and the Ornamented one (Vitnu).
And the eternal one on the Lotus (Brahma).
If examined are one and the same
But the ignored are confused".

In Saivism God is visualized in three forms as 'Aruvam' (God without form), 'Uruvam' (God with a form) and `Aruvuruvam' (God with semiform).

'The Triune Prime God'

sings Thirugnana sampanthar in Tevaram.

The author of Potripahrotai sings

"Iravaa Inpathu Yemai iruththa vendi piravaa muthalvan piranthaan."

(To give us eternal pleasure, the unborn prime God was born). He delivers us from our original sin (Sahasa malaa).

(vi) Sacrifice

The Godhead had lost all his glories and offered himself as a 'Sacrifice', so that mankind could be restored to a new life leaving the inherent qualities of leading a sinful life. In short, he gave himself as 'Sacrifice' for the remission of sins of the mankind. This is sung by Thirunavukkarasar in Tevaram as follows

(He offered himself as sacrifice)

"Aviyaai aviyumaahi arukkamaai Perukkamaahi Paaviyar paavam theerkum paramanaai brahmanaahi"

(He being the sacrifice he offered himself as Sacrifice, decreased yet multiplied, he is the Transcending Brahman who washes away the sins of the sinners.)”


Dr. M. Deivanayagam, Dr. D. Devakala:The Revival Movement of Dravidian Religion



Saivism has changed with the advent of Gnosticism. Here are the basic tenents and traditions of Saivism as is now.

Main Saivite Traditions

Dr. Kanti Chandra Pandey (M.A., Ph.D., D. Litt., M.O.L. Shastri, Lucknow University) in Bhaskari (Varanasi, 1998, p. VI) (also "Saivism: Some Glimpses", Delhi, 1996.) lists eight systems of Shaiva philosophy:

1. Pashupata dualism
2. Siddhanta Shaiva dualism
3. Dualistic-cum-Non-dualistic Shaivism of Lakulisha Pashupata
4. Vishishtadvaita Shaivism
5. Visheshadvaita Shaivism (Vira Shaiva)
6. Nandikeshvara Shaivism
7. Raseshvara Shaivism
8. Monistic Shaivism of Kashmir

Pasupatis of Vairagis

Probably the oldest school within Shaivism. The school of Shaiva Siddhanta is a continuation of this tradition.

Shaiva Siddhanta

The Shaivasiddhantins date as early as the sixth century AD. Followed by many intellectuals. It has a personal doctrine, stressing the plurality of souls (as opposed to the advaita idea that all souls are one with God ). According to Shaiva Sidhdhaantha the God is formless (arUpa) . But for the salvation of mankind He took the form of lingam – form of the formless (arUpa rUpa). This is very close to the Christian Theology and will probably identical with if Ganapathy, the Lord of reconciliation can be identified with Christ the form of the formless.

Kashmiri (Trika) Shaivism - Shiva-advaita.

Abhinavagupta (c. 960 – 1020) was the proponent of this theological movement. In this the aim of the believer is to "become Shiva". There is only one reality, that is Cit – consciousness. This the the advaita version of Saivism. It is almost identical with the Lurianic Kaballah of Judaism. This theology is very close to the Eastern Christian Theology of creation of cosmos.

Virashaivism (the Lingayats)

This movement started with Basava of the 12th c. It opposed caste differences.

Shaiva Asceticism – the rebels in Saivism

Shaiva has long been connected with rigorous asceticism and odd behaviors. Well known are the naked Nagas. Many yogis are Shaivites. Prominent are the Nathapatnis, followers of Gorakhnatha, and the Aghori who deliberately contravene moral norms.

The Saiva Siddhanta School is one of the most ancient schools of Saivism. It has a history of more than 2000 years. Its roots can be traced back to both Kashmir and southern India. It gained popularity in the south and established itself as a dominant sect of Saivism. In the past it had sizeable following in other parts of the Indian subcontinent. But currently it is popular mostly in the south.

Gnosticism was perhaps the most dangerous heresy that threatened the early church during the first three centuries. Influenced by such philosophers as Plato, Gnosticism is based on two false premises. First, it espouses a dualism regarding spirit and matter. Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. As a result of this presupposition, Gnostics believe anything done in the body, even the grossest sin, has no meaning because real life exists in the spirit realm only.

Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.

To discredit the idea of any compatibility between Christianity and Gnosticism, one has only to compare their teachings on the main doctrines of the faith. On the matter of salvation, Gnosticism teaches that salvation is gained through the acquisition of divine knowledge which frees one from the illusions of darkness.

The Person of Jesus Christ is another area where Christianity and Gnosticism drastically differ. The biblical view of Jesus affirms His complete humanity as well as His full deity.

Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy

The central doctrine of the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy is that Siva is the Supreme Reality, and that the Jiva (individual soul) is of the same essence as Siva, but not identical. Pati (God), Pasu (soul), and Pasam (the bonds) and the thirty-six Tattvas (principles which constitute the world), are all real.

Characteristics of the Supreme Reality (according to Saiva Siddhantam):

-The Supreme Reality is called Siva.
-He is infinite consciousness.
-He is eternal, changeless, formless, independent, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, one without a second, beginningless, causeless, taintless, self-existent, ever free, ever pure, and perfect.
-He is not limited by time.
-He is infinite bliss and infinite intelligence.
-He is free from defects, the all-doer, the all-knower.

Lord Siva is the God of Love. His grace is infinite. His love is infinite. He is the saviour and Guru. He is engaged in freeing the souls from the thraldom of matter. He assumes the form of a Guru out of His intense love for mankind. He wishes that all should know Him and attain the blissful Siva-Padam (the state of Siva). He watches the activities of the individual souls, and helps them in their onward march. He liberates the individual souls from their fetters or bonds.

The five activities of the Lord are: Creation, Preservation, Destruction, Veiling, and Grace. These, separately considered, are the activities of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheshwara, and Sadasiva.

Siva, Sakthi and Maya: Lord Siva pervades the whole world by His Sakthi. He works through Sakthi, who is the conscious energy of the Lord Siva. She is the very body of Lord Siva. The potter is the first cause for the pot. The stick and the wheel are the instrumental causes. The clay is the material cause of the pot. Similarly, Lord Siva is the first cause of the world. Sakthi is the instrumental cause. Maya is the material cause. Sakthi is not the material cause of the universe, because She is of the nature of consciousness (Chaitanya). Siva is pure consciousness, but matter is pure unconsciousness. Sakthi is the intermediate link between the two. Sakthi is the reflex of Siva. It has no independent existence. Siva assumes this form out of His great love for mankind. Siva wishes that all should know Him.

Evolution of the Tattvas from Suddha Maya: The world undergoes evolution for the benefit of the souls. The whole process of creation is for the sake of the salvation of the souls. The world is real and eternal. The world of matter and souls forms the body of the Lord.

The Saiva Siddhanta analyses the universe into 36 Tattvas (principles). The 36 Tattvas arise from Maya, the material cause of the world. Suddha Maya is maya in its primal state. From it arise the five pure principles called Siva Tattva, Sakthi Tattva, Sadasiva Tattva, Iswara Tattva, and Suddhavidya Tattva. Siva functions through these five pure principles.

Maya evolves into the subtle principles, and then into the gross. Siva Tattva is the basis of all consciousness and action. It is undifferentiated (Nishkala Suddha Maya). The Sakthi of Siva starts her activity. Then Siva becomes the experiencer. Then He is called Sadasiva, known also by the name Sadakhya (who is not really separate from Siva). The Suddha Maya becomes active. Then Siva, the experiencer, becomes the ruler. He is then Iswara (who is not really separate from Sadasiva). Suddhavidya is the cause of true knowledge.

The bonds that bind the soul (Anava, Karma, Maya): Souls (Pasu) are by nature infinite, all-pervading, eternal, and all-knowing like Lord Siva (Pati). Yet, souls think that they are finite, limited, little-knowing, ignorant, and temporary. This is due to the bonds (Pasa), viz., Anava, Karma, and Maya, which are called the three Malas (or impurities). Anava is the impurity which makes the all-pervading Jiva think itself to be atomic (Anu). It produces the erroneous notion of finiteness. The second impurity or bond is Karma. The soul acts in certain ways on account of its limitation, and does good and evil actions. Karma brings about the conjunction of the soul with its body. The results of the Karma have to be worked out in the world. There should be worlds and bodies, in order to experience the fruits of actions and acquire knowledge. These are provided by Maya, the third Mala or bond. Maya is the material cause of the world. The soul gets experience and limited knowledge through Maya.

The soul learns, by long experience, that this Samsara (cycle of birth and death) is full of pains and is transitory, and that he can attain eternal bliss and immortality only by attaining Sivatva (the nature of Siva or God-realisation). He develops Vairagya (dispassion), and Viveka (discrimination between the Real and the unreal, the Permanent and the impermanent).

Discipline and grace culminate in Jnana. Jnana is the supreme means of salvation or the attainment of the final beatitude. Karma and other means are only subsidiary to it. They are auxiliaries.

The attainment of Sivatva (or Siva-nature) does not mean complete merging of the soul in Siva. The liberated soul does not lose its individuality. It continues to exist as a soul in God. Sivatva is the realisation of an identity of essence in spite of difference. The soul attains the nature of Siva, but it is not itself Siva or God.

Three orders of Jivas: the Siddhantins divide Jivas (or Pasus) into three orders, viz., Vijnanakalas, Pralayakalas and Sakalas. Vijnanakalas have only the Anava Mala (egoism). Maya and Karma have been resolved. Pralayakalas have been freed from Maya alone, in the stage of Pralaya. Sakalas have all the three Malas. The Malas affect only the Jivas, and not Siva. Those who are freed from the Malas (or impurities) attain Sivatva or the nature of Siva. They are the Siddhas (perfected beings).

The way to the attainment of Sivatva (God-realisation): You must free yourself from the three bonds (described above), if you want to attain salvation. You must annihilate Maya, which is the root of all sins. You must destroy all Karmas which produce rebirth. You must remove the erroneous notion of a finite self. The three bonds can be removed only through rigorous Tapas, proper discipline, guidance from a Guru, and, above all, the grace of Lord Siva. Charya (observance), Kriya (rites), and Yoga (Yama-Niyama) constitute the discipline. When the aspirant practises in right earnest Charya, Kriya and Yoga he obtains the grace of Lord Siva. Then the Lord instructs the soul, reveals Himself to him, and illumines him. Then the soul realises its nature as Siva.
Swami Sivananda