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  Shaivism (Saivism) derives from the worship of the Lord Shiva, who is identified with the Vedic god Rudra, and who has become for many Hindus the supreme God, the creative power inherent in nature, and eternal spirit. Yet he can be known within the human heart, since he transcends the infinite and is more intimate to the human soul than the soul itself. This insight was developed in the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta.

Shiva can never be domesticated or internalized in any form of yoga or devotion, though he himself is the supreme guru, the ultimate yogi. He remains wrathful as well as benevolent to his devotees, and though the name Shiva means ‘mild’ or ‘auspicious’ he is associated with the terrible goddess Kali and her Earth-shaking dances. Himself the Lord of the Dance, Shiva is both creator and destroyer. It is in that form that he has inspired the most outstanding classical sculptures and bronzes, especially from the Tamil kingdoms of the 9th to 13th centuries.

Shiva is essentially an ascetic. His austerities threaten the power of the other gods, and his wife can only capture his attention by austerities. In contrast to Vishnu/Krishna, he is chaste. Shiva\'s temples today are full of pilgrims emulating his austerities. He is also worshipped as Lord of the animals, especially of cattle, and in the form of a bull. EMJ

Further reading R.C. Zaehner, Hinduism.



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