siddhAnta tantrics and the mainstream brahminical path

I have yarned a lot on this topic from different angles: 1) The shaivas: the pAshupata-s
dvijas and non-dvijas in the shaiva cults 2) The kAlAmukhas-I 4) kAlAmukhas-II

But I was brought back to it because ST happened to introduce me to a confused brahmin woman who declared that her Dravidian guru had told her that the siddhanta shaivas had dispensed with the “brahminical strictures” and made their mata “more accessible” to all. This is not an isolated opinion because we see precisely this view in the opinions of several modern Dravidians who claim affiliation with the siddhAnta tantric tradition, apparently without really understanding the tradition too well. In fact nothing is farther from the truth in this regard when one approaches the original siddhAnta school. While shUdras like mUrtigaNa the successor of varmashiva and teacher of brahmin ishAnashiva held prominent places in the siddhAnta tradition, it did not mean that there was anykind of revolt against brahminical tradition, even if it was somewhat atypical.

In fact it must be pointed out that the siddhAnta shaivas repeatedly cite the authority of the now apparently lost uttara saMhitA of bhArgava thus:
iti varNAshramAchArAn manasApi na la~nghayet | yo yasminn Ashrame tiShThan dIkShitaH shivashAsane | sa tasminn eva samtiShThech ChivadharmaM ca pAlayet ||
“He should not even think of transgressing the varNAshrama practices. He should stand within (maintain) the order he was in when he attained shaiva initiation and at the same time maintain the practices of the shaiva path.”

So the siddhAnta shaiva did not forsake his Ashrama or varNa when he attained dIkSha into the shaiva path and was not a means of “revolting against” or “escaping” the ordinances of the Aryas. The important point to note was that the classical siddhAnta shaivas did not force a sectarian shaiva path on their general audience of followers. An examination of what survives of their extensively codified “dharma shAstra” the shivadharma and shivadharmottara (alluded in the above quoted from the bhArgavottara as shivadharmam), which have not been edited and studied unlike the viShNu dharmottara shows that the general followers were encouraged to maintain their existing life-style/profession and varNa-related observances, while accomodating the shaiva observances with that framework. In fact the basic dharma-shAstric injunctions are relating to other nitya issues are reiterated by the shiva-dharma. Secondly the siddhAnta tantric tradition did retain the paurANic hindu pantheon despite being sectarian shaiva-s. In fact their maintained a set of manuals termed the pratiShTha tantras for the installation and temple worship of the remaining Hindu patheon including kumAra, vinAyaka, viShNu, brahma, shaktIs of various gods, mAtR^ikAs, vedic gods reduced to lokapAla-s, planets and gaNas. These texts include the obscure manuscripts of pi~Ngalamata, devyAmata, the collection of the demon maya and the kiraNa Agama. The atharvavedic shaivas also performed the whole series of abhichAra and counter abhichAra rites for rulers as per vedic injunctions. Thus, there is no evidence that the classical siddhAnta tantras were ever set up as a counter-current to the mainstream brahminical path.

This entry was posted in Heathen thought. Bookmark the permalink.