Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Śaivism, Overview

  • Anupam Jash
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_210-1



The group of traditions following which people worship Śiva as the supreme divinity is formally called Śaivism, and a Śaiva is one who worships Śiva.


Śaivism, Vaiṣṇavism, and Śaktism constitute the three main sects of Hinduism. Śaivism is woven around the worship of the Śiva as the supreme deity or Supreme Being ([1], p. 396). Siva is also referred to as Ādi Deva which is a variant for supreme or prime deity. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word Śiva is auspicious, gracious, kind, or friendly ([2], p. 919). The word Śiva used as a proper name means a person who is “auspicious.” The word śaiva as an adjective means “relating to or concerned with the god Śiva” ([2], p. 927). Śaivism has its own beliefs, ideas, practices, sub-traditions, history, and literature ([3], p. 149).

Śaivism can be traced back to the Vedic literature of second millennium BC, where we find reference to Rudra, considered to be an earlier form of Śiva ([4], p.371;...

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyBankura Christian CollegeBankuraIndia