History of Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four main sects of Hinduism. The followers, known as Shiavites, believe that Lord Shiva is the supreme power. They believe that it is Lord Shiva who is the creator, the destroyer, the preserver and also the concealer. Shaivism is widely popular throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia also have followers of this particular sect. The followers of this particular sect believe that Lord Shiva is the ultimate deity above all others and the ultimate power.
Shaivism is the second largest religious community in contemporary India. It has six subdivisions or sects. There is no specific date on which we can say the sect was formed. It is likely that sects were formed over a period of time. There has been evidence found of the worship of Lord Shiva even in the popular archaeological sites like the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. In the RigVeda, Lord Shiva is referred to by the name ‘Rudra’. Since Shaivism is a part of Hinduism, it means that the tradition can be traced back to the pre historic times, the times when the Indus Valley Civilization existed about 5000 years ago. It is believed that between 700 and 1000 BCE there lived sixty-three Nayanmars (singer-saints) whose poems are still recited today. After that Shaivism became prominent in India, particularly in the Southern parts of the subcontinent. The rulers of many major kingdoms became Shaivites (the followers of Shaivism). Magnificent temples were built in Shiva’s honour and many impressive sculptures were inspired by Him.
Shiva finds frequent mention in the four Vedas. The two main epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana talk greatly about Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The Svetashvatara Upanishad (400 – 200 BCE) is the earliest source that cites the philosophy of Shaivism. It is the Shaivite equivalent to the Vaishnava Bhagavad-Gita.
Although there is no set date for the beginning of this sect of religion, Lord Shiva has always been there to help his followers and he shall always be there, Om Namah Shivay!!!