There are many sects in Hinduism like Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism, Ganapatism, Kaumarism, Suryaism, Kabeerism, Satnam, Arya Samaj etc. However, the main sects like Shaivism are again divided into sub-sects like Pashupata Shaivism, Kashmir Shaivism, Shiva Shiddhanta etc. So, my question is, which Shaivite sect do people follow in UP, Bihar, and Chhattisgarh? I'm a Shaivite from Chhattisgarh, so I'm eager to know which Shaivite sect do Chhattisgarhi Shaivites follow?

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    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! The vast majority of people who call themselves "Shaivites" today do not actually belong to Shaivite sects like Pashupata, Shaiva Siddhanta, Lingayata etc. In modern times most people who call themselves Shaivites are actually members of Adi Shankaracharya's Smartha sect, which technically worships the five Panchayatana gods but in practice tends to put more emphasis on Shiva as their Ishta Devata. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 24 '16 at 16:40
  • True philosophical Shaivism, of the kind that follows the Shaiva Agamas and which believes that Shiva is the supreme being as opposed to just one of the ways to conceptualize Brahman, is relatively rare nowadays. This is in contrast to philosophical Vaishnavism, which is extremely common. That's because the Vaishnava sects made more of an effort to align themselves with the Vedanta school of philosophy, compared to Shaivite sects that often rejected Vedanta, so when the Vedanta school became the dominant school of Hindu philosophy, a lot of Shaivite sects dwindled in their numbers. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 24 '16 at 16:45
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    @KeshavSrinivasan There is a clear difference between smartha and shaiva sects, at least in the South of India. Smarthas do not identify as shaivites. – user1195 Jan 24 '16 at 16:58
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    @KeshavSrinivasan I know of several Iyers who correct people that mistakenly label them as Shaivites. In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, shaivites are a distinct sect/subsect. Inasmuch, smarthas don't typically inter-marry with shaivites just as they don't with vaishnavites (exceptions exist of course ). I am talking of caste denominations and not one's prayer preferences. – user1195 Jan 24 '16 at 17:32
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    @moonstar2001 Doesn't Shiva Advaita refer to the philosophy of Srikantha/Nilakantha Shivacharya and Appaya Dikshitar? The people I'm talking about are Iyer Brahmins who follow Adi Shankaracharya. And yeah, historically Smartha and Shaivism have definitely been seen as separate, it's just that in modern times there's often confusion because of the decline of philosophical Shaivism. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 24 '16 at 18:18

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