The term "Shaivite" is overused nowadays. For instance, Iyer Brahmins are often called Shaivites, but they're actually followers of Adi Shankaracharya's Smartha sect (which I discuss here and here), and simply adopt Shiva as their Ishta Devata. True philosophical Shaivism is relatively rare nowadays (in contrast to Vaishnavism which is pretty common). I discussed one genuine Shaivite sect, the Lingayat sect of Basava, in my answer here. But my question is about a more famous sect of Shaivism, known as Shaiva Siddhanta, which is based on the Shaiva Agamas and the poems of the Nayanars just as the Sri Vaishnava sect (of which I'm a member) is based on the Pancharatra Agamas and the poems of the Alwars.

Now in the worldview of the Shaiva Agamas, the hierarchy of gods from lowest to highest is Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Maheshwara, Sadashiva. I had initially thought that Sadashiva was considered the supreme being in the Shauva Agamas. But based on my question here and my answers to it, I revised my view and concluded that Para Shiva is considered higher than Sadashiva, and that Para Shiva is the one who's considered supreme, akin to Para Vasudeva in the Pancharatra worldview. But now it seems that even Para Shiva may not be considered supreme. Let me explain.

As I mentioned above, the Shaiva Siddhanta is based on the poems of the Nayanars. One of the most famous Nayanars was Tirumular. In Tantra 8 of his Tirumantiram, Tirumular says this:

Paramparam and Para Maha Sivam
Beyond Para Siva is Paramam;
Beyond Paramam is Paramparam;
Thus are states ascending;
From Para Siva Jagra, to Para Siva Svapna, and to Para Siva Sushupti
The Jiva that has Para Siva become reaches
The Finite Truth that is Para Nandi.

My question is, who are the beings "Paramam" and "Paramparam" whom Tirumular considers to be higher than Para Shiva? And what is the exact distinction between Para Shiva, Paramam, and Paramparam? What are their roles, their nature, etc.?

Are there any Shaiva Siddhanta works that discuss beings higher than Para Shiva? Commentaries on the Tirumantiram may be a good place to look.

  • You may find some details in this interview speakingtree.in/blog/what-is-beyond-shivyog
    – Friendy
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 8:13
  • How long did thirumoolar live?
    – Hindu
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 11:01
  • @Hindu Shaiva Siddhantins believed that he composed one verse of the Tirumantiram for 3000 years. But they also believe that before he inhabited the body of the cowherd Moolan, he was Nandi's shishya sage Sundaranatha, and I'm not sure how old Sundaranatha was at the time. By the way, I may post a question about the shishyas of Nandi. Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 14:14
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I know this story. But I don't know what Periya Puranam speak about this story. Is the same story mentioned in Periya Puranam?
    – Hindu
    Commented Jun 25, 2017 at 15:42
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    At that level of existential reality there are no 'beings' in the common sense of the term, therefore no division, no subject/object relationship, only a state in which fully awaken within its self consciousness fully knows its self, a state of infinite presence (no time or space), a self illuminating darkness producing light, a moving self creating awareness, polarizing its own nature, dynamic of thoughts, process of knowingness, a flow of consciousness that creates,manifest and constantly replenish the Univers, as our perceived reality. You give the names as you wish for the sake of instruct Commented Mar 28, 2018 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


There is a saint known as Ramalinga adigal (Vallalar) who identified the ultimate to be a big light. He created the mahamantra: "Arutperunjoti Arutperunjyoti Thaniperunkarunai Arutperunjyoti". Following the book of Tirumular (Thirumandiram) he attained the form of light. But in his lectures and poems he insists on "Sympathy" (Dayavu) towards fellow beings and offering food to the hungry to get the grace of the ultimate light. May be you can read his poem "Thiruvarutpa" (6th Thirumurai) to know about the ultimate.

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