What is the correct term to use, Shaivism or Shivaism? I could not find a good source about how the word Shaiva (Saiva, Caiva) appeared and when.


4 Answers 4


From Wikipedia of Shaivism,

Shaivism ([Śaivam]) (Devanagari: शैव संप्रदाय) (Tamil: சைவம்) is one of the major traditions within Hinduism that reveres Shiva as the Supreme Being or its metaphysical concept of Brahman. The followers of Shaivism are called "Shaivites" or "Saivites"

Devotees of Shiva are Shaiva

Devotees of Vishnu are Vaishnava

Hence Shaiva is the correct pronunciation.

  • 1
    I do not consider wikipedia as a source of reliable knowledge. Apr 24, 2018 at 19:03
  • @JulioOlivieras in all.the hindu shastras there is only shaiva you can verify with any sources. This is correct as per grammar. Apr 24, 2018 at 19:08
  • wikipedia as a source of reliable knowledge? Why Shaivism =Śaivam? Seems to be not correct. Why not for example Śaiva sampradāya as notes in Devangari शैव संप्रदाय Apr 24, 2018 at 19:18
  • @JulioOlivieras Śaivam is a tamil word and the dot on the top means that it is to be pronounced as shaivam. Sanskrit can be written in English alphabets in various ways like itrans roman etc Apr 24, 2018 at 19:48
  • Thank you! Actually, in Tamil Shiva சிவன் pronounces sivan and shaivam சைவம் pronounces saivam. Apr 24, 2018 at 20:51

Saiva, Siva are Sanskrit and "ism" is English. So they are both hybrid words. Both Saivism and Sivaism mean the same thing but Sivaism is a bit unusual. They are analogous to Marxianism and Marxism.


Shaivism / Śaivism is the correct English term to describe the worshippers of god Śiva.

However, note that, the 'ism' is an English concept.

In the Sanskrit language, the original word for Śaivism sect is 'Śaiva (शैव)' or 'Śaivā (शैवा)'.

Quoting from the Nārada Mahā-Purāṇa

Verses 56-57, Chapter 82, Uttarabhāga:

शिवं शैवा वदेत्येनं प्रधानं सांख्यवेदिनः ।।
योगिनः पुरुषं विप्राः कर्म मीमांसका जनाः ।। ८२-५६ ।।

The followers of Shiva (Śaivā) call that Supreme Being Śiva,...

As regards Shivaism, I don't think such words in Sanskrit exist. But, from the English POV sure, one can identify it that way, like Vishnuism, but that's not the Sanskrit way of referring.


It took some digging to get it answered:

Śaivism is formed from śaiva as Brāhmanism is from brāhmaṇa. Grammatical explanation of what is a Śaiva according to Aparāditya’s Yājñavalkyasmŗți-tīkā: Śaiva is one who studies or who knows the śaivam, which is in turn defined as the scriptural system propounded by Śiva (śivaproktaṃ śāstram). Formation: The use of the aṆ suffix (i.e., taddhita formation) can mean “taught by him” (tena proktam), giving us the word śaivam. Then, I can understand that śaivam ≠ śaivism.

  • Yes Shaiva means a Shiva devotee, and Shaivism means tradition of Shiva . Like the answer given by @SK above.
    – user14995
    Apr 26, 2018 at 2:34

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