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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.

Just as the Sri Vaishnava sect is based on the works of the 12 Alwars, a group of ancient Tamil saints famous for their devotional poetry to Vishnu, the Shaiva Siddhanta sect is based on the poetry of the 63 Nayanars. In any case, the largest Shaiva Siddhanta organization is called the Saiva Siddhanta Church. As I discuss in my question and answer here, in contrast to the vast majority of Hindus, the Saiva Siddhanta Church does belong to the Vedanta school. In particular, their website says that it's possible for new souls to be created, which is something that Vedanta school rejects:

God Siva created the soul. How did he do this? Was it like a potter shaping clay into a pot? Was it like a carpenter creating a house out of lumber? It was more like the tree. In order to create another tree, the tree sends out its branches and the fruit grows on the branches and the seed grows within the fruit. The fruit drops off and the seed sprouts and a shoot comes out; that shoot becomes a twig, then a sapling, then a small tree, and then a large tree. Finally, the tree is fully matured and sends out its fruits and begins the process all over again. In a similar way Lord Siva has created individual souls. Saint Tirumular assures us of this in one of his many statements about Siva the Creator: Of yore He created the worlds seven, Of yore He created celestials countless, Of yore He created souls without number, Of yore He created all-Himself, As Primal Param, uncreated. TANTRA TWO VERSE 446

For those who don't know, Tirumular is one of the most famous Nayanars. My question is, is it universally agreed that Tirumular believed that new souls could be created, or are there alternate interpretations of this verse?

The reason I ask is that as I said, the Vedanta school rejects the idea that individual souls can be created; the Brahma Sutras make clear that each individual soul has always existed and has taken infinitely many births going infinitely far back in time, as I discuss here. And apart from the Saiva Siddhanta Church, most other follow of Shaiva Siddhanta belong to the Vedanta school. Now the standard Shaiva Siddhanta commentary on the Brahma Sutras is the Srikantha Bhashya, which was written Srikantha Shivacharya based on the philosophy of Shiva Advaita as I discuss here. Here is what the Srikantha Bhashya says about whether souls can be created:

[T]he birth of Jiva is an impossibility that deeds go for nothing and that something accrues from what is not done.

The idea is that if there were a first birth of soul, then it would incur rewards and punishments even though it has not yet done any deeds to merit them. In any case, given that Srikantha was part of the Shaiva Siddhanta school and thus believed in the authority of the Nayanars, how would he reconcile his views with Tirumular's verse above?

Apart from the Saiva Siddhanta Church, most other followers of Shaiva Siddhanta believe in the interpretation of the Nayanars' poems given by Meykandar. Does Meykandar interpret Tirumular's verse differently than the Saiva Siddhanta church, in a way that does not imply that souls can be created?

  • I think a more specific term for the Lingayat sect is "Veera Shaivas" and the Vaishnavite equivalent, "Veera Vaishanavas". The more broader term Shaivites applies to the ones who adopt Shiva as the Ishta Devata. – Whirl Mind Nov 28 '15 at 16:19
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    @WhirlMind The term Veerashaiva is only used in reference to Lingayat. It's not used to refer to sects like Shaiva Siddhanta and Kashmir Shaivism. So the general term to refer to those who view Shiva as supreme, not merely as their Ishta Devata, is Shaivism. See my question here for a delineation of the different Shaiva sects: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/9006/36 And there's no such term as Veera Vaishnava. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 28 '15 at 16:22
  • Yes. You are right in the above comment. I think the opening statement in your question above, seems to contradict that, it seems to give an idea, that Lingayats are the Shaivites (the more genuine kind) and the ones who adopt Shiva as the Ishta Devata are not the ones but considered so commonly. – Whirl Mind Nov 28 '15 at 16:32
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    @WhirlMind I'm saying that Lingayats, as well as Kashmir Shaivites, Shaiva Siddhanta, etc, are genuine philosophical Shaivites, as opposed to Iyers who are merely Advaitins who view Shiva as their Ishta Devata. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 28 '15 at 16:34

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