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Shaivism

Category: Mystic groups and systems

Shaivism, Shivaism or Śaivism, is also known as Saivam (Tamil: சைவம்), and takes its name from Shiva, their name for the Ultimate Intelligence. Followers of Shaivam are called "Shaivas", "Saivas", "Shaivites", or "Saivarkal".

Shaivism is one of the oldest mystic movements.  It was codified in about 6000 BC, but existed well before this date.  It is probably only pre-dated by the mystic movement of the Ancestors.  It was the precursor to the Hindu and yoga system and indeed shares a number of features, but it is a separate movement.

It existed before the Greek Mysteries, before Zoroastrianism and before even the Abrahamic religions.  In this respect it can be thought of as one of the more fundamental mystic movements from which others have gained.  It is a true mystic movement, based largely on overload methods involving extreme emotion and the sexual techniques.  The Dionysos Mysteries are a subset and the Bacchanalean Mysteries derive from it.  There is a high level of emphasis placed on spiritual experience during one’s lifetime.  There is also a spiritual path with Initiates, and Adepts. 

H Jeanmaire – Dionysos
The god’s followers are called bacchoi or bacchants in Greece and Bhaktas in India.  It is in their intoxication of love and ecstasy that true wisdom lies.

History

Piecing together the history of a mystic movement that is over 8000 plus years old is impossible.  In the following description I have used the work of others, who may be wrong, but it at least provides something to think about.

Mali

The Dravidians are not necessarily from India or the Indus valley.  Danielou believed they came to the Indus valley after the last Ice Age around 9,000 BC.  If we take the Bible and Genesis as our source, everyone spoke the same language -  “And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech”.

According to local tradition the Dravidians came from a continent that had been engulfed by the sea – as many land masses were after the Ice Age.  Although Lemuria is no longer considered a valid scientific hypothesis, it is still described  by some Tamil writers in India. Accounts of Lemuria differ, but all share a common belief that a continent existed in ancient times and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological, often cataclysmic, change.  There is certainly no sign now in the Arabian sea, for example, of a land mass.  But given the spread of the Dravidian language [see below] this may not be the place to look.  The Mediterranean sea does have a significant number of presently undersea land masses, which in colder times could easily have been exposed.

In many myths and legends of the time, whatever change took place was relatively sudden and apocalyptic.  The ancient Mesopotamian myth beginning Lugal-e ud me-lám-bi nir-ğál, also known as Ninurta's Exploits is a great epic.  The general principle of the tale is that the ‘stones’ [physical human beings] have started a rebellion -  “ tired of Ninurta's NAMTAR (Akkadian: šīmtu, "allocating tasks").  The tale could almost be applied today, as human beings along with their demon helpers "tore the flesh of the Earth and covered her with painful wounds."  The epic then goes on to describe a dust storm, a rainstorm and the release of waters which have been trapped in mountain ice.  Danielou’s description is a little more graphic:

Alain Danieliou – While the gods play
According to the Lugal-ud, a Sumerian text inscribed on clay tablets six thousand years ago ‘There were thick ice sheets everywhere …then a terrible fire … melting ice sheets, interminable rain, and water covering the earth …

 

 

So, completely hypothetically, a meteor shower and asteroids melted the ice and caused very rapid flooding.  They might well have caused tidal waves as well.  This catastrophe left isolated pockets of Dravidians on high ground.  It also appears to have destroyed a major barrier between two sets of people – the Dravidians and the Aryans.

The Aryans were a nomadic people from the area we now know of as roughly the Soviet Union.  There appears to be some controversy over the naming, but their language grouping is distinctive.  They appear to have been [relatively speaking] a fair skinned people.   The 'invasion' was not a sudden rush it was very slow taking place over thousands of years.

 

Starting from around about the time of the flood [3000 BC], the Aryans started to invade India, the Middle East and Europe.  They caused terrible devastation wherever they went, numerous cities were sacked and burned, including those in Sumeria [Mesopotamian civilisation], and the Indus valley.  A number of substantial towns existed in this valley by about 3,800 BC including that of Mohenjo Daro; but by 1700BC it had been sacked, Babylon was sacked by the Aryan Hittites in 1595 BC.  So bad was it that Abraham [Biblical Abraham] left Ur in Sumeria for Canaan.

Almost complete penetration of the Indus Ganges plain had been achieved by about 1200 BC.  The Indian epic the Mahabharata is largely about the war with the Aryans, told from the victors’ point of view.  But the Dravidian people fled and took their language with them, setting up new communities.  This time the migration was south and east.  The Dravidians were a sea faring nation, and some fled by sea, some by land - to Cambodia, Indonesia and particularly Bali.  The Sea peoples.

Were the ‘Aryans’ really Scythians?

 

The name Aryan or Arian has very little meaning historically.  Ultimately it may be more historically correct to say that the invasion was by Scythians.  The Scythians dominated Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe throughout Classical Antiquity. What little that is known of the religion is drawn from the work of the 5th century Greek historian and ethnographer Herodotus.  Although Tabiti was apparently the most important deity in the Scythian pantheon, the worship accorded to the deity Herodotus refers to as "Ares" was unique. He notes that "it is not their custom [...] to make images, altars or temples to any except Ares, but to him it is their custom to make them".  So perhaps the word Arian is simply a derivation of their worship of Ares and the people were Scythians.

 

In Histories, the 5th-century Greek historian Herodotus describes the Budini of Scythia as red-haired and grey-eyed. The Greek poet Callimachus described the Arismapes (Arimaspi) of Scythia as fair-haired. The 2nd century BC Han Chinese envoy Zhang Qian described the Sai (Scythians) as having hazel or green and blue eyes. 

A warlike people, the Scythians were particularly known for their equestrian skills, and their early use of composite bows shot from horseback. With great mobility, the Scythians could absorb the attacks of more cumbersome footsoldiers and cavalry, just retreating into the steppes.

Such tactics wore down their enemies, making them easier to defeat. The Scythians were notoriously aggressive warriors. They "fought to live and lived to fight" and "drank the blood of their enemies and used the scalps as napkins."

 

The Dravidians

Shivaism was the religion of the Dravidians.  But the Dravidians were scattered into pockets by the Scythians.  How can we find these pockets?  We can use language groupings. If we examine the various language groups that scholars use, they have classed

  • the Paleolithic languages as Munda
  • the Neolithic as Dravidian and
  • the modern [very loosely] as Aryan

Aryan languages include English, French, Italian, Spanish, Hindi and Portuguese.  In other words where an Aryan based language is spoken there is not likely to be a presence, but where a Dravidian based language is spoken vestiges of the Shivaistic mystic movement may still exist and may even have once held sway. 
The following groups are those identified by Alain Danielou in his very detailed study of Shivaism and the Dravidian peoples.  He himself became a Shivaite converting from Catholicism.  The places/peoples are as follows:

Indus valley and Balochistan

The Indus valley and Balochistan once formed a civilisation known as the Indus valley civilisation. 

Balochistan (Balochi, Pashto, Urdu: بلوچِستان‎, Balōčistān), is now one of the four provinces of Pakistan, located in the southwestern region of the country. It now shares its borders with the Punjab and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the northeast, Sindh to the southeast, the Arabian Sea to the south, Iran to the west, and Afghanistan to the north.  The name Balochistan means "the land of the Baloch".   “Balochistan is noted for its unique culture, and extremely dry desert climate”.

Southern India

Many of the Dravidians escaped the Aryan invasion and went south – see the map.  The culture of the south of India is different to that of the north.  Its temples are different, and its practices are very different if you examine the detail.  The fleeing Dravidians also went to Sri Lanka.
In India what is called the Mahratta country still has a high level of Shivaites and a set of people called the Gurava, who are of non Aryan stock officiate at the Linga temples.

Georgia

which has its own language Georgian (ქართული ენა tr. kartuli ena)  a Kartvelian language. It is the official language of Georgia.  There are more Kartvellian languages [see map].  According to Wikipedia this is a stand-alone language.  According to Alain Danielou, it is Dravidian.  The Basque language and the Georgian language [again according to Danielou] share the same structure and even have around 360 words in common. 

Basque

a language isolate ancestral to the Basque people. The Basque inhabit the Basque Country, a region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. The Basque language is spoken by 27% of Basques in all territories (714,135 out of 2,648,998). Of these, 663,035 are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 51,100 are in the French portion.  Native speakers live in a contiguous area that includes parts of four Spanish territories and the three "ancient provinces" in France.

Peuhl or Fulani

 

The Fula people or Fulani or Fulɓe (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul; Hausa: Fulani; Portuguese: Fula; Wolof: Pël; Bambara: Fulaw), numbering approximately 20 million people in total, are one of the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse of the peoples of Africa. The Fulani are bound together by the Fula language as well as by some basic cultural elements such as the pulaaku, a code of conduct common to all Fulani groups.  A significant proportion of their number, (an estimated 13 million), are nomadic, making them the largest pastoral nomadic group in the world. Spread over many countries, they are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt.  We thus have here some interesting links with the Egyptian system and African systems.

 

The Dravidians were described as very dark skinned but handsome, with fine straight noses.  There is, interestingly enough, a great deal of similarity in description between Dravidians and the Ethiopians and Sudanese of today, as well as the Tuaregs – a very handsome group of people.    

This group of people has especial interest, because we have one source from this area.  Ogotemmeli was a blind 'wise man' from the Dogon [Mali]  in Africa.  Professor Griaule, an anthropologist, after a period of over 15 years of study of their culture was granted a series of conversations  with Ogotemmeli over a 33 day time span.  

At the time of the height of the Dravidian culture the Sahara was not a desert.  During the Neolithic Era, before the onset of desertification, around 9500 BCE the central Sudan, for example, was a rich environment supporting a large population ranging across what is now barren desert, like the Wadi el-Qa'ab. By the 5th millennium BCE, the people who inhabited what is now called Nubia, were full participants in the "agricultural revolution", living a settled lifestyle with domesticated plants and animals.

But desertification drove them south.  As they went south, the Arabians moved west.  That southward migration continues still and separates the people from their fellow spirits in all the other isolated pockets.

 Guanche

The Altamira caves - Basqueland

Guanche is an extinct language that was spoken by the Guanches of the Canary Islands until the 17th century or possibly later. It died out as the Guanche were absorbed into the dominant Spanish culture. The Guanche language is known today through sentences and individual words recorded by early travellers, supplemented by several place names, as well as some words assimilated into the Canary Islanders' Spanish.  The name Guanche originally meant "man from Tenerife".  Although different dialects were spoken across the archipelago, they are all thought to have been varieties of the same language.  The first reliable account of Guanche language was provided by Genovese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341.  Silbo, originally a whistled form of Guanche speech used for communicating over long distances, was used on La Gomera, El Hierro, Tenerife, and Gran Canaria.

Pelasgians

The name Pelasgians (Greek: Πελασγοί, Pelasgoí; singular: Πελασγός, Pelasgós) is used in part to refer to the people that preceded the Greeks in Greece. In general, "Pelasgian" has come to mean more broadly all the indigenous inhabitants of the Aegean Sea region and their cultures before the advent of the Greeks.  Although conquered by the invaders, the practises of the Dravidians were absorbed into Greek culture under the general Dionysus practises.  The Bacchanalian rites and practises were also Dravidian in origin.  Populations identified as "Pelasgian" spoke a language or languages that at the time was totally different from the Greek language. 

The main centres of Dravidian practise [the Mysteries] were in Malta, Crete [see below], Santorini [before it blew up], and Cyprus.  Using studies of blood groups as opposed to language, Sardinia and Corsica, have been added to the list of mediterranean strongholds even though their language has not been preserved [this would tie in with the Mediterranean flood theory].

Crete

Eteocretan (lit. "true Cretan", from Greek ἐτεός, meaning "true" + Cretan) is the non-Greek language of a few alphabetic inscriptions of ancient Crete.  In eastern Crete about half a dozen inscriptions have been found which are clearly not Greek. These inscriptions date from the late 7th or early 6th century down to the 3rd century BC. The language, ‘which is not understood’, is probably a survival of a language spoken on Crete before the arrival of Greeks and may or may not be derived from the Minoan language preserved in the Linear A inscriptions of a millennium earlier. Since that language remains untranslated, “it is not certain that Eteocretan and Minoan are related”.

“Ancient testimony suggests that the language is that of the Eteocretans, i.e. ‘True Cretans’."

Lydia

Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία, Turkish: Lidya) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern western Turkish provinces of Uşak, Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian.  At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Lydia covered all of western Anatolia. Lydia (known as Sparda by the Achaemenids) was a satrapy (province) of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, with Sardis as its capital. Tabalus, appointed by Cyrus the Great, was the first satrap (governor).

The Etruscan civilization

is the modern name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio. It is distinguished ‘by its unique language’, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions (c. 700 BC) until its assimilation into the Roman Republic, beginning in the late 4th century BC with the Roman–Etruscan Wars.  Culture that is identifiably Etruscan developed in Italy after about 800 BC over the range of the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture. At its maximum extent, Etruscan civilization flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria, of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, and of Latium and Campania.
“Although the Etruscans developed writing, the Etruscan language remains only partly understood”.

Cambodia

 

According to Danielou the temple of Angkor Wat is a Dravidian temple.  Wikipedia differs, it says “It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, … built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yaśodharapura (Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. Breaking from the Shaiva tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu”.

Thus we know that up to this date the Khmer were Shaivites, and indeed Angkor Wat architecturally and in its use of sacred geography is a mystic site not a religious site.

Bali and Java

Bali is a beautiful little pocket of culture in an otherwise Islamic country.  It is described as ‘Hindu’, but it is not if one delves deep enough, it is largely Dravidian in its use of temples, dancing, puppets, ceremonies and so on.  Danielou simply states with some assurance that Bali is Dravidian.  Java  he appears to be less sure about, but the Temple of Borobodhur does stand out as a very mystic and symbolic structure in an otherwise Islamic country.

Others

According to Danielou, Dravidian languages share ‘some similarity’  with the Finnish-Hungarian language groups  and the Altaic language grouping – that is the languages which are now Inuit, Turkish and Mongolian. 
The sixth age of man, decimated by the seventh in the Age of Kali Yuga. 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

 Bhaktas

In India, the bhaktas are the followers of Shivaism.  It is to be noted that the caste system does not exist in Shivaite thought and this total rejection of the caste system has always been a characteristic of this mystic movement.  Anyone can be a bhakta.

The more devoted are known for their complete rejection of materialistic society.  They are often homeless, possessionless and wanderers, ‘dancing ecstatic dances and singing impassioned hymns in which human and divine love are mingled’. 

Alain Danielou
The Shivaite monk is called a Sannyasi, from the word sannyasa meaning total abandonment of goods.  If he is not a wandering monk, he may retire to the forest.  With the aid of Yoga, he learns the language of animals who come to him without fear, [and ] obey him …  Others retire to live in caves or cells in mountains.  They see no one and feed on fruits and on roots.  In some cases their followers bring them food which is left for them at a certain distance.

Many of the great mystic poets of India were Bhaktas.  “In the state of ecstasy, the bhakta’s spirit abandons his body and he can perceive the thoughts of semi-divine beings and of animals”.

Alain Danielou
The notion of frenetic madness or mania is inseparable from the state that is cultivated and plunged into by the bhakta… the followers all seek to ‘get out of themselves [ekstasis] and to be possessed by divinity.

The androgyny of Shiva/Shakti

Shivaism, as we have seen above, suffered greatly from the Aryan invasion and the resulting Hindu system with its rewritten texts [the work of the conquerors] and structure of society with its caste system, has not dealt kindly with Shivaism’s followers.  The incursion of Islam into the north of India only served to further weaken the system.  Hinduism is largely political.

The Bhakti movement refers to a devotional trend that emerged in medieval India.  It originated in the seventh-century Tamil south India (now parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala), and spread northwards. It swept over east and north India from the 15th century onwards, reaching its zenith between the 15th and 17th century CE.  It was an attempt to revert back to the more ecstatically based system.

Description of the beliefs

 In order that we can provide both a description and the texts to support the description, we have placed the explanation for the concepts and symbols used as observations.  Please see below.

Sacred geography

We have seen that a great cultural movement extending from India to Portugal existed around 6000 BC and before.  Thus the caves in Altamira are a reflection of this movement, [see the Ancestors] which gave great importance to naturalistic art – the celebration of nature along with the effects of spiritual experience.  On the whole we see very little of its remains, because this civilisation used wood.  It created vast wood henges and wooden boats, as well as wooden houses. 

Alain Danielou – While the gods play
not far from Pondicherry in India, there are populations who construct the hulls of ships from curved wood, pierced in a fire and bound together with oakum, without the use of any metal, and in which they are able to cross the seas.  There are also artists there capable of constructing wonderful timber palaces covered with frescoes like those at Trichur in Kerala or in some Himalayan cities.  .. In Africa, the sites of cities once famous for their splendour can no longer be found.

Only where wood was very precious and hard to come by was stone used, as such there is evidence of a well developed sacred geography, but it only occurs in the pockets where stone archaeological sites have been found and excavated.  We have provided some examples of these older sacred geography sites and their symbolism.

But in Southern India, Bali, Cambodia, and so on, more recent temples and sacred sites do exist with a very pronounced sacred geography symbolism and we have provided some examples of these too for comparison.

 

References

The works of Alain Danielou

 

One of the sources for Shaivism in the west has been Alain Danielou.  His books Gods of Love and Ecstasy, While the Gods Play and Yoga:  Mastering the secrets of the Universe, have been extremely influential.   He spent around 20 years in India studying principally music – and his books on the music of India are exceptional.  He was also an initiate of Shivaism and received training from a guru - Swami Karpatri - a teacher in the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Hindu philosophy.

His own analysis of the languages, history and origins is extremely helpful, but he tends to assume that what he had been taught in the 1900s, by his teacher, was ‘the truth’, an accurate reflection of Shivaism as it was 8000 years ago.  I do not think it was.  

There is a considerable amount of symbolism built into the Shaivite system and Danielou appears to have been taught very little. One of the problems appears to have been aman called Lakulisha who created a 'revival' about 2000 years ago.  He 'reinstituted sacrifices, including human sacrifice', but from what we can see there is no evidence of human sacrifice in the texts, sacrifice has a meaning.  It is not literal.  Thus it would be more correct to say that Lakulisha introduced human sacrifice, something of a backward step if one reads the rules for the Bhakta [see below in observations].

Furthermore, he himself has difficulty reconciling the idea of a mystic movement that revers nature, that cares for it and with which the people feel a part of – which Shaivism was - with the idea of the supposed slaughter in sacrifices.  He goes into some immensely gory detail on sacrifices – sometimes on a vast scale - of animals, human sacrifices [usually small boys], the eating of raw flesh, beheading, buggery and sodomy, sex with underage girls, and a host of practises which have no room on this site.  They probably had no place in Shivaism either.   Danielou states them as fact, but he may have been doing the mystic movement a huge disservice.  A truly huge disservice.

Mircea Eliade in his Patterns in Comparative Religion  described extremely well the degeneration that religions undergo when the symbolism is not explained and only the texts are left, without anyone to explain them.  It is possible that these sacrifices did indeed take place at the time Danielou was writing, but they have nothing to do with Shaivism, they are either a terrible misinterpretation of the texts, or a reversion to a truly barbaric past.  Varanasi, where he was based, was not Shaivite.

More reliable texts

  • Silappatikaram (Tamil: சிலப்பதிகாரம், republished as The Tale of an Anklet) is one of The Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature and is held in high regard by the Tamil people. The nature of the book is non-religious, narrative and has a moralistic undertone. It contains three chapters and a total of 5270 lines of poetry. The epic revolves around Kannagi, who having lost her husband to a miscarriage of justice at the court of the Pandyan Dynasty, wreaks her revenge on his kingdom.  It has the advantage that as well as being a ripping yarn, it contains details of Tamil culture; its town plans and city types; the mingling of different people; and the arts of dance and music.  The current version has been dated to likely belong to the beginning of Common era, but it is believed to have been based on existing folklore. The story involves the three Tamil kingdoms of the ancient era, which were ruled by the Chola, Pandyan and Chera dynasties. Silappatikaram has many references to historical events and personalities, and contains a very liberal use of symbolism
  • The Mohenjo Daro texts – which have not yet been deciphered
  •  
    Sangam Tamil poems -   The Sangam period is the period in the history of ancient southern India (known as the Tamilakam) spanning from c. 300 BCE to 300 CE. This collection of poems contains 2381 poems composed by 473 poets, some 102 of whom remain anonymous.  Sangam poetry has close links with nature. Almost every line of the literature has some element of nature – mammals, birds, insects, trees, flowers, plants, stars, constellations, planets, ocean, mountains, forests etc. etc.  It is a much more accurate reflection of Shivaism than any of the western literature.  The poems deal with emotional topics such as love, war, governance, trade and bereavement. Some of the greatest Tamil scholars, like Thiruvalluvar, who wrote on ethics, and on the various issues of life like virtue, wealth and love, or the Tamil poet Mamulanar, who explored historical incidents that happened in India, lived during the Sangam period.

A. K. Ramanujan:
In their antiquity and in their contemporaneity, there is not much else in any Indian literature equal to these quiet and dramatic Tamil poems. In their values and stances, they represent a mature classical poetry: passion is balanced by courtesy, transparency by ironies and nuances of design, impersonality by vivid detail, austerity of line by richness of implication. These poems are evidence of the Tamil genius.

  • The Agamas (Sanskrit: आगम) are a collection of books.  The term literally means tradition or "that which has come down", and the Agama texts describe cosmology, epistemology, philosophical doctrines, precepts on meditation and practices, four kinds of yoga, mantras, temple construction [sacred geography], deity worship and so on.  The ones in south Indian languages such as Tamil are likely to be a more accurate reflection of Shaivism and the three main branches of Agama texts are those of Shaivism (Shiva), Vaishnavism (Vishnu), Shaktism (Devi). The Agamic traditions are sometimes called Tantrism. There are 28 Saiva Agamas.
  • Lalla, also affectionately called Lalli, Lal Ded, Lal Diddi ("Granny Lal"), or Lalleshwari, was born near Srinagar in Kashmir in northern India.  She was a mystic poet and follower of Shiva, her poems are on our site
  • Kanada - was a mystic who lived in Gujarat.  He was an 'alchemist' as well indicating he used the methods of Shaivism. Details of him are on the site follow the link.
  • Ramana Maharshi (1879–1950) is widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding Indian gurus and mystics of modern times.  He was a Shaivite.
  • Srinivisa Ramanujan Iyengar (22 December 1887 – 26 April 1920) was a legendary Indian mathematician – a genius born in Tamil Nadu.
  • Swami Ramdas (1884-1963) was an Indian mystic, born in Kerala
  • Kural by Tiruvallur - A celebrated work by the greatest poet of classical Tamil literature, Tiruvalluvar probably lived and wrote between the second century BC and the eighth century AD though his dates have not been conclusively established. The work by which he is known, the Kural, comprises 1,330 couplets and is divided into three sections—Virtue, Wealth and Love.
  •  
    Thirumurai (Tamil: திரு முறை, meaning holy division) -  a twelve volume compendium of songs or hymns in praise of Shiva in the Tamil language compiled from the 6th to the 11th century by various poets in South India.  The Pallava period in the history of the Tamil land is a period of religious revival of Saivism by the Shaivite Nayanars who by their Bhakti hymns ‘captured the hearts of the people’. They made a tremendous impression on the people by singing the praise of Shiva in soul-stirring devotional hymns. Tirumurai in anthology supersedes Sangam literature, but is complementary, as the Sangam poems are predominantly secular in nature. The entire Tirumurai is in viruttam meter or lines of four.
  • Ancient texts - According to Alain Danielou there remains a vast corpus of texts in ancient Dravidian, which have neither been published, translated, nor in some cases are they understood.  Some are very old.  These include texts on cosmology, the nature of language and musical semantics, mathematics, astronomy, astrology and, crucially, plant based medicine – the original Ayurveda system.
  • Basque language books – Some of the poems written in the Basque language may contain hidden truths.  They certainly make pleasant reading!  A collection of poems by Bernard Etxepare, a priest from Lower Navarre in the Northern Basque Country, by the title Linguæ Vasconum Primitiæ ("Beginnings of the Basque Language") was one of the first book of poems in the language. In this book, Etxepare ‘expresses his hopes that the first publication of a book in Basque will serve to invigorate the language and the culture’. There is a pastoral play by Joan Perez de Lazarraga by the name of Silbero, Silbia, Doristeo and Sirena that was produced between 1564 and 1567 in Larrea, Alava and is the earliest surviving play in Basque.  Despite its late date it is of interest.  There is a collection of proverbs written in the Biscayan dialect called Refranes y sentencias by an unknown author.  Arnauld de Oihenart, born 1592 in Mauléon, was the first Basque layman to write in the language and produced a large amount of poetry and an important collection of proverbs, the first of which was published in 1657 in Paris. His style of writing is still regarded as one of the highest in the history of Basque literature.  There have been some recent developments which are also promising including new works that record old folk, ethnological and mythological knowledge.

 A note on the Puranas

 

One of the sources for Shivaism, in theory are the Puranas.  The Puranas are a class of literary texts, all written in Sanskrit verse, whose composition dates from the 4th century BCE to about 1,000 A.D.  They are not old, despite the fact that the word "Purana" means "old”. 

There are eighteen major puranas, as well as a similar number of minor or subordinate puranas. In Hindu thought the main puranas are six in number: Vishnu; Narada; Bhagavata; Garuda; Padma; and Varaha. A second set of puranas, also six in number, are not used as much because “in these Shiva is the God to whom devotion is rendered: Matsya; Kurma; Linga; Shiva; Skanda; and Agni.”  The Puranas are thus a set of texts which were created 6000 years after Shivaism was founded, written by people who did not practise Shivaism and by people who had every reason to try to denigrate it.

Despite this we have used these texts - with care.  There are some selections from the six puranas mentioned, where there appears to be corresponding evidence elsewhere.

A note on the Vedas

The religion of the Vedic period was the religion of the Indo-Aryans of northern India. It is a historical predecessor of modern Hinduism, though significantly different from it. The Vedic liturgy is conserved in the mantra portion of the four Vedas.  Scholars consider Vedic religion to have been a composite of the Indo-Aryan and Harappan cultures.  Thus the Vedas are an attempt to combine the beliefs of the invading Aryans with those of the indigenous Shaivites, and one cannot regard them as Shaivite texts, but early Hindu texts. 

Map of Vedic India

Observations

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