Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Saiva Mean?

Saiva refers to the branch of Hinduism dedicated to the worship of Shiva as the supreme deity. Saiva is the name of a believer and is also used as an adjective, as in the "Saiva School of Hinduism." Saivism – also spelled Shaivism – is one of the four major branches of Hinduism.

The Saiva tradition developed many branches over the centuries, but the six major ones are:

  • Saiva Siddhanta (Gorakhnatha Saivism)
  • Siva Advaita
  • Pashupata Saivism
  • Siddha Saivism
  • Kashmir Saivism
  • Vira Shaivism

Yogapedia Explains Saiva

The Saiva Agamas, the foundational religious texts, set forth the basic beliefs of virtually all Saiva traditions. In addition to worshiping Shiva as the supreme deity, they believe that the Divine can be realized through a yogic path toward Self-realization and moksha, or liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

Saivism recognizes Shiva's five powers. The first three powers – creating, destroying and preserving – are attributed to three different deities in other branches of Hinduism, but in Saivism, are encompassed by Shiva. In addition, Shiva is believed to have the powers of obscuration and revelation. In obscuration, Shiva conceals his grace, allowing his believers to evolve. With the fifth power, Shiva reveals that believers are not separate from him and that any perceived separateness is an illusion.

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