It is believed that there are twenty-eight primary Saiva Siddhanta texts and over 200 upagamas (smaller texts) which define the rituals and methods to be employed in the worship of Sadasiva in temples. Many of the Agamas are now extant only in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu. Description of temple rituals and the correct acara to be used for the worship of different gods and goddesses in the Saiva pantheon is the primary concern of the Agama literature.

Even though there is very little philosophical content in the Agamaic texts, yet it is widely agreed that the Saiva Agama-s have a dualistic worldview. There are three main components of this system: Shiva (pati), the fettered soul (pashu), and the factors that chain the soul (pasha). Thus Shiva is the Lord of all pashu-s or Pashupati. Kashmiri Saiva texts record that the founder of this path was a great acarya named Amardaka, whose seat was located, some scholars believe, in modern-day Ujjain which is the primary center of the Mahakaleshwara jyotirlinga. Amardaka’s successor, Purandara, formed another sect of Siddhantika Saivism known as the Mattamayura which was predominant in Punjab region. The third important sect that emerged from the lineage of Amardaka was the Madhumateya whose founder was Pavanasiva, and some of the royal dynasties of the Kalachuri in Central India adhered to this sampradaya. The two sampradaya-s born from Amardaka, and his original one, spread across Western and Southern India from Maharastra to Kerala, particularly in the Konkan belt, building monasteries for the monks of their order, until the Islamic invasion and counter-currents from other sampradaya-s finished them off, except in Tamil Nadu where it still survives in the form of rituals that are followed in Siva temples.

In 12th century one of the greatest acarya-s of Amardaka’s lineage named Aghorasiva resided as the head of the Chidambaram temple. He was successful in creating and establishing an amalgamation of Sanskrit rituals and Tamil Siddanta traditions, but on a firm dualistic interpretation completely rejecting any adwaitic angle to the Saiva theology. The methods he gave for worship of Saiva pantheon is followed even today across all Saiva temples in South India. His celebrated Kriyakramadyotika is the single most important text when it comes to Saiva Siddhanta rituals for temples. It maybe argued that the presence of Aghorasiva in Chidambaram is one of the primary reasons, if not the central reason, for the reverence attached to this particular temple of Shiva.

Photo: Chidambaram temple Nataraja, Google Search

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