Shaivism is a Hindu philosophy that is focused on the worship of Shiva. Shaivism is one of the three most popular schools of Hinduism. It is also known as Shaiva Siddhanta and can be seen as a dualistic philosophy. This school believes in the ultimate reality being pure consciousness and pure bliss.
Shaivites believe that Shiva is the supreme being and worship him as a formless, eternal, transcendent god. Shaivism is one of the oldest Hindu philosophies and has been practiced for over 2000 years. It originated in ancient India, but today it is also practiced in Nepal and other parts of Asia.
This school believes that Shiva embodies both masculine and feminine principles, which are called Shakti and Shaka respectively.
The origins of Shaivism are doubtful and a remember of dialogue amongst students. Some hint the origins to the Indus Valley civilization, which reached its height round 2500–2000 BCE. Archeological discoveries display seals that advise a deity that quite seems like Shiva. Of those is the Pashupati seal, which early students interpreted as a person seated in a meditating yoga pose surrounded through animals, and with horns. This “Pashupati” (Lord of Animals, Sanskrit paśupati) seal has been interpreted through those students as a prototype of Shiva. Gavin Flood characterizes those perspectives as “speculative”, announcing that it isn't always clean from the seal if the determine has 3 faces, or is seated in a yoga posture, or maybe that the form is supposed to symbolize a human determine.
Virashaivas and Shaivism
Virashaivas believes in the supremacy of Lord Vishnu over all the other Gods. On the other hand, Shaivism believes in the supreme power of Lord Shiva.
The Virashaivas were a group of Vaishnavas who rejected the Vedic rituals and instead followed a path that they believed was closer to the teachings of Lord Vishnu.
Virashaivas are important in the history of Hinduism because they played an important role in the development of the Bhakti movement. They were also instrumental in spreading Vaishnavism to other parts of India.