Paper given at the International Workshopcum-Conference Archeology of Bhakti: Royal Bhakti, Local Bhakti, organisé par Emmanuel Francis, Valérie Gillet et Charlotte Schmid at the EFEO Centre in Pondichéry from 31st July to 13th August 2013.
Abstract: The words “bhakti” and “Śaiva-siddhānta” are often pronounced in the same breath, as though they belonged naturally together, and several publications can be found that assert bhakti to be central to the Śaivasiddhānta. (For a recent example, see: GANESAN T. & SATHYANARAYANAN, R., 2013, “Bhakti as a fundamental element in Saivism”, Bulletin d’Études Indiennes 28-29 (2010-2011) pp. 51–62.) Certain forms of devotion certainly have a rôle in the Śaivism of the Mantramārga, the dominant current of which was, for several centuries, the Śaivasiddhānta; but in the works of the theologians who shaped the classical Siddhānta this rôle was relatively minor: bhakti had no soteriological value. Expressions of religious fervour — pilgrimage, religious suicide, the composition or recitation of hymns of praise, religious mythology — could have no large importance in a system characterised by the claim that liberation (mokṣa) was only possible by means of a certain ritual of Śaiva initiation (dīkṣā). This goes some way to explaining why there are so very few Saiddhāntika hymns (stotra), and why such few hymns as there are should be emotionally so very dry (Vyomavyāpistava, Pañcāvaraṇastava, Śivapūjāstava). The hymns of the Tēvāram are not dry, of course, but they were not in any sense considered to be works of the Śaivasiddhānta in the period in which they were composed, or indeed for several centuries afterwards. This paper will explore the shifting importance of bhakti in some works of Śaiva literature that were composed or that circulated in medieval South India.