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The Origin of Shiv and Shaivism

Updated on July 8, 2018

Shaivism is the oldest sect of the Hindu religion. But we must note that Shiv is a non- vedic God. There is no reference to Shiv or Shaivism in Rigveda. According to some scholars, Vedic God Rudra was evolved in Shiv. But this theory is not accepted by other scholars. As Vedics like to adopt popular Gods of others and give them a Vedic touch, it is all possible that they adopted and converted Rudra in Shiv.

For Vedics, Bramha is a creator and Vishnu is a protector. But as Shiv was an enemy of Vedics, they made him a destroyer.

Whatever today we know about Shaivism, comes from the Puranik literature, which are written much later, and so unauthentic and non reliable.

Gavin flood, a scholar of comparative religion with specialization to Shaivism at University of Oxford says:

The formation of Ĺšaiva traditions as we understand them begins to occur during the period from 200 BC to 100 AD.

Another form of Saman Tradition?

Saman (Samsnkrit: Shraman) is the oldest religious tradition of India. We can find the roots of Samanic tradition in Indus Valley civilization. Jainism and Buddhism are the two great religions which evolved from Samanic tradition.

There are many similarities between between Shaivism and Samanic tradition, especially between Shaivism and Jainism.

Unlike the Vedic or Brahmin tradition, the saman tradition is based on social equality. Shaivism too, is staunch supporter of social equality.

In saman tradition, the practice of ascetic life is most important. We can see same thing in Shaivism. We can see hundreds of thousand of ascetics in Shavism, who have left all worldly things including their families and homes, in search of liberation.

In Saman tradition, many monks are naked ascetics. This tradition of nakedness is very ancient and goes back to the Indus valley civilization. Many Jain ascetics are following this path from ancient time. Followers of Ajivik sect in ancient followed this naked path of ascetic way. This tradition is continued to present days without interruption both in Jains and Shaivites. There are about 1500 naked monks, popularly known as Digambar Jain monks toady.

An interesting fact is that, the Naga ascetics, a sect of Shaivism also follow this naked path, and there are hundreds of thousands naked Naga monks in India. You should remember that Shiv himself was a naked ascetic, who had renounced all the worldly things.

Rikhab (Left), Shiv (Right)
Rikhab (Left), Shiv (Right)
Mounti Kailash in Tibet
Mounti Kailash in Tibet

Similarities between Shiv and Rikhab

Rikhab (Sanskrit: Rishabh) was the the first ford maker of the Samanic tradition Jainism. It is interesting to know that there are too much similarities between Rikhab and Shiv. Let us have a look on some of the similarities between them.

According to Jain texts and Hindu Purans, Rikhab is a naked ascetic. In Jain tradition, this type of ascetics are known as Digambar monks. Interestingly, Shiv is also a naked and he is known as Digambar. Jains and Shaivites both claim that the seals of naked ascetics found in Indus valley civilizationbelong to Rikhab/Shiv respectively.

In Jain literature, Shiv is another name of Rikhab.

In both the traditions, Shiv and Rikhab are know as Aadinaath. (Aadi = First)

According to Jainism, the Nivvaan place of Rikhab is Mount Kailash in Tibet, while according to Shaivism, Mount Kailash is the place where Shiv resides. Interestingly, Mount Kailash is a sacred place for followers of Bon religion, a Pre Buddhist religion of Tibet.

Similarities between Symbols and Rituals

There are many other similarities between Shiv and Rikhab, which belongs to idol rituals, symbols.

There are great similarities between idols of Shiv and Rikhab.

Idols of both the personalities are in Padmaasan, a posture of yogic meditation.

Another similarity is that eyes of the idols are half closed, which is another yogic posture.

In ancient idols of both of them, their hairs are long, touching to their soldiers. Shiv and Rikhab both are known as Long haired (Jataadhaari/Keshi).

Bull is symbol/emblem of oth the personalities.

In rituals, breaking and offering coconut to Shiv and Rikhab is not permitted. Offering rice grains to them is another common thing between these two deities.

All these things suggest that Shiv is another form of Rikhab, and Shaivism is nothing but a Samanic tradition.


1. The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.. ISBN1-4051-3251-5

2. Shiv Puran

3. Bhagwat Puran

4. Aadipuran by Acharya Jinsen

5. Trishashtishalakapurush by Acharya Shilaank.


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  • parwatisingari profile image


    6 years ago from India

    Excellent presentation interestingly natyashastra does not the textbook of indian dramaturgy does not speak of Nataraja, vishnu, ganapati etc, It only talk s of indra-vayu-varuna-rudra-Uma.

  • Arnold Stalon profile image

    Arnold Stalon 

    6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

    I think yes. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam are very old religion and each of them have more than billion followers on earth. If Jainism is oldest and best, why not many people attracted to it?

  • jainismus profile imageAUTHOR

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 

    6 years ago from Pune, India

    Do you mean that if a philosophy is oldest, it must have largest number of followers? And why you are in challenging mood, instead of having a discussing tone?

  • Arnold Stalon profile image

    Arnold Stalon 

    6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

    Give the answer of my question if u have guts:

    Why the Jain community is shrank to only 4.2 million out of 1.25 billion Indians (only 0.00336 % of the total population)?

    The question is in the context of following claim by you:

    -Jainism is the oldest sect in India

  • parwatisingari profile image


    6 years ago from India

    shiva the incarnation of Krishna?

    What we call hinduism today is a myth. This was the way the ***brits and the WOGS clubbed a lot of Indian theology, ethnic faiths, and the Bhakti cult into one great shall say Pav Bhaji? Shivism is a monotheistic in nature.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Dear Janismus

    It is perfectly OK to speculate an individual level but it is not OK to publish misinformation. Yes, Shiva is present in Rikhab as per the Shaivite template but not in a way that will serve your speculation. A more constructive approach would have been for you to look at the textual evidence and also the sculptural and artistic evidence. The Shaivite sculptures and texts all predate the oldest know Jain texts and Sculptures so this overlap is hardly likely even if the two entities that you talk about were both real persons. I believe that AKaula has done a great community service in correcting your speculation. If this Rikhab were the same individual as Shiva "the person" the notion that he would lead to two such different though in some cases overlapping empowering systems is bizarre. Many Shaivites are strict non vegetarians which from day one has been a no no for Jains. The fact that there are similarities means nothing. Indus Valley has many Jains in yogic postures that were adopted by Jains so what does that mean? Patanjali the great exponent of the Yogas in his seminal book which is the basis of all Yoga in India- Yoga sutra was a Kashmiri. So does that mean that any sculpture of a jain doing yoga means that he was Kashmiri? You must have visited the magnificent Jain sculpture of Gomateshwara and seen the snakes around his feet. If you need proof that Jainism is not Shaivism it is right there. If you still don't get it then you need to take up AKaula's offer to have him explain the significance of snakes in Shaivism.

    Jainism is one of the greatest of Indic traditions. The Jain community is an extraordinary community. Jainism does not need to coopt Shiva to its cause. There is no unification theory here just bad speculation. Best

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Authors write up is frivolous, shallow and superficial. This comes through from the references author has quoted. Since when did the following references like Speaking of Siva (Penguin Classics), Siva: The Siva Purana Retold, Siva, and The Erotic Ascetic (Galaxy Books Series Gb P) become the "scriptural" texts of Hindu Dharma? If there was such an urge to educate the rest, at least author should have educated herself about the issues.

    Hindu Dharma tradition is a "Aastika tradition" (please don't translate Aastika as theist). Astika (arising from Asti) implies affirmation of a-priory existent as opposed to Naastika tradition (Na-Asti) i.e negation of a-priory existent. Shiva is not a human being or of human firm, it is Niraakar (without form), Nir-Guna (free of all GuNA) implying non-mesurablity or can not be objectified. It is a-priory existent from which all else arises as changing form (sa-GuNA) through the shakti as his dance. It is not male or female, it is presented as male because the in Samskrutam the Prakaasha has male gender as Shakti has feminine gender. (To understand this one must learn little bit of Sanskrit). Author I am sure does not know this, but mistakes his/her command on English as the certificate of scholarship in all matters that can be written in English. It is a shame that honesty in scholarship is the first victim of today's educated .

    Whereas Teerthankaars were born and were great presenters of great Jaina dharama tradition, Shiva is not born. This fundamental understanding skips our author. What does risen snake and the Nandi imply, is not what meets the eye.

    A full fledged refutation of authors shallow writeup is useless. I have pointed out some very fundamental issues in the write up. I hope author does some serious study. If author would have waited little more time, he/she would have taken the recent Shiva related trillogy as the source material. To that extent I am thankful she/he wrote it early instead of adding another burden on un-suspecting Hindus.

  • jainismus profile imageAUTHOR

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 

    7 years ago from Pune, India

    Thank you sadhuvedantmuni doe sharing your views on this hub....

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    so many temples and gods were converted Please find one of them

  • profile image

    civan harappana 

    7 years ago

    Dear mister DR.kkdebnath ji! I have the same intrests, but I have lost many of my memmories because an very dangerous racist white aghori Alien being have stolen many of my memmories and my spiritual powers. This evil racist (soham baba) is trying to take my place in. But I am buzy to dismantle him. In my afterlive I had many followers and friends in the Bengal regio. I will try to help you with ancient relics and informations. Dear greetings and blessings from civan. Http://

  • jainismus profile imageAUTHOR

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 

    7 years ago from Pune, India

    Thanks Sir for adding this important information through you comments. I will surely share more information on this subject with you, please allow me some time.

  • profile image

    Dr.K.K. Debnath 

    7 years ago

    Thanks to these informative articles. I had earlier written to you and sent a pdf file some of the similarities. Somehow I got a feeling from my research on Bengali Civilization that Lord Siva was a great ascetic of very repute. Lord Siva also known as Bhola Nath, Ashutosh Dev, Kedar Nath etc. All the Tirthamkaras of present Jain religion were Naths, except Lord Mahavir. Lord Adinath is known regarded as the founder of Nathism, which is still now prevailing in India.

    This search finally made to opine that Lord Siva, a Puranic God must be mapped on Lod Adinath. Lord Siva also known as "Isai Nath". Many Nath people believes that Lord Isai Nath is none other than Lord Siva. This Isai Nath is also known as Lord Isah mashi or Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus was also a Yogi of highest order and he became a Siddha while he was in India for 18 yrs and thereafter returned to Jesusalem.

    I am still on the same subject. I will be happy if you can share some informatin with me. my mail id is "".


    (KK Debnath).

  • profile image

    civan harappana 

    7 years ago

    I am an acient relic from an 100% non-vedic Tantra religion. Shiva is an 100% non vedic god. The vedics have destroyed our non-vedic Tantrik harappana civalisation. Dear greetings and blessings from civan. See World,s hardest truth!

  • jainismus profile imageAUTHOR

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 

    8 years ago from Pune, India

    Yes, and it is today.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Another interesting similarity: The day Rishabha attained Nirvana was ironically, Mahashivratri

  • profile image

    Daniella Lopez 

    8 years ago

    Very interesting hub. I know very little of Hinduism, but I still found this article interesting.

  • vrajavala profile image


    8 years ago from Port St. Lucie

    I believe that Lord Shiva is considered an incarnation of Krsna. I believe that the Caitanya Caritamrita references this as well. Krsna is so kind that He manifests to everyone, even the impersonalist (as Lord Shiva) and to the atheists (as Lord Buddha)

  • sadhuvedantmuni profile image


    8 years ago from BHOPAL MP

    your article is very informative and based on references. but the followers of the shaiva will not accept. we are not sure but may be true that some hindu pilgrimages are having jain idols . if this is true kindly enlighten some views on this TRIPATI BALAJI, KEDAR NATH, BADRINATH, ETC.


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