Methods of Worship in Shaivism

The Worship of Shiva

by Jayaram V

God can be approached in many ways. Prayer and worship are standard methods of worship in most religions. According to the Sivapurana, one can please Lord Siva and attain his grace by the following methods:

  1. Sravanam
  2. Kirtanam
  3. Mananam
  4. Nidhi Dhyasanam

Sravanam

Sravanam means hearing. It involves listening about the greatness and grandeur or the wisdom of Lord Siva. In Sravanam the main instrument of worship are the ears. Its purpose is to purify them and thereby the mind. It can be done by one or more of the following.

1. Listening to the stories of Shiva, his exploits and greatness, from the Puranas and epics.

2. Participating in debates and discussions about Lord Siva with likeminded people.

3. Listening to or reading books, mantras, prayers, scriptures, commentaries, philosophy and literature about Shiva.

The practice of Sravanam becomes easier if one cultivates the company of like minded people or listen to a guru who is well versed in the knowledge of Lord Siva. Where it is not possible one can pay an occasional visit to the near by Siva temple and listen to the mantras and prayers chanted there. One can also invite other devotees of Lord Siva and hold a satsang (meeting of devotees) in ones house to derive the same benefit.

Kirtanam

Kirtanam means singing. It involves singing the songs of Lord Siva. This can be done alone or in groups. When it is done in groups it becomes bhajan. A Bhajan is a devotional song, which the devotees sing either alone or in chorus along with others. Devotional singing is one of the easiest ways to please Lord Siva in the present age. By singing devotional songs one can achieve inner peace and purity of mind. The mind becomes stabilized in God and practicing meditation becomes easier.

Mananam

Mananam means remembering. It involves contemplation of Lord Siva, his various forms, names, mantras, yogic wisdom. Of the three mananam is easier to practice as it does not involved the company of others or visits to a guru or temple. One can practice mananam any tine one wants. By fixing the mind on Lord Siva one can purify the mind and the senses and attain higher states of consciousness

Nidhidhyasanam

Nidhidhyasana means concentrated, inverted contemplation. It may also means mental worship. There are two main methods of worshipping Lord Siva. One is worshipping Siva with form (saguna Siva) and the other is worshipping Siva without form (nirguna Siva). The former involves worshipping an image or statue of Lord Siva either alone or with his consorts and paraphernalia. The latter involves worshipping Siva in the form of a linga. It has been explained in the Sivapurana that among the trinity of gods, Siva alone has the distinction of being a god with and without attributes. Thus at the highest level Lord Siva is SadaSiva or the Supreme Brahman, the one without a beginning and end and creator of all and the next lower level he becomes Lord Siva or Rudra who, as a part of the trinity, enacts the role of a destroyer. So when we worship an image of lord Siva, we are actually worshipping Lord Siva of the Trinity and when we worship a Shivaling we are worshipping Supreme Brahman Himself.

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