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Are you a student who is interested in ancient world religions and the philosophy, writings and practices that comprise them? Have you considered pursuing a graduate degree in Saiva Siddhanta Studies? Saiva Siddhanta is a dualistic philosophy that provides the normative rites, cosmology and theological categories of tantric Shaivism, one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism. Graduate students pursuing a degree in Saiva Siddhanta Studies have the unique opportunity to explore this ancient religion, its history and present day practices, and to gain knowledge in the philosophy and writings that have made it popular to this day. To help you become a bit more familiar with the graduate degree in Saiva Siddhanta Studies, below we will provide a brief description of the program, including the course content and the typical requirements for admission.
Saiva Siddhanta Studies
Saiva Siddhanta Studies is a Master’s and Doctorate-level degree program that is offered primarily in Indian universities, but also in other institutions throughout the world. The program generally spans two to three years in duration at the Master’s level, with the doctoral program lasting an additional two to four years depending on the university. In general, the programs at both levels are designed for students with an interest in Hinduism and Hindu philosophy, particularly the sect known as Shaivism and how it has evolved through the years.
About Shaivism and Saiva Siddhanta Studies
As mentioned earlier, Shaivism is one of the four sects of Hinduism, the sect that reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being. Followers of Shaivism, called “Shaivas,” Saivas” or Shaivites,” believe that Shiva is not only everything, but in everything as well, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. The ultimate goal or philosophy of the Shaivas is to become an ontologically distinct Shiva through Shiva’s grace—a state known as Saiva Siddhanta.
The tradition known as Saiva Siddhanta was once practiced all over India. However, the Muslim subjugation of North India restricted Saiva Siddhanta to the south, where it merged with the Tamil Saiva movement, a movement expressed in the bhakti poetry of the Nayanars. It is in this historical context that Saiva Siddhanta is commonly considered a “southern” tradition, one that is still very much alive today. Saiva Siddhanta has millions upon millions of followers, mainly in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, but also in other parts of the world, including North America. Today it has active temples in Tamil and Sri Lanka and a number of monastic/ascetic traditions, along with its own community of priests, the Adisaivas, who are qualified to perform Saiva Siddhantin temple rituals.
The courses offered through the Master’s and Doctorate degree programs in Saiva Siddhanta cover a great many topics, including:
- The History and Origins of Saiva Siddhanta
- Theology and Practices in Saiva Siddhantism
- Writings and Canons in Saiva Siddhanta
- Saiva Siddhanta Today
- And many more…
Students who wish to pursue the Master of Arts degree in Saiva Siddhanta Studies must possess at least a Bachelor Degree in the same or a related discipline, with a 2.5 grade point average or better in all of their previous coursework. Doctoral candidates must first complete the M.A. program in Saiva Siddhanta Studies prior to being considered for admission.