Parārthārcādhikāra (public worship in public temples) in Śaiva Siddhānta

Paraphrasing SK Ramachandra Rao’s Shiva Kosha,worship of Śiva is of two types

  • Svārtha(home worship/worship in one’s private shrine)
  • Parārtha(worship in a public temple on behalf of others/another person)

The former category of worship is allowed to all in Saiddhāntika Āgama,but the latter category is restricted by the Āgamas to a particular subsection of brahmins alone who are descended from a set of sages directly initiated by Śiva Himself:The sages mentioned vary,but they are usually

  • Kauśika
  • Bharadvāja
  • Kaśyapa
  • Gautama or Nandi(the ape faced attendant of Śiva)
  • Agastya or Atri

This implies only these brahmins who are descendants of the above sages and have been born in families with a heritage of performing the rites of public worship according to the Siddhānta āgama in an unbroken chain,generation after generation,can offer public worship in temples that run according to the Siddhānta. These brahmins in the living tradition are to be revered as forms of Śiva Himself. More crucially,these brahmins belong to a set of gocaras which are in their fold alone now,this marks them out from other ordinary brahmins belonging to these gotras.