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Shaivism (or Íaivism) is one of several branches of the Hindu religious traditions, centered on the worship of the god Shiva (the “auspicious” one). Together with Vaishnavism (worship of the god Vishnu) and Shaktism (worship of the goddess or Shakti), it constitutes one of the three largest sectarian traditions within Hinduism. The deity Shiva has antecedents in the Vedic god Rudra, the “roarer” or “howler,” a fierce deity associated with storms and disease, dating back to the oldest period of the Vedas (1500 BCE). In one of the latest parts of the Vedas, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad (400–200 BCE), Rudra is elevated to the position of a supreme deity, identified as the one, omniscient lord—attributes that would later be ascribed to the classical Hindu deity Shiva.

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