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(6,345 words)

Author(s): Diwakar Acharya
The Earliest Times  Pāśupatas were instrumental in the development and spread of Śaivism in ancient times. They were the earliest of sectarian Śaiva groups but are now extinct. They required exclusive faith in Rudra(-Śiva), which meant that a Pāśupata had to worship Rudra, putting aside all other deities and ancestors, and regard him as the sole lord and cause of the world. Direct references to Pāśupatas by this very name began to appear only in the 4th century CE, both in texts and in inscriptions. There is only one reference to Pāśupata knowledge in the Mahābhārata (12.337.59), …