adherents of the smriti or tradition, which has a numerous following amongst southern Brahmans, and, whilst professing Sankara's doctrines, is usually classed as one of the Saiva sects, its members adopting the horizontal sectarial mark peculiar to Saivas, consisting in their case of a triple line, the tripundra, prepared from the ashes of burnt cow-dung and painted on the forehead.
Sankara also founded four Maths, or convents, for Brahmans; the chief one being that of Sringeri in Mysore, the spiritual head (Guru) of which wields considerable power, even that of excommunication, over the Saivas of southern India.
Amongst the many thousands of Lingas, twelve are usually regarded as of especial sanctity, one of which, that of Somnath in Gujarat, where Siva is worshipped as" the lord of Soma,"was, however, shattered by Mahmud of Ghazni; whilst another, representing Siva as Visvesvara, or" Lord of the Universe,"is the chief object of adoration at Benares, the great centre of Siva-worship. The Saivas of southern India, on the other hand, single out as peculiarly sacred five of their temples which are supposed to enshrine as many characteristic aspects (linga) of the god in the form of the five elements, the most holy of these being the shrine of Chidambaram (i.e."
Moreover, sadhuism, by the multiplicity of the independent sects which have arisen in India, has engendered and favoured a spirit of tolerance which cannot escape the notice of the most superficial observer."An independent Saiva sect, or, indeed, the only strictly Saiva sect, are the Vira Saivas, more commonly called Lingayats (popularly Lingaits) or Lingavats, from their practice of wearing on their person a phallic emblem of Siva, made of copper or silver, and usually enclosed in a case suspended from the neck by a string.