Shaivism and Vaishnavism, are two major sects within the umbrella of Hinduism, each with a different deity as their Supreme God.

This difference, is thought to have, in the ancient and even recent past, resulted in several differences and thus "religion - based wars" between the two sects. Resulting in vandalism and lootings of kingdoms of one sect by the other. The impact is posited to be present in the form of several vandalized structures found on across India.

What's the historical veracity of these claims? I'd like to get an account of those war and how they might have impacted the development of both sects in terms of their theology and sometimes outright mind boggling stories. An example : The Story Of Prahalada-Narsimha, Sharaba, Gandarbherunda, Prtayangira.

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    If I get some time tomorrow I might look into it, but in general I've found the development of sects usually follows cultural/ethnic lines. So if you take their avowed doctrinal differences at face value, you're usually missing the real point.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 7, 2021 at 3:29
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    I doubt very much if you can find something useful. Wars, especially religious wars, are rarely fought for the reasons people claim.
    – Jos
    Apr 7, 2021 at 6:55

1 Answer 1


There is a short, simple, and clear answer to this: No. Different Sects within Hinduism do not fight and have not fought each other based on religious differences. In fact, belief-based differences between different sects of Hinduism are very small and rare. Most differences between the sects of Hinduism are practice-based.

Hinduism is a polytheistic, decentralized religion. We have no central authority and there is no "king" of Hinduism, like how Christianity has a pope and how Islam had a Caliph. We are also encouraged to have multiple gods and deities to pray to. (There's more nuance to it: For more details see the answer to [this][1] post). Vaishnavites spend more time and dedication towards Vishnu, but the accept and revere Shiva. Shaivites spend more time and dedication towards Shiva, but they accept and revere Vishnu. Their beliefs are the same, but their priorities and practices vary a little.

A common notion amongst Hindus is that the same god can have many names. For example, [Ganesha][2] has other names such as Ganapati and Vinayaka, but also many different tribal names for him.

So, there were and are no hate or war between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.

Why didn't Hinduism schism? The reason is simple. Centralized Religions typically Schism, while decentralized religions typically never schism. For example, Islam had a schism between Sunnis and Shias, because of a dispute of the "throne", or position of Caliph, of Islam. There is a possibility to gain power through the ladder of the centralized religions, and that leads to disputes, which lead to Schisms. Christianity had a Schism between Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity because Christianity was a highly political force during the time. Politics leads to greed for power, and that leads to disputes, which leads to a Schism. Meanwhile, Hinduism is a highly decentralized religion. We have no leader. This leads to no possibility of using Hinduism as a way to gain power. So, there is no power conflict, which means there is no schism. Another reason why there was no schism in Hinduism is because, in the outdated caste system, kings have less importance than saints, which means that when a king tries to defame the other sects of Hinduism, no one will listen to him since they know that the king is not the highest authority on Hinduism, the saints are. And since saints are decentralized, there was never a schism. Hope this makes sense! Feel free to edit this to help me. [1]: How did Ram and Krishna become the dominant Gods in Hinduism? [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesha

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    I hear adherents of nearly any religion saying the same thing.
    – Jos
    Aug 14, 2021 at 1:54
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    The difference is that we are a decentralized religion, meaning that there is no central authority. Kings, who spawn war and hate, have no authority to defame other sects of Hinduism, since kings (Khatriyas) have less power than Saints (Brahmins) in the outdated caste system. The reason Islam had a Schism is that there was a distinct leadership system, and there was a dispute to the "throne" of Islam. Hinduism has no such leadership system. The reason Christianity broke down into separate parts is because of separate kingdoms (Byzantine Empire vs Western Europe) fighting each other. Aug 14, 2021 at 13:59
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    While there were separate kingdoms in the ancient realm of Sanathana Dharma, they couldn't defame the other side since kings had less power than Brahmins in the terrible caste system. Aug 14, 2021 at 14:01
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    A very common pattern that I see in history is that, Centralized Religions Schism, while Decentralized Religions do not. Aug 14, 2021 at 14:05
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    @Proud Tamil Indian: Your comment about Christianity breaking down into separate sects because of separate kingdoms is false, in general. There are many instances of causation going the other way, with the differences being (in part) the cause of the separate kingdoms.
    – jamesqf
    Aug 14, 2021 at 16:07

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