Mask of Vaikuntha Vishnu, late 5th century. Learn more about 5th century masks
One of the major sects within Hinduism, Shaivism considers Shiva as the Supreme Being who creates and destroys the universe. It is believed to have become prominent between 200 BCE and 100 CE in western India and spread through much of the subcontinent through the early medieval period, especially in southern India. It coexisted with Buddhism, Jainism and Vaishnavism and included a number of sects, including the Kapalikas, the Kalamukhas and the Pashupatas. Shaiva sects were associated with ascetics as well as with royal courts. The followers of this tradition are called Shaivites or Shaivas.