Shiva as Nataraja, Tripurantaka and Somaskanda.
The history of Brahmanism in the second half of the first millennium AD was
influenced by two tendencies which seemed to contradict each other but
whose synthesis actually led to the emergence of a new kind of popular
Hinduism which exists till today. On the one hand, this period witnessed the
rise of the great philosophical systems which were formulated in constant
debates with Buddhists and Jainas in the course of what has been termed a
‘Brahmin Counter-Reformation’. On the other hand, the same period
produced the great popular movements of the bhakti cults which often
explicitly rejected Brahmin orthodoxy and monist philosophy and aimed at
salvation by mean of pure devotion to a personal god.
                     SHANKARA’S PHILOSOPHY
  There were six classical philosophical systems. The most influential of
  these systems was undoubtedly Vedanta (end of the Vedas) which has
  often been regarded as the very essence of Indian philosophy. It was
  Sankaracharya (788–820) who renewed and systematised Vedanta
  philosophy by stressing its main principle of monism (Kevala Advaita or
  Absolute Non-dualism). Born at Kaladi in Malabar, he composed his main
  work, the commentary on the Brahmasutras, at Varanasi and travelled
  throughout India. Besides, he is credited with establishing four maths in
  the four centres of India. Badrinath (in the Himalayas), Dwaraka
  (Gujarat), Puri (Orissa) and Sringeri (Karnataka). He passed away at
  Kedarnath in the Himalayas at the age of 32 only. He held that the
  individual soul as embodied in a living being (jiva) is tied to the cycle of
  rebirths (samsara) because it believes that this world is real although it is
  only an illusion (maya). This belief is due to ignorance (ajnana or avidya)
  which prevents the soul from realising its identity with the divine spirit.
  Only right knowledge (jnana) leads to the realisation of this identity and to
  salvation (moksha) from the cycle of rebirths. At the same time he also