>From the days of British raj, when the documents were written [*and registered*], smArthAs were found to refer to themselves as those belonging to 'siva mathAm' than to smArtha sect!
It is not only the present generation smArthAs, who are totally ignorant of our religion, are under the impression that they are saivaities; even during the last century, they [*smArthAs*] have referred to themselves as such, even in the documents accepted and honoured by the government.
Not only this. Long time before this [*English rule*], even during the period when RamAnujA had stabilised the Vaishnava sampradhAyam; when many of the smArthAs having Vishnu as their 'ishta dEvathA' started adopting His path, the term advaitin seemed to have given a saivaite connotation.
Why I say so is because [*the saint*] srI KantAchAryA is said to be a contemporary of RamAnujA. He says, philosophically, similar to that of vishistAdvaitham. But, He is quite closer to advaitA on the question of state of mukthi. Theologically, Siva is His main deity. As NarayanA is the paramAthman for RamAnujA, Siva is the paramAthman for srI KantAchAryA.
Though He had thus established a 'Saiva-vishistAdvaitha' path, the number of smArtha-saivaites (smArthAs having ParamEshwarA as their ishta-dEvathA) who adopted the Saiva siddhAntha of srI KantA is
abysmally low compared to the smArtha-vaishnavaites who embraced the siddhAnthA of RamAnujA.
This could be due to the self perception of the smArthAs, mainly as saivaites, after the exodus of vaishnavaites towards RamAnujA. That is why, when a religion was established as Saiva siddhAnthA itself, it appears, they didn't have the inclination to switch over to that. Moreover, as the mOkshA of Saiva siddhAnthA was quite closer [*similar*] to that of advaithA, many would have questioned as to why to change over to a new but a similar school, leaving advaitA.
Philosophy is important (or appealing) only to a select few. What is important to the vast majority is bhakti and the upAsanA mUrthy. That is why there had been many instances of migration of ardent smArthA devotees of Vishnu to those schools which held Vishnu in an exalted position.
Purely because of this, advaitA had come to be seen as a sect considering Siva as its main deity and when a new school with Siva Himself as its central principle was started, smArthAs (ie ardent devotees of Siva) didn't choose to join this, in large numbers.
It has come to such a pass, nowadays, that advaitins are taken for granted to be saivaites, per se, by those unaware [*of our tradition*].