Monday, July 26, 2010


( A Lecture delivered by Pandit R. S. Vedachalam)

    Man is a social being. The very earliest records of man distinctly show that he lived in the midst of those who were related to him by flesh and blood. In the oldest hieroglyphic writings of Egypt, in the cuneiform inscriptions found in the ruins of Chaldea and in the preserved traditions of the Aryans, the Dravidians and the Chinese, we never find him as an isolated individual thrown up by accident on this earth and moping like a stupid bird on the lonely branch of a forest tree, but as a spirited and cheerful being enjoying the company of his parents and sons, brothers and sisters, and friends and relations. Thus, to associate oneself with the beings of kindred nature, has from time immemorial, been the strongest, instructive element in the character of man.

    And, as a consequent result of this social function, a healthy interchange of thought increased with the gradual increase of time and evoked in man all the latent powers of his intellect. This naturally led to what we call civilisation which, in an appreciable degree, has drawn together the scattered tribes, clans, and communities into one organic whole. What is civilisation but that which brings into one main current the different channels of thought which the different classes of people have given rise to? What is civilisation but that potent force which breaks through the barriers of once useful but now useless social and religious ideas that kept one people from another people and one nation from another nation? And, what is civilisation but that beneficial influence under which everybody feels the power of his independent thought getting stronger and stronger with the accretions of other thoughts of other people? Civilisation consists not, as is conceived by some of our young men, in the vain embellishment of fashionable dress and the unpleasant affectation of manners, but in the natural simplicity of thinking and the moral purity of heart. There and there alone does the secret of civilisation lie hidden.

    Now, then, the modern civilisation, the rare product of this inborn social desire has brought the two great nations, the eastern and the western into closer union and intimacy than they were in ancient times. The characteristics of the physical, intellectual and moral and religious lives of the two nations, the steady growth of their civilisation and the influence which the one exerted upon the other whenever there occurred any chance of their intercourse, constitute an interesting study of the historian. But, as this study of the past is highly useful in stimulating the efforts of the present and future generations to better their conditions of life, it is also of great importance that every one of us should at least have a tolerable acquaintance with it.

    To begin first, with the physical conditions of the two nations as they were in ancient times. Though very little is known of their lives in the Pre-historic ages, yet the few mentions made of them in the old Tamil and Greek literatures at the dawn of the historic period us to form a faint picture of their situations in antiquity. But, our observations with regard to the western nations are primarily confined to the Semitics, the Greeks and the Romans, for, at that remote period, others in the west were savages that were plunged in barbarism. Here , again, in India our attention chiefly occupies itself with the Dravidians of the south, for our knowledge of the Aryan relations with the westerns has no evidence from historic sources, except as based upon philological grounds.

    The oldest reference to the intercourse of the west with the east is to be found in the Hebrew Bible, in the ninth and tenth chapters of the first book of the Kings. Nine hundred and ninety two years before Christ, i.e., two thousand and nine hundred years ago, King Solomon of Jerusalem sent his navy to Ophir which was at that time a thriving seaport in the east. And his merchants brought from thence plenty of almug and ahalim trees, spices, precious stones, gold and silver, ivory, apes and peacocks. And the names mentioned in the Hebrew Bible for some of these articles are, algum, ahalim, karpion, koph, tukhim, etc. The Hon. Mr. Twistleton and other scholars of recent times, having been rendered unable to trace these words to Hebrew origin, sought to find out their source elsewhere. At last, Dr. Caldwell, one of the gifted scholars of the Dravidian languages, derived them from anugam, ahilam, karuva, kapi and thogai, four of which except kapi belong to Tamil. And in accepting this view of Dr. Caldwell Professor Man Muller wrote: "If the etymology be right it would be an important confirmation of the antiquity of the Tamilic languages spoken in India before the advent of the Aryan tribes." Even after this grand discovery had been made, the seaport Ophir from whence there articles were exported to Jerusalem, puzzled the philologists so much that they were all left in the end in an uncertain attitude as to the exact identification of it with some place in India. "Of these articles" says Prof. Max Muller in attempting to seek for its identification, "ivory, gold and apes are indigenous in India, though of course they might have been found in other countries likewise. Not so the algum tree, at least if interpreters are right in taking algum or almug for sandal wood, or the peacock. Sandal wood as pointed out before, is peculiar to India, and so is the peacock. That the peacock was exported from India to Babylon is shown by one of Pali Jatakas." From this it will be manifest that the seaport which exported these articles to the west cannot be sought for other than in India. And the pure Tamil names of these exported Indian products also clearly point out that Ophir cannot but be some seaport town situated in South India, the geographical position of which affords an easy means of access to foreign nations who come by sea. Under this impression I was, for the last few years, making inquiries in this direction and fortunately for me, I was ultimately led to identify the port Pohir with Uvari, at present, a small village near Tuticorin. That the ports Korkei, Kumari and Uvari of the ancient Pandian Kingdom and Kavirippumpattinam of the powerful chola country had been centres of great commercial activity where trade with foreign nations was carried on, on a very extensive scale, is vividly brought before our mind by the descriptions in the old Tamil epic Silappadikaram and in the still older lyrics Pattinappalai and Agananuru. How hospitably were the foreigners received by our forefathers, how peacefully and honestly was the trade going on between them and how ably were the exports and imports managed by the officers appointed by the Tamil kings for the purpose, themselves from an interesting theme of study, but limit of time prevents me from entering into details. I wish all the earnest students of Tamil had better refer to Silappadikaram and Pathuppattu especially.

    Here, it must be borne in mind that this early intermingling of the two nations determine the degree of civilisation which they had attained in ancient days, that it still remains the creative element in shaping the lives of the two people and developing their productive powers to an unlimited extent, and that it will ever serve to explain the most intricate points in the history of their mental, moral and religious ideas, which have been incorrectly interpreted and studied by many a historian without being able to recognise the hidden key to their easy solution. Now, it helps me very much to explain to you in the succeeding portions of the lecture the formation of our Indian life in the past, present and future.

    Again, this intercourse of the two nations which had most probably taken its rise thousand years before the Christian Era did not stop therewith, but it continued onward without interruption. In the subsequent epochs we find the civilisation of the one people highly spoken of by the other. "Herodotus, the father of Greek history, lived in the fifth century before Christ; and although he never visited India, he gives accounts of the Hindus from reports which are valuable, although he mixes them up with legends and stories, and often confounds the customs of the Hindus with those of the uncivilised aborigines who still inhabited large tracts in India. Herodotus tells us that the Indians were the greatest nation of the age, that they procured great quantities of gold in their country, that India abounded in quadrupeds and birds larger than any other country, and produced wild trees which bore cotton from which the Indians made their clothing."

    Again, we know of the splendid accounts of the North India given by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador who came to India in the fourth century before Christ and lived in the court of the great monarch Chandragupta.

    Again, we find the great and zealous Buddhist King Asoka sending in the third century B.C. Missionaries to Syria, Macedon and Egypt to preach there the moral religion of Buddha.

    Again, we see at the beginning of the Christian Era the Tamilians going forth as far as Italy. "The ancient Dravidians" says Mr. R. C. Dutt, an able historian of ancient India, "appear to have had a civilisation of their own before Aryan civilisation was imported into their land. We have said something of the Pandyas who founded their Kingdom in the extreme south many centuries before the Christian Era. Strabo speaks of an ambassador from King Pandian to Augustus, and it is conjectured that the ambassador was from the Pandya country. At the time of the Piriplus, the Pandya Kingdom included the Malabar coast; and from the frequent mention of this country by classical writers, we know that the Pandya Kingdom was sufficiently civilised, in the centuries immediately before and after the Christian Era, to carry on a brisk trade with the western nations."

    Besides these references of a historical character to an early intercourse of the two nations there are also frequent allusions to it in some of our old classical works. That wine and other intoxicating liquors were imported into India by the Bactrian Greeks or Yavanas, that machines were constructed and great architectural works were carried on under their supervision, that the bodyguards of the Indian princes and maid servants of the royal household were mainly composed of Yavana youth and girls, are all clearly indicated in the old Tamil Classics and in such Sanskrit works as Sakuntala of Kalidasa.

        "யவனர், நன்கலந்தந்த

        பொன்செய் புனைகலத் தேந்தி நாளும்

        ஒண்டொடி மகளிர் மடுப்ப மகிழ்சிறந்

        தாங்கினி டொழுகுமதி யோங்குவாள்மாற."


        "மகத வினைஞரு மாராட்டக் கம்மரும்

        அவந்திக் கொல்லரும் யவனத்தச்சரும்

        தண்டமிழ் வினைஞர் தம்மொடுகூடிக்

        கொண்டினி தியற்றிய கண்கவர் செய்வினை."


        "செம்புருகு வெங்களிகள் உமிழ்வதிரிந் தெங்கும்

        வெம்புருகு வட்டுமிழ்வ வெந்நெய் முகந்துமிழ்வ

        அம்புமிழ்வ வேலுமிழ்வ கல்லுமிழ்வ வாகித்

        தம்புலங்களால் யவனர் தாட்படுத்த பொறியே."


    These few quotations taken from the old Tamil Classics are sufficient to substantiate my statement with regard to the prominent part played by the Greeks in the ancient Indian life. The two mixed together so intimately that the physical life of India had been largely coloured by the civilisation of the West, while the West itself was simultaneously receiving the intellectual and religious impress of the Indian thought.

    At this point our inquiry shifts to the second item and our considerations are brought to bear upon the much interesting question of the intellectual life of the two people. To me it seems that the East and the West present two aspects of the human mind. While the predominant tendency of the West is to view the outward nature of the universe and draw instructive lessons from it, that of the East is to study its inward essence and become itself eternally unified with the indescribable bliss of that vital principle of Love. By this I do not mean to say that the West was absolutely foreign to all the intellectual processes of the human mind, nor is it my intention to speak that the Indians were practical fools who had forgotten themselves in their amazing flights of sublime thoughts into the unknown regions of mystic spirit. All that I wish to impress upon your mind is that the two nations were placed under two different circumstances of which one was more conducive to a wholesome growth of intellect than the other. It must not be overlooked, in this respect, that the position of the two countries, the variation of climate and other environments had much to do in influencing the mental make-up of the two people. And, therefore, it is that the one was attached to the physical universe, while the other occupied themselves with intellectual problems. Even at the present day when questions on the existence of an underlying principle of unlimited intelligence and the secret relation in which it stands to matter and individual souls are being discussed with ardour and sincerity on rational and indisputable grounds, we find it very difficult for Eurpoean scholars of scientific culture to sever themselves from gross materialism.

    But of course it is undeniable from what we gather in the old Greek and Hebrew literature on the shape of evidences, that germs of moral and religious ideas lay imbedded in the life of the early day Greeks and other nations of the West, but an impartial comparison of the oriental and occidental literature discloses the fact that not only the amount of intellectual work done in the East far outweighs that of the West but also the system and order into which the different lines of Indian speculation were brought, rises into greater prominence by the side of the unsystematic and disordered fragments of Western thought which have not yet assumed definite and conclusive form. Even when surrounded by all material comforts that engage the attention of man, there are moments in which the workings of his mind do not stop with them but go on sounding into the mysteries of the universe and bring back with them the stray experiences which they have acquired. Only such stray and unsettled thoughts are found in the oldest writings of the Western nations. Even the later writers and renowned philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle have not left us any decisive and perfect form of their thought work. But with the intellectual savants of India the matter was otherwise. Long, long before the dawn of real historic period they had thought out and solved to their extreme satisfaction all the important problems of metaphysics and brought them into an orderly and systematic whole. They never placed us in suspense and uncertainty as to their exact opinion of a particular system of thought. You will be pleased to hear this marked difference between the East and the West expressed by a veteran European scholar who spent his whole lifetime in studying the monumental works of the two countries and did greater service to the two than anybody else, by bringing them to a better understanding of each other and to a mutual appreciation of their merits. I allude to the late Professor Max Muller, who in his great last work - The six systems of Indian Philosophy-dwelling on the subject I have just dealt with, writes that "The mere tenets of each of the six systems of Indian Philosophy are by this time well-known, or easily accessible, I should say, than even those of the leading Philosophers of Greece or of modern Europe. Every one of the opinions at which the originators of the six principal schools of Indian Philosophy arrived has been handed down to us in the form of short aphorisms or sutras, so as to leave but little room for uncertainty as to the exact position which each of these philosophers occupied on the great battle field of thought. We know what an enormous amount of labour had to be spent and is still being spent in order to ascertain the exact views of Plato and Aristotle, nay, even of Kant and Hegel on some of the most important questions of their systems of philosophy. There are even living philosophers whose words often leave us in doubt as to what they mean, whether they are materialists or idealists, monists or dualists, theists or atheists. Hindu philosophers seldom leave us in doubt on such important points, and they certainly never shrink from the consequences of their theories."

    Here, while I agree with this view of Prof. Max Muller, it seems to me from the tone in which he spoke that he meant as if the philosophers of the West had consciously concealed their definite opinions on the ultimate problems of the universe, for fear of losing their life if they were made public. If that were his idea, I most respectfully differ from him. From what has been said in the preceding portion of this lecture, it will be clear to you that the ancient philosophers of the west had left behind them their indefinite and inconclusive fragments of thought, not on account of their final truths and of consequent lack of self-reliance. In as much as they had just begun to reflect upon the inner life of the universe only after coming into contact with the East and imbued with the tenor of its thought, and as they had not before any such heritage of thought all of their own to guide them into the tangled maze of the wild spiritual region into which they now entered with firm and independent footsteps, they returned from their bold excursions with what they had gleaned and left them to posterity with a real sincerity of purpose and with great expectations of the future.

    Yet to bring this fact into still clearer light, I shall proceed to compare the oldest condition of the Western thought with that of the Eastern. Opening the History of Philosophy by Dr. Windleband, you will find it stated at the very beginning of the introductory chapter that "If by science we understand that independent and self-conscious work of intelligence which seeks knowledge methodically for its own sake, then it is among the Greeks, and the Greeks of the sixth century B.C that we first find such a science, - aside from some tendencies among the peoples of the Orient, those of China and India particularly, only recently disclosed." Leaving out of consideration other points mentioned in these lines, we come to know the most important truth that the Greeks had no science of thought prior to the sixth century before the Christian Era. I call your special attention to the sixth century before the Christian Era - the sixth century when the efforts of the Greeks had just commenced to strike root into the fertile soil of intellect, here, in India., Bhghavan Gautama Buddha was preaching his finished moral religion to the masses, here the different lines of philosophic activity which had been steadily developing some hundred centuries before Christ, now, converged to the vertical point of crowning success in the ideal religion of Buddha, here the renowned six systems of philosophy Sankhya and Yoga, Nyaya and Viseshika, Mimamsa and Vedanta now assumed definite and systematic shape. While this sixth century before the Christian Era marks the daybreak of Greek philosophy, it was already the brightest noon in which the Indian intellect shone forth in all its splendour and glory.

    After seeing this remarkable difference in the degree of intellectual development of the two nations, after seeing the early and continual blending of these two from the remotest past, does it not follow as a necessary conclusion that the Western thought was to an unlimited extent influenced by the intellect of the East? Does it not follow that the account that Pythagoras the profound Greek philosopher was much influenced by Eastern ideas, is a veritable truth? Some would say that Pythagoras borrowed all his learning from the ancient Hindu Philosophers. But in agreement with the arguments of Prof. Max Muller set forth against such an assumption, it is my opinion that so great a thinker as Pythagoras did not borrow his ideas from the Hindu ages but that he was to a marvellous extent influenced by their characteristic lines of thought. If this also is denied, then from where did he learn 'the doctrine of the transmigration of souls and the doctrine of final beatitude? From where did he learn ' his ascetic observances and prohibition to eat flesh and beans'? And from where did he acquire the knowledge of the elementary principles of Geometry except from the ancient Sulva Sutras, his notion of the virtues of numbers and his idea of the five elements except from the Sankhya philosophy of Kapila? Is it not strange that these ideas which bear the stamp of the great intellectual achievements of enlightened and by-gone ages and which are quite foreign to the whole region of Western thought took their rise in the Greek soil at the very dawn of human introspection?

    For many hundred years before the sixth century B.C. Sages of India had been interesting themselves in the discussions of profound psychic and philosophic problems as is manifest from the dialogues in the Kena, Chhandogya, Brihad Aranyaka, Svetasvatara,, Kaushitaki and other upanishads; whereas, in the West, preceding centuries had been a perfect dark blank from which not even a glimpse of thought was forthcoming. And in the subsequent epochs too, nothing as a systematised whole appeared in the west whihc would bear comparison with the works of Tiruvalluvar and Nakkirar, Nilakanta and Sankara. All through the ancient periods of the west, the one thing which stands in strong relief is the knowledge which they possessed of the physical world. "That in very early times kings and nobles and sages in India should" says Prof. Max Muller "have been absorbed in philosophical questions seems no doubt strange to us, because the energies of the people of Europe, as far back as we know anything about them, have always been divided between practical and intellectual pursuits the former in ancient times, considerably preponderating over the latter." Does not this just declaration of an European scholar receive it corroboration in the accounts given by the Greek ambassador who came to India in the fourth century B.C. "They live," writes Megasthenes speaking of the ancient Indian Sages, "in a simple style, and lie on beds of rushes or skins. They abstain from animal food and sexual pleasures, and spend their time in listening to serious discourse and in imparting their knowledge to such as will listen to them." These overwhelming evidence obtained both from internal and external sources establish, beyond all doubt, that the intellectual development of the East had attained its zenith many centuries prior to the appearance of western thought, that, as these two nations had mingled together from the remotest past, the one received the influence of the other and that Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other succeeding thinkers of the west were greatly indebted to the Sages of India, for the spiritual knowledge they had acquired, though not borrowed, from them.

    Now coming to consider the third and the last point the moral and religious life of the two nations. Although in all countries the social relations in which the primitive people had stood to each other necessitated the outgrowth of moral principles quite independently of religious considerations, yet in the succeeding periods of human history we find them associated with religion. This association has, in later days, become such an intimate one that the moral ideas have come to be viewed upon as part and parcel of religion. It seems to me that this intimate union of the two had been very effective in so far as it tended to bring the emotional and practical sides of human mind into harmony. But for this salutary union, the adherents of ancient religions would have gone astray and brought about many evil and wicked results on the subsequent generations. All the religious people think it their incumbent duty to lead a virtuous life and to guide their fellow beings into just and honest ways.

    When studied in the light of Indian philosophy, this combination of religious and moral principles becomes all the more necessary for the amelioration of mankind; but when it is studied from the standpoint of Western thought the separation between them becomes wider and wider till the degradation of humanity is complete.

    The moral ideas that merge in a religion become one with it in significance and colour. The more bright the religion, the more bright do its morals become and the more dull the one the more dull the others too become. Take, for instance, that a peculiar religion teaches that those who do not believe in its dogmas should be put to death, for their lives are useless and they can never attain to salvation according to its own standpoint. Well, what do you think about the moral conception of its votaries? Probably, to slay the unbelievers would be their high moral conception. And I believe they would not hesitate to accomplish their object, if opportunity favours them and nothing stands in their way. Now, is not that religion responsible for their inhuman action which is justified by that starting religious teaching?

    Again, suppose that another religion inculcates the worship of one particular god but prohibits not either of drinking or killing animals and eating the flesh thereof. What would be the standard of morality in the eyes of its followers? Of course, there would be bloodshed of poor and innocent animals and Bacchanalian revels of wine and whisky which present a sight at once loathsome and nauseous by the side of which pretended worship of that particular deity and church-going-policy observed with diligent punctuality. This mode of conduct will be deemed by them as a high moral principle.

    Seeing, therefore, that the moral ideas depend for their refinement on the virtue and dignity of their religious dogmas, Mr. Gorham observes that 'It is, in fact, clear that only as religion is purified and uplifted by ethical impulses does it become a civilising force."

    Well, let us see whether the Western religions have in them that high moral tone which is necessary for the guidance of their adherents. As is seen from the preliminary portion of this lecture, even in the dim past ages it was the Western that had brought into India wine and other intoxicating liquors, as is the custom nowadays. We do not find in the whole range of old occidental literature a single allusion either to the vegetarian diet or to the prohibition of animal slaughter.

    Whether of man or of animals killing is always associated with a cruel heart. It is inconceivable how kindly feelings can exist by the side of cruel and selfish thoughts intent upon slaying innocent animals in order to gorge their flesh. It is inconceivable how this unbridled running after the gratification of unusual desires and animal appetites can lead to the purification of the tainted Souls. It is further inconceivable how the religion whose object it is to lift up the soul from the clammy quagmire of passions and rank ignorance, can itself sink it into intoxication and butchery. There is not a single religion in Europe which enforces the repression of animal desires or prohibits flesh-eating and killing. Accustomed to actions of an apathetic character, to feelings tutored to survey the whole animal kingdom from a selfish point of view, to pleasures derived from low and degraded type of carnal sources, people of Europe could not be brought to refrain themselves from terrible revenge and bloody battles which have set their mark upon that country in fifteen centuries of blood and fire.

    You, now, clearly see that the practical experiences of the western people are not much better than their theoretical principles of religion. It is not my purpose here to disapprove at one clean sweep even of the meritorious items of moral instructions conveyed in the sacred scriptures of Christianity. From a comparative study of the older and later days literatures on Religion, I am forced into the conviction that the purer atmosphere by which the grand personality of Jesus Christ found itself surrounded, was much impregnated with the genial influence of the Indian sages. It has been already pointed out to you that the Pythagorean system of philosophy which had begun to enlighten the understandings of the Westerns, long before the birth of Christ, received its light from the oriental seat of learning and civilisation, It is, therefore, no wonder that the religion of Christ is found impressed with the moral ideas of our saints and sages. Yet, in spite of so much influence exercised by the Eastern people over the minds of the Western through the personal means of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Christ and others, the pure self-interest and barbaric actions of the West have still continued to remain deep-rooted in the minds of the main portion of its population.

    Now the purifying process of the tainted souls as enforced by the philosophy and religion of India is based upon supreme kindness of heart and plain innocence of mind. Do thou good to all, never injure even the hair of a Being whether it be man or beast; always keep thou thine intellect perfectly clear and free from all contamination of passions or inebriation. If this serene discipline of mind be strenuously pursued, it will kindle in man the divine spark of love into a resplendent flame of ineffable bliss, and will fuse the unlimited and limited Beings of thouth-power into an intangible luminary of an incomprehensible nature. Because, in the religion and philosophy of India, God is conceived to be infinite Love; he is the infinite embodiment of infinite Love. Uncovering the thick crust accumulated by the degenerating posterity, you will find this highest conception of the supreme Being and the means of its realization gleaming at the bottom of all sacred literature of ancient India. to bring home to your mind this subject of great spiritual consequence, let me quote, here, a saying of saint Tirumular who existed some thousand and three hundred years ago.






    "The ignorant say that Love and God are two things;

    But no one knoweth that Love itself is God,

    After one hath known that Love itself is God,

    He becometh one with Love, one with God."


    Now you see that the blending of the moral and religious principles gains considerable importance when viewed from the oldest teachings of all Hindu Scriptures. The West also, having its mental vision opened to see this important truth common to religion and ethics, approaches nearer and nearer to its full realization.

    Let us hope for the day when the two great nations the Eastern and the Western levelling the predominant characteristics of their lives, will cultivate the fruitful religion of spiritual wisdom.

    Let us ardently await the beneficent stage of thought into which the individual interests of the West will melt, giving rise to equity and brotherhood in its stead.

    Let us earnestly pray for the time in which the thoughtful sons of India awakening from gross materialism into which they are just entering to court fictitious rest, will apply themselves once more to work on the spiritual plane, joining hands with their brethren of the West to equalise their life-movements on such a peaceful and happy ground.








Saturday, July 24, 2010



Pandit R. S. Vedachalam Pillai

    The philosophy or Theism has assumed different forms of argument in the different systems of philosophy and in the different kinds of religion, from the crudest of the primitive race to the refined type of the twentieth century men. Of these varied forms of argument, the one of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy and religion constitutes the subject of this lecture. But before proceeding to consider the argument of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, it is deemed necessary to examine some of the important arguments put forward by other systems of philosophy and religion, and disclose their comparative merit in lifting up the veil that hides from our view the profound question of the existence of the Supreme Being. For, all our knowledge consists in the subtle mental process of comparison and discrimination.

    The belief in the existence of an intelligent Being all powerful arose with the very dawn of human race. The fear of being hurt by venomous reptiles and wild animals, the fear of being subjected to danger and loss of life by the terrible phenomena of Nature: roaring storm, pealing thunder, heavy rain, and scorching heat, the fear of mortal disease that saps up the vital elements of the human body - all tended to implant in the mind of the primitive man an idea of his helpless condition and to seek for help in the forces of Nature that are manifested in its varied phenomena. In this way sprang up the worship of Maruts, Rudras, Indra and Sun and other innumerable Gods. And we find mention made of this polytheistic worship in the oldest Aryan record, Rig Veda.

    "Of one accord, with Indra, O ye Rudra come borne on your golden car for our prosperity."

    An offering from us, this hymn is brought to you, as, unto one who thirsts for water, heavenly springs.

    Armed with your daggers full of wisdom, armed with spears, armed with your quivers, armed with arrows, with good bows.

    Good horses and good cars have ye O Prisni's sons; ye Maruts, with good weapons go to victory (M.V.H 57)

    "Thou art great, O Indra! To thee alone has the Earth and Heaven willingly yielded dominion. When thou hadst struck down Vritra with might, thou lettest loose the streams which the dragon has swallowed. (M. IV)

    'Whatever we have committed against the heavenly host through thoughtlessness, through weakness, through pride, through our human nature, let us be guiltless here, O Savitar, before gods and man." (M. IV)

    These passages taken from the hymns of the 5th and 4th mandalas of the Rig Veda will be quite sufficient to show the polytheistic worship paid by the early ancestors of our Aryan brethren.

    But gradually with the advance of civilisation and the introspective attitude of mind, men of subsequent epochs began to feel the existence of an underlying force which gives life and light to all the different phenomena of Nature. The development of men's inner though aims at discovering the law of unity behind the various objects of the universe. All the different experimental Sciences of Modern times minimise the disagreements among substances and educe from them the law of unity. So long as there exists a want of recognition of this Supreme law the progress of human thought, the progress of Social happiness is retarded,

    Now, by one class of thinkers the prevalence of this belief in a Supernatural Being is attested as a proof of its existence. But, whatsoever may have been the merit of this belief which is, of course, shared by all human beings all over the world, still it cannot be admitted by rational thinkers until its validity is tested by stringent logical methods. The belief of a single nation or all the nations together assumed at random without the slightest tinge of reason will not affect the intellectual build of a sane thinker. On such a high pinnacle of reason is he placed that the weak nestling of belief is unable to reach him. If this proof is presented to his consideration, he at once traces it to the mingled feelings of terror and awe experienced by the primitive man as a result of his ignorance to recognise the relation in which he stands to the outer world and the power with which he is endowed to control things of Nature and make them subservient to his purpose. Thus, the traced-out belief embraced eagerly by the primitive man as a consolation of his helpless condition, has not the least claim over the thoughtful minds of the present generation.

    Leaving then this form of argument behind us, we may go forth to take up another of a more important kind.

    This is the design argument. This is put forward by another class of thinkers to prove the existence of God from the various intelligent designs exhibited in the arrangements of Natural products. They argue that when a magnificent building furnished with splendid furniture, is seen in a uninhabited island, it will clearly indicate the hand of an architect who made it there, although it were then impossible to find out who that architect was or why he made it there. Just so, this wonderful universe, with its sex difference, its growth and decay, its proportionate combination of such fundamental elements as fire, air, and water, its careful adjustment of different order of things to produce a desired result, its centrifugal and centripetal forces that keep the planets constantly moving in their undeviated heavenly paths, - all testify to the existence of a mighty intelligent power that subsists within it.

    Though this form of argument has an air of conviction in itself, yet its correctness of reasoning is not unquestionable. This is based upon pure analogy. Why that which is found in the analogy should be applicable as well to that which is to be proved, is not at all inquired into. The most important link that connects the premises with the conclusion is missing in this argument. What necessity is there that the same law observed in the analogy must be found also in the proposition? Further, everybody has seen an architect constructing a building and knows that, without his aid, no mansion can be reared up. In like manner, did anybody see God at the time when he was creating this vast and wonderful universe? Or, can it be said that the finite knowledge of an architect will bear resemblance to the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Being? Or does God require instruments with which to create this world, just as an architect stands in extreme need of them? If it be urged that the instrumental cause is absolutely necessary in the production of effects, then it may be asked what kind of instruments was used by God in originating this universe? As natural products present difficulties to a proper execution of his work, the architect seeks for suitable instruments to overcome them. If as the Almighty, too the same difficulties to overcome? These and similar objections do come in our way to accept the design argument as based upon pure analogy.

    Again there are others who assert that God is not a subject to be inferred from the manifestations of cosmos, but an intelligent principle of unity which underlies all that is tangible, all that is heard and seen, all that is smelled and tested, and all that is thought and felt. And this underlying principle alone is essentially real and all except this are illusory and have no real existence of their own. The seen material world and the numberless lives that are found in it, are vivified by this supreme vital principle. All matter and mind are pure reflections of this one reality. But for this Brahman, there can come nothing into manifestation and therefore it is that the sacred Upanishads declare "Ekam Evadvitiyam Brahma" that Brahman is one only without a second. The other finite Beings and matter are mere nothings.

    How this argument of the extreme idealists can be reconciled with the formulations of physical science does not seem to have been proved with the least pretence of reason. How it is possible for us to arrive at this stupendous conclusions of belief in an ideal reality ignoring the fundamental knowledge we derive from sense perceptions, has not been tested and proved by them. How matter the receptacle and transmitter of Divine force, how souls that imbibe this force through matter can be thought of as illusory is not at all a fact imaginable. Mind and Matter are quite inseparably bound up; and for the evolution of the one the other is immensely important. Whether apart from the body the undeveloped soul can exist and evolve of itself, nobody has shown, nor any form of argument will, we believe, lead us to such an assumption. Though the susceptibility to the impressions produced by Matter is inherent in the Soul yet it cannot develop of itself that power without coming into closest relation with the non-intelligent Nature. That spark of intelligence lies latent in it awaiting the contact of Nature to be kindled into an ethereal flame. Of course, it is true that when the Soul has attained a certain stage in which the splendour of its intelligence will have grown up into perfection, it does stand independently of matter requiring its assistance no longer. But this will not prove that matter is illusory.

    Possibly it may be objected that just as one vibrant energy when it affects two different organs, produces two different sensations as sight and hearing, so the one universal force in its widely different functions splits up into mind and matter, while essentially there is little difference between them. But this law of one vibrant energy affecting two different organs cannot be applied to the variety of distinct forces that are proved by physical science to exist in the universe beyond the pale of doubt. Is it reasonable to think that one unlimited intelligent force vibrated in two different directions in two entirely different manners one crystallising into dead matter and another into a limited intelligent Being? If it were so what is there to prove it?

    Further, what is force? Is it a substance in itself or one which is inseparable from it? So far as our experience and knowledge go, Force cannot be said to have a separate existence from substance. Whenever there is substance, there is force, and wherever there is force there is substance either visible or invisible, mental or material. If we want to accurately determine the nature and amount of forces, we cannot do it but with a study of the relation of substances from which they emanate and into which they go. The speed of a long Railway train will clearly indicate the exact amount of steam-force generated by the engine. Though the steam-force is present everywhere in the universe in a latent form yet it does not appear until the relationship of the substances in which it inheres comes into actual play. From this it will be manifest that Force and Substance are not two distinct things but one that is identical with the other. And to understand the nature of the one a study of the other is highly indispensable. Therefore it seems to me extremely absurd to say that every substance in this world can be reduced to mere force, and in the end there will exist nothing but one single force.

    Moreover one only force cannot send forth different vibrations conflicting within each other; one kind of force will always vibrate in one definite manner. The sparkling diamond, the melodious harp, the blown-out rose, the ripe olive, the glossy silk-all send forth different vibrations that affect us in different manners. One sort of vibration is never seen to have been produced by a substance of another sort. And while we are actually seeing before us different kinds of vibrations that are being thrown out by substance widely differing among themselves, how dares the idealist to assert that all these various substances are the outcome of one principal source and that they will in the long run be reduced to that same undifferentiated principle of a single force.

    Seeing therefore, the inconsistency of the argument brought forward by the idealistic school of thinkers, we are quite justified in saying that this vast and wonderful universe is not, as they assert, a sheer nothing but a tangible reality, and that, because they identity the intangible, invisible and intelligent Supreme Self which pervades this universe with the tangible, visible and non-intelligent universe, they do not rise up higher than the Materialists who declare that there exists nothing beyond this dead matter. And the theistic position which they uphold is not much better than the atheistic one upheld by the materialistic class of thinkers.

    Now coming to consider the aspect which the theistic argument has assumed in the philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta, I find it there discussed from two points of view. They are the cosmical and the Ideal.

    To take up first the cosmical point of view. The law of vital activity in the cosmos is, in spite of all reasoning to the contrary, making itself felt in all minds with an ever-flowing continuity. All animate and inanimate things are being quickened by this indwelling creative elements. And by this are manifested unlimited power and intelligence in the interrelation of natural objects so wisely and beautifully fitted up and arranged that a thoughtful mind in its serene moments cannot but feel its presence.

    Here, we are not forgetful of the Atomic theory of the Vaiseshikas who explain away creation by an ultimate coherence of atoms, and the variety of arrangements they attribute to the selective power which is an inborn quality of these atoms. Whether this selective power is intelligent or non-intelligent they have not stated clearly.    

    If it be an intelligent action on the part of atoms to stick together and produce this world of manifold difference, then we must find uniform intelligence in the organic as well as in the inorganic substances. Why at all is there so much variation in the degree of intelligence manifested in them? If each individual atom possesses a degree of intellectual power as a quality of its own, then each and every aggregate body should, as a matter of course, evince a proportionate amount of intelligent force, whereas such is not seen in the case of a dead body. What is the difference between a dead body and a living frame? The same constitutional arrangement in the two but with a lack of vitality in the former. If you say that in the dead body, the destructive action of a different kind of atoms has set in and upset the harmony of vital parts, then I would ask, while in the living frame constructive atoms are constantly moving on with a wonderful unity of intelligence, what let into it the destructive current of an opposite character? Oh! It is a mystery you say! But no, it is a deep-hidden Life of marvellous power that is ever at work in composing and decomposing this vehicle of mortal clay to suit the development of finite Beings. - Oriental Mystic Myna.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Personality of God According to

Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy



    It will be interesting to note that it was about 12 years ago we brought out our first work in English on the Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy from Tirupattur, and we have continued to work hard at it ever since, and our translations of Sivagnanabodham, Sivagnanasiddhiar, Tiruvarutpayan, along with our contributions to the Siddhanta Deepika, during the last ten years, and Dr. G. U. Pope's Tiruvachakam form the only bibliography on the subject in English. And we are glad to note that, within the last few years, considerable interest in the subject has been awakened, and several European missionaries have made a special study of the subject, and have discussed if before missionary societies and in the public press. We quote the latest opinion from the Christian College Magazine Vol. XX, 9, from the pen of Rev. W. Goudie.

    "There is no school of thought and no system of faith or worship that comes to us with anything like the claims of the Saiva Siddhanta."

    "This system possesses the merits of great antiquity. In the religious world, the Saiva system is heir to all that is most ancient in South India; it is a religion of the Tamil people, by the side of which every other form is of comparatively foreign origin."

    "In the largeness of its following, as well as in regard to the antiquity of some of its elements, the Saiva Siddhanta is, beyond any other form, the religion of the Tamil people and ought to be studied by all Tamil missionaries."

    "We have, however, left the greatest distinction of this system till the last. As a system of religious thought, as an expression of faith and life, the Saiva Siddhanta is by far the best that South India possesses. Indeed, it would not be rash to include the whole of India, and to maintain that, judged by its intrinsic merits, the Saiva Siddhanta represents the high water mark of Indian thought and Indian life, apart, of course, from the influence of Christian Evangel."

    And we had remarked in our introduction to 'Tiruvarutpayan or 'Light of Grace:' "And there can be no doubt that we have in these works the brightest and largest gems picked out from the diamond mines of the Sanskrit Vedantic works, washed and polished and arranged in the most beautiful and symmetrical way in the diadem of Indian thought."

    Through want of active propaganda, by means of lectures and conferences, the subject is not properly brought to the notice of the English-educated public, and appreciated by them, as it deserves to be; and we are therefore much obliged to the editor for being allowed to contribute a paper on the subject.

    Despite the opinion of a few European and Indian scholars, who would trace Saiva Siddhanta to a purely South Indian source, we have all along been holding that Saiva Siddhanta is nothing but the ancient Hinduism in its purest and noblest aspects; and it is not a new religion nor a new philosophy, and it can be traced from the earliest Vedas and Upanishads. We do not hear of any one introducing Saivism at any time into India, and the majority of Hindus have remained Saivites from before the days of the Mahabharata.

    The ideal of the Highest God has, from the beginning, been centred round the person of Rudra or Siva, and in the Rig Veda we find Him described as the "Lord of Sacrifices and Prayers," and we find this maintained, in the days of Valmiki, when beliefs in other deities were slowly gaining ground.

    Consistently with this position in the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda declares that; "There is only one Rudra, They don't allow a second." 'Eka-eva-Rudro Nadvitiyaya thasteh,' (ptkanda 8.6.10). "He who is one is called Rudra," "Ya Eko Rudra Uchyati." And St. Tirumular declares accordingly "ஒன்றவன்றானே," "தான் என்னும் சித்தாந்தம்." "God is only one." "Siddhanta declares there is God alone without a second."

    The first mantra, it will be noted, is not so well known as the mantra "Ekamevadvitiyam Brahma," occurring in an Upanishad of the Sama Veda; and Max Muller has shown that the use of such words as Rudra, Hara, Siva, to denote the Highest God is much more earlier than the use of such words as 'Brahman', 'Atman and 'Paramatman'; and in fact, these words do not occur in the Rig Veda at all to denote the Highest God. And we may also point out that the word 'Nadavitiyam' occuring in the Yajur Veda is certainly a more ancient and original form of the word than 'advitiyam,' which has been obtained by the elision of the letter 'n'.

    And St. Meikandan comments on this mantra in the following verse:-

ஒன்றேபதி, பசுவாம்

    ஒன்றென்றநீ பாசத்தோடு ளைகாண் - ஒன்றின்றால்

    அக்கரங்களின்றாம் அகரவுயிரிந்தேல்

    இக்கிரமத்தென்னும் இருக்கு."


    "The Vedic text means there is only one Supreme Being without a second. And this one is the Lord. You who say 'there is one', is the Pasu bound up in Pasa. The word 'second-less' means that, beside God, nothing else will exist, as when we say that there will be no other letters (consonants) when the vowel is not."

    No consonant sounds can possibly be formed unless the vowel sound is uttered at the same time; and this will justify us in stating that vowel is alone, without a second; and yet the vowel is not the consonant nor the consonant the vowel. When we utter the consonant sound (மெய் எழுத்து
உடல் எழுத்து
) the vowel and consonant is linked in a peculiar, inseparable and eternal manner. This is the link or relation between our own human body and the mind (உடல் or மெய் and உயிர்). And from anology we say there is a similar link between God and the world (including souls). And this link relation is called in the Saiva Siddhanta 'the advaita and the philosophy postulating this peculiar link between God and man is called the 'Advaita Siddhanta philosophy.'

    But how does the One link himself to the many, and become the many, and divide himself among the many as it were, St. Tirumular postulates ஒன்றவன்றனே இரண்டு அவன் இன்னருள்." This division of Him is brought about, because He is also Grace of Love. His second is His Sakti. He is one with His Sakti or Love.


    அன்பே சிவமாவதாரு மறிந்திலார்

    அன்பேசிவமாவ தாருமறிந்தபின்

    அன்பேசிவமா யமர்ந்திருந்தாரே.


    "The ignorant say Love and God are different.

    None know that Love and God is the same.

    When they know that Love, and God is the same,

    They rest in God as Love."


    And accordingly, also, St. Maikandar postulates his second Sutra, in which he declares that God is one and different from the world and souls, as He is one with His Agna-Sakti, which is all Power, all Intelligence, and all Will and all Love. And in the last argument he shows that as God is Pure Intelligence, this oneness or union with the world or omnipresence is possible. If He was not intelligent, but material or Jadam, this cannot be possible.

    As such, Sivagnanabotham contains the shortest definition of God as Siva-Sat or Chit-Sat or Sat-Chit. Sat denotes God as pure Being in which aspect He can never reach us; Chit or Arul or Love denotes His aspect in which he can reach us and we can know him. Sat is the Sun, which we can never comprehend. Chit is the Light, one ray of which is enough to remove our darkness and enlighten us; and but for which one ray of light, we can never know the Sun.

    All other conceptions of God follow from this essential definition of God as 'Sat Chit' and, if true, must conform to it. If not, they must be rejected as false.

    From the fact that He is intelligent, it follows also that God can will and act.


    உய்த்திடுமிச்சைசெய்தி யிவை ஞானத்துளவோவென்னின்

    எத்திரஞானமுள்ள தத்திறமிச்சைசெய்தி,

    வைத்தலான் மறைப்பின்ஞானான் மருவிடுங்கிரியையெல்லாம்.


    "The form of this Sakti is umlimited Intelligence.

    If asked whether supreme Will and power are aslo found in this Intelligence,    

    We answer yes. Wherever there is intelligence there is will and power.

    As such Power and Will will also be manifested by this Chit Sakti."

    And He wills to create the worlds and creates them, and resolves them, and reproduces them again and again. He could not do this purposelessly or out of His mere whim and pleasure; and, as we know, He is all love, He could do it only out of such love, to help to lift up the erring and ignorant souls, by giving them their bodies and senses, so that they themselves may will and act, and taste the bitter fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and be chastened and purified by suffering and sorrow, and learn to submit their will to the will of the supreme.

    And Kalidasa in his Kumara Sambava declares:-

        "No selfish want e'er prompts a deed of mine:

        Do not the forms - eight varied forms - I wear

        The truth of this to all world declare."

    And these eight forms he mentions in his invocation in Sakuntalam.


        Isa' preserve you! He who is revealed,

        In these eight forms by man perceptible-

        Water of all creation's works the first;

        The fire that bears on high the Sacrifice,

        Presented with solemnity to Heaven;

        The priest the holy offerer of Gifts;

        The Sun and Moon those two majestic orbs,

        Eternal Marshallers of day and night.

        The Subtle Ether, vehicle of sound,

        Diffused throughout the boundless universe,

        The earth, by sages called the place of birth,

        Of all material esssences and things,

        And air which giveth life to all that breathe."


    St. Appar has the following verse:-


        இயமானனா யெறியுங் காற்றுமாகி

        அருநிலைய திங்களாய்நாயிறாகி

        ஆகாசமாயட்ட மூர்த்தியாகிப்

        பெருநலமுங்குற்றமும் பெண்ணுமாணும்

        பிறருருவும்தம்முருவும் தாமேயாகி

        நெருநலையாயின்றாகி நாளையாகி

        நிமிர்புன்சடையடிதன் நின்றவாறே.


    "As Earth, Fire, Air and Ejaman (of sacrifice), as Moon, the Sun and Akas, as Ashtamurthi, as goodness and evil, as male and female, himself, the form of every form, as yesterday and to-day and to-morrow, my Lord with the braided hair stands supreme."

    St. Manickavachaka has the following verse:-


        புலனாயமைந்த்னோடு எண்வகையாய்ப் புணர்ந்துநின்றான்

        உலகேழெனத்திசை பத்தெனத்தானொருவனுமே

        பலவாகிநின்றவாதோ ணோக்கமாடாமோ.


        Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Sky, the Sun and Moon,

        The sentient man, these eight forms, He pervades

        The seven worlds, Ten quarters, He the One

        And Many, He stands so, let us sing.


    He pervades these eight forms; they form His eight bodies and hence Siva is called Ashtamurti. By this is established His antaryamitvam or Omnipresence, or Immanence in all nature, as He is Chit. But he is beyond all these forms and beyond all nature and man.

    The famous passage in the 7th Brahmana of the 3rd chapter in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad deals with God being immanent in nature and in man.

    Beginning with the verse, 'yasya prithivi sareera, &c.* * He who dwells in the earth, and within or different from the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body (sarira) the earth is, and who rules the earth within, He is thy Atma, the ruler within, the immortal," and giving similar statements regarding water, air, fire, &c.* * it ends with "He who dwells in Vignana (soul) and within or different from Vignana, whom Vignana does not know, whose body Vignana is, who rules Vignana within, He is thy Atma, the ruler within, immortal.

    That God is different from all nature and man is further brought out by the famous 'Neti, Neti' verse of this same Upanishad (3-9-26) which Paranjoti Munivar translates and expands in the following lines:-

அல்லையீதல்லை யீதெனயன்மைச் சொல்லினாற்றுதித்தி ளைக்குமிச்சுந்திரன்,

    பூதங்கள் அல்ல பொறியல்லவேறு புலனல்லஉள்ளமதியின்

    பேதங்கள் அல்ல லிவையன்றிநின்ற பிறிதல்லவென்றுபெருநூல்

    வேதங்கிடந்த தடுமாற வஞ்சவெளியென்பகூடன்மறுகிற்

    பாதங்கணோவவளை யிந்த னாதிபகர்வாரையாயுமவரே


    "'God Sundara who is described as 'not this, not this,"

    "The sages declare, He is not the five elements, not the senses

    nor sensations, nor the andakaranas, nor the soul;

    He is the deceitful 'nothing' which the Vedas fail to discover."


    The Supreme is adored as the Creator, Hara: as protector, Samkara; as destroyer, or producer, Rudra; and as Bliss-giver, Siva. God is called (எண்குணத்தான்) as possessing eight attributes and they are as follow:- Self-dependence, Purity, Self-knowledge, Omniscience being ever free from Sin, Supreme Graciousness, unlimited Bliss.

    Then follow questions whether God should be said to possess form or no form, whether He should be regarded as Saguna or Nirguna Personal or Impersonal, and so on.

    In regard to the question of form or no form, the Siddhanta is positive that God is neither Rupi nor Arupi nor Ruparupi. "சிவன் அருவுருவுமல்லன் சித்தினோட சித்துமல்லன்" "God is neither Rupa nor Arupa, neither soul nor matter." It recognises that all Rupa and Arupa are forms only of matter which is objective to our senses, and God can never be objective to us, and cannot possess any of these material forms or bodies. The nature of matter is to limit and God is the illimitable and can never be found by any material forms. Some would say God is Arupi, not realizing that matter is also formless as air, and nothing is gained by calling Him Arupi. The fact to be clearly borne in mind is that God cannot be objective to us, and possess material form.

    But if it is pointed out that Saiva Siddhanta religion recognises forms of God and His appearances and acts, it is answered that these forms of His are not materials but are purely spiritual forms formed of His great love and grace, and to be perceived not by the human mind but with the divine grace, "அவன் அருளாலே அவன்றாள் வணங்கி" St. Arulnanthi says:-


    வருமேனி யதுவுங் கண்டோ மருவுரு வானபோது

    திருமேனி யுபயம் பெற்றோம் செப்பிய மூன்றுந்ந்தம்

    கருமேனி கழிக்கவந்த கருவினையின் வடிவுகாணே.


"All these forms of His are assumed out of His supreme grace for destroying our evil bodies." And how this is possible is shown in the following:-

    "As He does not possess the defect as an object of perception, and as He is possessed of absolute intelligence and power, as He is not possessed of likes and dislikes, the Nirmala God can assume any form out of His grace. And these forms are described in the following verse. His form is Love; His attributes and knowledge are Love. His five functions are Love; His organs like arms, feet &c., and His ornament like the crescent moon, &c., are also Love. These things are assumed by the Nirmala God, not for His own benefit but for the benefit of mankind." With which compare the following verse from the Taitraya Upanishad:-

    "His head is surely Love; joy His right wing; delight His left,

    Bliss is His self, Brahman whereon He rests.


    The following beautiful hymn from St. Appar, and the text from the Manduka Upanishad may also be read:-


    மயானத்தான் வார்சடையான் மாசொன்றில்லான்

    ஒம்புடையனல்லன், ஒருவனல்லன்

    ஓரூரனல்லன் ஒருவனும் யில்லி

    யப்படியான் அவ்வுருவன் அன்வண்ணத்தன்

    அவனருளே கண்ணாரக் காண்பதல்லால்

    இப்படியன் இவ்வுருவன் இவ்வண்ணத்தன்

    இவனிறைவ னென்றெழுதிக் காட்டொணாதே


    "The lord with the braided hair lives in the Kanchi burial ground, with His beautiful Uma with pencilled eyebrows. He has no sin. He is not one of the mortals, and is not to be compared with any of them. He has no place, and is incomparable unless we can with His grace as our eye perceive Him, His form and nature, none can paint Him, in His real form and nature."

    This Atma is not attainable by explanation nor yet yet by mental grasp, nor by hearing many times. By him whom He chooses - by him is He obtained. For him, God His proper form reveals. (Manduka-3,2,3) It is to be noted also that the various forms in the temple are mere earthly symbols, necessary in our view for the ordinary human mind to grasp and follow the divine ideals, until the soul has advanced to a very high stage indeed. A missionary friend of ours wrote to say that as regards the use of symbolism, he found it necessary for the educated people, but as regards its salutary effect on the illiterate people, he felt not convinced. This opinion will be found opposed to the common current of opinion on the subject, but yet it is true, in so far as it postulates the necessity of the use of symbols even as regards highly educated people.

    And we regard the various conceptions of God, as He, she and it, as also conceptions derived from material forms, and as such not appertaining to His real essence, but the forms are necessary for our own easy conception of God:

    "பெண்ணாணலியாகிப் பிறங்கொலிசேர், மண்ணாகி விண்ணாகி யித்தரையின் பெண்ணாணலியெனும் பெற்றியன் போற்றி"

    "He is male, female and neuter, earth and heaven and none of these."

    "Praise be to Him who is female and male and neuter."

    Further, the words Saguna and Nirguna are usually translated as personal and impersonal and we have often pointed out how vaguely and loosely these words are used, and protested against translation. We will first consider the words Saguna and Nirguna. It literally means "with guna," and "without guna." One school of people would interpret it as meaning 'with good qualities,' and 'without bad qualities,' and that is absurd is seen from the fact that the two words are made to mean the same thing. The word 'Guna', however, does not mean any good or bad quality, but is a technical word as used by the Sankhya and Vedanta schools and as occurring in the Upanishads, Gita, etc. It means the three gunas, Satva, Rajas, Tamas, the qualities of Prakriti or Pradhana or matter; and as such the words would mean 'with material
qualities' or 'without material qualities.' St. Tirumular uses the phrase
முக்குணம் நிற்குணம்
mukkuna-nirgunam,' so that no mistake may be made of the word Nirgunam itself.


    வாய்த்த விராசத மன்னுங்கனவென

    ஒய்த்திடும் தாமத முற்ற சுழுத்தியாம்

    மாய்த்திடும் நிர்க்குண மாசில் துரியமே.


    So also the Gita speaks of 'Thraigunyo Nirgunaha,' and it stands to reason that God cannot be 'Saguna,' clothed in matter or material qualities, and must be therefore non-material, Nirguna. The Supreme God is, therefore, described in the Upanishads and Gita and Sivagnanabotham as Nirguna and not as Saguna, as in the following passages:-

    This one God is hid in every bhuta pervading all, the inner Atma of every atma, Inspector of all deeds (spectator) in whom everything dwells (supporter), the witness, the pure Intelligence and Nirguna Being; the Iswara of Iswaras, the Maheswara, the God Supreme of Gods, the king of kings, the supreme of supreme, the 'Isa' of the universe. (Sveta) 'Beginningless, Nirguna, Paramatmam, Imperishable, though seated in the body, O Kaunteya worketh nor is soiled (Gita 13-31) - Note Ramanujah explains Nirguna as destitute of satva and other qualities.

    "Will not the Lord, who is Nirguna, Nirmala, Eternal Happiness, Tatparam (transcending all things) and beyond comparison and appears to the soul when it gets rid of its tatvas such as akas etc. Will not He apper as a far transcending wonder and an inseparable light of its understanding." (Sivagnanabotham ix.2.a) But certain deities are stated to be Saguna, as being clothed with pure Satva or Rajas or Tamasa, and they should not be confounded with the Turiya murti or the Fourth, the chaturtha, the supreme Brahman; these Saguna beings are merely very high powers and possessing still material bodies.

    "Shantam shivam advaitam chaturtham" Ramatapini up.

    The word Nirguna is the same as the word 'gunatita, 'beyond guna or matter.' The word, therefore implies non material and therefore pure chit. Christian missionaries need not, therefore, shy this word, and they should certainly drop the word 'Saguna, which technically means material. From the passage quoted above, especially from the verse from Sivagnanabotham, it will be seen that God is called 'Nirguna.' Intelligence and Rationality and Consciousness, not denied to Him. This is made further clear in the following verses from St. Maikandan and St. Tirumular.


    போகமாய் தான்விளைந்த பொற்பினான் - ஏகமாய்

    உள்ளத்தின் கண்ணானான் உள்குவா ருள்கிற்றை

    உள்ளத்தாற் காணேனோ வுற்று.


    "When the soul becoming one with God and feels Him, He becomes the Supreme Bliss as God becomes one with the soul. So understanding Him, will he not know? with the soul what is understood by the soul."




    தானறியான் பின்னை யாரறிவாரே.


    That day I knew my God, the same was not understood by the Gods. The bright effulgence lighting the inside of my soul and body, it is said does not know! Who else can know?

    Of course, it is also said in these works that God 'cannot know' 'உதியாமரியா உணராமறவா'
and it is pointed out by Sivagnana Swamigal in his Dravida Maha Bashya that this only means that God's consciousness is not like the consciousness of the individual man, which is limited, and cannot become conscious unless it forgets, and can only understand in relation (change is essential to consciousness - Bain). This human consciousness is called
God does not possess this limited
His consciousness is what transcends all limitation and all relation and is absolute, as in His Akundakara, there is no distinction of this and that, there is nothing out of Him '
போக்கிலன் வரவிலன்.'

    Coming to the question of God being personal or impersonal, we are not quite sure in what sense our Indian writers use these words, but they mostly take it as meaning Saguna and Nirguna. There is some difference of opinion as regards the connotation of the word among European writers. Some use it as implying individuality and limitation; others use it as not meaning individuality and this is the more prevalent and cultured opinion. We take the following definitions from a vocabulary of Philosophy.

    Person: A being intelligent and free, every spiritual and moral agent, every cause which is in possession of responsibility and consciousness, is a person. In this sense, God considered as a creating cause is a person.

    "The intimate relation of God, as Being, to all His attributes and to all his essence, constitutes the divine personality; which for God is His entire Being. God only exists for Himself, in a manner infinite and absolute. God has relation entirely to Himself; for there is no being out of Him to which he can have relation is altogether internal. The divine consciousness or personality embraces all that is in God, all of which He is the reason. 'Person as applied to Deity, expresses the definite and certain truth that God is a living being, and not a dead material energy.'

    Emerson says that personality signifies true being (Sat) both concrete and spiritual. It alone is original being. It is not limited. It is that universal element that pervades every human soul and which is at once its continent and fount of being. Distinction from others and limitation by them results from individuality. (Ahankara or Anava) not personality (Sat). Personality pertains to the substance of the soul, and individuality to its form. Another Christian writer (Rev. J. Iverach) points out that the absolute and unconditioned Being is Personal is not a contradiction in terms, such as a round square, but that it will be true as when we say a white or crimson square. "When we speak of the absolute, we speak of it as a predicate of pure being; we simply mean that the absolute Personal Being is and must be self-consciousness; rational and ethical, must answer to the idea of spirit. Why may not the absolute Being be self-conscious. To deny this to Him would be to deny to Him one of the perfections which even finite beings can possess."

    St. Meikanda and St. Tirumular had stated the same question long ago, as we had shown. This self-consciousness, இயற்கை யுணர்வின்னாதல், and
as we have shown above, is not to be confounded with the limited கட்டுணர்வு of the soul.

    As it is, personally clearly means Sat and Chit. And neither Saguna nor Nirguna. Personality is opposed to Achit or Jada or irrational matter and relates to the substance. Saguna and Nirguna to the form, either as individual or otherwise - God can never become individualised as man, woman or brute, the limitation of the latter class of beings arising from its union with matter of Guna (Saguna). From this view, impersonal would clearly mean irrational, unintelligent and material, and we don't believe any Indian writer would desire to use this word in relation to the Deity, if they only understood its signification.

    From the statement that God is Nirguna and not Saguna, it follows that God can neither have birth nor death. This is one of the central doctrines of Saiva Siddhanta, and in this respect it differs from all the existing forms of faith, whether Hindu or otherwise, except, perhaps, Muhammadanism and the Unitarian form of Christianity.


    இறப்பிலி யாவர்க்கு மின்ப மருளும்

    துறப்பிலி தன்னைத் தொழுமின் தொழுதால்

    மறப்பிலி மாயா விருத்தமு மாமே.


    The unborn, with the braided hair, supreme grace, the undying, bestowing bliss on all, O thou worship! If worshipped, thy Maya will vanish without doubt.

    Of course, it must stand to reason that our soul itself is neither born nor can it die. What is born or what dies is the material body formed of Maya or Guna. These repeated births and deaths occur on account of the peculiar link subsisting between the soul and matter; and therefore, the souls comprising all Sakalars are called Saguna. The same peculiar link does not subsist between God and matter, and hence, He is Nirguna. So it is. God can neither be born in the womb nor die. This peculiar doctrine of Saiva Siddhanta is what should elevate it to the highest rank of philosophy; and the latest discoveries in science could not shake its foundation.

    One other feature of Saiva Siddhanta, in regard to the Godhead, we will mention, before we close this paper. And that is, that the supreme Brahman of this school called Siva or Sivam is not to be confounded with the Hindu Trinity. God is peculiarly denoted by the words Sivam, Sankara, Sambha, Rudra (he who removes sorrow) as they express the most spiritual nature of God as Love and all beneficent. And that this is no sectarian conception of the Deity and that the God of the Saiva Siddhantis is the universal God of all the nations and all religions is finally brought out by St. Arulnanthi Siva Chariar in his very first verse in Sivagnana Siddhiar.


    குறியது முடைத்தாய் வேதாகமங்களின் குறியிறந்தங்

    கறிவினி லருளான் மன்னியம்மையோ டப்பனாகிச்

    செறிவொழியாது நின்ற சிவனடி சென்னிவைப்பாம்.


    Let me place on my head, the feet of Siva who stands as the goal of each of the six forms of religion, and who stands in the various forms conceived of by the various internal schools of Siva faith, and yet stands beyond the conception of all Vedas and Agamas, and fills all intelligences with His love, and becomes my Heavenly Father and Mother and fills one and all inseparably.

    To sum up, according to true Vedanta Siddhanta Philosophy, God is Sat Chit, Ananda, not material nor enveloped in matter, Nirguna and Personal, ever blissful and all Love and all His acts such as creation &c., are prompted by such Love. He is neither He, she or it, nor has He any material Rupa or Aruoa, and He can reveal His grace and majesty to those who love Him. He cannot be born nor can He die and as such, indeed, He is the Pure and Absolute and Infinite Being able to lift up humanity wallowing in the bonds of male, maya, and karma. To know Him as our true Heavenly Father and Mother and love Him as such is the only panacea for all the evils of erring mankind. - The New Reformer.