RAMNAD RAJA'S LECTURE ON SIVAM
A Tamil lecture on 'Sivam' was delivered on the evening of the 14th Instant in the marriage hall of the local Meenatchi Temple under the auspices of Mr. A. Ramanadan Chettiyar, Member of the Devasthanam Committee, by the descendant of the Setupaties of Ramnad whose piety and orthodoxy are only two well known to the world at large by the numerous religious and charitable institutions founded and maintained by them in all the holy places of the Indian continent.
He began quoting the authority of Srikantha Sivacharya in support of his position, viz., 'we don't find any difference between the Vedas and Sivagamas. Even the Vedas are Sivagamas'. If they were found to differ in certain respects, they did so on purpose to correspond with the different capacities of the students whom they were intended to instruct. He said that it was simply erroneous to regard them as really different; for, they could be very easily reconciled to each other. He illustrated this theory by quoting some verses from the Kural of Tiruvalluvar, wherein the divine moralist has said at one time that fate is all-powerful and at another that men can defy the decrees of fate by their unrelaxing perseverance, and showed that the one admonition was intended to put a sound check upon the adventurous enterpriser, while the other was meant to arouse the slumbering fatalist to energetic action. Another illustration he gave was the case of the medical treatise which in one place prescribed the use of curd as wholesome and in another denounced it as unhealthy. Here the scientific merit of the book could not be decried merely on account of the apparent inconsistency pervading its prescriptions; for a deep insight would show that its usefulness as a nutrient was praised in the case of a man of robust health and that the pernicious property of the substance was condemned in the case of one who suffered from an ague. Since no incongruity could be imputed to the treatise on this score, similarly none could be attributed to the Vedas and Agamas. They both took their sources from their common author Siva, and stood in such relation to each other as the context to its commentary and both tended to the same goal. He then enumerated the 28 Sivagamas and said that only 10 out of them were exclusively related to Sivam while the remaining 18 were devoted to the treatment of various subjects as the Charya, Kriya, Yoga, Gnana &c. He showed that the Smartas had no other alternative than to make Siva Pujah side by side with the Sivites and gave out the names of the different classes of the latter, viz., Siva who is Anadi Sivas, Adi Sivas, Maha sivas, Pravara sivas, Avantara sivas &c., and included the former among them. He then distinguished between the schools of Vedanta and Saiva siddhanta at considerable length. He described siva as Anadi Mukta, sukshma Chit i.e., one eternally-bound gross intelligence. He said that the souls were not creatures; for, they were never created but co-existed with the Supreme Soul. He then explained the necessity for the eternal existence of a third thing viz., Pasam which encompasses the souls till they attain beatitude. Hence he said there was justification for the everlasting existence of the 3 things, (Thirupathartha) viz., Pati (Lord) Pasu (Soul) and Pasam (Ignorance or Darkness) of the siddhanta school. He took this opportunity of condemning in a thorough manner the one arch fallacy of the Vedanta Philosophy viz., a wholesale denial of the existence of every other thing except Brahmam, the all-pervading Supreme Soul. He showed by the way that the Pantheists could not demonstratively and satisfactorily account for the origin of Maya to which they ultimately and necessarily trace the phenomenal existence of the whole Universe; for, the Brahmam which they speak of is described by themselves as being Nirguna i.e., incapable of motion, emotion, action &c. Then he proceeded to dwell upon the unanswerability of the question regarding the source of Maya. He admitted without reserve that not one of the ingenious savants of the Vedantic school whom he had come in contact with was able to satisfy him in that respect. He said that instead of replying they simply derided it as a knotty question; and retorted by observing, if it was said that the Audheenam of Tiruvavaduthorai came into existence at the time of Namasivaya Murthy, how could one expect to have an asnwer to the question. Who was the Audheenakarta of Tiruvavaduthorai prior to the said Namasivaya? Perhaps, the question as to who was the Spiritual Preceptor of the said Namasivaya might be answered but who anointed and seated him on the guddy of the Audheenam could in no way be traced out. Next he propounded the law of Karma and the doctrine of reincarnation. He did not let slip the occasion to cry down the views of Free thought and other Occidental Schools of Philosophy in this connection. He observed that there could not be any theory more foolish than that which asserted that the child which had its entry into and exit from this world on the same day was recklessly created and destroyed with no special end to serve. He ridiculed the Christian notion of the father's sins being visited upon the son and of Vicarious Redemption. He then defined and described the 3 sorts of Karma viz., Sanchitam, Prarabdham and Agamayam. Sanchitam, consisted of the accumulated surplus deeds done in the course of numerous births; Prarabdham of the deeds committed in the birth immediately before the present; and Agamayam of those that happened during the terrestrial existence of the present incarnation. He said it was the indispensable requisition of the eternal laws that all souls should eat of the fruits of the said 3 Karmas, good or bad as they might be. Their bulk was liable to be reduced as they were being eaten up in birth after birth provided no fresh additions to the stock were made. This was instanced by describing the case of a husbandman who used to store up paddy in his granaries year after year and indent there from for his present subsistence. Should all further supplies to the barns be stopped, in due course, they would become empty and he would be left with absolutely nothing to live upon. So also, when the Karmas were wholly annihilated, there was no occasion for the souls to be reborn in this world. It was only then and not till then that they would become Mukta Atmas, i.e., liberated souls. Then the sole question arose, he said, as to how the existing Karmas could be destroyed and how the impending ones avoided. Were they of any subsequent or recent growth? No. They were coeval with the souls themselves as the dross in a copper vessel. As the scum on the metal could be removed only by a chemical process, so the Karma of the soul could be got rid of only by a similar process of dedicating to the Deity the body, the senses and the mind; and by leading an unselfish life i.e., a life wholly and solely devoted to the amelioration of the condition of mankind. he showed that the act of causing happiness to our fellow-beings did of itself serve as a Pujah done to Iswara (Lord) and supported the theory by quoting Santosham Genesh Pragan Thathieva Iswara Pujanam. In the case of the metal, some alchemic drug should be thrown in at the melting to cleanse it, while in that of the dedication of the soul certain moral perception should be infused into it for purification. How was one to attain this moral perception? Only through the grace of the supreme soul (அவனருளாலே அவன்றாள் வணங்கி). He now pointed out the ways and means to get at His Grace viz., Charya, kriya, Yoga and Gnana and the necessity for a Guru or Acharya to initiate in and open the way for Bakti yoga or Gnana yoga. Here he quoted the Sloka Guru
Brahma &c. and explained how the Gurus were propitiated in the first instance in performing Siva Puja. He stated that the Lord shed His Grace not in view to benefit Himself thereby but to relieve the mortals of their fetters, and supported his arguments by quoting abundantly from Bagavat Gita, Tevaram, Tiruvachakam, Tirumantram of Tiru Mular, Tayumanavar, Periya Purana, Tiruvilayadal &c, &c. In speaking of the ephemeral character of the present existence, he reminded the audience of the Tevara Hymn கடலைசேர்வது சொற்பிரமாணமே
and said that he was not certain if his life would be spared even to conclude the lecture he was delivering. He showed that the soul was distinct from the body and it did not die when the body died. Else, he said the world would not make use of such expressions as 'O? the good man is gone' even when the body lay at their own feet and had existence before their very eyes. he drew the attention of the audience to the fact that men generally used to make such utterances as 'my head', 'my face', 'my head', 'my body', 'my foot', and so on when they were obliged to name particular limbs of their bodies &c. and asked if they did not convey an idea that the pronominal epithet prefixed in those cases referred to a thing distinct from them. Since the eternal existence of the 3, Pasu, Pathi and Pasam , and their self-imposed, so to say, natural missions in the evolution of the universe and the ever unstable phenomenal appearance of the souls were established, the lecturer observed it was but meet to proceed to show now how such missions were fulfilled and where the instances were to be found. He referred to the hallowed lives of the 63 canonized Saiva saints contained in the Periya Purana and drew the special attention of his hearers to the exemplary career of the 4 foremost among them viz., Sri Gnana Sambandhar, Appar, Sundarar and Manikka Vachakar. He essayed to convince the audience that these 4 Samaya Charyas were more than human and formed part and parcel of Supreme Siva. He said that they individually constituted the 4 elements viz., Prithuvi, Appu, Theyu and Vayu i.e., earth, water, fire and wind while Siva Himself was the 5th Akasa or ether, that their earthly mission was the salvation of souls and that they achieved it by extirpating the delusive forms of religion prevailing in the country in their times and propagating the faith of the Church of Siva. He recounted the circumstances under which they happened to compose the Tevara and Tiruvachaka Hymns and explained the estoeric significations couched in the leading verses of the 4 Saints viz., தோடுடைய செவியன்; கூற்றாமினவாறு........; பித்தாபிறைசூடி; and நமசிவாயவாழ்க. He set forth with great stress the high place, allegiance and honors they were entitled to in the Siva shrines in the land and decried incidentally the policy of some of the Members of the Madura Devasthanam Committee who grudged them the use of golden Chapram on the occasion of their festivals and processions. He adduced instances and places in which even higher honors were accorded to them as the use of Vrishabha Vahanam in Avadayar Covil &c. He pointed out that the Sivite world pwed to the advent of these Saints their present flourishing condition in the land, by quoting the verse சொற்கோவும்&c. and laid stress on the fact that but for their heroic conquest over the antagonistic religious systems of the Buddhists and Jains neither the sacred ashes nor the Vedas nor even the mystic five letters of Siva (Panchakshram) would have possibly survived. He depicted the various functions in connection with which they were brought into play in Siva temples, perhaps characteristic of their elementary nature herein before referred to and passed on with brief touches upon the most conspicuous miracles wrought by them. He gave out the respective number of years their lives were generally typical i.e., 16, 18, 81 and 32 and showed that their lives were generally typical of the 4 established forms of Bakti Yoga viz., Dasa Margam, Putra Margam, Saka Margam and San Margam, i.e., Loving the Lord like a servant, like a son, like a friend and like a wise man. And last though not least, he showed emphatically that it was the foremost of these 4 sages Sri Gnana Sambandha that pointed out the Lord person with his own finger - an eventful phenomenon quite unknown and unheard of in any of the existing systems of religion on earth. Thus establishing the divinity of the Acharyas and the necessity of following them in their ways, the lecturer now reverted of the theory of the reincarnation of souls and said that it was but necessary concomitant for the salvation of souls; for, the souls became eligible for beatitude only after they were purged of the 3 sorts of Karmas but these Karmas could not be annihilated without undergoing the process of rebirths. He supported this position by the following simple practical illustrations, viz., the removing of an old blot on a clot by applying lime juice &c. after wetting it a second time by the same ink; the cleaning of a dirty cloth by the Dhobi by first making it more dirty with his washing materials; the easy drawing out of a troublesome particle of a pomegranate seed between the teeth by putting into the mouth some more seeds of the kind; the extracting of water got into the ear by pouring in a fresh quantity of water over it; and lastly (though somewhat insinuatingly) the losing of one's former affluence by vitiating it by the addition of Devasthanam money acquired during the management of its concerns. He then referred to the difference of opinion prevailing in regard to the superiority of one or other of the two things Karma and Gnana and declared it as his opinion that the practising of the one did inevitably lead to the acquirement of the other. He said that the symbolic worship inculcated in the siva sastras was not only productive of immense virtue but the means of speedy deliverance from all engrossing Karma. He quoted such authorities as கொள்ளை கொள்ளை வீடுதவி கூற்றைப்பீடர் பிடித்துதள்ளும் திருஞானசம்பந்தன். He pointed out the most important siva Temples on earth such as Tiruvaroor, Tiruvanaikva, Tiruvannamalai, Tirukalahasti, and Sri Chidambaram as representing the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind and ether or Akasa in the constitution of the universe. He spoke of them also including Varanasi (Benares) as indicating the 6 stages in the microcosmic Yogi corresponding to the 6 stages in the macrocosm of the Universe. He ascribed special superiority to the Natarajah form of siva and compared and contrasted Ponnambalam and Velliambalam with an exposition of the preferential qualities of the latter. Here he recited the verses beginning with உலகெலாமுணர்தோதற்கரியவன்
of the Periya Purana and சத்தியாய்ச் சிவமாய் &c. of the Tiruvilayadal and admirably explained the esoteric meanings couched in them. Then he dwelt at length upon the great spiritual importance of the Temple at Madura, of its Deities of Sri Minakshi and Sundareshwarar and showed that it was considered as the Dwadasantam, the final resort which the Yogis aspired to. He added that it should be deemed holy also as having been the place where two of Samaya Charyas
Sri Gnana Sambandha and Manikka Vachaka, lived and laboured in the cause of religion for the greater part of their inimitable lives. He stated that a careful analysis of Tiruvilaydal Purana would show that each of the 4 Purusharthas viz., Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha was intended to be attained by each 16 of the 64 miracles treated of in it. In conclusion, he explained the secret meaning of the form of worship adhered to in the Siva Temples in general and in the Madura Temple in particular and their efficacy in shaping out the future state of the souls. He added that he fervently hoped that the authorities of the Devasthanam and the Sivite Public concerned would endeavour their utmost to convene many more similar meetings and listen to numerous lectures of the kind, and prayed devoutly that God Sri Soma sundara (He who has Uma for his consort) would be graciously pleased to grant his heart's earnest desire.