"Antharichchanti Thamsana Rudram Promanishaya Krinanthi Chikbahya Chacham. (Rig-Veda)."
"Those who meditate with love on the Supreme Rudra who is within all, they eat food."
It is a noteworthy fact that our sages have often compressed a whole philosophy in a single word or phrase. We once before illustrated how pregnant was the naming of the vowels and consonants as உயிர் and மெய்
Sareeri and Sareera, in regard to the question of the relation of God to the world. We take up to day another word which is the expansion of the same subject. This word is "Ashta Murti". It means Being having Eight Forms and is a synonym of Siva or Rudra. These Eight Forms are, Earth, Water, Fire, Airm Akas, the Sun and the Moon and Soul or Jiva or Pasu.
By these Eight names are comprised the whole universe, both animate and inanimate. The only substance which these terms do not comprise is God; and when therefore God is spoken of by His Body, then the relation of God to the world is clearly brought out, namely that of Body and Soul, which relation, of course, we have fully explained in our article of "Mind and Body." As soul in a body, He is in everything, and hence called Viswanthariyami; and we have quoted a Rich verse above in which God (Rudra) is called Antharyami; and innumerable passages are also scattered abroad in the body of the various Upanishads. As having the universe for His form God is called Viswasorupa
"Viswarupaya vi Namo Namaha."
As giving rise to the whole universe from Himself He is called Viswakarana or Viswayonihi. By the same way, as we often identify our own body with ourselves, God is frequently spoken of as universe itself and is accordingly addressed as Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Sky, the Sun and the Moon and Soul.
But there are clear passages to show that He is none of these. No one could seriously contend today that where these Upanishads identify God with some of these inanimate forms that earth or fire or any of these elements, and not the Ruler within or the Puller as He is called in Brihadaranya is really God. But the texts identifying the jiva with God has caused no amount of confusion, and these texts are quoted as standing authorities by a whole school of Indian philosophers, though texts can be quoted as frequently in which God is spoken of as different from the Jiva. As being none of these Eight and transcending all, He is called Viswadika.
"Viswadiko Rudra," (Svetas).
"Who of the Gods is both the source and growth, the lord of all, the Rudra, mighty seer; whoever sees the shining germ come into birth - may he with reason pure conjoin us."
"Who of the Gods is over-lord, in whom the worlds are based, who ruleth over his creatures of two feet and four; to God, the 'Who," with (our oblation) let us worship give."
These follow naturally the text "That sure is fire, That sun, That air, That surely moon, That verily the Bright. That Brahm, the waters That, That the Creator."
In the previous adyaya occurs the passage "What is this all, far, far beyond, That Formless, griefless That." 'What God in fire, in water what which doth pervade universe entire. What in the plants, what in the forest lords, to Him, to God, Hail all Hail."
"This God, in sooth, all the quarters is; long, long ago, indeed, he had his birth, he verily (is now) within the germ. He has been born, he will be born; behind all who have birth he stands, with face on every side."
The famous passage in the seventh Brahmana, of the 3rd Adyaya, of the Brihath Aranya Upanishad, brings out a full exposition of these Eight forms of God. In the third Mantra, Earth is said to be His body -
"He who dwells in the earth, and within (or different from) the earth, whom the earth does not know whose body the earth is, and pulls (rules) the earth within, He is thy Self, the puller (ruler) within, the immortal."
And it Mantras, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 22 the water, fire, air, sun, moon, Akasa and Vignana are respectively said to be His bodies.
The passages are all similar to the one relating to the earth and we quote the last, however, in full.
"He who dwells in Vignana, and within (or different from) Vignana, whom Vignana does not know, whose body Vignana is, and who pulls (rules) Vignana within, He is thy Self, the puller (ruler) within, the immortal."
Professor Max Muller translates Vignana as knowledge, but he notes at the same time that those of the Madhyandina school interpret it as meaning the Atma or the soul; and according to the text in the samana prakarana - "yasyatma sareeram" - and from the Upa Brahmanas we will quote below, it will be seen that it is the correct interpretation.
The other text in the Brihat-A'ranya, makes it much clearer. "God is to be seen, heard and contemplated and enjoyed in the soul. He is beyond the soul. His body is the soul, He penetrates into the recess of the soul." Nothing can be clearer than this text. This Soul and soul, this Atma and atma, this Self and self (The confusion in thought arises from the name which originally meant the human spirit being applied to the Supreme spirit also), are the two birds which dwell in the tree (human body); these are the two which "enter into the heart, the excellent divine abode" and these are the two which are in the "inside of" of the human eye. The confusion of using the same word to denote and connote two different things is really vicious, and later writings and the present day systems have dropped such uses altogether, and the beginning of such change in nomenclature, and precision in the use of words is seen in the Gita, and Atma is distinguished from Paramatma, Purusha from Purushottama or Parama Purusha. Verse 22 of Chapter 13, is a characteristic verse in this respect as it gives all these names and the true definition of Sat as distinguished from Sat-asat.
"Spectator, and Permitter, Supporter, Enjoyer,
Maheshwara, thus is styled Paramatman;
In this body Parama Purusha."
We have elsewhere observed how the sole purpose of the Puranas and Ithihasas is merely to explain the particular text of the Veda or Upanishad.The passage in the Upa Brahmana embodies the particular text and explains it.
See how this passage, from Parasara Purana reproduces the words and meaning of the Rich text quoted above.
"Anthrichchandiya Rudrfam Sadha Vanthayam Maneeshya
Kruhnanthi Sihvaya thahirasa purno Amruthothakam
Anthar Nachchantiya Ruthram Bahvanu Sahitham Sivam
Purusha Mavakruhnanthi Sikvayathanasam Sayaha."
The following passage from Skanda Purana also says that the jiva is the body of God.
"Antharyami Sa Avisha jiva nam Parameshwaraha"
"That same Parameshwara is the Antharyami in all jivas."
Turning to Mahabarata, the statement that God has these eight objects for His body and that the universe occurs very frequently.
We cite the following passages from the Anusasana Parva, P.C. Roy's edition:-
"Him that hath universe for His form" page. 49.
"Thou art the Lord of jivas" page. 133.
"Thou hast universe for thy form" p. 105.
"Thou art He who has the whole universe for His limbs" page. 104.
"He pervades all things in the universe and yet is not seen anywhere" page. 50.
"Agitating both Prakriti and Purusha by means of his energy (Sakti); He created there from the universal lord of creatures Brahmah."
"He is both Sat and Asat."
"He transcends both Prakriti and Purusha" page. 50.
"Thou are He called Sat of sat." page. 127.
"Having created all the worlds beginning with "Bhu" together with all the denizens of heavens Thou upholdest and cherishest them all, distributing Thyself into the well-known forms numbering eight." page. 96.
The poet Kalidasa in his benedictory verse in Sakuntala explains what these eight forms are,
I' sa' 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 essences and things,
And air, which giveth life to all that breathe.
There is also this verse for which we cannot find any reference which gives eight names of God as He dwells in His eight forms.
'Prithivyo Bava, Apach Sarvah, Agne Rudrah, Vayur Bhimah, Akasasya Mahadevah, Suryas Yograh, Chandrasya Somah, Atmanah Pasupathih."
Note here that the word Hotri meaning the sacrificer or the Yajaman (master) of the sacrifice, stands for atma, jiva or Pasu. Hence the Lord of the pasu is called Pasupathi. (Meda Pati).
We quote a few more passages from Mahabarata.
"Thou art the eight Prakritis; Thou art again above the eight Prakritis, everything that exists represents a portion of Thy divine Self." page. 99.
The following passage explains why God should multiply Himself, why He should manifest Himself into these eight forms; i.e., why God should bring about the evolution and creation of this world; not, of course, from any moral necessity connected with the doctrine of samsara; not, of course, from His will to exist and desire for enjoyment; not of course, from a desire to see His own reflection; not, of course, from a necessity to seek His own salvation; but that this evolution is necessitated for the improvement and salvation of the sin-covered soul.
"Know O Kesava, that this all, consisting of animate and inanimate existences, with heaven and other unseen entities; which occurs in these worlds, and which has the All-pervading Lord for its soul, has flowed from Maheswara, and has been created by Him for the enjoyment of Jiva." page. 70.
The soul, in its Kevala condition, lies in utter and hopeless oblivion, and helplessness. The Lord Wills (Ichcha sakti, that these souls should reach salvation out of His pure Grace (Arul Sakti); and by means of His own Energy (Kriya Sakti) He agitates and puts motion and life into Prakriti (Maya sakti); and Purusha (souls) and the whole of the manifested universe is brought forth from His womb. The souls in these material bodies act and gain experience and knowledge, and finally from the bondage of birth and death. Thus the souls passes through its sakala and athitha conditions; and it is the fundamental tenet of every school of Hindu philosopher that unless the soul enters the cycle of samsara, that wheel of birth and death, the soul cannot reach Mukti.
We close this paper with a few quotations from the Dravida Suruthi bearing on the question under discussion. Our Saint Tirumular says.
சேணு வானோங்குந் திருவுரு வேயண்ட்த்
தாணுவு ஞாயிறுந் தண்மதி யுங்கடந்
தாண்முழு தண்டமு மாகிநின் றானே.
The body and soul, and fire and far Spreading
Air and space, and earth His form.
The fixed sun, cool moon, transcending these
Yet stands He as the stupendous world.
(2) எட்டுத் திசையு மடிக்கின்ற காற்றவன்
வட்டத் திரையனல் மாநில மாகாச
மொட்டி யுயிய்நிலை யென்னுமிக் காயப்பை
கட்டி யவிழ்க்கின்ற கண்ணுதல் காணுமே.
The wind that blows in eight quarters is He.
The whirling flood and fire, huge earth and space,
The sentient soul with these His bodily frame,
He joins, and leaves, the God with the frontal Eye
From our Sainted Lady of Karikal, we have the following verse.
(1) அவனே யிருசுடர் தீயாகா சமாவான்
அவனே புவியனல் காற்றாவான் - அவனே
இயமான னாயட்ட மூர்த்தியு மாய்ஞான
மயனாகி நின்றானும் வந்து.
Two Lights, the fire and space is He
The earth and water, air is He.
The soul, with these His eight forms
He stands as Intelligence pure.
The text of St. Maikanda Deva is that
"God is Chit because He is omnipresent and unless He is pure Intelligence, He cannot be omnipresent. (See for further explanation. 2ns Sutra Sivagnanabotham - english edition II)
Our Saint Pattinattar gives a most elaborate description in the following Agaval -
பொருகடன் மேகலை முகமெனப்பொலிந்த
அமைத்தலுமழித்தலும் ஆங்கதன் பெயர்ச்சியும்
இமைத்தலும்விழித்தலும் ஆகும் நின்னியல்பே
அத்திறத்கைம்பொறி அறுவகைச் சமயமோடு
ஏழுலகாகி எண்வகை மூர்த்தியோடு
O Thou Dweller in Votri, which beams
As the face of the sea-girt Earth!
Who owns Thy form beyond compare?
The Lightning's flash Thy locks do show
The teeming earth, Thy Head does form.
The Sun and Moon, and Fire, these three,
Are Eyes that light Thy Divine Face.
Thy cool bright wreaths are the countless stars.
The sky where-in the gods do dwell
Forms thy broad Chest, The eight quarters,
Thy shoulders strong. The broad sea Thy Vest.
Thy Organ, Earth; Feet, the worlds below.
The flowing wind Thy constant breath
The flawless sounds are all Thy words.
The faultless wisdom that is together found
In Gods and Men is all Thy own.
The teeming world lives and developes
Vanishes and reappears, These Thy acts.
The world, in life or death, awake,
Or asleep, does show Thy Nature true.
With these Thy Form, Thy one True spirit
Becomes dual; clothed in Gunas three,
Art born as four; Hast senses five,
The six Religions, and seven worlds
Dost become and art the Eight Gods.
And thus for ages and ages progressing
Whatever Thou unitest with
That Thou dost sure become.
The following is the favourite quotation from Tiruvachakam.
(1) நிலநீர் நெருப்புயிர் நீள்விசும்பு நிலாப்பகலோன்
புலனா யமைந்தனோ டெண்வகையாய்ப் புணர்ந்துநின்றா
னுலகே ழெனத்திசைபத் தெனத்தா னொருவனுமே
பலவாகி நின்றவா தோணோக்க மாடாமோ.
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.
Saint Tayumanavar selects the following Verse from St. Appar's Devaram for special praise in his அறிஞருரை.
(1) இருநிலனாய்த் தீயாகி நீருமாகி
இயமான னாயெறியுங் நாற்றுமாகி
அருநிலைய திங்களாய் நாயிறாகி
ஆகாசமா யட்ட மூர்த்தியாகிப்
பெருநலமுங் குற்றமும் பெண்ணுமாணும்
பிறருருவுந் தம்முருவுந் தாமேயாகி
நெருநலையா யின்றாகி நாளையாகி
நிமிர்புன் சடையடீகள் நின்றவாறே.
As earth, fire, water, air and Ejaman
As moon, the sun and space, as Ashta Murti,
As goodness, and evil, as male and female Himself the form of every Form,
As yesterday and today and tomorrow, my Lord with the braided hair stands supreme.
The following verse of St. Appar also explains how this Being who is the greatest of the great is so small also as to be confined in ourselves.
As Ashta Murti, He performs functions
He, my Father and God, possessed of eight attributes
He, the Ashta Murti is my Lord and Master
He, the Ashta Murti is confined in me.
Saint Gnana Sambanda has the following verse.
பாரு நீரொடு பல்கதிரிரவியும் பனிமதி யாகாச
மோரும் வாயுவு மொண்கனல் வேள்வியிற் றலைவனுமாய்நின்றார்
சேருஞ்சந்தன மதிலொடு வந்திழி செழும்புனற் கோட்டாறு
வாருந் தண்புனல் சூழ்சிரபுரந்தொழுமடியவர் வருந்தாரே.
As Earth, Water, the Sun and Moon and Sky,
The flowing Wind, bright Fire, and Hotri, He stands
Sirapuram, washed by the scented waters of Kottar
They who praise, they will suffer no pain.
And St. Thayumanavar himself pertinently asks why when the earth, air &c. are spoken of by the Vedas as God Himself, why he should not himself be spoken of as God.
(1) பாராதி நீயாப் பகர்ந்தா லகமெனவும்
ஆகாயுஞ் சீவனும் நீயாம்காண் பராபரமே.
(2) வானாதி நீயெனவே வைத்தமறை யென்னையுநீ
தானாகச் சொல்லாதோ சாற்றாய் பராபரமே.
Siva is also called Digvasas, Digambara, Nirvani, and He dances in Chitambara, and His person and limbs as we have seen represents each an element or portion of the universe. And this description of His we notice even from the Rig Veda downwards. As the translator of Mahabharat frequently remarks, if Siva is identified in those passages as the Supreme Brahman this identification has been going on ever since the very beginning. But we speak of an identification when there is a difference originally. Would it not therefore be more proper to say that the words Siva and Rudra are merely the names and His Form, the Form of the supreme Brahman?
We cannot here omit to note the fact also that there are temples in India in which God (Siva) is worshipped in one or other of these eight forms.
As Earth, He is worshipped in Kanchi (Conjeeveram), as Water, in Jambukeshwaram (Trichinopoly), as Air, in Kalahasti; as Fire in Tiruvannamalai; as Akas, in Chidambara; as Sun, when everyone performs Surya Namaskaram; as Moon, in Somnath; as Pasu or Atma, in Pasupathi Temple in Nepal.