Tuesday, May 29, 2012



    Apropos of the degree of sanctification attained by Master Srikantha, the saintly scholiast on Badarayana's Sariraka sutras, the great Appayya remarks in his Sivarkamanidipika that the Master became a competent spiritual exponent of the real verities by reason of his being well established in Daharavidya or dahara upasana. This Dahara upasana is the door way to the highest stage of godly experience attainable by man, an experience, the blessedness and peace of which is often described by Christian mystics as "Fellowship with god." The essence of dahara upasana is Siva darsanam, Brahmadarsanam, or "Seeing god." Dahara vidya is "knowledge of the mystery of godliness," "knowledge of the spirit", and Dahara upasana is "worship in spirit and in truth", "waiting on god", Dahara means 'subtle', 'spiritual', the subtlety and spirituality here having chiefly to do with the attainment of that knowledge or degree of sanctification whereby one can transcend his senses and thought. The Upanishads proclaim that within the "Cave of the heart" is the "subtle expanse," and in it abide the whole universe (Chhandogya Upanishad, VIII,I,3). This "subtle expanse is known as Dahara akasa (the Ponnambalam of the Tamil mystic literature) and by many another name. But none of these terms are to be understood in their material sense, representing as they do living facts of consciousness only to such as have become qualified by due culture to enter upon the Path of Light, but mere symbols to others. To give up the objective world is infinitely more easy than pacifying thoughts, or quieting subjective activities. When the mind can maintain its one pointedness (ekagrata) for some little time, it is next trained to drop the object (bija or lakshya) and remain in a condition of absolute calm. This is a very trying exercise accompanied by obscuring sleep or swoon, and the greatest aloofness is necessary to hold up the consciousness until a more vivid bhumika rises to view. As Patanjali ordains, the posture adopted in spiritual communion should be easy and pleasant. The Atma darsanam, and Brahma darsanam are only possible in that silence in the interior of one's being, a sweet silence which invariably supervenes when thoughts run down to a calm, a calm which must be absolute and complete. That silence is neither the obscurity of sleep, nor the hush that is occasionally super induced when the warring senses are overawed by a passing wave of strong emotion. It is a silence that is only too audible because of the inaudibility of the senses and thoughts. The various stages in the inner progress of the souls culminating at last in face to face fellowship with God are well analysed and summed up in the dasa karyani of the Saiva Siddhanta. The expression dasa karyani means "the ten achievements" which fall to the share of every Arurukshu engaged in Atmoddharana before he arrives at the luminous condition known sometimes as sahaja Samadhi or ceaseless "walking with God" waking or sleeping. These ten spiritual experiences, which according to one set of Jnanis, are further resolvable into thirty Erscheimungen, occur to the soul only during its five amalavasthas, but the ne plus ultra of the spiritual pilgrimage is the Bhuma glorified in the Chhandogya Upanishad, vii, 23, or the Saynjya siva bhoga. The Lord (Siva) is described as sat chit ananda, which is the same as saying that He is Life, Light and Love, and no better characterization will do justice to His supernal nature.

    Mention is made of the stages of this dasa karyani in the great Jnana sastra, the great Siva Jnana bodham (Instruction in the knowledge of the spirit) which is an episode of the great Raurava agama. We have 28 Agamas or Sivagamas attached to the mystic philosophy of the Saiva Siddhanta, and they are the revealed truth treating of the science and art of purging the soul of its cankering impurities, and enabling it to behold god in all His glory, while yet tabernacle in the flesh. They are thus listed in Trilocharas Siddhanta-Saravali.

vv. 3 and 4 in Charyapada. The Rauravagamas thus Raudra, i.e. to say the system of mystic instruct on embodies therein is adapted to these souls who are not yet healed of their Anavamala, the Subtle Corruption which is the earliest to adhere to the soul and the latest to leave it. If an Agama be classed as Saiva in the mystic terminology of the Saiva-Siddhanta, the meaning is that it is applicable to such Vignanakalah (=Vignanakevalah, according to Tattva-prakasa an authoritative treatise on Agamic mysticism) as are already rid of the Anavamala. The terms Vijnanakalah and Vijnanakevalah indicated a class of souls in whom the only remaining taint is the Anavamala. Sivajnanabodham is held to be the cream of the Rauravagama, and has recently been edited in Sanskrit with a commentary, in the pages of the Pandit, Benares.

    What constitute the dasa-karyani we will now see: the following are their names in ascending order. (1) Tattva-rupa, (2) Tattva-darsana, (3) Tattva-suddhi, (4) Atma-rupa, (5) Atma-darsana, (6) Atma-suddhi, (7) Siva-rupa, (8) Siva-darsana, (9) Siva-yoga and (10) Siva-bhoga. The experiences or achievements herein formulated appertain to the five states of the soul, detailed in the Karna, Svayambhuva and other Agamas, to the five Suddha-avasthas comprising Jagra, Svapna, Sushupti, Turiya, and Turiyatita. These conditions of the soul are mentioned also in Iraiyanarakapporul under the names kurinji, palai, mullai, marutam, and naital. The Suddha-avasthas are also known as amala and nirumala, in reference to those pure states of the soul, when it becomes capable of shining radiant in its investment of purity, even as a crystal column, while under the full blaze of the sun in the zenith (cf. Tiruvarutpayan of Umapati, v. 67). In the Upadesa-kanda of the Siva-purana (lxxxiv:vv. 59 and 60) the five avasthas enumerated above are said to belong equally to the kevalavastha, Sakalavastha, and Suddhavastha, while the Mandukyopanishad falls short of even these five avasthas, by mentioning four. It is probable, however, that the turiya of the Mandukya includes the turiyatita, and the four avasthas have reference to the amalavastha. The dasa karyani of the Siddhanta system, which are achieved by the soul only during the five states of the Suddhavastha, includes the twelve karyas beginning in the Pancha-bhutadhikkarna, and ending with the chaitanya-darsana, as well as the eighteen karyas beginning in the jnana-darsana and ending with the Paramanandavasa, and consequently thirty 'triumphs' in all. All these karyani (achievements by the soul) and avsthas (states of the soul) are to be realised in Samadhi or spiritual communion.

    Tirumular devotes a large portion of his "mystic instruction" (Tirumantiram) to the dasa-karyani, and Siva-jnana-vallalar does likewise. Kumara tevar takes his cue from the God taught wisdom of the Saiva darsana, and endues the intellectual Advaita-vedanta with a mystic cult, by speaking of a so called "Vedanta dasavastha," and "Vedanta-dasa-karya." The total number of avasthas as realised by the Agmaic-jnanis in whom the kingdom of Heaven was fully established is eighteen. There is no doubting the fact that Kumara tevar was a sanctified soul, but in his hands the presentation of the advaita vedanta has assumed a complexion which shows it to be indebted to the Saiva siddhanta, in a real spiritual sense.

    There is always a danger for those who are intent on cleansing their souls and knowing the true methods of finding God, when they have recourse to books for spiritual instruction, which are written by men who never enjoyed "Atma-puranam." Such books explain truths as revealed by the dry light of the intellect, and never as they are in their real nature. It requires the most penetrating mind to distinguish works recording the godly experiences of real Svanubhuti, from those that are misleading parodies of such. Intellect is mischievous, unless the Light of God shines through it freely and without stint. On this object Swami Vivekananda adds (Raja-yoga, p.70) "Read only those books which have been written by persons who have had realization." The Agamas are never tired of adding a similar warning against reading books written by those who are not of God but who affect by the power of their intellect to be of God. It must of course be confessed that till a man has entered the Path of Light, he cannot always successfully distinguish the utterances of a saint from those of the worldly that are perhaps drawn, or fell perhaps drawn, to the reality of the unseen.

    St. Tirumular, the Anointed of God, thus sums up the great verities underlying the actual "Godly Experience" of Jnanis (the Seers of God).    





                        v.3, of the 1st Tantra.

    "Of the three that are styled Pati (God), Pasa (primeval corruption, sin), and Pasu (sin-bound soul), Pasu and Pasa are as eternal as God Himself, but Pasu and Pasa cannot contact Pati, as they disappear on nearing Him." This novel relationship between the three is brought out again under a different analogy:-





                                v. 5. Ibid.

    Here, the சூரியகாந்தம் ( burning glass) is the soul under corruption, the சூழ்பஞ்சு (the surrounding cotton, the enshrouding lint) is the three sorts of corruption which enchain the soul, and the சூரியன் (Sun) is God in whose presence or when He becomes manifest, the திரிபுரதகனம் (the burning down of the three strongholds of corruotion) occurs. The three species of corruption, the removal of which is known as Pasa-kshaya are Anava-mala, Maya-mala, and Karma-mala, the nature of the different malas being of an intricate character. And about the glory of Illumination ("Orison" or "Luminous Sleep") the sage goes on to say:-




        தூங்கிக்கண்டார்நிலைசொல் தெவ்வாறே.

v. 7. Ibid.


        மாணிக்கத்துள்ளே மரகதச்சோதியாய்

        மாணிககத்துள்ளே மரகதமாடமாய்


        பேணித்தொழுது என்னப்பேறுபெற்றாரே

v. 19. Ibid.

    The last verse records an experience the true meaning of which is better felt than explained, as the Saint himself says a little previously (v. 17) that it baffles description. In the same connexion he says also

        சித்தர்சிவலோகமிங்கே தெரிசித்தோர்

        சத்தமும் சத்தமுடிவும் தம்முட்கொண்டோர்

        நித்தர் நிமலர் நிராமயர் நீள்பா

        முத்தர் முத்திமுதல் முப்பத்தாறே.

                                v. 13. Ibid.

        முப்பதும் ஆறும்படி முததியேணியாய


        செப்பவரிய சிவங்கண்டு தான்றெளிந்

        தப்பரிசாக வமர்ந்திருந்தாரே.

                                v. 14. Ibid.

    The Saint here gives expression to the greatest of truths in soul-culture which is within the actual experience of those who rest in God. Such souls "swallow up" (உட்கொண்டோர்) or extinguish the operations of 'corruprion' in the 36 "rudiments" (Galatians IV.9) beginning with the grossest evolute (சத்தமுடிவு=Prithvi) and ending with the finest or subtlest evolute (சத்தம்=நாதம்), and dethrone "death". They have crossed the "3 wastes" (முப்பாழுங்கடந்து) and become indistinguishable from God (cf. திருமூலர் 8-ம் தந்திரம், v. 374). In Tamil mystic literature பாழ் is the name given to that critical state which marks off the shading of one sort of consciousness into another. The "crossing" (கடத்தல்) has reference only to successful "crossing", whereby the "critical state" which usually robs a man of continuity of consciousness between one kind of Anschauung and another, is rendered proof against stupefaction. The ordinary man cannot with the best of care and diligence carry with him his so-called waking consciousness into dream or sleep. But when the soul is cleansed of its impurities, "sleep" in the ordinary sense becomes a thing of the past. And the degrees of illumination or sanctified perfection are sometimes classified as those of 'The Knower of God,' 'The Seer of God,' 'The Rester in God,' and 'The Walker with God'.

        ஞானமார் சீவன்முத்தர் நால்வகையாவர்கேளாய்

        வானிகர் பிரமவித்துவரன்வரியாள் வரிட்டன்

        ஆனவர் நாமமாகும் * * * * * * * * * * * v. 94,

                                தத்துவ விளக்கப்படலம்,



    Kaivalya-navanitam of Tandavarayasvami is an able summary of the Vedanta of Sankara in Tamil, but the mysticism which imparts the greatest interest to that work is drawn unreservedly from the Jnana-sastras which form the bulk of the Saiva-Siddhanta literature. Our observation will find its justification in the commentary of Ponnampalasvami on Kaivalya-navanitam, entitled Tattvarthadipam, in which all the mystic experiences and truths detailed in the Text, are illustrated and explained by apt quotations from valuable sacred books of the Saiva Siddhanta, such as those of திருமூலர், வெண்காடர் and the like. There is a living mystic tradition, kept by regular spiritual successions of Masters in அகத்தியகூடம் of பொதியமலை, elsewhere, Masters who draw their inspiration from the Jnana Sastras of the Saiva-Siddhanta and to whom the "pure in heart" flock when seeking the true light of "Illumination."

    The relation between soul and God, which finds such perplexing apparently and self-contradictory albeit fine, expression, amongst Sankarins cannot be better put than in the following words of Tirumular:-

        அப்பினிற்கூர்மையாதித்தன் வெம்மையால்

        உப்பெனப்பேர்பெற் றுருச்செய்ததவ்வுரு

    அப்பினிற் கூடியதொன்றாகு மாறுபோற்

    செப்பினிற் சீவன் சிவத்துள் அடங்குமே.

                            v. 24, of the 1st Tantra.


    In the highest sense, therefore, that relation reminds us of the brine in sea-water and the peculiar intimacy attaching between the two. That relation is the crown and glory of the toilsome march which every godly soul feels necessitated to undertake, in order to work out to emptiness, in tears and tribulation, the various samskaras and vasanas which it has inherited from an infinite past. And the march is described in Agamic Mysticism in terms of avasthas and karyas, whose meaning was previously explained in a measure in a different connexion.

    The dasa-karyani may now be considered in detail. It goes without saying that they are associated with the Jnana-pada or Vidya-pada of the Agamas, and hence are sometimes comprised in the term Agamantam (in contradistinction to the intellectual Vedantam which is only a theoretical and summary formulation of the highest spiritual truths). To show how sacred and God-leading the Agamantam has been deemed by the God-taught Mystics of the Maha-pasupata order, who are the "chosen seed" of God amongst the Vaidiks, a quotation from the Skanda-purana will suffice:-


    Consequently, the dasa-karyani of the Agamanta stand revealed only to the duly initiated in the mysteries of the Spirit, who are thenceforward recognised as the fit heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.

    The first change that comes over the soul is known as Tattva-rupam which means the apperception of the 'form' or actual constitution of the Tattvam. In Agamic Mysticism, Tattva is used in the sense of an evolute of Matter. The Thirty-six Tattva which are said in a sense to sum up the various modifications of Matter, constitute the 'Road of Matter', 'the Way of the Flesh', the modes of Old Adam', or in fact, the so called 'Tattvadhvan'. These Tattvas eventually drop off one after another leaving the soul pure and serene, and fit to work grossest evolutes of matter or the most obscuring veils of the out its salvation, under the gracious mercy of the Lord. The soul are designated Atma-tattvas or tattvas for the salvation of the soul par excellence, which are twenty-four in number. The earliest evolute of these is the "Mula-prakriti," Sthula prakriti" or "Prakriti" simply. The terms mean the 'rudiment of gross matter' or its equivalent. Pasusjkara, an Upagama of the Paramesvara, thus describes the evolution of the Mula-prakriti:-


    The three gunas which are nothing else than affections, phases or modifications of the Mula-prakriti brought on by a change in the motion (kshobhana) of its particles, are the real cause of the apparent cumbrousness which enshrouds the Web of Matter, and of the glamour which the prapancha assumes for the man in the street. Hence, to dethrone effectively the fascinations of matter we should get to understand its real springs of mischief and blandishment. And the springs are to be found on that plane of matter where the gunas take their rise from the Mula-prakriti. The first step in the unravelling of the mystery of the flesh, and of the soul's bondage to it is the "Tattvarupam" of the Dasa-karyani. When this stage is attained the soul is able to look behind the glamour of the Atma-tattvas, right into the cause of "the tides" known as "the gunas", is able, so to say, to understand the genuine enlightenment, now understands the relation of the three gunas to its salvation by the operative agency of the karma-mala, and their exact significance in the Divine Dispensation.

V. V. Raman.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. – St. Matthew, v.8.

    The phenomenon of Siva-darsanam which is recognised by Agamantins as the highest achievement of the bond-freed spirit, has been sedulously sought and realised by such God-taught souls as Sri-Ramakrishna-Paramahamsa. But there are others at the present day who have been blessed only with a glimpse of the Light, or in whom there has only been a feeble flash of the Beyond, who, in the first flush of that strange jumble of thought-perception and sense-perception, accompanying the momentary lifting of the heart, mistake the shadows for the substance, nay, endeavour to prove that they have attained to the very Bourne, dazzled by the shimmering sheen of those shadows. Such visionaries are not in any degree possessed of that rare "degree of sanctification" which Hindu Mystics have always eulogised as Sabdarthajnana, a condition of superb truth-piercing "wakefulness" which dawns only on ripe and endowed illuminati, but hardly, if ever, on halting or haphazard intruders on "half-real" Realms. "Clairvoyance" is a dubious term, meaning nothing more than 'transport vision', and such 'vision', making short work of space, time and, finally, of all notions of 'succession', including the so-called phantasm of "causation" which is only a sort of succession in disguise, comprises, under another classification, vision on the "temporal", "temporal-real" and "real" planes, of which the last leads to the luring "Spiritual Awareness" which is "Diving into the Deity" or "Going to God". This is the true Turiyatitam, the Adhvanahparam of the Katha-Upanishat, that tantalises the devotee amid worldly wails, and draws him towards the "Doom of Day", known to the Sanctified Spirits of the Romish Church as the "Beatific Vision".

    The states summed up by the curious combination, "Clairvoyance", are so elusive of grasp and so slippery that a hotchpotch is the inevitable result, if we do not pause to ponder on the variety of its versi-coloured revelations. It does not fully follow, from the sole reason of a person being a clairvoyant on the physical plane, that he must needs be also a "seer" on the Bosom of the Boundless Blue. But the ecstatic clairvoyant in his luciform vesture, who can soar into the sweeping stretches of the Superliminal, has the Will of the Widest Vision in the hollow of his hand. Yet, even to him, "seeing" is only "sense perception" at best, whatever the sweet subtlety of its objective, and, hence, he does not deign to such scattering of his forces, and, dunning of the dust". Real clairvoyants rarely care to communicate their connings to the public press, and even if sometimes they would, they could not. And some of the "booming" pseudo-clairvoyants of self-deceived dogmatism, are quite keen on the so-called analysis of sense-experiences or sensations into thought-perceptions or cerebrations. But if they would be true to their salt, they should not stop short at a search for samskaras or vasanas or the inherited tendencies of the subtler mind-stuff, but should drive their drill deeper down. A vaunted knowledge of the mysterious modes of mastering the powerful "plexuses", or of meandering around the mandalas, never even takes us to the back-door of the "Heaven of Heavens", of the true Siva-pura. The Seeker after God should proceed further in his quest, and boil down "thoughts" into their meta-psychical rudiments, and these "rudiments" again into their very "first principles", until they "vanish into thin air" in the infinite azure of "Absolute Being". The truth is that whatever is analysis and reduction from below upwards, is synthesis and complication from above downwards. Unless the would-be "Anointed" be prepared to tear "thought" to tatters, to visualise, if he can, the "Motor of Kutila", it is idle of him to pose as a Seeker of God, inflicting the world with his lisping gabble of shady significance, which has abundantly been to the fore as much as the existence of babes, ever since the dawn of time.

    But, for those, who, sleeping or waking, rest in the face-to-face certitude of the true Superliminal, physical hunger and thirst are absent, for, even their fleshy frame is full of that "supple essence" which is the "sweet sap" sustaining the whole universe. What is observed above is applicable, by parity of reasoning, to "Clairaudience" or any other psychical sense. For, as mystics know, a stage is reached in their ecstasy, where all senses seem to boil and blend, when "seeing" is "hearing", and every other sensation. That is the true "Translation" of Atma-puranam. The subtle secret of "finding" the "Kingdom of Heaven" is to be sought for in one's own body. As Svami Vivekananda so frankly says in a different connexion, "If the steam is turned, on the engine must run". The apt allusion to the 'steam' and the 'engine' , has more than a surface semblance. The trouble is, we have to store the 'stream', and not only to store it, but also to know how and where to turn it. And purity of thought is the fuel which will gently generate the steam, but never that graceless purity, divorced from compassion, which will not scruple to spill the life-blood of one's neighbour, in the name of parading piety; on the other hand, the purity that is capable of bearing fruit, is what pervades the "poverty-stricken" soul, as it feels the fullest favour of its "Father in Heaven", alike in the stings of scorpions, and the pleasures of the passing, phenomenal panorama. Thus tempered in the fires of the "Valley of the Shadow of Death", the pining bhakta perchance probes into the depths of the "Great Being", and, one day, the flood-gates of the Divine Light suddenly lift, and, in a blaze of dazzling splendour, he sees his real form, and aye, behind and through it, the very back-ground of all "forms". Such a blessed soul gazes on the fullness of his own reality, flaming in ineffable lustre, where, just but a moment ago, he described, as he now finds only an empty, though a seemingly significant, fata morgana of sighs and tears, a hideous dance of dire shadows.

    Such a sight, even if it should vanish in the twinkling of an eye, is more confirmatory of the substantiality of our existence, than anything that the weary world can show. Out of the phantasmal past peer, to be sure, St. John of the Cross and Sri-Mula, Buddha and Sankara, Santideva and Nagarjuna, Chaitanya and Srikantha, but what of that? Has not the living present its own "Legion of Honour"? Ramakrishna-Paramahamsa and Emerson, Sadasiva-brahmam and Tillainathan-svami, are ever with us to comfort and cheer us along the "Razor-Path".

V. V. Raman


Friday, May 18, 2012


[A lecture delivered by Mr. V. P. Kantimatinatha Pillai, B .A., during the 6th conference, (Madras), December 1911 of the Saiva Siddhanta Maha Samajam – Ed. S. I].


    In this short discourse of mine I do not propose to enter into anything like a discussion of the principles of Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy, with a view to show its superiority over other schools of Indian thought. I only propose to give an outline of the same; so much as to make clear to a lay mind, what Saivaism or Saiva Siddhantam is, and in what relationship it stands to other schools. Although this school of Saiva Siddhantam is, in the words of a late eminent scholar in Tamil, the oldest and choicest of Indian philosophies; it had so long remained in the back ground that even the term Saivaism has ceased to be understood in its true meaning. It is only very few that know who a Saiva is, and why he is so. It is no surprise then that many of us do not know what Saivaism or Saiva Siddhantam is, and why it is so known. It may therefore be of advantage to begin this discourse with an examination of the definition of the terms Saiva and Saivaism.

    2.    I have already said that the term Saiva no longer denotes what it ought to. It is used to denote a very narrow section of the Vellala community, who pass for hereditary vegetarians, and to which, I may say, I myself belong. At any rate it is so used in the southern part of this Presidency. A Brahmin, none the less a hereditary vegetarian, is not known as a Saiva; nor is any of other non-Vellala. Even Vellalas that have become Vegetarians for the past few generations, are not accepted as Saivas. What is still worse is, that the so-called Saiva is Saiva, even though he does not stick up to the Vegetarian diet. Indeed, it is no longer used as a name denoting the religion which one professes, but as one denoting the sub-caste he belongs to. It is not that the Vellala section alone is responsible for this degradation in use. Brahmins call this section as Saivas and think it as demeaning to be known by the name themselves; while the other non-Vellalas think, they are too low to be entitled to the name. Why! All of us know that in this town of Madras, there is a street known as Saiva Muttaiya Mudaly street. The name implies that none of the Mudaliyars outside the division of the said Mudaliyar, can possibly be or become a Saiva.

    3.    What is the cause of this restriction in use? None of the scriptures sanction such. Saiva Samaya Acharyas the expounders of Saivaism in South India are four in number. Of them three are Brahmins. Saiva Santana Acharyas the expounders of Saivaite philosophy in Tamil, are also four and three of these likewise Brahmins. Can it be that these are not Saivas? Why! The former are worshipped as Avatars for propounding Saivaism and festivals in big Siva temples are celebrated in their honour; and the latter also are worshipped as the propounders of Saivaite philosophy. Again Saivaism recognises 63 devotees or Nayanmars as they are called. Each caste from Brahmin to Paraya has its representatives among them. It must be that one and all of them are Saivas. Nay, they are accepted as Saiva Saints, deified and images representing them are worshipped in all Siva temples by all caste men alike. Besides, Saivagamas, the Saivaite Scriptures recognise six classes of Saivaites, Adi Saiva, Maha Saiva, Anu Saiva, Anantra Saiva, Peravara Saiva, and Antya Saiva. The first two are among the Brahmins, the 3rd among the Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, the 4th among the high caste Sudras, the 5th among the inferior Sudras and the last among the Panchamas. It is thus plain that the term Saiva is not to be regarded as a term denoting one's Caste. It denotes one's religion and that alone.

    4.    Turning then to the etymological meaning of the term Saiva, we see that it prima facie means a worshipper of Saiva, as the only True God. Worship is of different modes, at different stages of one's religious life. Although the Hindu Scriptures one and all prescribe the various observances and practices which a true Saiva ought to adhere to. They alone inculcate the various doctrines which distinguish the Saivaite philosophy from the rest. Hence a Saiva is a follower of Sivagamas. How then the term came to mean a hereditary Vegetarian? Abstinence from animal diet, is one of the various rules prescribed by the Sivagamas. A Saiva is bound to obey it as well as other rules prescribed by the Agamas. Mere vegetarian diet cannot make one a Saiva. A hereditary vegetarian Vellala who makes a breach in any of the rules of the Agamas or who believes in a doctrine different from that inculcated in them, is equally a non-Saiva. Again it is not enough if one belongs to a Saiva family. He must himself be a close follower of the Sivagamas. The moment, he departs from them, he becomes a non-Saiva. So also a non-Saiva becomes a Saiva as soon as he becomes a follower of the Agamas. Thus we see that all the followers of the Agamas, are Saivas and their religion Saivaism, irrespective of their nation or caste or birth and all are entitled to become such. It is in this broad sense, our Saint, Sivajnanayogin has sung.

        "சிவனென்று மொழியைக்கொடிய சண்டாளன் செப்பிடில்

        அவனுடனுறைக அவனுடன் கலந்து பேசுக,

        அவனோடருகிருந் துண்ணுக என்னும்உவமையில்சுருதி"!


    The unrivalled Vedas declare:

        "With him who recites the word Siva, be he the worst Chandala, one may freely converse, reside, and mess also by his side.

    5.    We shall now proceed to see what these Āgamas are. The word Āgama is interpreted in various ways. One of them is the following:- The ā sound in the word denotes Pāšam or Bondage, the ga sound denotes Soul or Jiva and the ma sound, the Pati or Lord. The Āgamas thus form the scriptures that treat of Pati, Pašu and Pāša or in other words, God, Soul and Bondage. The same are known as Pāšupatams as they treat of Pašu, its bondage, Paša, and its lord Pati. These are of 2 classes Vaidika and Avaidika Pašupatams. The former are consistent with the Vedas and the latter not. Saint Tirumular refers to this former class of Āgamas, when he says "வேதமோடாகமம், மெய்யாம், இறைவனூல்". According to him, the Vedas and the Āgamas are both of them true, both being the word of the Lord. Sri Nilakantacharya expresses the same view in his commentary on the Pāšupata Adhikarana of Brahma Sutras. He does not perceive any difference between the Vedas and the Šivāgamas. The Veda itself is Šivāgama. This truth is inculcated in the 16th Adhyāya of the Pūrvabhagam of Kūrmapurāna and in the 32nd Adhyāya of Yajňa Vaibhava Khanda of Sūta Samhitā. It is the other class of Āgamas known as the Avaidika Pūšupatams, that are spoken of in deprecating terms in Vāyu Samhitā and suchlike, and the narrow minded sectarians distort the meaning of the Vāyu Samhitā sloka and misapply it to the Sivāgamas beginning with Kamika. The Saivagamas are also attacked on the ground that they do not come under the list of eighteen Scriptures or vidhias as they are called. It is of 2 parts, the general and the special. The same sentiment has been expressly said by Saint Tirumular in his elegant verse, part of which has been above quoted.

        "வேத மோடாகமம் மெய்யாமிறைவனூல்

        ஒதுவும் போதுவுஞ்சிறப்பு மென்றுன்னுக."


    6.    Where is the necessity then for 2 parts? Will not the special part of the Sivagamas alone do? We see in our experience that our powers are altogether limited and we are gradually improving. We are not able to grasp things, all at once. We require to be instructed only by degrees. This mode of instruction is what is known in Hindu Logic as Sthularuntate Nyaya. Here is one who wants to see the star Arundhati. It is so minutely small as to become visible only after a steady, gradual, and continued practice. Give him the best of the descriptions and he cannot see it. Describe to him another star near the same but easily visible. Say to him that it is the self-same star he wants to see; else he will not care to see it. Once he sees it you may slowly lead him on to see another star which is nearer the true Arundhati and more visible than the former. In this way one may successfully lead him on to see the actual Arundati and to know also its peculiar features. The instruction given to us by our Lord through our Vedas and Sivagamas is of the same mode. With the best of the descriptions therein, we are not able to know the true God. We are first instructed to see such God in one or other of the five elements, the lowest and the most visible in the order of the 36 Tattvas. We are made to think for the time being that the deity presiding over the one or other of them, Indra, Agni, Varuna or the like, is the true God. We are gradually taken to see Him in the higher Tattvas one after another and think that the deity presiding over the one or the other of them, Brama, Vishnu, Rudra and so on, is the true God. The worship of each one of these deities forms a religion of its own. In the end we are instructed to see the true God Himself, in the Being that is above one and all the Tattvas. With this ends the general part. It is general, as it does not describe any one deity in particular. It on the other hand describes all the deities in general. Even when it describes the true God, it describes only His general features, so much as to enable one to distinguish Him from the lower Gods. His other features which form His peculiar ones and modes of worship peculiar to Him, are left to be described in the special part, the Sivagamas.

    7.    We thus see that the special part is nothing contrary to the general one. On the other hand the latter leads on to the former. Hence the special part or the Sivagamas is called Siddhantam. The word Siddhantam is of two components, Siddham, and Antam; both of which mean conclusion. The word as a whole means, the conclusion of conclusions. The religion of the Sivagamas being such is known as Siddhantam. All the other religions conclude in it; although among themselves one concludes in the other. Even the religion of the Upanishats, Vedantas as they are called, concludes itself in this. It may therefore be taken to be the all-concluding religion. The other religions are but various steps, reaching to this one, one being higher than the other. An all-concluding religion is also an all-embracing one. It can never contradict any one of the other religions. On the other hand it embraces within its fold all the other religions. That this is the test of a true religion has been set forth in clear terms by Arunandi Sivam in the following verse of his Sivajnanasiddhi.

        " ஒதூ சமயங்கள் பெருளுனரு நூல்கள் ஒன்றோ

        டொன் றொவ்வாமலுள பலவுமிவற்றுள்

        யாது சமயம் பொருள்நூல்யாதிங் கென்னில், இது

        வாகுமதுவல்ல தெனும் பிணக்கதின்றி

        நீதியினா னிவை யெல்லா மோரிடத்தே காணநின்றதி

        யாதொரு சமயமது சமயம் பொருள் நூல்

        ஆதலினாலிவை யெல்லா மருமறையாகமத் தேயடங்கியிடு

        மவையிரண்டு மரனடிக்கீழடங்கும்."


Many are the religions and the scriptures teaching them. No one of these agrees with the other. How then to find which of these is true? That religion is true, which not contradicting this or that one, embraces every one of them within its fold. So also the scriptures teaching the same. All the other scriptures are covered by the Vedas, and Agamas; while they themselves are covered by no other than the Lord's Grace.

    8.    Of the Vedas and Sivagamas, the whole of the Vedas corresponds to the whole of the Sivagamas. The Vedas are four in number and each one of them is divided into 2 parts, the Karma Kanda or the ceremonial portion and the Jnanakanda or the Philosophical portion. So also are the Sivagamas. They are 28 in number. Each one of them is divided into four parts or padams: Charya, Kriya, Yoga, and Jnana padams. The first three correspond to the Karmakanda of the Vedas and the last one, the Jnanapada corresponds to the Upanishat portion of the Vedas.

    The Upanishat portion is otherwise known as Vedantam, and the Jnanapada portion of the Agamas as Agmantam. The latter is Siddhantam with regard to the former. This relationship holds also with regard to the ceremonial portions of the two treatises. In Karmakanda, the various Dharmas or modes of worship directed towards deities of an order lower than the true God, are set forth in details. They are known as Pasu Dharmas. Although the mode of worship of the true God is also in a way treated therein, the same is treated in detail only in the Agamas. No Agamic Dharma is directed towards any other than the Lord Siva. Rituals, domestic and these relating to the temples, rituals daily and these on special occasions, and the various mental practices, as set forth in the Sivagamas, are all directed towards the Lord Siva. All aim only at the attainment of Siva's bliss in one way or the other. This Dharma is known as Pati Dharma and in this is concluded, the other one. Hence it is that the first three padams form the Siddhanta for the Karma Kanda of the Vedas.

    9.    We shall now turn to see how the Vedanta philosophy corresponds to that of the Agmanta. The Sivagamas have already been said to treat of Pati, Pasu and Pasam. So do the Upanishats also. But these latter do not agree among themselves and this is the reason why one school of philosophers has adopted some only of the Upanishats and another, some others. Sri Sankara for instance has adopted ten only of them and class them as Dasopanishats; while Sri Ramanuja would adopt some more. These are schools which prefer some Upanishats to the others. Unlike is the case with the Siddhanta school. This regards all the 108 Upanishats as entitled to the same weight and would reconcile them with the Jnanapadas of the Sivagamas. Take for instance a theory relating to God as to whether He is Saguna (having attributes) or Nirguna (having no attributes). One and the same Upanishat gives varying texts about it. The sixteenth mantra of the sixth Adhyaya of Svestasvatara Upanishat recites, "The Lord of Pasu and Pati is one having attributes." While the nineteenth mantra replies, "He has neither forms nor doings. He is quite impersonal." Agamanta would reconcile them and conclude that He has not got the attributes of a soul. He has not got what called "ஹேயகுணம்". But He has attributes peculiar to Him which form his "விசேஷகுணம்". Next as to the theory of the individuality of Soul, the Upanishats give conflicting texts. There are what are called Bhedasrutis and Abhedasrutis. Texts forming the Bhedasrutis are found in Upanishats, Brihadaranya, Svetasvatara, Mundakopa and others, and the other class of Srutis is found in Chhandogya and other Upanishats. The Agamanta would reconcile these and say that Soul is a distinct entity from God, and they exist as not two. Their existence is co-existence without mutual exclusion. It is this relationship between them that the Agamanata would style as Advaita relationship. According to this school, the word Advaita does not denote the denial of the existence of any other than God, but denotes the relationship between the two distinct entities of God and Soul. Such conflicting texts are also found in Upanishats as to the theory of Maya or Aviddai. According to some, it is an entity in itself. According to some others, it is no entity at all. This school would reconcile them and they say that it is not such an unchanging entity like God. It is capable of change. But it is at any rate an entity. Numerous more instances may be quoted. But I have perhaps taken you into details in violation of my promise at the outset. I hope you will bear with me for it. I mean by the instances quoted above that the school of Siddhanta is not one contradicting any of the various other schools that have arisen out of Upanishats; but one that reconciles the same with the Sivagamas, with may be said to have arisen out of them both.

    10.    I have shown that the school of Saiva Siddhanta is not one belonging to any particular caste. It is not Sudra philosophy as thought of by some of the Brahmins. It is Brahmanic as well as any other. I have also shown that it is not purely Agamatic; but Vedic as well, and that it is not Dvaitam as thought of generally, but Advaitam in truth. Nay according to it, the truly Vedic and Advaita philosophy is this one and nothing else. It is also thought of by some that it is purely Tamilian; as if this school were prevalent only in Tamil County, and in Tamil language. It is no discredit to any religion that it prevails only in a particular place, or the work bearing on it exists only in a particular language. We are not to test the truth of a philosophy by the place where it prevails or by the language in which it is written. Saint Umapati has well said,
"அன்னிய நூலின்விதிய வாரோத மேலது உமுன்னேல் பழுதொன்றுளத்து." It is not at the same time true that it prevails merely in Tamil Country. It prevails in north India though to a small extent. It has been found to prevail in Kashmir. The schools of Pratyabhijna and Spanda there teach practically the same doctrines as this. It is not at all true that works bearing on this school are written only in Tamil. In fact more works of the school are written in Sanskrit than in Tamil. The every Sivagamas, which form the basis of this school, exist only in Sanskrit. The fact is, that many of the works in Sanskrit have been left uncared for, to rust and decay; while some others are lying unknown. Some 20 years ago very few thought that there is a Saiva commentary for Brahma sutras in Sanskrit. It has now become an accomplished fact. It has since been translated into Tamil also by the famous Brahma Sri Sentinatha Iyer to whom the Saiva world is very highly indebted. The very little knowledge I possess of the philosophy of the Upanishats is due to this translation as well as translations of Upanishats appearing in the Light of Truth, the organ of our Samaja. We thus see that this school of Siddhanta is one to which the whole of India can lay claim as its ancestral one.

    11.    But it must be admitted that this school is at present more flourishing in this Tamil land than elsewhere. This is owing to the advent herein of the four Tamilian Saints whose hymns of Devaram and Tiruvasagam contain beautiful expositions of philosophical thoughts propounded by this school of philosophy. These hymns correspond to the Vedic hymns; but with this difference that the truths they inculcate are peculiarly Sivaite. Hence it is that the Saiva Siddhantins regard them as the Tamil Vedas. The rationale of the philosophy is however not discussed therein. It is left entirely to the succeeding group of four other saints, beginning with Saint Meykandan. It was this saint that raised this system to a scholastic one, by his famous work of Sivajnanabodham in Tamil. This work is composed of 12 Sutras which comprise the whole philosophy. His disciple Saint Arunandi has written a Poetic Commentary on the same by his Sivajnanasiddhi. Then his disciple Saint Maraijnanasambandhar, then again his disciple Saint Umapati wrote similar works. The works of these and two more constitute the fourteen Siddhanta Sastras in Tamil. The line of disciples continued on like this, and, it is believed, is still continuing. So that most of the Saiva mutts Saiva priests, great and small, trace their origin to Saint Meykandan and say they belong Meykanda santanam.

    12.    The famous mutt of Tiruvavaduturai is one in the order of Meykandasantana mutts. It is famous not merely for the vast wealth it possesses. Great men presided over the mutt and great men were members of the holy order of Tampirans therein. Saint Sivajnana Svami was one of the holy order some 200 years ago. It was he that wrote the famous prose commentary on Sivajnanabodam in Tamil, known as Dravida Maha Bashyam. The whole work is not published yet. The commentary on the last seven sutras alone have been brought to light. I learn that this forms only a third of the whole Bashyam. But from what has come out. We clearly see what a splendid intellectual treat the Bashyam supplies, and what a truly great man the swami was. It is said that the mutt possesses the whole Bashyam. It is highly regrettable then that it did not as yet strike His Holiness the present Pandarasannadhi to publish the same. It should not at all be too much to expect, that if the whole Bashyam is brought out, and translated into English and other important languages, there will come a time when the whole educated world may become the followers of this school.

    13.    I may perhaps be accused of aspiring too much. Indeed it should appear like that seeing the present condition of our religion. But imagine for a moment what its condition was, some 15 years ago. Few English-cultured men had any scent of it. Our able exponent of this system, I mean our respected President, has brought out his translation of Sivajnanabodam in 1895 and his journal of 'The Light of Truth' soon after. With this may be said to begin the study of this philosophy by the English educated among us. Nay translations of many other Siddhanta works followed in quick succession and also such philosophical Journals like 'The Oriental Mystic Myna.' Besides, Saiva Siddhanta Conferences are being held at various places and lectures on subjects pertaining to the school delivered in English and Tamil. We have formed a Samaja consisting of members throughout this Presidency. We are issuing and small treatises bearing on this religion. We are also sending out touring lecturers for preaching its truth; men who are truly able exponents of our system have given up their other concerns and consented to go out as Samaja lecturers.

    14.    Is it then too much that I expected that time may come when our religion and philosophy may spread all through the world? Only we have to acquire a substantial fund for this Provincial Conference to enable us to realise our expectations. At present our work is confined more to our Province. As our fund grows, we should be able to extend our work gradually throughout India and elsewhere all through the world. Svami Vivekananda has paved the way for propagation of our religion in America and other western countries and time will not be far off, when we will follow suit, and in our turn send our Saivaite missionaries all through there. I am perhaps detaining you, gentlemen, with expressions of my fond hopes. I shall not do so any longer. I close my paper here with my heart-felt thanks to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the very patient hearing you have kindly given me.

Monday, May 14, 2012


    The inner meaning of this Symbol is very grand and poetic, and to enter into, and understand it, will certainly be deemed a privilege by those who are striving to realise for themselves the truths of mysticism.

    Before entering into the meaning itself let me digress a little in narrating the legend, which explains the occasion for Siva's sacred dance at Chidambaram.

    Vishnu arose one day from his slumber, and repaired to the Sacred Mount Kailas, there to pay reverence to the supreme Siva, Who told him, that, in the neighbouring forest of Taruka there were multitudes of heretical Rishis or devotees, dwelling with their wives, and puffed up with the pride of their learning, and, who regarded themselves as independent of His authority. It was the intention of Siva, to visit this forest, in order to ascertain the state of the Rishis there, and to teach them a lesson. He accordingly asked Vishnu to accompany Him in the guise of a woman, and the two – Siva as a mendicant, with the usual insignia including the bowl for the collection of alms, and Vishnu as His wife – entered the forest.

    As soon as the two entered the Darukavana as man and wife, the Rishis' wives were seized with an unspeakable frenzy of passion for the mendicant, while the Rishis were equally infatuated by the woman that followed Him – Vishnu is disguise. A fierce wrath soon raged throughout the hermitage. The Rishis speedily perceived that the mendicant and his wife, who possessed such a mysterious power of attraction, were not what they seemed. They became ashamed of their ecstasies, of evil desire, and, gathering in a body, pronounced fierce imprecations upon the couple. But the Divine visitors remained unharmed. They then a dug a sacrificial pit and proceeded to burn oblations, in view to ensure the destruction of the unwelcome intruders. As a result of the sacrificial rites, a fierce tiger came out of the sacrificial fire and sprang at Siva; Who, smiling gently, seized it with His sacred hands, and, with the nail of His little finger, ripped off its skin, and, wrapped it round Himself like a soft silken garment. This is the origin of Siva's tiger-skin mantle.

    Undiscouraged by the failure, they renewed their sacrificial offerings, and from the altar-fire came out a monstrous serpent, which He seized and wreathed round His neck, where it has since hung for ever; and then began His mystic dance. At last, a monster named Musalaka (the club-bearer), in the shape of a black dwarf, hideous and malignant, rushed upon Him, brandishing a club, with eyes of fire. Upon him, the Lord pressed the tip of His sacred foot, and broke his back, so that he writhed on the ground. Thus with His last foe prostrate, Siva resumed the dance of which all the gods were witnesses, while His hosts sang enthusiastic choruses.

    The Rishis, parched with the heat of their own sacrificial fires, faint with the fury of their anger, and, overwhelmed with the splendour of the heavens opening around them fell to the ground as dead, and then rising, worshipped the known God, acknowledging themselves His faithful devotees.

    Now entering into the vital part of the symbology, Nataraja means the "Lord of the Stage"* [* The expression 'Nataraja' does not mean "Lord of the stage"; it means only 'Master-actor', or 'Prince of actors'. The idea, 'Lord of the stage', corresponds to the Sanskrit compound 'Nata-ranga-raja', and not to 'Nata-raja'. The synonyms, Natesa, Natesvara and Nataraja, indicates that the Lord is the Chief actor (=Sutradhara) in the drama of the Prapancha, that He is the Nimitta-karana of the Manifested Universe. – Ed
.] The idea is that the world is a stage, which presents the vision and activity of life, through the power of the omnipresent God, the unseen Lord of the stage. He represents the teacher or guru whose one of the most important functions is, to enforce his teachings by example; and this idea is the key-note to the Nataraja symbol.

    The legend teaches that He subdues and wraps round Him, like a girdle, the feline fury of human passion. The guile and malice of mankind He transmutes into His necklace. One of His feet is planted over and crushes the giant – the endless illusion or monster of human depravity, while the other is raised upward to aid and comfort those who are shrouded in Maya, and enable them to realise His eternal fellowship. The little drum in one of His right hands, expresses the idea of His being the Preceptor or Guru, and means also to indicate that He holds in the hollow of His hand the dispensation of the entire Prapancha, the cause of all the world, to be folded or unfolded at His own will. The deer on one side is the mind, because the latter leaps and jumps from one thing to another as unsteadily as that animal. On His head, He wears the Ganges, that is to say, the Chit-Sakti or Wisdom which is most cool and refreshing; the Moon representing the ethereal light and blissfulness of the Atman or Self. The second right hand representing the idea of Peace, indicates the blessed calmness of Wisdom. In one of the left hands is held Agni (fire), which represents the idea that the truth of the Guru's teachings can only be fully understood on practical realisation in one's inner experience. The place of the dance – the theatre – is the Tillaivanam (=Daruka-vana); in other words, the body is spoken of as the Vanam (forest), because of the multitude of its components. The platform (=boards) in that theatre, is the cremation-ground, the place where all passions, and the names and forms that constitute the vision of the world, are dissolved – pure consciousness devoid of attachment to anything outside, and free from all taint of illusion.

    The above are some of the leading features of the symbol*. [* The allegory, as interpreted above, cannot be said to be on the track of correct solution. Yet, as an attempt, it is commendable, although for real light, one should search the Agamantic classics. Ed. L. T.] The Guru teaches that Maya – the illusion of the world – should be crushed down, that the deer-like mind should be left behind, and ahankara (egoism) destroyed, and that man should ascend to the regions of pure consciousness, free from passion and deception, and enjoy the true bliss.

    Viewed in the light of this inner meaning, Sri Nataraja is no more a meaningless idol, an effigy in stone or copper, but a symbol of the highest import, an incentive to pure inspiration and elevation.

J. M. S.

Monday, May 7, 2012


    God is a spiritual Being without any form or shape. This is a truth accepted by all religions; but I cannot say if this truth is explained by them all.

    Name and form pertain to the plane of limitation, and the unlimited God who transcends that plane cannot therefore be said to have any name or form. Form does not mean only a visible body. Electricity cannot be said to have any visible body, still it cannot be said that it is without any form. Forms may be said to be of two kinds – sensible and insensible forms. Sensible forms are those that can be comprehended by our senses and insensible forms are those that cannot be so comprehended. Anyhow both are forms, and they are known in Tamil a
. Whether sensible or insensible, every form is a feature of limitation, and this cannot be predicted of God. Not only name and form, but thought and action are themselves features of limitation which belong to the Mayavic plane, and cannot therefore be attributed to God. In fact no thought or action is possible without form, and every thought or action implies a form. God is beyond the Mayavic plane in His transcendent nature and He cannot therefore be said to have any name or form, or thought or action.

    But the Jagat or the universe shews ample signs of Divine energy and design without it is altogether impossible to postulate the existence of the Jagat. So that, here are two facts opposed to each other. On the one hand we have it that God cannot think or act, and on the other hand we have it that without His will and action the existence of the Jagat cannot be accounted for. It must also be noted in this connection that if God is beyond the range of limitation without any name or form, or thought or action He can be of very little use to the conditioned Souls. What then is the solution of this difficult problem?

    According to the Saiva Siddhanta, although God is beyond the limitation of thought and action, still the effects of His influence over Maya is such that by influence, the whole Jagat evolves out of Maya and moves in His grand presence. This influence of God is referred to as His Sakti in order to discriminate His transcendent nature from the effect of that nature on Jagat. The transcendent nature of God is known as His சொரூபலக்கணம், while the effect of that nature on Jagat is known as His தடத்தலக்கணம். Although God is transcendent and infinite, He is at the same time Gracious and Blissful, and the effect of this Grace and Bliss must certainly be seen on the conditioned Souls according to their own capacity. It is this effect that is known as SIVA-RUPA to the conditioned souls.

    It is highly essential that the effect of Divine Grace should be clearly seen or fully realized by the souls in order to be benefitted thereby. They may not of course be able to see the transcendent nature of God, or what we may call His சொரூபலக்கணம், but they must necessarily see the influence of that transcendent nature on themselves. It is in order to enable the souls so to see the influence of the Divine Grace, that Grace manifests itself at the beginning of every cycle of creation, and it is this manifestation that is propounded by the scriptures as SIVA-RUPAM.

    When at the beginning of a cycle, the Gracious influence of the transcendent or Suddha Siva starts to manifest itself in a very very subtle manner, it is called Sivam. When this Sivam exhibits signs of activity, it is called Sakti – the second stage. When the influence of this Sakti reflects on the primordial element called Suddha Maya, the sound principle called Nadam or vibration exhibits itself. This is the seed or germ of all name or Nama, that is otherwise known as Sabdappirapancha. From this germ of name evolved the germ of form or Rupa which is known as Bindhu. These four forms of Sivam, Sakti, Nadam and Bindhu are known as the Arupa forms or shapeless forms of Siva. The fifth form called Sathakkaia then manifested itself, combining in it the principles of both name and form, and this manifestation is said to be Ruparupam or quasi form and is known as Pranava or the seed of all material forms with name and form. From this quasi form of Pranava evolved the fully developed form of Mahesvara, from Him Rudra, from Him Vishnu, and from Him Brahma – each form being grosser than the preceding one. The four fully developed forms of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Mahesvara are called Rupa manifestations of the Divine grace and are the agents of the four actions of creation, preservation, dissolution and obscuration, while the fifth action of bestowal of grace belongs to the quasi form of Sadasiva or Sathakkia.    

    The influence of the transcendent nature of God, or in other words, the effect of His grace on the conditioned souls, shews itself out in nine different forms of varied stages and are called by the Siddhanta school as the Nava Bedam of the Divine manifestation.

    Siva Rupam may again be found essential for the evolution of the Jagat. God is absolute and all-in-all, and there cannot be anything outside Him. Every atom exists in Him, and as such everything must proceed from Him. In order to impress this truth on the conditioned souls, Siva assumed a form, and issued the whole Jagat out of that form. The form so assumed by Him is the Siva Rupa known as Siva Linga and this is the origin of all material world.

    Siva Rupa is again necessary for the salvation of souls in various ways, and every religion may be found to speak of some Divine incarnation or other of the Great God in the interests of the souls under His care.

    Says the Saiva Siddhanta:-

    படைப்பாதித் தொழிலும் பந்தர்க்கருளும் பாவனையுநூலும்,

    இடப்பாக மாதராளோடியைந்துயிர்க்கின்பமென்றும்,

    அடைப்பானாமதுவுமுத்தியளித்திடு மியோகும் பாசந்

    துடைப்பானாமதுவுமேனி தொடக்கானேற் சொல்லொணாதே.


    Conditioned as we are, we certainly require a medium in the shape of a Divine manifestation to serve us as a ladder to the unconditioned state, and such a manifestation may be found indispensable for the five actions of God performed in the interest of the conditioned souls.

    It must, however, be understood that the form assumed by God is not one of flesh and bones as ours are, nor is it subject to hunger and thirst, lust and passion. That form itself is beyond the Mahavic plane and the three Gunas of limitation known as Rajas, Tamas and Satva cannot be heard of in that form. That form is one of pure Grace, and every portion of that form is a transformation of our Lords unlimited LOVE.

    உருவருள் குனங்களோடு முணர்வரு ளுருவிற்றோன்றுங்,

    கருமமுமருளரன்றன் கரணாதிசாங்கந்

    தருமருளுபாங்க மெல்லாந் தானரு டனக்கொன்றின்றி,

    அருளுருவு யிருக்கென்றே யாக்குவனசிந்தனன்றே.


S. S.



Saturday, May 5, 2012


[* A lecture delivered by S. Sabaratna Mudaliyar at the Jaffna Hindu College Hall on the 21st February 1913]

    Siva Linga is a sacred object of worship among the 200 millions of Hindus who occupy the vast continent of India and the spicy isle of Ceylon. They represent a seventh part of the population of the whole world and they enjoy an unrivalled reputation for their ancient civilization. Their religion is admittedly the oldest of the existing religions; and it is an undeniable fact that it has created an exceptionally high degree of spiritual fervour in the hearts of its adherents. The effect of the religion on its adherents could be easily gauged from the standard of morality maintained by them, and I am sure that a crime statistics of the different countries of the world would show the "Mild Hindu" to great advantage. The object of worship of such a people should not be attached at random, and the feelings of the 200 millions offended for no mistake committed by them. I do not think that the propagation of any religion involves the necessity of offending the feelings of believers in other religions; but on the contrary, it is, I think, the duty of every believer in God that he does not in any way hurt the feelings of others who likewise believe in God, but in a different form. I am very sorry to find that this important duty of man is lost sight of by some of our Christian friends who would not scruple to call Siva Linga, our sacred object of worship, a Phallic emblem. If this is what is known as Christian principle, I will speak no more of it. Let it speak for itself.

    But I am glad that this uncalled for and unpardonable attack on the part of a Christian writer has given the Hindus an opportunity to explain the true significance of Siva Linga, and I therefore consider it my duty, as a Hindu, to lay before the public the little that I know of the subject.

    Before entering into an explanation of Siva Linga, I have to say a few words on the meaning of the word Linga. Linga is derived from the Sanskrit root Lika which means to sculpture or to paint, and Linga means one that sculptures or paints. God being the Sculptor of the Universe, He is known as Linga, and this word has become ultimately to mean any form or symbol that represents Him. It has become in a later stage to mean any sign or symbol, in a general sense, and it is in this sense the word is used now. Refer to any Dictionary-Sanskrit or Tamil- and you will find the meaning of the word as a symbol or a mark-
a சின்னம்,
a குறி. The words is used in this sense by Lexicographers, Grammarians and Logicians; and it may even be found as a technical term used in this sense in Hindu Logic. Lingapattiam is the name of a commentary on the meanings of Sanskrit words, and one could clearly see in what sense the word is used as the title of that Book. But of course, in course of time, the word happened to convey other meanings as well, and among them that of the generative organ, by the common law of degeneration of words which is not peculiar to Tamil or Sanskrit alone. Even then, this degenerated import of the word is not its chief meaning, but it is only a secondary one of very rare use. How the word happened to be used in this sense could itself be easily traced. There is an Etymological rule in Tamil in known as
which is a form of decorum used in giving expression to objects which would not admit of open mention. The genital organ came to be referred to according to this rule as இலிங்கம் or குறி, and the use of these words in this sense has become a fashion in course of time. Not only the word Lingam but the word Kuri itself is used in this sense; but no one who has any idea of Tamil will contend that every Kuri is a genital organ. The word Kuri means a punctuation, a brand mark &c., &c., and I am sure that no punctuation, will ever be said to represent a genital organ.

    Another derivation, of the word Lingam is Ling, which means involution, and Gam, which means evolution. So that Lingam is the principle of involution and evolution combined together, and such a combination can only be traced to God, the primordial cause of the whole Jagat.

    It could thus be clearly seen that the radical meaning of the word Lingam does not in the least convey any sense applicable to the generative organ, but, on the contrary, the real meaning of the word may be found so sublime and so deep that it will immensely benefit one to scrutinise the word and learn its meaning analytically.

    So far for the word Lingam. I will now proceed to explain, as briefly as I can, the meaning of Siva Lingam; but I must say at the outset that this object has a large stock of mysticism about it which can only be explained by an adept for whose qualifications I have the least pretence. Siva Lingam is explained at great length by Siva Agamas and several Puranas; and the Vedas themselves could be found to have their own explanation of Siva Lingam.

    It is the main principle of Hindu Philosophy – and I am sure that principle is admitted by all religions – that every particle of this great Jagat is moved by God. There cannot be any movement without God, and the existence of the universe would be altogether impossible without Divine energy. The principle of creation has been very minutely and systematically described in our Sastras according to which Siva Linga is the embodiment of the cosmic creation. There was the Nirguna Brahm; and there was the primordial cosmic element called Maya. What was the course taken by the Divine Energy in producing the cosmic world out of Maya? Maya is an extremely subtle matter without any form or shape, and it is of two kinds – Suddha Maya and Asudda Maya – or the lower and upper Maya. This Maya is in the presence of Sivam or Nirguna Brahm and that of its Sakti or Divine Energy. This Sakti having energised Suddha Maya, the Mundane egg of the universe was formed. This was Nadha or the principle of sound. This was what is known as Nama or name – the first expression of limitation. From this Nada or Nama came out Bhindu or Rupa i.e., the form – the second stage of limitation. This name and form – Nama and Rupa – is what is known as Omkara Pranava; and this is the seed and seat of all matter and force. The Nada is represented by a line and the Bhindu by a disc. It is this Nada or vibration that is known as Linga, and Bindu is what is known as its Pita. This Lingam with its Pitam or the principle of Name and Form is still beyond comprehension, and the form that could be comprehended a litter better came out of the Bindhu above referred to in the order of evolution. This is what is known as Sadakkiam or Sadasivam. This is Rupa-Rupam or with shape and without shape. From this Sadhasiva came out Mahesvara, with fully developed form, from him Rudra, in the reign of Asudda Maya, from him Vishnu, and from him, Brahma. These nine different phases or Navapetam are the different stages of evolution which the great God – or properly speaking – His Sakti – assumed in manifesting Itself to the souls – or in fact to excite their intelligence, and evolve this Jagat or universe out of Maya. The different actions in the region of Suddha Maya are performed by Sadhasiva and Maheswara, while those in the lower Asuddha Maya by Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma – the Hindu Triad. It could thus be seen what position the Nada and Bhindu hold in the order of cosmic evolution. These two principles as I have already said, are known as Pranava – Nada representing Nama, and Bindu representing Rupa – and it is this Pranava that is represented by Siva Lingam. Natham or the principle of vibration, or the first stage of cosmic energy – the mundane egg – is represented by a line and Bindu, the next stage, by a disc. The line is the Linga and the disc is the Pita. We know that the principle of all writings in any language is embodied in this line and disc. Can we with any sense of correct knowledge call this Linga an emblem of generative organ? I am sorry that our critics are unable to form an idea of the creative principle except through the genital organ! You will see that in the order of evolution above out-lined, no fully developed form is manifested until the stage of Mahesvara is reached. Is it possible then to call Nada and Bhindu which are far above the developed form of Mahesvara as one his organs?

    Siva Linga again is said to be of three kinds – Vyaklam Avyaktam and Vyaktavyaklam or Sakalam, Nishkalam, and Sakalanishkalam. The pure form of Sat, Chit and Anandam of Sivam is known as Avyaktam or Nishkala Lingam. The form to which name and form are particularly traceable is called Vyaktavyaktam or Sakalanishkala Lingam. It is this that is generally known as Sadakkiam or Siva Lingam. The form in which name and form are fully developed is called Vyaktam or Sakala Lingam. Under this class of Vyaktalingams fall the 25 forms of Mahesvara, such as Chandrasegara, Uma Mahesa &c., &c. These forms are fully developed and are said to embody the various limbs of a perfect form, such as head, face, hands, legs &c. It is the embodiment of all these limbs that is called Mahesvara Linga, and can we then say that the figure embodying all these limbs represents only one of such limbs – the phallus? and can we call the Avyakta and Vyaktavyakta Lingas which have no body or shape whatever, a phallus – a fully developed form?

    This Sadakkiam or Siva Lingam is again explained in the Agamas in five other forms; namely Siva Sdaakkiam, Amurti Sadakkiam, Murti Sadakkiam, Kartiru Sadakkiam and Karma Sadakkiam. Of these five, the Murti Sathakkia-Linga and Kartiru-Sadakkia-linga exhibit in their forms fully developed faces, and they are called Muka-Linga-Murti or Linga with face. May I ask our critics whether a phallus has a face?

    The Siva Linga that is generally seen in many of our temples is the form of Karmasadakkiam which embodies in it the Jnana-lingam of Nadam and the Pita Lingam of Bhindu. This is what is known as Sadakkiam or the form of God in His capacity as the Agent of the five actions of Srishti, Stiti, Sankharam, Thirobhavam and Anugraham. In other words, Siva in His capacity as the Agent of Panchakrityam is known as Linga, meaning thereby the Sculptor of the universe, as already explained, and as the primordial germ of the cosmic appearance. The Agamas explain at length that this Linga embodies in it the various differentiations of the Jagat known as He, She and It; and in fact they allot different portions of this Linga for the different differentiations. This form, again, embodies in it the Hindu Triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra as well as the Vyashti forms of Pranava which is the germ of the 96 elementary principles of the Jagat known as Tatvas. We may be able to learn a good deal of the cosmic principles, and of their modes and methods of involution and evolution if we study a competent preceptor the true meaning of Siva Linga. I would refer you to a series of very valuable and interesting articles contributed to the Madras Siddhanta Dipika in 1906 and 1907 by Mr. Rangaswamy Aiyar under the heading "The inner meaning of Siva Lingam". The sublime meaning of Siva Linga may be found expounded in Tirumantram, Linga Puranam, Siva Puranam, Vayusamhita, Sutasamhita and several other Tamil works of great reputation, and the Agamas devote volumes to the excellence of Siva Linga. If one could have a glimpse of the meanings of the several rites and ceremonies performed at a Linga-Stapana, he would be able to have a correct meaning of the sacred Siva Lingam.

    The Agamas again speak of seven kinds of Linga, viz:- Gopuram, Sikaram, Dvaram, Prakaram, Balipitam, Archalingam and Mulalingam. The Tower, the dome, the gateway, the court yard round the temple, are all called Lingas as they represent Siva-Sakti one way or the other, and are therefore entitled to our veneration and worship. Are these all to be called phallic symbols, I ask? It is again one of the important doctrines of the Hindu religion that we have to perform our worship on Guru, Jangamam, and Lingam. The Lingam herein referred to is a term which includes the various images of Siva which we worship in our temples. Can we say that all these images are phallic symbols? Surely it does not require much research into the Hindu Sastras to have a general idea of the meaning of Siva Lingam, and it is not possible to conceive how the critics came to make this unfounded and blasphemous allegation against our sacred objet of worship which is replete with sound and solemn significance. It may be that a phallic emblem was considered sacred by ancient Romans or Greeks. But Hindus are neither Romans nor Greeks; and it quite unreasonable and uncharitable to charge the Hindus with an idea to which they were in no way responsible. Evidently the ancient Romans or Greeks borrowed the Linga worship from the Hindus, and it their debased ignorance put a wrong construction on it, having misunderstood the language used by the Hindus in describing it. Are the Hindus to be taken to task on account of an idiotic mistake committed by foreign nations?

    If we refer to the Puranas, we will find Siva Linga being further explained. When Brahma and Vishnu, in their arrogance, fought with each other for supremacy, the Lord Paramesvara appeared in their midst in the form of a flame whose beginning or end they were unable to discover. This flame of immeasurable effulgence is called Linga. This Linga is said to represent the sacred fire of the Vedic Yajnas, while the temples stand for the sacrificial grounds. These temples again represent our hearts or Hridaya, and our Lord is said to abide in our hearts in the form of a Linga or a glow of effulgence, as the soul of our souls. Surely none of these significance of Siva Linga has any reference to phallic emblem, and I challenge our critics to quote a single verse in any of our Sastras in support of their unfounded allegation.

    I think I have said enough to convince you that the charge laid against our sacred object of worship is as unfounded as it is blasphemous. If you have a desire to be more fully informed of Siva Linga you will do well to make a study of it under a competent Guru, and you will then be able to see how the incomprehensible and indescribable Sivam assumed this Linga form in order to make Himself known to us, and how this Linga form comprises in itself, in a very subtle manner, the most primordial germ of the whole Jagat – in short how the unlimited Sivam started a limitation to benefit the innumerable souls. I hope, and I pray that you will all be benefitted by this Maha Lingam Siva Rupam.

S. S.