Sunday, September 30, 2012



Translated into English with notes by

Brahmasri A. Govindacharya Svamin, C.E., M.R.A.S., ETC.

    We welcome this the latest production from the pen of Svami A. Govindacharya. The author Srinivasa is said to be the disciple of Doddarya or Mahacharya, a friend and contemporary of the great Appaya Dikshita, who is said to have lived between 1552-1624 and this gives an opportunity to our translator to introduce an apocryphal story about him tending to show the supremacy of the Vaishnava faith. It would have been well if such stories are omitted in such standard treatises which are to go before a larger public than the small sect for which the book was originally intended. For there are also stories which are in currency which show how this bosom friend of the Dikshata dealt by him and which we do not care to repeat here. We will request our friends not to relate such stories which savors of the miraculous in establishing the superiority of one religion over another. These are not the times when we will be guided by such stories but appeal should be made solely to human reasoning and the authority of admittedly old texts, in judging of the respective merits of these systems. We are sorry to note that the learned translator has more than once pointed out in foot notes (also once in his Artha-panchaka) that the Saiva system is condemned in the Vedanta Sutras under II. 2-35, by Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhava (see p. 81 & 116). This is certainly no reason against the soundness of the Saiva system, as it will in no way go against the Pancharatra system if we point out that it is condemned by Sankara, Nilakantha, Srikara, Mahommedan and Christians and Buddhists etc. But it shows an amount of obtuseness on the part of the writer when he forgets that the Sutrakara condemns the Pancharatra system in the very next Adhikarana number 9 (II, 39 to 42). But there is this much of difference in the two arguments in the applicability thereof. Whereas there is no difference of opinion as to what the latter adhikarana denotes, Ramanuja and Sankara would seem to think that 8th adhikarana is directed against the Nakulisa or Lakulisa Pasupata system, and not against Saivism itself; and of course one has to learn that there are several systems which though recognizing Siva as the Deity yet are considered as heterodox by strict Agamanta Saivism. And Srikantha Sivacharya himself says the argument is directed against Hiranyagarbhagama theory. And in the foot note also, our Acharyasvami notes that Vallabha in his Anubhashya accuses Sivacharyas of Plagiarism from Ramanuja. We don't see the reason for the repetition of this and he could have heaped up here everything and anything which the enemies of Saivism had said; and as regards the statement of Appaya Dikshita in his Sivarkamani Dipika, when the Svami was asked for the reference he was good enough to refer to Mr. Halasyanatha Sastri's edition of which we were perfectly aware, and when he was asked for the particular reference, he has remained silent, and we presume that there is no such passage as he refers to in that work. And then why does he refer to the question of Ramanuja having borrowed from Srikantha at all? So far as we know no modern writer has done this, nor any ancient writer of any more. But it might be due to our writer's own awakened consciousness which could not but think when he reads Srikantha's and Ramanuja's Bhashyams* altogether. [* What brazen impudence characterized the author of the Life of Ramanuja in detailing the story of Goddess Saraswati herself, (The consort of the lying God Four-Faced Brahma) granting a certificate of merit for his commenting on Kapyasa will be evident when we note that the same interpretation was given of the text by Srikantha several centuries before. Vide Srikantha Bhashya under I.i.21.] We have gone into these little things at length, as though we have been ourselves anxious that the treasures of the Vaishnava literature should be placed before the larger public and we had induced our Acharya Svamin himself to devote himself to the Tamil Literature, on the subject we notice a tendency on the part of Vaishnava writers as in the Brahmavadin to rake up sectarian controversies. Our Svami's raking up of the natva Pratipataham controversy is also an instance of this sort. We remember reading a lot about this controversy in our youth in Tamil Journals and books and we then learnt that there was a learned treatise on the subject proving that the letter (n) did not stand in the way of interpreting the word Narayana as Siva. But we have certainly outgrown these times, we care the least for the learning that would turn and twist words and sentences all out of their proper meaning and sense and to mean just even the opposite. We do not care in the least to know whether the word Naryana denotes Siva or not, but we are quite certain that the thing connoted by these two words are quite distinct as we will presently show, though in the respective Sahasranama of these deities, the names of the one are applied to the other. Now as we go into the subject matter of the book we can promise the reader that it contains more than what we fancy Vaishnavism to be.

    The first part of the book (advent I to III comprising 61 pages out of a total of 175) is devoted to the discussion of the Pramanas (Pratyaksha, Anumana and Sabda) or logical foundations of the system, and it will not interest the general reader and we however note that the Pancharatra Agamas and Vaikanasa Agamas are as authoritative as the Vedas, though all the Smritis, Itihasas and Puranas are only of secondary importance. After the treatment of Pramana, the Prameya is treated and this is divisible into the following.

    Dravya or substance or A-dravya or non-substance.

    The first into the following;


    Prakriti or Matter 1; Kala or Time 2        


    Suddha-satva or Pure matter 3; Dharma-bhuta-Jnana or Attributive consciousness 4;     Jiva or Soul 5;     and God 6

    The A-dravya is divided Satva, Rajas, tamas, Sound, Touch, Color, Savor, Odor, Samyoga (conjunction) and Force (Sakti).

    And these are the different subjects treated of in the body of the work. In this, certain additions to the classification of Tatvatrayas would be at once perceived and Nos. 2, 3 and 4 are quite new. Time though classed as Jada is not Prakriti (or Aprakrata) and this is an important Tatva,* [* See its place among the Vidya-tatvas in the Saiva cosmology.] which is usually omitted in the ordinary schools. But what are these Suddha-tatva and Dharma-bhuta Jnana. The last we never seem to have across in our Upanishats or Puranas or Ithihasas. It is translated as attributive consciousness and interpreted as conscious substance and as Ajada and self-luminous. In advent VII, it is further described as non-sentient which must mean non-intelligent or Jada and it is Vibhu and Dravya and Guna, though soul itself is Anu; and it is illuminant of objects, though non-sentient, and it is intellect or Intelligence (Buddhi), etc., and this is further said to be the eternal attribute of God and Soul. If the identification of it with Buddhi etc. is true, we then seem to spot it easily enough. It is the old Buddhi, the product of Prakriti, and the distinction draws between this non-sentient Ajada and the Jada-Prakrtiti is one without a difference, and the classification becomes certainly illogical. It is then pure Achit or Achaitanyam or Asat. "Like water issuing out of the hole of a leather bag, consciousness streams through the oneness of the senses, and contacts objects." And this is the same consciousness (Buddhi) which is eternal to both Jiva and to God, only in the case of the former it is obstructed, it does not flow out freely. But there is no difference at all in the substance of the intellect of God and the Soul. There are various terms synonymous with it, such as Mati, Prajna, Samvit, Dhishana, Dhith, Manisha, Semushi, Medha, Buddhi. It is this when affected by environment assumes the forms of Joy, grief, hate, desire and will, and such things as: Perception, Inference, Word, Memory, Doubt, Conclusion, Difference, Fancy, Discernment, Endeavor, Temptation, Attachment, Hostility, Pride, Envy, Carving, Ostentation, Cupidity, Anger, Dignity, Stupor, Deceit, Partiality, Sorrow, etc., and Wisdom, Folly, Love, Contentment, Discontent, Greatness, Fatigue, Fame, Renunciation, Enjoyment, Friendship, Compassion, Aspiration of Release (mumuksha), Bashfulness, Patience, Discrimination, Wish to Conquer, Softness, Forgival, Wish to do, Disgust, Imagination, Hypocrisy, Jealousy, Wish to kill, Cupidity, Vanity, Predilection, Prejudice, Dispute, (God-) Love (bhakti), Surrender (to God = prapatti), Lordship (or Power = Bhuti) etc., are but states of this Jnana or Consciousness; as also the attributes of God himself such as: Knowledge, Power, Strength, Glory, Might and Light, Freedom, Love, Gentleness, Rectitude, Friendliness, Impartiality, Compassion, Sweetness, Dignity, Magnanimity, Tactfulness, Patience, Courage, Valor, Bravery etc.

    We have noted the fact that this consciousness is the same in both God and man, and after the enumeration of the different varieties as above, the conclusion is certainly warranted that God is but man idealized, shorn of his upadhis and bad qualities, and all the good qualities, his power and knowledge, and will and love increased, and this is but a species of glorious anthropomorphism. That this is a conclusion we have not come to with a light heart will be evident as we proceed. In this chapter is discussed the different kinds of Bhakti, and Karma and Yoga and the condemnation of Jnana margas including Saiva system is attempted. We will not proceed to enquire what this Suddha Satva is. Our learned translator calls it pure matter and Prakriti is matter and he attempts a distinction between the two by calling them respectively subjective matter and objective matter. What he means by this is not self-evident? Can it be it means subtle matter as opposed to gross matter. The author distinguished it from the Trigunatmaka Dravya (which our translator explains as meaning the Prakriti with the three gunas) but how it is not evident, except that Avidya is absent in the region of this Suddha Satva and it is this Suddha Satva that constitutes the Heaven, Bliss (Ananda) and objects, instruments, and places to both the Soul and God, such as fortune, etc. Perfumes, flowers, robes, compassions, ornaments, weapons, Terraces, Ramparts, Pavilions, Vimanams (air-cars), Parks and lotus decked ponds and the bodies of God and of the Nitya and Mukta souls. And it is heresy to declare (p. 94) that they have no such bodies formed of Suddha Satva, that is to say that you cannot conceive of God or the Freed souls except as embodied in this Suddha Satva or Pure matter and living and breathing in the region of Pure matter, and taking their pleasures (Ananda) from this Pure matter. We find this Suddha Satva though classed as Ajada described as non-conscient (p. 91) just as we found Dharma-bhuta Jnana call non-sentient before. And after all it is pure-matter, and we cannot avoid the conviction that it is the same as the Satva of the three gunas classed A-dravya, only it is not now mixed with the other two gunas Tamas and Rajas but it is all the same, matter, Asuddha maya or mala or Pasa as Saivites call it and the God and the Freed soul are clothed with it. And all these fore are said to Svayamprakasa or self-luminous, this matter and its product Buddhi and this God and this soul without a distinction, and as was well-observed elsewhere, we have to seek for a new definition of Svayam Prakasa.

    But here there is not even the distinction between light and darkness, as the darkness (Pure Satva- Pure matter) is itself called light!

    And do we not here see the real reason why the Pancharatris have a penchant for the word Saguna and why they call God Saguna, and all God's good qualities are compounded of this Pure matter. God is Saguna and Freed man is Saguna and where is the distinction between the two, except that one was already free, and one became freed, though both are lodged in the same region of Pure matter.

    Now we go to the statements about Soul and God. Soul is self-luminous. It possesses chetanatva, which is to be the seat of consciousness, atmatva (translated as spiritiness) which is to be the antithesis of matter, and Kartritva (agency) which is to be seat of consciousness of the form of Will (Sankalpa) and to these are very characteristics of God also without a shade of difference (p. 117). And the special characteristics of the soul are Atomic cum cognoscitive, liegent cum congnoscitive, sustained, contingent, agent by delegation, which in its English (?) garb we confess we cannot make out at all. The souls are three-fold, Baddha, Mukta and Nitya. The Baddha include Brahma, Rudra to the worm, and Brahma sprang out of the navel-lotus of Sriman Narayana. We find the Divine Sita included in this class of Bhadda souls, though she was Ayonija like Draupadi, Drishtadhumna etc. The various sub-divisions of this class the curious can discover in these pages. Then the nature of the Mukta he can also read here, and the way they are conducted to the heavenly presence "A hundred damsels with garlands in hand etc., and is beautified by Brahma perfume etc., etc." The Nitya are such being as Ananta, (God's couch) Garudha (God's Vahana) and Visvaksena and others. In this passage, (p. 134) we find the sentence: "Who is installed there with His (Queens) Sri, Bhu, and Nila" which we note for future reference. Advent IX deals with God (Isvara). The characteristics of God are stated to be in what our Svami says is epigrammatic style. All-lordship, All-mastership, All-worshipfulness by work, All-fruit-givership, All-support, All-energising, All-word-indicated, All-knowledge-goal, All-bodiedness excepting His own body and consciousness. God is the efficient cause as He is the Willer; instrumental cause by Virtue of His immanence in Time etc. And here we expect how He is material cause but we meet the self-evident statement (p. 128) that material cause is that which results as EFFECT by undergoing modification! And Bhagavan Narayana is all these. And in p. 146, we meet with this para which probably is an explanation "Brahman as constituted of the subtle, conscient (Chit) and the non-conscient (Achit) alone is the cause of the cosmos; and as constituted of the gross conscient and non-conscient, alone is the Effect. Thus the creed of the Visishtadvaita Vedantins is that no cause is different from its Effect." And in a foot note, we have this luminous explanation of the Translator.

    "This is the law of Correlation. Every Effect has its own antecedent Cause to which it is correlated as gross to subtle. This is also the great doctrine of Evolution (parinama-vada) which Ramanuja formulates and emphasizes. What is the evolute but its evolvent itself manifested in a different mode. No teak tree can be a product of a banyan seed. The Vedantic evolution its triform, i.e. of the whole Complex Entity: the Visishta-Brahman, i.e. God-Soul-Matter, vide pp. 49 ff of my Vade Mecum of Vedanta.

    That is to say God-soul-matter in a subtle condition is Cause; and God-soul-matter in gross condition is the Effect. We remember meeting with proposition in Doctor Bain's works that mind-body is the cause of mind-body. That is to say one is not derived from the other but one cannot be thought of and cannot exist independent of the other. If this is the sort of Parinamavada that the Light of Ramanuja's School postulates we cannot cavil. But from the superior attitude assumed towards to pure Nimitta-karana-vadins, we were led to expect otherwise. God of the compound God-soul-matter is not the cause material of Soul-matter. If God of this God-soul-matter compound is either Bhagavan Sriman Narayana or not. If He is, then the Bhagavan Sriman Narayana is not the cause of Soul-matter, in which case, the refuter has to shake hands with the refuted. This involves the conclusion as we already suggested by our comparison of mind-body that the Blessed Bhagavan-Sriman Narayana cannot subsist apart from soul-matter. And this is the right conclusion is evident from His living and breathing and enjoying solely in the regions of Pure matter.

    Then we have to deal next with the five-fold aspect of God namely (1) Para, (2) Vyuha, (3) Vibhava, (4) Antaryami, and (5) Archa. We have description of these and especially of Para or Parabrahma or Vasudeva, with four hands seated on a throne in Vaikuntha with all the attendants and ornaments and jewels, and supported by Sri, Bhu, and Nila etc. The Vyuha is divided into Vasudeva, Sankarashana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha, and though their powers, ornaments, weapons etc., are given a proper attempt is not made to define them; and for this we have to look elsewhere. We refer to the learned Editorial in the September number of the Brahmavadin (1912). Supreme Brahman is Narayana; He has four manifestations including Archa. Vasudeva is possessed of six qualities as Knowledge, Power, Strength, Heroism, Sovereignty and Splendor. Power is the condition of becoming Material Cause of Universe, out of this Vasudeva comes out the manifestation of Sankarshana who has the Form of an individual Soul. Out of Him also come out Pradyumna of the form of the internal (Buddhi) organ of the mind, and Aniruddha or the principle of Egoity or self-assertion (Ahankara). This is according to Pancharatragama. According to the Vaikhansa school, Supreme Brahman and individual Soul are one in reality, and Supreme Brahman is devoid of all characterizing attributes, and attributes are ascribed to Him, only as steps to reach Him, and He is the Lord of Goddess Lakshmi (Sri), and Rudra and Brahma are chief of individual Souls and form part of Brahman Himself. And souls are mere distinctions in the Supreme Brahman and arise out of certain limiting conditions. The editor adds that the views of Vaikanasas are akin to those of certain non-dualists and therefore do not find much favor with Sri Vaishnavas. But what after all is the conclusion of the Pancharatris who declare matter and Buddhi and Ahankara as manifestations of God. The Tantric School of the Saktas is essentially Mayavada or idealistic, and we cannot avoid the conclusion that the Pancharatra and Vaikhanasa Tantric Schools are also the same. The highest principle postulated by all these and other Hindu idealists is the One-Atma covered by Pure or Impure Matter and Avidya which results in manifestation and Samsara, and the One Atma, limited, bound is the Jivatma and there is no such separate thing as a Soul. The Idealists try to get over the absurdity of the Supreme Brhaman becoming bound, as an illusion and a myth, but the Vaishnavas admit the reality of the limiting condition and try to avoid the necessary conclusion by rising to a region of Pure Matter where Avidya does not enter, though curiously enough this Avidya is nothing else but Prakriti (matter) of which this Pure Matter is the essence.

    Those who wish to appreciate the dialectics of this school had better go through pp. 141 to 144, in which all the texts which speak of Siva or Rudra as the Supreme Cause are whittled away. If, beyond all these texts, there is a text which relating to the Dahara Vidya, speaks of Rudra as the Antaryami dwelling in Akasa which Akasa is identified with Narayana, even here the indwelling Spirit, Siva, simply means the auspicious graces or perfections inhering in Narayana!

    One more subject we will touch upon before we conclude this review. We have noted two passages where Sri, Bhu and Nila are spoken of as the supporters of Narayana. Who these are, their origin, nature or characteristics are nowhere set forth. It does not appear whether these are identical or different. On our Svami being referred to, he referred us to this and that and to his Arthapanchaka. Even in the last, the author does not discuss it at all and our Svami discusses it in a note (Appendix VIII). Sri is charis Grace, universal mediatrix, reconciler, peacemaker and mother. He points out further that there are not wanting those who equate or identify it with inert or inanimate (Jada) Prakriti or Nature; and observes that they forget that Sri-tatva is sentient or intelligent (Ajada) and he says It is the Goddess of nature itself and all the Sastras from Rig-Veda downwards bear it out, but he only quotes one passage from Skanda Purana, which is Ananthema marantha to all Vaishnavites. But there it is spoken of only as Para Prakriti and he identifies it with the Daiva-Prakriti of Gita. But what is the authority to explain what Para-Prakriti itself is and it is not subtle matter. Saivas take it as such and not as the Supreme Intelligence or Adisakti or Jnanasakti of the Lord. Vide a table giving all its synonyms, meaning merely Maya, at p. 68 of Sri Kasivasi Sentinathier's Vaidika Suddhadvaita Saiva Siddhanta Tatva Table Catechism where he gives the authorities bearing on the subject also. And we find Professor M. Rangacharya, M.A. of the Presidency College, Madras, ranging himself on the side of those who speak of Sri as Prakriti. (Vide Brahmavadin, Oct. Nov. 1912, p. 562). But even from all these references we fail to get any idea of who Bhu and Nila are and we will be thankful to any one including our Svamiji for throwing light on the subject. We are unable to trace the word Nila in any of the existing Tamil or Sanskrit Dictionaries and she cannot be Naripinnai as this literally means the good after born, namely Lakshmi, as distinguished from her elder-sister Jyeshtha or மூதேவி, born at the churning of the milky ocean. One thing more. After all the beast made about Ramanuja having thrown open the door of religion to all people irrespective of Caste, we find the author of the Light of the School of Sri Ramanuja denying even the path of Love (Bhakti) to Sudras! See para at the head of p. 128.

    No one would deny that there are elements of great beauty in the Vaishnava system, but students of Comparative Religion cannot be satisfied with these alone; and every system must be judged as a whole on its sole merits in the bar of public reason. And we must confess this is the first time we had a glimpse of what Vaishnavism really was, and when we just take a peep behind its glorious veil, we find it hardly distinguishable from some of the school of Indian idealism. However, there are very few workers, as our Acharya Svamin, who have done such Yeoman's service in bringing to the front this Light of Vaishnava Philosophy, and his disinterested and devoted labors are deserving of the eternal gratitude of the Indian Public. The book has been printed at our own Press and it will speak for itself.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


    To love and live forever in all that the Universe holds, with no thought of self, is the purest joy and the grandest immortality that Nature vouchsafes to Man.

*    *    *

    We shall have Love for our prayer, Humanity for our devotion. We shall then weave dreams of joy for us, now and here. While the lamp and lute of Life remain for us, let us have the splendor of Thought and the music of love.

*    *    *

    If sorrow comes to us: we shall take her and kiss her to death. Why make Misery our constant mate? Why let despair tyrannize us? Let Hope sing her melodies.

*    *    *

    Let us have freedom from self's cares and fears. And before this Freedom, even Tyranny should sit mute – even Corruption should shrink scorched. No error of Fame – no freak of Fortune – shall give us one moment of despair. With the skill of an Orpheus, we shall soften the brute passions. With the fire of Prometheus, of genius, of eloquence, we shall kindle all the loves and hopes of mankind. And this shall be our life's only task – our life's only joy. Come what may: even if it should be absolute annihilation – we shall joyously bow in silence to Nature's Mysterious law of waste. We shall fear nothing. In Nature's presence, we shall stand bravely and boldly, full of hope and joy.

*    *    *

    The bubble for a time is an individual: it thinks all the while that the whole sea is centered in it, and that it has this and that; it exults over its possessions: it weeps for lack of then: it craves for its immortality: it pines to be perpetuated.

*    *    *

    How to sway the doctrines of things that are to be? One puff of wind may bring to you a few leaves of things and another puff drives them out of your reach. Man, thou art bound in the chain of Cause and Effect! Thou canst not break the Chain. Thou art what the Mighty Causes have made thee to be. Thyself and thy environments are determined by the cosmic causes.

*    *    *

    Read the stories of the stars. How many planets do not live to die! Read the records of oceans and continents. How many continents and oceans are not brought underground! Read the history of man. How many cities and empires have not given up their ghost? How many languages have not been forgotten! How many nations have not been wiped out of existence!

*    *    *

    The heroism of the hero, the saintliness of the saint, the love of the lover, live in all their beauty and glory without the fostering cares of selfish promptings. He is the greatest hero who would live and love with but his own heroic heart for his lonely witness.

*    *    *

    Death sweeps away every individual embodiment of Matter-Force. But Matter-Force lives on: and works out new beauties and joys through the birth and death of its countless formations.

*    *    *

    Let me be free, sceptreless, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless. And when I die lay me with the humblest dead, and above my head spread neither name nor emblem.

*    *    *

    Deep down all wrong – all falsities, rascalities, tricks and treacheries – you see self-conceit. What are these soul withering perversities and cruelties these scandalous insults and injuries, these brutish barbarities, - but manifestations of selfish greed and hate? Let anybody, if he chooses, despise you, shun you, and speak and do all evil against you. Be a world's outcast. None can rob you of your joy. Amidst all the mists and clouds of a world's mistakes about you, you can be serene and supreme, - if the personal is dead in you. You have nothing or nobody to cling to. You have renounced the idea of your separate existence: you have nobody that violence can hack or burn. You have no name that infamy can stain or hurt. You have renounced your this or that: the Universe has become yours. With the spirit of Renunciation you can laugh at Sorrow and mock Pain with smiles. With Renunciation Life would be a joyous melody and Death a self-less rapture.





Friday, September 28, 2012


    "The Lord of Tillai's Court a mystic dance performs: what's that, my dear?"

                                - Tiruvacagam, XII, 14.

    A great master-of-dancing (Nataraja) is Siva! The cosmos is His theatre, there are many different steps in His repertory, He Himself is actor and audience –

    When the Actor beateth the drum,

    Everybody cometh to see the show;

    When the Actor collecteth the stage properties

    He abideth alone in His happiness.


    How many various dances of Siva are known to His worshippers I cannot say. No doubt the root idea behind all of these dances is more or less one and the same, the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy: Siva is the Eros Protogonos of Lucian, when he wrote:

    It would seem that dancing came into being at the beginning of all things, and was brought to light together with Eros, that ancient one, for we see this primeval dancing clearly set forth in the choral dance of the constellations, and in the planets and fixed stars, their interweaving and interchange and orderly harmony.

    I do not mean to say that the most profound interpretation of Siva's dance was present in the minds of those who first danced in frantic, and perhaps intoxicated energy, in honor of the pre Aryan hill-god, afterwards merged in Siva. A great motif is religion or art, any great symbol, becomes all things to all men; age after age it yields to men such treasure as they find in their own hearts. Whatever the origins of Siva's dance, it became in time the noblest image of activity of God which any art or religion can boast of. Of the various dances of Siva I shall only speak of three, one of them alone forming the main subject of interpretation. One is an evening dance in the Himalayas, with a divine chorus, described as follows in the Siva Pradosha Stotra –

    "Placing the Mother of the Three Worlds upon a golden throne, studded with precious gems, Sulapani dances on the heights of Kailas, and all the gods gather round Him."

    "Sarasvati plays on the vina, Indra on the flute, Brahma holds the time-marking cymbals, Lakshmi begins a song, Vishnu plays on a drum, and all the gods stand round about."

    "Gandarvas, Yakshas, Patagas, Uragas, Siddhas, Sadhyas, Vidhyadharas, Amaras, Apsaras and all the beings dwelling in the three worlds assemble there to witness the celestial dance and hear the music of the divine choir at the hour of twilight."

    This evening dance is also referred to in the invocation preceding the Katha Sarit Sagara.

    In the pictures of this dance, Siva is two-handed, and the cooperation of the gods is clearly indicated in their position of chorus. There is no prostrate Asura trampled under Siva's feet. So far as I know, no special interpretations of this dance occur in Saiva literature.

    The second well-known dance of Siva is called the Tandava, and belongs to His tamasic aspect of Bhairava or Vira-bhadra. It is performed in cemeteries and burning grounds, where Siva, usually in ten armed form, dances wildly with Devi, accompanied by troops of capering imps. Representations of this dance are common amongst ancient sculptures, as at Ellora, Elephanta, and also at Bhuvanesvara. This tandava dance is in origin that of a pre-aryan divinity, half-god, half-demon, who holds his midnight revels in the burning ground. In later times, this dance in the cremation ground, sometimes of Siva, sometimes of Devi, is interpreted in Saiva and Sakti literature in a most touching and profound sense.

    Thirdly, we have the Nadanta dance of Nataraja before the assembly (sabha) in the golden hall of Chitambaram or Tillai, the center of the Universe, first revealed to gods and rishis after the submission of the latter in the forest of Paragam, as related in the Koyil Puranam. The legend, which has after all, no very direct connection with the meaning of the dance, may be summarized as follows:

    In the forest of Taragam dwelt multitudes of heretical rishis, following of the Mimamsa. Thither proceeded Siva to confute them, accompanied by Vishnu disguised as a beautiful woman, and Ati-Seshan. The rishis were at first led to violent dispute amongst themselves, but their anger was soon directed against Siva, and they endeavored to destroy Him by means of incantations. A fierce tiger was created in sacrificial fires, and rushed upon Him; but smiling gently, He seized it and, with the nail of His little finger stripped off its skin, and wrapped it about Himself like a silken cloth.* [* A similar story is elsewhere related about an elephant; and these account for the elephant or tiger skin, which Siva wears.] Undiscouraged by failure, the sages renewed their offerings, and produced a monstrous serpent, which, however, Siva seized and wreathed about His neck like a garland. Then He began to dance; but there rushed upon Him a last monster in the shape of a malignant dwarf, Muyalaka. Upon him the God pressed the tip of His foot, and broke the creature's back, so that it writhed upon the ground; and so, His last toe prostrate, Siva resumed the dance, witnessed by gods and rishis.

    Then Ati Seshan worshipped Siva, and prayed above all things for the boon, once more to behold this mystic dance; Siva promised that he should behold the dance again in sacred Tillai, the center of the Universe. The dance of Siva in Chidambaram or Tillai forms the motif of the South Indian copper images of Sri Nataraja, the Lord of the Dance. These images vary amongst themselves in minor details, but all express one fundamental conception. Before proceeding to enquire what these may be, it will be necessary to describe the image of Sri Nataraja as typically represented. The images then, represent Siva dancing, having four hands, with braided and jeweled hair of which the lower locks are whirling in the dance. In His hair may be seen a wreathing cobra, a skull, and the mermaid figure of Ganga; upon it rests the crescent moon, and it is crowned with a wreath of Cassia leaves. In His right ear He wears a man's earring, a woman's in the left; He is adorned with necklaces and armlets, a jeweled belt, anklets, bracelets, finger and toe-rings. The chief part of His dress consists of tightly fitting breeches, and He wears also a fluttering scarf (angavastiram) and a sacred thread. One right hand holds a drum (damara, udukkai), the other is uplifted in abhaya mudra (do not fear): one left hand holds fire, the other points downward to the lifted foot. The right foot is pressed down upon the asura Muyalaka, a dwarf holding a cobra; the left foot is raised. There is a lotus pedestal, from which springs an encircling arch of glory, (tiruvasi), fringed with flame, and touched within by the hands holding drum and fire. The images are of all sizes, rarely if ever exceeding four feet in total height.

    Even without reliance upon literary references, the interpretation of this dance would not be difficult. Fortunately, however, we have the assistance of a copious contemporary literature, which enables us to fully explain not only the general significance of the dance, but equally, the details of its concrete symbolism. Some of the peculiarities of the Nataraja images, of course, belong to the conception of Siva generally, and not to the dance in particular. Such are the braided locks, as of a yogi; the Cassia garland; the skull of Brahma; the figure of Ganga, the Ganges fallen from heaven and lost in Siva's hair; the cobras; the different ear-rings, betokening the dual nature of Mahadev, 'whose half is Uma'; the four arms. The drum also, is a general attribute of Siva, belonging to his character of Yogi, though in the dance, it has further a special significance. What then is the meaning of Siva's dance, as understood by Saivas? The dance is called Nadanta. Its essential significance is given in texts such as the following:

    "Our Lord is the Dancer, who, like the heat latent in firewood, diffuses His power in mind and matter, and makes them dance in their turn,"*†



    [† Kaduval Mamunivar's Tiruvatavurar Puranam, Puttaraivatil, venracarukkam, stanza 75, translated by Nallasvami Pillai, Sivajnanabodham, p. 74. This could also be rendered:

    Like heat latent in firewood, he fills all bodies;

    Our Father dances, moving all souls into action, know ye!


    Compare Eckhart, "Just as the fire infuses the essence and clearness into the dry wood, so has God done with man."]

    The dance, in fact, represents His five activities (Panchakritya), viz., Srishti (overlooking, creation, evolution), Sthiti (preservation, support), Samhara (destruction, evolution), Tirobhava (veiling, embodiment, illusion, and also, giving rest,) Anugraha (release, salvation, grace). These, separately considered, are the activities of the deities Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesvara and Sadasiva.

    This comic activity is the central motif of the dance. Further quotations will illustrate and explain the more detailed symbolisms. Unmai Vilakkam, verse 36, tells us:

    "Creation arises from the drum: protection proceeds from the hand of hope" from fire proceeds destruction: the foot held aloft gives mukti". Here mukti is the same as anugraha, release. It will be observed that the fourth hand points to this lifted foot, the refuge of the soul.    

    We have also the following from Chidambara Mummani Kovai;

    "O my Lord, Thy hand holding the sacred drum has made and ordered the heavens and earth and other worlds and innumerable souls. Thy lifted hand protects the Chetana and Achetana Prapancha which Thou hast created. All these worlds are changed by Thy hand hearing fire. Thy sacred foot, planted on the ground, gives an abode to the tired soul struggling in the toils of karma. It is Thy lifted foot that grants eternal bliss to those that approach Thee. These Five-Actions are indeed Thy Handiwork".

    The following verses from the Tirukuttu Darasana (Vision of the Sacred Dance), forming the ninth tantra of Tirumular's Tirumantram, expand the central motif further;

    "His form is everywhere: all-pervading is His Siva Sakti:

    Chidambaram is everywhere, everywhere His dance:

    As Siva is all and omnipresent,

    Everywhere is Siva's gracious dance made manifest.

    "His five-fold dances are in Sakala and nishkala form,

    His five-fold dances are His Panchakriyta:

    With His grace He performs the five acts,

    This is the sacred dance of Uma-Sahaya.*






    "He dances with Water, Fire, Wind and Ether,

    Thus our Lord dances ever in the court.†






    "Visible to those who pass over Maya and Mahanaya

    Our Lord dances His eternal dance‡






    "The form of the Sakti is all bliss (ananda) –

    This united bliss is Uma's body:

    This form of Sakti arising in Sakala

    And uniting the twain is the dance"*





    "His body is Akas, the dark cloud therein is Muyalaka,

    The eight quarters are His eight arms,

    The three lights are His three eyes,

    Thus becoming, He dances in our body as the assembly (sabha)."†






    This is His dance. Its deepest significance is felt when it is realized that it takes place within the heart and the self: the kingdom of God is within. Everywhere is God: that Everywhere is the heart. Thus also we find another verse:

    "The dancing foot, the sound of the tinkling bells,

    The songs that are sung and the varying steps,

    The forms assumed by our Dancing Gurupara –

    Find out these within yourself, then shall your fetters fall away" ‡

    [‡ ஆடியகாலுமதிற்சிலம்போசையும்





    To this end, all else but the thought of God must be cast out of the heart, that He alone may abide and dance therein. In Unmai Vilakkam, we find:

    "The silent Jnanis destroying the threefold bond are established where their selves are destroyed. There they behold the sacred and are filled with bliss. This is the dance of the Lord of the assembly, "whose very form is Grace" *

    [* மோனந்த

     தானந்த மானிடத்தே தங்கியிடு – மானந்த

    மொண்டருந்தி நின்றாடல் காணுமருண் மூர்த்தியாய்க்

    கொண்டதிரு வம்பலத்தான் கூத்து]


    With this reference to the 'silent jnanis' compare the beautiful words of Tirumular:

    "When resting there they (the yogis who attain the highest place of peace) lose themselves and become idle…Where the idlers dwell is the pure Space. Where the idlers sport is the Light. What is idlers know is the Vedanta. What the idlers find is the deep sleep therein". †

    [† இருந்தார்









    Siva is a destroyer and loves the burning ground. But what does He destroy? Not merely the heavens and earth at the end of a kalpa, but the fetters that bind each separate soul. Where and what is the burning ground? It is not the place where our earthly bodies are cremated, but the heart of the bhakti, the devotee, laid waste and desolate. He brings not peace but a sword. The place where their selves are destroyed signifies the place or state where their egoity or illusion and deeds are burnt away that is the crematorium, the burning ground where Sri Nataraja dances, and whence He is named Sudalaiyadi, Dancer of the burning ground. In this simile, we recognize the historical connection between Siva's gracious dance as Nataraja, and His wild dance as the demon of the cemetery.

    This conception of the dance is current also amongst Saktas especially in Bengal, where the Mother rather than the Father-aspect of Siva is adored. Kali* [* Vide article on "What is Kali?" in, Siddhanta Deepika. Vol. III, p. 13 – Ed. S.D.] is here the dancer, for whose entrance the heart must be purified by fire, made empty by renunciation. A Bengali Hymn to Kali voices this prayer:

    "Because Thou lovest the Burning-ground,

    I have made a Burning-ground of my heart-

    That Thou, Dark One, haunter of the Burning-ground,

    Mayest dance Thy eternal dance." †

    "Nought else is within my heart, O Mother:

    Day and night blazes the funeral pyre:

    The ashes of the dead, strewn all about,

    I have preserved against Thy coming,

    With death conquering Mahakala neath Thy feet

    Do Thou enter in, dancing Thy rhythmic dance,

    That I may behold Thee with closed eyes".





[† உலகமே யுருவமாக யோனிகளுறுப்பதாக

விலகுபேரிச்சா ஞானக்கிரியை யுட்கரணமாக

வலகிலா உயிர்கட்கெல்லா மிருபயனாக வைந்து

நலமிடு தொழில்களோடு நாடக நடிப்பன் நாதன்]


    Returning to the South, we find that in other Tamil texts the purpose of Siva's dance is explained. In Sivajnana Siddhiyar, Supaksha, Sutra V.5, we find,

    "For the purpose of securing both kinds of fruit to the countless souls, our Lord, with actions five, dances His dance". Both kinds of fruit, that is Iham, reward in this world, and Param, bliss in Mukti.

    Again, Unmai Vilakkam, v. 32, 37, 39 inform us.

    "The Supreme Intelligence dances in the soul… for the purpose of removing our sins. By these means, our Father scatters the darkness of Maya, burns the thread of Karma, stamps down Mala (anava, Avidya), showers Grace, and lovingly plunges the soul in the ocean of bliss (Ananda). They never see rebirths, who behold this mystic dance" ‡

[‡ எட்டு மிரண்டுமுருவானவி லிங்கத்தே

    நட்டம்புதல்வா நவிலக்கேள் – சிட்டன்

    சிவாயநம வென்னுந் திருவெழுத்தஞ்சாலே

    யவாய மற நின்றாடுவான்.


    மாயை தனையுதறி வல்வினையைச் சுட்டு மலஞ்

    சாயவ முக்கியருள்தானெடுத்து – நேயத்தால்

    ஆநந்தவாரிதியி லான்மாவைத்தா னழுத்தல்

    தானெந்தையார் பாதந்தான்.


    உரையுணர்வுக் கெட்டா வொருவன் மிடுபஞ்சாக்

    கரத்தால் வரைமகடான்பாதி – பரையிடமாய்க்

    காணும்படியே கருணையுருக் கொண்டாடல்

    பேணுமவர்க்குண்டோ பிறப்பு.]


    The conception of Lila, the world-process as the Lord's sport or amusement, is also prominent in the Saiva scriptures; thus, Tirumular writes: "The Perpetual Dance becomes His Play".

    This aspect of His activity appears to have given rise to the objection that He dances as do those who seek to please the eyes of mortals; to which the answer is given that He dances to maintain the life of the cosmos and to give release to those who seek Him.

    In another way, more arbitrary, the Dance of Siva is identified with the Panchakshara, the five syllables Si-va-ya-na-ma which have a peculiar and special significance in Saiva symbolism. In Unmai Vilakkam, v. 33-35 they are identified in the dance as follows:

    "In His feet is na; in His navel is ma; in His shoulders is Si; in His face is va; in His head is ya".*

* ஆடும்படிகேள் நல்லம்பலத்தா னையனே

நாடுந் திருவடியிலே நகரம் – கூடு

மகரம்முதரம் வளர்தோள் சிகரம்


A second way of contemplating the Panchakshara is also given, as follows:

"The hand holding the Drum is 'Si'; the hand held out is 'Va'; the hand holding out protection (abhaya) is 'ya'; the hand holding fire is 'na'; the foot holding down Muyalaka is 'ma'.†

சேர்க்கும் துடிசிகரம் சிக்கனவாவீசுகரம்

     ஆர்க்கும் யகரமபயகரம் – பார்க்கிலிறைக்

     கங்கி நகரமடிக்கீழ் முயலகனார்


    The text continues:

    "The meanings of the five letters respectively are God, Sakti, Soul, Tirobhava and Mala… If this beautiful Five Letters be meditated upon, the soul will reach the land where there is neither light nor darkness, and there Sakti will make it One with Sivam". *

    * ஈசன் அருள் ஆவி யெழிலார் திரோதமலம்



     அண்ணல் முதலாபழகா ரெழுத்தைத்து

     மண்ணிலிராப் பகலற்றின்பத்தே – நண்ணி

     யருளானது சிவத்தே யாக்குமணுவை

     யிருளானது தீரவின்று.


    Another verse of Unmai Vilakkam explains the fiery arch (tiruvasi): The Panchakshara and the Dance are identified with the mystic syllable Om, the arch being the kombu or hook of the ideograph of the written symbol: "The arch over Sri Nataraja is Omkara; and the akshara which is never separate from the Omkara is the contained splendor. This is the Dance of the Lord of Chidambaram". †



ஓங்காரமே நற்றிருவாசி யுற்றதனின்

நீங்காவெழுத்தே நிறை சுடராம் – ஆங்காரம்

     அற்றார் அறிவாரணி யம்பலத்தானாடலிது

     பெற்றார் பிறப்பற்றார் பின்.


    The Tiru-Arul-Payan however (Ch. ix.3) explains the tiruvasi more naturally as representing the dance of Nature, contrasted with Siva's dance of wisdom.

    "The dance of matter (Prakriti) proceeds on one side: the Jnana dance on the other. Fix your mind in the center of the latter".‡

    ‡ ஊன



    I am indebted to Mr. Nallasvami Pillai for a commentary on this:

    The first dance is the action of matter – material and individual energy. This is the arch, tiruvasi, Omkara, the dance of Kali. The other is the Dance of Siva – the akshara inseparable from the Omkara – called ardhmatra or the fourth letter of the Pranava, Chaturtam and Turiyam. The first dance is not possible unless Siva wills it and dances Himself.

    The general result of this interpretation of the arch is, then, that it represents matter, nature, prakriti; the contained splendor, Siva dancing within and touching the arch, with head, hands and feet, is the universal omnipresent Purusha. Between these stands the soul, as ya is between Si-va and na-ma.

    Now to summarize the whole interpretation we find that The Essential Significance of Siva's Dance is threefold: First, it is the image of his Rhythmic Activity as the Source of all Movement within the Cosmos, which is Represented by the Arch: Secondly, the Purpose of his Dance is to Release the Countless souls of men from the Snare of Illusion: Thirdly, the place of the Dance, Chidambaram, the Center of the Universe, is within the Heart.

    In these notes I expressly refrain from all aesthetic criticism and have endeavored only to translate the central thought of the conception of Siva's dance from plastic to verbal expression, without reference to the beauty or imperfection of individual works. In conclusion, it may not be out of place to call attention to the grandeur of this conception itself as a synthesis of science, religion and art. How amazing the range of thought and sympathy of those rishi artists who first conceived such a type as this, affording an image of reality, a key to the complex tissue of life, a theory of nature, nor merely satisfactory to a single clique or race, nor acceptable to the thinkers of one century only, but universal in its appeal to the Philosopher, the Bhakta, and the artist of all ages and all countries. In these days of specialization, we are not accustomed to such a synthesis of thought; but for those who 'saw' such images as this, there could have been no division of life and thought into water-tight compartments. Nor do we always realize, when we criticize the merits of individual works, the full extent of the creative power which, to borrow a musical analogy, could discover a raga so expressive of fundamental rhythms and so profoundly significant and inevitable

    Every part of such an image as this is directly expressive, not of any mere superstition or dogma, but of evident facts. No artist of today, however great, could more exactly or more wisely create an image of that Energy which science must postulate behind all phenomena. If we would reconcile Time with Eternity, we can scarcely do so otherwise than by the conception of alternations of phase extending over vast regions of space and great tracts of time.* [* Oliver Lodge, Hibbert Journal, Vol. X, No. 2, 1911] Especially significant, then, is the phase alternation implied by the drum, and the fire which 'changes', not destroys. These are but visual symbols of the theory of the day and night of Brahma

    In the night of Brahma, Nature is inert, and cannot dance till Siva wills it. He rises from His rapture, and dancing sends through inert matter pulsing waves of awakening sound, and lo! Matter also dances, appearing as a glory round about Him. Dancing, He sustains its manifold phenomena. In the fullness of time, still dancing, he destroys all forms and names by fire and gives new rest. This is poetry but none the less, the truest science.

    Again, this Nataraja is not only Truth, but Love for the purpose of His Dance is Grace, the giving of freedom to countless individual souls. Lastly, also, how supremely great in power and grace this dancing image must appear to all those who as artists have striven in plastic forms to give expression to their intuition of Life!

    It is not strange that the figure of Nataraja has commanded the adoration of so many generations past; we, familiar with all skepticisms, expert in tracing all beliefs to primitive superstitions, explorers of the infinitely great and infinitely small, are worshippers of Sri Nataraja still.

A. K. C.











Sunday, September 23, 2012


    AT the adjourned meeting of the Senate of the University of Madras held on the 26th of the last month, while Dr. Bourne was pleading for the institution of a system of researches in the South Indian tongues, and to begin with Tamil and Telugu taking Sanskrit as an auxiliary in order to arrest the deterioration of those languages, the Hon. Mr. Justice Sundaram Iyer appears to have been stung to the quick at the secondary place offered to Sanskrit and in consequence is reported to have made the following observations:-

    (i)    that Tamil and Telugu had independent literatures only in a restricted sense;

    (ii)    that it is simply futile to attempt to develop any idea of Oriental civilization, so as to make it harmonize with Western culture if Sanskrit was not taken as a main basis.

    2.    In reply I would quote from the History of India by Mr. K.V. Rangasvamy Aiyangar M.A; F.R.H.S., Professor of History in the Maha-Rajah's College, Trivandrum and comment:-

    (i)    that the Dravidians* [* 'Tamilian' is now the brief term used to denote the word Dravidian which does not so well indicate the group of languages of which Tamil is the chief representative – Ed. L.T.] were once dominant all over India (p.9);

    (ii)    that long before authentic History was begun, they occupied the Deccan and have left unmistakable marks on the features and languages of its inhabitants; (p. 126);

    (iii)    that they occupied Southern India hundreds of years before the Aryans entered India (p. 137)

    (iv)    that they had early advanced in civilization and were not behind hand the Aryan culture (p. 138)

    (v)    that from the beginning they were able to maintain their languages, customs and manners unmodified to any extent by Aryan influence, (p. 138)

    (vi)    that they not only enriched the Hebrew language, but also bestowed on most of the Indian languages alphabets, borrowed from the Semetic tongues of Mesopotamia (p. 139)

    (vii)    that they had a polished literature about the first century of the Christian Era (p. 140)

    3.    From (i) to (vi) it is evident that the Dravidians were a powerful race, that they carried their civilization wherever they went, and their culture was independent of the Sanskrit influence. It was their high culture that impelled them to sympathize with the Indian languages that had not the power of script ion and bestow on them alphabets which they had mastered in the course of their trade beyond the seas in order to render them literary.

    4.    It is a matter of history that the speech of the Vedic Aryans had no script of its own and that the language found at present in standard Sanskrit works differs materially from it. This language was one of the numerous dialects that grew round the script less Vedic tongue, and as it was spoken by the vast majority of the people inhabiting the Doab formed by the Ganges and the Yamuna, it was adopted as the literary tongue of the Brahmans about the 5th or the 4th century B.C; as will be seen from the same work I have already quoted. It is therefore likely, that the characters knows at present as the Devanagari were borrowed through the aid of the Dravidians and the great resemblance between them and the Semetic alphabets goes to confirm the view. This statement is further accentuated by the fact, that the edicts of Asoka are in characters different from the Devanagiri and no kind of inscription in these characters were engrossed in Northern India before the year 150 A.D., whereas the oldest known inscription in Southern India is in Vatteluttu (வட்டெழுத்து); Tamil and Sanskrit began to play its part in the epigraphy of that region only at a later stage. It is generally presumed that every language in India has borrowed from Sanskrit without conceding that that language must have had its turn of indebtedness. If it ever was a spoken language, it must necessarily have borrowed from its powerful neighbors and no amount of sanctity would have saved it from mingling with the profane. The researches proposed by Dr. Bourne in a disinterested and impartial spirit, would demonstrate to the world this fact, and it is trusted that a chance would be given for doing so.

    5.    The Indian languages are generally divided into three groups, viz., the Aryan, the Dravidian, and the Indo Chinese. The whole of India excepting the Madras Presidency and Burma, represents the region of the Aryan family. The population speaking those languages is over 275 million and the number of distinct dialects into which it is divided including the Urdu or Hindustani is about 140. They are all of distinct Sanskrit origin and the necessary steps have been taken both by the Government and the people for the scientific study and investigation of that classic in that part of India. The proposal to establish a chair therefore for Sanskrit assisted by two Pandits is rather superfluous in Madras; but as a comparative study of all the ancient languages is necessary to serve the object in view, nobody ought to grudge the money. The case of the Dravidian languages however is on a different footing. They were born and fostered in Southern India and it is therefore essential that any researches in connection with them should be made at the spot and any opposition towards the accomplishment of that object would be unreasonable not to say ungenerous. The Hon. Justice Sir C. Sankara Nair in advocating the cause of Canarese and Malayalam omitted Tulu perhaps through inadvertence. It is one of the five Dravidian tongues – the others being Tamil, Telugu, Canarese and Malayalam. It is a pity that funds are not available for the investigation and comparative study of all these languages. The history of Southern India has yet to be written and it depends entirely on the critical study and examination of its ancient languages. Again their origin itself is shrouded in mystery. It is the opinion of some that Tamil is the mother of the remaining four, while some others think that all of them as well as the language of the Mundas and other aboriginal tribes throughout India had a common ancestor but it disappeared from the scene as in the case of the Vedic speech. In order to solve this problem a philological study of all the Dravidian languages would be of immense use. But as such an end cannot be attained all at once, we should be satisfied with half a loaf in the place of no loaf. The Dravidians would therefore welcome the proposed system of researches in Tamil and Telugu to start with – fully believing that the authorities would find their way to initiate enquiries into the other Dravidian languages when funds are available.

    6.    With regard to my quotation No (vii) the time ought to be much earlier than the first century A.D. and it should be advanced at least by ten centuries. The earliest complete work extant in Tamil is Tolkappyam – the science of grammar – and it was the second of the series and it belonged to the period of the second Academy of the ancient city of Madura which is supposed to have been engulfed by sea. The first scientific grammar in that language was by Agastiya – a noted Dravidian during the days of the first academy but it has been lost.

A. D.




[* A resume of the speech delivered by Prof. V. Muthukumaraswami Mudaliar, B.A., at the Seventh Conference of the Saiva Siddhanta Maha Samajam, Conjeevaram, December 1912.]



    I have undertaken to deal with the law of causation and the facts of reincarnation in the brief space of half an hour on this sacred platform tonight. I count upon the inspiration I shall draw from this assembly to make up for my own defects and to accomplish an almost impossible intellectual feast. I have an immense faith in the noble cause advocated by this Maha Samajam, which owes its inception and growth to truly noble men whose life work would do ample credit to any civilized nation on Earth in the East or the West. We owe it all to our national or at all events racial Karma, I suppose. Great souls having a tremendous faith I take it in God, in truth, in Divine Law, Heaven's purpose, and in the potentialities for all eternity that lie buried in their innermost selves, have evidently reincarnated again and again, from time to time, in this so called iron age of man to bring back Saivism, - the religion par excellence of love, - to its pristine glory.

    Saivism in a nutshell! What is it? And what does it teach? 'God is Love' is its Swarupa (essence) and 'Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha' is its highest teaching. Love alone could lead one to God, and to love God is, to love His creation. Knowledge and Wisdom must always go hand in hand with love, the one force that keeps the universe intact.

    The All, is working for all and all is in the All. All is working for the Good. The Good is the only rational God that rational man recognized in primeval India. The Good is all life, everlasting life and in it, in Its eternal bosom, death is not: the mirage of death could find no room to stand. All is working for the Blessed consummation now, as in Eternity, as now itself is the soul of eternity. The All lives beyond time limits, though all live within the limitations of time at both ends. The Golden age is just ahead of us, as we are always going ahead, in search of this and in search of that, now this way, and now the other. But God-men there are, who apparently live in time and yet are not of it, who live in the world untouched by its glamour, unaffected by its maya and thoroughly indifferent to its joys and pains, hopes and fears and life and death. But, are we quite sure of the ground we are treading on? Oh! Yes! I dare say we are! We are no doubt already in the throes of a new spiritual birth. Things are readjusting themselves in a quite unlooked for manner. We have already had many a surprise in so many fields of knowledge, Science, Philosophy, Metaphysics, Occultism and so on. The old is making room for the new, gradually though imperceptibly, and they say that everything happens for the best, as it must, if it is all cosmos and not chaos.

    We have got now to dive deep into the bottomless depths of matter and Scale up the giddy heights of apparently unscalable Spirit. And suppose we could rise equal to the occasion, what then? Why? We shall then barely glimpse the Infinite, Eternal, Nameless, Formless, Omnipotent, Omnipresent Siva, who enfolding all, is yet beyond all, who is incomparable to anything under the sun or above him even.

    How and Where did evolution start its gruesome game? Whence all this so-called creation? And whither is this phenomenal universe of man bound? Where did Karma begin its work and how did we all start into life and being? Rather hard nuts to crack!

    The beginning of things is impossible to conceive for the cultured intellect, as there was actually no beginning anywhere in the beginning less-Nature. No progress in a straight line! In the very nature of thought, it is impossible to conceive such an incongruous idea. Progress always goes on, in cycles in Prakriti, and an evolution always suggests an involution that preceded it, somewhere, somehow, some when. So that, it would be easily seen that we are chiefly concerned with our own manvantara in which we are all sailing Godward on the vast ocean of life. The Law of Evolution had been clearly seen in our Punya Bhumi since the morning time of the Saiva cult. I will refer you to the very first verse of Tiruvachakam, the Tamil Veda. You need not even look up the Manudharma Sastra in which the Prajapati has very clearly brought out the idea, which many of us thought for a long time we owed to the West, perhaps to Darwin the naturalist, in particular. Why! the Devaram bristles with it, and other and later Tamil works have followed suit. Of course, we English-educated Tamils knew nothing about it, till it came dressed in a new and western garb and we began to hug it to our bosom.

    One thing should be particularly noticed however. The why and the wherefore of evolution as such, may not quite fall within the limits of short-sighted human ken: but the how and the whither seem more or less to fall into line with the scope of our present enquiry.

    How then? What shall be the line of our procedure? We postulate, - we have to, we cannot help doing so, - the existence of the Supreme almost intuitively. Dogged skepticism is that direction is but crass ignorance. That sort of opium eating would not hold water for long. Do you at all believe in your self is the question. If so, you must also believe in the Self of yourself. It is the necessity of thought. The 'I am' consciousness in man is but the feeble reflection of the 'I am' consciousness in the macrocosm. Let me quote the Upanishad here.

    "Yato visvam samud bhutam

    Yena jatanja thishtathi,

    Yasmin sarvani leeyante

    Jneyam tad Brahma Lakshanyhi."


    That from which the whole of the known Universe has come, that in which everything lives now, and that to or towards which everything tends for final absorption, that is Brahma or God Almighty.

    So that, we see our starting-point is the Supreme Siva, mysterious Love. We live in Him all along, as there is nothing outside Him.


"Ekamevadvittyam Brahma."

    "Eka eva Rduro nadvitiyayam."

    "Eko Rudraha Ekamevadvittyam."


    And in the long run we flow to Him also. We must gravitate towards Him, not as poor and feeble as when we shouted forth from His bosom, but with the harvest of a full manvantaric experience which culminated in love, wisdom and power. In other words, from the Kevala, we started, says the Sivagamas, in the Sakala, we find ourselves today by the Will of Siva, and in the fullness of time, we will march on, under the sweet banner of Truth,

    'Satyameva jayate'

    'Satyat Nasti Paro Dharma'


and armed with the knowledge of God before us, God behind us, God above us, God below us, God without and God within

    'Deho Devalaya proktassajivassivaha,'

to our sweet home, the inviting goal, our haven of peace, rest and joy, the Kaivalya or the Siva Sayujya, the positive pole of Para Nirvana, in all glory, in all ecstasy, and in all blessedness.

    Let us listen just here, to the inspired words of a noble poet hailing in sympathetic spirit from the cultured West.

    "Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;

    The soul that rises with us, our life's star    

    Has had elsewhere its setting,

    And cometh from afar,

    Not in entire forgetfulness,

    And not in utter nakedness,

    But trailing clouds of glory do we come

    From God, who is our 'home." – Wordsworth.


    We are not bodies but immortal Spirits.


& c."


    Let the progressive thought of the civilized West speak out also and hear its valuable testimony to the indigenous growth in experience அநுபவ of the Spirit-seeking East:-

    The great English poet of Nature quoted above, would appear to have constantly had the mystic temperament of India to receive conscious intimation of immortality. Probably, he was himself a true Indian for the time being clothed in an English body, though he made no claims himself to that rather unique honor.

    "Moreover, something is, or seems,

    That touches me with mystic gleams,

    Like glimpse of forgotten dreams –

    Of something felt, like something here;

    Of something done, I know not where;

    Such as no language may declare."


    To Tennyson, belief in pre-existence was not merely a matter of intuition; it was also the logical outcome of belief in immortality. The fullest expression of this transcendental condition is to be found in 'The Ancient Sage.'

        "For more than once when I

    Sat all alone revolving in myself

    The Word that was the symbol of myself

    The mortal limits of the Self was loosed,

    And passed into the Nameless as a cloud,

    Melts into Heaven. I touched my limbs, the limbs

        Were strange, not mine – and yet no shade of doubt,

    But utter clearness, and thro' loss of self,

        The gain of such large life as match'd with ours

    Were seen to spark – unshadowable in words,

    Themselves, but shadows of a shadow world."


    This, surely is the state of Cosmic Consciousness described in our own books.

    But the question that rises to one's lips at this stage of the enquiry is this:- Why all this inequality, heart-ache, worry, anxiety, trouble and mischief that you behold on every side on Earth? Under the merciful Providence of a most beneficent Deity, why is there so much of sorrow left unexplained? Why should the apparently good and vicious villain get on very well? In short, why are inconsistencies, incongruities and self-contradictions in Nature become possible? Why is Nature herself sometimes so red in tooth and claws? Why should one thing live upon another? Why good come through evil in the long run?

    Let the advancing thought of the go-ahead West answer again if possible.

    "I held it truth, with him who sings,

    To one clear harp in diverse tones,

    That men may rise on stepping-stones

    Of their dead selves to higher things."


"As you sow, so you reap." If you, sow the wind, you would reap the whirlwind surely,

" அவரவர் வினைவழி அவரவர் வருவார்

அவரவர் வினையளவுக்கே."

    Nature's law has it that personal experience should be the best teacher of all living things, of all embodied souls, of all infant spirits. All growth is accompanied by more or less pain. Pleasure itself would become meaningless and un understandable but for the pain that always and necessarily precedes it. But God in His Unbounded Mercy calls you away off and on for a season from this land of trial and tribulation to rest you well and equip you properly for your future work, your future climb over fresh hill and dale that lies before you in all their infinite variety and beauty. This world, after all, mind you, is only a place of probation, a training ground for the young and growing jiva, a kindergarten for God's children to pick up their first and elementary lessons in the Life Eternal. Human life is a drama. There are many characters upon the stage; all have their roles to play. There are lessons to be learned and others to be unlearned.

    But, in this connection let me draw your attention to this much for the present. Each human individual with his self-consciousness fully developed is a magnetic battery, which consciously or unconsciously affects those who come within its radius one way or the other. We have come away now a great way from where we started. Separate existence in the twilight of nascent manifestation after undergoing millions and trillions of incarnations in all kinds of bodies from the moneron to man.

"அண்டசஞ்சுவேத சங்களுற்பிச்சஞ்சராயுதத்தோ

டெண்டருநாலெண்பத்து நான்குநூறாயிரததா

லுண்டுபல்யோனியெல்லாமொழித்து மானுடத்துதித்தல்

கண்டிடிற் கடலைக் கையா நீநதினன்காரியஞ்காண் சிவஞானசித்தியார்."


"பரவைவெண்டிரை வடகடற்படுநுகத்துளையுட்

டிரைசெய்தென் கடலிட்டதோர் நோன்கழிசிவணி

யரசவத்துளையகவயிற் செறித்தெனவரிதாற்

பெரியயோனிகள் பிழைத்திவண்மானிடம்பெறலே."


Our duties and responsibilities are accordingly all the greater none we should always remember; unless we choose to hide our own folly and spiritual poverty in the society of men whose only God is Gold – the shrine at which they perpetually bow and worship. I have no patience with the agnostic, no sympathy with the materialist and I ask you to spend no time with the Atheist. He is a postponed possibility. His top-head will gradually grow perhaps, It is useless to talk of and solve Euclid's problems to a child. The mature and the erudite exclaim with the inspired prophet:-

"The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork." Blind materialism knows not that of course. What does it say then?

The Universe is not governed at all by a Power from behind it, but wriggles, rambles, and madly rushes along helter-shelter, by chance – reckless chance, with no order and no purpose, towards what? – blackest chance! Now, as against this pessimistic view of the Great mystery confronting us on all sides, let us for a moment consider what we can learn from the theory of Karma that the Hindu has had all along dinned into the ears of the world at large.

You throw a stone small or bid into a pond or sheet of water and what do you think occurs then? Vibrations are set up all round the spot where the stone fell and after a time they subside into apparent calm. But, in truth, physical science tells you that the vibrations created, only apparently cease. They reach the very bottom of the pond and all its four corners in a very subtle manner and affect the atomic particles of solid matter which in their turn affect layer after layer of matter imbedded in the very bowels of the Earth. And again, these self-same vibrations affect also the atmosphere hovering over the pond in the hypothetic case we are dealing with and that very mysteriously communicates similar vibrations to the Ether above it in a very particular and tangible manner, not by any means, for any short period of time as we sometimes imagine but for all time to come they say.

You cannot undo what you have done in this case, and just in the same manner, our thoughts, feelings, words, impulses and actions generate vibrations in the surrounding ether of all degrees or Akasa of various densities, for everlasting time which affect our own immediate surroundings first and through then the world of men next and then probably the universe outside even our Solar system itself for aeons and aeons of immeasurable time. We thus act and react on each other always in life and it rests with ourselves for the most part whether we shall prove angels or friends to humanity and friends or foes to ourselves even. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

The West does not generally understand our conception of a continued life with its quiet enduring of present wrong as the outcome of past ill-doing; with its patient striving to plant seeds of qualities which in the future would flower and bear fruit; with its gentle disregard of the fate of a single life which bulked but small in the face of a life everlasting, stretching through a long vista of births and deaths. For in true men and women, the sense of love, compassion and sympathy – of service in a word – stretches over earth, through death, and back to earth again, and just in proportion as we have evolved this quality, in far-reaching benevolence are we truly man.

As this truth becomes generally recognized, all who suffer will have an indefeasible claim on all who are able to help, by the mere fact of their suffering; instead of running away from the sight of suffering, and trying to forget it, as so many do today, we shall allow the suffering to bring our hearts until we have removed it from another. And it is written in an occult treatise. "To live to benefit mankind is the first step."

As this ideal begins to rule, the sense of true Solidarity will arise, and Society will be built in full recognition of the law that social health depends upon the health of every individual in Society that it is not enough that some should be successful, but that all must have their share of happy life. Without this, Society perishes. The law of the common life, the expression of which is Brotherhood, is woven into the very substance of the human race. None can suffer in the body politic without the happiness of all being tainted; success and failure are common for the whole of us; while to ignore the law may for a brief time bring success, in the long run, it inevitably brings destruction. Until the people are happy, we have no right to talk of 'Society'; there is only a sweltering chaos of social units, with no social organization. Let us aim at the realization of the splendid phrase. "From each according to his capacity; to each according to his needs." With the true Saivaite, it will then be a question of giving not of taking, of voluntary help not of compelled drudgery. The Bhaktas of the Periapurana, by their wonderful devotion and love to God so far outdistance the type of a modern intellectual man, that only the psychology of the future may be able to understand them fully and to define their superhuman qualities. History tells us, that now and again there have already appeared human beings gifted with powers unknown to mankind. They rose to heights where only eagles among men may soar, and those who could not rise with them saw only the dust of their soles.

Even now live Svami Ramalinga Maharishi there are many souls in advance of their age who have come in upon the crest of the advancing wave of thought. Too little are they listened to, too little can they make their voices heard above the fever and the dim of the work-a-day world. Men may look back to a golden age in the dim past or forward to it in the dim future, but always for the seeing eye the golden age is now and the Kingdom of Heaven is within.

There is no use mincing matters then. The chains we had forged for ourselves, we shall have to break asunder ourselves. We could do it if we only will to do it.

" இச்சையில்வல்லவர் மெச்சும்விருந்தே."

The human will is almost omnipotent. What could it not accomplish? Use it for your glory then and for goodness sake, let there be no back sliding whatever.

Progression or Retrogression is the rule, and if you won't go forward, go upward, go Godward. You will have to go backward and that means athogathi, to die out of existence altogether.

We all feed and adorn the body every moment of our life; but how few care to feed and adorn the soul every day with noble thoughts and noble deeds? These few are however the salt of the Earth.

Every word we utter, every look we gaze, every thought we project, every act we perform is mentally photographed upon others, visibly or invisibly, modifying, molding, and to some extent recasting and shaping their destiny in a cut and dried manner. And could we have any correct idea of the Karma we have all along been doing on one side of Eternity? A stupendous 'No' is the only answer we could afford to give to this query.

"அன்னையெத்தனை யெத்தனையன்னையோ" &c.

But some of my friends may say, we do not know all about this karma with which we are dealing just now. It is not given to us to understand the countless complexities of the problem of reincarnation. They only push the difficulty one step further back and there they leave us again in utter darkness. How then they console us and help us in our future evolution.

I answer that in the fullness of time, all things shall be made plain and straight. Just now, many things are locked up in the bosom of the Eternal and let us not break our heads over then for yet amble. If we cannot be the sun, let us at least try to be a humble planet revolving round it. There is a little light that has been vouchsafed unto us and let us suffer it to guide over path, for the nonce. If we cannot afford to go in for luxuries, let us not do away with the bare necessaries of life too, on that account. That is no wisdom. Earth life is for a day's eternity of spirit is for infinite experience, achievement and enjoyment to the conscious, self-poised entity, over soul.

But what is the goal? Do we know it already? are there any land marks left on the sands of Time by those who have gone towards it before us in bygone times?

Let me quote the Hridayasloka of திருவாசகம் and pray its divine author to solve this problem for us.

    "நீயலாற்பிறிது மற்றில்லைசென்று

    சென்றணுவாய்த்தேய்ந்து தேய்ந்தொன்றாம்" &c.


    But again someone will say: all that is true. It is however more easily said than done. Quite so: You want a dogged perseverance to accomplish it.

    "சும்மாகிடைக்குமா சோணேசன்பாதம்."

    Let us take counsel from the great soul who taught as follows:-

    "மெய்வருத்தம்பாரார் பசிநோக்கார் கண்டுஞ்சார்

    எவ்வெவர்தீமையுமேற் கொள்ளார் – செவ்வி

    அருமையும்பாரா ரவமதிப்புங்கொள்ளார்



    Pray make sure of the ground you now stand on first Sink all petty differences over which children alone ought to quarrel once for all and rise as one man to stand for the truth through thick and thin in joy and sorrow, in bad times as well as good ones. Make your circumstance, do not let circumstances make you, something cannot be evolved from nothing; and the converse is also essentially true, that something cannot become nothing. Do not fight shy of this glorious truth. Over all and through all sweeps the mighty law of Cause and Effect. Causation being the fundamental verity of the universe. Salvation is a coming into harmony with Divine Law. All grow to be angels by degrees. The child is father of the man. Death, the most unsubstantial mirage we know of cannot change the inner man. The change of clothing or change of place merely does not change character. Laying all personalities side, love, wisdom and wise constitute the holy trinity that is to save the world.




"அன்புசிவமுமிரண்டென்பாரறிவிலார்" &c.

    V. M.