Sunday, March 17, 2013

GOD - HIS EXISTENCE AND ATTRIBUTES.

    The existence of the Almighty lies at the foundation of religion. This great universal truth has been generally acknowledged on all hands. Cicero says: "There is no people so wild and savage as not to have believed in a God, even if they have been acquainted with His nature." Our consciences tell us, that there must be a great Creator of all things.

    Reason corroborates the testimony of conscience. The argument is briefly expressed thus: Every house is built by some man; but He that built all things is God. Suppose you saw, in a solitary desert, a palace, full of beautiful furniture. Although there was no one in the building, and you never heard who erected it, you would be certain that it did not spring up of itself. By the same reasoning, we infer that, much more, must this great world, so completely supplied with everything we require, have had a Maker. All nature points to Him. An old writer says: "I asked the earth, and it said 'I am not He'; and all that therein is, made the same acknowledgement. I asked the sea and the depths, and all that move and live therein, and they answered, "we are not thy God; seek higher'. I asked the winds, but the air with its inhabitants, answered; 'I am not thy God'. I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they answered, 'neither are we the God whom thou seekest'. And I said to all things that surrounded me, 'ye have told me concerning my God that ye are not He; speak then to me of Him'. And they all cried with loud voices, 'He made us'."

    It is true that in all ages of the world there have been some who have denied the existence of a Creator. Buddhism, a religion which originated in India more than two thousand years ago, and which is still professed by great numbers, is essentially atheistic.

    There are even some men, looked upon as learned, who think that everything we see has arisen without a Creator. First mere atoms existed. By degrees, they formed themselves into plants of the lowest order, from which others of a higher type were gradually developed. Animals are supposed to have had a similar origin, all springing from each other, without the intervention of a personal God.

    It is admitted that there has been order in Creation. Inanimate matter was first called into being. Plants were formed before animals and in both cases the most highly organized may have been the latest in each series. But all this does not disapprove the existence of a Creator.

    Palely shows that if we met with a watch for the first time, we should at once infer that it had a maker. The unconscious watch could not have been the cause of the skillful arrangements of its parts. If the watch were so contracted that it would produce other watches, this, instead of proving that it had no maker, would only show that he possessed the greater skill.

    Paley's Natural Theology contains many wonderful illustrations of design in nature. Science, in its progress, affords additional proofs of the same character. In a fine building, each stone is made of a particular shape to suit its future position. Chemistry tells us, that the whole universe is composed of atoms so excessively small that they cannot be seen. It further shows that each atom is, as it were, cast in a fixed mould, so that it will unite with others only in certain proportions. The very atoms, therefore, afford irresistible proof that they were fashioned by the great Architect of nature.

    The wisest men have fully acknowledged the existence of a Creator. Aristotle, a profound Greek philosopher, was led from a consideration of the universe up to what he calls "the first immovable mover, which being itself immovable causes all things else to move." Bacon says in his "Essays": "I had rather believe all the fables in the Legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. It is true that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them and go on further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity."

    Pantheists assert that the universe, as a whole, is God. This, however, does not meet the necessities of the case. Newton says, "All these movements according to rule and purpose, cannot have their origin in merely mechanical forces. This most exquisite combination of the sun, and planets, and comets, can have sprung from nothing short of the counsel and dominion of a Being at once intelligent and mighty." We cannot conceive of intelligence without personality. A conscious personal God must exist.

    Some admit that it would be absurd to deny the being of God but declare that He is "unknowable," and therefore we need not trouble ourselves about Him. It is perfectly true that we cannot understand Him fully. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell what canst thou know?" Still, we may learn something of Him from His works and His government of the world. A building enables us to judge of the wisdom and skill of the architect. In like manner, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work."

    Milton says, "Thine this universal frame thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then!"

    It must be allowed that the evidences of God's goodness are not so apparent as those of His power and wisdom. Nature has two aspects. As a rule, everything is calculated to minister to our happiness. The sun with its cheerful light, fields of waving grain, trees with pleasant fruits, flowers with their beautiful colors and sweet perfumes, all proclaim the benevolence of God. There are, however, exceptional occurrences, as earthquakes and pestilences, which sometimes cause wide-spread suffering and death. Wise men, after a full consideration of both sides, are convinced that the arguments in favor of God's goodness greatly preponderate. Most of the misery that is in the world is brought upon the people by their own misconduct. It is part of God's chastisement to lead them to a better course. We are also incapable of understanding all God's Government in the world. He has designs far beyond our limited knowledge.

    Another attribute of God is His holiness. What is the character we admire most? Is it not the man who is free from every taint of pride and revenge; Who is pure, truthful, just, and benevolent? Our consciences at once confirm this judgment. Can it be supposed that the great Creator does not Himself possess the virtues which we sometimes esteem in His creatures? Our instincts tell us that He must have them all in boundless perfection. The excellences which we see in the best men on earth are like reflections of the glorious sun from little fragments of a mirror.

    Pope thus describes some gods which have been worshipped:-

    "Gods partial, changeful, passionate, unjust,

    Whose attributes are Rage, Revenge or Lust."

    

Any professedly sacred books whose gods are of such a character, must be the inventions of wicked men. The excuse is sometimes made that the Gods are above all law, and can act as they please. This is comparing them to human tyrants, who take delight in gratifying their sinful passions. A good king would not act in such a way – much less God.

The ignorant suppose that there are many gods, some dwelling in one place, some in another. On the other hand, the unity of God has been acknowledged by the most intelligent men in all ages. He is not like a man, confined to one place; He possesses illimitable knowledge and power; there is no proof of the existence of more than one God, and no other is required.

In conclusion, I endorse the experience of the poet who wrote:-

        Not worlds on worlds, in phalanx deep,

            Need we to prove a God is here;

        The daisy fresh from winter's sleep,

            Tells of His hand in lines as clear.

        For who but He who arched the skies,

            And pours the dayspring's living flood,

        Wondrous alike in all he tries,

            Could rear the daisy's purple bud,

        Mould its green cap, its wiry stem,

            Its fringed border nicely spin,

        And cut the gold-embossed gem,

            That, set in silver, gleams within,

        And fling it, unrestrained and free,

            Over hill and dale and desert sod,

        That man, wherever he walks, may see,

            At every step, the stamp of God!

M. S.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

FESTIVAL OF GANESA.

BY R. KULASEKARAN, B.A., L.T.

    It has been aptly said that no country in the world rejoices in a longer list of holidays, festivals (utsava), and seasons of rejoicing, qualified by fasts (upavasa, vrata), vigils (jagarana), and seasons of mortification than India. Several of these fasts and festivals take place on certain lunar days. Each period of lunation consists of about twenty seven solar days and is divided into thirty lunar days. Fifteen of which during the moon's increase constitute the sukla paksha or the bright half and the remaining fifteen the Krishna paksha or the dark half of the month. Some festivals are however regulated by the supposed motions of the sun through the different signs of the Zodiac.

    The first of the festivals observed this month was Ganesa chaturthi. It usually falls on the 4th day of the bright half of the month Bhadra (August-September). This is the popular least per excellence. On the morning of this day, the bazaar streets and thorough fares are crowded to suffocation. As one sees the large number of people of different grades and varying ages carrying home the clay image of the God and the variegated flowers and leaves for his worship, one cannot but feel moved by the religious earnestness with which the votaries are filled. Vinayaka or Pillaiyar as the God is known in southern India is no respecter of caste or wealth. Even as the earthly emblem of the great God be of either gold or clay, so are his votaries drawn from all ranks of life. Vinayaka is neither a fastidious God. All the flowers and leaves of forest and even the blades of lowly grass are acceptable unto him if they are but offered with devotion. Rice puddings, beaten rice, gram boiled, or fried things eaten by the common people are his favorite dishes. Great is the return that he makes for these things offered in devotion. He fulfills all the longings of the votary's heart. He give wealth. He wards off obstacles.

The worship of Ganesa is prehistoric. The Rig Veda speaks of Brahmans-pati or Brihaspati; "lord of prayer" the personification of religion and devotion – who by the force of his supplications protects the pious from the machinations of the impious. Gananam Ganapathi, which occur in Rig Veda II.2.3.1 refers to this Brahmanaspati who is the lord of Ganas or troops of divinities. But we cannot be sure that Ganesa as he is worshipped at the present time was foreshadowed in the Vedic Brahmanaspati. The very name Ganesa or Ganapati meaning the lord of hosts is also a name of Siva who is surrounded by innumerable ganas or hosts. These servants and officers of Siva are of two classes viz., good and bad. The bad ones carry out the behests of the God in his aspect of Rudra or Kala directing and controlling dissolution and death. The god ones on the other hand serve him in his aspect of Siva or Sambhu, helping in creation and reintegration. Siva is the sovereign over these hosts, but the actual command is delegated to his two sons, Ganesa and Skanda. Skanda is the generalissimo of the ganas. Ganesa unlike Skanda is not the commander and leader, but rather the king and lord of the bhuta ganas* [* Ganas symbolize our Paneha Bhutas and their products which though under the complete control of the supreme, yet control and constrain Jivas.-Ed] both good and bad alike and controls the malignant spirits who are ever plotting and causing hindrance and difficulties.

    What Ganesa or Pillaiyar of the present day really represents is a complex personification of sagacity, shrewdness patience and self-reliance-of all those qualities in fact which make for success in life. His blessing is therefore invoked before undertaking anything. His worship is combined with that of almost every other God and all sects unite in claiming him as their own. His images are often found associated with those of other deities and are often found in the approaches and vestibules (prakaras) of large temples. 'Often however they stand alone and are then to be found outside villages, under trees or in cross ways' or indeed in any kind of locality but always smeared with saffron powder in token of good-luck and auspiciousness.

    At the present time there are few people who worship Ganesa exclusively. In former times there was such a class of people known as Ganapatyas. These were divided into six sub-sects who worshipped six different forms of the God names respectively Maha-Ganapati, Haridra-Ganapati, Ucchishta-Ganapati (also called Heramba), Navanita-Ganapati, Svarna-Ganapati and Santana Ganapati.


 

    

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SAINT JNANA SAMBANDAR.

    "Long live the Brahmins, Gods, and kins,

    May rain pour down and monarch fare,

    Deep sink all ill, ring everywhere

    But Siva's name, and cease all pine."


 

    "He who believing that the search for truth can never be offensive to the God of truth, pursues his way with an unswerving energy, may not unreasonably hope that he may assist others in their struggle towards the light, and may in some small degree contribute to that consummation when the professed belief shall have been adjusted to the requirements of the age, when the old tyranny shall have been broken, and the anarchy of transition shall have passed away." – W. E. H. Lecky.

SAINT JNANA SAMBANDHAR.

    'Whom the Gods love die young' was said of yore. It was too true of St. Jnana Sambandar; for he had hardly turned sixteen when he had a translation to the abode of bliss. In the third year of his birth he began to lisp in numbers, for the numbers came, and the highly imaginative and poetic mind of the fervid south gave the early precocity a mythic or mythological garb that the goddess Parvati fed the babe with her milk or divine wisdom. Thence-forward he came to be known as the son of God, and the halo of divinity encircled him. His pious father, Siva-padha-virudh-aiyar felt the divinity of his blessed son and return home with him. The child-prodigy, in the very brief span of his life, made four holy journeys to different shrines in the peninsula, of which the third was the longest and most eventful and wrought many a miracle in each, the Divinity punctuating every act of his with its power and grace, its justice and mercy.

    At Tirukkolakka which is less than a Sabbath day's trip from Shiyali the wisdom child was dowered with a pair of golden cymbals inscribed with the sacred pentagram, symbolic of the divine gift of melodious song to him. The Brahmin folk of Tirunanepalli, the home of Baghavatiyar, the saint's mother, hearing of the divine favors bestowed on the son of God, invited him to their village, 9 miles North East of the Mayavaram junction. Singing a hymn of his own in honor of the local deity, as it was his custom, he resumed his pilgrimage seated on the fond shoulders of his affectionate author, and returned home after visiting seven shrines ending with the one at Tiruk-kurukavur. At Shiyali there was waiting for him Tiru Nilakanta Yalpanar, a famous lutist, accompanied by Viraliyar-a celebrated girl-singer. The two visitors were hospitably entertained by the saint, and when the latter listened to their performances he was so moved by them that he graciously accorded to Nilakanta the favor of his company whether so ever he went. Thus the composer and the lutist were together, and the latter followed the former setting his divine words to music, as the shadow the substance.

    Prompted by his desire to pay homage and worship to the God at Chidambaram he set out on his second pilgrimage in company with the lutist and attended by a large retinue of admires and disciples. At the request of Tiru-Nilakanta, the saint paid a visit to Tiru-yerukkatthamputhur, and composed a hymn in praise of the God of Nilakantan's hamlet. Passing through Tiru-muthukunram, Tunganaimatam, and Tiru-Nelvoil, he halted at Marampadi at sunset and lodged there for the night when he saw a vision of the deity of Tiru Arathurai announcing the gift of a pearl-white palanquin, a pearl-white fan, and a pearl-white flageolet by the Brahmins of the village. These precious gifts were most opportune and afforded immense relief to the saint's loving father. Henceforward the saint's journey was made in the palanquin with the customary paraphernalia, and after traversing Tiru Nel-Vennai, Tirup-palavur, Vijayamangai, Vaika, and Purambayam, he approached Cheyngalur, the birth place of Chandeswara Nayanar, and alighted from the palanquin and went on foot to the shrine, to do honor to the far-famed canonized saint. His second pilgrimage closed with his worship at Tiru Karuppariyalur, and when he was at Shiyali once more, his parents were most anxious that the child saint should wear the holy thread, and his voice was echoed by the chorus of the Brahmins of the village. The investiture was over, and the saint sang the virtues of the sacred pentagram in a memorable pathigam. At this time the veteran singer of melting strains who prided himself on being a Servant of God, the Lord of the Tongue, proceeded to Shiyali, where the child prodigy and the melodious hymnist paid mutual adoration. The former addressed the latter as Father, - a very significant form of address, and the saint thenceforth bore the name of St. Appar. This event points a moral to the narrow clan-lovers of modern times, and teaches them that love, genuine love, transcend, the conventions of caste and custom. After a brief sojourn, Saint Appar bade farewell to the 'marvelous boy' and exchanged parting embraces with him at Tirukkolakka.

    Shortly afterwards his third and most eventful missionary journey commenced. Going from shrine to shrine on the north bank of the Cauvery and hymning in each of them, he reached Tiru Pachil Achramam where he effected a miraculous cure on the princes of Kolli-Malavan afflicted with a dangerous palsy. Resuming his pilgrimage of grace, he crossed the Cauvery and visited the shrines on its southern bank on the Kongu country. When he was at Tiru-Kodimatam the burning frost set in and his retinue fell ill. Fever was rampant in the whole village and all the afflicted turned to him for redress. The saint sang the most touching hymn called Tiru-Nilakanta-pathigam, and thanks to the immediate response of the Holy Being, all the affected got up fresh and vigorous as after a sleep and from a dream. Traversing many other places of sacred resort, he arrived at Karur, situated on the border land between the Kongu and Chola countries. In the province of Chola he sang hymns in twenty five shrines and passed on to Tiru-chatthe-Matam, when the sun was in a blaze and the midsummer was burning hot. The palanquin bearers and the retinue of disciples could not bear the heat and appealed to their master. The redress was instantaneous. A Siva demon appeared, spread his huge wings aloft, and carried a huge pearl-white umbrella which sheltered the holy followers from the scorching heat of the sun till they made for Patte-charam. Marching onward through fifteen more sacred places and arriving at Tiru-vavaduthurai, the boy-saint halted a few days there. At that time his father, a Brahmin of Brahmins, who was intent on performing the Vedic Sacrifice or Yaga, applied to his son for the wherewithal, and the son prayed to the local deity for compliance. A gold parrot embodying a thousand gold coins was seen on the pedestal of the temple, and it was said that the treasure would prove inexhaustible and go to defray all the expenses of the sacrifice. The father took it and went homeward while the marvelous boy marched on. In his holy peregrinations he sang hymns and the hymn composed at Dharmapuram the place of nativity of the lutist' s mother, - composed at the request of the Yalpanar, - was so hard to be set to music that it came to be known as Lute-Breaker or Yal muri. It is the only hymn in that pan in all the Devaram and to the great skill of the metrist. The skilled lutist could not play the tune and was about to break the lute in his despair. The boy-saint hastened to spare it and said that a divinely inspired song could not be easily set to mortal music. After this great feat, the saint and his followers were received with great ├ęclat at Satthamangai by Saint Tiru-Nilla-Nakkar, his hospitable home. After partaking of the Saint's hospitality, St. Jnanasambandar visited the local temple and left for Veloor east. At this place he was met by the Saint Tirutthondar and invited to Tiru-Chengattam-kudi. At Tiru-Marugalur another super-natural cure was effected in a most marvelous manner. In the mantapam of the local temple a virgin was seen crying most woefully at the death by cobra-bite of her merchant-ravisher. Our precocious Saint took pity on the agonized lady and sang a hymn. The result was that the dead man woke up and the Saint made the lovers man and wife. After visiting the home of Siruthoondar again, he went to Tiru-pugalur at the invitation of Saint Muruganar.

    Tiruppugalur is remarkable as the trysting place of the saints. St. Appar, St. Nila Nakkar, St. Siru Thonder, St. Jnanasambandar and St. Murugar spent a few days together and each thought that it was the most happy period of his life. Leaving that place of holy Junction the Saints Appar and Jnanasambandar met at Tiru-Ambar and offered their prayers to Siva in the temple built and dedicated to him by the king Kochengan-chola. Here we come upon a temple with a history of its own, and the pathigam composed in honor of it sings the praises of its magnanimous author. The reign of the Red-eyed Chola King will furnish, on proper investigation, a landmark in the history of Tamilakam and may serve to fix the dates of temple-structure in South India. Both the saints were received at Tiruk-kadavur by their contemporary Kungelia Kalaya Nayanar and cordially entertained by him in his house. Both travelled together to Akkur, Meychur Pambur, and Veelimilalai. Here in the last mentioned locality the Brahmins of Shiyali waited upon the boy-saint and prayed for his homeward journey. The deputation was given a splendid reception by the local Brahmins, but did not succeed in its mission. The deputation returned home. The two saints were happy in each other's society at Veelimilalai, when there fell upon the land a severe famine. The son and the servant of God wanted money for their maintenance, and the unfailing exchequer of Siva gave each of them a gold coin every day till there was plenty in the land once more. Each saint took his gold coin, wherewith he sumptuously led his own devotees and adherents. According to the legend the gold coin intended for Jnanasambandar fetched less than that for St. Appar, and by this it was probably meant to convey that service loomed larger in the eyes of God than kinship. The rains fell and the dearth rolled away. The saints left this memorable scene of the manifestation of divine grace to them and visited thirteen sacred shrines together before they reached Vedaranyam. This was probably a great seat of Vedic learning and had suffered an eclipse during the havoc made by the heretical rulers. The Siva temple seems to have been closed for fear of the tyrants, and the inhabitants of the place seem to have been much concerned about it. They evidently longed for a time when the sable cloud should have a silver lining. The two saints must have had a hard time of it there (in their controversies with their opponents) before they asserted and established the greater excellence and worth of their vedic knowledge. Their success in the ordeal might have led to the opening of the temple and to the performance of the puja, not to speak of the spread and diffusion of the old learning and worship. This is the only interpretation we are able to make of the miracle of the temple door being opened and shut for the first time after a long period of its closure. Literally, the feat of opening a door, which has been shut up for a long time, is more trying and difficult than closing it when once opened. The task of opening it fell to the lot of the aged St. Appar while St. Jnanasambandar easily closed it. Very likely the veteran had to face the ordeal more than the stripling. The opening of the door of knowledge, held to be secret or close preserve for the Brahmins, to the other classes was a heroic feat on the part of the Vellala saint while the Brahmin prodigy, true to his inherited tendencies, wished to have it the exclusive possession of his own clansmen. Viewed in any way the miracle at Tirumaraikadu, the name for which Vedaranyam is the Sanskrit equivalent, is highly significant even though it were divested of its miraculous element. Further, it was at Tirumarai kadu that Jnanasambandar received the emissaries of the Queen Mangayarkarasi and her prime minister Kulachirai to put a stop to the rapid progress of Jainism in the Pandiya country. St. Appar, who had suffered immensely at the hands of these heretics, advised his younger contemporary not to make the venture, and added that his stars were not favorable at the time. These arguments from experience and astrology did not bear sway with the building youth bent on annihilating heresy. Yet out of love for the boy saint, St. Appar offered to accompany him, and the enthusiastic young saint took leave of the anxious St. Appar assuring him that the Lord would stand by his side. Thus they parted again.

    St. Jnanasambandar set out on his journey to the south. On his way to Madura, he visited about ten shrines and sang hymns. At Madura the Saint had a magnificent reception, and the Queen and the Prime-minister left no stone unturned to make it as grand as possible. The Jains had an anxious time since the advent of the orthodox saint. They induced the Pandiya to arrest his progress. As anticipated by St. Appar they set fire to the mantapam where the saint of miracles had quartered. The outcome of it was that the Pandiyan King had something like typhoid fever and his whole body was abnormally hot. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy met, challenged each other, and tried the efficacy of their mantrams on the patient.

    "If Buddha (Arha) be thy god,

    God to his temple, invocate his aid

    With solemnest devotion, spread before him

    I low highly it concerns his glory now

    To frustrate and dissolve these magic spells,

    Which I to be the power of Aryan God

    Avow, and challenge Buddha (Arha) to the test,

    Offering to combat thee, his champion bold.

    With the utmost of his godhead seconded;

    Then thou shalt see, or rather to thy sorrow

    Soon feel, whose God is strongest, thine or mine."


 

    Singing the sacred hymn of the Holy Ashes Orthodoxy won the day, but heterodoxy called for two further trials. By the miracles of the water and the fire too the Jains were made to bite the dust, and eight thousands of them were pilloried by the king according to their vow. The hunch backed Pandyan was cured of his deformity and turned a true worshipper of Siva once again. The joy of the Queen and Kulachiraiyar knew no bounds at the triumph of Saivaism and at the reconversion of their sovereign. Having established the worship of Siva beyond all doubt, St. Jnanasambandar visited Rameswaram and Courtalam among other holy places and composed pathigams. Tinnevelly had its own share, and the hymn is popular, being sung by the Othuwars and Gurukkals in temples and on festive occasions. On his way back to the Chola country. Kulachiraiyar gave the saint a fitting reception at Manalmelkudi, his native village. Crossing the borders of the Pandiya country, he reached the bank of the Mullivoi and the ferrymen were unequal to the washing flood. After offering his prayers to the god of Tiru-kollamputhur, at a distance of five miles from the Koradacheri station on the Tanjore – Negapatam branch of the South Indian Railway, the Saint rowed across the flood and resumed his journey homeward. At Bodhimangai, a Buddhist centre, the Saint's followers made such an uproar with their conches and their hallelujahs that Buddha Nandi came out with his congregation to intercept their triumphant march. The miracle of thunder and lightning was enacted and the Buddhist rival was dashed to the ground, his head cloven in twain. The Buddhist embraced Saivaism. This added to the glory of the boy saint, and the latter, in his solicitude to meet St. Appar and report his victories over the heretics, hastened to Tiru-Punthuruthi, eight miles north-west of Tanjore. Here the two saints lived together for a time, each retaining his own triumphal progress; and when St. Appar marched southward to the shrines in the Pandiya country, St. Jnanasambandar crossed the Cauvery and arrived at Shiyali after paying the homage of his hymns to God in each sacred shrine on the way.

    After some stay at Shiyali the boy saint longed to visit the shrines already honoured by St. Appar in Thondinadu and began his fourth pilgrimage. From Chidambaram he proceeded northward till he halted at Tiru-Annamalai where he sang hymns, and at Titu-othur about fifteen miles from Conjeevaram, where the Jains were found in large numbers, the Saint made the barren Palmyra's yield fruits. At this miracle the local Jain population turned Saivites at once and thereby augmented the glory of the Saiva faith. Passing this Thiru Alamkadu, immortalised in song by the fervour of Karaikkal Ammai's devotion, he climbed the hill of Kalahasti and poured forth his verse in praise of St. Kannappa. Thence he left for Tiru Ottiyur and after a short sojourn there, went to Mylapore, where an enthusiastic admirer of the saint, a merchant prince by name Siva Nesar, awaited his arrival with an urn of his only daughter's bones and ashes to be immediately transformed into Pum-pavai in the flesh. This was a miracle of miracles and dazzled the assemblage of all creeds and religions that witnessed the miraculous performance. The hymn of Muttitapunnai every native of Mylapore knows by heart, as it led to the reincarnation of the cobra-bitten Virgin. Pum-pavai having been dedicated by her father to St. Jnana Sambandar, she could not be given in marriage to anybody else, and as by the miracle the saint assumed the role of a second father, she had to be relegated to a nunnery. The saint the left Mylapore and wended his way to Chidambaram where he stayed, worshipping the deity every day and paying his tributary verses to his heart's content. The Brahmins of Shiyali headed by the Saint's father invited him back to his birth place, and at Shiyali he passed his days in the company of his disciples. His father proposed wedded life for him and arranged for the marriage with the daughter of Nambiandar, Nambi of Tiru Nallur. On the bridal day, when the solemnisation was over, all those assembled to honour the occasion, together with the bride and bridegroom disappeared in the trailing clouds of the glory of Siva. Thus the life of the Saint ended as it began in a miracle.

    Having recounted the story of the Saint, I may dwell very briefly on three points connected with it, on the excellence of his hymns, on the virtue of the miracles, and on the question of religious persecution. Firstly, I take up the excellence of his hymns. The extant hymns of St. Jnana Sambandar (Muttamilveeragar) number 384, of which 7 are general without reference to any locality, Shiyali claims 67 hymns under its duodenal name. Vihmilalai 15, Alavoi 8, Tiruvaiyar 5, and others on a descending scale. Each pathigam consists of 11 or 12 instead of 10 stanzas as the name signifies, and the last is always a benedictory one bearing the name and seal of the saint. A careful reader of the hymns will see that the 8th, 9th and 10th stanzas refer invariably to Siva's grace to the melodious Ravana in agony, to the par excellence of Siva over Brahma and Vishnu, and to the malediction of the heretic Buddhists and Jains respectively. In the first seven stanzas no definite arrangement of topics is discernible, and there seems to be ringing the changes on the nomenclature of Siva with special reference to the traditions and the scenery of the locality. All the hymns are said to contain the distilled essence of the Vedas, and what distinguishes them is their variety of pans or tunes, (sandamparavu Jnanasambandan). Of the twenty-four pans of the Devara hymns, our saint's hymns alone illustrate 22 of them, and none of the other Saivacharyas as exceeds or even equals him in their varieties and none of them ever attempted yal-muri. It is hardly to be seen in his hymns that philosophy and humanity that rise the sweet strains of St. Appar, while the militant spirit is much in evidence in them. Further, almost every hymn of the boy saint is instinct with the supremacy and welfare of his own clan unlike the hymns of St. Appar in which he makes no distinction between man and man or class and class, but applies the touchstone of sincere devotion to detect the pinchbeck and discriminate it from the true gold.

    In the second place let me examine the value of the miracles achieved by St. Jnana Sambandar. About a dozen of them I have referred to in the course of the narrative of the saint's brief span of life. All of them imply the intervention of the supernatural. Whether a dangerous disease is cured or a cobra bitten person is restored to life or the visitation of famine is averted or a deformity is removed, or a long shut door is opened, or the Yaga demand is met or the flooded stream is crossed or heterodoxy is put down or a sterile Palmyra is made fruitful, or the bones and ashes are metamorphosed into a bashful virgin – in each of these cases the operator is God, the man of extraordinary sanctity is the supplicating medium and the hallowed mantra uttered by the suppliant serves to move the operator to work out what the saint prays for. All this was possible in an age of absolute credulity, in an atmosphere surcharged with the supernatural, in a region torpid and isolated, and among a people who had just emerged from barbarism and whose education was at its lowest ebb. In the middle ages when our saint lived they (the miracles) were frequent incitements to piety, stimulating the devotions of the languid and rewarding the patience of the fervent. But in this enlightened and ever advancing twentieth century no teacher of divine truth needs such a prop or crutch to establish it; in this age of free enquiry, in this scientific age when every apparently extraordinary phenomenon is made to pass through the crucible of searching reason, the educated do not, like the ignorant, resort to the supernatural as the simplest explanation of every difficulty, but try to solve it by discovering the law or the general principle underlying it. "All history shows that in exact proportion to the intellectual progress of nations, the accounts of miracles taking place among them become rarer and rarer until at last they entirely cease." On the progress of civilisation and the diffusion of knowledge depends the gradual cessation of credibility and gullibility. Classed with legerdemain tricks as the miracles are by the scientific men of the age, however offensive to the nostrils of the conservative orthodox man such a classification might be, they at present do not at all command admiration or worship, but they infallibly and invariably provoke enquiry in thinking minds with a view to find out a rational explanation therefore. It is no disparagement to the deity or to the godhead, but all honour to him, that the infinitesimal reason of man can unfold the eternal law governing the apparent freaks of nature. Wireless telegraphy have become fait accompli like the gramophone and cinematograph, the wonders of the age. Telepathy is attempted to be explained on some such principle. The phenomena of hypnotism and mesmerism are psychologically explained. Even the grave problem of human survival after death is tackled in right earnest. Who knows what else science cannot discover or invent? The clear light of reason dispels the illusion of talisman or the amulet, and the magical powers of the holy ashes and the rosary are displaced by their hygienic and medical virtues as purifiers and insulators. In these circumstances the miracle loses its value as miracle while it testifies to the sincere devotional spirit of its performer.

    The third point is the question of religious persecution. St. Jnana Sambandar is known as the Hammer of the Buddhists and Jains. Why they were persecuted deserves passing notice. Both Buddhism and Jainism were the offspring of Brahminic bigotry and exclusiveness. The secrecy of the Vedas led to their rejection; the indulgence in animal sacrifices led to the pharisaic kindness even to fleas; the arrogance of high caste led to the prevalence of the feeling of fraternity; the extravagant insistence on the transmigration of souls led to the denial of the soul and the extinction of desire or Nirvana. The ethics of these religions reacted on their parent and, as it were toned down its arrogance and superciliousness. These are facts of history, and therefore stubborn. These two religions, which had their rise in Magadha, spread in the South with the ascendency of the Pallava sovereigns. When they began to decay internally and their best things were absorbed and assimilated by Hinduism, they fell, and Hinduism in its modified form reared its head. The boy saint and the veteran saint appeared at this favourable turn of the tide. To propagate religion by the sword was the peculiar privilege of Islamism; to do it by the intervention of the deity distinguished the nerveless Hinduism; to spread faith by conviction, by persuasion and argument was the way of the rationalistic Buddhism. In the dark ages persecution had a religious sanction; the service of the heretic was held a positive offence to the Deity; and heresy was punished with death and damnation. "If men believe with an intense and realising faith that their own view of a disputed question is true beyond all possibility of mistake, if they further believe that those who adopt other views will be doomed by the Almighty to an eternity of misery which, with some moral disposition but with a different belief, they would have escaped, these men will sooner or later persecute to the full extent of power. If you speak to them of the physical and mental suffering which persecution produces or of the sincerity and unselfish heroism of its victims, they will reply that such arguments rest altogether on the inadequacy of your realisation of the doctrine they believe." Under some influence like this did our Saints act, and callous were they therefore to the agonies of their victims. An open mind was none of theirs. My doxy is orthodoxy was the then prevailing temper of the religiously inclined. In the overthrow of Buddhism and Jainism argument was not the weapon of either combatant; both trusted to their magic and witchcraft for it. The Brahminic hatred was more pointed against Jainism than Buddhism, as the abusive epithets as demons, vultures etc., applied to the Jains in the tenth stanza of each hymn by our boy Saint would amply show; and it was not without reason. More than Buddhists, the Jains were great temple builders and cultivators of Tamil learning. The Jains were really great benefactors to the Tamil worlds. In the age of the Sangams and in subsequent times the work of the Jains in the several departments of Tamil literature was conspicuous. Give the devil his due is a proverbial saying. In the heat of his passion against heresy, he (Nannia Keethi Nalangol Kalvi Nan marrai Jnanasambandan) denied this merit of the Jains. (Andiportirinthariathodu Chentamil Payanarigila Andagar ketliyanalaen Thruvalavayaranirkavai) Passion is not the watch-word of the twentieth century inquirer; cool, dispassionate judgment is his. Toleration is born of love, sympathy and conviction. With the advance of reason the barriers of country, caste, creed and colour will dwindle into insignificance and catholicity will rule. That all men are equally free and brothers, is a fact realised only by the enlightened section of the civilized humanity. We will not brook to be called the unenlightened and uncivilized. So long as we wish to carry that dignity about us, so long as we wish to be known as an enlightened and civilized nation among mankind, it is our bounden duty to sink sectarian prejudices, to admit our failing and acknowledge our errors, and to look at Truth with a steadfast eye and embrace it fearless of favour or frown. In no era of the world is reticence or cowardice more culpable than in the present when, under the aegis of Pax Britannica, there is peace at home and peace abroad, when the forces of consolidation are at work among the peoples of the land, and when.

    "East and West, without a breath,

    Mix their dim lights, like life and death,

    To broaden into boundless day."

    M. S. PURANALINGAM PILLAI, B.A., .L.T.

    
 


 

    
 


 

    

Sunday, March 3, 2013

WOMEN AND WHAT TO DO FOR THEM.
BY T. S. SOMASUNDARAM PILLAI.
    The question will be asked how a contribution headed "Women and what to do for them" can be justified in such a religious Journal as the Siddhanta Deepika whose purpose to the world is solely to impart divine researches to the theistic humanity. The answer is quite plain. We do not stop with the common reconciliation which will be offered to this question that women form a portion of human beings equally fit to receive religious training as men and as such every facility as available for man ought to be made available for women alike. We go still further. Unlike other religions and philosophies, the Saiva Siddhanta is a practical religion which we live every day. No impracticable theories are propounded by this philosophy and the conduct of men towards women forms but a portion of the dictate of religion and a true Siddhanti is bound to give a religious aspect towards the treatment of the members of the fair sex, be the relation what it may.
    The most lamentable condition in which we find women in this land makes us pause for a moment and think if there is a parallel to such a state of things in any other clime. Students of the social history of the world clearly tell us that in other continents women are treated with greater respect, that they are very carefully educated and that every effort is made to make their life as smooth as possible chiefly with the view that it is they who make the future nation of the world. Healthy and long lived children are required to constitute a powerful nation and this fact is not ignored by men, responsible citizens of the state and the rulers of countries offer their possible help towards the achievement of such objects. The Japanese continent exhibited to the world a few years ago the gallant bravery of woman-hood in the sincere and bold dispatch to the battlefield of every male relation in the family, and still more, in the heartfelt rejoicing by women when they heard of the news of the death of their kith and kin in the battlefield. Surely such a spirit in womankind is not at all a make of yesterday. Time alone must manufacture this spirit and conditions prevalent in the country must smoothly yield space for such a development.
    What do we find in this land of whose ancestral civilization much is being boasted by the present day men? We do not hesitate to admit that in the matter of privileges extended to women there were many in the past ages which, for reasons which need not be explained here, were curtailed in course of time. Though we find women of eminence in literature, women who led highly religious lives – too high to admit of even one birth more in this mundane world – most painfully does it strike us to see around us our own sisters, wives and daughters immersed in ignorance, in matters material as well as spiritual. If we ourselves, who know our lineage, who have come to that stage of development whence we can try to know what God is and how to attain His grace, are instrumental in not aiding to uplift our women socially, morally, intellectually and above all religiously as far as lies in our power, we cannot reasonably justify our existence. In our daily life we hear it stated, and we ourselves observe, that seldom a husband and wife have both attained the same stage of advancement of thought. If this inequality exists in 90 cases out of every 100, the reason is plain that such a match has been ordained to raise the lower stage to a higher one. Such opportunities ought to be availed of instead of being neglected and that will be wisdom on the part of mankind.    
    Our women are kept in ignorance. Though the population of men who objected to female education two or three decades before is getting thinner, the number of girls who attend school is yet low. The impression that education to women is fraught with harm has almost been effaced and the substitution of female teachers in girl's schools has induced many a parent to send their daughters to schools. Yet there are many young girls in villages and even it towns who are not being educated. We do not advocate that our girls should necessarily have English education nor should they be compelled attendance at school even after they attain puberty. By all means give English education if possible but before you do so, see that all the excellent books in the mother tongue which preach morals, good womanhood, and other spiritual virtues are placed in their hands and studied to advantage. First make her an ideal of our home worthy of our ancient lineage and then, craving existing, give her the benefit of a foreign language and an idea of the civilization of the people who speak that language. As we said above, we do not insist on girls attending school after they come of age. It is rare that a girl is unmarried when she attains maturity. She soon after comes under the sway of her husband and it must be the duty of the husband to look to advance her knowledge from that time and see that her early education bears fruit in course of time.
    Elevation of our women is also another item which should engage our attention. In matters affecting our family life, our women are never given an upper hand, much less, consulted in matters of domestic interest. Every question, we know, has two important sides and similarly every household has two important personages, the husband and the wife. A free discussion of things is what is wanted. The opinion, coming from an educated wife, must have some sanity about it and one cannot easily and totally reject it. Give all respect and due attention to it and come to a common understanding and you will have peace and harmony prevailing in your homes. Yet this is not what we find around us. How many instances do we unconsciously come across in which a wife is leading a separate life from her husband, not chaste very often? How many suits for maintenance do we read of in newspapers almost every day? How many murders do we find investigated by the authorities in Law Courts? Shall we not avoid all these by paying careful attention to our women?
    We agitate for political reforms on the platform, we take pride in saying that we move in high circles when the head of a district or a province invites us to a garden party and shakes hands with us, we constantly write to newspapers advising this body and that to walk on the right lines, we at times go to the extent of advising mature minds even when their acts show high statesmanship, but of what use is all this when we ourselves do not know what our defects are both individually and collectively and set our homes right before we discuss of politics in Kamchatka and rebellion in Macedonia
    Civilization is advancing by leaps and bounds; wonders such as railway, telegraphy, wire and wireless, telephones, steamships and airships, have all come into existence; dumb men are made to read and write in schools, things impossible are now presented before our eyes as possible, and one cannot see how such common things as education, elevation and freedom to our young women cannot be made possible to our home girls only if we have the will to give these to them. Let Heaven grant us the courage and resource to raise our women to that stage which they really deserve as makers of the future generation.
    Good associations for ladies is an important factor which we must provide for. By bringing them into contact and by allowing them to express their opinions and discuss social questions, much good can result. Hundreds of men's meetings have been thorough failures; because the orators never had the cooperations of their women when they went within their homes. Care should however be taken that, in Ladies Associations, advantage is not taken to admire the make of a particular jewel or the weaving of a laced saree – thus resulting in ladies cultivating envy and avarice and become an everyday burden to the husband or brother. Virtues and knowledge leading to improvement should be the chief aim of such associations and it would not be safe at this stage to leave such gatherings entirely in the hands of the members of the fair sex.
    Members and sympathizers of the Saiva Siddhanta Mahasamaja really admire at the yearly conference the two eloquent lady speakers, Srimati Achalambikai Ammal and Srimati Andalammal, If these ladies have the enviable gift of a flowing talk, they have equally learnt to make a solid speech as well. Morals from Periya Puranam at every stage of a devotee's life and philosophy as expounded by the great sages of this school come pouring as if from a reservoir and one cannot see why ladies of this kind should not be many. Given the training and culture and freedom of thought, we are sure to have in our midst ladies of the type of Chandramati, Damayanti, and Savitri who represent typical wives and Karaikalammaiyar and Draupadi who represent typical women-devotees of the Lord.
    The screw entirely rests in the hands of men alone and the future women will be made according to how the screw is turned. If religiously-by it is meant mentally, morally, intellectually and spiritually-we wish to keep our women at par with us, we will be only acting up to that chief dictate of religion that to love God is to love His children. Women are children of God as much as men and to find God in a woman as in a man would be quite in keeping with religion.
    

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sivajnana Siddhiyar of Arunandi Sivacharya - A Review

    We have been privileged to see and advance copy of the English translation of Sivajnana Siddhiyar by that talented exponent of Saiva Siddhanta, Nallaswami. The translation originally appeared in the pages of the Siddhanta Deepika and is now published in book form, royal octavo of 280 pages, with an introduction of 40 pages, notes and glossary. The introduction gives a succinct of the antiquity account of the Saiva Religion, with apt quotations from the Vedas and the Upanishads, and establishes beyond doubt that the prevailing Religion of ancient India was the Saiva cult; thus setting at rest all opinions as to the regency of the Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy. The erroneous notions of some who would identify Paramasiva, the God head of the Saiva Religion with the Rudra of the Trinity, and with Sankara's Saguna Brahman are ably exposed and the universality of the Saiva Siddhanta, which comprehends all phases of thought from the lowest to the highest, and shows the ladder way of the gradual unfoldment of the Spirit is clearly pointed out therein. The note on the author is exceedingly interesting and instructive and is followed by a list of the Agamas and the Upagamas.

    The book itself comprises 3 sections. Book the first, deals with Alavai or Logic, which is essential for the establishment of truths and the exposure of fallacies. Book the second, is devoted to the Para Paksha – the foreign side – to the statement and refutation of all schools of thought foreign to the principles of the Saiva Siddhanta. Book the third, contains the one's own side – the Supaksha – the statement of the truths of the Siddhanta according to the division of the subject adopted in the principal treatise of Sivajnana Bhodam. Sivajnana Siddhi is, no doubt, a popular treatise in Tamil, owing to its lucid expression and exposition of the valid subjects. Any careful student will after the study of this book, be sufficiently well informed of all the shades and phases of thought in the ancient and modern Religion of India and what is more beneficial to himself, be trained gradually and unconsciously to reason out everything for himself. The present translation into English, it is noteworthy, does not lack that attractiveness but possesses in a marked degree, the clearness of diction, rhythm and style, characteristic of the translator.

    One without the least idea of the Indian Religion will find himself quite at home on the very first reading; even the technical terms are well explained in a copious Glossary.

    The indispensability of this book to the modern student of Religions is evident from another feature of it, namely from the valuable notes added at the foot of each page and at the end of each chapter or book. One cannot fail to come across the contrast drawn between the Eastern and the Western thoughts, ancient and modern, and the beautiful exegesis on the Pauranic episodes, such as Tiripura Dakana, Durga Puja or Navaratri, Dakshayajna, Tarukavana incident, bringing out the inner meaning hidden from the popular notions of the uninitiated. It is our humble opinion that this part of the work is invaluable in view of the lasting benefits it will shower on the nation or nations shaping the thoughts and aspirations nearer the Truth. The notes on the misunderstanding of Western scholars as regards the Quietism or Fatalism of Indian thought, on the errors of the Sabda Brahma Vadin and on the definition of Sat and Asat, are deserving of careful study.

    There is interesting reading to the Buddhists and the Christians too. The chapter on Nirvana, the ideal of Buddha, shows the true import of the teaching in the light of the Hindu doctrines; that on the Teachings of Christ confirms the oft expressed opinion that the Hindu alone can truly appreciate and understand the lofty ideals of Christ. The greatest principle of the Advaita Jnana is certainly involved in the utterances of that Mahatma, whose teachings are misread and mis-understood by those who profess to follow him. The recent advance of Religious Thought in the West fails more in line with the Eastern principles and it will certainly take a long time before it is adopted and assimilated by the Christian brethren on this hemisphere. 'Christ was the Son of God' the Christian brother says and the Hindu says 'yes.' He was more, he was a great jnani and Mukta and accordingly God Himself, as all Muktas are so to say and all must attain that state of Christhood which is the complete surrender to the will of the Father, so that they may be one with the Father even as Jesus was one with Him? There are ample quotations on the subject from Western writers.

    Another point should not be overlooked. The incompetency of the Western scholars to read the Vedic and Upanishadic text in the true light is aptly pointed out in several places and now is so interesting as the notes on the characteristics of Rudra, which are well compared and contrasted with various texts. The notes on the Panchamantras, on the other Saktis, Diksha and on the soul are equally based on Agamic and Upanishadic texts.

    No adequate compliment can be paid to the great worker Nallaswami who has been ceaselessly working for the Siddhanta for more than two decades. What is surprising is that he is not yet tired. He holds out the hope of soon giving the world all the 14 Siddhanta Sastras in English.

    It will not be out of place to observe that the present trend of modern thought is towards the Advaita doctrine and it will require many a worker in this field not workers who will be tired by exertion and exhausted by hunger, but workers of adamantine strength, born of unselfish love towards the suffering humanity, workers who will sacrifice all comforts for the uplifting of the fallen and the depraved souls fallen from the True Advaita Anubhava of the Blissful Lord, depraved by self-seeking thoughts and desires, workers who will toil on for the world regardless of the fruits of their labor. The Saivites themselves have to be roused to a sense of the present situation. A large majority are biting at the husk, not knowing that it is only a covering for the kernel inside. The inside is now more open to the view of the non-Saivites than for the Saivites themselves and when attempts are made to misrepresent the inside, the man at the husk believes too, instead of trying to know the truth himself. It has become the fashion now for preachers from pulpits and platforms to quote largely from Sivajnaanbodam, Siddhiyar, Tayumanavar etc., with approval and bring up the rear by a statement that the completeness of the teachings is found only in the pages of the Bible. The days when the other religions were looked upon as Satan's, are gone and we have now the refreshing advance of thought that there is Truth in each Religion, but the complete Truth is in the Bible. It is a good sign of development, but it behooves each inheritor of the Agamanta, and follower of the universal principles of the Saiva Siddhanta, to understand the highest aspect of the Truth himself, and to enlighten the Saivites of their great inheritance. If all or most of the Saivites understand their religion the rest will understand it too. And then each will begin to laugh in his sleeve when it is said to him 'the day dawns because my cock crows.'

    We have no quarrel or dispute with any other religionist. Our teachings have expressly stated that all religions are essential for the development of man, and that the one aiming to be universal should be comprehensive enough to provide the ladder way of spiritual evolution from the lowest to the highest of thinkers. Then why quarrel with each other being on different rungs;

    'Come on brother, come, you will see the next rung soon when you stand firm on that' should be the word of each sensible Saivite and if possible and needed, assist in discriminating between the rungs, our of love, in loving words. This is the work before us and sensible, patient, forgiving, humble and persevering workers are needed by hundreds and thousands at the present day. It was surprising to hear that the truths of the Panchakshara were preached, for the sake of curiosity and criticism, to the Christians by their Preacher, with quotations from the Sanskrit.

    Will not this alone rouse my brethren to a sense of the present trend of activity. While the Christian Preacher is doing our work (although in a caviling spirit) of spreading Truths, we sleep and lounge biting at the husk when it pleases us

    We have known long enough that the sun rises and sets; there are many who would not be disturbed from this belief. Let them abide by time. There are others who will begin to see that the sun does not rise and set if truths are put before them. The truths are imbedded in the Agamas and the Siddhanta Sastras and the true import and character of the teachings are not understood or practiced by the majority of our own people.    

What are the characteristics of a Saiva, ask a passerby. He says "Why sir, rise early, have bath, perform Sandhyvanana, wear ashes and Rudraksha, if you please and if available, some silk clothes, witness Puja in the Temple, and be a vegetarian, if you can; it is only for the few, you see, and if convenient take vegetable diet on Friday. But of course it is bad to take fish or flesh on fasting days. Your marriages etc. must be celebrated by the Priests according to custom. Observe the rites usually followed for house warming, Shraddha etc., and listen to the reading and the expositions of Puranas, attend the important festivals, say the Car festival Suranpor etc., don't you know.'

This in a nut shell is the life of a good member greater is the number of those who are ignorant of even this much. Can one be seated with folded hands, as an unconcerned witness of this degeneration. Have the noble teachings of our Lord through His Servants been buried so deep that they are now only the past times of pundits and pastors. This shall not be O ye, men, women and children, the noble inheritors of the sacred treasures of the Agamanta! A Saiva is one who owes allegiance to Siva, the Bountiful, the Graceful and the Blissful. His bounty and grace is to be evident in his thought feelings and actions towards all beings and his bliss in the satisfaction that he is unswerving in his allegiance to the Lord who is his Guardian and Guide. "Let no thought go forth from me to the injury or prejudice of all my fraternity on earth much less a word or deed to harm another – instead, let me extend to all the fellowship of my hand, to raise the fallen, to assist the raised, and to enlighten and enrich the less favored. I care not for praise or reward, abuse or ingratitude. I can bear the offences of the less enlightened as does a mother bear the kicks of her own child. All I call "mine" I owe to my Lord, I watch for him until He sends His servants to take charge. All my powers I owe to him; let me know Him and love Him making my body and myself, His Temple, so that all hate and love, good and evil on the differential plane may have no charm for me. I shall be all Love and All Good in the United plane. There, no wind blows, no tempest rages, no darkness or light, all serene and calm, over following in Grace and Wisdom with complete surrender to the will and being of my Lord. I will be one with Him, lost in the ocean of bounty, Grace and Bliss. Such is the ideal of a Saiva." He is not the self-seeking quarrelsome neighbor, not the land grabber, not the flesh eating beast, nor the fish eating whale, not the proud high caste Prabhu nor the down trodden low caste Pariah, not the wearer of ashes and Rudraksha nor the worshipper at shrines. A Saiva is God on Earth, clothed in flesh to be loving and loveable. His eyes are not of erring flesh but of enlightening Grace. His mind is not of bewitching Maya but of liberating Light. His body is not the Store of vice and wickedness but the mirror of the Light Within.

What a gap between this state which must be attained sooner or later, and the one in which we are. Reader! Ponder well now you can improve yourself day by day, your improvement and culture is your nation's and when you are sufficiently introspective see what you can do towards the attainment of this ideal. There is not one who cannot do something in this cause. Be true to yourself and to Lord, you will see light wherever you set foot and in that light keep yourself and the rest. The task is done and that is Sivajnana Siddhi. Brothers and sisters, come and sing the praises of Siva, know His Grace, and dwell in that Grace – and that in Sivajnana Siddhi-

    R. S. Subramaniyan.