Sunday, August 25, 2013

A short sketch of Tamil Literature.


    What the Tamil Language needs at present is a correct history of its literature on a sound chronological basis. The task is of a stupendous nature when the great antiquity of the Tamil tongue and the absence of historical records are taken into consideration. The only course left open for the structure of Tamil Literature is the critical search after internal evidence; Indian Archaeology is yet in its infancy and no great help can be derived from it towards the ancient literature of the Tamil land. There are also other difficulties such as are not usually met with in the literature of other nations. Herein we are to deal in some instances with the lives of yogic sages such as Agasthya, Tirumular, Idaikkadar, Auvaiyar, whose periods of existence cannot easily be determined; with the lives of saints of precocious wisdom such as Nammalvar, Tirugnanasambandhar, Meikandaar, whose careers are full of thrilling but true incidents which can puzzle even the greatest psychologists; with the lives of other saints such as Manickavachakar, Appar, Sundarar, Karaikal Ammaiyar, Umapati Sivacharyar, who by virtue of the divine grace which was incessantly showered on them performed uncommon deeds which are deemed miracles by the common mortals. In addition to these supernatural elements, Tamil Literature has for its materials the lives and writings of literary giants as Nakkirar, Tiruttakkatevar, Ilangovadigal, Sittalai Sattanar, Kambar, Pugalendi, Ottakkuttar, Kumaraguruparar, and Sivagnanamunivar.

    The growth of Tamil Literature is intimately intertwined with the rise and fall of several heretic religions from remote times. The one unbreakable tie which steadily keeps pace with the development of the Tamil Literature is the Saiva creed which remains immutably fixed witnessing the growth and fall of other religions. The history of Tamil Literature is essentially religious, secular literature forming little or, no portion of it. This religious element which pervades the whole field of Tamil Literature is due to the fact that the Tamils were essentially a religious race and considered their sojourn on earth as a mere preparation for beatitude. Hence they laid down that all literary works should conduce to the welfare of mankind, in this world as well in the world to come, by conferring upon the reader Virtue, Wealth, Terrestrial Happiness and Heaven.

    It is proposed to treat Tamil Literature in three parts:-

I.    Ancient Literature which comes down from the remotest antiquity to the time of Tirugnanasambandhar.

II.    Medieval Literature which extends from the time of Tirugnanasambandhar to the closing years of Umapati Sivacharyar, the last of the Tamil theologians.

III.    Modern Literature which comes down from the death of Umapati Sivacharyar.

    We are quite aware that no sufficient justice can be meted out to the treatment of the Ancient Literature, but no pains will be spared to make it as trustworthy as possible, and should unavoidably errors creep in, the readers are requested to remember that the blame rests more on the difficulty of the work undertaken.


Antiquity of Tamil Literature.

    Either in point of antiquity, or in point of grammatical subtlety, or in the extension of literature, the Tamil Language is second to none of the languages on the globe. There were three ancient academies conducted for very long periods and the last of them came to an end as early as 100 A. D. If the account given by Nakkirar in his valuable commentaries on Iraiyanar Agapporul be accepted the first academy should have begun its sittings at about 9890 B.C. This date does not mark the beginning of the Tamil Literature, as the professors who presided over the academy were simply engaged in the investigation of Tamil Literature. Thus the Tamil tongue should reached a very high degree of culture even long before 10,000 years preceding the Christian era. There is irresistible evidence corroborated on all hands to the fact that there was a deluge which submerged a great part of South India which lay south of the modern Cape Comorin which was a river before the deluge. The present sanctity of the place is indeed due to its having been one of the seven sacred rivers of India. Some scholars are of opinion that the deluge referred to in the Tamil ancient classics was identical with the deluge in Noah's time mentioned in the Bible. Tolkappyam, the most ancient Tamil grammar in existence, is considered to have been composed before this flood. The author of this grammar gives the forms of the Tamil letters and thus the Tamil Language was reduced to writing long before Noah's time. The occurrence of the work tuki (a corrupted form of the Tamil தோகை) meaning a peacock in the Hebrew Language also speaks in favor of the antiquity of the Tamil tongue. Further Tamil was decidedly the Language of Southern India during the time of Rama and Arjuna.

The word 'Tamil.'

    Tamil is the name of the language spoken by an ancient race of people called Tamilar. All sorts of fanciful etymologies were devised to explain the origin of this word. The Sanskritists, who would not allow any originality in other languages and claim all that is good and great for Sanskrit, suggest that the word 'Tamil' has come from the Sans. dravida. Dravida was the name by which the Aryans designated the Land of the Tamils. Dravida literally in Sanskrit means to run and bend and it fitly describes the Tamil land as it runs far south before it bends at Cape Comorin. They conceive that dravida became dramida then dlamila and then thamil. If such be the procedure of philology then any word can be derived from any other word by stupid ingenuity and philology may well receive the last word of farewell from us.

    The absurdity of deriving the word Tamil from dravida will be easily manifest. A foreigner, it is usual, gives his own name to a neighbor tribe which may not be known to the tribe itself. If we ask a Tamil man about his nationality he would unhesitatingly say that he is a Tamilian and not a dravidian which perhaps may be unintelligible to many Tamil ears. A Telugu man calls Tamil as aravam. And this fact is very little known to the majority of the Tamils. The Tamils designate Telugu as Vadugu and the Telugus as Vadugars. This is not well known to the Telugu people of the north. In the ancient classics of Tamil the word Yavanar occurs and some apply it to the Greeks, and some apply to the Persians, and a famous commentator to the Mussalmans or Turks. Thus it seems to us certain that dravida the language and it has no sort of connection with the word Tamil. Tamil is decidedly a native designation given to the language and Tamilar is the name by which the race was known.

     Rev. Dr. G. U. Pope considers the word Tamil as a corruption of tenmoli (தென்மொழி); though this is a good suggestion, with great deference we beg to differ from the gentleman. There is no authority for such a derivation. In several of the ancient classics the word Tamil occurs in the sense of 'sweetness' or 'juice'.

Mr. C. W. Damodaram Pillai proposes to derive the word from the Tamil root தமி (=alone or incomparable) which has received the termination ழ் and has become தமிழ். The word, therefore, literally means 'the solitary' or 'the unique or 'the incomparable.' Tamil according to his derivation signifies 'a tongue which is incomparable' or 'a language of unique celebrity'. However ingenious this derivation is, and however relishing it may be to the Tamil ears, we are not prepared to give credit to such a derivation in the absence of antique authority in support of such etymology.


Sunday, August 18, 2013


[* With an account of the third academy at Madura.

By S. A. Tirumalai Kolundu Pillai. B. A., Thompson & Co., Madras, 1899, Price Rs. 2]


It is quite opportune that Mr. Tirumalaikolundu has brought out this work and he has appropriately dedicated it to the Rev. Doctor G. U. Pope, the Veteran Tamil Scholar and the translator of Saint Manicka Vachakar's Hymns. The author tries to follow and further the researches carried on by scholars like the Professors Sundaram Pillai and Seshagiri Sastrigal, and in doing so bestows unlimited praise on the former, and depreciates too much the work of the latter Mr. T. K. Pillai should have taken a leaf from Professor Sundaram Pillai himself as to the purely, scholarly and gentlemanly way he treats the authors from whom he had differed and severely criticized, and we regret very much indeed the tone Mr. T. K. Pillai has adopted in dealing with Professor Seshagiri' s views. The latter is a great scholar and Philologist, and one who has spent his precious time and money for the sake of the Tamil language and literature, and proposes to de even greater things, provided he can command time and money and it is therefore unmannerly to treat his views as mistakes other than honest. We do not say that the learned Professor has not committed mistakes and in a perfectly untrodden field, like the Tamil, who could not commit mistakes? And we are not sure if even Professor Sundaram Pillai did believe in the existence of the Sangam; and all the evidence accumulated by Mr. T. K. Pillai only goes to show that there is very strong tradition in support of it and that about a dozen of the Sangam Pundits could be shown to be contemporaries by mutual reference in their works. And the value of such evidence cannot be said to be conclusive. Nothing is gained by assuming a fighting attitude, and moderation is quite consistent with one's feeling of patriotism and truth; and the author would have done well to remember the motto he has himself chosen.

In other respects, the small volume before us shows considerable study and patient research among the almost forgotten times of the Tamil ancient classics, and it is only to be hoped that the author will pursue in right earnest the path he had chosen and show greater results as time passes. To go into the contents of the book, the author remarks that it can be easily shown that the Saiva Religion was the most ancient religion of India, and especially of the Tamil land and refers to the position occupied by the four great Acharyas. Tirugnana-Sambanthar, Appar, Sundarar, and Manickavachakar in the conflicts with the Buddhists and the Jain Religions, and to the great adoration paid to these Saints in the Tamil land. There is a Temple specially dedicated to the worship of Saint Manickavachaka, in which grand festivals are celebrated in his name, namely, Tiruperundurai or Avadayar Coil, about some 20 miles to the south of Pudukota. He points out how much he had influenced the poetry of Tattuvaranayar, but this is only mentioning one out of the whole body of the Tamil singers and poets both Saiva and Vaishnava who have come after him. Tiruvaimori is the Tamil equivalent of Tiruvachakam and one beginning to read the former newly discovers how almost every line of it is full of the sound and sense of the latter. Saint Thayumanar owes not a little to Saint Manickavachakar; and the late Ramalinga Swamigal of Vadalur was a special votary of his, and his Thiruvarutpa is but a commentary on Tiruvachakam. Mr. Pillai also refers to the pleasing lines* in Manonmaniyam in which Professor Sundaram showers his praise on Tiruvachakam.*

[* "மனங்கரைத்து மலங்கெடுக்கும் வாசகத்தின் மாண்டோர்கள் கனஞ்சடையென் றுருவேற்றிக் கண்மூடிக் கதறுவரோ."


    In the heart-melting sin-removing Tiruvachakam once losing, can one blindly bellow forth in ganam and Jadai of Vedic chants.]

The sources for compiling the biography of the Saint are mainly Kadavul mahamuni's Vathavurar puranam and Paranjoti muni's Tiruvilayadalpuranam and the corresponding work in Sanskrit, Halasya Mahatmyam. The great Pandit Minakshisundaram Pillai's work, Tiruperundurai Puranam, though a work of art, is of no historical importance. Our author fixes the upper limit for Saint Manickavachakar's age as the beginning of the second century after Christ or the close of first century and all things considered this time so fixed does not seem to be extravagantly too near or too remote.

    The first point he urges to prove the priority of Saint Manickavachaka over Saint Gnana-Sambantha is an old argument which we ourselves urged in a letter to Professor P. Sundaram Pillai, namely, that Jainism was of a later growth from Buddhism and was of a later introduction into Southern India and flourished more vigorously in the South even about the 6 & 7th centuries at the time of the Chinese travelers visit to Southern India, though by that time, Buddhism was in a great decline. But we were told that it was quite certain that Jainism was an off-shoot of Buddhism and that it was as old and independent as Buddhism itself and that its introduction into Southern India was much earlier. But this we may point out that as the Buddhist disputants are stated to have come directly from Ceylon to meet and vanquish Saint Manickavachaka it would seem to point to a time when Buddhists had not settled themselves in the Tamil land and very near to the time of the introduction of Buddhism into Ceylon itself, which would in fact make his time earlier than the first century. And our author further notes that our Saint must have influenced by the Sangam Poets, and that the great commentators freely quote from Tiruvachakam and had commented on Tirukovaiyar, whereas no references are given from the Devaram. Saint Appar's Devaram contains a reference to the incident of the jackals having been transformed into horses, a story which we meet nowhere else than in Saint Manickavachakar's life. And he quotes parallel lines from Saint Appar's Devaram and from Tiruvachakam to show how far Saint Appar's language had also been influenced by the latter, such as.

    "யாமார்க்கும் குடியல்லோம் யாதுமஞ்சோம்" (St. M).

    "நாமார்க்கும் குடியல்லோம் நமனையஞ்சோம்" (St. A).

    "அவனருளாலே யவன்றாள் வணங்கி"

    "அவனருளே கண்ணாகக்காணினல்லால்"

        "சிந்தையே கோயில் கொண்டவெம்பெருமான்"

        "நினைப்பவர் மனங்கோயிலாக்கொண்டவன்"

        "உற்றாரை யான் வேண்டேன்….

        குற்றாலத்தமர்ந்துரையும் கூத்தா"

        "உற்றாராருளரோ உயிர்கொண்டு போம்பொழுது

        குற்றாலத்துறை கூத்தனல்லால் நமக்கு"– உற்றார். "


    The author then goes into the much debated question connected with the Vanni tree miracle and he agrees with Professor Sundaram Pillai in thinking that the Thiruvilayadal story connecting Gnana Sambantha with the Purambayam* tradition is not correct. [*புறம்பயமதனில் அறம்பலவருளியும்
is not to be translated "spot where many charities were performed," but its true meaning is found in a similar sentence occurring in the Devara Hymn of Tirugnana Sambanthar "
நால்வர்க்கு அறம்பயனுரைத்தனை" "Thou explained the nature of Dharma to the Four great Rishis."] Purambayam was not identified by Professor Sundaram Pillai, but this is a small town near Kumbakonam; and referring to the Kshetra Mahimai, we find the local tradition follows the Thiruvilayadal account and the name of the Local God is called Sakshinadar, 'The Witness-Lord,' and the strictly limited his sacred history to whatever could be gathered by internal evidence from the Devaram itself, and it is well-known he has omitted many another well-known local tradition. And in none of the hymns connected with Purambayam is there any reference to Gnanasambanthar's miracle, though the miracle is set forth in the Hymn connected with Maruganur near Negapatam.

    Then he discusses the vexed question why Saint Manickavachakar's name is omitted in the list of saints by Saint Sundarar and those who followed him, and he suggests that it was included in the class enumeration of "பொய்யடிமை யில்லாத புலவர்" referring to the Sangam Poets such as Narkirar, Kabilar and Paranar, &c. All that we can say is that this is not improbable, though the reason that the name is omitted for the reason that Saint Sundarar himself scrupled to call him an Adiar, servant of God, in as much as Saint Manickavachakar represents the Highest Path of Sanmarga when no separate identity is perceivable as servant and Lord, cannot be left out of account altogether.

    The rest of the pamphlet is taken up with the discussion as to the existence of the Tamil Sangam and the author shows that 11 at least of the 49 Sangam Poets were contemporaries, but the author himself is not prepared to accept the tradition that these very 49 poets lived for 1850 years, but he suggests that there were 49 seats always provided in the Sangam and by these names and that different individuals assumed these names, and filled it from time to time. Or rather would it not be more reasonable to hold, that these 49 poets were the chiefest lights of the last Sangam which flourished for about 1000 years and more and who have left the stamp of their genius for ages to come, though some of these might have been contemporaries also. When giving an account of a public Sabha and giving the names of those present, it is only customary to mention the leading persons and not all. Much reliance cannot be place on the 49 poets having sung the praises of Tiruvalluvar, and literary forgeries are only too common among our people. As an instance, a small book also called "ஞானத்தாழிசை" is attributed to Saint Manickavachaka and is believed in by the credulous, but the reading of the first line itself could show that it cannot be the work of the Saint. Curiously also, the Vaishnavas possess a reduplicated edition of the Sangam stool only giving place to Tiruvalluvar's Kural, in their history of Saint Nammalvar, and they seriously enough give all the stanzas composed on the occasion by all the 300 poets, chiefest of whom is called as Ekamban, a name not to be found in the usually published lists. And the age of Saint Nammalvar; himself is given as Kali 43, more than 4900 years ago; though they ignore quietly enough references to Sakkyas, and Shamanas and Linga Puranikas, in the Saints own works; and whole passages which smell of the Tiruvachakam and Tirukural are also found there. We really wish that Tamil scholars will take up the age of the Alwars to clear up the mists which exists in this field. In the meanwhile, we offer our kindest congratulations to Mr. T. K. Pillai for his eminently useful book and we hope it will find its way into the hands of every Tamil Student.

J. M. Nallasami Pillai, B.A., B.L.


    The article in the "Light of Truth" Vol. III. No.2 on Tamil philology is very interesting and instructive. There can be no doubt as to the fact of Sanskrit and Tamil having borrowed words from each other or from a common source. I feel however a slight difficulty in following the account given of the origin of "ulaku."

    The termination "ku" in such     words as கிழக்கு, திக்கு, புறகு & c. does not denote "place" but is the same as the dative affix "ku." If they happen to be occasionally used as nouns, (instead of adverbs which they properly are) such use may be accounted for by a comparison with the use of the English "to-day," to-night" &c, which are used as nouns though they are adverbs in reality.

    Take for instance the word ஆங்கு or யாங்கு. Here the "ku" has all the appearance of meaning a "place." However, when it occurs in a sentence, it invariably occurs as an adverb in all its various uses. In the Puram: - நின்றாங்கு (st. 35. B. 18) means "as it stood." In (st. 234, b.4) யாங்கு means "how." In 245 it means "however."

    Beside this "ka," there is another which occurs as an affix in the formation of derivatives, like, பு, சு, கை, சி, தி and a host of others which have no definite meaning but serve to indicate some variation from the sense of the root-word.

    If உலகு is Tamil, the "ku" must be the same as the "ku" in உலகு "pledge" added to the root of அடை, அடு, "to place."

    அசைவு, குழைவு and உலைவு form one set of derivatives, while அடகு, குழகு and உலகு form another.

    In கொசுகு,
I suspect the "ku" to have been added to the Sanskrit ghosha, for the sake of euphony only.

    If the termination "ku," in "ulaku" be taken as the word "ku" and not as the affix "ku," it will be necessary to prove that this word "ku" also in Tamil and not Sanskrit.

    If we cannot prove it to be Tamil, we prove "ulaku" to be but a mongrel term of no literary importance.

    In Sanskrit the word "ku" means not a "place" but the "Earth." As in சிறுவனளை பயறு செந்நெற்கடுகு.

    The impermanence of everything on Earth may have readily impressed itself on a mine which invented such names as உயிர்மெய் and விண் மீன். But the impermanence of the Earth itself and the worlds above and below it could only occur to one that had already been tutored in the system of the universe known in India. The existence of such a system must necessarily presuppose the existence of a word for expressing that which we call "a world." This consideration, however, is not a serious objection. This consideration, however, is not a serious objection. For the word "ulaku" is necessary in Tamil only in connection with the system of the universe for common use நிலம் and மண் are quite enough to express the Earth. And it is curious to observe நிலம் that comes from the idea of "stability" an idea quite natural to start with.

    Intimately connected with nilam is the word நிலையம் from which the Sanskrit nilaya has evidently been borrowed.

    What Nachchinarkinayr says in his note on the first stanza of the Chintamni is too brief to found an argument on. There he refers to the 58th rule in கிளவியாக்கம் of சொல்லதிகாரம் His commentary on that rule has reference to Senavaraiyar's view, which is as follows: -

    Ulakam has two original and proper meanings namely a "place" and "mankind." The latter meaning is not due to a figure of speech arising from the former. For Sanskrit books say that ulaham has those two separate meanings.

    Referring to this view of Senavaraiyar, Nachchinarkinyar says thus: - "The (words) called kalam, Ulakam are not Sanskrit words, as the author would not take up Sanskrit words and lay down rules about them."

    In saying that they are not Sanskrit words he means only that their usage in Sanskrit cannot form the subject or cause of the rule in the Tolkappiam. For we know they are masculine in Sanskrit, while the rule in the grammar is founded upon their neuter, form and epicene signification.

    He does not mean that they were borrowed by Sanskrit from Tamil. Nor can he possibly mean to say that Tolkappian never uses a Sanskrit word. If he mean that, does he also mean that the words தெய்வம், பூதம், மயம், நிமித்தம், பக்கம், உவமை, காமம், நாடகம், மாராயம், அரண்தேயம், மங்கலம், திரு, பார்ப்பார், பலி, ஆனந்தம், அமரர் சூதர், சிந்தை, பரத்தை, இரவு, அமுதம், அந்தம், அந்தரம், பரதன், கயந்தலை and a host of similar words which occur in the தொல்காப்பியம் are not of Sanskrit origin? I dare say a good many of these words may be shown to have no Sanskrit origin. But a single word that is admitted to be of Sanskrit origin must be fatal to that position. But in his commentary on rules 5 and 6 of the எச்சவியல் of சொல்லதிகாரம் are found நிமித்தம், பக்கம், உவமை உலோகம் in a list of words which he gives as words derived from Sanskrit.

    In those Rules the author says that all Sanskrit words are admissible in Tamil if they can be spelt with Tamil letters exactly as they are in Sanskrit or with some adaptation to suit Tamil spelling.

    It is plain therefore that Tolkappian lived after Tamil has received an admixture of Sanskrit words.

    On the evidence of what is found in Nachchinarkinyar I am not disposed to place much reliance.

1.    It has not been established that he is a reliable authority on history or philology.

2.    Long passages are found among his writings which shown either that they are interpolations by copyists or that he forgot in one place what he wrote in another.

3.    The age in which he lived has in no way been established. There is proof that he lived before 300 years ago, but how long before is merely a conjecture based on no argument or fact.





Friday, August 16, 2013


    The following information, which the Rev, Dr. G. U. Pope of Oxford has kindly sent me in reply to an enquiry about the root idea of முருகு, will, I hope, be of interest to some of the readers of your valuable journal.

     "I think முரு really means 'perfume,' and is thence given to the tree, under which dances in honor of their hill-deity were performed by ancient South Indians.

    I am sorry to say that there is no great interest felt here in Tamil literature.

    The glossaries to my Kurral and Naladiyar have been carefully compiled.

    On the strength of the above suggestion, the different meanings of the word in question may be, I believe, satisfactorily accounted for as follows.

    முருகு (1)    Perfume, or, by Synecdoche a flower.

        (2)    'Akil' (agallochum), the wood being sweet scented.

        (3)    Honey, which is collected by bees from the flowers of plants.

        (4)    Toddy, which is sweet as honey, or which is obtained from the spadix of the Palmyra or coconut trees.

        (5)    Youth or the flower of age. Compare also the expression the bloom or bud of youth.

        (6)    Beauty, which attends Youth and fades with age.

        (7)    Elevation (of mind) or high spirits, which distinguish youth from old age.

        (8)    Murukan or the Dravidian hill deity in honor of whom dances were performed under the Muruku tree; or Karttikeya with whose attributes Murukan was invested after being admitted into the Hindu Pantheon. (Vide Dr. Pope's Extracts from Purra-Porul-Venba-Malai. Padalam 2nd Para, last but one).

        (9)    A festival, originally dances and feasts in honor of Murukan; முருகியம் is a drum, probably used on these occasions.

        (10)    An ornament (for the ear), which adds grace or beauty to the person of the wearer.

    முருகு – the lemon tree has no connection with the above word but is an incorrect form of முருக்கு so called     on account of the thorns common to that tree and the Indian coral tree or Moochie, which is very fragile and serves only for fuel. The root is முரு found in the verbs முருங்கு and முருக்கு respectively meaning to perish and to destroy.

    In his edition of Nighandu 1st part, A. Kumaraswami Pulavar of Jaffna says that Murukan (Subramanya) was so called on account of his being the younger son of Siva.

    As this explanation may not satisfactorily account for the application of the word Murukan to a demon or a demoniac, and as Murukan is represented as the son of Kottavi or Kotti, the great Demoness of the South, in Purra-Porul-Venba-Malai which is, according to Dr. Pope, more than a thousand years old, there can be little doubt that Murukan also was originally a demon of the south and that the name should be dealt with agreeably to this notion.


Thursday, August 15, 2013


[* With Bhaskararaya's commentary, translated into English, by, R. Ananta Krishna Sastri, Madras, Messers Thompson &co 1899]

    The book before us marks a unique departure in the matter of translation from the Sanskrit and it will come upon the public also as a pleasant surprise. The department of knowledge now opened to our view is that of Mantra Sastra, about which absolutely little was known and the student of oriental studies was apt more to look upon it askance than with any favor. The book before us ought to remove all doubts about the usefulness of such study, and its great importance. To the mystic Indian, all knowledge and science was locked up in mantras, and the reason will readily enough be perceived when in fact his whole scheme of cosmology rest upon the one primeval sound or mantra, namely Pranava. This first Mantra or Mantra Rajah is of course the cause of all other mantras and except the Panchakshara Mantra, no other Mantra can be efficacious unless pronounced with the Pranava. These Mantras are the sounds, the names and the forms, and the symbols by which we can possibly realize the nature of the supreme; and they are, as such, the means and not the end. The end also, is both material and spiritual and though it is possible to attain both wealth and happiness by means of these mantra practices, the book before us shows us that he who chants this hymn without hoping for any specific and selfish result alone, can obtain Brahma Jnana and not for others. There is also an antecedent condition to a person who aspires to mantra practices. The worshipper ought to be devout and pure; and he the secret cannot be imparted to a rogue, a wicked man, nor at any time to one who is devoid of faith. People are apt to forget this essential qualifications, and err grievously in thinking that their assumed piety and worship can cover a multitude of sins.

    Of the various sets of mantras, those of Devi or Parameshwari are considered the most efficacious in acquiring various Siddhis, and Powers and Knowledge, and this is so, because our highest ideal of Knowledge and Love and Power is centered in the person of Uma. The collection of thousand names of Lalita or Parameshwari forms a portion of the Brahmanda Purana, and the chief importance of the book before us is due to the invaluable commentary on the thousand names by Bhaskararaya, a Maharatta Brahmin who seemed to have lived in Benares about 160 or 170 years ago. The commentator must have been a very erudite Pandit, for he has exhibited in his commentary all the store of his knowledge derived from the Vedas, and Upanishads, and Itihasa and Puranas &c; and the book is as such much more valuable to us for tracing the growth and history of Religion from the earlier Vedic books to the later Puranas and Itihasas &c. And the quotations from the latter set of books are enormous, which will show that these books are not such trash as are ordinarily supposed. In many of these mantras, as explained by the commentator, we can trace easily also the history of the religion and the philosophy and the philosophy from the earliest times downwards, besides an uncommonly large store of mystic knowledge connected with these mantras. The book has also a special value to our readers as it unfolds the nature of the Supreme almost on Siddhanta lines and the references to the Saiva scriptures and philosophy are also very many. The Highest Ideal conceived of Lalita in this book is as that of the Highest Power and Knowledge and Love, and as the Supreme Consort of Supreme Siva and as one with Him and transcending by far above the Trinity and Maheswara and Sadasiva and that in as much as this supreme Sakti permeates and illumines matter, She is also identified as one with Kundalini and Maya and Prakriti; and as with Srikantacharya, who does not even recognize any such distinction even in essence this aspect of the Supreme Sakti is also much more prominent. As such also, Sakti is spoken of as the night, and Siva as the day; Sakti, as sound and Siva as meaning. The scheme of the 36 tatwas is noticed here and there and unless this is thoroughly grasped, the references to Nada and Bindu, Kundalini and Vidya and Sadasiva and Maheshwara &c. will not be intelligible. The book is absolutely indispensable to every student of Saiva Siddhanta and we give one or two extracts below, which will tend to illustrate the subject and its importance more than any words of ours. We heartily congratulate Pandit R. Anantakrishna Sastri who, though not boasting of the possession of great literary abilities is yet continuing to do quietly a lot of useful and important work. We should add that the book would gain greatly if an index is added

1.    1000    Mother Lalita.

    "Thus by the first three names the Goddess is indicated as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the Universe; by the next two names She is indicated as possessing two other functions, viz., annihilation and re-manifestation which belong to no other deity, from the sixth name to the last the same deity who possesses these five functions was described in different ways and is indicated by the name Lalita which is her special name and belongs to no other deity.

    "Lalitambika: Lalita as well as Mother. The meaning is given in the Padma Pr.: "Transcending all worlds She sports (Lalate) hence she is called Lalita." 'Worlds' means her surrounding lights or deities. 'Transcending' being above their abodes in the Bindu-place. 'Sports' shines brilliantly. The wise say, "The word Lalita has eight meanings, viz., brilliancy, manifestation, sweetness, depth, fixity, energy, grace, and generosity, these are the eight human qualities. The Kama Sastra says, Lalita means erotic actions and also tenderness, as she has all the above mentioned qualities, she is called Lalita. It is said also, "Thou art rightly called Lalita for thou hast nine divine attendants (in the Srichakra) and your bow is made of sugarcane, your arrows are flowers, and everything connected with you is lovely (Lalita)." The word Lalita according to Sabdarnava, means beautiful."

999.    The Union, etc., (Sivasaktyaikyarupini).

    Her nature is the equal essence of Siva and Sakti. The Vayaviya Sam says, "By the will of Siva, the Supreme Sakti becomes one with the Siva Tatva. Again she manifests at the beginning of creation like oil from the oily grain." Here 'Union' means the supreme equality, the being absolutely without difference. The Saura Sam says, "The Sakti which is separate from Brahman is not different from Brahman itself. Such being the case it is only called Sakti (as separate) by the ignorant. It is impossible to distinguish the difference, O wise one, between the Sakti and the possessor of Sakti." The Va. Rama also. "As there is only one movement of air, only one Audhyana Pitha, (in the world) and only one manifested Chit Sakti, also there is only one Union (of Siva and Sakti)."

    Or, Siva, the Siva chakra, Sakti, the Sakti chakras, Aikya Union. The Brahma. Pr. Says, "In the triangle Bindu must be united, the eight-angled one is to be united, the eight-angled one is to be united with the eight-petaled lotus… He who knows the necessary relation between the parts belonging to Siva and the parts belonging to Sakti in the Srichakra is the real knower of the chakra."

    Or this name means the Hamsa mantra, for in this mantra is declared the Union of Siva and Sakti. The Su. Sam. (4-7-2)" "Sakti of Him, (Siva) is said to be the end of the syllable S'a (i.e., Sa) and end of that (i.e., Ha) is called Bija. The Bija is the Vidyasakti. That itself is Siva. Therefore this supreme mantra is said to signify Siva as well as Sakti."

    Or, Saiva Sakti the five Saktis of Siva viz., Dhumavati etc., and Aikya, their collective form which is Devi. The Virupaksha Panchasika says, "Dhumavati veils, Bhasvati reveals, the Spand stimulates, the Vibhvi pervades, the Hladasakti nourishes. The Dhumavati Sakti belongs to earth, Hlada to water, Bhasvati to fire, Spanda to air, the Vinavi to ether, thus the world is pervaded by these."

53.    The beneficial (Siva).

    "From the root Vasi, desire, Siva is derived." That is, she is the desire itself (Ichcha) of the supreme Siva. For this energy is worshiped by Siva. The meaning of Siva is given in the Saivagamas. "Who is as a witness to the modifications (of the mind), who is before the arising of such modifications, who is in the modifications about to rise, who is the cause of sensation, who is the support of all false and inert matter, who is consciousness itself who is beloved of all, who is bliss itself, who is the means of obtaining all, who is connected with all, the Omnipresent of the distinction of Jiva, Isa, etc., is Siva."

    Or as she does good (Siva), she is called Siva; or that in which everything rests (Sete); or, who possesses excellent (Siva) qualities; or that which makes calm (Samyati); as the Bharata says, "Because he fulfils all the actions (of men) intending their good (Siva) he is known as Siva. O gods, the Danavas, and the Devas are the same to me; I do good (Siva) to all beings. Hence I am known as Sva." The Sruti (Sve. Up. 4-11) says "The one who is the origin (of all) dwells in every womb, in whom all this is involved." The Kaivalya Up. says "three eyed, blue throated, and peaceful." All this has been brought together, by us in the commentary on the Sivashtottarasta (a work enumerating one hundred and eight names of Siva). "By natural purity, by possessing stainless qualities, by superiority, by supporting the Universe, by conferring immortality (on worshippers), by the strength of Ichchasakti, O Paramasiva, thou art known by the special name as Siva in the scriptures;" or, she is identical with Siva. The Linga Pr. says "As is Siva, so is Devi, as is Devi, so is Siva, hence, as the notions are the same Devi is called Siva. In another place in the same book, "In reality there is no difference between Uma and Sankara; the one has assumed the two forms. There is no doubt in this. The Paramatman is called Siva as well as Siva." The Sutasamhita (IV. 13-2 to 41) also says "O best of twice born ones, she who has assumed the energising aspect of that Maya which is connected with one consciousness (chinmatra), who is intellect, without attributes, self-shining, unchangeable, supreme bliss, and the cause of the destruction of Samsara. She is Siva, she is the supreme Devi, one with Siva, and doer of good…he who worships this Sankari, the ocean of mercy, what does he not obtain by her grace?" Or Siva may mean the wife of Vayu. The Linga Pr. says "The great God Isana, who pervades the whole universe, the supporter of all beings is called vayu, in his aspect of wind God. His wife is called Siva and his son Manojava." Again, "He who has the crescent moon as a crest is Vayu and his wife is Siva." In the Vayu Pr. also we read "Vayu is the fourth body of Isana and his wife is Siva and his son is Manojava."

    Or, she who bestows Salvation is Siva. It is said in the Devi Pr. "Siva is salvation and she bestows salvation to Yogins'; she works for good (Siva); hence she is known by men as Siva;" or men worship Devi to reach Siva, hence she is Siva. In the Agamas we read "As heat is to fire, as light to the Sun, and moonlight to the Moon, as is Siva to Siva."

883.    Sacrificer (Yajamanasvarupini).

    One form of Siva is Dikshita (Sacrificer) and his spouse is called Dikshi and the mother of Santana. The Linga and Vayu Prs. Say, "The seventh terrible form is the form of Brahmanas, the sacrificer and his wife is called Diksha, and his son Santana." Of Siva's eight forms the last is sometimes called the sacrificer and sometimes Atman. This name in that case may be explained to mean the both thus: - Yajamana, the sacrificer Sva, the self, rupa, both are her forms. The Linga Pr. says, "The five elements, moon, Sun, and Self, (atman) the best of Munis say, are the eight forms of the Lord of Devas. The eighth form of him is self (atman) and also the sacrificer."

    William Marsden, however, in his Malay dictionary seems to hint that Kapur = 'camphor' is derived from Sanskrit, for he shows the Hindi word to be the older form, and indicates a difference in pronunciation between this word and that for chalk, besides treating them separately.

    In Malay, Kapur Barus when used for camphor is merely to distinguish it from Kapur Totohori or camphor of Japan.

    If the Tamil Karpuram is proved to be borrowed, I should be much obliged if anybody would let me know the pure Tamil word for it.

Trincomali, Ceylon,                                 Faithfully yours,

May 17, 1899                             S. W. Coomaraswamy.


[We are sorry we were not able to publish Mr. Commaraswamy's interesting communication earlier for want of space. We shall send copies of this to some of the prominent Sanskrit scholars in India and publish here any replies we may receive. – Ed.]

Saturday, August 10, 2013


1.    Of the myriad conception of God, that God is He without Whom nothing can be, is one conception. In this general conception is involved the divine attributes of omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence; a particular statement of which is found in the Biblical expression 'we live and move and have our being in Him.'

2.    Such being the case, is left to man, or is he bound, to work for his good, either earthly or heavenly? That man has aspirations is a fact, be they for the good things of this world, or other worlds, or of spiritual blessedness. (Earthly abundance goes by the name of manushy-ananda, the pleasures of paradise by the name of dev-ananda, and spiritual bliss by the name of Brahm-ananda.) Man's aspirations are in the direction of one or the other of these. How are they to be secured? Is it by self-effort, by vicarious help, or by the God's Grace?

3.    The doctrine of Grace discounts self-effort. (We will leave the subject of 'vicarious help' for the present.) The doctrine of Grace is compatible with the conception of God as stated above, viz that he is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and therefore related to man as the Sovereign Savior, asking nothing from him in return. If there is to be any self-effort on the part of man, which may be supposed to attract God towards him and eventually save him, such a process would naturally conflict with the attributes of God such as those stated viz., omniscience and omnipotence. Accepting therefore that Grace is the sole means of man's salvation, what would be the consequence?

4.    The consequence would be that man's effort would be superfluous, and may even mar the full effect of God's Grace. And therefore all self-effort ought to cease. This, in a word is resignedness to God's will, and complete surrendering oneself to His pleasure or dispensation of his fate in whatever way that may best appear to His Divine omniscience. This is called the way of Prapatti or Saranagati.

5.    All nature outside us seems to be a demonstration of this fact of resignedness. Looking at the mineral world, we see all self-effort absent; looking at the vegetable world, it appears to us that its progress from seed to flower and fruit is a natural process from which anything like self-willed effort for such progress seems to be absent; and looking at the animal world, and recognizing therein only effort made towards self-preservation, eating and procreating, there is absence, certainly, of any effort towards effecting its own salvation. But coming now to man (-is he not an animal?-), we see he has self-consciousness developed in him. The question is whether self-consciousness demands self-effort towards salvation?

6.    But, the doctrine of Grace stated above, discountenances self-effort on the part of man for salvation. As a self-conscious entity, he has effort, and effort corresponding with the nature of his aspiration, - which is three-fold as stated above (para 2). But, if he would leave to God and His omniscience to do what He may think proper, he (man) need not try, only for his salvation but as well for his earthly or heavenly (svarga) delights. This would mean that man need not unnecessarily concern himself about his own welfare, knowing that God undertaken to do all that for him (man). In short man need not aspire at all.

7.    When, then, man has not to aspire; but if aspiration means hope, and hope is wishing, to cease to wish mean to cease to pray to a Higher Being? Prayer is another word for wishing for something. If there is nothing to be prayed for, neither prayer is necessary, nor is there any place for a Granter of prayer (God in our case). But according to the Doctrine of Grace, there is the Granter, granting blessings without prayer. (Prayer is here the mental counterpart of what we meant to express by self-effort. Mental effort is first; there after bodily effort follows suit). Granting blessings (of any of the three kinds stated in pare 2) without prayers for the same on the part of man, is but consistent with the Divine Attributes, named above, omniscience &c. Where is then place for prayer? Is man to pray? If he is to pray, what is he to pray for? We have said above that as God does all for him, there is nothing he has to pray for. What is he then to pray for? Nothing? But if so is he to pray, or is he not to pray?

8.    Our Visishtadvaita saints tell us that man ought to pray; but his prayer should take the form. 'Thy will be done, not mine'* [* Says Jitanta Stotra (Rig-Veda-Khila): 'Yad hitam mama
Devesa! tad ajapaya Madhava
!'] This kind of mental attitude while allowing man prayer, allows God's mercy to act in its infiniteness.

9.    Prayer they tell us further, is what distinguishes man from other parts of creation, and it is his natural birth right. Prayer is, chetana-kritya, or a duty that naturally falls to the lot of thinking man. Prayer is raga-prapta they say, or what is a spontaneous outburst of a human heart feeling towards its Maker. Prayer is a natural accompaniment of a self-conscious being; and man being self-conscious, he is a praying animal distinguishing him from the non-praying brethren of his animal family. If physiologically man is characterized as the 'laughing animal' religiously he is distinguished s the 'praying animal.'

10.    This leads us to extend our conception of God beyond that which involved only omniscience, omnipotence and omnipotence. The extended conception is, for our present purposes, the inclusion of the Attribute of love* on the part of God. [* This love is symbolized as Sri in Vaishnava Theology, and never is a discourse on Vedanta begun by Ramanujacharya without referring to this love (Sriyahpatih, vide Proem to Bhagavadgita for example, English-translate by me).] Grace is the highest spiritual love conceivable. Prayer connotes the relation of love between the praying man and prayed God; and this relation is natural (raga-prapta.)

11.    If the relation of love implied by prayer is natural how comes the element of hate? For in as much as love presupposes a subject, and an object of love, and the process of love between them, when we find in the world both God-lovers and God-haters, we have to explain the unnatural hating element in the latter as contradistinguished from the loving element in the former which has been said to be natural. If it is in the man's nature to love God, and is in Gods' nature to love man, how comes hate?

12.    Now, either God hates or man hates. But God cannot hate, for if he does, what can possibly be His motive for the same? Hate is the result of a desire not satisfied; and in order to hate, God must be supposed to have desire. But let us extend now our conception of God a little further than already stated (paras 1 and 10), so as to include all-satisfiedness or all-fullfilledness (purna-kamatra or avapta-samasta-kamatra), an Attribute implying no unfilled desire whatever in the God-head. And therefore, when there is no motive for desire, there can be no hate. We find an illustration for God's love, and loving for love's sake, in the love of a mother for her child, from which (love) all motive for desire (or return) is absent, and hate has no existence. Again fi God can hate, he is no God. Only a Perfect Being is God, and as to hate is to be imperfect there cannot be hate in a Perfect God. Unless God is perfect in all Auspicious attributes [kalyana gunah] and free from Inauspicious attributes [heya-pratyanika], He will not be eligible for the position of a Diffuser of Grace. The Infinity of Auspicious Attributes antidotal to evil, is the summation of all Divine Attributes culminating in Perfection.* [* Hence the discourse in the Vedanta on what is known as the 'Subhaya linga,' and Ramanuja never opens a discourse on the Divine without reference to God's Perfection first (vide for example Proem to Sri Bhagavadgita, English Translated by me).] Hence the element of hate is not on the side of God, - God, according to the conception postulated above, being Perfect.

13.    Then, hate is on the side of man? But it has been said to be unnatural, in as much as it has been stated (in paras 9, 1o & 11) that to love God is natural in man (raga-prapta). How then comes this unnatural hate on the part of man? Hate is no other than sin. How comes sin? This leads to the inquiry of the origin of sin but as that forms no part of the object of this paper; let us reserve that question for separate treatment.

14.    To sum up. It is unnatural for man to hate God. To love Him is natural, tell our Saints. This relationship of love makes a man to pray. He prays for nothing. To pray is but the duty of an intelligent creature like man. To pray is what makes him human, distinguishing him from the kingdom of mere animal. Prayer is thus a matter of duty, making the possession of intelligence blessed, and not a barter used for buying God's grace. God's grace does not submit to such conditions, but comes naturally from His all-sufficient, loving, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and perfect character. Prayer is thus a spontaneous expression of the natural love of man for God, asking for nothing; and Grace is the spontaneous expression of the natural love of God for man, asking for nothing.

15.    Love is Bhakti. The Upanishads teach this. One Upanishad (Taittiriya) describes God as Love and Bliss (Rasovai soh. Anandam Brahmeti cyajanat).


of Vedagriham, Mysore.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


The omission of his name from Periya-Puranam.

    In connection with the chapters on 'Manicka Vachakar' which have recently appeared in our journal as part of 'History of Tamil Literature' from the pen of our valued contributor Mr. S. A. Tirumalai Kolundu Pillai, we have received from some of our readers queries turning upon the question of the omission of Saint Manicka Vachakar's name from the Periya-Puranam of Sekkilar
சேக்கிழார். We give below an extract from Mr. S. A. T's work which will go a great way towards affording a satisfactory answer to most of these queries.

    We shall take up now the question of the strange omission of the name of Manickavachakar from the versified list of saints furnished by Sundarar – we mean his famous Tirutttondattokai. We consulted with some of the leading men of the times, whose opinion generally passes for high value, and no reasonable solution of the difficulty was forthcoming. It is said that in a certain Roman funeral procession the statues of Brutus and Cassius were conspicuous by their absence; more so in the case of Manickavachakar's name, which does not find a place in the famous Versified List of Canonized Saints furnished by Sundarar – the basis out of which the famous Biographer of Saiva Saints has constructed one of the lasting monuments of Saiva Literature, namely, the Periapuranam. Can the omission be due to oversight as some assert? To bring forward this reason is certainly disparaging to the saintly celebrity of the author of the ruby-like utterances. When Sundarar had the goodness to hunt after the names of the most insignificant among the Saiva devotees, it is creditable neither to his devotion nor to his fame, to omit the name of the great saint, whose works never fail to bring down tears of joy divine, from the eyes of any human being endowed with the least spark of devotion.

    The famous list contains the names of 62 individual saints who along with Sundarar who has extolled them make up the 63 Saiva saints; in this list, of course, are included the names of Jnanasambandar and Appar and several others of various vocations and castes, as well as the names of several kings and chiefs, inclusive of Kun-Pandya knows as Nedu Maran, and Kocchengannan who is often referred to by Jnanasambandar. Besides the names of these saints, the list furnishes the names of nine companies of saints (called Tokai Adiyargal in Tamil) to make room for all else who might have attained salvation. These are:

1.    Tillaival Andanar
(Lit. the Brahmins living at Chidambaram, but really the Three Thousand Brahmins attached to the shrine, as evident from the interpretation of Sekkilar).* [* See
in Periapuranam]

2.    Poyyadimai Illatha Pulavar பொய்யடிமையில்லாத
. (Lit. Poets of no untrue devotion. Nambi Andar Nambi and Sekkilar interpret this to mean the poets of the Madura Academy).* [* See Tiruttondartiruvantati of Nambi Andar Nambi Stanza 49 in the 11th Tirumurai and

in Periapuranam.]

3.    Paramaneiyepaduvar பரமனையேபாடுவார்
(Those who sing of God alone).

4.    Sittatai Sivanpaley Vaittar சித்தத்தைச்சிவன்பாலே
(Those that have riveted their mind on Siva).

5.    Tiruvarur Pirantar திருவாரூர்
. (Those born at Tiruvarur).

6.    Muppolutum Tirumeni Tinduvar முப்பொழுதுந்
. (Those that touch the Holy Body – Siva Lingam – all the three times).

7.    Muluniru Pusia Munivar முழுநீறுபூசியமுனிவர். (The sages who smear their bodies completely with holy ashes).

8.    Appalumadi Sarnda அப்பாலுமடி
. (Lit. those that attained God's feet even beyond).

    The word appalum is interpreted by Sekkilar in a double light very correctly. One interpretation is 'beyond in time'; according to this interpretation Sundarar considers Himself a servant unto all those that have attained beatitude before his time as well as to those that might attain such bliss after his time. The other interpretation is 'beyond in place', i.e., foreign lands beyond the land of the Tamils.

    Some find no objection to the omission as the name of Manickavachakar can find a place in the company of saints known as Appalumadi Sarndar. Such as argument should be dismissed without serious consideration as it is damaging to the reputation of both the Manickavachakar and Sundarar for reasons similar to those already adduced in the objection to the first explanation.

    What else can be the cause of this strange omission? Some Saivas bring forward the argument that Sundarar might have omitted the name of Manickavachakar, on considerations of hoary antiquity, as he has done in the case of Markandeyar, whom he has referred to in eulogizing the praise of Siva at Tiruppunkur* without, however, giving place to his name in the famous list.

[* The pasuram referred to is:-










In the case of Manickavachakar such an argument is not applicable as he is not so old in the eyes of Sundarar. For Sundarar has included in his list two saints whose glory is referred to by Manichavachakar* with reverential admiration. [* Refer to the 4th Stanza in
and Stanzas 3 and 7 in
திருத்தோணோக்கம்.] These are (1) Kannappar the Huntsman who plucked an eye of his and applied it to the bleeding eye of God Siva to stop the bleeding; and (2) Chandesvara the Brahmin cowherd who cut away his father's feet, when his irreligious parent interrupted him sacrilegiously, while engaged with full devotion in the holy worship of Siva. A perusal of Kalladam † and some of the works of Nakkirar ‡ lays bare the fact that there were three other saints (whose names find a place in the famous list) that preceded Manickavachakar; those are the famous Lady of Karaikkal, Murthi Nayanar that rubbed his elbow on the stone § for want of a piece of sandalwood and Sakkyar who threw stones at a Siva Lingam without fail every day. [† Refer to the 78th Agaval where the Lady is referred to as a demon that witnessed the charming dance of Siva at Tiruvalankadu; also to the agavals 57 and 68 of Kalladam, Subbaroya Mudaliar's Edition.; ‡ Refer to verses 17 and 18 of Nakkirar in Kopapprasadan in the eleventh Tirumurai.; § The stone is a சந்தனக்கல்.] Thus there were at least five saints who preceded Manickavachakar but yet found a ready welcome to their names in Sundarar's list. Thus the argument that Manickavachakar's name should have been omitted on considerations of hoary antiquity is entirely baseless and absurd.

Some devout Saivas attribute this conspicuous omission to the greatest admiration which Sundarar had for Manickavachakar whom he feared* [* The lives of Tirujnanasambandar, Appar and Sundarar depicted by the famous Biographer of Saints clearly indicate the fact that these reformers had the greatest veneration for departed devotees of great repute, so much so, that they thought it a sacrilege to tread the sacred soil and sang from a distance.] to call out as a devotee separate from God; so also the author of Ilakkanakkottu (lit. a bunch of grammatical principles) has said 'It is quite certain that Manickavachakar is Siva Himself from his superior wisdom'. † [† Refer to Ilakkanakkottu lines 10 and 11 page 14 of Arumuga Navalar's second edition of the same.] This argument, however, will not be received easily by the Saiva public to some of whom Tirujnanasambandar is a divinity.

The last argument advanced by some of the Saivas when every other solution is beaten down as erroneous is: 'Though the saints Manickavachakar and Jnanasambandar were true devotees of Siva, yet there is a subtle difference in the nature of their creed.' The Devaram hymners wanted to teach a practical lesson to the masses, in religion; they wanted to impress on the minds of the people the idea of a personal God to whom all beings should pay obeisance. Whereas in Tiruvachakam the idea of divinity is a little too high pitched. Only minds advanced in culture and devotion as Manickavachakar can have the true insight of the doctrines of the great saint. The religious ideal in his eye is of a very high type for common humanity to comprehend. The oft-recurring expression "He who has made me his 'vassal' by making me Sivam' does not occur even once in the whole range of Devaram. Any approach to it, if at all be found, may be seen in the verses of Appar who in his famous Tiruvankamalai breaks out as follows:- 'I have searched and found out in me the divinity soaring beyond the reach of Vishnu and Brahma.' Even this tendency in Appar to realize the divinity in himself can be traced to the influence of Manickavachakar as we have already shown. It is for this reason (the difference of creed) it is contended that Sundarar has not mentioned the name of Manickavachakar in the list.

    However ingenious this argument might be, it may not be satisfactory and convincing. True, though it be, that the religious ideal pitched by Manickavachakar is of a very high type, we can find ample evidence in his works to show that he had a great admiration even for the lower stages of the faith. He deprecates* [* Refer for instance to the 14th Stanza in
திருச்சதகம்.] himself much for not extending all the services in his power for winning God's grace, such as, sweeping the temple, besmearing it with cow dung, tying garlands, etc. With growing experience in religion the sage, no doubt, transcended to heights beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals. His Tiruvachakam contains certain passages of a paradoxical nature † [† For instance refer to Stanza 7 in
கோயிற்றிதிருப்பதிகம்.] puzzling even the greatest psychologist. Thus to attribute the omission to this cause is not safe.

    This conspicuous omission is the most vexed question of the day; after a good deal of reflection we arrived at a solution which is offered for what it is worth, Sundarar seeing that his list would swell out did not make mention by name of Nakkirar, Paranar, Kapilar, Kalladar and other important poets and sages of the Sangam period whose works have, after his time, found a place in the eleventh Book of the Saiva Bible of the Tamils but included them all under the common Clause 'Poyyadimai Illatha Pulavar' or 'Poets of no untrue devotion.' That this refers to the poets of the Madura Academy is clearly seen from the interpretation given to it by Nambi Andar Nambi the Tamil Vyasa and Sekkilar the author of the great Puranam. Their interpretation is, however, a little narrow as they restrict the expression to the Bench of poets – the 49 poets who conducted the academy and especially to the last 49 members of the Board, i.e., to the members who presided over the last formal sessions of Madura College when Tiruvalluvar took his sacred Kural for their approval. Outside the Board there were ever distinguished poets* [* Inclusive of the members of the Academy there were 449 poets attached to the Sangam. Vide Commentaries on the 1st Sutram of Iraiyanar Agapporul.] whose contributions were readily received and accepted. So the term 'Poyyadimai Illatha Pulavar' should refer to the poets of the Sangam period including both the members in the Board and the distinguished literati of the day connected with the Bench. As a general rule the poets of the Sangam age were devout followers of the Saiva faith which was the prevalent creed of Southern India then.* [* There is abundant evidence in favor of this view which however is reserved for a separate and elaborate handling.] Sundarar instead of making individual mention of the names of the poetic sages in the Madura academy which would have swelled his list beyond practical bounds gave them a place in the expression 'Poyyadimai Illatha Pulavar.' We see sufficient reasons to think that, in all probability, Sundarar has purposely omitted to make individual mention of the name of Manickavachakar, as the latter was a poet of the Sangam age and thus included in the Company of Saints known as பொய்யடிமையில்லாத புலவர்.


Sunday, August 4, 2013


    In the September and October number of this magazine there appeared an article entitled "The King and the Sudra Saint," with our comments thereon. Exception has been taken to our language, and we publish below the correspondence on that subject between ourselves and our learned brother Mr. T. Sadasiva Aiyar. We have always had the greatest respect for the talents of our brother, but we are very sorry, we cannot be in agreement with his views on this question, the difference being so marked and fundamental.

    Our brother virtually believes that the sage Valmiki lived and wrote his poem in the Dwapara Yuga itself and that every incident narrated in it are facts of history which has thus the merit of being recorded by a contemporary, who was besides blessed with occult vision and that all the characters and figures introduced therein were real beings, and celestial ones too, and he could also explain obscure incidents in the light of occultism. He is equivocal, however, about the divinity of Sri Rama. He is regarded by our brother as an Avatar of the Saguna Vishnu. He postulates also that Parabrahman cannot be born as an Avatar, and cannot appear in human or any other form. But as to our query 'Can Parabrahman, become the Saguna Iswara? He replies that the liberated man who has become Sivam or Parabrahman can through His Grace limit himself to Saguna Iswara and do the action of creation, preservation and destruction in appropriate forms. He also says "There are great Iswaras who have reached Nirguna Parabrahman and who are therefore called Parabrahman, but whenever they will have to do so, can limit themselves to Saguna." From these at any rate we can deduce that Parabrahman per se cannot become Saguna Iswara and cannot be the cause or the occasion for gestation, human or the rest. But Jivas, souls, when liberated, become Saguna Iswaras, who entering Nirguna Para-Brahman become Para-Brahman as it were, and these can leave their abode when prayed for, condition themselves and become once again Saguna Beings animating human forms. Becoming men and women, they too can eat and drink and grow fat, they can marry and procreate, they can acquire wealth, power and dominion, and rejoice over all these, nay, they can cry and weep, when deprived of these, grow angry and kill their enemies, and becoming despondent, can give up their ghost though of course voluntarily. But "all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts." But in the ordinary world, there is some moral code, or ethical test for one's acting, because one is so human out and out in all seriousness and necessity. But these divine or semi-divine players are merely mock-players and spoil their acting by being conscious that they are so; and even if they should forget for a moment that they are mock-mortals, the Gods come out in all their pageants and fully proclaim to them that they are Divine, greatly Divine.

    But, for our part, we believe that all the so-called inspired works we peruse are after all the productions of their much despised kali age, and that as our friend Kali is growing in years, he is seeing more and of advance in art and science, and in morality and good government, than it ever was the fortune of any anterior period real or visionary. Our moral sense has been growing keener and our intellect brighter, and our religion certainly purer, though on the other hand the existence of vice and sin and irreligion and superstition is found in equal abundance. And it is work-a-day men and not celestials who are honestly trying to combat as far as possible such ills flesh is heir to.

    We believe also that these works contain more fiction than fact and that they have lessons for the ordinary reader and not alone to the Occult Seer. Exaggeration was the characteristic trait of the age of these ancient writers; and infant minds always delight in astounding situations, blood-curding catastrophes, and dreamland wonders, e.g., our Fairy Tales and Arabian Nights Entertainments. No doubt some of these books are intended to teach us moral duties comprising the first three Purusharthas, Dharma, Artha and Kama, and some books there are which convey spiritual truths by means of parables, allegories or stories and these deal with the last Purushartha Moksha; and some books with all these combined. We believe it to be the good of society that books dealing with the first three are as important to it as the last class of books; and there is actually danger in people becoming too much Brahmanised, for it is apt to produce more hypocrites than really honest men. The present crisis in our age may even involve this element of danger. As our Brother observes truly, the purpose of Ramayana is to teach us our duties in regard to Dharma, Artha and Kama, the reward being the securing of earthly bliss and enjoyment, of hymeneal happiness, of wealth, domestic, peace, children, union of friends and relations, and so on. But our Brother thinks that Uttara Kanda is believed to give Moksha; but on reading the last page of this Kanda, we fail to come across any such phalam being recounted on the contrary, removal of sins, long life and prosperity, sons, riches, honor in this world and the world of the dead, and strength, these are all the phalams set forth on this last page. We doubted that the Uttarakanda was the work of the writer of the Purvakanda, and we find we are not alone in our suspicion. Several Pundits whom we consulted have expressed similar doubts and this is probably the real reason for its unpopularity, though of course an occult reason is given as is always usual. We find at least one proof in the book itself. The last section of the Yuddhakanda finishes off the story completely after stating that Sri Rama lived for ten thousand years in glory and happiness, performing ten Aswamedhams, &c., and that all his subjects lived happily and long. And it continues, "And this sacred Epic, the fruit of its kind, affording piety, fame and long life, and describing the conquest of the Kings was composed by Valmiki in the days of yore," and all the phalams for reciting Valmiki's story are recounted in detail – such as multiplied relations, increased wealth and crops, beautiful wives, excellent happiness and the accomplishment of all desires, long life, wealth, fame, intellect, prowess and good brothers; (and in this long list forsooth we don't find anything concerning its spiritual efficacy). And why we ask should this section devoted to the authorship and phalams be added here, at the end of the Yuddhakanda, if in fact the work was not finished here as it stood originally? – When in fact we do not find any such statement at the end of any of the previous kandas. And the reiterated statement at the end of the Uttarakanda that Valmiki even wrote the Uttarakanda, and the citing of Brahma himself as a witness thereof, is extremely suspicious. Brahma lost all worship for telling one lie on a previous occasion, and the writer of this passage evidently wants to heap further coals on his devoted heads. We recognize also that the work was written in an age when the belief in a host of gods, Indra and Varuna, Agni, Vayu, Soma and Surya as still powerful had not been altogether lost. We recognize also that in course of time this belief again was lost, and more monotheistic beliefs centered round one person alone of the lot; the personality of Sri Rama was so far magnified that the recognition began to be confined to distinct sects, and these believed that Sri Rama was the real Parabrahman, and none else, and we have several Upanishads concocted for the purpose of raising him to the highest divine pedestal. Similarly the character of Sri Krishna set forth in the Mahabharata was evolved so as to make him a great god, Krishnaism and Bhagavata Purana and Krishnatapini and Gopalatapini Upanishads being the result of this odd dispensation.

    For one thing, we have not blindly followed the opinions of western scholars, though at the same time we have hardly stinted to appreciate the large amount of sense in their writings. Where they have failed is in failing to understand us even from our own standpoint; there being such a vast hiatus of basic difference between stand point of the Orientals including the Jews and the Christians, and that of the occidentals.

    We understand that in Religion, sentiment or emotion is a potent factor, and fain would we have examined the figure of Sri Rama as depicted by Valmiki, but we are afraid we would be wounding the feelings of our friends and brothers. And we need not make secret of the fact that the writers of Rama's history after Valmiki, whatever might be the language they should have chosen to depict the narration have displayed greater delicacy of taste and culture and in fact a good deal more ingenuity. They have omitted very many ugly incidents, glossed over the inconsistencies, sought plausible reasons and explanations for some irreconcilable facts, and have avoided the semi-coarse language of Valmiki. When we pointed out the brutal language put by Valmiki into the mouth of Rama at the time of Sita's first "Trial," our Brahmin friend was simply horrified. Such language will be readily perceived to be inconsistent with our present notion of Sri Rama. Kamban, our Tamil poet, would not even hold that Ravana had even touched Sita; because he knew that to have used the language of Valmiki would have been jarring to the feelings of his audience. The Sanskrit poet Bhavabhuti introduces nicer touches in his version of the Sudra Saint's story. According to Valmiki, it is not a voice from Heaven that proclaimed the cause of the Boy's death, but it was Rama's Brahmin advisers who were called in and who imparted this precious information. Rama's hand did not pause and his heart did not melt at the sight of the Sudra Saint, according to Valmiki; but he goes right up the Saint and chips off his head with his beautiful sword! And Behold! The gods appear and praise him for this. And from the story as given here, there is no room even for the Occult interpretation offered by our Brother. The Brahmin advisers in Valmiki hold that for a Sudra to do penance is ipso facto an iniquity and a sin for which the only expiation is by a death-penalty. If the Sudra Saint did however get into Heaven it was not through his merit, but it was on account of the merit of the person who killed him. The story of Bhima killing a huge serpent and releasing it from the mortal coil is good as a story and less repugnant to our sense. Valmiki does not state either that the Sudra was under any curse nor does he make him thank Rama and feel grateful for this proffered Salvation via homicide! Valmiki states also that it was due to Rama's own iniquity in allowing a Sudra to practice penance that the Brahmin boy died. Poets and dramatists do not always draw on facts for their story, and are not faithful to their prototypal text or original, be that a previous poetic legend or a composite mass of fugitive tradition, but lay their copious imagination under severe contribution, and Bhavabhuti and Kamban are not exceptions to this dictum.

    We will append now the correspondence relating to this subject which inevitably, though fortunately, has afforded us an opportunity to voice our opinions on 'Rama and the Ramayana.' What we have stated above in such elaboration and entirety will be better comprehended, by our readers, after a close perusal of the following letters and the replies they elicited from our pen in return.


From the correspondent.

    In the September and October number of the Light of Truth, the Editor has very ably removed some misapprehensions of the revered Dr. G. U. Pope regarding the life of Saint Sundara. Though the Revered Gentleman's fulminations were put very delicately, we all felt them keenly.

2.    But is not very surprising to see in the Editorial "notes and comments" in that same issue a complete misunderstanding of the Life of the Divine Avatars of Sri Rama? The Editorial (unlike Dr. Pope) fulminates violently against Sri Rama that "he is a most shocking instance of caste and priestly tyranny," "of want of courage and moral strength," "of humanity and justice," etc. Leaving aside Bhava Bhooti's poem, has the learned Editor cared to read the incidents in Valmiki's Ramayana itself? That the Editor should adopt the grotesque absurd Western theory that Sage Valmiki through jealousy and antagonism put down the Southern as monkeys shows how deeply the wells of sober thought in English educated minds have been poisoned by the a priori speculation of Western so-called Orientalist Mr. Telang, Mr. R. C. Dutt, Mr. M. M. Kunte, Mr. Ranade and many similar gigantic intellects have succumbed to the poisonous influence. Sage Valmiki says that the monkeys who assisted Sri Rama were born of Gods and had the power to change their forms at will and were specially sent to the earth to assist Him in the glorious enterprise of re-establishing Dharma. Of course, if the Editor has become so enlightened as to think that all this is superstitions or, even worse, a deliberate lie (a "sop" thrown out to the Cerberus of popular conscience as if the popular conscience would have been better than that of the saintly chronicler), I have nothing more to say. That Valmiki "did not cherish great veneration for the piety of the monkeys" though he could "hardly deny them, the qualities of courage, truthfulness, and fidelity" is also grotesque when we know that hanuman was praised by Sri Rama at the very first interview for his very great learning in all the Vedas and Shastras and in Grammar and Hanuman is considered the very embodiment of piety. In short, unless we ruthlessly strike off every passage in the Ramayana which goes against our preconceived view that "monkeys" means "Southern," we will be met by difficulties at each step. If those passages were taken away, you can amuse yourself with a parody of the Ramayana like Mark Twain's parody of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar or of "George Washington's life."

3.    "Poor Sita being swallowed up by the Earth is mere poetic symbology for a most heart-rending suicide." This is absurd (please excuse the word). Sita Devi was born of Mother Earth and not of human womb and she was taken back by the Spirit of the Earth, through her purity and at her request. I ask a plain question "Do you or do you not believe in the Regents of the Earth, Water, Fire, Vayu and Akas mentioned in all our religious books, (Divine, intelligent, powerful beings guiding Evolution) and in their Devis"? If you don't I am not surprised at your remarks. If Rama was an ordinary Kshatriya, his act of abandoning his pure wife was blamable. But he was a King and the duties of a King are in some respects different from those of other Kshatriyas. He can kill his unruly and vicious subjects without observing the ordinary rules of warfare and he must so conduct himself (by denying for himself even lawful private pleasures) so as to misguide many of his contemporary subjects in the path of Dharma (sic). Even Saint Bhishma felt diffident about the path of Dharma in some instances, but you seem to be cock-sure of everything. Your statements that King "Rama repented of his act" and "all his subsequent miseries are due to it" are quite wrong. He never repented (according to the Ramayana) except for his having wasted three days in sorrowing for Sita's absence and in not having looked after the welfare of his subjects during those three days. Of course, his loving heart felt and voluntarily bore all the acute miseries of separation, but only in order to show to us how dear a wife should be to the heart of her husband, and to show that we also ought to bear all miseries for the sake of Dharma. What does Mother Sita herself say to Lakshmana when she is abandoned, quite close to the hermitage of Valmiki? She says that she understood Sri Rama's motives well and that Sri Rama should not grieve for her but should protect his subjects with Dharma.

4.    Coming to the Sudra's death, the Ramayana shows that the Sudra was performing penance not to attain "Sivam" or "Moksham" but to go to Swarga (a place of mental comfort) along with his physical and astral bodies like Trisanku. In short, he was making a low kind of Kamya Tapas, the higher Tapas being common to all castes. Tapas to attain Swarga after physical and astral bodies die is also not prohibited. What Sambuka wanted was different and he knew that it was not his Dharma to make the kind of Tapas he was performing. Sri Rama before striking off his body asks him about his caste and the purpose of his Tapas (See the 75th and the 76th Chapters of Uttara Ramayana). Sambhuka admits that he is a Sudra and wants to go to Swarga with his physical body. Now, why did the Brahmin boy die during Sambuka's Tapas and why was the dead body resuscitated when Sambuka was slain? Of course, if you treat these two facts also as "sops," I have no more to say. But if these were really facts, they show that the Sudra's Kamya Tapas required that his impure astral principles should be purified by combining with the principles of the Brahmin boy's pure astral body before he (the Sudra) could go to Swarga in his body, and that he did not care even if the boy died provided his purpose was attained. When the Sudra was slain, the vital principles of the boy returned to the boy and the Sudra went to Swarga in his own Devachanic body.

5.    But are the vital astral principles of all Brahmins in all ages purer than those of Sudra in all ages? Are persons with Sudra bodies always prohibited from performing Tapas? This question is also discussed in the 74th Chapter of Uttara-Ramayana itself, and it is only after considering in Council the Dharma rules relating to this question that Sri Rama goes to Sambuka. There, the king's minister Narada says that in Krita Yuga all men were Brahmins and performed tapas, that in Treta Yuga, souls in Kshatriya bodies became fit to perform Tapas without prejudice to other men, that in Dvapara Yuga souls in Vaisya bodies became fit to make Tapas and that in forthcoming Kali Yuga souls in (nominal) Sudra bodies can also do Tapas, but that in that Dvapara Yuga (which was then going on) such Tapas was "Adharma." Sage Valmiki and Sage Narada had Sudra bodies in their previous births.

6.    Sri Rama treated (Sugriva) and Guka (sic) as his brothers. He threatened and abused the Brahmin Jabala for his atheistical talk. He slew the Brahmana Ravana and Kumbhkarna, and to talk of him as subject to caste and priestly tyranny and as wanting in moral courage is absurd. That the so-called medieval Brahmins were guilty of caste-tyranny and prejudice and that we Hindus are suffering for our national sins are true. But that Sage Valmiki or Vyasa or Sri Rama was guilty of caste jealousy and tyranny is (to use your very learned Correspondent Mr. M. Narayanasamy Aiyar's words) a statement of such fantastic character that the very word "Historical" would be a misnomer if applied to it. Brahmins ought to be patient and tolerant according to Manu and they do not deserve that name if they do not bear personal insults meekly. But as a great Avatara was attacked by you not in dubious or delicate, but very violent language, I have thought it my duty to send this humble contribution.

COIMBATORE, 25-2-1901                         T. SADASIVAIYAR.


From the Editor.

    Your MSS was put into my hands when I returned home after meeting you, otherwise I would have discussed some points therein with you in person.

    I have not got the Volumes of Ramayan with me and I don't know where these stories occur. For one thing, I regard that the Uttara portion of a Purana or Itihasa was not written by the same author who wrote the Purva portion. Do you believe that the Uttara Ramayana was the work of Sage Valmiki?

    Who do you take the 'monkeys' in Valmiki for? You know we always speak at first of an alien as "குரங்கு

    You know I strongly hold that God cannot be born or become incarnate on earth THROUGH THE WOMB (போணிவாய்ப்பட்டு); though he can appear in human form, and that this is one of the cardinal point of our Siddhanta?

    Those alone who are still in the folds of the three gunas can get a saguna body, however high they may have been placed?

    Though they may not be 'Divine' (in any sense of the nature of the Highest Principle) they may be like 'Divine'. But till they become 'Divine' by repeated births, it won't be wrong to say that they now and then exhibit some blot or frailty. So you may excuse me if I think that Sri Rama is not immaculate in every respect. And I have always held to this opinion consistently in the journal. One may love Sri Rama, as Tulasi Das says, as the son of Dasaratha, though one may not regard him as the incarnation of the Highest.

    Evidently, Sri Rama's power as a sovereign waned while nearing his end, and so, he may have committed some act just to please the multitude, which he in his highest wisdom may not have approved.

    One or two more queries and I shall have done.

    Can you refer me to any authority which enjoins a king to act on mere gossip and vile scandal? Is this in any way consistent with our human or even divine ideas of justice? Is there any law which requires any king to be unjust to himself?

    You know how euphemistic the phrases "மண்ணிலிறங்கினான்" "பூமாதுடன்போய்ச்சேர்ந்தாள்"
are phrases cognate with "சிவலோகப்
" &c.

    Did not Lakshmana kill himself? Did not Sri Rama enter the Sarayu? How do you interpret these facts?

3-1-1902                                        EDITOR.


From the Correspondent.

1.    I received your kind letter. I believe the Uttara Ramayana to be the work of Valmiki Rishi though in the northern editions additional spurious chapters have been added to it. Of course in all our religious works such interpolations exist. The first six Kandams close with Sri Rama's coronation and hence do not complete Sri Rama's life. Just as the Mahabharatam cannot be completed at Yuthishtira's coronation and must go on till his Swargarohanam, so the Uttara Ramayana is a necessary portion of the Ramayana. In the Balakanda it is said that Valmiki wrote the Uttara portion also. The total numbers of the chapters are also given besides the total number of the Slokas (24,000). The first Sloka of each 1,000 Slokas begin with the twenty four letters of the Gayatri in regular order. When tested by these data, the Uttara Ramayana must be considered as Valmiki's genuine work. It is however considered detrimental to worldly prosperity to read it just as Govinda Narayana and Mahadeva or "Kadapatamatas", (sic). Again, of the Uttara Ramayana is not a genuine production of Valmiki, why do you find fault with Sri Rama in respect if his two acts of killing the Sudra ascetic and the abandonment of Sita, which stories occurring only in the Uttara Ramayana.

2.    As I have said in my paper I take the monkey friends if Sri Rama to have been born of Devas to semi-human women (of monkey form usually), they being an off-shoot of the third root-race whose bodies were not hardened like ours and were more ethereal and capable of temporary alterations of form. (See Secret Doctrine, Vol. II). As to prejudiced ignorance talking of aliens as குரங்குமூஞ்சி, it has nothing to do with the talk of sages like Valmiki. The notion of Orientalists and Material Philosophers that religions and religious stories had their origin in infantile ignorance and prejudiced race-hatred and blind hero-worship is utterly opposed to Theosophic truth and to the sober conclusions of rational historical studies. Ordinary men of course in all ages talk ignorantly and in a prejudiced way but the Rishis and the founders of religions are highly evolved souls who have gone above the distinctions of caste, creed, race and color and who saw Truths by a vision which belongs to a plane above the plane of the highest intellect.

3.    I agree with you that the supreme Parabrahman cannot be incarnated in its fullness. I even go beyond you and hold that the Nirguna Brahman cannot appear in a human or any other form because all form implies limitation. The Saguna Iswara who does the three works of Creation, Preservation and Destruction has got three aspects. In His two aspects as Brahma and Rudra he does not incarnate, that is, does not take up relatively permanent forms in which a life of some length is lived out and a great drama is played out. Brahms and Rudra merely take passing forms, for special purposes and throw them aside as soon as the purpose is served. But in Iswara's Vishnu aspect he makes (sic) Avataras as in that aspect. He is the supporter and preserver of forms, and guides the laws of evolution and teaches Dharma by example from time to time, when the sattwic forces in the universe are almost overborne by the rajasic and tamasic forces from time to time. Yonee is as much made of Panchabhutas as a Lingam-stone or Brahma's brow or a cattle tying wooden post, out of which Sree Mahadeva has risen in temporary forms or as the stone pillar, out of which Sree Narasimha came out. I cannot understand the philosophical rationale of the superiority claimed for a form when it comes out of a stone or pillar, and the inferiority of the form alleged to be caused by its coming out of a fleshly tabernacle. A human being which issues out of Yonee (வாய்) is superior to a stone or a sexual plant which comes into existence without passing through a Yonee. The Omnipresent Supreme in all his three aspects is present in every particle of matter including the yonees of all creatures. Even when Lord Mahadeva or Brahma take forms to bless his worshippers, those forms have to come out of the womb of nature and space. The distinctions between the three aspects of God when made not for philosophic purposes of clearly understanding his Saktis but out of the desire born of human weakness to exalt one at the expense of the other two, so that we might have the satisfaction of seeing imperfections in beings held Supremely Sacred by others, will not lead to peace of mind or to correct apprehension of the inner meanings of the apparently contradictory Puranic stories (see 12th Skantam of Srimat Bhagavatam, dialogue between Markandeya and Mahadeva). The three aspects so different, though indissolubly connected, kinds of work (according to the grasp of our limited intelligence) and they do such works not for the sake of themselves or as bound by Karma, but they limit themselves voluntarily out of Grace and do the works in appropriate forms for purifying the Jeevas out of the latter's Anava and Karma Mala. The incarnation of one of the sacred aspects through a womb, or without the medium of a womb (as in the case of the 1st four Avataras), cannot degrade Him any more than the Mahadeva aspect, dancing naked in burning grounds or interceding with Paravaiyar for his bhakta Sree Sundara, or testing his devotees by asking them to do apparently cruel and inhuman things, can affect his majesty or purity. As to the "Cardinal points" of the Siddhanta, I am afraid that like out other philosophical systems, its original purity might have got soiled by the dogmatisms and idiosyncrasies of its later followers. The Siddhanta in my opinion contains the clearest and most logical expositions of metaphysical Tattva philosophy even now. I consider you as my elder brother as regards clear metaphysical thinking, but I am not so sure of your superiority as regards the reverential treatment and understanding of Puranic stories and historical traditions.

4.    Of course the word 'Avataras' is used very loosely and even persons like Parasu Rama who have not become Divine (in your sense) though they have long spells of divine influence, are called Avataras. But Sri Rama is considered as a being who though born only as "half-divine" reached full Divinity when he broke Sree Mahadeva's bow, while Sree Krishna had reached full divinity several Kalpa before his Avatara. Sree Rama's power as a sovereign waxed higher and higher and never waned. The Dharmas and actions of different beings vary according to their position. It is said in the Bhagavatam that Iswara in his three aspects praises and worships his Bhaktas as greater than himself, that one of His objects is, the testing of his Bhaktas and the strengthening of their humility and devotion, that another object is to set an example to ordinary men, and that he has other inscrutable objects also. Again the Iswara and the ordinary Devas place temptations in the paths of Bhaktas and Ascetics and do other acts which are prohibited to men. A king's highest duty according to Manu is to sacrifice himself for the welfare of his subjects and he attains the Highest Worlds thereby.

5.    As regards Lakshmana's and Sri Rama's giving up of their bodies voluntarily, it is not ordinary suicide, as the latter word is usually used to denote the self-destruction of the body for the purpose of escaping troubles here or enjoying pleasures hereafter. When Karaikkal Pechi Ammaiyar threw off her fleshly form her husband had released her from her duty as his wife and she did not want any longer the beautiful flesh-body which might be a hindrance to her worship of the Lord Siva. Further there are Swechchata-mrithyus whose bodies cannot die without their free consent and yogis like Bhishma have to commit suicide by raising their Prana voluntarily through the Brahmarandhra. Sarabanga and Sabaree burnt up their bodies as useless in future, after they had waited to hospitably entertain Sri Rama with their bodies. Soldiers and Martyrs voluntarily court Death to fulfil duty. The Uttara-Ramayana says that Brahma Deva sent Mrityu to Sri Rama to inform Him that His work on the earth had been completely performed, and then, Sri Lakshmana and Sri Rama give up their bodies by the Yoga Marga while immersed in the waters of Sarayu. The Jaina religion requires ascetics to starve themselves to death when their bodies become useless to do further good to the earthly beings.



From the Editor.

    Many thanks for your reply. But your reply raises up so many more points that I would fain put you some more queries.

    Do you seriously contend that Ramayana is history? Perhaps you also mean this work was composed in the Dwapara Yuga. You admit that there are interpolations in Ramayana. But perhaps you are not prepared to hear that for several hundreds of years the whole of Bhagavata has been regarded as spurious both by Indian and European scholars; nay they have traced even the authorship of the worship. But of course you will all put it to sectarian and anti-Hindu prejudices, but why should you not extend your hand of charity and toleration to these people and credit them with some regard for truth?

    In regard to the question of Avatars, my statement was general. I simply said that God cannot incarnate and I defined God below as the Highest Principle. Whenever I use such word I always refer to the supreme Brahmam Nirguna. You see in this statement of mine only an attempt to elevate one sect over another. Is this charitable? In your reply you don't question this statement of principle itself, though you are pleased to dogmatize at once on the dogmatisms of Saiva Siddhanta. Can you kindly state what you regard as the dogmatisms of this Siddhanta? Is the distinction between Nirguna Parabrahmam and Saguna Iswara a dogmatism or not? Are these distinct? Is the distinction real or fancied? Can the Parabrahmam become the Saguna Iswara? If the Parabrahmam can become Saguna Vishnu and Vishnu can become born through the womb and incarnate as man, can we or can we not draw the conclusion that the Parabrahmam can be born through the womb? Well, but where is the difficulty of Parabrahmam incarnating as man or beast or anything? I want this position to be much more defined and see if the explanations offered by yourself do not hold good even here. I have elsewhere explained the real reasons for this doctrine. The reason is not that any appearance is a limitation, in which the Parabrahmam's omnipresence itself is a limitation. The real ground is that, the supreme who is Mayatita, beyond Tamas, and beyond the three Gunas could not bring himself within the folds of Maya or Guna. This is the distinction of Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna is where one cannot be enfolded by the Gunas and subjected to their influence. Saguna is where the subject is subjected to the folds of the three Gunas or Prakriti and the Saguni can rise higher and higher by getting outside the influence of the Gunas and finally to get outside them altogether. But the Parabrahmam is still present in Maya or Prakriti. But this presence is a mystery i.e., not possible to explain exactly, but this presence is in no way similar to the presence of the Guni on the Saguna body. If otherwise, the distinction between Nirguna and Saguna itself will vanish. The distinction between sexual and asexual is important, if only that the latter points to a highly differentiated and organized and evolved physical body, showing how deep the spirit had been materialized or subjected to the folds of Prakriti. You will be surprised to find that a very ancient Tamil classic writer in speaking of the Narasimha ranks it higher than the other Avataras, in fact it was a Yonijates. You can see there could be no birth of a man lion from the stone. It is a mere appearance. But by the way, did you ever know that the Saivites – the sectarians you may call them – have never identified their supreme ideal – call it by whatever name you like ("ஓருருவம்
) – with one of the three. Will it be news to you if you are told that their God lower or higher whatever it is, is never called by them as Saguna. Do you know that even the Trimurti Rudra or Siva is not Saguna but Nirguna. And that even though a being could be Nirguna, yet it is not the Parabrahmam (to you Parabrahmam and Nirguna Being are synonymous). The Beings or Jivas between the 26th, (25th is Prakriti composed of three Gunas) and 36th Tatwa composing matter are all Nirguna Beings though not outside matter or maya; though they are clothed in material bodies higher than the Saguna bodies… Not that you do not know these things, but I really could not understand how you can ignore these when month after month I have been repeating these things in the pages of the Deepika? Perhaps one may suggest that this is not Saivaism or that the Saivites assume their position to appear to be supreme to the Vaishnavites out of blind sectarian prejudices. But you know the story of Durvasa. Is this story a sectarian one and fictitious? (This story rebuts your position that Brahman cannot be born of the womb). Can anyone point out any passage in the Vedas, and Upanishads, Agamas, Itihasas or Puranas in which the Being or Beings named as Iswara, Maheswara, Parameshwara, Mahadeva, Rudra, Sankara, Siva, Sambhu, Bava, Sarva, &c., is called SAGUNA. On the other hand, these are distinctly called NIRGUNA. But you know it is the foible or dogmatism of the Vedantists of a certain type or sect to read 'Lower Brahman' or 'Saguna Brhaman,' wherever these words occur, a position held to be untenable ever by such people as Prof. Max Muller and Dr. Thebaut. I have often pointed out the absurdities and ludicrousness and perversities of interpretation which flow from this preconceived theory or sectarian prejudice. You know the well-known definitions of orthodoxy and heterodoxy. It has always seemed to me that definitions of sectarian and non-sectarian could be reduced to similar terms. A non-sectarian is one's own enunciation of truth and principle, and sectarian is the other's dogmas. I believe that even absolute truth must be sectarian. The persons believing in it will form a 'sect' as distinguished from those who differ or oppose it. Even if those who hold to the truth will not call themselves 'sectarian,' the others will call them so. Can you not really define 'truth' as held to by 'theosophy.' When defined, has it not got a limit or bound? Dear Brother, you must really excuse my prolixity. Because in these matters when you pull up a twig, you pull up the whole plant, branches trunk and roots and all. Each truth is based on another, rests on another and could only be understood in relation to the others. And thus we arrive at certain truths or body of truths, which are mutually related, have a natural cohesive symmetry and harmony, a well-known basis and structure. You cannot have really an olla podrida. You can't pluck roses from thistles nor sweets from a neem tree.

    Dear Brother, I have no copy of Manu with me, will you kindly quote the passage referred to by you?

    By the way, it is not for the first time I express this opinion about Sri Rama and Ramayana in the pages of protest at the time. The story of the Sudra Saint is recited and commented on by me at p. 189, vol. II and I am not the first to give vent to such criticisms either; nor were they Saivites and at page III, same vol. I observe "And there could be no excuse for the writer of the Ramayana for his ungrateful and ungenerous travesty of the Tamilians and the gross exaggeration and hyperboles he deals with; and the only excuse could be that he was altogether ignorant of the Tamil people," &c., &c.

    I have already set forth my views as regards the reading and interpreting of sacred history. But the majority of the Puranas do not even form 'sacred history' in the strict sense of the term. I have also explained elsewhere as to how one should read the Puranas. And in the writing of the history of the rise of Hindu religions and sects, even Bhagavata has its place. One could really distinguish between the faith and beliefs of the people when the Ramayana and Mahabharata came to be actually written, and those of people or at least of the portion of them who lived in the age when the Bhagavata was actually written. Why, the writer of Bhagavata actually thinks that all other Puranas and Vedas were not satisfactory from his point of view. I wish you would calmly consider the views of Colebroke and Wilson on these subjects (vide the small book on Puranas brought out by the Society for the Resuscitation of Oriental Literature). The Sanskrit journal of Pudukkottai extracted the passage from Wilson bearing on the Bhagavata but curiously enough it did not give its own views on the question, but evidently it acquiesced in the Professor's views. And in the Saiva-Vaishnava views on these matters, at least you can regard these oriental scholars as impartial judges. Your extreme devotion to the person of Sri Krishna should not make you forget all other questions of chronology and true historical criticism. I am afraid Mr. Narayanasamy Iyer will be the last to uphold your views of Ramayana. I know his views are much worse than mine.



From the Correspondent.

(1).    As I have very little leisure, I will not lengthen this letter by hunting up and quoting authorities but will answer your further queries briefly and you will excuse me if I am not clear.

(2).    At the risk of being considered superstitious and unenlightened, I confess that I believe Ramayana to be History and that it was composed in the Dwapara Yuga. Bhagavatham is the name of one of the 18 Puranas and without it, you cannot make up 18. When Sakti worship increased in Bengal, Devi Bhagavatham was attempted to be substituted for the original Bhagavatham and the latter was alleged to be the forgery of one Boppa Deva. There have been, of course, "eminent" Indian and European scholars who are prepared to prove that every Hindu work is a forgery, that everything good in them was borrowed from the Bible, that Hindu did not know writing till recently and that even Panini the Grammarian was illiterate, that the Vedas are the babblings of infant humanity, that it is all superstitious personification of astronomical facts or of dreams or ancestor worship and so on and so forth. The Reverend Lazarus in the Christian College Magazine for January says that it is established by eminent Scholars that the Bhagavat Geeta is a forgery made by a Vaishnava Brahmin in the second century A. D. and that all persons of all sects having a copy of the Maha Bharata were persuaded by this forger in the days when there was neither Railway, Telegraph or Printing press to insert this Geeta in all the copies of the Maha Bharatam – even Mr. Ranade was persuaded by these eminent scholars to believe that all "Southern Sudras were barbarous aborigines who were worshipping devils which were changed into Vedic gods by the influence of crafty Brahmins. Of course, I credit them all with regard for Truth, though not with much sympathetic reverence for the ancient Religious works. Saint Sreedhara Chariar quotes passages from other Puranas showing that the marks of the Bhagavata Purana are (a) its being taught by Suka, (b) its beginning with a sloka which paraphrases the Gayathri, (c) its peculiar treatment of Vrithrasura Vadham, and so on, and prove that the work he comments upon is the genuine Bhagavatam and that the theory of forgery by Boppa Deva is absurd.

(3).    You say "But this presence (of Parabrahmam in Maya) is a mystery; i.e., not possible to explain, &c." I agree. A man who does not know even simple equations cannot grasp the meaning of the functions in a problem in Integral Calculus. But there are great Iswaras who have reached Nirguna Parabrahmam and who are therefore called Parabrahmam but who, whenever they will to do so, can limit themselves to Saguna Beings. They exercise that will whenever their Devotees pray to them to do so. There are three kinds of such Beings, the Trimoorties, Parabrahmam (that is, Iswara who had reached Parabrahmam) took the Narasimha Form to protect Prahlada and he took "asexual birth for doing certain acts for the good of His world. He took "sexual" birth at request of Devas, Rishis, Earth, &c. as Sri Krishna to do certain other works. One of the dogmatisms of the later followers of the Siddhanta School is that the distinction between "sexual" "asexual" appearances is an important one, Sree Krishna was never bound by His physical Body which He used as His instrument and He was able, at will, to show His omnipotence and omnipresence and there was no "Materialization or subjection of the spirit to a highly differentiated and organized and evolved physical body and to the folds of Prahriti" as you suppose.

(4).    You ask "can the Parabrahmam become the Saguna Iswara?" I answer that the liberated man who has become Sivam or Parabrahmam can, through His Grace, limit Himself to Saguna Iswara and do the acts of Creation, Preservation and Destruction in appropriate forms, the second act of Preservation requiring the taking of many forms on many occasions.

(5).    As your letter states, Parabrahmam has no form and no name and yet, we praise IT with 1,000 names. All the 1,00o names and forms are on such a high plane that to us, the distinctions must remain a mystery and it is best to treat them as equal. It is useless and dangerous to speculate wit hour intellects abort them till through the Grace of the Guru, we get our initiations, second births and second sights which are higher than intellectual visions. All stars are at the same distance to our physical eyes. Where distinctions between Iswaras are made or appear to be made in the religious works, it is better to see whether the distinction is made between two Beings both of whom have reached Sivam or between one who has reached Sivam (and who is called by one of th 1,000 names) and a Saguni called by another of the 1,000 names and also whether the distinctions are intended to indicate a truth of Higher Planes (called Allegory). Hence, it is that certain religious works were prohibited to be read without the Upadesam of Guru. Another dogmatism of the later followers of the Siddhanta when it became a sect was that Beings having the Vaishnavite Form and called by some of the 1,000 names could not have reached Parabrahmam and could not be called Parabrahmam and that only Beings having the other names of Siva, Rudra, Sambhu, &c. can alone be so considered. That the several sets of Trimoorties (who exist in sets in all the worlds) are called "Saguna Beings" (connected with Satwa, Rajas and Tamas as Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra) in numerous works is so patent a fact that I was surprised at your challenge to show you any place where Rudra or Sankara is styled a Saguna Being – of course, as I said before, Nirguna Beings are also called by the names of the Trimoorties.

(6).    As to the story of Durvasa, it is said in several Puranas that all the three, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva incarnated as Soma, Dattatreya and Durvasa and became sons of Atri. Sree Sankaracharya is stated by some of His followers to be the direct Avatar of Lord Siva. Whenever the influence of any of the Great Lords over shadows a man, the followers of the man make him a direct Avatar of the Lord. If the modern Sectarian Siddhantists will REALLY ignore names and look at the facts, they will find that in the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavatam, the same Siddhantam is taught, the Parabrahmam being called by the names Vasudeva, Narayana, Hari, Vishnu and so on instead of Siva, Hara, Rudra, Sambhu, &c.

(7).    I have no time to go into Tatwas as I have been too long already. There are only 9 Tatwas which can be watered into 96 and more and it is all a fight about words as shown by the Lord in the 11th Skandham of Sreemat Bhagavatam in the Upadesam to Saint Uddhava.

(8).    As to the views of Mr. Froude and others about the interpretation of Sacred History, I beg to state (and this is the theosophical view) that the full and complete interpretation must recognize the existence of higher planes seen by higher visions and that acute and labored attempts to treat the saints as superstitious children in some respects and as highly intellectual, moral and spiritual men at the same time cannot satisfy the reason. You ought not to ignore the existence (past, present and future) of great men of superior vision who have passed on to higher worlds and yet guide the evolutions of the cycles of younger human races (their younger brothers) by translating the facts and truths of the higher planes into the current language though which translations into human words look as strange and fantastic after a time as an algebracial formula to an infant standard boy.