Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prof. Julien Vinson's Review of the Siddhanta Movement.

    At present there is taking place in India and especially in the central parts, a religious movement or rather a philosophic one, extremely important, which may be called the renaissance of Civaism, that is, if that religion can ever be said to have ceased to be the predominant one in these regions. An active propaganda is being made in favor of the Saiva Siddhanta Doctrine by certain exceedingly distinguished Hindu gentlemen who have been educated almost according to European ideas. In the month of June 1897, a special journal was even started at Madras with the object of promoting the Siva Siddhanta doctrine and it is at present in full prosperity.

    It is known that Sivaism reposes entirely on the conception of three beings (entities): Pati "The Chief, God, the Great, the Whole, Pasu (the soul, the individual being) and Pasam "the lien" that is to say, the totality of the causes which differentiate Pasu from Pati. The supreme object of life is the liberation of the yoke of Pasam, and the absorption of the individual entities in the Great Whole. The doctrine is set out chiefly in 14 Tamil works of which the guiding spirits of the movement in question have published a complete edition.

    The learned Munsif of Nandyal, Mr. Nallaswami Pillai has already translated into English three of these works – the Tirunanasittyar (San. Sridjnasiddhi), the publication of which is being made in the Siddhanta Dipika and the two others which I notice below. The Sivajanabotham (Civadjnanabodha) is considered to be the principal work. It is believed to have been composed probably at the commencement of the 13th century A.D., by an ascetic of Tiruvennainallur, who was surnamed Meikandadeva (the divine who has seen the truth). He is supposed to have translated it from Sanskrit, and added explanations and a commentary. The text includes 12 Sutras which contain in all 41 Tamil verses of four feet, in the Agaval metre. Mr. Nallaswami gives us a close translation in English as well as a translation of the commentary, and he adds numerous explanatory notes. An American Missionary, the Rev. Mr. H. N. Hoisington had published in 1850 a summary in 18 pages in an American review. If may be interesting to compare the two translations.

    The 11th sutra is translated as follows by Mr. Hoisington: "When the soul has escaped from the influence of the body and becomes pure, Siva will look upon it and show himself to it, just as the soul acts as the cause or the power of vision to the eye. Therefore Siva, by thus revealing himself, will show his sacred foot to the soul with a love which it never forgets to exercise." Here is the new translation: "As the soul enables the eye to see and itself seen, So Hara enables the soul to know and itself knows. And this adwaita (non-dualistic) knowledge and undying love will unite it to His feet." The text is worded as follows: kanum kannukku kattum ulam pol kana ulattei kandu kKuttain' ayara anbin aran kejal celme, which literally means: who sees by-the-eye, who shows the deepest meaning as, in order to see, the internal idea having been seen by the action of showing, unforgettable in-the-affection of Haran, the anklet-of-the-foot, will reach.

    It is evident that the translation made in 1895 is better than the translation of 1850. The book by Nallasami is very well-written and its perusal is highly instructive. In addition to the text the book contains, translation and notes, with a learned introduction and a preface regarding the author. There are also given a list of the Agamas, a list of the principal Caivite works in Tamil, the text of the Sanskrit slokas in Devanagiri and Telugu character, and also a glossary of special Sanskrit and Tamil words.

    The Tiruvarutpayan, "Benefit of the holy grace," is a dogmatic treatise in 100 distich's of which Dr. Pope has added a translation as well as a commentary in his edition of his Tiruvacagam. All these works are indispensable to those who wish to have an exact knowledge of the Caivite philosophy – Translated from "Revue de Linguistique."

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