NOTES ON SAIVA SIDDHANTAM
23-4-1931 S. SADASIVA MUDALIAR
The Saiva Siddhanta school traces its origin from the very Vedas and Agamas, the two oldest sacred books of the Hindus. They are considered to be the revelations of God and are most authoritative. The greatest and the most ancient commentator of the Brahma sutra. Nilakanta Sivacharyar, says that he sees no difference between the Vedas and Agamas and quotes profusely in his Bhashya Vedic texts to substantiate his interpretation in the light of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. Again, Appayya Dikshita, Haradatta Sivacharya and Sivajnanamunivar, all belonging to the Siddhanta school of thought, have written elaborate treatises and one and all of them find mutual concordance and harmony between the Vedas and Agamas. The latter, the real source of Siddhanta philosophy, are considered to be the commentaries on the Vedas. They are also held as special revelations of the Saiva religion. They are divided into Karma and Jnana Kanda, of which the latter deals most elaborately and exhaustively with the details of the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. Besides, glimpses of this philosophy can be found even in Puranas and Itihasas told in the form of stories and anecdotes easily understood by all.
These scriptures are all in Sanskrit and an equally good stock of sacred writings, commanding greater importance and sanctity, abound in Tamil as well. Tevarams, the inspired hymns of the three great Saints Appar, Sambandhar and Sundarar and the Tiruvachakam of Manikkavachakar are reckoned to be the Tamil Vedas, while the fourteen Siddhanta works are classed as Agamas. Just as Vedas serve to educate the generality of mankind with regard to the main doctrines of religion, so do the sacred hymns of the canonized saints. Agamas, on the other hand, are exclusively philosophic in their teaching and expound the ultimate truths which are inteneded for the advanced section of those engaged in religious culture. Similar to this is the function of the fourteen Siddhanta works in Tamil.
This Saiva Siddhanta school, has like all other schools of thought, a cosmic evolution. If the Siddhanta lineage is understood properly, it will be found that this philosophy is a old as any other, if not older. It is said that at the very beginning after the grand dissolution viz., Mahasambara-the Vedas and Agamas come out from Pranava, first in the form of Nada, then in that Bindu, and then in that of Akshara. Words and Phrases formed out to Aksharas that issued forth from the four side-faces of Siva, came to be called the, four Vedas and those that issued from the Urdhavamukha-the upward face, are known as the Agamas Vedas were revealed to Brahma through Ananta Deva and the Agamas to the ten Maheswaras and eighteen Rudras. Thus there came into existence twenty-eight Agamas. There were taught to Ananta Deva who handed them down to Sri kantha and who in his turn revealed them to Nandi Deva. When Nandi Deva had his doubts in understanding the Agamas, he requested Sri Kantha to clear them Sri Kantha taught Nandi ‘Sivajnanabodha’. Which is a section of the Raurava Agama. This Sivagnanabodha was taught by Nandi Deva to his disciple Sanatkumara, who to Satyajnana Darsani, who to Paranjyothi Muni and this Paronjyothi taught it to Meykanda.
Meykanda, translating Sivajnanabodha into twelve Tamil Sutras taught it to his first disciple Arulnandhi. This had been handed from Arulnadhi to Maraijnana sambandha and from him to Umapatisivacharya. These teachers, from Meykanda Deva to Umapatisivacharya, are styled the “Santana Kuravars”
Saiva Siddhanta postulates the existence of three ultimate entities of realities. These are Pati or God; Pasu or Soul, Pasam or the bondage of souls. These three are eternal and have neither beginning nor end. Pati or God is in its nature spiritual in form and is Almighty, All-merciful, Omnipresent, just and perfect and all love and ever blissful. He is beyond the approach of Pasam and He is the fountainhead of eternal happiness when there is on return, when once reached.
Souls are infinite in number. They are of crystal-like nature ready to reflect the object before which they are placed. They are also spiritual in form and are capable of enjoying the eternal happiness as recipients of the grace of God. But, they are enveloped in Pasam and hence subjected to pain and sorrow.
Pasam or the bondage fo souls is divided into three kinds Anavam, Mayai and Kanmam, which are known also as the three malas. Anavam makes the soul ignorant and arrogant and it is egoism. Mayai is the source of material universe and capable of lifting man from his dormant and inert nature with the help of Pati, Kanmam is the accumulation of good and bad actions of souls and the cause of births and deaths of mankind. The bondage of souls by Pasam is an eternal condition but this bondage varies accoding to the different grades of souls. Thus, souls with one mala are called Vijnanakalars, souls with two malas are known as Pralayakalars, and those with all the three Sakalars. Paus and Pasam are so closely intimate that we cannot see the one separately from the other. Yet, their union is not indissoluble. Pasu or soul will be released from the bondage of Pasam by the grace of God and when the posers of Pasam are exhausted, the Pasu or sould can clearly see God and be one with Him to enjoy the heavenly beatitude. Just as the soul had an inseparable union with Pasam in its original (Kevala) state, so also it will have the same inseparable state with God, after it is fully released from the bondage of Pasam. This relation is called ‘Adwaitam’ viz., unity in duality.
Students aspiring to drink deep in the fountain of Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy must have a through knowledge of the tattavas. These are elaborately described and defined in Kattalais, small tracts, written in Tamil.
Most of the Indian schools of philosophy speak of the twenty-four atma tattvas, namely the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and akasa; five jnanendriyas: ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose; five tanmatras; hearing(sound), touch, seeing (sight), taste and smell; five karmendriyas; vaak, pada, pani, payu and upastham; the Antahkaranas; manas, buddhi, chittam and ahankara; or twenty-five with Mulaprakriti, one of the Vidyatattvas. But the Saiva Siddhanta school postulates eleven more tattvas over and above these twenty-five Purushatattvas and they are, the other six Vidyatattvas. Ragam, Kalam, Niyati, Kalai, Vidya, Asuddamayai; and five sivatattvas; Suddhavidya, Iswaram, Sadakkyam, Bindu (Shakthi) and Nada (Sivam),. From Suddhavidya to Nada are know as “Suddha Maya” From which have sprung up the four vaacs-Sukshama. Paisanti, Madhyama and Vaikarai. Thus, these 36 Tattvas beginning form Prithvi (Earth) to Nada are called Tattvadhva. Besides this, there are five more, namely, Bhuvanadhva embracing the vast region of Kalagnibhuvanam to Anasritabhuvanam, Varnadhva comprising of 51 Askharas beginning from the letter ----. Padadhva treating about 81 Padas Commencing from Vyomamvyapi, Mantradhva speaking of the eleven Mantras and Kaladhva describing Panchakalas beginning from Nivirtti. These and other intricate features of abiding interest to seekers after truth are well portrayed in Sivajnaswamigal’s “Siddhanta Prakasikai” and Kasivasi Senthinatha Aiyar’s “Saiva Siddhanta Sattva Catechism.”
Some of the main features of the Saiva Siddhanta, a knowledge of which may help in the clear understanding of Sivabhogasaram, are the following: Siddhanta means the true end of the Vedas and Agamas. The essence of the Vedagamas is the nature of the Pati, Pasu and Pasam; five malas: Anava, Tirothana, Maya, Suddhamaya, and Asuddhamaya and Prakritimaya; Karma and its sub-divisions: sanchita, prarabdha, agamya; five kalas; six adharaas; three mandalas; three main avastas and their filteed sub-divisions; four margas namely, dasamarga, putramarga, sahamarga and sanmarga; the four steps of charya, kriya, yoga and jnana; the secret of the five letters; the five-fold suddhi: the four parts of Sakthinipata; different classes of diksha and the dasa-karyam, the most important of which is Sivabhoga. The Sivabhoga is the subject matter of this book.
Judged in the light of the above observations, a work on the most sacred and vital theme, such as ‘Sivabhogasara’ is undoubtedly a distinct welcome to the world of Saiva Siddhanta Mysticism. The talented author has unlocked the vast treasures of eternal happiness in the realisation of the Supreme and has placed his readers under a deep debt of gratitude to him for having served as a beacon light to the sweet realms of Siva Siddhanta Philosophy. In these days when vernacular literature is much neglected, a genuine attempt at rendering such an important work as this in English is not out of place. It is earnestly hoped that the learned public would dive deep into the fountain of Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy with the happy translation of Sivabogararam herein, by M.R. Ry. P.M. Somasundaram Pillai, Avl., M.A.,L.T., and enjoy communion with the Supreme in a boundless measure. If ventures of this kind are encouraged in that spirit, the learned translator will not have laboured in vain.
THIS PAGE IS TYPED BY SAIVA THIRUMATHI P.SANKARA RAMESWARI