An analysis of history of Tamil religion/Part/:03

                                                                                                    By:Kandiah Thillaivinayagalingam]

The Saiva Siddhanta System[சைவ சித்தாந்தம்] is the most elaborate,influential,and undoubtedly the most intrinsically valuable of all the religions of India.It is peculiarly the South Indian and the religion and philosophy of the Tamil people.Dr.Pope says:"Saivism is the old pre-historic religion of South India,essentially existing from pre-Aryan times, and holds sway over the hearts of the Tamil people."The Saiva Siddhanta as it appears to be,is solely a product of the evolution of thought of the Tamils.It is a well known fact that the agamic[ tradition or "that which has come down"] principles and the religion that is associated with are intrinsically different from the vedic thought and practices,So-much-so the two cannot be conceived to belong to the same nationality.If the latter belongs to the Aryans.the former falls to the lot of the Dravidians:Of the Dravidians too,the Tamils only seem to have had a culture which extends back wards even before the vedic period.Therefore the presumption that the Tamils are responsible for the production of the Saiva agamas is not without force or truth,and this presumption leads us to the logical conclusion that Saiva Siddhanta belongs to the Tamils.Hence,Since Saiva Siddhanta is belonged to be a system built up by the Tamils,One would expect a host of Tamil literature on the subject.Disappointment will be starting in the face,If anyone looks for early Tamil work on philosophy & religion.The learned among the ancient Tamils of the historical period did not choose to write philosophic and religious treatises in Tamil.It was only in the thirteenth century AD,When there was a social upheaval and religious turmoil in the Tamil nadu that Meykanda Thevar broke off all traditions and appeared with his Siva Gnana Potham[சிவஞான போதம்] in Tamil,indicating among other things the culmination of the Tamilian genius in speculative philosophy;for before his time it was the fashion of the Tamils except for two minor works,thiruvunthiyar & thirukkalirrup padiyar,
[ திருவுந்தியார்,திருக்களிற்றுப் படியார்] to write philosophic and religious works in Sanskrit language.In addition to the above,there is another class of literature of a devotional kind which are as important as the Saiva Siddhanta.These books form what are called 'The twelve Thirumurai'[திருமுறை],All belongs to fifth to seventh century AD.The 5th century AD,Thirumoolar's Thirumanthiram[ திருமந்திரம்] recognized as the tenth Thirumurai,deserved special attention.It is important not because it has a high literary merit,but since it contains a record of the spiritual experiences of a seer and a saint.It has puzzled and is puzzling many an intelligent reader;for it is full of riddle and author tries to solve for us the riddle of existence by means of riddles.As an example,We are giving below a poem from his eighth thanthiram[தந்திரம்],which deals with the experience stages of soul.[ "மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை" ]

"Think of wood
Image of toy-elephant recedes;
Think of toy-elephant
Image of wood recedes;
Think of elements five
Thought of Param recedes
Think of Param
Thought of elements recedes."

If there is an elephant wooden statue,for the one who sees the beauty of the elephant carving it does not appear as a log of wood,Whereas for the one who looks at the material
of the make the elephant form does not catch the attention as much as the fact that it is made of wood.Similarly all these manifestations we see in the world conceal the presence of God.Whereas the enlightened one sees the Supreme in all the things !          

Saiva Siddhanta,as a system of philosophy,first assumes a palpable form in Tirumantiram,composed by Saint Tirumular of 5th century AD,who said:"The Lord made me,my task assigned,In sweetest Tamil His Glory to expound./"என்னை நன்றாக இறைவன் படைத்தனன் தன்னை நன்றாகத் தமிழ் செய்யுமாறே".The term Siddhantam also was first used by this great Saint/Saiva mystic (சித்தர்) Tirumular[திருமூலர்] in his great work,Tirumantiram [திருமந்திரம்] verse 1421.["தற்பரங் கண்டுளோர் சைவசித்தாந்தரே."]

“Having learned all that learned must be.
Having practised all yoga that have to be,
They, then, pursue the path of Jnana in graduation sure,
And so pass into the world of Formless Sound beyond;
And there, rid of all impurities,
Envision the Supreme, the Self-created;
They, forsooth, are the Saiva Siddhantis true."

It is stated here that the goal of Saiva Siddhantam is to get rid of all impurities.Who am I? Is there a God? What are the natures of God, Soul and the cosmos? What is my relationship with God and the worldly things? What is the reason for happenings in life over which one has no control? Such questions often arise in any philosophical system. Saiva Siddhanta gives plausible answers and explanations to them.This philosophy does not advise us to practice anything against nature or interfere with freedom and liberty of people.There is no place for superstitions and blind faith.In the name of God and religion,it does not divide or dissect people.The founders and propagators of the Saiva religion and philosophy are broad minded and noble hearted.They taught us that "God is LOVE and LOVE is God"  ["அன்பே  சிவம்" "ANBE SIVAM." -
"தென்னாடுடைய சிவனே போற்றி; என்னாட்டவர்க்கும் இறைவ போற்றி"/"Thennadudaiya Sivane potri; Ennattavarkkum iraiva potri"] ie God and Love are not two,but identical! This saying,which permeates Tamil literary and social thought,is a revolutionary statement that departed from the contemporary opinion that love was a means to God (but not God itself,by implication).Our Saiva view of life is universal even 2000 years ago.The Tamils,as a race,have always evinced a broad outlook on life and have set a high premium for all humane virtues.They were basking in the sunshine of culture and civilisation when more than half the globe was completely enveloped in darkness and weltering in savagery.Here is a poem by Kaniyan Pungundranar,from our Sangam Tamil classic  Puranaanooru,long before Julius Caesar had crossed the Rubicon in 49 B.C.,which will testify to you the clarity of expression,the universality of views and a comprehensive range of vision about the very fundamentals of life,enjoyed by this ancient race in that remote past:"யாதும் ஊரே, யாவரும் கேளீர்"/“Yaathum Uure, Yaavarum Keelir”- words fit enough to be engraved in gold at the portals of the United Nations in New York today -

"All places are ours,all our kith and kin;
  Good and evil come,not caused by others;
  Pain and relief are brought likewise,not by others;
  Dying is not new;nor living gave us joy;
  Misery we hated out. As in the flood,
  Caused by clouds that poured in torrents
  On a mountain top with lightning flash.
  A raft goes in the direction of the stream,
  So the swarm of lives move onward
  In the way of destiny.This we have discerned
  From the teachings of sages strong in wisdom
  So we admire not the great;nor scoff at the churl."(Purananuru-192)

So,this says:"'every country is my own and all the people are my kinsmen.'" & also it
is guided by the  universal concepts ["ஒன்றே குலம் ஒருவனே தேவன்"/ “Onre Kulam Oruvane Thevan”]"All humanity is one family,and God is but one!".Our  Thirukkural[திருக்குறள் ],outlined a four fold path of positive life-affirmation based on  Aram [அறத்துப்பால்/righteousness,] Porul[பொருட்பால்/ wealth],Inpam [காமத்துப்பால்/pleasure] and fulfillment[ வாழ்வில் நிறைவு அடைதல்] leading to a Saiva religious way of life without recourse to meaningless rituals and foolish blind faith.Though Thiruvalluar specifically not mentioned about fulfillment,He could have simply assumed that,If any one who followed the first three paths successfully will automatically fulfill his life."வையத்துவாழ்வாங்கு"/"Vaiathu valvangu" living well the earthly life is the aim. And Saivism has echoed and re-echoed the sentiments of well-being of all."எல்லோரும்  இன்புற்றிருக்க நினைப்பதுவே"/"ellorum inbutrirukka ninaippathuve..." Let there be prosperity for all!.In brief,Saiva Siddhantam is Logic,Scientific,Historic,Easy to Adapt,Universal as well as Optimistic. 

Part/04 Will follow.............. 


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