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Saiva Siddhanta or Suddha-Advaita By A. Raghava Aiyar


A. Raghava Aiyar

[This essay appeared in two instalments in the Madras Christian College Magazine in 1910. Truly speaking this should have appeared as the fifth essay in this anthology. The reader will do well to read this article first and then the preceding article. Ed].

In respect of the essential oneness or disparity between God and the soul there are three main types (mata-traya) of Indian thought: advaita or ‘monism’, ‘visishta advaia’ or ‘qualified, monism,’ and dvaita or ‘dualism’. Of these it is usually said, advaita is best represented by the school of Sankara, and dvaita by the school of Madva, while visihta-advaita is represented by the Saiva Siddhanta school and that of Ramanuja. Saiva Siddhanta may indeed be appropriately called visishta advaita since it maintains that the soul is at one with God and yet not identical with Him. It accordingly stands contrasted with advaita as well as advita. It is partly a reaction against the extravagance of advaita which recognises only one spiritual being manifesting itself in diverse forms in the universe. It is at the same time far from committing itself to an unmitigated dvaita or bedavada-that the soul is in itse nature quite different from God, the all-pervading spiritual principle of the universe. AS between Saiva Siddhanta and the school of Ramanuja, there is substantial agreement on this question of the relation between God and the soul, nay, on almost all the important problems of philosophy. In both systems, for instance, God is necessarily ‘personal’, and His grace is indispensable for all souls, whether in bondage or in salvation. In the following pages it is proposed to consider in particular the visishta-advaita system of Saiva Siddhanta.

Siddhanta means the End or the Truth. Saiva Siddhanta is the conclusion or final statement of all Saiva speculations. It is the conclusion reached by a refutation of all alien systems of thought. It asserts itself not only against other Hindu systems but even against other forms of thought within the folds of Saivam. It claims to be the only true and adequate version of the sacred scriptures while all the other systems are partly or wholly perversions of them. It is called therefore Vedanta Siddhanta or Vaidika Saiva. Further, as against the advaita school of Sankara, it has been called above visishta-advaita. But the name advaita is itself a disputed point. Saiva Siddhanta refers to the school of Sankara not as advaita but only as maya-vada or theory of illusion, while it prefers to call itself suddha-advaita Saiva Siddhanta or Siva-advaita Siddhanta1, offering an interpretation of the word advaita quite different from that of Sankara himself. In fact, the meaning of advaita, it will be seeh, forms the central topic of the whole system.

In commen with all the other Hindu schools of thought Saiva Siddhanta claims to be based upon the authority of Vedas and Upanishads. Sacrifice, the main institution of Vedic times is also the main thought of the Siddhanta system; thoroughly spiritualised therein it appears under the form of self-sacrifice. The very terms of Vedic sacrifice: namely Pati or Medapati,God of sacrifices, pasu the animal sacrificed, and pasa the rope with which the animal is tied to the sacrificial stake-are all retained in the Siddhanta system: Pati meaning the one Lord, Siva; Pasu the souls; and pasa their bond or fetter. The specific thought of the system, however, is found only in Svetasvatara upanished and Saiva Agamas. These Agamas (Revelations) are said to be twenty-eight in number, but only a few of them like kamika and some fragments of other Agamas are extant. They are probably “not later in point of time than the first Buddhist council” (Siddhanta Dipika, Vol.X,p.476: also pp. 188-192; by editor, V.V. Ramanan, F.Z.S & c). They are said to contain the essence of all Vedic teaching; at any rate they form an important systematic exposition of philosophic thought based on the Vedas. Sri Nilakanta Sivacharya, in his Bhashya to Brahma Sutras, says: “We see no difference between Veda and Sivagam.” (VIDA ALSO Tirumantram 276 and Sivagnanasiddhi II. viii 15.) It is mostly out of these Agamas that Saiva Siddhanta in its modern Tamil form has been formulated.

Historical research has recently led to the recognition of a northern as well as a southern school of Agama thought (Dr. L.D.Barnett in a recent lecture delivered in the rooms of the Royal Asiatic Society of London). In the south the system has developed largely through the medium of Tamil. Tirumular’s Tirumantram is an elaborate work of considerable antiquity dealing systematically with Agama thought. The names of the sixty-three nayanmar or Saiva saints are all connected with the history not directly of Saivathought but of Saiva religion in South India. Some of these nayanmar were great religious reformers who combated and put an end to Bouddha and Samana movements in the land. There were four recognised leaders among them, namely, (1) Manikka-vachakar, the author of Tiru-vachakam, who was probably the oldestof them2; (2) Appar who was miraculously reconverted to Saivam from Samanam and lived as an elder contemporary of (3) Sambandar, considered the greatest of them all, belonging probably to the seventh century A.D.; and lastly (4) Sundarar who lived later on somewhere between the seventh and the ninth centuries A.D3. The names of Appar and Sambandar are particularly connected with a victory of Saivam over Bouddham and Jainam. The devotional hymns of Appar, Sambandar, and Sundarar form the collection known as Tevaram. This compliation and Tiruvachakam form the common prayer book of most Saiva households and are revered and known as Tamil Vedas. The history of Saiva thought, however, till about the twelfth century A.dD., is not easily traceable except through scattered works like Gnanamrutam4. Subsequently in the general renaissance movement of the time, Vaishnamvam under the lead of Ramanuja came to be definitely marked off from and even opposed to Saivam; and a stimulus was given to the systematic reformulation of Saiva thought in the shape of the Tamil Siddhanta sastras.

These sastras are fourteen in number, and are of unequal compass and importance. Sivagnana-bodam, main document of the Siddhanta school, is the work of Mei-kanda-sivacharya5. (This name means “one who has found outthe Truth, the truth of advaita” as Tayumanavar says.) The twelve sutras, of which it is an elaboration, are said directly to form a part of Rourava Agama in Sanskrit. The next great teacher, Arul-nandi Sivacharya was evidently a profound scholar versed in Sanskrit’as well as in Tamil (known as Sakala agama-pandita). His work Sivagnanasiddhi is the best and the most elaborate work on the subject, and is in the form of a powerful commentary on Sivagnanabodam. The next teacher, Marai-gnana sambandar, seems to have left no written treatise behind him. Umapati Sivacharya, fourth and last of the Siddhanta school of teachers, is the author of eight works on the subject, the chief of which are Sivaprakasam, Tiru-arul payan, and Sankalpa-nira-karanam. The approximate time of these teachers and their works may be determined by the fact that 1235 Sakha era (=1313 A.D.) is the date assigned to Sankalpa-nira-karanam in the preface (stanza 2) to that work by itse author Umapati-sivacharya. Of the commentaries on these works Dravida Mahabhashyam by Sivagnanaswami is a valuable and exhaustive treatise on Sivagnanabodam. There are as many as six different commentatros on Sivagnanasiddhi. A number of mutts in the land, like the one at Tiruvadu-turai, developed into centres of learning, and the order of medicants6 in them has given rise to able Siddhanta scholars. The Siddhanta sastras thus have come down to us in a highly complex and developed form.

The intrinsic importance of the system, it is hoped, will become apparent in the course of the study. Further, it is only this one school of thought that finds a systematic expression in Tamil, Thirdly, the advaita school of Sanakra has unduly tended in the minds of Western people either to be considered the whole of Hindu thought or, under the influence of Thibaut and other students of the school of Ramanauja, to be distinguished only from Vaishanava visishta-advaita and not from Saiva Siddhanta thought. It is true that a Smarta or flower of advaita is also a worshipper of Siva but only as one manifestation of the Supreme Being, whereas Saiva thought is the recognition of Siva alone as the Supreme Deity. Saivam and Saiva Siddhanta should thus be carefully constrasted with advaita or the school of Sankara. Lastly, there is a newly awankened interest in the system not only among the followers of Siddhanta but among Christian missionaries in the land. The works of authoritative writers on the subject are being translated into English. One or two journals like Siddhanta Dipika have been working for the past so many years. Says Rev.W.Goudie in the Christian College Magazine (Vol.IINo.9): “There is indeed in many of the root elements of this system souch an approach to Christian forms of thought, and more particularly to phases of Christian experience, that the unbiased student can hardly escape the conviction that the Spirit of god who has wrought mightily in us and in our fathers wrought also in the heart of the authors of this system.” It will not be amiss in such a connection to deal with some of the characteristic thoughts of the Siddhanta system. The main positions, at least, of this school are of living interest to all thinkers.

Saiva Siddhanta is partly scholastic and a priori in method since it is based on certain sacred scriptures, that is on authority. The scriptures form God’s message or revelation unto us. The satisfactoriness of our interpretation of the message is, however, far from evident unless and until such interpretation covers all facts of ‘perception and ‘inference’. Alongside the ‘word of authority’, ‘perception’ and ‘inference’ are also recognised mediums of knowledge; and, when their evidence is in confict with the ‘word of authority,’ one cannot be sure of having quite understood either the ‘word of authority,’ or the facts of ‘perception’ and ‘inference.’ Recognising the essentially tentative and progressive character of our knowledge Saiva Siddhanta not only attempts to learn from the Scriptures but also seeks to gather the facts of ‘perception’ and ‘inference’. It analyses the facts of experience and attempts to formulate a coherent account of life. By a critical analysis of experience it seeks to determine the factors indispensable for a satisfactory account of life. In all arguments moreover it appeals to plain undeniable facts of experience. The method of Siddhanta is therefore partly also scientific and a posteriori.

Three other points may also be noted in connection with the method of the school. At every stage in the discussion of a problem, diverse objections are raised and refuted. Subtle analysis of the implications of conceptions is also a characteristic trait of the school. Despite the fact that analogical arguments are particularly liable to fallacies, Saiva Siddhanta is expert in detecting and exposing false analogies and felicitous in the choice of most approximate and effective ones.

The fundamental metaphysical postulates of the Siddhanta system may now be considered. There are three of them, viz., Pati or Lord, pasu or soul, and pasa or bond, the bond being the three main varieties, anava, karma, and maya. All these facyors are necessary for a satisfactory account of the facts of life. Le t us take each of these in turn.


The argument for God rests on the nature of the universe. The universe of men and things, it is said, is liable to manifestation and reduction, that is, has a causal or rudimentary and an effectual or manifested form. That the universe in its present form is an effect is indicated by the fact that all objects in it have had beginning and are liable to an end, that is, are of a derivative, dependent, and transient nature. Not only all inanimate and animate bodies but even conscious lives are subject to temporary manifestation and disappearance. The manifestation or coming into view is ‘creation,’ the temporary persistence or continuance of the manifested form is ‘maintenance,’ and the disappearance or reduction to causal form is ‘destruction’. It is just for these transformations that the God is postulated: they are wrought by God as nimitta-karana or ‘personal’ cause upon maya, the primordial substratum of the manifested universe, as upadana-karana or ‘material’ cause. It is like the potter moulding destructible vessels out of earth. God, the cause of all transformative activity in the universe, is Himself necessarily beyond all such transformations.

In the course of the argument certain objections are also considered. If it be said that only this or that part and not the whole of the universe has ever been found to be reducible or destructible, it is pointed out that the whole is of the same compound and contingent nature as this or that part (Sivagnana Siddhi II. i.9). Another objection is that both manifestation and disappearance may be said to e natural; but, as Arul-nandi Sivacharya points out (Sivagnana Siddhi II.i.3). ‘If everything is natural no deed, no transformative activity is possible; if, on the other hand; something is done, it cannot be said to be natural,’ meaning thereby that it has no cause Calling an event natural, in other words, does not absolve one from the necessity of finding out a cause for it. But, granted the world must have a cause, a third objection is why may not the cause be the five elemental (bhutas) or the atoms (anu-s)? This, however, will not do for two reasons: (1) This five elementals as well as the atoms cannot be upadana-karana because of their diversity and plurality and their consequent mutability-very unlike maya which is something irreducible, unitary, pervasive and eternal; (2) Nor can they be nimitta-karana for the additional reason that they are achit or non-spiritual7 whereas no deed can be really done unless by a chit or spiritual being (Sivagnana Siddhi II i. 11,12,13 and 3). Lastly, the objection is raised that maya by itself may be quite a sufficient cause of the universe. This is, however, untenable because it is contrary to experience that an upadana karana may give rise to an effect without the help of a nimitta-karana. Moreover, the universe is evidently the work of the chit or spiritual being, because the manifested universe by providing “bodies, senses, spheres and enjoyment”8 evokes conscious life (Sivagnana-siddhi II.i.17).

Now this is mainly an argument from the contain objects of experience, known as the cosmological argument. Contingent objects exist, and they are not self-cause, nor can they be explained by a regressus ad infinitum. A first cause is thus postulated which is independently existent and far from sharing in the contingence of the objects themselves. The existence of such a necessary being is not made to depend on that of the contingent; in other words, God’s reality is not dependent on that of the universe. The universe, on the other hand, is only an indication of God, it has only dependent reality. On account of its contingent and dependent character, the universe is called asat. This world asat, according to Siddhanta, does not mean the non-existent or fictitious but only the transient or the contingent. What reality or values it has is all due to its dependence on God. He is the enduring Reality or Sat9 which the universe fails to show. The realm of contingent objects points beyond itself to God just because He is what it is not.

The cosmological argument is not the only one used in this connection. God, therefore, is not left as the mere infinite describable only in negative terms. The Siddhanta argument for God is partly also an argument from design and purpose. It is were not for God’s intelligent adaptation, how is the progressive unfolding of conscious life possible? The comprehensive fact that our “bodies, senses spheres and enjoyments”10are adapted to call forth and develop our inherent capacities unmistakable evidence of design which leads to the Designer or Architect. God is thus recognised to be an intelligent (chit) being designing or adapting certain means to an end (Sivagnana Siddhi II,I,17). Secondly, how could there be any intelligible meaning, purpose or goal in the universe except as it is guaranteed by God? In most affairs of life the presence of purpose can be clearly traced. Being ourselves intelligent or chit beings, we seek for certain ends or goals of action. Of life as a whole there must, be a purpose or goal without which it would be fundamentally unintelligent or chit beings, we seek for certain ends or goals of action. Of life as a whole there must, be a purpose or goal without which it would be fundamentally unintelligible. That purpose, according to Siddhanta, is evidently the perfection or fullness of life, liberation from all that fetters life, -misery, ignorance and wickedness. Such a goal, if it is to be anything more than a bare possibility, must be substantiated and vitalised by God Himself. He must co-operate with us and lead us to the goal. The world purpose must be His purpose. Moreover on the analogy of our own purposeful activity, it must be said that God’s activity as ‘personal’ cause of the universe cannot be without a purpose. It is contended, no doubt, that He cannot have any unrealised purpose of His own, for He is the Perfect Being having all good in Himself. His deeds, nevertheless, cannot be aimless “like those of idiots”. He is full of compassion for the souls in bondage and aims at their salvation in all His deeds. Thus again God is chit or spirit, that is, an intelligent purposeful being.

One drawback of the design-argument is the recognition of a material for God’s designs, which is apparently external to Himself. Saiva Siddhanta is particularly liable to this charge, since it requires maya, a material cause, which manifests itself as the universe when God exerts His energy upon it. According to certain other schools God is the all-sufficient cause of the universe, upadana as well as nimitta. Sri Nilakanta, for instance, in his Bhashya a Brahma sutras, is an adherent of this view. The law of parsimony of causes, it is said, necessitates making God the sole cause since it would be limiting His infinity and absolute freedom to believe that He needs a material for creation. This position is usually illustrated by the analogy of the spider which makes its web all out of itself. To this view however, there are objections. How can chit or spirit by itself bring about the world of acit or non-spiritual objects? How can sat by itself be the cause of asat? How can the Perfect out of itself evolve the imperfect, ignorant and sinful universe? In a word, how can God by Hifself, it is asked, constitue a satisfactory account of the universe? It is, moreover, contrary to experience that a mimitta-karana can at the same time be also an upadana-karana and the analogy of the spider is faulty because the spider as doer cannot be simply identified with the spider’s body which si the ‘material’ cause of the web. There is thus the necessity of maya, an achit and asat principle for the universe, not as external to and as a check upon God but entirely subservient to Him, an instrument in His hand, perfectly amenable and pliable to His designs and purposes. Though said to be eternal, maya is admittedly asat and principle for the universe, not as external to and as a check upon God but as entirely subservient to Him, an instrument in His hands, perfectly amenable and pliable to His designs and purposes. Though said to be eternal, maya is admittedly asat and “no asat can stand before sat”, (Sivagnanabodam VII). In one place maya is even said to be a form of God’s sakti11or potence (Sivagnanasiddhi II. ii, 53). If all these statements are put together, God’s freedom and omnipotence, it will be seen, are in no way compromised by His using a thoroughly plastic material for purposes of ‘creation,’ etc. (Sivaprakasam 11).

It will now be seen how the nature of God is largely involved in the above argument for God. He is no characterless colourless Being, not the essence of indetermination. He is fundamentally sat and chit: as Sat He is immutably real and the cause of all activity in the universe, and as Chit He intelligently purposes to evoke and perfect conscious lives. Though He is called nirguna, this does not mean devoid of all attributes but only of all gross impure qualities subject to change and decay, namely, satva, rajas and tamas. He possesses all gracious attributes and is called ashta-guna-murti or ‘Lord of eight attributes.’

Nor is God simply a cold intellectual Being. His being Chit involves not only intelligence (gnana),but love (ichcha) and activity (kriya). Every chit is a trinity in unity: knowing, loving, and doing are the three essential aspects of the life of every chit or spiritual being. It is particularly noted that knowledge by itself is an abstraction. “Wherever knowledge is present, love and activity are also invariably present” (Sivaganansiddhi II.i.62). This is one of the most significant and welcome points of the Siddhanta system and bases the religion on love between spiritual beings. God is the Friend of all the countless lives or chit beings in the universe. He loves them all, knows all their needs, and helps them, by ‘creation’ and other deeds, gradually to overcome all the obstacles to their freedom (Sivagnanasiddhi II.i.63). The very essence of Him is love. “The ignorant think that Love and Sivam are two none know that Love is identical with Sivam” (Tirumanatram 158). “Without grace there is no Sivam” (Sivagnanasiddhi II.v.9; vide also Sivagnanabodam v.b.3). It is also significant that in Saiva devotional works Siva is frequently called ‘hill of grace’ or the ‘sea of grace”.

God’s love for the countless souls is manifested in all His ‘five deeds,’-‘creation’, ‘protection’ destruction,’ ‘obscuration,’ and ‘deliverance.’ The first four of these are only preparatory for the last –‘deliverance.’ ‘Creation’ and ‘protection’ mean respectively the endowment and maintenance of the “bodies, sense, worlds and enjoyment”12 -means by which the souls are enabled to develop themselves. By ‘destruction’ is meant the removal of such means in order to rest the souls for a time. ‘Obscuration’ is the toleration of the worldly dispensation until the souls are ripe enough for deliverance or liberation from all bondage (Sivananasiddhi II.i..37). The rhythmic succession of ‘creation’ ‘protection’ and ‘destruction’ should not be understood in any way to be incompatible with the incomparably important under-current of continuous development which culminate in deliverance.

God’s love for the souls is as spontaneous and unlaboured as child-play and parental love. It is in order to indicate such spontaneity or absence of effort, and not the absence of purpose, that God’s activities are called “Divine sports’ (Sivaprakasam 6). It is true that in Saiva thought Divine love does not come to us in that superlatively tragic form which si assumes in Christ. Yet it is practically the same truth which is brought out in connection with Siva’s name Nila-kanta (-black-throated). The story goes how all the gods or superhuman souls sought to obtain the amruta that would render them immortal, how is their attempt to get this ‘elixir of life’ they found themselves confronted with a fiery poison, and how Siva volunteered to eat the poison Himself and so enabled them to secure immortality. Hence, says Manikka-vachakar most pathetically:”Thou mad’st me Thine, didst fiery poison eat, pitying poor souls, that I might Tine ambrosia taste-I, the meanest one.”

God is more than Love. He is verily the Life of all lives, that is, the guarantee of all life in the universe. Gradually He removes the connatural obstacles to the lives (souls) and enables them progressively to share in His life. This fundamental conviction that He is the Life of all lives means in detail that there is no possibility of any knowledge, desire or activity in the universe apart from His co-operation. Here are germs of knowledge, desire and activity in the universe no doubt with His co-operation, but these again are far from ultimately satisfying. In other words, Truth, Love and Goodness are not in the actual possession of the universe; they are only ideals to us, the one eternal home of them all being God Himself. He it is by an absolute dependence on whom all souls can realise their own lives.

God‘s ‘eight attributes’ are an elaboration of His fundamental character so far sketched. He is (1) all-knowing, (2) all powerful and (3) all-pervading, since He has directly to co-operate with the countless souls whose desires, knowledge and activites do not tally with one another. “He pervades all souls as the vowel ‘a’ pervades all syllables” (Svaganansiddhi II.ii.2; vide also Tiru-arul-payan i. 1) Other attribues are: (4) boundless grace towards all souls. His name is Sankaran, ‘One who does the highest good to the souls’ (Tiru-arul-payan i.9) (5) absolute freedom from all limitations and shortcomings; (6) eternal enlightenment, since otherwise He should Himself be dependent on someone else for His enlightenment; (7) spotless being since otherwise He could not wean the souls altogether out of sinfulness and impurity; and lastly (8) infinite bliss, since if He had it not He could not give it to us. These attributes give us a very positive and determinate conception of Him.

By calling God a chit or spiritual being was meant His possession not only of intelligence but of love and activity; and this is precisely the sense in which God, as well as the souls, may be said to be ‘personal’. His relation to the countless souls who are also chit-beings is necessarily a ‘personal’ relation, the souls themselves being co-eternal with God Himself. It is on account of such ‘personal’ relation that god is most frequently called Father and Mother of all the souls in the universe.

Ichcha sakti, Gnana sakti and Kriya sakti are the names respectively of God’s love for the souls, knowledge of their needs and activity in ‘creation’ and other deeds. Para sakti, or simply Sakti, is the generic name for all the aspects of God’s life in relation to the souls. Sakti stands to Siva as light to sun. It is through His Sakti of many forms that Siva reveals Himself to us. Siva and Sakti together pervade and animate the whole universe. In more concrete terms, it is usual to say Siva is the Father and Sakti and Mother of all the created realms. There is, at this point, a tendency to branch off into religion and poetry and end practically by recognising two ‘Persons’ in one Supreme Being. One other subtlety may be noted. In spite of Siva and Sakti being the father and the mother of all the world, Siva is a bachelor and Sakti a maid (Sivagsiddhi II.ii.77).

This means that God, with all His boundless love for the world, does not thereby distort Himself, get worried, and lose His perfection in any way.

In the sense of a gross material embodiment Siva has certainly no form. He cannot have a body like ourselves, for our bodies are given to us and we are largely dependent on them. Nor can it be said that He has no form at all, for that would mean inability on His part to take on any form (Sivagnanasiddhi II.i.43). “What forms He will take and wha not, we cannot say” (Sivagnana siddhi II. i.44). He is all-knowing and all-powerful, and can take on the form He chooses without let or hindrance (ibid. II.i.45). He knows our wants as well as our limited capacities. “If He did not out of His grace assume forms, nobody could give out Vedas and Agama, nobody could impart instruction in the form of Guru or spiritual teacher to the gods, men, and residents of the nether regions, and so nobody could secure salvation” (Sivagnanasiddhi II. i. 46; vide also Sivagnanabodam VIII. b.3). For purpose of ‘cretion’, etc., He takes on the form of Brahma, Vishnu and others (Sivagnanasiddhi II.i.51) and “He accepts worship both in inanimate forms mainly in the form of Siva linga, and in living forms” mainly in the form of Saiva devotees (Sivagnanasiddhi II.ii 28; vide also Sivagnanabodham XII.c) Siva’s forms vary therefore according to the varying needs of the infinite number of souls under His care.

How does God stand in relation to the universe? He is certainly immanent in it, for without His immediate presence and incessant co-operation there can be absolutely no life in it (Sivagnanabodam II.d; Tiru-aru-payan i. 1 and 8; Irupairupahdu 2). “Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.” But at the same time He transcends the whole of creation and is not comprehended by it. He is nowhere in Siddhanta declared to be identical with the universe. In other words, the system is not Pantheistic in the usual sense of the word. It says: “He is all the world and yet different from it all” (Sivagnanasiddhi II. ii. 1), thus recognising His transcendence as well as His immanence. Probably a better term than Pantheism wold be Pan-en-theism-employed in W.R.Inge’s Christian Mysticism – a term which expresses the absolutely dependent reality of the universe on God who creates, pervades and sustains it every moment of its ________ pg 167____________

Both immanence and transcendence are brought out in the Siddhanta sastras by saying that God stands in an advaita relation-a relation of one-ness or non-duality-with the whole universe. It is helpful, in illustrating the nature of advaita relation, to point out also two other instances of it, namely, (1) the relation of soul and body, (2) the relation of vowel and consonant. The soul is immanent in the body and yet transcends it. The soul cannot be identified with the body, but the body is the seat, or medium of manifestation, of the soul. The soul may identity itself at times with the body, but the one is not and cannot be the same as the other. Such a relation of one-ness between two different things is advaita relation. Similarly in the other instance, It is only with the help of the vowel that the consonant sounds, but the one is not identical with the other. Moreover of the two related terms in each of these instances the former, that is, the soul or the vowel, is quite capable of standing without the latter, but he latter, that is the body or the consonant, is totally dependent on the former and cannot stand by itself. This is advaita relation. Such a relation holds between God and the universe. The universe is His body, He the soul of it. He can stand independently of the universe, but not the universe independently of Him. The universe has life in it just because God is in an advaita relation with it God is the life giving principle in the universe but not identical with it. It should now be tolerably clear that, the Siddhanta school does not deny the reality of either of the related terms, God and the universe, but only says that God is at one with the universe that is, in an advaita or non-dual relation with it.

The manifested universe of the “he, she and it” is no doubt an effect wrought out of maya by God’s Sakti; but it should be carefully noted that maya can only account for the manifestation and disappearance of the lives of souls and really presupposes an eternal world of souls capable of such manifestation and disappearance. The Pati or Lord is directly interested only in this universe of pasu’s or souls for whose sake He does all the ‘five deeds’ of ‘creation,’ etc. The pasus belong to the same category as the Pati Himself,-the category of chit or spiritual beings. These souls, countless in number, form the object of love for the Lord. He is called Pasu-pati or Lord of souls. The next problem thus is a consideration of the nature of the pasu or souls, another of the metaphysical postulates of the system, and this will be taken up in a subsequent article.

Pasu and Pasa

Pasu or soul is the second fundamental postulate of the system. Says Meikanda Sivacharya (in Sivagnanabodam iii, a): “The soul exists because it is verily that which says ‘the soul does not exist,’ the soul is not this and not that.’ In other words, all thinking, whether it be denial or doubt, necessitates a thinker. This argument is coincident, almost word for word, with the starting point of modern philosophy in the West, namely, the Cartesian principle, cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I am. The existence of thinking or intelligence is one of the plainest facts of experience. Even those who stoutly deny the existence of a mysterious spiritual entity, soul, admit the fact of intelligence and attempt to give some kind of an intelligible account of it. In order to meet the position of such persons, the argument starts from what they themselves admit, namely, the undeniable existence of thinking or intelligence, and contends that all thought comes home to us intelligibly only as personal experience, that is, as the experience of a subject or soul.

Parallel to this argument, though not expressly mentioned in this connection, are two others tending to the same conclusion: (1) Pain and pleasure are ! plain facts or experience, and they are quite unintelligible apart from reference to a subject of experience (Sivagnanasiddhi, II. ii. 6 and II. iii.1: vide also (Sivagnanabodam vii.c.2). In the case of inanimate beings the terms pain and pleasure are strictly meaningless, except as those objects are imagined to be endowed with life, and therefore capable of being pleased or pained. (2) So again all intelligible activity is due to a soul or spiritual being (Sivagnanasiddhi II, i.3). The physicist’s treatment of all activity as absolutely mechanical and necessary would be simply startling to the Siddhanti, for any interaction of physical bodies apart from a spiritual control and guidance he could never admit. This is no doubt partly due to the Siddhanti’s ignorance13of the scientist’s standpoint, and consequent inability to sympathise with the desirability, within limits, of looking at all activity as the physicist does, and of attempting to discover uniformities or laws in it, abstractly considered. Partly, however, the Siddhanti repudiates, and rightly too, the scientist’s abstract de-personalized view of activity as being at bottom untrue and untenable.

Thus intelligence, feeling, and activity are the three characteristic aspects of a soul’s life, that is, of the life of a chit or spiritual being; and wherever there is intelligence, feeling, or activity, it is necessarily the manifestation of the life of a spiritual being.

Here it may be asked: No doubt a spiritual being is necessitated by the facts of intelligence, feeling, and activity, but why should we assume more than one spiritual being? In other words, may not all experience in the universe be said to be Go’s experience? How is it necessary to postulate a plurality of chit beings besides God? The answer to this question is in the shape of another argument for soul. “The soul exists because it is that which comes to know when taught” (Sivagananbodam iii.f). Though the soul is like God, it is yet unlike Him. It is no doubt a chit being like God and may be said to be an image of Him. This does not mean, however, that all souls are at bottom only illusory manifestations of God. As against any such plausible way of making out the phenomenal character of all spiritual beings other than God, the Siddhanti points out that there are certain characteristic s of human and animal experience which can be neither rejected as illusory nor attributed intelligibly to God Himself. God is eternally all-knowing, but the soul only comes to know gradually in the course of experience in the realm of maya. Even such experience can hardly help the soul, unless God designs it for the purpose. So the soul knows only when taught by God. It is a dependent knower, whereas God is an independent knower. God’s co-operation, in fact, is indispensable not only for the soul’s knowledge but also for its desires and activities.

The analogy of eye-sight is a striking illustration of this dependence of the soul on God. Even as a source of light, say the sun, is absolutely needed for any effective use of eye-sight though not for the being of the eye itself, God’s sakti is quite necessary for any life on the part of the souls though not for the being of the souls themselves. (Sivagnanabodam xi.a., commentary,,, and xi. b. 2 and 4; of. Also Plato’s Republic Bk. Vi, 508.9). If it now be asked what prevents the souls from eternally sharing in God’s omniscience, infinite bliss, and omnipotence, there emerges the fundamental point of disagreement between God’s nature and the soul’s, namely, that the soul is bound down by a threefold pasa or bond, whereas God is eternally free from all such pasa (Sivagnanasiddhi II. i. 64; vide also Sivagnanabodam IV. b. and Gnanamrutam 2). It is on account of the timeless possession by pasa that the souls are called pasus or bound ones. And if there is to be salvation at all for such beings, the aster who should liberate them, God, is necessarily and eternally free from all their finitude and incapacity. This is in fact the one Siddhanta argument against the identification of God and soul. (Sankalpanirakaranam, 4)

A third group of arguments for the soul brings out how the soul as chit stands related to the achit or non-spiritual realm. To begin with the relation of soul and body. “The soul exists because it is that which says ‘my body.”’ Sivagnanabodam iii.b). Two points are here brought out, namely, that is different from the body, and that it stands in a advaita relation with the body “Even as one says ‘my city,’ ‘my house,’ one says also ‘my body’.” (ibid). At an early stage of development, the soul almost identifies itself with the body, but in due course of time the soul as a conscious spiritual entity learns to differentiate itself from its material or non-piritual embodiment. Soul and body, however, are not mutually independent entities. The soul, being chit , has intelligent purposes and seeks for enjoyment; while the body, since it cannot be meaningless and since, being achit, it can have no purpose of its own, is evidently subservient to the purposes of the spiritual realm, being means or medium of God’s sakti in the furtherance of the soul’s inmost purposes. Secondly, the soul is not to be identified with the senses (indriyas), for one sense does not grasp what another sense does, and so it is only the soul that really knows with the help of all the senses (Sivagnanabodam iii.c; Sivagnanasiddhi II.iii 3).

The soul is further carefully distinguished from the ‘internal organs’ (antah karanas), namely manas or inquiring mind, buddhi or determining faculty, aham-karam or I-ness and chttam or memory14. Though the soul knows only with the help of all these organs, it cannot be identified with any one of them or all of them put together. They are not themselves aware of what they do; it is only the soul that knows of its knowing (Sivagnanabodam iv.a; Sivagnanasiddhi II.iv. 1 and 2). These organs, it may be said, correspond to the ‘faculties’ of western psychology and would come in for much the same criticism. They are only different aspects of concrete mental life, and it is rather crude to talk of them as so many organs or instruments of the soul. And lastly, the soul is also distinguished from the purusha. The purusha is the soul still within the folds of maya. It is the soul which has not yet come to knowledge of itself. It is the soul identifying itself with the infra-soul (achit), whereas it is at bottom dependent on God and God alone, and can realize its freedom only when it has come to identify itself with God.

The purusha is thus the soul truned down to pasa or maya and not turned up to God; it is the soul in bondage; it is the soul considering itself more or less an independent centre of activity and not yet come to realise its absolute oneness with God. The soul has thus been carefully distinguished form the body, from the sense, from the internal organs and from the purusha. The predominant tendency of the Siddhanta school, as of Hindu thought in general, is to make out that the soul is something not vitally affected and shaped by the course of life which it has to undergo in bondage. Its essential nature is there all the while, and the momentous nature of the passage from potentiality to actuality is not sufficiently characterized. Yet, even in this respect of the Siddhanta system does not represent, nay, it even refutes the extreme position of certain other schools, notably the Sankya schoo and the system of Sankara, which hold that the soul is not all affected by its contact with pasa or mala. (Sivagnanasiddhi II.iv.13.)

The essential nature of the soul will now be apparent. It is essentially a dependent being-dependent, that is, either on God the sat and chit or on the asat and achit realm. The soul knows both sat and asat, it is itself neither sat nor asat but sat-asat. Sos also the soul is itself neither chit like God nor achit, but chit-achit. These names sat-asat and chit-achit indicate the soul’s advaita relation with either God or the asat realm; they indicate the fact that the soul cannot stand by itself but is always in dependence on something else. It is like the crystal which takes on the colour of the object with which it is in contact. Nevertheless, it has been called sat and chit, that is to say, sat, because it is not destructible at any time, and chit, because it knows when taught. (Sivagnanasiddhi. II vii.4 and 2).

Here arises the problem of the origin of the soul. According to the Siddhanta system, nay, according to Hindu system generally, no chit or spiritual being can hae an origin in time. There is no question of the production or creation of a spiritual being out of anything else, chit or achit. There are thus two positions here to be discussed, namely, (1) the production of soul out of achit and (2) the production of soul out of chit or spiritual being. To being with the first of these views, the fact of the soul’s life15, namely intelligence, pain and pleasure, and activity may all be nothing but products of the non-spiritual realm, especially of the physical body itself, since apart from it they have not been found elsewhere.

Thus, the Lokayata or materialist believes only in the reality of the physical world, air, fire, water, and earth, including the human body, and disallows that the soul and its manifestations can be anything but and bare outcome of the body, like the bubble arising out of and margining in water. As the Siddhanti however points out, the bubble itself is not due altogether to water but also to air. So also intelligence cannot be a bare product of the body; it is due to chit or soul and is only limited and defined by the body. In fact, the analogy of the bubble serves quite well. The bubble is substantially air: so intelligence is substantially chit. The bubble is made visible and a shape given to it by water: so also intelligence is made manifest and definite by material elements. Apart from the analogy, the main argument is the chit is so totally different from achit that they cannot be directly related as cause and effect Sankalpanira-karanam, 4 amd 18). It is said that a cause of a certain nature can produce only an effect of the same nature; any cause cannot produce any effect. Further, no achit can do anything except in the hands of a chit. The achit realm, thus, in the hands of God, succeeds only in gradually removing, the obstructions to the free life16 of souls. IN such a process, the achit realm responds in finer and finer shapes, corresponding the achit realm responds in finer and finer shapes, corresponding to the increasing capabilities of the souls.

In other words, matter undergoes a continual process of subordination to spirit in the course of spiritual progress, until in the end there hardly remains anything which can be said to be still non-spiritual or material. The realm of matter may be said to be the means or medium through which God’s life17flows into the souls according to their varying aptitudes. In fact, as pointed out in the lecture on Human Immortality, by W.James, matter, especially the human body, may be said to have a transmissive or permissive function and not a productive function with regard to spiritual life.

It now remains to ask whether God Himself as a spiritual Being can be said to originate or create the souls which are also spiritual beings. The reason why souls cannot be created like non-intelligent entities is, that the souls, if they were brought into existence at all, could also be put out of existence and can have no immortality, no eternal life. It is only the achit that is asat; that is, whatever is non-spiritual is unstable and fleeting, only temporarily existent. The chit, though its manifestations in the realm of maya are only transitory, is essentially beyond all mutability. The chit is the sat; that is, spiritual beings are the only ultimately existent beings, and as such they are not themselves liable to origination or destruction. The potentially shares in the fullness of God’s life. There are, in other words, certain connatural obstacles, impediments to the realisation of life in God. It is the presence of these factors, called pasa or bond, alongside of and opposed to the working of Divine grace,that will account for the realm of misled, sinful and struggling lives.

It is necessary then to examine the nature of pasa or bond before asking what way there may be of overscoming it. IN the first place, it should be noted that in talking of pasa or bond, the Siddhanti is not thinking of the relation between God and the souls. The eternal and absolute dependence of the souls on God is certainly recognised by the Siddhanta school and it is often referred to as the relation of a slave to his master (vide dasa-marga; of. Also Tayumanavar’s line “Eternally existent with Thee am not I Thy slave?”). The realisation of this relation of complete submission to the Lord is only another name, however, for salvation, freedom and bliss-not at all a bond or limitation of any sort (“Thou art not the cause of bondage, since Thou art free from all mala” Irupa-irupadhu, ‘4,) By pasa or bond is meant, on the other hand, the whole set of tendencies preventing us from realising out oneness or advaita with the Lord.

There are three factors making up pasa; namely; anava; karma, and maya. Anava is the main principle of corruption. It is so called because it makes an anu or atom of the soul; that is to say, it belittles and isolates the souls and is the direct cause of all their finiteness. If it is prevented neither partly nor wholly by God’s help, it obstructs the soul’s knowledge, desire, and activity so successfully, that the soul is practically non-existent. The soul is compared to the eye which has the capacity of sight, but unless aided by some source of light, is practically non-existent, because of its inability to see anything in the dark. (Tiru-arul payan, iii. 2; Sivaprakasam, 54). This darkness correspolnds to anava. So, again, the soul is like a brilliant diamond coated over with dirt, the dirt corresponding to anava. In the kevala-avasta or naked condition of the soul, as in a swoon or deep sleep, the soul is altogether enveloped in anava; in the Sakala-avasta or worldly or waking condition, though anava, is party removed by maya, it yet manifests itself in diverse forms, as self-assertion, schemaing, anger, hatred, ambition, murder, grief, pride and revelry (Irupa-iruphdu).

It is not satisfactory to look an anava as a mysterious something, sourceless and inexplicable, harassing the soul from all eternity. As the word anava itself indicates, the main principle of corruption is only the tendency to isolation, circumscription and narrowness in the lives of the souls. In consequence of such a tendency the soul starts with a very narrow and superficial, though natural centre of its activities. It has to learn by experience, that is, by further co-operation of God’s grace, how there are wider and deeper centres of activity, until at last it makes God Himself the centre of its life, that is, merges itself in God. At first, probably the soul identifies itself with the impulses, then with the self-conscious person with all his self-seeking and selfish aims in life (Gnanamrutam ;39). At all these stages the soul is still ignorant of its true centre (Tiru-arul-payan, iii.6). It has not yet learnt that its true home is God Himself, where alone it can be free from all ignorance and sinfulness. All attempt at erecting a centre of activity independent of the fountain-source of all life, in other words, seeking for a ‘thievish lordship’ as Umapati says (Tiru-arul payan, iv.8 and x 10), must be counted sinful and is fore-doomed to failure. The true life of the soul is only in a complete submission to God and can come only as the result of an absolute self-sacrifice on the part of the soul.

Karma is another component of pasa. It is the cause of the diversity of the embodiments of souls and of the diversity of their experience, whether painful or pleasant. (Sivaprakasam, 16.) It is produced by mind, world or deed. The deed itself is sometimes called karma and is good or evil. Usually, however, karma is the name given to a something produced by good and evil actions. It is said to be attached to buddhi or intellect, and is probably only a disposition, habit, or aptitude. The appropriate experiences by which karma may be worked out come to the soul either through a chit or an achit channel, and strictly in accordance with God’s niyati or ordinance.

Karma, then is the past moulding the present. Each soul in its present state is different from its neighbour. In the nature of its surroundings, the walks of life open to it. Its mental and physical outfit, and the experience which come to it – in all these respects it differs from other souls. In other words, each soul is unique in endowment as well as in experience. This uniqueness is brought home to each soul in terms of its own past – an explanation which escapes form the necessity of either recognising insuperable difference between soul and soul or making out the inequality to be due to the fiat of God Himself.

But how is karma a bond? Mainly, because it determines to a large extent the nature of one’s present life and makes it exceedingly difficult to give up old ways and choose better ones. The past tends to perpetuate itself by absorbing, instead of helping on, the present. Karma has a tendency to stereotype life along certain grooves.

“Anava has no origin in time, and so too karma” (Gnanamrutam (22). The inequalities of the present are regarded as the outcome of the activities, of past lives, and the inequalities of those lives again referred to still prior lives and son on. Though neither anava nor karma is prior to the other temporally, yet anava is logically prior to karma, because anava leads to those activities which make the souls more and more attached to a false centre of activity – such activities as are said to lead to karma.

Maya is the one remaining factor in pasa. It is God’s instrument in shaping the souls experience and lies at the root of their worlds of experience, their “bodies, sense, spheres of activity and enjoyments.” It is only through experience that the souls can work out their anava and karma. But neither can they themselves get at the objects of their experience nor can the objects of experience, being non-intelligent, find out the souls to which they belong. It is thus God’s work to ‘create’ the worlds appropriate to the souls and enable them thereby to get rid of their anava and karma (Sivaganansiddhi, II. ii.79). And the primordial sub-stratum of all the created realms is maya. It is not at all like the matter of the physical world about us. It is even different from the anu or atom of the scientist’s universe. It is something unitary, pervasive, non-intelligent, and an instrument in God’s hands (Sivaganansiddhi, II.ii. 53). In its causal form it is eternally existent, but in its effectual form it is transient. It is a medium of God’s response to the infinitely varying needs of the infinite number of souls.

How precisely God, with the help of maya, calls forth our capacities and shapes our lives, is too elaborate and intricate a subject for the purpose in hand. A step or two, however, may be noted. Out of one form of maya, the first outcome is time. Time is thus objective though not absolutely real. It is a condition of our struggling, evolving lives; but once we attain to the harmony of eternal life, time must somewho be transmuted. Second comes the law or niyati which guides and controls karma. Next in order come three factors, kala, vidya, and raga, which respectively arouse the soul’s active, intellectual, and emotional powers (Sivaganansiddhi, II.ii.55-6). When the soul is thus fitted out for mundane life, it is called purusha. The purusha is then endowed with the four ‘internal organs’, manas, buddhi, ahankaram and chittam, and with the five sense organs and organs of action. (These organs are psychical and must not be identified with the corresponding physiological organs). Lastly, in response to the sense-organs and their corresponding sensations, proceed God’s ‘creation’ of the five great elementals including the physical embodiments of souls. (Sivaganansiddhi II.ii.).

It will thus be seen that there is nothing mysterious and baffling at the back of the world we see, touch, and smell. There is no thing-in-itself standing over against us and remaining unknowable for ever and ever. It is, on the other hand, a world of experience, directly, intended for the souls or subjects of experience. Its very essence is its bearing on the souls. This does not, however, take us to the point of subjectivism, because the genuine objectivity and reality of the world, however transient it may be, is guaranteed by the fact that it is not a fancy of our own, nor altogether a product of our won activity, but an outcome of God’s activity who has taken due note of our past activities, our present dispositions, and the innermost cravings of our hearts.

But why should maya too be called pasa or bond? Is it not really as opposed to anava and karma, as light to darkness Sivaganansiddhi II.ii.84; Tiru-arul-payan, iii. 10)? Does is not help in removing anava at least partially? Is it not God’s instrument in enabling the souls to overcome the obstacles to their free and eternal life? Yes, all this is true; still, as long as maya has a hold upon our souls, we cannot be said to be free. We catch only a glimpse of the eternal life with the help of our worldly experiences. Anava and karma, which absolutely blind us of light in the sakala or worldly or waking condition (Sivagananabodam, iii g 1; Sivaganansiddhi ii.iv.37.39). But maya, which brings bout the sakala condition, has nevertheless a tendency at first to deceive us by appearing to be itself the end or goal of our lives, instead of being only the means to it. There is a tendency on the part of the souls to be enamoured of, and enslaved by, maya instead of being helped on by it to a free spiritual of life. The realm of maya seems to give us a satisfaction which it can never do by itself. It is on this account that maya too is called a bond.

A word or two may now be said about the general nature of pasa. All the three factors of pasa , viz: anava, karma and maya are said to have no origin, and therefore no end, in time. It is, however, admitted that in salvation they cease to be as bond; that is, though present, they are transmuted in significance. All pasa, moreover, though held to be eternal, is at the same time far from Sat. Pasa, though not a ‘created’ object, is nevertheless achit or non-spiritual, and consequently said to be asat too. Asat, however, as applied to pasa does not mean the transient; it is only the non-spiritual, dependent on chit. Pasa cannot stand by itself, it can stand only as dependent on chit, either as a check to the free life of c hit or as a thoroughtly subservient instrument of chit. It is only as a check that pasa (asat) stands out, whereas, as an instrument, it is practically non-existent. No asat, it is said, can stand before sat (Sivagananbodamm VII). It is so thoroughly and unobtrusively pliable to the chit realm.

It remains to consider the cause of pasa. In the first place pasa cannot be said to be natural to the soul, for in that case there would be no possibility or desirability of any freedom at all. The postulation of certain principles of corruption, namely anava, karma and maya, does not suffice. How can principles do anything? They are achit or non-spiritual, whereas, according to the Siddhanta all deeds must be referred to a chit or spiritual being. The conception of ta devil or Satan does not even suggest itself to Siddhanta thought. There are only two other alternatives, either God or souls. The souls themselves would not and could not be the cause of their own bond; while God, being pure and free, would not bind the souls himself. (Irupa-Irupahdu, 4.) What then is the cause of pasa according to the Siddhanta? Pasa, like the souls themselves, has no origin in time, and is found associated with all the souls. It is true pasa cannot do anything by itself, but God, through His sakti, makes it effective. Anava, Karma and maya all work only by God’s help. Pasa can be removed only when it is all worked out; in other words, pasa will fall off the souls only when it is fully ripe. Thus though the principles of corruption are set to work only by God’s co-operation, they cannot be attributed to Him as cause. They are best conceived as certain congenital tendencies in the lives of souls by the overcoming of which the souls can fully realise themselves in God.

Editor’s Notes

1. The description of Saiva Siddhanta as Siva advaita is misleading. The school of Siva-advaita is different from that of Saiva-Siddhanta. Nilakanta, the commentator of the Brahma Sutras is an exponent of Siva-advaita. Appayya Dikshitar belongs to this school. It is, however, to be borne in mind, that a close connection subsists between these two schools.

2. Maanikkavaachakar is the youngest, not the oldest, of the four Samaya Kuravar.

3. Sundarar flourished between the fag-end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth.

4. Gnaanamrutam is a Saivit work much revered by the Saiva Siddhanti. It is a work positing the tenets of the Golaki Matam.

5. Meikana was by birth a Vellala. However, he is the Aachaarya par excellence. His chief disciple Arulnandi was the greatest of Sivaachaaryas. He flourished in the thirteenth century.

6. ‘The order of mendicants’ may not be a proper description. They are called Tambirans who serve the cause of Saivism under the guidance of the Pandaara Sanniti-the chief of the Aadhinam/Matam.

• The caption of PATI is given by the editor.

1. Achit means non-sentient/non-intelligent.

2. Bhogam is here translated as enjoyment. It means experience.

3. Siva is, no doubt, Sat. The Sivagnaana Bhodam called Him Siva-Sat.

4. See note 8.

5. Maya as Siva’s Sakti is called Parigraha Sakti (Assumptive Power).

6. See note 8.

7. The word ignorance, in the context, means unawareness.

8. Chittam is not memory. It is the perceiving faculty. It just perceives. Manam doubts the nature of that which is perceived. Anagkaaram rises to resolve the doubt. Buddhi determines.

9. Soul’s life means “existence of soul”.

10. See note 15.

11. God’s life means “God’s Being”.

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