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Sivagnanabhotham - H.A. Popley

H.A. Popley

[H.A. Popley came to India to evangelise. Unlike others who shared this mission with him, he learned to love India and its citizens. The people of Tamil Nadu, it shoul be said, made a conquest of Popley. He dedicated his work: “The Sacred Kural” ‘to the generous people of the Tamil Lands’ and his expression of gratitude is as moving as it is spontaneous. His dedication runs thus: “Dedicated to the generous people of Tamil Lands who welcomed me, a stranger, into their midst and offered to me their hearts and their treasures ….” He developed a genuine love for the Tamils whose language was that of Tiruvalluvar’s. In his preface to The Sacred Kural (1931), he says: “Ever since I began to study this little book, twenty-eight years ago, it has been, with the New Testament my daily companion in all my travel, and I have learnt to love it, and to rejoice in its homely high-minded teaching.”

Popley will also be remembered for his excellent work-The Music of India, (1921). A perusal of this work is very rewarding.

Popley cultivated Saiva Siddhanta with deep interest. He was truly fascinated by Tamil Saivism. He strained every nerve to his to master Tamil, and we are glad to observe that within years, his efforts crowned him with success.

Popley served as Secretary to the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Associations of India, Burma and Ceylon. He was at Erode for some years.

His essay reproduced hereinbelow appeared in the Madras Christian College Magazine in 1911. Ed]


This work occupies in Saiva-Siddhantism the position which the Bhagavadgita occupies in Vedantism. It is said to be a Tamil translation of twelve Sanskrit Sutrams from the Rourava Agamam, with an extensive commentrary upon them Meykandan-“The man who saw the truth” –in the fourteenth century A.D.1 It forms the basis of modern Saiva-Siddhantist philosophy.

The Siddhanta philosophy has not yet received the same careful and sympathetic treatment at the hands of European scholars as the Vedanta philosophy, partly because its exposition is contained in works written in classical and difficult Tamil. No adequate evidence exists as yet to determine the origin and growth of this wonderful philosophy. Every year the inscriptions and monuments of the Tamil country are yielding new historical data to the student of South Indian history and we may believe that it will not be long before we get some sure dates in ancient Tamil literary and religious history which will become landmarks in the historical study of this philosophy. That the philosophy has a connection with the Sanskrit Agamams, that before it already held sway as a religion in the hearts of the Tamil people, is without a doubt. Dr. Pope says “Saivism is the old prehistoric religion of South India essentially existing from pre-Aryan times and holds sway over the hearts of the Tamil people.”

In the absence of conclusive evidence as to the date of Manikkavasagar and Gnanasambandar it is impossible to be certain of the relation between this philosophy and the teaching of Sankarachariar tand his successors2. There seems no reason to doubt that Sankarachariar himself was a Saivite, and it is likely that the earliest Bashyam of the Vedanta Sutras is the Srikanta Bashyam, which is in accord with the Advaita philosophy of Saiva-Siddhantism. Dr.Pope says, “It is necessary to state that the influence of the Bhagavadgita is to be traced in every part of Manikkavasagar’s poems.” The relation between the two has been put down to another cause by some South Indian scholars viz., that the ideals of Saivism have had a large influence in the composition of the Bhagavadgita. However this may be, there is strong evidence that some of the dominating religious ideas of Saivism have an origin in the primitive Dravidian mind, and that Dravidian influences from very early times have moulded South Indian philosophy and religion. It is not the intention of the writer, whoever, to discuss the origin and development of Saivite ideas and practise. There are many problems to be solved before this can be done. It is probable that both Manikkavasagar and Gnansambandar, the latter being the first of the Devara hymnists, preceded Sankarachariar. The great revival and spread of Saivism was due to these preacher-singer, and it is certain that the Saiva Siddhanta had not then received expression and exposition in philosophical form. It was three centuries afterwards that Meykandan wrote the Siva-Gnana-Botham.

The religious ideas that have received philosophical expression in this work are already found in the hymns of the earlier Saivite preachers and in the great Periya Puranam, and are the root ideas of Saivism. We must not therefore regard the Siva-Gnana-Botham as forming new ideas and conceptions, but rather as formulating and arranging religious ideas and conceptions that already existed and as giving to them a philosophical expression. The readers of this work will find these thoughts and ideas real gems flashing with a thousand lights from the unseen world. Those who study it will not only be fascinated by its spiritual radiance, they will surely feel that it has expressed succinctly and in its own inimitable Indian way some of the rarest and most precious religious ideas which influence the life of man. The Christian student will find much in this book to tell him of the “Light which lighteth every man,” and he will see here evidence of God’s quiet and certain preparation of Indian minds for the Christian revelation3. There is much in the literature of Saivism which is of permanent value to the soul in its striving for the highest life. There is much that must persist and find the highest life. There is much that must persist and find a new meaning in the light of Christ as the psalms and prophecies of the Old Testament have cone. The present translation was first undertaken for the purpose of personal study so that the writer by careful attention to every word and thought might clearly understand this wonderful philosophy. It is published because the writer feels that it is incumbent upon him to do anything he can to bring the ideas of Saivism and Christianity into closer relation to one another, so that Christianity may learn something of its own hidden treasures in this revelation of religious truth, and so that those who have tasted the mystic sweetness of Saivism and have felt the swell of the soul’s devotion to these glorious religious ideals may find that in Christianity nothing of value is lost, but rather that all is intensified and completed in the person and work for Jesus Christ, the Lord of Grace.

The sense of deficiency both in philosophical equipment and in Indian experience for the task of helping to relate Christianity and this wonderful South Indian philosophy is a deterrent, but the sense of duty and the power and fascination of this religious outpouring give courage for the task. The object of this article is to give a translation of portions of the Siva-Gnana-Botham and a brief critical exposition of the Saiva Siddhanta religious system and of its relation to Christianity. As the purpose is to deal here only with the distinctly religious side of Saiva Siddhanta the translation is limited to those portions which have a definite religious bearing. There is much in the book that belongs to the realm of philosophy, and a good deal of quaint psychology. Nothing will be said concerning these portions except as they affect the religious side of the system.

The Siva-Gnana-Botham is divided into twelve chapters, to which the twelve verses translated from the Sanskrit form the headings. The first seven chapters are largely philosophical and psychological, and so we shall be mainly concerned with the last five chapters which deal specially with the religious side of Saiva Siddhantism. Those portions of the first seven chapters which have a special bearing on our subject will be translated and the trend of all the chapters given in brief. *These verses are printed in italics.

The Roman figures I,II,etc., refer to the twelve main verses. The numbers 1,2,3,4, etc., refer to the various arguments in the chapter, each chapter being dividced into logical parts from two to seven in number. The letters a, b,c, etc., refer to the various illustrations used to enforce each argument.

The translation endeavours to avoid the use of Indian technical terms, partly because their meaning varies so much in the different systems and partly because it should be possible to express Indian thought in ordinary English terms. Nor is it necessary to give the Tamil alongside of the translation: the reader who desires to compare will find full references to the original all through.

The first chapter is concerned with the existence of God and argues His existence from the fact of the cosmic universe, the object of our sensory knowledge.

(1) The existence of God.

(1.) The material world is composed of forms which are called he, she and it. This world is subject to the processes of origin, evolution and dissolution. Thus it is an entity created and preserved by Him who also causes its dissolution. It comes to re-birth through the sense-principle of self assertion4. So the learned say that. He who is the cause of the world’s dissolution-He alone is its First Cause.

2 (a) The universe which has been resolved into the Lord, comes to the re-birth through Him who is the cause of its dissolution. As it is brought to dissolution in order to destroy the power of the sense-principle of retribution, so it must be brought to re-birth in order to destroy the sense-principle of self-assertion.

2(c). Just as the shoot appears from the seed embedded in the moistened earth, so the universe comes to re-birth form the seed of sensuousness hidden in the soil of the Divine energy acting in accordance with the fruit of previous actions. Just as the hornet gives to the worm which will become a hornet the form it desires, so the Lord gives to each soul a body in accordance with its desires and with the fruit of its former actions.

2(d) Like Time which exists immutable in the midst of change, the Lord exists and operates as Creator, Preserver, and Dissolver, unchangeable in Himself. He brings the world into existence by the mere expression of His will. He causes it to go through the processes of evolution without any mechanical means. He causes it to dissolve without Himself suffering any change. He is unfettered as the mind of one who reads and studies is free to move as it will, and as the man in his waking state is not bound by the thought and ideas of his dream state.

3. He alone who is the cause of the dissolution of the universe is its First Cause. For the intelligible universe can only be directed by Him who causes its dissolution-who cannot be conceived by our minds-and this universe cannot be in its own control.

3(c) As the spiritual universe comes into being and preserved by that unique One, who is not one of its forms, so it is dissolved into Him. Thus He who is the end of all-He alone is the First One. That spiritual universe is like Him without end, and is His servant, serving Him in nay ways even in heaven.

The main points here with which we have to deal are attributes and functions of the Supreme Being and the part played in the evolution of the cosmic universe by the three sense-principles.

The evolution which is posited here of the cosmos is an evolution which is eternal. Every creation is preceded by a dissolution and every dissolution involves a future recreation. The cosmic evolution contains the three ideas of creation, preservation, and destruction. The Supreme Being is declared to be the First Cause of all these revolutions. This Supreme Being is asserted to be transcendent and unmoved by the evolutions over which He eternally presides. He is identified with Siva who is the acknowledged deity of the dissolution of the universe, and is exalted to a preeminent place above the Tirmurtthi as a Supreme Deity-Transcendent over all the Immanent in all. The various attributes and functions of the Siva of the Trimurtthi are given to the Supreme Being, but eh name Siva is always understood of the one Supreme God of whom the Puranic Siva was a manifestation.

In Indian thought the sense-principles have a very important place assigned to them. They are regarded as being co-operative causes with the Supreme Being in the cosmic evolution. It is well to state here what these sense principles are. They are certain conditions necessarily attached to a sensory mode of being. They are first, sensuousness (Maya)5. In the Siddhantam the word Maya does not mean illusion except in a secondary sense on account of the illusory character of sensory objects. It connotes sensuousness, the essential character of sensible objects. The second sense-principle is that of self-assertion, that is the assertion of an individual existence in the sense of separation from the world-soul. In the Siddhantam this does not mean mere self-consciousness, which is not regarded as an evil it itself, but the self-consciousness which asserts its independence and which does not realise its complete and absolute dependence upon the Divine consciousness. This will appear later. The third sense-principle is that of Karma or the retributive force of actions. Every action holds within it a power, a centre of energy for future existence, and the energy must inevitably and exactly work itself out in various sensory conditions.

These sense-principle are regarded as evils or impurities which the soul has to get rid of before it attains to full liberation, and the treatise we are studying is the story of that process of liberation. The period of dissolution is regarded as a period of rest from the action of the force of Karma. “The universe is dissolved so that the soul, tired with working out its Karma, may rest”*

Each evolution of the world is, however, in strict accordance with this law of retribution. Sensuousness is regarded as the eternal ground of the universe. “Sensuousness is the clay, the Divine energy the wheel, and God Himself the potter in the making of the universe.”

The object of all these cosmic evolutions is the destruction of the sense-principle of self-assertion which can only be abolished through its complete working out in accordance with the law of retribution. All these cosmic functions of God are considered in Saivism as the Divine play or the natural and spontaneous outpouring of His love for the sake of the soul’s liberation.

The second chapter, dealing with the actual relation of God to human souls, is important, and part of it is translated.

(II) The Relation of God to the Universe,

*Sivagnana Sitthiar, I.32

*Sivagnana Sitthiar, I.18

II That First One is one with the souls of men, He is distinct from them and He is both one and distinct from them. In order that in conformity with the previous good and evil actions of souls His Divine Word, which is His Gracious Energy, may cause those souls to undergo the round of births and deaths, He remains in continual and living union with that Divine Word.

1. The Lord is immanent in all these souls and works in them, and this immanent oneness is called Advitham (advaitam) or non-duality. By this word Advitham is not mean absolute oneness of existence. The negative prefix indicates negation of dual quality. It denies the separate or dual existence of God and the soul, i.e., that the soul has an existence of its own apart from God.

1(a). The mind co-exists with a body composed of nerves limbs and organs, and the mind answers to the name given to the body. As the mind is united to the body, so is the Lord united with our souls. He is not the soul, and the soul cannot become God. But though distinct form the soul yet He is one with it.

1(b). The phrase “unity of God” used in the Vedas means the existence of one Supreme Being and one alone. That one Supreme Being is the Lord, who stands alone. You who all youself that one are not so. You are the soul, a different being. Without the vowel ‘a’ no consonant can be sounded, and so in the same way the Veda says, “Nothing can exist apart from the Lord.” [In Tamil all consonants are sounded with the vowel a and this is the primary sound.]

(c). As the Sound is united with the Tune and the Taste with the Fruit so is the Gracious Energy of the Lord – His sacred Feet – United with the universe. Therefore the Vedas do not speak of sameness but of inseparableness or non-duality (not of one existent but of co-existent entities).

1(d) In the whetstone the grains of sand are mixed with the melted god wax and united with it in an inseparable union, though each remains distinct in itself. In the same way the Lord is united with our souls, so that, though each exists, they co-exist in an inseparable union. When I am free from impurity and through ecstatic contemplation the Lord enters my soul, then in that state of exaltation I can say, “I am the world.”

4. The Lord exists in a continual and living union with His Word-which is His Gracious Energy For He is omnipresent and neither the same nor different from the universe.

4(a) Because the Lord is all-pervading He cannot be said to be one thing. If on the other hand He is said to be two things He cannot be said to be all-pervading. As there is no soul or body anywhere which can exist without Him, He must be all-pervading. Like the Sun and its Light, the lord with His Gracious energy pervades everything. ‘The universe is His possession. WE are His servants in His presence.

The first point to notice is the definition of Advaita (Advitham) form the Siddhantist point of view. This definition is central for the Siddhantist philosophy and very important for its practical religion. The negative prefix “a” denotes a negation of quality and not a negation of existence. This is the important point of notice. The Saivite believes in the existence of the two Souls, but he does not believe in the possibility of their independent existence. The one must exist in union with the other. The transcendence of God is never lost sight of and it is distinctly asserted that the soul cannot become God and that is has a conscious life, though in eternal union with and dependence upon the Divine Sound. The illustrations in the text will sufficiently explain this union.

The remaining three division of this chapter deal with the continuous evolution of the soul as the result of its Karmic energy, and the method of the Divine operations. The power which operates these laws and orders the cosmic evolution with tis experience for the individual souls, is the Divine Energy. It should be particularly noted that this Divine Energy is almost personalised and is regarded very similarly to the Christian conception of the Spirit of God. This Divine Energy is said to be full of Grace “The Spirit proceeds from the Lord. From the Spirit arises the creative energy. These two in union give birth to the spiritual and material universe. The Lord is a young man and His Spirit a young maiden to those who have learnt the truth.”*

The Divine Spirit is the active agent in the souls redemption and so the stanzas which refer to it have a very important bearing on our subject. This conception of the Spirit of God is very pertinent to Christianity.

Chapter III deals with the existence of the soul and its distinction form the body, the sense and all other parts of this sensory universe, and form the Supreme Being. It has some very interesting psychology but is has no direct bearing on the religious side of this system.

*Sivagnana Sitthiar. 11.77.

Chapter IV also deals with the psychological aspect of the subject. The faculties and states of the soul are described and an interesting account of the sacred symbol ‘Oum’ is given.

Chapter V deals with the action of the Divine Energy in the soul and so we translate it fully.

(V) The work of God in the soul.

V. By means of this soul, the sense of touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing measure and understand objects. But they cannot know themselves or the soul. Similarly the soul cannot of itself know itself or the Grace of God. As the presence of the magnet draws the iron, so the presence of God’s Gracious Energy influences the souls while He remains changeless.

1. The five senses perceive by means of the soul, for they can perceive nothing unless they act in conjunction with the soul.

1 (a) The soul as a king rules the five sense, so the five sense cannot know the soul. Ye t the soul can only know by means of the five senses. Unless the soul is active the eye will not see and the ear will not hear. Thus both soul and sense are interdependent.

2. The soul also can only understand through its Lord, because like the sense it cannot by itself know itself on its Lord.

2. (a) O thou who hast forgotten the verse of the Veda which says that the whole universe has come into being in the presence of the everlasting Lord, know that the soul having God as its organ of sight, in accordance with the fruit of its actions comes to understand the world. Yet, as all that is phenomenal is illusory, God cannot, like the soul, have any experience of phenomena.

2 (b) As the stars lose their light in the light of the sun and having no light in themselves shine only through the sun, though they remain distinct form it, so the soul understands the impression received from the various senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch through Him who is the Truth, and it abides with Him.

2 (c) The Divine Grace exists eternally with the Lord. That Grace is His Divine Energy His Energy cannot exist apart from Him and He cannot exist apart from it. To the eyes of His saints, the Lord is seen to be one with His Grace, just as the sun and its light appear as one to the eye, so the Lord exists changeless and operates all things through His Divine Grace.

The dependence of the soul on Divine Grace for its knowledge, the idea of the “presence of God” automatically affecting the phenomenal world without being thereby affected by it, and the further definition of the Divine Grace in this chapter deserve particular notice.

The following verse from one of the commentaries is a very beautiful description of Divine Grace.

“This Divine Grace which is the cause of the soul’s knowledge is God’s own eternal energy. Apart from Divine Grace there is no Supreme Being. The Lord by His Grace will drive away all falsehood from the souls of men and grant them true knowledge as the sun by its light drives away the darkness.” [Sitthiar, V.g.]

Chapter VI treats of the nature of God and of the soul's knowledge of Him. The chapter is a very interesting one to the philosopher. It is not, however, very pertinent to our present purpose.

In Chapter VII we are taught the relation of the soul to the phenomenal universe and to absolute reality. It is asserted that the soul partakes of the nature both of the phenomenal and of the real, that its nature is modified by its union with either, and that the nature with which it unites is the determining factor in its own nature. In so far as it unites with the phenomenal it shares in the conditions of phenomenal existence and if it unite with the Supreme Reality it conforms to the nature of that Reality.

There is much in this teaching akin to Christianity.

(VIII)The attainment of Divine Wisdom.

VIII. The Lord, who by reason of a soul's good deeds has been an indwelling Spirit teaching him, now appears in the form of a Teacher and instructs him telling him that he is a king's son living harassed in the midst of savages-the five sense. Then the soul understanding its true nature leaves these savages and unites with the Sacred Feet of the Lord in an inseparable union.

1. To the soul religious acts are names to the attainment of wisdom; religious ceremonies, devotion, and austerities are only helps to obtain wisdom, but they cannot of themselves give heaven.

1 (a). Those who have duly performed religious observances enjoy its fruits in the states of bliss. Then so that they may experience on the earth the remaining fruit of their former desires and so extirpate all earthly desire, they are born into a good race and enter the way of attainment of Wisdom. This is the counsel of the learned.

1 (b) The joy which comes from those religious acts which are performed with the desire to obtain their appropriate benefits, is like the joy the hungry man derives from eating-who becomes hungry again. Therefore, when by means of these imperishable religious acts the merit and demerit of the soul become perfectly balanced, the soul will attain to the state of bliss and there enter the path of Wisdom.

2. The Lord Himself will come as the Divine Teacher and teach Wisdom, for He shines in the soul, taking as His form the pure soul's spiritual intelligence.

2.(a) The pure learn Wisdom intuitively form the Lord who is one with them. To the spiritual He appears in His own form as a Divine Teacher and teaches them Wisdom. For the sensuous He hides in a human form similar to theirs, and by that means teaches them Wisdom.

2 (b) Unless the Lord teaches Wisdom to souls according to their several conditions, they can never attain it. To the spiritual and sensuous who learn wisdom through the faultless Lord of the world, this imperfect knowledge is imparted in the second and third person respectively. The pure who do not receive such imperfect instruction learn the Heavenly Wisdom form the Lord intuitively.

2 (c). O good learner I The milk and the tears-the outward signs of the mother's inward love-do not appear before but only after the child is born, so that all may know that unseen love. So who can understand the Lord, who exists unseen in the soul as the shadow in the water, unless He appears as the Divine Teacher?

3. As the senses only show the soul their own sensations, like the colours shown in a mirror, souls deluded by the five senses cannot understand themselves.

3(a) The soul thinking upon the knowledge it obtains through the organs of perception as it unites with each-like the many colours reflected in the mirror, these have their different sensations-understands that as the many colours as distinct from the mirror6 , so the many fleeting sensations are distinct from itself. If, after realizing the transient nature of all such knowledge it understands its own true nature, it will become the servant of the Supreme Being and will come to reveal in itself the nature of that Supreme Being-a nature quite different from the phenomenal.

4. When the soul, sees itself to be distinct form that organs of perception it will come to the feet of its Lord, just as a man in a swing when the rope breaks comes from support to mother earth.

4 (a) The soul, which is bound by sensory knowledge as the rich water is dammed up by the anicut, when ti sis freed from the bonds of sensory knowledge, will, like the flood which has burst through the anicut and gone rushing away to join the stormy sea, come to the Sacred Feet of the imperishable Lord, whnece it will never return.

4 (b) If every mental object, both sensory and spiritual, is God, then there is no necessity for any one to leave the things of sense; so there will be none who attain to the feet of God. If, on the other hand there is any mental object with which He has no connection, He cannot be the Supreme Lord. The knowledge of the soul and the knowledge of the senses are different, just as the other organs cannot see like the eye but deal each with its own particular objects. Learn the supreme preciousness of eyesight from those who regain it after having lost it.

4 (c) O Learner who has learnt that thou art not as the five sense having knowledge only of particular sensory objects! The sensuous man who has left the limitations of sensory knowledge and come to the Feet of the Lord will never again leave them for the sake of the senses. If the sense-impurities which passed away from him at this union again come upon him, as the green scum7 which has been driven off by a stone covers the water again after ta little while, let him meditate upon the Lord who never leaves him, and so rid himself of these impurities.

(IX) The Purification of the Soul.

IX. O soul seek in your own mind for the Lord who is incognisable by the human intellect or sense, and know Him through His own Divine Wisdom. When the soul realises that the sense-world passes swiftly away as ta mirage and renounces it, that Divine Wisdom will be to it as a cooling shade. IN order that the soul may continue thus it should know and understand rightly the five mystic letters which the Lord has given.

1. The Lord is transcendent to all human faculties; therefore the soul must know Him through the Divine Wisdom.

1 (a). They who, after looking for their real self in their nerves, bones, veins, marrow, mucus and other constituents of the body, have found that they have no knowledge of themselves and that they can only know themselves through some other wisdom, will through the Divine Wisdom come to know the Lord and themselves who subsist in the Lord. As for those who do not know in this way when will they be able to know themselves?

1 (b). The eye which sees what is shown to it cannot see its own nature, nor can it see the soul which enables it to see. Similarly the soul cannot see itself, nor the Lord who enables it to see. The Lord is one with the souls though hidden from it; therefore, seek Him in the intelligence of the soul.

2. When the soul realises that the phenomenal appearances of the world are all transient, it will know itself as truly existing in a permanent spiritual form, just as when the colours reflected on a mirror8 are known to be transient, the mirror 9 will be seen to be unchanged.

2 (a) When the soul realises that the heaven and earth and all else are transient phenomena and renounces all, will not the Lord who is unqualified, holy, eternally blessed, absolute, the only incomparable Lord, come as a Wonder transcending all human faculties, and afterwards appear to the soul as the inseparable light of its own intelligence?

2 (b) Realising then that the world which is shown to our sense is altogether phenomenal,and renouncing it know that which remains is the Real. Yet you who have known the world as it is shown to your sense, you are not the Real. If you renounce the world and become united to the Real as the servant of the Real, then the transient world will entirely leave you.

2 (c) When the soul looking at the world in its various parts realises that this thing, and that thing-nay all things-are not Real, and renounces them and in ecstatic union contemplates the Lord in itself; the method by which through Him it renounces its sense-relationships is like the way the snake charmer though ecstatic contemplation of the Brahmany Kite drives away the poison from the snake-bitten man.

3. After thus contemplating the Lord, repeat according to rule the five mystic letters. This is enjoined because the soul retains a hankering after its sense-knowledge through its old habits, just as the worm which has been in the habit of feeding on the bitter margosa bark returns to it even after tasting the sugar-cane. By this means that hankering may be destroyed. 3 (a) If the soul realises through the repetition of the five mystic letters that it is the property of God, and in its Lotus-like heart offers up the flowers of good qualities as oblations in its worship of Him; if by the same mystic letters it offers up in the bowels the holy sacrifice with the sacred fire of love; and if after wards in the forehead it contemplates the Lord in ecstatic union with Him, the Lord will appear to it and it will become the servant of the Lord.

3(b) If the soul though the five mystic letters see the Lord in the heart as one may see the invisible planets-the ascending and descending nodes-in the sun and moon at the time of eclipse, the Lord will raise and shine as the Soul's Intelligence, just as the latent fire blazes out when the rod is rubbed among the dry sticks. Then like the iron in the flame the soul will renounce its self-assertion and become His servant. Therefore repeat according to rule the five mystic letters.

3 (c) If one examines carefully the true nature of the Lotus-like heart it will be seen that the twenty-four sensory principles have the form of the Stalk. The twelve spiritual principles have the form of the petals. The sixty-four powers of God, the Creator of the sense-world and the Saviour from its power, are its filaments. His Divine Energy is the seed vessel. The male Energies are the fifty-one seeds. So the Gracious Energy of God abides upon this Lotus heart. Therefore know this and worship Him by the five mystic letters.

(X) Freedom from sense-impurity.

X. Just as the Lord, though distinct from the soul unites with it in this earthly life, so if the soul unites with Him as master and servant in such a way that it considers all its acts as His, then will it be freed from all sense-evils, Viz., self-assertion,sensuousness and retribution 10.

1. Just as the Lord unites with the soul, so do thou nites with Lord. For by so doing, self-assertion and self-pride will be destroyed and we shall reach His Sacred Feet.

1 (a) When the soul distinguishes itself from others and realises its own intelligence distinctly, then the Lord not being separate from the soul appears as that Intelligence. Those who lose all consciousness of self and who know themselves and their actions altogether as His, the Lord will bring into the omnipresence of His Sacred Feet and will reveal Himself to them as the All.

2. Regard yourself always as the servant of the Lord, and your actions as His. For, when the soul only acts by His Grace, sense-knowledge and retribution will not touch it.

2 (a) The senses are not our true self. Their actions are not under our control but under the control of the Lord. The object of the sense is not ourself neither are their operations is our control. We ourselves are the property of God and not our own. If they thus understand themselves and live as servants of God-as those whose actions are His actions-in whatever body they may be, no actions they do will become bonds to their souls. Then in the presence of the Lord who apportions the fruit of actions, the power of previous actions will perish.

2 (b) It is the duty of the great to protect those who take refuge with them; so the Lord protects those who have come to Him; yet He is not biassed on this account. Those who have come to Him and who have become His servants. He makes like Himself, and to others he apportions the fruit to their actions. So He treats these two classes according to their actions.

2 (c) Like the jar which retains a faint smell of assafoetida even after the assafoetida has been removed, the faint operation of the principle of retribution, with its accompaniments, the sense-body and sense-knowledge, will persist even to the enlightened soul. Yet the fruit of the present deeds of such a soul will not be accumulated but will perish with all that belongs to sense. For that soul has been transformed into the Lord and it gazes steadfastly upon that Divine axle which will not allow it to revolve again in the round of births and deaths.

2 (d) The ascetic, though sitting in the fire, does not lose his power over it. The rider, though seated on the fleetest horse, does not lose his control over it. So those who have sought for a way of escape from the senses and fixed their thoughts upon the Sacred Feet of God, even though they must walk in the midst of the five kinds of sensory objects, will not fall in bondage to them and lose their true nature. 2 (e) He who, realising that his own nature belongs both to the Real and to the Phenomenal, understands all things through the Grace of the Lord, earthly things which are but phenomena will have no influence over him but he will become united to the Lord who is Real. As the darkness cannot stand before the fierce light of the sun, so he will not be anymore under the influence of the five senses of that phenomenal world which cannot stand before the Real.

(XI) The method of the soul's union with God.

(XII) As the soul in union with the eye makes it to see and at the same time itself sees objects, so the Lord uniting with the soul makes it to know and He also knows with the soul. Thus by that love which cherishes for ever this inseparable communion the soul will unite will the Feet of the Lord.

The Lord knows what the soul comes to know in union with Him, for without the aid of the Lord souls cannot know anything whatever.

1 (a) The soul unites separately with the five senses and apprehends what they perceive. It does not apprehend all the five sensations at once but it apprehends and understands them one by one. But God who is unchanging in His nature comprehends at one time all souls and all objects, and also unites singly with them and knows them separately.

1(b) When the soul unites with the Lord at His Sacred Feet and understands the true nature of sensory objects, will not He, who is inseparable union with the souls understands with it and makes it to understand – will not He, by the ever increasing experience which that soul enjoys of His glorious nature, abide in its intelligence and make it entirely His own?

2. When the soul praises the Lord with undying devotion it will attain to Hs Sacred Feet, for the Lord in inseparable union with each one causes each to experience the fruit of his actions.

2 (a) Although the sun shines the same for all, to the sightless it will be as the darkness of night. So although the Lord is everywhere the same, to those who are tainted with sense-impurity He appears as dim sense-knowledge only. But as the sun causes only the full grown Lotus to expand, so He cleanses from all sense impurities those who have lost their sense imperfection and through their love have learnt to know Him; and as the giver of full knowledge reveals Himself clearly to them.

2 (b) As the moon little by little, day by day dispels the persisting darkness, so the Lord, Who from eternity abides with the soul, little by little as the soul matures, by His love destroys its sense-evils, attracts it to Himself and brings it into comformity with His will, even as the magnet attracts and brings under its control the piece of iron. Not for one day does He cease and grow weary, for His mere presence effects all the change. He Himself remains changeless.

2 (c) Does the soul which thus unites with the Lord perish or does it not? If it perishes then how can it unite with the Lord? If it does not perish, then because the sense-knowledge persists it cannot become one with the Lord. Then how is it? All this natal sense-impurity perishes, but the soul like the salt in the water unites with the Sacred Feet of the Lord and becomes His servant, having lost all self-assertion; and it will remain thus for ever without separation.

2 (d) The morning sun is first hidden in clouds of mist only showing its light dimly; afterwards when the mist has been driven away it shines out everywhere; so the soul with its intelligence hidden from eternity in the cloud-mist of sensory objects, and afterwards through the Grace the Lord dispels that sense-impurity. Then its intelligence shines out perfect, and having united with the Sacred Feet of the Lord it is purified.

(XII. The Worship of God

(XII). After cleansing himself from all sense-impurity, which has prevented him from reaching the Sacred Feet of the Lord which bear up all things, the freed soul, who through love has come into union with the Sacred Feet of the Lord, should mingle in the society of His devotees who lives as He does. Then, so that all false knowledge may pass away, he should consider the forms of these love-filled devotees and the sacred temples as the Lord Himself, and should live worshipping them.

1. Get rid of all sense-impurities, for these only overcome “the true wisdom which leads to heaven and are the cause of the false knowledge which leads to rebirths.

1(a) Retributive power is the principle which unites with actions, good and bad, as their result and the cause of future merit and demerit. Sensuousness is seen in the earth and all other material objects. Self-assertion produces false knowledge. These three sense-evils are unfit for you who have gained the true knowledge. Therefore leave them entirely.

2. Mingle in the society of those who are devoted to the Lord, for others will only bring false knowledge.

2 (a) The Retributive Power of previous actions will not touch the souls which have left entirely the society of those who are without love to the Lord-these have rejected the true path of wisdom and suffer rebirths through the persistence of sense-impurity – and who as lovers of the Lord have joined the society of His devotees, and renounced the world, having attained the heavenly wisdom.

3. Regard the forms of the Lord's devotees and His sacred temples ad the Lord Himself and worship them. For although the Lord is omnipresent, in these two forms He shines forth brightly, while in other forms He does not appear clearly.

3 (a) The supreme transcendent Lord, wishing that men should know Him, gives His sacred form to His devotees in the sacred ashes, beads and other tokens. He makes them to know Him through ecstatic contemplation. He gives to them an existence in His own all-pervading existence. So in the lives of these love-filled devotees who truly know Him, He shows Himself clearly like the butter in the curds. In those who are bound by sense-impurity He does not appear, but is lost sight of as the butter in the milk.

3 (b) As the fire appears distinct from the sticks so the Lord who is all- pervading in the world and exists in all things in such a way that we can say “That is t he Lord, and it is not the Lord,” will clearly show Himself in certain things by means of incantations. To those true devotees who see that form as the Lord Himself, will not He appears as that form itself?

4. Worship the Lord in these forms; for as the soul comes into union one by one with the blood-vessels, nerves, and other parts of the body and yet is different form all, so the Supreme Soul of the universe exists in all objects, and yet is distinct form them.

4 (a) To the seer (the man who sees God everywhere God is not absolutely distinct from other objects. Yet He is not the same, neither is He the same yet different. He is all these three and is in a relation to other objects which can best be expressed b y the term co-existent (attuvitham). So the whole world is His Form; yet let the Believer worship Him in the Form which stimulates his love most.

4 (b) As the retributive power of previous actions is the cause of the growth of desire, impurity and false knowledge-the products of this transient existence-unless that evil be done away with true wisdom cannot arise. If, in order that this evil may be abolished, one seeks the society of those who have attained this true wisdom and worships them, then true wisdom will arise. Therefore worship such with love.

4 (c) If, after the Lord has made known Himself and has made the soul like Himself, the soul forgets that goodness, it commits a fault that cannot be forgive, unlike previous faults committed through ignorance. Although the Lord has made the soul like Himself, he who has become a servant to the Lord is always His servant; and thus to such an one true power will lie in the worship of the Lord.

4 (d) O learner who hast attained to the state in which thou art like the Lord! This book of Divine Wisdom is meant to b e taught by the Divine Teacher who came in human form to the Sensuous who have the three sense-impurity and the Spiritual who have two sense-impurities have renounced all the sensuous world and shine with the Divine nature, the former by the Gracious Presence of the Lord in their souls and the latter by the teaching of the Divine Teacher thought look, touch and voice.

[Sensuous-Sahalar; Spiritual-Piralayakalar;Pure-Vignanakalar.]

In the first place let us briefly review the main ideas which are found in the exposition of the soul's redemption in the Siva-Gnan-Botham. It is impossible in the space available to do more than give a brief summary. The ideas are deserving of a much more careful and complete study. To begin with, what is said of God's action in the redemption of the soul?

I. The Divine Action. It is perfectly clear that the soul's redemption according to the Saiva Siddhanta is due entirely to God, The Lord Himself must begin the work or the soul can never take any step whatever in the path of liberation. A beautiful stanza in the commentary of one of the Truth Seer's disciples brings this out very clearly.

“Just as a king might come to his son who has been separated from him and who, knowing nothing of his true position, has been caught among savage tribes, and make known to him that he is truly his son, separate him from these savages, make him like himself, guide and guard him; so the Lord, in the form of a Gracious Teacher, comes to the soul caught by the five senses, harassed and deluded by them, and separates it from them; cleanses its impurity, makes it as Himself and places it at His Feet”

The beautiful smile of the mother's love in out text in VIII. 2(c) also teaches the same truth. As has been pointed out previously the Divine Agent in this work of redemption is the Gracious Energy of God.

“That pure energy is the light of wisdom. That Energy cannot exist apart fro the Lord. That Energy dispels the sense-evils which have clouded tee soul from eternity and reveals the Lord in his rejoicing, just as the sunlight dispels the darkness and reveals the sun.”

The next point to be noticed is that the work of God inredemption is effected through a pseudo-incarnation-a divine manifestation in a form especially adapted to the condition of the soul. The essential thing is that the Lord comes as a Teacher-a Gracious Teacher. The word Grace plays a very large part in the Saiva religion.

We may note here the classification of souls into three classes (1) The Sensuous (sahalar) who are under the dominance of the three sense-evils of sensuousness, self-assertion and retributive force. (2) The Spiritual (piralayakalar) or those who have been freed from the dominance of sensuousness. (3) The Pure (vigngnankalar) who have been freed from the dominance of sensuousness and retributive force and only have the one sense-evil of self-assertion. That is to say their union with the Lord is as complete as it can be in this sensuous world. The last sense-body. This classification roughly corresponds to Paul's classification into carnal, psychical and spiritual. It has been thought better however to use the terms Sensuous, Spiritual, Pure, as representing better the meaning of the original. The Lord appears to each of these classes in a form specially adapated to their peculiar conditions. To the Sensuous He comes in a human form, cognisable by the senses, and begins His work of teaching the soul the reality of the spiritual. To the Spiritual He comes as a spiritual teacher in His gracious spiritual form. To the Pure He does not appear as another person, but as an indwelling spirit in their hearts. He influences them so that they intuitively learn divine things. The correspondence in this last appearance with the functions and nature of the Divine Advocate promised by Jesus Christ can hardly fail to be noticed by all Christian readers. In all these manifestations He is regarded as a teacher and it is in the traditional habiliments of the Guru that He first appears. He has to teach men the true wisdom. There is also another side to God's redemptive activity, the purification of the soul from sense-evils.

The presence of the Spirit of the Lord purifies the soul. This is regarded partly as a result of the teaching of wisdom by the Divine Teacher. But again it is also regarded as an inevitable effect of the presence of that Spirit, just as the presence of the sun dispels the darkness. The illustrations in XI, 2(b) of the moon little by little dispersing the darkness and in XI. 2(d) of the morning sun driving away the clouds of mist are very beautiful and appropriate There is just one other point which should not be lost sight of, viz., the idea of the persistence of Divine Grace-an idea which had a large place in Calvinism. This idea is expressed in X. 2(b). The Lord will carry out His work till His purpose is completely fulfilled.

II. The Soul's Action. We shall now see what part the soul itself has to take in this redemptive work. Briefly there are four stages in the soul's response to the Divine Action. First, the soul must feel the power of the Divine Grace as it is revealed in the Divine Teacher and in the words of our book it must “come to the Feet of the Lord”. Secondly, the soul must, through the Divine Wisdom, see the Divine Nature in itself as the king's son had to realise his royal lineage. “Divine Wisdom is self-illuminating, revealing at the same time both the self and the Deity,” says a commentator. (Sivagnana-Sitthiar, IX 5.)

As the soul receives this Divine Wisdom and finds in it a “cooling shade,” it next comes to realise the transient nature of the whole sensory universe, and then definitely renounces this as ad end, or an object for its affection, and fixes its thought upon the Lord Himself and His Divine Grace. This is brought out in a very fine stanza in Sivagnana-Sitthiar.

“The soul through the teaching of the Divine Teacher comes to know that the sense-world is unreal and so to hate it all, with its varied beauties and enjoyments. The all-wise One who is without height or depth, without definable qualities, beyond human understanding and without any attachments, will reveal Himself in his heart and best-owing upon him that unspeakable love, and through that love, unspeakable joy, will reside in his soul” (sivagnana-Sitthiar, IX.6.)

III. The End of The Soul's Redemption. -We have now studied the methods by which the soul's redemption is effected and we have to see finally the end of that Redemption. The ultimate stage of the Redemptive Process is conceived as a union between the Soul and God. The exact nature of this union is expressed in the phrase “an Advaita union,” i.e., an inseparable union of the soul with the Lord. This union is regarded not as the union of two equal and identical parts of one metaphysical entity, but the union of two souls in a definite relationship. This relationship is sometimes looked upon as that of a son and a king, but most usually is expressed in the terms master and servant. It is an eternal relationship which can never be broken. Though the soul is united to God in this indissoluble union, it does not become identical with God but co-exists in a union of master and servant, effected and maintained eternally by the Divine Grace. I will quote a little from Sivagnana Yogi-the greatest commentator on the Siva-Gnana-Botham.

“The King's son in relation to the king possesses a derived authority and not a self-constituted authority. Similarly the soul never breaks the relationship of servant and master which it has with God, and although, if God is conceived as external to itself, the soul may be regarded as self-determining, when God is conceived as indwelling in the soul, the soul must always be regarded as determined. It is said tat the soul is self-determining in heaven. This is true as regards the bonds of the sense-world and the operations of God as a result of those bonds, but because the soul can only operate by means of the Grace of God it must always be regarded as determined.”12

“There are two kinds of Intelligence-first that which knows of itself, secondly that which knows only as it unites with another intelligence. As the soul unites with the Lord it takes upon itself the qualities of the Lord, and becomes like Him. IN this sense it may be said to become the Lord, but as it has immediate knowledge of the Lord alone, with whom it is united, it must be called the servant of the Lord. This union and likeness take place through the Gracious Energy, the Spirit of the Lord. The union is not like the union of milk with milk or water with water. The likeness is one with subsists only because of the union and not of itself.”

“We learn from the sacred books that 'in heaven the soul enjoys supreme bliss.' The soul which can comprehend this supreme bliss can also enjoy it. To know we are united with an object is to be absorbed in that object. This is an experience. This experience is peculiar to the soul and cannot be predicated of the Lord. This is heavenly joy is not, like earthly joy, the fruit of actions. The truest earthly joy is fro the soul to possess a good character. So the true heavenly joy is for the soul to possess the character of God and to shine with His light.”

The unity of the soul and God described by the smile of master and servant is primarily a unity of will, so that the acts of the servant are in truth the acts of the master, and the will of the master becomes also the will of the servant. This is made quite clear in chapter X. The acts that the soul performs in this union are not acts done in conjunction with the sense-principles, and so are not liable to the law of retribution. They do no produce further sensory existences.

In the following stanza the eternal distinction that abides between the soul and God is clearly expressed. “The difference between the Lord and the soul may be further seen in the following: The Lord is the Spirit of Divine Grace. The soul is the spirit that receives that Grace. The Lord is the Spirit who destroys sin and gives bliss. The soul is the spirit which bathes in these. The Lord is the self-knowing spirit and the soul the spirit which know only what it is taught. Though the two unite they are two and cannot become one and the same.” [Sivagnana Sitthaiar, XI. 11]

In the quotations given something has already been said about the conditions of this heavenly existence. The following quotations show that in the final state of heavenly bliss the soul, realises its oneness with the Lord, becomes conformed to His likeness, and is completely cleansed from all the sense-impurities. Through the Grace of the Lord, the soul shares in the Divine Wisdom, receives the divine calm of spirit and lives in a state of unalloyed joy.

“The true definition of bliss is the full realisation of the Divine Grace, so that all sense-impurities are entirely done away with” - Sivapragasam, II.32.

“The Siddhantam says that the Lord will lead the soul through all its births by His Grace, immerse it in the sea of wisdom, give it boundless joy, wash away all sin, make it a freed soul, deliver it form the round of births and deaths, and set it finally at the Gracious Feet of Lord.” -Siva-gnana-Sitthiar, VIII.

“After the soul has been prepared, the saving Grace of the Lord comes to it; wisdom appears and enters into his heart by the Grace of the Teacher, and he longs for purification. Then without like or dislike, looking upon everything with an equable mind, he becomes a freed soul, and he-finite intelligence-unites in an inseparable union with the Lord-infinite intelligence-and the likeness of the Lord alone shines out.” -Sivagnana Sitthiar, VIII 29

IV. Religious acts and sacrament.-The practical religious life of the Saiva Siddhantist remains to be considered. The Hindu mind has always realised the great value of religious rites and ceremonies, and Saiva Siddhantism is in accord with this attitude in the stress it lays upon the practical religious life and special acts of peculiar virtue.

In chapter VIII, we see that a soul is prepared for the Divine teaching by the performances of certain religious acts in former births. It is distinctly stated that these acts cannot be regarded as means of obtaining heaven. They refer to the ordinary religious observances, acts of piety, and special penances. These are regarded as preparing the soul for the Divine teaching. The motive of the act is important, and it is enjoined that all these acts should be done with disinterestedness and done “to the Lord.” Then to the soul that is making its pilgrimage to liberation two special religious acts are enjoined. The first is ecstatic contemplation or the intense mental contemplation of the Lord. This is a means for attaining union with the Lord and for the purification of the soul. The illustration of the person bitten by a snake, and so counteracts the poison, is used to enforce the lesson.

It is stated that if the soul contemplates the sensory world it will become united with its spirit; so if it ecstatically contemplates the Lord it will become like Him. The soul is likened to a mirror13 by reason of its correspondence to its environment.

The second act is that of the repetition of the five mystic letters. These letters are variously explained. Most Indian sects have some mystical formula of special virture. There is a chapter in Tiru-Arul-Payan which gives minute directions for the repetition of these letters and fully explains their virtue. The repetition of these mystic letters is supposed to destroy the hankering after the sensuous which “like the scent of the assofoetida” still clings to the soul during its existence in this sensory universe, and at the same time to prevent the works which have to be performed from acquiring retributive force.

The twelfth chapter treats of what might be called the sacraments of Saivism. The objects of religious worship enjoined in this chapter consist first of the sains of God, and secondly of special symbols which have acquired a peculiar divine significance. The absolute necessity of worship and devotion is insisted on. This worship and devotion is at once the expression of the love of the soul to God and the means of keeping the soul in blissful union with the Divine Teacher's while in this world. The Lord shows Himself more clearly in some things than in others, and those things in which He shows Himself most clearly are declared to be objects of worship and to b e regarded as if they were the Lord himself; and by means of ecstatic contemplation and special incantations they may b e said actually become the Lord for the true worshipper. The love-filled devotees of the Lord, smeared with the sacred ashes and wearing the bead-rosaty and those sacred temples where He has manifestated Himself are to b e the specia lojbects of worship and to be regarded “as the Lord Himself”. One commentator says: “Upon those who see the Lord in the sacred temple, the Lord Himself will bestow His Grace. To those who worship the sacred forms with mystic prayers, and to those who, saying 'The All-pervading had made His home in this place,' make offerings there, the Lord will appear in the symbol like flame in the fire according to the wish of each, and will bestow His Grace upon them. As the hidden milk of the cow flows in streams at the mere thought of the calf, so the Lord in the abundance of His love appears everywhere to His devotees and bestows His Grace upon them.” [Sivapragasam, XII,4]. So even here it is the Lord which is the object of the worshipper.


1. Meykandar belonged to the thirteenth Century.

2. Gnanasambandhar flourished during the seventh century. Sanakaraacharyar attained Maha Samadi in 820 A.D.

3. Popley is but a Christian missionary.

4. It is thus Anava mala is translated by Popley.

5. Sensuousness: The state that is easily affected by the medium of senses. Sense-instruments are products of Maya.

6. The word is not mirror, but crystal.

7. The green scum is 'Paasi'.

8. And

9. 9. See note 6.

10. Self-assertion, sensuousness and retribution. Popley's translation of Anava, Maya and Karma.

11. The word 'overcome' must by substituted by the word 'obscure'.

12. ______________________pg 224________________________

13. The crystal is referred to here as mirror.

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