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Friday, April 8, 2011

The essence of Vedas

Five Fold is the Path, AGNIHOTRA is the Way

Yagna - Do Yagna for Purification of Atmosphere
Daan - Do Daan for Creation
Taap - Do Taap for fullfilment of resolves
Karma - Do Karma for Self Purification
Swadhay - Do Swadhay for Salvation

Verses from Scripture on Secondary Scripture

Just as the luminous day is born from light, so may the radiant singers shine far and wide! Truly, the poet's wisdom enhances the glory of the Ordinance decreed by God, the Powerful, the Ancient.
Atharva Veda 4.1.5-6. ve, 105
The Word also makes known Heaven, Earth, wind, space, the waters, fire, the Gods, men, animals, birds, grass and trees, all animals down to worms, insects and ants. It also makes known what is right and wrong, truth and untruth, good and evil, what is pleasing and what is unpleasing. Verily, if there were no Word, there would be knowledge neither of right and wrong, nor of truth and untruth, nor of the pleasing and unpleasing. The Word makes all this known. Meditate on the Word.
Sama Veda, Chhandogya Upanishad 7.2.1. VE, 111
The man who rejects the words of the scriptures and follows the impulse of desire attains neither his perfection, nor joy, nor the Path Supreme. Let the scriptures be, therefore, thy authority as to what is right and what is not right.
Bhagavad Gita 16.23-24. BGM, 111
Just as gold is freed from its dross only by fire, and acquires its shining appearance from heat, so the mind of a living being, cleansed from the filth of his actions and his desires through his love for Me, is transformed into My transcendent likeness. The mind is purified through the hearing and uttering of sacred hymns in My praise.
Bhagavata Purana 11.14.25. HP, 378
If daily to his home the friends who love him come, and coming, bring delight to eyes that kindle bright, a man has found the whole of life within his soul.
Panchatantra. PN, 218
He who worships the Linga, knowing it to be the first cause, the source of consciousness, the substance of the universe, is nearer to Me than any other being.
Siva Purana 1.18.159. HP, 227
With the help of the gardeners called Mind and Love, plucking the flower called Steady Contemplation, offering the water of the flood of the Self's own bliss, worship the Lord with the sacred formula of silence!
Lalla. IT, 360
Who will finish this suffering of mine? Who will take my burden on himself? Thy name will carry me over the sea of this world. Thou dost run to help the distressed. Now run to me, Narayana, to me, poor and wretched as I am. Consider neither my merit nor my faults. Tukaram implores thy mercy.
Tukaram. TU, 114-115
The pot is a God. The winnowing fan is a God. The stone in the street is a God. The comb is a God. The bowstring is also a God. The bushel is a God and the spouted cup is a God. Gods, Gods, there are so many, there's no place left for a foot. There is only one God. He is our Lord of the meeting rivers.
Vachana, Basavanna 563. SO, 84
They will find enduring joy who praise the auspicious God who knows the four Vedas and the six sacred sciences, who is Himself the sacred Word recited by scholars of the scripture.
Tirumurai 2.147.1. PS, 110
The eighteen Puranas are the rich ornaments, and the theories propounded in them are the gems for which the rhythmic style provides the settings.
Jnaneshvari 1.5. JN, 25
He has become earth, water, fire, air and ether. He has become the sun and moon. He has become the constellations of the stars. Mantra and tantra has He become. He has become the medicine and those who swallow it. He has become the Gods -- Indra and all the rest. He has Himself become the universe entire. This soul and body, too, has He become. He has become the four Vedas. It is He who creates bondage and liberation, and it is He who destroys bondage and liberation. In the mornings and in the evenings, do this worship and know Siva!
By means of the hymns one attains this world, by the sacrificial formulas the space in-between, by holy chant the world revealed by the sages. With the syllable Aum as his sole support, the wise man attains that which is peaceful, unaging, deathless, fearless -- the Supreme.
Atharva Veda, Prashna Upanishad 5.7. VE, 775
By means of the hymns one attains this world, by the sacrificial formulas the space in-between, by holy chant the world revealed by the sages. With the syllable Aum as his sole support, the wise man attains that which is peaceful, unaging, deathless, fearless -- the Supreme.
Atharva Veda, Prashna Upanishad 5.7. VE, 775

What Is the Holy Namah Sivaya Mantra?

Namah Sivaya is among the foremost Vedic mantras. It means "adoration to Siva" and is called the Panchakshara, or "five-letters." Within its celestial tones and hues resides all of the intuitive knowledge of Saivism. Aum.
God Siva dances His dance of creation, preservation and dissolution within the five elements. Namah Sivaya holds the secret of transformation, a power so perfect it can turn the instinctive nature, depicted as a ruffian, toward superconsciousness.
Namah Sivaya is the most holy name of God Siva, recorded at the very center of the Vedas and elaborated in the Saiva Agamas. Na is the Lord's concealing grace, Ma is the world, Si stands for Siva, Va is His revealing grace, Ya is the soul. The five elements, too, are embodied in this ancient formula for invocation. Na is earth, Ma is water, Si is fire, Va is air, and Ya is ether, or akasha. Many are its meanings. Namah Sivaya has such power, the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondages of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect. Namah Sivaya quells the instinct, cuts through the steel bands and turns this intellect within and on itself, to face itself and see its ignorance. Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within. The holy Natchintanai proclaims, "Namah Sivaya is in truth both Agama and Veda. Namah Sivaya represents all mantras and tantras. Namah Sivaya is our souls, our bodies and possessions. Namah Sivaya has become our sure protection." Aum Namah Sivaya.

How Is Namah Sivaya Properly Chanted?

The Panchakshara Mantra, Namah Sivaya, is repeated verbally or mentally, often while counting a mala of rudraksha beads, drawing the mind in upon itself to cognize Lord Siva's infinite, all-pervasive presence. Aum.
A mystical solitaire sits deep in a forest, with only his kamandalu, water pot, and a yogadanda on which to rest his arm. With a rudraksha mala in his right hand, he chants "Aum Namah Sivaya," drawing awareness to Siva's all-pervasive presence.
Japa yoga is the first yoga to be performed toward the goal of jnana. In the temple perform japa. Under your favorite tree perform japa. Seated in a remote cave perform japa. Aum Namah Sivaya can be performed on rudraksha beads over and over when the sun is setting, when the sun is rising or high noon lights the day. "Aum Namah Sivaya," the Saivite chants. Aum Namah Sivaya feeds his soul, brightens his intellect and quells his instinctive mind. Take the holy tears of Siva, the auburn rudraksha beads, into your hands. Push a bead over the middle finger with your thumb and hold as the intonation marks its passage. The duly initiated audibly repeats "Namah Sivaya," and when japa is performed silently, mentally chants "Sivaya Namah." There are many ways to chant this mantra, but perform it as you were initiated. Unauthorized experimentation is forbidden. Those prone to angry rage should never do japa. The Tirumantiram announces, "His feet are the letter Na. His navel is the letter Ma. His shoulders are the letter Si. His mouth, the letter Va. His radiant cranial center aloft is Ya. Thus is the five-lettered form of Siva." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Is Initiation Necessary to Perform Japa?

The most precious of all Saivite mantras, Namah Sivaya is freely sung and chanted by one and all. Mantra diksha bestows the permission and power for japa yoga. Without this initiation, its repetition bears lesser fruit. Aum.
A young king, wishing to rule dharmically under divine guidance, has been initiated into the Namah Sivaya mantra. Even amid royal duties, he holds holy beads and wordlessly chants the Five Letters, his mind on Siva, symbolized by the Nandi flags.
The Panchakshara Mantra is the word of God, the name and total essence of Siva. But to chant Namah Sivaya and to be empowered to chant Namah Sivaya is likened to the difference between writing a check without money in the bank and writing a check with money in the bank. Namah Sivaya is the gateway to yoga. Initiation from an orthodox guru is given after preparation, training and attaining a certain level of purity and dedication. The guru bestows the authority to chant Namah Sivaya. After initiation, the devotee is obligated to intone it regularly as instructed. This forges the shishya's permanent bond with the guru and his spiritual lineage, sampradaya, and fires the process of inner unfoldment. From the lips of my Satgurunatha I learned Namah Sivaya, and it has been the central core of my life, strength and fulfillment of destiny. The secret of Namah Sivaya is to hear it from the right lips at the right time. Then, and only then, is it the most powerful mantra for you. The Siva Samhita affirms, "Only the knowledge imparted by a guru, through his lips, is powerful and useful; otherwise it becomes fruitless, weak and very painful." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Is Saivism's Affirmation of Faith?

The proclamation "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality" is a potent affirmation of faith. Said in any of Earth's 3,000 languages, it summarizes the beliefs and doctrines of the Saivite Hindu religion. Aum.
Philosophy is a common subject at village gatherings. One man, seated, reads from a palm leaf the Saivite affirmation, "Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam." It provokes profound discussion, moderated by an articulate and animated preacher.
An affirmation of faith is a terse, concise statement summarizing a complex philosophical tradition. "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality," is what we have when we take the milk from the sacred cow of Saivism, separate out the cream, churn that cream to rich butter and boil that butter into a precious few drops of ghee. "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality" is the sweet ghee of the Saivite Hindu religion. In the Sanskrit language it is Premaiva Sivamaya, Satyam eva Parashivah. In the sweet Tamil language it is even more succinct and beautiful: Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam. In French it is Dieu Siva est Amour Omniprésent et Réalité Transcendante. We strengthen our mind with positive affirmations that record the impressions of the distilled and ultimate truths of our religion so that these memories fortify us in times of distress, worldliness or anxiety. The Tirumantiram proclaims, "Transcending all, yet immanent in each He stands. For those bound in the world here below, He is the great treasure. Himself the Parapara Supreme, for all worlds He gave the way that His greatness extends." Aum Namah Sivaya.

How Is the Affirmation of Faith Used?

Intoning the affirmation of faith, we positively assert that God is both manifest and unmanifest, both permeating the world and transcending it, both personal Divine Love and impersonal Reality. Aum Namah Sivaya.
With reliefs of Siva, Parvati and Ganesha behind them, two bhaktas offer hymns to God. One, a minstrel bearing a wayfarer's bundle, plays a lute. The other is a brahmachari. They have composed a song derived from the Saivite affirmation of faith.
On the lips of Saivites throughout the world resounds the proclamation "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality." It is a statement of fact, a summation of truth, even more potent when intoned in one's native language. "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality," we repeat prior to sleep. "God Siva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality," we say upon awakening as we recall the transcendent knowledge gained from the rishis during sleep. These sacred words we say as we bathe to prepare to face the day, God Siva's day, reminding ourselves that His immanent love protects us, guides us, lifting our mind into the arena of useful thoughts and keeping us from harm's way. Devotees write this affirmation 1,008 times as a sahasra lekhana sadhana. It may be spoken 108 times daily in any language before initiation into Namah Sivaya. Yea, the recitation of this affirmation draws devotees into Siva consciousness. The Tirumantiram says, "The ignorant prate that love and Siva are two. They do not know that love alone is Siva. When men know that love and Siva are the same, love as Siva they ever remain." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Verses from Scripture on Affirmations of Faith

Homage to the source of health, and to the source of delight. Homage to the maker of health and to the maker of delight. Homage to the Auspicious and to the more Auspicious. (Namastaraya namah shambhave cha mayobhave cha, namah shankaraya cha mayaskaraya cha, namah shivaya cha shivataraya cha.)
Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittiriya Samhita 4.5.8. yvk, 359 (Namah Sivaya, at the center of the Vedas)
From all knowledge, yoga practice and meditation, all that relates to the Aum sound is to be meditated on as the only blissful (Siva). Indeed, the Aum sound is Siva.
Atharva Veda, Atharvashikha Upanishad 2. UPB, 782
Mantra yields early success due to practice done in previous life. Self-fulfilling, too, is the mantra which is received according to the line of tradition, with due diksha, obtained in the right way. Innumerable are the mantras; they but distract the mind. Only that mantra which is received through the grace of the guru gives all fulfillment.
Kularnava Tantra 11.3. KT, 112
Japa is the happy giver of enjoyment, salvation, self-fulfilling wish. Therefore, practice the yoga of japa and dhyana. All blemishes due to transgressions of rule, from the jiva up to the Brahman, done knowingly or unknowingly, are wiped away by japa.
Kularnava Tantra 11.1. KT, 111
There are two ways of contemplation of Brahman: in sound and in silence. By sound we go to silence. The sound of Brahman is Aum. With Aum we go to the End, the silence of Brahman. The End is immortality, union and peace. Even as a spider reaches the liberty of space by means of its own thread, the man of contemplation by means of Aum reaches freedom. The sound of Brahman is Aum. At the end of Aum is silence. It is a silence of joy. It is the end of the journey, where fear and sorrow are no more: steady, motionless, never-falling, everlasting, immortal. It is called the omnipresent Vishnu. In order to reach the Highest, consider, in adoration, the sound and the silence of Brahman. For it has been said: "God is sound and silence. His name is Aum. Attain, therefore, contemplation, contemplation in silence on Him.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitri Upanishad 6.22-23. UPM, 102
The bank of a river, the cave, the summit of a hill, the place of holy bath, the confluence of rivers, the holy forest, the vacant garden, the root of the bilva tree, the slope of the hill, the temple, the coast of the sea, one's own house -- these are the places lauded for the sadhana of mantra japa.
Kularnava Tantra 11.4. KT, 112
Letters five are the Lord's gift. Centered in them, He dances, night and day, in endearment eternal, He that assumed forms eight. Realize the truth of blissful Letters Five; the transcendent Reality fills your heart, immortal you will be. Panchakshara is your refuge, none other, I emphatically say.
Tirumantiram 974, 980. TM
Thinking of Him, great love welling up in their heart, if they finger the rudraksha beads, it will bring them the glory of the Gods. Chant our naked Lord's name. Say, "Namah Sivaya!"
Tirumurai 3.307.3. PS, 217
The mystic expression "Namah Sivaya" is the sacred name of Lord Siva, is the sum and substance of the four Vedas and conveys in the sacred path souls which are full of devotion and do utter it with a melting heart and tears trickling from their eyes.
Tirumurai 3.307.1. TT, 61
The Lord of Appati is both inside and outside, form and no form. He is both the flood and the bank. He is the broad-rayed sun. Himself the highest mystery, He is in all hidden thoughts. He is thought and meaning, and embraces all who embrace Him.
Tirumurai 4.48.7. PS, 114
Let not the effect of past deeds rise in quick succession and overpower you. Chant the Panchakshara -- the mantra of the five letters.
Yogaswami, Grace Ambrosia 5. SY, 407
Through the Letters Five, all sorrow was erased. Through the Letters Five, all want has disappeared. Through the Letters Five, true happiness arose. Within the Letters Five I stayed contained. Through the Letters Five can God's holy feet be seen. Through the Letters Five, the whole world you can rule. Through the Letters Five, mind's action can be stilled. The Letters Five have come and entered my heart.
Natchintanai, "Adoration..."


Monism and Dualism

When the Great Being is seen as both the higher and the lower, then the knot of the heart is rent asunder, all doubts are dispelled and karma is destroyed.
Atharva Veda, Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.8. EH, 170

What Are the Many Hindu Philosophies?

From time immemorial, India's sages and philosophers have pondered the nature of reality. Out of their speculations have blossomed hundreds of schools of thought, all evolving from the rich soil of village Hinduism. Aum.
Followers of a Saivite lineage, a Vaishnavite heritage and the Sikh tradition assemble at an outdoor pavilion. Though their paths and philosophies differ, they live in harmony and mutual respect, here keeping time with their hands as they sing in unison.
At one end of Hinduism's complex spectrum is monism, advaita, which perceives a unity of God, soul and world, as in Sankara's acosmic pantheism and Kashmir Saiva monism. At the other end is dualism, dvaita--exemplified by Madhva and the early Pashupatas--which teaches two or more separate realities. In between are views describing reality as one and yet not one, dvaita-advaita, such as Ramanuja's Vaishnava Vedanta and Srikantha's Saiva Vishishtadvaita. Hindu philosophy consists of many schools of Vedic and Agamic thought, including the six classical darshanas--Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa and Vedanta. Each theology expresses the quest for God and is influenced by the myth, mystery and cultural syncretism of contemporary, tribal, shamanic Hinduism alive in every village in every age. India also produced views, called nastika, that reject the Vedas and are thus not part of Hinduism, such as Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Charvaka materialistic atheism. The Vedas state, "Theologians ask: What is the cause? Is it Brahma? Whence are we born? Whereby do we live? And on what are we established?" Aum Namah Sivaya.

How Do Monism and Dualism Differ?

To most monists God is immanent, temporal, becoming. He is creation itself, material cause, but not efficient cause. To most dualists, God is transcendent, eternal, Creator--efficient cause but not material cause. Aum.
With Siva-Sakti at the center, women polish pots to brilliance. In philosophy, a pot, like cosmic creation, has three causes: material (clay or brass); instrumental (the potter's wheel) and efficient (the craftsman). For monistic theists, God is all three.
To explain creation, philosophers speak of three kinds of causes: efficient, instrumental and material. These are likened to a potter's molding a pot from clay. The potter, who makes the process happen, is the efficient cause. The wheel he uses to spin and mold the pot is the instrumental cause, thought of as God's power, or shakti. The clay is the material cause. Theistic dualists believe in God as Lord and Creator, but He remains ever separate from man and the world and is not the material cause. Among the notable dualists have been Kapila, Madhva, Meykandar, Chaitanya, Aristotle, Augustine, Kant and virtually all Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians. The most prevalent monism is pantheism, "all is God," and its views do not permit of a God who is Lord and Creator. He is immanent, temporal--material cause but not efficient cause. History's pantheists include Sankara, Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Plotinus, the Stoics, Spinoza and Asvaghosha. The Vedas proclaim, "As a thousand sparks from a fire well blazing spring forth, each one like the rest, so from the Imperishable all kinds of beings come forth, my dear, and to Him return." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Are Monism and Dualism Reconcilable?

Monists, from their mountaintop perspective, perceive a one reality in all things. Dualists, from the foothills, see God, souls and world as eternally separate. Monistic theism is the perfect reconciliation of these two views. Aum.
A reflective saint has reached, through yoga, a mountaintop consciousness which reconciles the differing views of monism and theism. His state of grace is blessed by Siva, who wraps a garland around his head, and Sakti, who holds him in Her lap.
Visualize a mountain and the path leading to its icy summit. As the climber traverses the lower ranges, he sees the meadows, the passes, the giant boulders. This we can liken to dualism, the natural, theistic state where God and man are different. Reaching the summit, the climber sees that the many parts are actually a one mountain. This realization is likened to pure monism. Unfortunately, many monists, reaching the summit, teach a denial of the foothills they themselves climbed on the way to their monistic platform. However, by going a little higher, lifting the kundalini into the space above the mountain's peak, the entire Truth is known. The bottom and the top are viewed as a one whole, just as theism and monism are accepted by the awakened soul. Monistic theism, Advaita Èshvaravada, reconciles the dichotomy of being and becoming, the apparent contradiction of God's eternality and temporal activity, the confusion of good and evil, the impasse of one and two. The Vedas affirm, "He who knows this becomes a knower of the One and of duality, he who has attained to the oneness of the One, to the self-same nature." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Is the View of Monistic Theism?

Monistic theism is the synthesis of monism and dualism. It says God is transcendent and immanent, eternal and temporal, Being and becoming, Creator and created, Absolute and relative, efficient and material cause. Aum.
Two mighty dvarapalakas guard the sanctum, pointing devotees toward Siva within. A bhakta approaches in enstatic joy, having experienced his oneness with all, realizing that God Siva is both in this world and beyond it, both Creator and created.
Both strict monism and dualism are fatally flawed, for neither alone encompasses the whole of truth. In other words, it is not a choice between the God-is-man-and-world view of pantheistic monism and the God-is-separate-from-man-and-world view of theistic dualism. It is both. Panentheism, which describes "all in God, and God in all," and monistic theism are Western terms for Advaita Èshvaravada. It is the view that embraces the oneness of God and soul, monism, and the reality of the Personal God, theism. As panentheists, we believe in an eternal oneness of God and man at the level of Satchidananda and Parashiva. But a difference is acknowledged during the evolution of the soul body. Ultimately, even this difference merges in identity. Thus, there is perfectly beginningless oneness and a temporary difference which resolves itself in perfect identity. In the acceptance of this identity, monistic theists differ from most vishishtadvaitins. The Vedas declare, "He moves and He moves not; He is far, yet is near. He is within all that is, yet is also outside. The man who sees all beings in the Self and the Self in all beings is free from all fear." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Is Monistic Theism Found in the Vedas?

Again and again in the Vedas and from satgurus we hear "Aham Brahmasmi," "I am God," and that God is both immanent and transcendent. Taken together, these are clear statements of monistic theism. Aum Namah Sivaya.
A devotee holds hands high above his head in the mudra of elevated homage. Siva Nataraja, the Divine Dancer, stands on Apasmarapurusha, the "forgetful person" who represents human heedlessness and ignorance, needful of divine guidance.
Monistic theism is the philosophy of the Vedas. Scholars have long noted that the Hindu scriptures are alternately monistic, describing the oneness of the individual soul and God, and theistic, describing the reality of the Personal God. One cannot read the Vedas, Saiva Agamas and hymns of the saints without being overwhelmed with theism as well as monism. Monistic theism is the essential teaching of Hinduism, of Saivism. It is the conclusion of Tirumular, Vasugupta, Gorakshanatha, Bhaskara, Srikantha, Basavanna, Vallabha, Ramakrishna, Yogaswami, Nityananda, Radhakrishnan and thousands of others. It encompasses both Siddhanta and Vedanta. It says, God is and is in all things. It propounds the hopeful, glorious, exultant concept that every soul will finally merge with Siva in undifferentiated oneness, none left to suffer forever because of human transgression. The Vedas wisely proclaim, "Higher and other than the world-tree, time and forms is He from whom this expanse proceeds--the bringer of dharma, the remover of evil, the lord of prosperity. Know Him as in one's own Self, as the immortal abode of all." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Verses from Scripture on Monism and Dualism

There is on Earth no diversity. He gets death after death who perceives here seeming diversity. As a unity only is It to be looked upon -- this indemonstrable, enduring Being, spotless, beyond space, the unborn Soul, great, enduring.
Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.19-20. uph, 143
Contemplating Him who has neither beginning, middle, nor end -- the One, the all-pervading, who is wisdom and bliss, the formless, the wonderful, whose consort is Uma, the highest Lord, the ruler, having three eyes and a blue throat, the peaceful -- the silent sage reaches the source of Being, the universal witness, on the other shore of darkness.
Atharva Veda, Kaivalya Upanishad 7. VE, 764
Where there is duality, there one sees another, one smells another, one tastes another, one speaks to another, one hears another, one knows another. But where everything has become one's own Self, with what should one see whom, with what should one smell whom, with what should one taste whom, with what should one speak to whom, with what should one hear whom, with what should one think of whom, with what should one touch whom, with what should one know whom? How can He be known by whom all this is made known?
Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.5.15. VE, 420-21
Into deep darkness fall those who follow the immanent. Into deeper darkness fall those who follow the transcendent. One is the outcome of the transcendent and another is the outcome of the immanent. Thus have we heard from the ancient sages who explained this truth to us. He who knows both the transcendent and the immanent, with the immanent overcomes death and with the transcendent reaches immortality.
Shukla Yajur Veda, Isha Upanishad 12-14. UPM, 49-50
Than whom there is naught else higher, than whom there is naught smaller, naught greater, the One stands like a tree established in heaven. By Him, the Person, is this whole universe filled.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.9. UPR, 727
Even as water becomes one with water, fire with fire, and air with air, so the mind becomes one with the Infinite Mind and thus attains final freedom.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitri Upanishad 6.34.11. TU, 103
One who is established in the contemplation of nondual unity will abide in the Self of everyone and realize the immanent, all-pervading One. There is no doubt of this.
Sarvajnanottara Agama, Atma Sakshatkara 14. RM, 107
O Six-Faced God! What is the use of putting it in so many words? Multiplicity of form exists only in the self, and the forms are externalized by the confused mind. They are objectively created simultaneously with thoughts of them.
Sarvajnanottara Agama, Atma Sakshatkara 20-21. RM, 107
The luminous Being of the perfect I-consciousness, inherent in the multitude of words, whose essence consists in the knowledge of the highest nondualism, is the secret of mantra.
Siva Sutras 2.3. YS, 88
I sought Him in terms of I and you. But He who knows not I from you taught me the truth that I indeed am you. And now I talk not of I and you.
Tirumantiram 1441. TM
Oh thou who pervades all space, both now and hereafter, as the Soul of souls! The Vedas, Agamas, Puranas, Itihasas and all other sciences inculcate fully the tenet of nonduality. It is the inexplicable duality that leads to the knowledge of nonduality. This is consonant with reason, experience, tradition, and is admitted by the dualists and nondualists.
Tayumanavar, 10.3. PT, 44
When the Vedas and Agamas all proclaim that the whole world is filled with God and that there is nothing else, how can we say that the world exists and the body exists? Is there anything more worthy of reproach than to attribute an independent reality to them? Everything is His doing -- He who never forgets, He who does nothing while doing everything, He who acts without acting. Love is Siva. Love is you. Love is I. Love is everything. "All speech is silence. All activity is silence. All is the fullness of blessed silence" [Tayumanuvar].
Natchintanai, Letter 2. NT, 16

Saiva Siddhanta

Views of Reality

Whoever has found and has awakened to the Self that has entered into this perilous inaccessible place, the body, he is the maker of the universe, for he is the maker of all. His is the world. Indeed, he is the world itself.
Shukla Yajur Veda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.13. UPR, 276

What Are Saiva Siddhanta's Two Schools?

There are two Saiva Siddhanta schools: pluralistic theism, in the lines of Aghorasiva and Meykandar, and Tirumular's monistic theism. While differing slightly, they share a religious heritage of belief, culture and practice. Aum.
Saint Tirumular sits in the Himalayas, his hand in chin or jnana mudra, betokening wisdom, urging all to cling to the feet of the satguru. Saint Meykandar sits below, at his southern aadheenam, with his forty-verse Sivajnanabodham in hand.
Here we compare the monistic Siddhanta of Rishi Tirumular that this catechism embodies and the pluralistic realism expounded by Meykandar and his disciples. They share far more in common than they hold in difference. In South India, their points of agreement are summarized as guru, preceptor; Linga, holy image of Siva; sanga, fellowship of devotees; and valipadu, ritual worship. Both agree that God Siva is the efficient cause of creation, and also that His Sakti is the instrumental cause. Their differences arise around the question of material cause, the nature of the original substance, whether it is one with or apart from God. They also differ on the identity of the soul and God, evil and final dissolution. While monistic theists, Advaita Èshvaravadins, view the 2,200-year-old Tirumantiram as Siddhanta's authority, pluralists, Anekavadins, rely mainly on the 800-year-old Aghorashiva Paddhatis and Meykandar Sastras. The Tirumantiram inquires: "Who can know the greatness of our Lord? Who can measure His length and breadth? He is the mighty nameless Flame of whose unknown beginnings I venture to speak." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Are the Two Views on Creation?

Monistic theists believe that Siva creates the cosmos as an emanation of Himself. He is His creation. Pluralistic theists hold that Siva molds eternally existing matter to fashion the cosmos and is thus not His creation. Aum.
God, soul and world are the sum of existence. In Saiva Siddhanta, God is called Pati, meaning lord or master, shown here as an animated Siva. Pashu, meaning cow or beast, is the soul. Pasha, the world which binds the soul, is the rope in Siva's hand.
Pluralistic Siddhantins hold that God, souls and world--Pati, pashu and pasha--are three eternally coexistent realities. By creation, this school understands that Siva fashions existing matter, maya, into various forms. In other words, God, like a potter, is the efficient cause of the cosmos. But He is not the material cause, the "clay" from which the cosmos is formed. Pluralists hold that any reason for the creation of pasha--anava, karma and maya--whether it be a divine desire, a demonstration of glory or merely a playful sport, makes the Creator less than perfect. Therefore, pasha could never have been created. Monistic Siddhantins totally reject the potter analogy. They teach that God is simultaneously the efficient, instrumental and material cause. Siva is constantly emanating creation from Himself. His act of manifestation may be likened to heat issuing from a fire, a mountain from the earth or waves from the ocean. The heat is the fire, the mountain is the earth, the waves are not different from the ocean. The Vedas proclaim, "In That all this unites; from That all issues forth. He, omnipresent, is the warp and woof of all created things." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Are the Views on God and Soul?

For the monistic theist, the soul is an emanation of God Siva and will merge back in Him as a river to the sea. For pluralists, God pervades but did not create the soul; thus, God and soul remain separate realities forever. Aum.
A monistic theist explains to a pluralist that the soul emerges from Siva just as a cloud arises from the sea. Below the river of life sweeps all things along, into and out of existence. Ultimately, the soul merges with God, like the river rejoining the ocean.
Pluralistic Siddhantins teach that Siva pervades the soul, yet the soul is uncreated and exists eternally. It is amorphous, but has the qualities of willing, thinking and acting. It does not wholly merge in Him at the end of its evolution. Rather, it reaches His realm and enjoys the bliss of divine communion eternally. Like salt dissolved in water, soul and God are not two; neither are they perfectly one. For monistic Siddhantins the soul emerges from God like a rain cloud drawn from the sea. Like a river, the soul passes through many births. The soul consists of an uncreated divine essence and a beautiful, effulgent, human-like form created by Siva. While this form--called the anandamaya kosha or soul body--is maturing, it is distinct from God. Even during this evolution, its essence, Satchidananda and Parashiva, is not different from Siva. Finally, like a river flowing into the sea, the soul returns to its source. Soul and God are perfectly one. The Vedas say, "Just as the flowing rivers disappear in the ocean, casting off name and shape, even so the knower, freed from name and shape, attains to the Primal Soul, higher than the high." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Are the Differing Views on Evil?

For monistic theists, the world of maya is Siva's perfect creation, containing each thing and its opposite. For pluralistic theists, the world is tarnished with evil; thus maya could not be the creation of a perfect God. Aum.
Nothing is more heinous than brutal killing, and Hindus know that all violence committed against others will return, like a purifying fire, to those who cause pain and suffering. We know that everything and its opposite is part of Siva's perfect universe.
Pluralistic Siddhantins hold that the world of maya is intrinsically evil and imperfect, for it is clearly full of sorrow, injustice, disease and death. The soul, too, is beginninglessly tainted with anava, or limitation. Pluralists contend that if God had created maya--the material of the world--or the soul, surely He would have made them flawless, and there would be no evil, for imperfection cannot arise out of Perfection. Therefore, they conclude that anava, karma and maya have always existed and the soul has been immersed in darkness and bondage without beginning. Monistic Siddhantins hold that when viewed from higher consciousness, this world is seen as it truly is--perfect. There is no intrinsic evil. God Siva has created the principle of opposites, which are the means for the soul's maturation--beauty and deformity, light and darkness, love and hate, joy and sorrow. All is God Siva Himself, in Him and of Him. A perfect cosmos has issued forth from a perfect Creator. The Tirumantiram says, "All manifestations of nature are His grace. All animate and inanimate are His pure grace. As darkness, as light, the Lord's grace pervades." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Are the Views on Mahapralaya?

Monistic theists hold that at mahapralaya, cosmic dissolution, all creation is withdrawn into Siva, and He alone exists. Pluralistic theists hold that world and souls persist in seed form and will later reemerge. Aum Namah Sivaya.
The extinction of the cosmos is often regarded as an act of destruction, with volcanos erupting, planets crumbling and oceans churning. It is, in fact, an act of supreme grace, for when outer forms dissolve, all souls, all worlds, merge fully in Siva.
Pluralistic Siddhantins contend that after mahapralaya--the withdrawal of time, form and space into Siva--souls and world are so close to Siva that, for all practical purposes, He alone exists. Actually, they say, both world and souls continue to exist, not as things, but as "potentialities." As if in a deep sleep, souls, now in a bodiless state, rest. Individual karmas lie dormant to germinate later when creation again issues forth and nonliberated souls are re-embodied to continue their spiritual journey. Monistic Siddhantins believe that souls persist through the lesser pralayas of the cosmic cycle, but hold that only Siva exists following mahapralaya. There is no "other," no separate souls, no separate world. The universe and all souls are absorbed in Siva. Pasha--anava, karma and maya--is annihilated. In the intensity of pre-dissolution, when time itself is accelerated, all souls attain complete maturation, losing separateness through fulfilled merger with Siva. Yea, jiva becomes Siva. The Vedas boldly decree, "By His divine power He holds dominion over all the worlds. At the periods of creation and dissolution of the universe, He alone exists." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Verses from Scripture on Saiva Siddhanta

Meditate on the Lord as the object of meditation, for by the Lord the whole world is set to activity. Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Indra have been brought forth by Him; similarly, all faculties along with creatures. His divine majesty has become the Cause, the Universe, the Blissful, as the ether standing unshaken in the mid-air.
Atharva Veda, Atharvashikha Upanishad 2. upb, 782
All the sacred books, all holy sacrifice and ritual and prayers, all the words of the Vedas, and the whole past and present and future, come from the Spirit. With maya, His power of wonder, He made all things, and by maya the human soul is bound. Know, therefore, that nature is maya, but that God is the ruler of maya, and that all beings in our universe are parts of His infinite splendor.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Shvetashvatara Upanishad 4.9-10. UPM, 92
The seer sees not death, nor sickness, nor any distress. The seer sees only the All, obtains the All entirely. For the sake of experiencing the true and the false, the great Self has a dual nature. Yea, the great Self has a dual nature. Yea, the great Self has a dual nature!
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitri Upanishad 7.11.6 & 8. UPH, 458
Inconceivable is this supreme atman, immeasurable, unborn, inscrutable, unthinkable, He whose Self is infinite space. He alone remains awake when the universe is dissolved, and out of this space He awakens the world consisting of thought.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Maitri Upanishad 6.17. VE, 667
He Himself fashions all worlds in minute detail. He fashions life, conferring birth. He fashions things big and small -- the cauldron, the pitcher and the pot. He fashions these and more -- He, the Architect Almighty.
Tirumantiram 417. TM
The Primal One, the indivisible great, Himself into several divided. As form, formless and form-formless, and as guru and as Shakti's Lord. In forms numerous He immanent in jivas became.
Tirumantiram 2481. TM
That intelligence which incites the functions into the paths of virtue or vice am I. All this universe, moveable and immoveable, is from Me. All things are preserved by Me. All are absorbed into Me at the time of pralaya. Because there exists nothing but Spirit, and I am that Spirit, there exists nothing else.
Siva Samhita 1.34. SS, 6
You and He are not two separate; you and He are but one united; thus do you stand, freed of all sectarian shackles; adore the feet of Parapara and with Siva become One -- that the way Siddhanta fulfills.
Tirumantiram 1437. TM
Always my action is your action. I am not other than you, because the essence of myself which I call "I" does not exist apart from you. Herein lies the natural harmony between Vedanta and Siddhanta.
Tayumanavar 2.5. NT, 8
As wide Earth, as fire and water, as sacrificer and wind that blows, as eternal moon and sun, as ether, as the eight-formed God, as cosmic good and evil, woman and man, all other forms and His own form, and all these as Himself, as yesterday and today and tomorrow, the God of the long, red hair stands, O Wonder!
Tirumurai 6.308.1. PS, 113
It cannot be seen by the eye, and yet it is the eye within the eye. It cannot be heard by the ear, and yet it is the ear within the ear. It cannot be smelt by the nose, and yet it is that which makes the nose to smell. It cannot be uttered by the mouth, and yet it is that which makes the mouth to speak. It cannot be grasped by the hand, and yet it is that which makes the hand to grasp. It cannot be reached by the feet, and yet it is that which makes the feet to walk. It cannot be thought by the mind, and yet it is the mind within the mind. It is the Primal One without past or future. Its form is free from age and sickness. It manifests as father and mother. It blossoms as the Self-Existent. It cannot be described as one or two. No artist can portray It. It is that which lies 'twixt good and evil. It ever abides in the hearts of the wise. It permits no distinction between Vedanta and Siddhanta. It is That which dances at the zenith beyond the realm of sound.
Natchintanai, "That." NT, 87



Passing on the Power

Kailasa Parampara

Himalayan Lineage

Seek the Nathas who Nandinatha's grace received. First the rishis four, Sivayoga the holy next, then Patanjali, who in Sabha's holy precincts worshiped. Vyaghra and I complete the number eight. Through instruction imparting, Malangan, Indiran, Soman and Brahman, Rudran, Kalangi and Kanchamalayam come as my disciples in succession.
Rishi Tirumular, Tirumantiram 67. TM

What Is Hinduism's Natha Sampradaya?

The Natha Sampradaya, "the masters' way," is the mystical fountainhead of Saivism. The divine message of the eternal truths and how to succeed on the path to enlightenment are locked within the Natha tradition. Aum.
In a thatched pavilion, over 2,200 years ago, sits the great Himalayan guru Nandinatha. His disciple Tirumular receives the master's transmission of wisdom and perfect union with the Absolute. Siva is present in the form of the aniconic Sivalinga.
Natha means "lord or adept," and sampradaya refers to a living theological tradition. The roots of this venerable heritage stretch back beyond recorded history, when awakened Natha mystics worshiped the Lord of lords, Siva, and in yogic contemplation experienced their identity in Him. The Natha Sampradaya has revealed the search for the innermost divine Self, balanced by temple worship, fueled by kundalini yoga, charted by monistic theism, illumined by a potent guru-shishya system, guided by soul-stirring scriptures and awakened by sadhana and tapas. Thus has it given mankind the mechanics for moving forward in evolution. Today two main Natha streams are well known: the Nandinatha Sampradaya, made famous by Maharishi Nandinatha (ca 250bce), and the Adinatha Sampradaya, carried forth by Siddha Yogi Gorakshanatha (ca 900). Yea, there is infinitely more to know of the mysterious Nathas. The Tirumantiram states, "My peerless satguru, Nandinatha, of Saivam honored high, showed us a holy path for soul's redemption. It is Siva's divine path, San Marga, for all the world to tread and forever be free." Aum Namah Sivaya.

What Is the Lofty Kailasa Parampara?

The Kailasa Parampara is a millennia-old guru lineage of the Nandinatha Sampradaya. In this century it was embodied by Sage Yogaswami, who ordained me in Sri Lanka in 1949 to carry on the venerable tradition. Aum.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Gurudeva, sits on the pitha, the ecclesiastical seat of authority at Kauai Aadheenam in Hawaii, sharing the path of Nandinatha Sampradaya with his four acharyas. Siva is present as Nataraja, the cosmic dancer.
The authenticity of Hindu teachings is perpetuated by lineages, parampara, passed from gurus to their successors through ordination. The Kailasa Parampara extends back to, and far beyond, Maharishi Nandinatha and his eight disciples--Sanatkumara, Sanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Sivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Tirumular. This succession of siddha yoga adepts flourishes today in many streams, most notably in the Saiva Siddhanta of South India. Our branch of this parampara is the line of Rishi Tirumular (ca 200 bce), of which the first known satguru in recent history was the Rishi from the Himalayas (ca 1770-1840). From him the power was passed to Siddha Kadaitswami of Bangalore (1804-1891), then to Satguru Chellappaswami (1840-1915), then to Sage Yogaswami (1872-1964) of Sri Lanka, and finally to myself, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (1927-). The Tirumantiram states, "Thus expounding, I bore His word down Kailasa's unchanging path--the word of Him, the eternal, the truth effulgent, the limitless great, Nandinatha, the joyous one, He of the blissful dance that all impurity dispels." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Who Were the Early Kailasa Preceptors?

Among its ancient gurus, the Kailasa Parampara honors the illustrious Rishi Tirumular and his generations of successors. In recent history we especially revere the silent siddha called "Rishi from the Himalayas." Aum.
The nameless siddha called Rishi from the Himalayas sits in his hermitage, his danda and tiger skin mat nearby. Inset, he remained in silent samadhi for seven years in a Bangalore tea shop. Siva is present as Lord Dakshinamurti, the universal teacher.
Having achieved perfect enlightenment and the eight siddhis at the feet of Maharishi Nandinatha in the Himalayas, Rishi Tirumular was sent by his satguru to revive Saiva Siddhanta in the South of India. Finally, he reached Tiruvavaduthurai, where, in the Tamil language, he recorded the truths of the Saiva Agamas and the precious Vedas in the Tirumantiram, a book of over 3,000 esoteric verses. Through the centuries, the Kailasa mantle was passed from one siddha yogi to the next. Among these luminaries was the nameless Rishi from the Himalayas, who in the 1700s entered a teashop in a village near Bangalore, sat down and entered into deep samadhi. He did not move for seven years, nor did he speak. Streams of devotees came for his darshana. Their unspoken prayers and questions were mysteriously answered in dreams or in written, paper messages that manifested in the air and floated down. Then one day Rishi left the village, later to pass his power to Kadaitswami. The Tirumantiram expounds, "With Nandi's grace I sought the primal cause. With Nandi's grace I Sadashiva became. With Nandi's grace truth divine I attained." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Who Were Kadaitswami and Chellappan?

Kadaitswami was a dynamic satguru who revived Saivism in Catholic-dominated Jaffna, Sri Lanka, in the 1800s. Chellappaswami was an ardent sage, ablaze with God consciousness, immersed in divine soliloquy. Aum.
Kadaitswami sits near a Jaffna temple chariot with his sun-protecting umbrella. His reclusive disciple, Chellappaswami, abides in his hut, with the Nallur Murugan temple festival icons above. Siva is present as Ardhanarishvara and the trishula.
Kadaitswami was a powerful siddha, standing two meters tall, whose fiery marketplace talks converted thousands back to Saivism. It is said he was a high court judge who refused to confer the death penalty and renounced his career at middle age to become a sannyasin. Directed by his satguru to be a worker of miracles, he performed siddhis that are talked about to this day--turning iron to gold, drinking molten wax, disappearing and appearing elsewhere. Chellappaswami, initiated at age nineteen, lived alone in the teradi at Nallur temple. Absorbed in the inner Self, recognizing no duality, he uttered advaitic axioms in constant refrain: "There is no intrinsic evil. It was all finished long ago. All that is, is Truth. We know not!" The Natchintanai says, "Laughing, Chellappan roams in Nallur's precincts. Appearing like a man possessed, he scorns all outward show. Dark is his body; his only garment, rags. Now all my sins have gone, for he has burnt them up! Always repeating something softly to himself, he will impart the blessing of true life to anyone who ventures to come near him. And he has made a temple of my mind." Aum Namah Sivaya.

Who Are the Most Recent Kailsa Gurus?

Sage Yogaswami, source of Natchintanai, protector of dharma, was satguru of Sri Lanka for half a century. He ordained me with a slap on the back, commanding, "Go round the world and roar like a lion!" Aum Namah Sivaya.
Satguru Yoagswami sits in contemplation in his Colombuthurai hut. In meditation and when composing his Natchintanai hymns, he clairaudiently heard the ringing anklets of Goddess Taiyilnaiaki. Siva is present in the form of the tiruvadi.
Amid a festival crowd outside Nallur temple, a disheveled sadhu shook the bars from within the chariot shed, shouting, "Hey! Who are you?" and in that moment Yogaswamî was transfixed. "There is not one wrong thing!" "It is as it is! Who knows?" Sage Chellappan said, and suddenly the world vanished. After Chellappan's mahasamadhi in 1915, Yogaswamî undertook five years of intense sadhana. Later, people of all walks of life, all nations, came for his darshana. He urged one and all to "Know thy Self by thyself." It was in his thatched, dung-floor hermitage in 1949 that we first met. I had just weeks before realized Parashiva with his inner help while meditating in the caves of Jalani. "You are in me," he said. "I am in you," I responded. Later he ordained me "Subramuniyaswami" with a tremendous slap on the back, and with this dîksha sent me as a sannyasin to America, saying, "You will build temples. You will feed thousands." I was 22 at the time, and he was 77. In fulfillment of his orders have I, Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, composed these 155 shlokas and bhashyas, telling an infinitesimal fraction of all that he infused in me. Aum Namah Sivaya.

Verses from Scripture on Himalayan Lineage

There is no one greater in the three worlds than the guru. It is he who grants divine knowledge and should be worshiped with supreme devotion.
Atharva Veda, Yoga-Shikha Upanishad 5.53. YT, 26
Abiding in the midst of ignorance, but thinking themselves wise and learned, fools aimlessly go hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.
Atharva Veda, Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.8. upm, 77
Truth is the Supreme, the Supreme is Truth. Through Truth men never fall from the heavenly world, because Truth belongs to the saints. Therefore, they rejoice in Truth.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Mahanarayana Upanishad 505. VE, 439
The supreme mystery in the Veda's end, which has been declared in former times, should not be given to one not tranquil, nor again to one who is not a son or a pupil. To one who has the highest devotion for God, and for his spiritual teacher even as for God, to him these matters which have been declared become manifest if he be a great soul -- yea, become manifest if he be a great soul!
Krishna Yajur Veda, Shvetashvatara Upanishad 6.22-23. UPH, 411
Disciples get, by devotion to the guru, the knowledge which the guru possesses. In the three worlds this fact is clearly enunciated by divine sages, the ancestors and learned men.
Guru Gita 43. GG, 14
I adore the lotus feet of the teachers who have shown to us the source of the eternal ocean of bliss, born of the Self within, who have given us the remedy for the hala-hala poison of samsara.
Guru Gita 115. GG, 47
What is needful? Righteousness and sacred learning and teaching. Truth and sacred learning and teaching. Meditation and sacred learning and teaching. Self-control and sacred learning and teaching. Peace and sacred learning and teaching. Ritual and sacred learning and teaching. Humanity and sacred learning and teaching.
Krishna Yajur Veda, Taittiriya Upanishad 1.9. UPM, 109
Though himself unattached, the guru, after testing him for some time, on command of the Lord, shall deliver the Truth to his disciple in order to vest him with authority. Of him who is so invested with authority, there is verily union with the Supreme Siva. At the termination of the bodily life, his is the eternal liberation -- this is declared by the Lord. Therefore, one should seek with all effort to have a guru of the unbroken tradition, born of Supreme Siva himself. It is laid down by the Lord that there can be no moksha, liberation, without diksha, initiation; and initiation cannot be there without a teacher. Hence, it comes down the line of teachers, parampara. Without a teacher, all philosophy, traditional knowledge and mantras are fruitless. Him alone the Gods laud who is the guru, keeping active what is handed down by tradition.
Kularnava Tantra 10.1. KT, 101
Nandinatha accepted the offering of my body, wealth and life. He then touched me, and his glance dispelled my distressful karma. He placed his feet on my head and imparted higher consciousness. Thus, he severed my burdensome cycle of birth.
Tirumantiram 1778. TM
Night and day in Nallur's precincts, Chellappan danced in bliss. Even holy yogis merged in silence do not know him. He keeps repeating, "All is truth," with radiant countenance. Night and day in Nallur's precincts, Chellappan danced in bliss. To end my endless turning on the wheel of wretched birth, he took me 'neath his rule and I was drowned in bliss. "There is nothing in the objective. All is truth" -- His grace made maya's shrouding darkness to depart. In that state, my body and soul were his possessions. O wonder! Who in the world is able to know this? Night and day in Nallur's precincts, Chellappan danced in bliss.
Natchintanai, "Chellappan Danced." NT, 88
The silent sage proclaimed that day that all that is is truth. Do Sivathondu with the thought that defect there is none. Birth will cease to be. All sins will be destroyed. Arise and be awake! All victory is yours! The silent sage proclaimed that day that all that is is truth. Be not faint in heart! That "Jiva is Siva" is clear, if the guru's word of truth you come to understand. The silent sage proclaimed that day that all that is is truth.
Natchintanai, "The Silent Sage..." NT, 77



Saiva Shraddha Dharana

A Saivite Creed

If a man yearns wholeheartedly for victory in subduing the mind, let him practice Sivadhyana daily. Then he will see for himself that, step by step, his mind will become one-pointed. Serenity, forbearance, control and other such good qualities will arise in him. His mind will be always full of joy. He will not be dragged down by praise or blame, but will enjoy happiness in his inmost soul, and the thought that the well-being of others is his own will flood his heart.
Natchintanai, "Seek the Profit of the Soul,"
NT, p. 10
A Saivite family, father, mother and child, gather in a garden pavilion to enjoy one another's company and offer prayers to Lord Siva. Hearts lift and eyes turn to the blue canopy above as they intone together the creed which sums their beliefs in perfect simplicity.

of its beliefs. historically, creeds have developed whenever religions migrate from their homelands. until then, the beliefs are fully contained in the culture and taught to children as a natural part of growing up. But when followers settle in other countries where alien faiths predominate, the necessity of a simple statement of faith arises. A creed is the distillation of volumes of knowledge into a series of easy-to-remember beliefs, or shraddha. A creed is meant to summarize the explicit teachings or articles of faith, to imbed and thus protect and transmit the beliefs. Creeds give strength to individuals seeking to understand life and religion. Creeds also allow members of one faith to express, in elementary and consistent terms, their traditions to members of another. Though the vast array of doctrines within the Sanatana Dharma has not always been articulated in summary form, from ancient times unto today we have the well-known creedal mahavakya, "great sayings," of the Vedic Upanishads. Now, in this technological age in which village integrity is being replaced by worldwide mobility, the importance of a creed becomes apparent if religious identity is to be preserved. We need two kinds of strength -- that which is found in diversity and individual freedom to inquire and that which derives from a union of minds in upholding the universal principles of our faith. The twelve beliefs on the following pages embody the centuries-old central convictions of Saivism, especially as postulated in the Advaita Ishvaravada philosophy of Saiva Siddhanta. Yea, this Saiva Dharma Shraddha Dharana is a total summation of Dancing with Siva, Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism. Aum Namah Sivaya.


Belief Number One


Siva's followers all believe that Lord Siva is God,
whose Absolute Being, Parashiva,
transcends time, form and space.
The yogi silently exclaims,
"It is not this. It is not that."
Yea, such an inscrutable God is God Siva.

Belief Number Two


Siva's followers all believe that Lord Siva is God,
whose immanent nature of love, Parashakti,
is the substratum, primal substance or pure consciousness
flowing through all form as energy, existence, knowledge and bliss.

Belief Number Three


Siva's followers all believe that Lord Siva is God,
whose immanent nature is the
Primal Soul, Supreme Mahadeva, Parameshvara,
author of Vedas and Agamas,
the creator, preserver and destroyer of all that exists.

Belief Number Four


Siva's followers all believe in the Mahadeva Lord Ganesha,
son of Siva-Shakti, to whom they must first supplicate
before beginning any worship or task.
His rule is compassionate.
His law is just. Justice is His mind.

Belief Number Five


Siva's followers all believe in the Mahadeva Karttikeya,
son of Siva-Shakti, whose vel of grace
dissolves the bondages of ignorance.
The yogi, locked in lotus, venerates Murugan.
Thus restrained, his mind becomes calm.

Belief Number Six


Siva's followers all believe that each soul is created by Lord Siva
and is identical to Him, and that this identity
will be fully realized by all souls
when the bondage of anava, karma and maya
is removed by His grace.

Belief Number Seven


Siva's followers all believe in three worlds:
the gross plane, where souls take on physical bodies;
the subtle plane, where souls take on astral bodies;
and the causal plane, where souls exist in their self-effulgent form.

Belief Number Eight


Siva's followers all believe in the law of karma --
that one must reap the effects of all actions he has caused --
and that each soul continues to reincarnate until all karmas are resolved
and moksha, liberation, is attained.

Belief Number Nine


Siva's followers all believe that the performance of
charya, virtuous living,
kriya, temple worship,
and yoga, leading to Parashiva
through the grace of the living satguru,
is absolutely necessary to bring forth jnana, wisdom.

Belief Number Ten


Siva's followers all believe there is no intrinsic evil.
Evil has no source,
unless the source of evil's seeming be ignorance itself.
They are truly compassionate,
knowing that ultimately there is no good or bad.
All is Siva's will.

Belief Number Eleven


Siva's followers all believe that religion
is the harmonious working together of the three worlds
and that this harmony can be created through temple worship,
wherein the beings of all three worlds can communicate.

Belief Number Twelve


Siva's followers all believe in the Panchakshara Mantra,
the five sacred syllables "Namah Sivaya,"
as Saivism's foremost and essential mantra.
The secret of Namah Sivaya is
to hear it from the right lips at the right time.

Shat-Saiva Sampradaya

Six Schools
of Saivism

Love is God. Love is the world. Love is all that lives. Love is everything. It is love that appears as becoming and dissolution. Who knows the wonder of love? He is the One without origin or end. The reason for His seeming to have origin and end can only be known by the Origin's Pure Grace. No one can know it through learning.
Natchintanai, "Who Can Know,"
NT, p. 86
Hands aloft in a gesture of enstatic revelation, a Sivabhakta realizes the Divinity in all things and creatures, seeing God as the all-pervasive energy and substratum of the universe. For the hundreds of millions of Hindus who follow one of the six Saivite schools, that Divinity is Siva.

tolerant, more mystical, more widespread or more ancient than Saivite hinduism. Through history Saivism has developed a vast array of lineages and traditions, each with unique philosophic-cultural-linguistic characteristics, as it dominated India prior to 1100 from the Himalayas to Sri Lanka, from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Here we seek to present the essential features of six major traditions identifiable within the ongoing Saiva context: Saiva Siddhanta, Pashupata Saivism, Kashmir Saivism, Vira Saivism, Siddha Siddhanta and Siva Advaita.

It should be understood that this formal and somewhat intellectual division, however useful, is by no means a comprehensive description of Saivism, nor is it the only possible list. In practice, Saivism is far more rich and varied than these divisions imply. Take for instance the Saivism practiced by thirteen million people in Nepal or three million in Indonesia and fifty-five million Hinduized Javanese who worship Siva as Batara. Ponder the millions upon millions of Smartas and other universalists who have taken Ganesha, Murugan or Siva as their chosen Deity, or the legions of Ayyappan followers who worship devoutly in Lord Murugan's great South Indian sanctuaries. Consider the fact that only a handful of Kashmir's millions of Siva worshipers would formally associate themselves with the school called Kashmir Saivism. Similarly, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where there are over fifty million worshipers of Siva, only a well-informed minority would knowingly subscribe to Saiva Siddhanta.
Our discussion of these six schools and their related traditions is based upon historical information. There are wide gaps in the record, but we do know that at each point where the veil of history lifts, the worship of Siva is there. In the 8,000-year-old Indus Valley we find the famous seal of Siva as Lord Pashupati. The seal shows Siva seated in a yogic pose. In the Ramayana, dated astronomically at 2000 BCE, Lord Rama worshiped Siva, as did his rival Ravana. In the Mahabharata, dated at around 1300 BCE we find again the worship of Siva. Buddha in 624 BCE was born into a Saivite family, and records of his time talk of the Saiva ascetics who wandered the hills looking much as they do today.
The Saiva Agamas form the foundation and circumference of all the schools of Saivism. The system of philosophy set forth in the Agamas is common to a remarkable degree among all these schools of thought. These Agamas are theistic, that is, they all identify Siva as the Supreme Lord, immanent and transcendent, capable of accepting worship as the personal Lord and of being realized through yoga. This above all else is the connecting strand through all the schools.
Philosophically, the Agamic tradition includes the following principal doctrines: 1) the five powers of Siva: creation, preservation, destruction, revealing and concealing grace; 2) The three categories, Pati, pashu andpasha: God, souls and bonds; 3) the three bonds: anava, karma and maya; 4) the three-fold power of Siva -- icchha, kriya and jnana shakti; 5) the thirty-six tattvas, or categories of existence, from the five elements to God; 6) the need for the satguru and initiation; 7) the power of mantra; 8) the four padas: charya, kriya, yoga and jnana.
As we explore the individual schools and lineages within Saivism, keep in mind that all adhere to these doctrines. Our discussion necessarily focuses on the differences between one school and another, but this is not meant to obscure the overwhelming similarity of belief and practice among them.
Monism, dualism and philosophies in-between are all conveyed in the Saiva Agamas. The various schools based on Agamas similarly vary in philosophic stance. Kashmir Saivite tradition says that Siva revealed different philosophies for people of different understanding, so that each could advance on the spiritual path toward the recognition of the innate oneness of man and God.
Few worshipers of Siva are now or were in the past familiar with the Agamas. Reading and writing were the domain of a few specially trained scribes, and today the Agamas remain mostly on the olai leaves upon which they have been transmitted for generations. Agamic philosophy and practices are conveyed to the common man through other channels, one of which is the Saiva Puranas. These oral collections of stories about the Gods are interspersed with Agamic philosophy. For example, the Siva Purana proclaims: "Siva is the great atman because He is the atman of all, He is forever endowed with the great qualities. The devotee shall realize the identity of Siva with himself: 'I am Siva alone.'"
A second channel is the Saivite temple itself, for the construction of the temples and the performance of the rituals are all set forth in the Agamas -- in fact it is one of their main subjects. The priests follow manuals called paddhati, which are summaries of the instructions for worship contained in the Saiva Agamas, specifically the shodasha upacharas, or sixteen acts of puja worship, such as offering of food, incense and water. A third channel is the songs and bhajanas of the sants, which in their simplicity carry powerful philosophic import. A fourth is the on-going oral teachings of gurus, swamis, panditas, shastris, priests and elders.
Such matters of agreement belie the fact that Saivism is not a single, hierarchical system. Rather, it is a thousand traditions, great and small. Some are orthodox and pious, while others are iconoclastic and even -- like the Kapalikas and the Aghoris -- fiercely ascetic, eccentric or orgiastic. For some, Siva is the powerful, terrible, awesome destroyer, but for most He is love itself, compassionate and gentle. For nearly all of the millions of Siva's devotees, Saivism is not, therefore, a school or philosophy; it is life itself. To them Saivism means love of Siva, and they simply follow the venerable traditions of their family and community. These men and women worship in the temples and mark life's passages by holy sacraments. They go on pilgrimages, perform daily prayers, meditations and yogic disciplines. They sing holy hymns, share Puranic folk narratives and recite scriptural verses. Still, it is useful for us all to understand the formal streams of thought which nurture and sustain our faith. Now, in our brief description of these six schools, we begin with today's most prominent form of Saivism, Saiva Siddhanta.
Saiva Siddhanta

Saiva Siddhanta is the oldest, most vigorous and extensively practiced Saivite Hindu school today, encompassing millions of devotees, thousands of active temples and dozens of living monastic and ascetic traditions. Despite its popularity, Siddhanta's glorious past as an all-India denomination is relatively unknown and it is identified today primarily with its South Indian, Tamil form. The term Saiva Siddhanta means "the final or established conclusions of Saivism." It is the formalized theology of the divine revelations contained in the twenty-eight Saiva Agamas. The first known guru of the Shuddha, "pure," Saiva Siddhanta tradition was Maharishi Nandinatha of Kashmir (ca 250 BCE), recorded in Panini's book of grammar as the teacher of rishis Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Vasishtha. The only surviving written work of Maharishi Nandinatha are twenty-six Sanskrit verses, called the Nandikeshvara Kashika, in which he carried forward the ancient teachings. Because of his monistic approach, Nandinatha is often considered by scholars as an exponent of the Advaita school.
The next prominent guru on record is Rishi Tirumular, a siddha in the line of Nandinatha who came from the Valley of Kashmir to South India to propound the sacred teachings of the twenty-eight Saiva Agamas. In his profound work the Tirumantiram, "Sacred Incantation," Tirumular for the first time put the vast writings of the Agamas and the Shuddha Siddhanta philosophy into the melodious Tamil language. Rishi Tirumular, like his satguru, Maharishi Nandinatha, propounds a monistic theism in which Siva is both material and efficient cause, immanent and transcendent. Siva creates souls and world through emanation from Himself, ultimately reabsorbing them in His oceanic Being, as water flows into water, fire into fire, ether into ether.
The Tirumantiram unfolds the way of Siddhanta as a progressive, four-fold path of charya, virtuous and moral living; kriya, temple worship; and yoga -- internalized worship and union with Parashiva through the grace of the living satguru -- which leads to the state of jnana and liberation. After liberation, the soul body continues to evolve until it fully merges with God -- jiva becomes Siva.
Tirumular's Shuddha Saiva Siddhanta shares common distant roots with Mahasiddhayogi Gorakshanatha's Siddha Siddhanta in that both are Natha teaching lineages. Tirumular's lineage is known as the Nandinatha Sampradaya, Gorakshanatha's is called the Adinatha Sampradaya.
Saiva Siddhanta flowered in South India as a forceful bhakti movement infused with insights on siddha yoga. During the seventh to ninth centuries, saints Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar pilgrimaged from temple to temple, singing soulfully of Siva's greatness. They were instrumental in successfully defending Saivism against the threats of Buddhism and Jainism. Soon thereafter, a king's Prime Minister, Manikkavasagar, renounced a world of wealth and fame to seek and serve God. His heart-melting verses, called Tiruvasagam, are full of visionary experience, divine love and urgent striving for Truth. The songs of these four saints are part of the compendium known as Tirumurai, which along with the Vedas and Saiva Agamas form the scriptural basis of Saiva Siddhanta in Tamil Nadu.
Besides the saints, philosophers and ascetics, there were innumerable siddhas, "accomplished ones," God-intoxicated men who roamed their way through the centuries as saints, gurus, inspired devotees or even despised outcastes. Saiva Siddhanta makes a special claim on them, but their presence and revelation cut across all schools, philosophies and lineages to keep the true spirit of Siva present on Earth. These siddhas provided the central source of power to spur the religion from age to age. The well-known names include Sage Agastya, Bhogar Rishi, Tirumular and Gorakshanatha. They are revered by the Siddha Siddhantins, Kashmir Saivites and even by the Nepalese branches of Buddhism.
In Central India, Saiva Siddhanta of the Sanskrit tradition was first institutionalized by Guhavasi Siddha (ca 675). The third successor in his line, Rudrasambhu, also known as Amardaka Tirthanatha, founded theAmardaka monastic order (ca 775) in Andhra Pradesh. From this time, three monastic orders arose that were instrumental in Saiva Siddhanta's diffusion throughout India. Along with the Amardaka order (which identified with one of Saivism's holiest cities, Ujjain) were the Mattamayura Order, in the capital of the Chalukya dynasty, near the Punjab, and the Madhumateya order of Central India. Each of these developed numerous sub-orders, as the Siddhanta monastics, full of missionary spirit, used the influence of their royal patrons to propagate the teachings in neighboring kingdoms, particularly in South India. From Mattamayura, they established monasteries in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra and Kerala (ca 800).
Of the many gurus and acharyas that followed, spreading Siddhanta through the whole of India, two siddhas, Sadyojyoti and Brihaspati of Central India (ca 850), are credited with the systematization of the theology in Sanskrit. Sadyojyoti, initiated by the Kashmir guru Ugrajyoti, propounded the Siddhanta philosophical views as found in the Raurava Agama. He was succeeded by Ramakantha I, Srikantha, Narayanakantha and Ramakantha II, each of whom wrote numerous treatises on Saiva Siddhanta.
Later, King Bhoja Paramara of Gujarat (ca 1018) condensed the massive body of Siddhanta scriptural texts that preceded him into a one concise metaphysical treatise called Tattvaprakasha, considered a foremost Sanskrit scripture on Saiva Siddhanta.
Affirming the monistic view of Saiva Siddhanta was Srikumara (ca 1056), stating in his commentary, Tatparyadipika, on Bhoja Paramara's works, that Pati, pashu and pasha are ultimately one, and that revelation declares that Siva is one. He is the essence of everything. Srikumara maintained that Siva is both the efficient and the material cause of the universe.
Saiva Siddhanta was readily accepted wherever it spread in India and continued to blossom until the Islamic invasions, which virtually annihilated all traces of Siddhanta from North and Central India, limiting its open practice to the southern areas of the subcontinent.
It was in the twelfth century that Aghorasiva took up the task of amalgamating the Sanskrit Siddhanta tradition of the North with the Southern, Tamil Siddhanta. As the head of a branch monastery of the Amardaka Order in Chidambaram, Aghorasiva gave a unique slant to Saiva Siddhanta theology, paving the way for a new pluralistic school. In strongly refuting any monist interpretations of Siddhanta, Aghorasiva brought a dramatic change in the understanding of the Godhead by classifying the first five principles, or tattvas (Nada, Bindu, Sadashiva, Ishvara and Shuddhavidya), into the category of pasha (bonds), stating they were effects of a cause and inherently unconscious substances. This was clearly a departure from the traditional teaching in which these five were part of the divine nature of God. Aghorasiva thus inaugurated a new Siddhanta, divergent from the original monistic Saiva Siddhanta of the Himalayas.
Despite Aghorasiva's pluralistic viewpoint of Siddhanta, he was successful in preserving the invaluable Sanskritic rituals of the ancient Agamic tradition through his writings. To this day, Aghorasiva's Siddhanta philosophy is followed by almost all of the hereditary Sivacharya temple priests, and his paddhati texts on the Agamas have become the standard puja manuals. His Kriyakramadyotika is a vast work covering nearly all aspects of Saiva Siddhanta ritual, including diksha, samskaras, atmartha puja and installation of Deities.
In the thirteenth century, another important development occurred in Saiva Siddhanta when Meykandar wrote the twelve-verse Sivajnanabodham. This and subsequent works by other writers laid the foundation of the Meykandar Sampradaya, which propounds a pluralistic realism wherein God, souls and world are coexistent and without beginning. Siva is efficient but not material cause. They view the soul's merging in Siva as salt in water, an eternal oneness that is also twoness. This school's literature has so dominated scholarship that Saiva Siddhanta is often erroneously identified as exclusively pluralistic. In truth, there are two interpretations, one monistic and another dualistic, of which the former is the original philosophical premise found in pre-Meykandar scriptures, including the Upanishads.
Saiva Siddhanta is rich in its temple traditions, religious festivals, sacred arts, spiritual culture, priestly clans, monastic orders and guru-disciple lineages. All these still thrive. Today Saiva Siddhanta is most prominent among sixty million Tamil Saivites who live mostly in South India and Sri Lanka. Here and elsewhere in the world, prominent Siddhanta societies, temples and monasteries abound.
Pashupata Saivism

The Pashupatas (from Pashupati, a name of Siva meaning "Lord of souls") are the oldest known sect of Saivite ascetic monks. They wandered, pounding the dust with iron tridents and stout staffs, their oily hair snarled in unkempt coils or tied in a knot, faces wrinkled with intense devotion, piercing eyes seeing more Siva than world, loins wrapped in deer skin or bark. The Pashupatas were bhaktas and benign sorcerers of Siva, estranged from the priest-dominated Vedic society. Religious turbulence in India intensified as the dual waves of Saivite Agamic theism and Buddhism washed over the Gangetic plain.
The ways of the Pashupatas were chronicled by several sometimes hostile contemporary commentators of that distant period, leaving us with a mixed impression of their life and philosophy. They originally allowed anyone to follow their path, which was not caste-discriminative. As the popularity of the Pashupata lineage rose, high numbers of brahmins defected to it to worship Siva in unhindered abandon. Eventually it was preferred for a Pashupata to come from the brahmin caste. The relationship between these Pashupata monks and the ash-smeared sadhus of Buddha's time, or the makers of the Indus Valley seal depicting Siva as Pashupata, is not known. They are perhaps the same, perhaps different.
The Pashupata sadhus evoked sheer religious awe. Theirs was a brave, ego-stripping path meant to infuse the seeker with Lord Siva's karunya, "compassionate grace." Their austerity was leavened with puja rites to Siva, with a profound awareness of the cosmos as Siva's constant becoming and with an almost frolicsome spirit of love toward Him. Sadhana began with a strict code of ethics, called yamas and niyamas, stressingbrahmacharya, "continence;" ahimsa, "noninjury;" and tapas, "asceticism." As detailed in their scriptures, their discipline was practiced in stages. First they assumed vows and practiced special disciplines among themselves which included Siva-intoxicated laughing, singing and dancing.
Next they dispersed into mainstream society, living incognito. Here they perpetrated outrageous acts to purposely invite public censure, such as babbling, making snorting sounds, walking as if crippled, talking nonsense, and wild gesturing. This sadhana was a means of self-purification, of rooting out egoism, of getting over the need to be accepted by the public, by friends or by neighbors, and to fully establish in the subconscious the knowledge that like and dislike, good and bad and all these human ways of thinking and feeling are equal if one's love of Lord Siva is sufficiently strong. This was designed to break their links with human society and with their own humanness that came with them when they were born.
Returning to overt sadhana, they practiced austerities, then abandoned all action to perform kundalini yoga and so to achieve perpetual nearness to God Siva. When union matured, they acquired supernatural powers such as omniscience. The Pashupatas believed that when a person is firm in virtue and able to accept with equanimity all abuse and insult, he is well established in the path of asceticism. Sri Kaundinya wrote in his sixth-century commentary, Panchartha Bhashya, on the Pashupata Sutra that the Pashupata yogi "should appear as though mad, like a pauper, his body covered with filth, letting his beard, nails and hair grow long, without any bodily care. Hereby he cuts himself off from the estates (varna) and stages of life (ashramas), and the power of dispassion is produced."
Pashupatism is primarily an ascetic's path that rejects dialectical logic and prizes sadhana as a means to actuate Lord Siva's karunya. Seekers embrace strict yama-niyama vows, their sadhanas graduating from "action" to "nonaction." Worshipful action includes puja, penance, Namah Sivaya japa, wearing sacred ash and showing abandoned love of God Siva.
The sect was said to have been founded by Lord Siva Himself, who imparted the doctrines to certain maharishis. Around 200 CE, Pashupata's most historically prominent satguru, Lakulisa, appeared in what is today India's state of Gujarat. According to the Karavana Mahatmya, he was born to a brahmin family, but died in his seventh month, after displaying remarkable spiritual powers. His mother cast his body into a river (a traditional form of infant burial), and a group of tortoises carried it to a powerful Siva shrine. There the boy returned to life and was raised as an ascetic. By another account, Lakulisa ("lord of the staff") was an anchorite who died and was revived by Lord Siva, who entered his body to preach the Pashupata Dharma to the world. The site of his appearance is a town known today as Kayavarohana ("incarnation in another's body"). The miracle is still festively celebrated. Two stone inscriptions in the village honor the names of this satguru's four main shishyas: Kushika, Gargya, Maitreya and Kaurusha.
Satguru Lakulisa was a dynamic Pashupata reformist. In his sutras, outlining the bold codes of conduct and yoga precepts, he restricted admittance to the three higher castes (vaishya, kshatriya and brahmin) in an attempt to link this school with Vedic orthodoxy. A popular householder path arose out of this exclusively ascetic order. Today numerous Pashupata centers of worship are scattered across India, where Satguru Lakulisa as Siva is often enshrined, his image on the face of a Sivalinga, seated in lotus posture, virilely naked, holding a danda in his left hand and a citron fruit in his right. Their most revered temple, Somanath, is in Gujarat, a powerful, active temple which has endured several cycles of destruction and rebuilding.
A seventh-century Chinese traveler, Hsuen Tsang, wrote that 10,000 Pashupatas then occupied Varanasi. The Pashupata tradition spread to Nepal in the eighth century, where the now famous Pashupatinath Temple became a prime pilgrimage center and remains so to this day. At its medieval zenith, Pashupatism blanketed Western, Northwestern and Southeastern India, where it received royal patronage. In the fifteenth century, it retreated to its strongholds of Gujarat, Nepal and the Himalayan hills.
Traditionally, the deepest Pashupata teachings have been kept secret, reserved for initiates who were tried, tested and found most worthy. Central scriptures are the Pashupata Sutras (ascribed to the venerable Lakulisa), Kaundinya's commentary on them, Panchartha Bhashya (ca 500) and the Mrigendra Agama.
The Pashupata philosophy prior to Lakulisa was dualistic. Little is known of it, as no writings remain. But scholars have discerned from references to Pashupata by other ancient writers that it regarded Siva as only the efficient cause of the universe, not the material. It posited five primary categories -- cause, effect, union, ritual and liberation. The latter category was somewhat unusual, as the Pashupatas believed the soul never merged in Siva and that liberation was simply a state with no further pain. They taught that God can create changes in the world and in the destinies of men according to His own pleasure. God does not necessarily depend upon the person or his karma (actions).
Lakulisa's Pashupata system retained the idea of five categories, but regarded the goal of the soul as attainment of divine perfection. Further, he put God as the material cause of the universe, effectively moving the philosophy from dualism to dual-nondual. The soul, pashu, is prevented from closeness to Siva by pasha, "fetters." The soul retains its individuality in its liberated state, termed sayujya, defined as closeness to but not complete union with God. Lord Siva has no power over liberated souls.
The Kapalika, "skull-bearers," sect developed out of the Pashupatas and were likewise -- but perhaps justifiably -- vilified by their opponents. At worst, they are portrayed as drunken and licentious, engaged in human sacrifice and practicing the blackest of magic. Other portrayals are more benign. For example, in the early Sanskrit drama Malati-Madhava, a Kapalika says with great insight, "Being exclusively devoted to alms alone, penance alone and rites alone -- all this is easy to obtain. Being intent upon the Self alone, however, is a state difficult to obtain." Even today, followers of this sect are found begging food which they accept in a skull, preferably that of a brahmin. Some scholars see a connection between the Kapalikas and the later Gorakshanatha yogis.
In the seventh century, another sect developed out of the Pashupata tradition, the Kalamukhas, "black-faced," who established a well-organized social structure with many temples and monasteries in what is now Karnataka and elsewhere. Like the earlier Pashupatas, they suffered vilification at the hands of hostile commentators. Nothing is left of their scriptures, hence details of their philosophy and life is obscure. However, the esteem in which they were once held is reflected in an 1162 inscription on one of their temples stating, in part, that it was "a place devoted to the observances of Saiva saints leading perpetually the life of celibate religious students, a place for the quiet study of four Vedas,... the Yoga Shastras and the other kinds of learning, a place where food is always given to the poor, the helpless,...the musicians and bards whose duty it is to awaken their masters with music and songs,...and to the mendicants and all beggars,...a place where many helpless sick people are sheltered and treated, a place of assurance of safety for all living creatures." The Vira Saiva school is thought by scholars to have developed out of and eventually replaced the Kalamukhas, apparently taking over their temples and ashramas. Today's reclusive Pashupata monks live in Northern India and Nepal and influence followers worldwide.
Vira Saivism
Vira Saivism is one of the most dynamic of modern-day Saivite schools. It was made popular by the remarkable South Indian brahmin Sri Basavanna (1105 -- 1167). Adherents trace the roots of their faith back to the rishis of ancient times. Vira, "heroic," Saivites are also known as Lingayats, "bearers of the Linga." All members are to constantly wear a Linga encased in a pendant around the neck. Of this practice, Thavathiru Santalinga Ramasamy of Coimbatore recently said, "I can say that Vira Saiva worship is the best form of worship because Sivalinga is worn on our body and it unites the soul with the Omnipresence. We are always in touch with Lord Siva, without even a few seconds break." Followers are also called Lingavantas and Sivasharanas.
Like the sixteenth-century Protestant revolt against Catholic authority, the Lingayat movement championed the cause of the down-trodden, rebelling against a powerful brahminical system which promoted social inequality through a caste system that branded a whole class of people (harijans) as polluted. Going against the way of the times, the Lingayats rejected Vedic authority, caste hierarchy, the system of four ashramas, a multiplicity of Gods, ritualistic (and self-aggrandizing) priestcraft, animal sacrifice, karmic bondage, the existence of inner worlds, duality of God and soul, temple worship and the traditions of ritual purity-pollution.
Vira Saiva tradition states that Basavanna was a reflective and defiant youth who rejected much of the Saivism practiced in his day, tore off his sacred thread, yajnopavita, at age 16 and fled to Sangama, Karnataka. He received shelter and encouragement from Isanya Guru, a Saivite brahmin of the prevailing Kalamukha sect, and studied under him at his monastery-temple complex for twelve years. There he developed a profound devotion to Siva as Lord Kudalasangama, "Lord of the meeting rivers." At age 28, Basavanna arrived at the insight that the brotherhood of man rests on the doctrine of a personalized, individual Godhood in the form of Ishtalinga ("chosen, or personal Linga"). This spiritual realization gave rise to the central Vira Saiva belief that the human body is to be revered as a moving temple of the Lord, to be kept in a perpetual state of purity and sublimity.
Near the completion of his studies at Sangama, Basavanna had a vivid dream in which the Lord Kudalasangama touched his body gently, saying, "Basavanna, my son, the time has come at last for your departure from this place. There is Bijjala in Mangalavede. Carry on your work of building a just society from there." Having received these inner orders, he journeyed to Mangalavede and sought service in the court of Bijjala. He rose to become chief officer of the royal treasury, minister to this maharaja in his troubled Saivite country at odds with Buddhism and Jainism. This position led to the swift spreading of Basavanna's revolutionary message of a new, visionary religious society.
Basavanna wedded two wives, taking on the householder dharma, exemplifying his teaching that all followers -- not only renunciates -- can live a holy life. He gave discourses each evening, denouncing caste hierarchy, magical practices, astrology, temple building and more, urging growing crowds of listeners to think rationally and worship Siva as the God within themselves. Here Basavanna lived and preached for twenty years, developing a large Saivite religious movement. The function of gathering for discourse became known as Sivanubhava Mandapa, "hall of Siva experience."
At age 48 he moved with King Bijjala to Kalyana, where, joined by Allama Prabhu, his fame continued to grow for the next fourteen years. Devotees of every walk of life flocked from all over India to join with him. Through the years, opposition to his egalitarian community grew strong among more conventional citizens. Tensions came to a head in 1167 when a brahmin and shudra, both Lingayats, married. Outraged citizens appealed to King Bijjala, who took ruthless action and executed them both. The unstable political situation further deteriorated, and the King was shortly thereafter murdered by political opponents or possibly by Lingayat radicals. Riots erupted and the Lingayats were scattered far and wide. Basavanna, feeling his mission in the capital had come to an end, left for Sangama, and shortly thereafter died, at the age of 62. Leaders and followers transferred the institutional resources created in the urban Kalyana to the rural localities of Karnataka.
In spite of persecution, successful spiritual leadership left a legacy of sainthood, including many women saints. If Basavanna was the faith's intellectual and social architect, Allama Prabhu was its austerely mystical powerhouse. The doctrines of these two founders are contained in their Vachanas, or prose lyrics. Vira Saiva spiritual authority derives from the life and writings of these two knowers of Siva and of numerous other Sivasharanas, "those surrendered to God." Roughly 450 writers of these scriptures have been identified. The Vachanas, "the sayings," scorn the Vedas, mock ritual, and reject the legends of Gods and Goddesses. The authors of these verses saw formal religions as the "establishment," static institutions that promise man security and predictability, whereas they knew that religion must be dynamic, spontaneous, freed of bargains extracted in exchange for salvation. These scriptures reject "doing good" so that one may go to heaven. Allama wrote, "Feed the poor, tell the truth, make water places for the thirsty and build tanks for a town. You may go to heaven after death, but you'll be nowhere near the truth of our Lord. And the man who knows our Lord, he gets no results." The Vachanas are incandescent poetry, full of humor, ridicule and the white heat of Truth-seeking, bristling with monotheism, commanding devotees to enter the awesome realm of personal spirituality.
These poems, written in the Kannada language, are central in the religious life of Lingayats. Here are some samples. Ganachara wrote, "They say I have been born, but I have no birth, Lord! They say I have died, but I have no death, O Lord!" Basavanna exclaimed, "Lord, the brahmin priest does not act as he speaks. How is that? He goes one way, while the official code goes the other!" Allama Prabhu said, "Then, when there was neither beginning nor nonbeginning, when there was no conceit or arrogance, when there was neither peace nor peacelessness, when there was neither nothingness nor nonnothingness, when everything remained uncreated and raw, you, Guheshvara, were alone, all by yourself, present yet absent."
Ironically, in the centuries following these days of reform, Vira Saivism gradually reabsorbed much of what Basavanna had rejected. Thus emerged temple worship, certain traditions of ritual purity, giving gifts to gurus, and the stratification of society, headed up by two large hierarchical orders of jangamas -- resulting in the institutionalization of the crucial guru-disciple relationship, which by Vira Saiva precept should be very personal. Efforts were made to derive Vira Saiva theology from traditional Hindu scriptures such as Agamas and Sutras -- a need rejected by the early sharanas. To this day, by rejecting the Vedas, Lingayats continue to put themselves outside the fold of mainstream Hinduism, but in their acceptance of certain Saiva Agamas, align themselves with the other Saiva sects. Vira Saivites generally regard their faith as a distinct and independent religion.
The original ideals, however, remain embedded in Lingayat scripture, which is of three types: 1) the Vachanas, 2) historical narratives and biographies in verse and 3) specialized works on doctrine and theology. Among the most central texts are Basavanna's Vachanas, Allama Prabhu's Mantra Gopya, Chennabasavanna's Karana Hasuge, and the collected work called Shunya Sampadane.
The monistic-theistic doctrine of Vira Saivism is called Shakti Vishishtadvaita -- a version of qualified nondualism which accepts both difference and nondifference between soul and God, like rays are to the sun. In brief, Siva and the cosmic force, or existence, are one ("Siva are you; you shall return to Siva"). Yet, Siva is beyond His creation, which is real, not illusory. God is both efficient and material cause. The soul in its liberated state attains undifferentiated union with Siva. The Vira Saiva saint Renukacharya said, "Like water placed in water, fire in fire, the soul that becomes mingled in the Supreme Brahman is not seen as distinct."
True union and identity of Siva (Linga) and soul (anga) is life's goal, described as shunya, or nothingness, which is not an empty void. One merges with Siva by shatsthala, a progressive six-stage path of devotion and surrender: bhakti (devotion), mahesha (selfless service), prasada (earnestly seeking Siva's grace), pranalinga (experience of all as Siva), sharana (egoless refuge in Siva), and aikya (oneness with Siva). Each phase brings the seeker closer, until soul and God are fused in a final state of perpetual Siva consciousness, as rivers merging in the ocean.
Vira Saivism's means of attainment depends on the panchachara (five codes of conduct) and ashtavarana (eight shields) to protect the body as the abode of the Lord. The five codes are Lingachara (daily worship of the Sivalinga), sadachara (attention to vocation and duty), Sivachara (acknowledging Siva as the one God and equality among members), bhrityachara (humility towards all creatures) and ganachara (defense of the community and its tenets).
The eight shields are guru, Linga, jangama (wandering monk), paduka (water from bathing the Linga or guru's feet), prasada (sacred offering), vibhuti (holy ash), rudraksha (holy beads) and mantra (Namah Sivaya). One enters the Vira Saiva religion through formal initiation called Linga Diksha, a rite for both boys and girls which replaces the sacred thread ceremony and enjoins the devotee to worship the personal Sivalinga daily. Lingayats place great emphasis on this life, on equality of all members (regardless of caste, education, sex, etc.), on intense social involvement and service to the community. Their faith stresses free will, affirms a purposeful world and avows a pure monotheism.
Today Vira Saivism is a vibrant faith, particularly strong in its religious homeland of Karnataka, South-Central India. Roughly forty million people live here, of which perhaps twenty-five percent are members of the Vira Saiva religion. There is hardly a village in the state without a jangama and a matha (monastery). On the occasion of birth in a Lingayat family, the child is entered into the faith that same day by a visiting jangama, who bestows a small Sivalinga encased in a pendant tied to a thread. This same Linga is to be worn throughout life.
Kashmir Saivism
Kashmir Saivism, with its potent stress on man's recognition of an already existing oneness with Siva, is the most single-mindedly monistic of the six schools. It arose in the ninth century in Northern India, then a tapestry of small feudal kingdoms. Maharajas patronized the various religions. Buddhism was still strong. Tantric Shaktism flourished toward the Northeast. Saivism had experienced a renaissance since the sixth century, and the most widespread Hindu God was Siva.
According to the traditions of Kashmir Saivism, Lord Siva originally set forth sixty-four systems, or philosophies, some monistic, some dualistic and some monistic theistic. Eventually these were lost, and Siva commanded Sage Durvasas to revive the knowledge. Sage Durvasas' "mind-born sons" were assigned to teach the philosophies: Tryambaka (the monistic), Amardaka (the dualistic) and Srinatha (monistic theistic). Thus, Tryambaka at an unknown time laid a new foundation for Kashmir Saiva philosophy.
Then, it is said, Lord Siva Himself felt the need to resolve conflicting interpretations of the Agamas and counter the encroachment of dualism on the ancient monistic doctrines. In the early 800s, Sri Vasugupta was living on Mahadeva Mountain near Srinagar. Tradition states that one night Lord Siva appeared to him in a dream and told him of the whereabouts of a great scripture carved in rock. Upon awakening, Vasugupta rushed to the spot and found seventy-seven terse sutras etched in stone, which he named the Siva Sutras. Vasugupta expounded the Sutras to his followers, and gradually the philosophy spread. On this scriptural foundation arose the school known as Kashmir Saivism, Northern Saivism, Pratyabhijna Darshana ("recognition school"), or Trikashasana ("Triple Doctrine"). Trika, "trinity," refers to the school's three-fold treatment of the Divine: Siva, Shakti and soul, as well as to three sets of scriptures and some other triads.
Kashmir Saivite literature is in three broad divisions: Agama Shastra, Spanda Shastra and Pratyabhijna Shastra. Agama Shastra includes works of divine origin: specifically the Saiva Agama literature, but also including Vasugupta's Siva Sutras. The Spanda Shastra, or Spanda Karikas (of which only two sutras are left), are both attributed to Vasugupta's disciple Kallata (ca 850 -- 900). These elaborate the principles of the Siva Sutras. The Pratyabhijna Shastra's principal components are the Siva Drishti by Vasugupta's disciple, Somananda, and the Pratyabhijna Sutras by Somananda's pupil, Utpaladeva (ca 900-950). Abhinavagupta (ca 950-1000) wrote some forty works, including Tantraloka, "Light on Tantra," a comprehensive text on Agamic Saiva philosophy and ritual. It was Abhinavagupta whose brilliant and encyclopedic works established Kashmir Saivism as an important philosophical school.
Kashmir Saivism provides an extremely rich and detailed understanding of the human psyche, and a clear and distinct path of kundalini-siddha yoga to the goal of Self Realization. In its history the tradition produced numerous siddhas, adepts of remarkable insight and power. It is said that Abhinavagupta, after completing his last work on the Pratyabhijna system, entered the Bhairava cave near Mangam with 1,200 disciples, and he and they were never seen again.
Kashmir Saivism is intensely monistic. It does not deny the existence of a personal God or of the Gods. But much more emphasis is put upon the personal meditation and reflection of the devotee and his guidance by a guru. Creation of the soul and world is explained as God Siva's abhasa, "shining forth" of Himself in His dynamic aspect of Shakti, the first impulse, called spanda. As the Self of all, Siva is immanent and transcendent, and performs through his Shakti the five actions of creation, preservation, destruction, revealing and concealing. The Kashmir Saivite is not so much concerned with worshiping a personal God as he is with attaining the transcendental state of Siva consciousness.
An esoteric and contemplative path, Kashmir Saivism embraces both knowledge and devotion. Sadhana leads to the assimilation of the object (world) in the subject (I) until the Self (Siva) stands revealed as one with the universe. The goal -- liberation -- is sustained recognition (pratyabhijna) of one's true Self as nothing but Siva. There is no merger of soul in God, as they are eternally nondifferent.
There are three upayas, stages of attainment of God consciousness. These are not sequential, but do depend upon the evolution of the devotee. The first stage is anavopaya, which corresponds to the usual system of worship, yogic effort and purification through breath control. The second stage is shaktopaya, maintaining a constant awareness of Siva through discrimination in one's thoughts. The third stage is shambhavopaya in which one attains instantly to God consciousness simply upon being told by the guru that the essential Self is Siva. There is a forth stage, anupaya, "no means," which is the mature soul's recognition that there is nothing to be done, reached for or accomplished except to reside in one's own being, which is already of the nature of Siva. Realization relies upon the satguru, whose grace is the blossoming of all sadhana.
Despite many renowned gurus, geographic isolation in the Kashmir Valley and later Muslim domination kept the following relatively small. Scholars have recently brought the scriptures to light again, republishing surviving texts. The original parampara was represented in recent times by Swami Lakshman Joo. Today various organizations promulgate the esoteric teachings to some extent worldwide. While the number of Kashmir Saivite formal followers is uncertain, the school remains an important influence in India. Many Kashmir Saivites have fled the presently war-torn Valley of Kashmir to settle in Jammu, New Delhi and elsewhere in North India. This diaspora of devout Saivites may serve to spread the teachings into new areas.
Siva Advaita
Siva Advaita is the philosophy of Srikantha as expounded in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya, a Saivite commentary on the Brahma Sutras (ca 500-200 BCE). The Brahma Sutras are 550 terse verses by Badarayana summarizing the Upanishads. The Brahma Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are the three central scriptures of the various interpretations of Vedanta philosophy. Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva wrote commentaries on these books deriving three quite different philosophies -- nondualism, qualified nondualism and dualism, respectively -- from the same texts. Each claimed his to be the true interpretation of the Vedas and vigorously refuted all other interpretations. Sankara was a monist and accorded worship of the personal God a lesser status. Ramanuja and Madhva, on the other hand, developed theistic philosophies in which devotion to Vishnu was the highest path. There was as yet no school of Vedanta elevating devotion to Siva to similar heights. Srikantha sought to fill this gap. The resulting philosophy is termed Siva Vishishtadvaita and is not unlike Ramanuja's qualified nondualism. In the process of his commentary, Srikantha put Saiva philosophy into Vedantic terminology.
Srikantha lived in the eleventh century. Of his personal life virtually nothing is historically known, so the man remains a mystery. Nor did he catalyze a social movement that would vie with Vira Saivism or Saiva Siddhanta. But from his writings it is clear that Srikantha was a masterful expositor and a devout lover of God Siva. His influence was largely due to Appaya Dikshita, who wrote a compelling commentary on Srikantha's work in the sixteenth century as part of a successful multi-pronged attempt to defend Saivism against the inroads of Vaishnava proselytization in South India.
According to Srikantha, Siva created the world for no purpose except out of play or sport. Siva is the efficient cause of creation. As His Shakti, He is also the material cause. Siva assumes the form of the universe, transforms Himself into it, not directly but through His Shakti. Yet, He is transcendent, greater than and unaffected and unlimited by His creation. Siva has a spiritual body and lives in a heaven more luminous than millions of suns, which liberated souls eventually can attain. Srikantha in his Brahma Sutra Bhashya said, "At the time of creation, preceded by the first vibrations of His energies -- solely through an impulse of will, independently of any material cause, and out of His own substance -- He creates, that is, manifests, the totality of conscious and unconscious things."
Purification, devotion and meditation upon Siva as the Self -- the akasha within the heart -- define the path. Meditation is directed to the Self, Siva, the One Existence that evolved into all form. Release comes only after certain preliminary attainments, including tranquility, faith and nonattachment. Bonds which fetter the soul can be shattered in the torrent of continuous contemplation on and identification with the Supreme, Siva. Liberation depends on grace, not deeds.
Upon death, the liberated soul goes to Siva along the path of the Gods, without return to earthly existence. The individual soul continues to exist in the spiritual plane, enjoying the bliss of knowing all as Siva, enjoying all experiences and powers, except that of creation of the universe. Ultimately, the soul does not become perfectly one with Brahman (or Siva), but shares with Brahman all excellent qualities. Man is responsible, free to act as he wills to, for Siva only fulfills needs according to the soul's karma. Srikantha wrote in Brahma Sutra Bhashya, "Siva associates Himself with the triple energies [knowledge, will and action], enters into the total agglomerate of effects, and emerges as the universe, comprising the triad of Deities [Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra]. Who can comprehend the greatness of Siva, the All-Powerful and the All-Knowing?"
Appaya Dikshita (1554 -- 1626) is a most unusual person in Hindu history. His commentaries on various schools of philosophy were so insightful that they are revered by those schools, even though he did not adhere to their philosophies. An ardent devotee of Lord Siva, he compiled manuals on puja worship which are used to the present day by Saivite priests. Additionally, he was an excellent devotional poet. Philosophically he adhered throughout his life to the advaita school of Adi Sankara. In his battles to reestablish the worship of Siva against the Vaishnavism of the day, his life came under threat numerous times. Saivism was suffering setbacks in South India in the sixteenth century due largely to the patronage of Vaishnavism by Ramaraja, king of Vijayanagara, whose territory encompassed an area as large as modern Tamil Nadu. When Ramaraja was killed at the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565, his successors ruling from other cities continued the patronage of Vaishnavism. Appaya succeeded at this crucial juncture in gaining the patronage of King Chinna Bomman of Vellore, who ruled from 1559 to 1579. Bomman had once been subject to the king of Vijayanagara, but after the city fell, he declared his own independence.
Appaya Dikshita set out to compose commentaries on the various philosophies of his day, including that of Srikantha. Appaya's commentaries on the writings of the dualist Madhva are revered to this day by Madhva's adherents. Through his 104 books, Appaya created more harmonious relations with the other systems of thought, promoted Saivism from several philosophical approaches at once and contributed to the basic devotional worship of Siva. The patronage of King Chinna Bomman assured the wide spread of Appaya's ideas through specially convened conferences of up to 500 scholars and extensive travel for both Appaya and the trained scholars who served as Saiva missionaries. Appaya wrote in one text, "Since the summer heat of the evil-minded critics of Lord Siva and His worship are awaiting in order to burn out and destroy the sprouts of Siva bhakti or devotion that arise in the minds of the devotees, for which the seed is their accumulated merit in their previous births, this work, Sivakarnamrita, with its verses made, as it were, of nectar, is written to help rejuvenate those sprouts."
Appaya Dikshita concluded that the philosophies of Srikantha and those of other dualists or modified dualists were necessary steps to recognizing the truth of monism, advaita. He argued that Srikantha's emphasis on Saguna Brahman (God with qualities) rather than Nirguna Brahman (God without qualities) was meant to create, for the moment, faith and devotion in fellow Saivites, for such devotion is a necessary prerequisite to the discipline needed to know the Transcendent Absolute, Parashiva, Nirguna Brahman. Appaya Dikshita said in Sivarkamani Dipika, "Although advaita was the religion accepted and impressed by the great teachers of old like Sri Sankara [and the various scriptures], still an inclination for advaita is produced only by the grace of Lord Siva and by that alone."
Siva Advaita apparently has no community of followers or formal membership today, but may be understood as a highly insightful reconciliation of Vedanta and Siddhanta. Its importance is in its promotion by Appaya Dikshita to revive Saivism in the sixteenth century.
Siddha Siddhanta
Siddha Siddhanta, or Gorakshanatha Saivism, is generally considered to have issued from the lineage of the earlier ascetic orders of India. Gorakshanatha was a disciple of Matsyendranatha, patron saint of Nepal, revered by certain esoteric Buddhist schools as well as by Hindus. Gorakshanatha lived most likely in the tenth century and wrote in Hindi. Historians connect the Gorakshanatha lineage with that of the Pashupatas and their later successors, as well as to the siddha yoga and Agamic traditions. Gorakshanatha adherents themselves say that Matsyendranatha learned the secret Saiva truths directly from Siva, as Adinatha, and he in turn passed them on to Gorakshanatha. The school systematized and developed the practice of hatha yoga to a remarkable degree, indeed nearly all of what is today taught about hatha yoga comes from this school.
Gorakshanatha, the preeminent guru and author of Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati ("tracks in the adept doctrines"), was a man of awesome spiritual power and discerning practicality. As a renunciate, his early life is unknown, though he is thought to have been a native of Punjab. After twelve years of study under his famed guru, Matsyendranatha, he mastered the highly occult Natha yoga sciences. Roaming all over North India from Assam to Kashmir, he worshiped Siva in temples, realizing Him in the deepest of samadhis and awakening many of the powers of a Saiva adept.
By creating twelve orders with monastery-temple complexes across the face of North India, Gorakshanatha popularized his school and effectively insulated pockets of Saivism from Muslim dominance. Matsyendranatha had already established it in Nepal, where to this day he is deified as the country's patron saint. Scholars believe that Gorakshanatha's yoga represents a development out of the earlier Pashupata and related ascetic orders, as there are many similarities of practice and philosophy.
To outer society, Gorakshanatha's siddha yogis were mesmerizing, memorable men of renunciation -- dressed in saffron robes, with flowing, jet-black hair, foreheads white with holy ash, large circular earrings, rudraksha beads and a unique horn whistle on a hair-cord worn around the neck, signifying the primal vibration, Aum. Muslims called the Gorakshanathis "Kanphati," meaning "split-eared ones," referring to the rite of slitting the ear cartilage to insert sometimes monstrous earrings. Some Muslims even joined the Kanphatis, and heads of a few Gorakshanatha monasteries are known by the Muslim title pir, "holy father." This unusual ecumenical connection was of enormous benefit at a time of general religious persecution.
These Nathas perceived the inner and outer universes as Siva's cosmic body (Mahasakara Pinda), as the continuous blossoming forth of Himself as Shakti (power) into an infinity of souls, worlds and forces. Earth and life, human frailties and human Divinity are Siva manifest. As such, these men expressed spiritual exaltation in mankind and joyous devotion through temple worship and pilgrimage. But their daily focus was on internal worship and kundalini yoga. Inside themselves they sought realization of Parasamvid, the supreme transcendent state of Siva.
Gorakshanatha, in Viveka Martanda, gives his view of samadhi: "Samadhi is the name of that state of phenomenal consciousness, in which there is the perfect realization of the absolute unity of the individual soul and the Universal Soul, and in which there is the perfect dissolution of all the mental processes. Just as a perfect union of salt and water is achieved through the process of yoga, so when the mind or the phenomenal consciousness is absolutely unified or identified with the soul through the process of the deepest concentration, this is called the state of samadhi. When the individuality of the individual soul is absolutely merged in the self-luminous transcendent unity of the Absolute Spirit (Siva), and the phenomenal consciousness also is wholly dissolved in the Eternal, Infinite, Transcendent Consciousness, then perfect samarasattva (the essential unity of all existences) is realized, and this is called samadhi."
Having achieved samarasattva (or samarasa), the yogi remains continually aware of the transcendent unity of God, even while being aware of the ordinary material world. This is the supreme achievement of the system. The school is noted for its concept of kaya siddhi, extreme physical longevity, and even the claim of immortality for some. Indeed, Gorakshanatha himself and many of his followers are considered to be alive today, carrying on their work from hidden places. The precise methods of this are not delineated in their texts, but are taught directly by the guru. Among the central scriptures are Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama, Gheranda Samhita, Shiva Samhita, and Jnanamrita, which are among forty or so works attributed to Gorakshanatha or his followers. Most deal with hatha yoga.
The Siddha Siddhanta theology embraces both transcendent Siva (being) and immanent Siva (becoming). Siva is efficient and material cause. Creation and final return of soul and cosmos to Siva are described as "bubbles arising and returning to water." Siddha Siddhanta accepts the advaitic experience of the advanced yogi while not denying the mixed experiences of oneness and twoness in ordinary realms of consciousness.
Through the centuries, a large householder community has also arisen which emulates the renunciate ideals. Today there are perhaps 750,000 adherents of Siddha Siddhanta Saivism, who are often understood as Shaktas or advaita tantrics. In truth, they range from street magicians and snake charmers, to established citizens and advanced sadhus. The school fans out through India, but is most prominent in North India and Nepal. Devotees are called yogis, and stress is placed on world renunciation -- even for householders. Over time and still today, the deeper theology has often been eclipsed by a dominant focus on kundalini-hatha yoga. Values and attitudes often hold followers apart from society. This sect is also most commonly known as Natha, the Goraksha Pantha and Siddha Yogi Sampradaya. Other names include Adinatha Sampradaya, Nathamatha and Siddhamarga. The word gorakh or goraksha means "cowherd." (The name Gorkha denotes an inhabitant of Nepal and is the same as Gurkha, the famous martial tribe of that country.)
Today this Natha tradition is represented by the Gorakshanatha sadhus and numerous other venerable orders of Himalayan monks who uphold the spirit of world renunciation in quest of the Self. Millions of modern-day seekers draw from their teachings, treasuring especially the sixteenth-century text by Svatmarama, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, "elucidation on hatha yoga." From these strong, ancient roots, yoga schools have arisen in major cities in nearly every country of the world. They are aggressive. They are dynamic. They produce results, physically, mentally and emotionally. They usually do not include Hindu religion but for a minimal presentation of puja, guru, karma, dharma and the existence of an all-pervasive force, called energy. Because of this loosely-knit philosophical premise and the pragmatic results gained from the practices of hatha yoga, pranayama and meditation, a large following of seekers from all religious backgrounds ever expands. Today these schools encompass ayurveda, astrology and various forms of holistic health practice. Advanced meditation is taught to the most sincere. Thus the ancient wisdom of Siddha Siddhanta survives in the modern age to improve the quality of life for mankind and aid truth seekers everywhere to attain their goal.
Saivism, Conclusion
Today, in one form or another, each of these six schools of Saivism continues unhindered. Their leaders and gurus have reincarnated and are picking up the threads of the ancient past and bringing them forward to the twenty-first century. Seekers who worship Siva are carefully choosing between one or another of them. Gurus, initiated, uninitiated or self-appointed by the spiritual forces within them, find themselves declaring God Siva as Supreme Lord and aligning themselves with one or another of the Saiva lineages. Non-Hindus have been attracted to the profound Saiva philosophy, serving as unheralded missionaries. Many have fully converted to Saivism as the religion of their soul. In this modern age, toward the end of the twentieth century, Saivism has gained a new strength and power. The schools of Saivism relate and interrelate in love, kindness, compassion and understanding, share their strengths and fortify each other's weaknesses.
Our most exalted God Siva knew His creations were not all the same. In different moods He created different kinds of souls at different times. Similarly, in His supreme wisdom, He created these six approaches to His grace upon one common Vedic-Agamic foundation -- one for yogic ascetics, one for heroic nonconformists, one for kundalini mystics, one for the philosophically astute, one for immortal renunciates and one for devotional nondualists. None was forgotten. Yea, even today, Lord Siva is ordaining leaders within the boundaries of these six philosophical streams to preach His message in sacred eloquence.
Philosophical Summaries
The following are concise philosophical summaries of the six schools of Saivism, along with maps showing the primary areas of origin or present-day influence and concentration of each school in India's states.
Siva Siddhanta: In Rishi Tirumular's monistic theism (ca -200), Siva is material and efficient cause, immanent and transcendent. The soul, created by Siva, is destined to merge in Him. In Meykandar's pluralistic realism (ca 1200), God, souls and world are beginningless and eternally coexistent. Siva is efficient but not material cause. Highlighted are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

Pashupata Saivism: This school, traced to Lakulisa (ca 200), is bhedadbheda, simultaneously monistic and theistic, emphasizing Siva as supreme cause and personal ruler of soul and world. The liberated soul retains individuality in its state of complete union with God. Final merger is compared to stars disappearing in the sky. Noted areas of influence (clockwise) include Gujarat, Kashmir and Nepal.

Vira Saivism: Made popular by Basavanna (1105-1167), this version of qualified nondualism, Shakti Vishishtadvaita, accepts both difference and nondifference between soul and God, like rays are to the sun. Siva and the cosmic force are one, yet Siva is beyond His creation, which is real, not illusory. God is efficient and material cause. Influential primarily in Karnataka.

Kashmir Saivism: Codified by Vasugupta (ca 800), this mildly theistic, intensely monistic school, known as Pratyabhijna Darshana, explains the creation of soul and world as God Siva's shining forth in His dynamic first impulse. As the Self of all, Siva is immanent and transcendent, a real but abstract creator-preserver-destroyer. Founded in Kashmir.

Siva Advaita: This monistic theism, formulated by Srikantha (ca 1050), is called Siva Vishishtadvaita. The soul does not ultimately become perfectly one with Brahman, but shares with the Supreme all excellent qualities. Appaya Dikshita (1554-1626) attempted to resolve this union in favor of an absolute identity -- Shuddhadvaita. Its area of origin and influence covers most of Karnataka state.

Siddha Siddhanta: Expounded by Rishi Gorakshanatha (ca 950), this monistic theism is known as bhedabheda, embracing both transcendent Siva Being and immanent Siva Becoming. Siva is efficient and material cause. The creation and final return of soul and cosmos to Siva are likened to bubbles arising and returning to water. Influential in Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.

Natha Sampradaya

The Tradition Of Masters

Sivathondan shows the path of clarity of mind and pours forth a stream of poems, the knowledge to disclose that 'twixt Vedanta and Siddhanta no difference is found, and on this Earth to us reveals That which transcends all sound.
Natchintanai, "In praise of Sivathondan,"
NT, p. 187
High in the icy Himalayan mountains sits Maharishi Nandinatha, the earliest known preceptor of the Nandinatha Sampradaya, his matted locks piled high. One of his eight disciples, Tirumular, wearing a skin to warm his body, brought the lineage to the south of India.

to Hinduism. It can be understood in two ways. First, it refers to the oral transmission of traditional teachings, such as a satguru of an established lineage verbally passing on eternal truths to his shishya, like a mother imparting knowledge to her daughter, or a father to his son. During such intimate moments, when deep personal knowledge is transferred, a combination of meaning, experience and realization is conveyed from teacher to pupil through the action of sampradaya. Second, sampradaya refers to a living stream of tradition or theology within Hinduism, and to its founding preceptors. While sampradaya names a living teaching tradition, parampara denotes a succession of satgurus. Through one or more paramparas, a sampradaya is carried forward generation after generation. A sampradaya could be likened to a stream which flows into various tributaries, called paramparas.

Natha means "lord" or "master," a knower of the Self who has mastered the intricacies of his inner bodies and states of mind. Through the millennia, Nathas have been conveyors of esoteric knowledge and wielders of siddhis, powers of the soul. Natha siddhas delve deep into the mind, invoking Siva's grace, controlling the kundalini shakti. They worship with full heart and mind the Lord of lords, Siva, and in yogic contemplation experience identity in His Being.
The Natha Sampradaya is the mystical fountainhead of Saivism. The divine messages of the Eternal Truths and how to succeed on the path to enlightenment are locked within the Natha tradition. All that we know as Saivism today -- Agamic temple worship, fire sacrifice called homa, sannyasa, sadhana, tapas, yoga, tantra and the theology of monistic theism -- has been carried forward by the Himalayan orders of the Natha Sampradaya.
This oldest of Saivite sampradayas existing today consists of two major streams: the Nandinatha Sampradaya and the Adinatha Sampradaya. The Adinatha Sampradaya's earliest known exemplars were Maharishi Adinatha, Matsyendranatha and Gorakshanatha (ca 950), expounder and foremost guru of Siddha Siddhanta Saivism and founder of the well-known order of Kanphata Yogis.
The Nandinatha Sampradaya's earliest known exemplars were Maharishi Nandinatha (ca 200 bce) and his disciples Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sutras) and Sundaranatha (known as Tirumular in South India, whose Tirumantiram comprehensively expounds the path of Saiva Dharma). In recent times this ancient lineage of masters and the Nandinatha Sampradaya continues through the Kailasa Parampara -- the first recent known siddha being the "Rishi from the Himalayas," so named because he descended from those holy mountains. In South India, he initiated Kadaitswami (ca 1810-1875), who in turn initiated Chellappaswami (1840-1915). Chellappan passed the mantle of authority to sage Yogaswami (1872-1964), who in 1949 initiated me, and I have appointed as my first successor Bodhinatha Veylanswami.
In the twenty-first century, the Adinatha and Nandinatha Sampradayas are both vibrant and vital. They share a common ground of theology, principles, sadhanas and many scriptures -- including the Vedas, Agamas and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, though, historical, societal and geographical forces over the past 1,000 years have shaped differences between them. It is important to highlight these differences here because much of what is written or discussed today by scholars about the Nathas refers to the northern Gorakshanatha school and lifestyle, rather than the Tirumular school, which is followed in South India and Sri Lanka. The major differences are:
1. The foremost exposition of the Nandinatha Sampradaya is Tirumular's Tirumantiram (ca 200 bce), while that of the Adinatha Sampradaya is Gorakshanatha's Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati (ca 950 ce).
2. Most texts of the Nandinatha Sampradaya are in the Tamil language, while those of the Adinathas are in Sanskrit.
3. The Nandinatha Sampradaya is most influential in the South of India, while the Adinatha Sampradaya is most prominent in the North of India.
4. The philosophy of the Nandinatha Sampradaya is known as Saiva Siddhanta, while that of the Adinatha Sampradaya is known as Siddha Siddhanta.

Nandinatha Sampradaya's Belief Patterns

The trilogy of Dancing, Living and Merging with Siva embodies the teachings of the ancient Nandinatha Sampradaya. These teachings can be summarized as follows.
1. On the Nature of God: The Nandinatha Sampradaya is a mystical lineage that places great stress on direct and personal experience of God, on seeing God everywhere and in everyone, on knowing God within oneself. This is achieved through nonintellectual spiritual disciplines called sadhana -- a term which in its fullest sense embodies kundalini yoga, profound esoteric practices, intense introspective meditation, and worship. -- through purificatory effort, mind-transforming austerities, egoless service and, most importantly, through the bountiful grace of the living satguru. Following such a path, called sadhana marga, Nathas have come to know God, in ancient days and modern.
Enlightened sages of the Natha Sampradaya teach that God is Siva, the transcendent/immanent Supreme Being. Siva is transcendent as unmanifest Parashiva, the ineffable That which lies beyond time, form and space. Siva is immanent as Satchidananda, the substratum or primal substance and pure consciousness flowing through all form. And Siva is also immanent as Maheshvara, the Primal Soul who performs the five divine actions of creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and revealing. Though Siva is a singular and sacred mystery, Nathas understand Him through these three perfections.
The one central teaching of the Nathas is this: Siva is All, and all is Siva. This potent monism nonetheless acknowledges God's creation of world and souls, not as a dark or dreamlike existence, but as a real, purposeful, necessary and joyous one. However, God alone is Absolute, Eternal and Unchanging Reality. The creation -- or more precisely, emanation -- is relative, temporal and subject to change.
For the Nathas, Vishnu, Brahma and Rudra are not separate Gods existing and acting apart from Lord Siva. They are Siva. Vishnu names His sustaining, perpetuating power. Brahma is His creative power. And Rudra denotes His destructive or absorbing power. Likewise, Shakti is not just a divine consort, as often represented, but is His manifest power. Siva and Shakti are the one unmanifest/manifest Reality.
In addition, Nathas worship the Mahadevas Ganesha and Karttikeya (known as Murugan in the South) and revere all the 330 million Gods of Saivism as separate but inseparable from Siva, believing that they, like all souls, are created by Siva and yet are wholly pervaded by Him. Thus, for the Nathas there are many Gods and there is but one Supreme God, Siva, whose holy names include Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Shakti and more.
Regarding the notion of avatara -- that God takes birth upon the Earth as a savior -- Nathas hold that God Siva does not incarnate to save mankind. He is mankind as well as the perfect and purposeful universe in which mankind matures spiritually. Having created all, consciously knowing all, lovingly guiding all, fully encompassing all, there is no "other" for Siva, no need, therefore, to rectify a process already made perfect by Him.

2. On the Nature of the Soul: Each soul is born of God Siva's Being, is of God, and is eventually absorbed, by Siva's grace, back into Him. The soul's journey through existence is its maturing from a germ or seed state to its fully unfolded innate Divinity. Each soul is, in its innermost essence, Parashiva and Satchidananda, eternal and uncreated. However, the individual soul body is created as an extension of God Siva Himself in the image and likeness of His own Primal Soul form, differing only in its maturity. Over vast periods of time and through countless experiences, the soul body matures through experiencing self-created karmas. Finally, the soul seeks and realizes its identity as Siva. Through grace, "Jiva becomes Siva."
A three-fold bondage or veiling grace, called pasha, both aids and hinders the soul's knowing of its oneness with God Siva. Pasha is comprised of anava, karma and maya. Anava is the individuating veil of duality, source of ignorance which separates the soul from Siva. Maya is the principle of matter. Karma is the cause-and-effect principle governing maya. Experienced subjectively by the soul, it is the result of its own deeds, both "good" and "bad." In the Natha view, the soul is not tarnished or marred by these three bonds, only shrouded or veiled so that it may evolve.
The soul's spiritual progress is along a successive path of charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. This process is as natural and as beautiful as the growth and blossoming of a lotus. By following this path, the soul's identity with Siva can be and will be fully realized when the seeming triple bondage of anava, karma and maya is removed through Siva's Grace.
Moksha -- also called kaivalya, perfect inner freedom -- is the soul's release from samsara, the cycle of birth and death, attained after dynamic and personal yogic realization of Parashiva and resolution of all karmas. Having known the Absolute, there is no fuller realization, no greater knowing, no higher "experience." Even after Self Realization and liberation, the soul body continues to evolve in this and other worlds until it merges with the Primal Soul as a drop of water merges with its source, the ocean.
At its inception, the soul comes forth from Lord Siva as an embryo and progresses through three stages (avastha) of existence: kevala avastha, sakala avastha and shuddha avastha. During kevala avastha, the soul is likened to a seed hidden in the ground or a spark of the Divine hidden in a cloud of unknowing called anava, the primal fetter of individuality, the first aspect of Lord Siva's concealing grace, tirodhana shakti. Sakala avastha, the next stage in the soul's journey, is the period of bodily existence, the cyclic evolution through transmigration from body to body, under the additional powers of maya and karma, the second and third aspects of the Lord's concealing grace.
The journey through sakala avastha is also in three stages. The first is called irul pada, "stage of darkness," where the soul's impetus is toward pasha-jnana, knowledge and experience of the world. The next period is marul pada, "stage of confusion," where the soul begins to take account of its situation and finds itself caught between the world and God, not knowing which way to turn. This is called pashu-jnana, the soul seeking to know its true nature. The last period is arul pada, "stage of grace," when the soul yearns for the grace of God. Now it has begun its true religious evolution with the constant aid of the Lord.
How does arul, grace, set in? During the time of pashu-jnana, the soul comes to find that if he performs good and virtuous deeds, life always seems to take a positive turn. Whereas in negative, unvirtuous acts he slowly becomes lost in a foreboding abyss of confusion. Thus, in faith, he turns toward the good and holy. A balance emerges in his life, called iruvinai oppu. The pleasures and pains in life no longer raise him to the sky, then crash him to the ground. He has found a peaceful center from where life can be lived in refined composure. Not that he has all of a sudden found perfect and final peace, but he has experienced a balanced state and now seeks to attain perfectly to it. Trials still come and go as his karmic patterns ebb and flow.
Whether conscious of it or not, he is bringing the three malas -- anava, karma and maya -- under control. Maya is less and less an enchanting temptress. Karma no longer controls his state of mind, tormenting him through battering experiences. And anava, his self-centered nature, is easing its hold, allowing him to feel a more universal compassion in life. This grows into a state called malaparipakam, the ripening of the malas.
This will allow, at the right moment in his life, arul to set in. This is known as the descent of grace, shaktinipata. The internal descent is recognized as a tremendous yearning for Siva. More and more, he wants to devote himself to all that is spiritual and holy. The outer descent of grace is the appearance of a satguru. There is no question as to who he is, for he sheds the same clear, spiritual vibration as that unknown something the soul feels emanating from his deepest self. It is when the soul has reached malaparipakam that the Lord's tirodhana function, His concealing grace, has accomplished its work and gives way to anugraha, revealing grace, and the descent of grace, shaktinipata, occurs.
The religious path progresses through four stages: charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. In charya the main emphasis is complete refinement of virtuous qualities. Certain simple religious practices are enjoined, but we can go no farther till becoming a living exemplar of virtue. In kriya, temple worship and the awakening of true bhakti occur. In yoga, mystic union with the Lord is sought through disciplined yogic sadhanas under the guru's guidance. The jnana stage begins the shuddha avastha and is the fruit of the previous three stages.
All of this -- the three avasthas; the four margas both as progressive and perpetually upheld stages; the importance of guru, Lingam, sangam and valipadu; the three-fold descent of Siva's grace; and the oneness of God and soul -- distinguishes the Tamil religion from all other Indian traditions. Most important is that Siva is the motivator in this tradition. It is His will that allows the devoted to progress from one avastha to another, one marga into the next, until He, of His own volition, absorbs each soul back into Himself. For each step the soul takes toward Siva, Siva takes nine toward the devotee. Thus, merging with Siva completes the cycle so clearly articulated in Tamil Saivism.
In the shuddha avastha the yogi has attained samadhi and lives with an inner realization that sets him apart from all other men. But the jnana stage is not a relaxing or ending of spiritual endeavor. It is the beginning of even deeper self-transformation. The jnani must now seek what is called sayujya samadhi, perpetual immersion in Satchidananda. Prior to this, he is not yet matured in his realization. He may go into samadhi, but comes out into his "same old self," though, of course, not losing his anchor, which he has set firmly in the Absolute. Now he must infuse his entire being with the spiritual force and power that he has recognized and attained to through samadhi. Slowly the dichotomy between the transcendent Absolute and the external world of form becomes less and less apparent, until he becomes as Siva Himself -- a divine being living in a constant state of sayujya samadhi, transcendent-immanent realization of the Self flowing through all form. He is transformed from what he was into a recognizably different being. This is the joyous sadhana of shuddha avastha, by which the yogi becomes the jnani, a venerable jivanmukta, able to set new patterns of evolution, uplift consciousness and radiate life-changing blessings.

3. On the Nature of the World: The Nandinatha Sampradaya understands and perceives the world as a manifest expression of God Siva Himself. He is Creator and creation. While God is eternal and uncreated, the world is relatively real and subject to constant change. That does not mean that the world is illusion, ignorant seeming or nonexistence. It is important to note that maya for the Natha is not understood as the Smartas' classic misapprehension of a rope as a snake. Rather, it is Siva manifest. Seen thusly, the nature of the world is duality. It contains each thing and its opposite, joy and sorrow, love and hate. Therefore, in the Natha view, there is no intrinsic evil. The entire range of human expression -- whether intellectual achievement, social and cultural interaction, creative and psychological states of mind, instinctive desires or lofty yogic cognitions -- is but pure experience, powerful living lessons by which the soul learns, matures and progresses nearer to God. Experience is governed by karma and the divine laws of dharma, softened through God's grace.
This Natha view of maya also differs from the pluralistic Meykandar conception which holds that anava, karma and maya (as well as the soul itself) are separate from God, uncreated and eternally coexistent with Him. Under the pluralistic view, God is not both Creator and creation. Instead, He creates by "fashioning" the world from already existing maya, or matter,. He does not create or destroy maya itself.
In simple summary, it can be said that maya is the classroom, karma is the teacher and anava is the student's ignorance. Maya may be understood as that which is in the process of creation, preservation and destruction. Siva emanates maya and He is the maya He emanates.

4. Paths of Attainment: The Nandinatha path leads naturally and inevitably through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Charya is service and living everyday life according to traditional religious principles of conduct in order to purify oneself. Kriya is the regular practice of temple worship, both internal and external, through which understanding, closeness and love for God Siva deepen. As expounded in Patanjali's eight-limbed (ashtanga) yoga, the yoga marga is internalized worship which leads to union with God. It is the regular practice of meditation under the guidance and grace of a satguru through which the realizations of Satchidananda and Parashiva are attained. Jnana is divine wisdom emanating from the maturely enlightened soul. It is immersion of the mind in the blessed realization of God while living out earthly karmas. For these highest spiritual attainments, sadhana, brahmacharya, kundalini yoga and renunciation of the world are required.
These four margas are not distinct approaches to Lord Siva, but progressive stages of a one path. Each builds upon, but does not exclude, the other. Jnana is not an intellectual amassing of knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, but a state attained only after God Realization. The Nandinatha Sampradaya believes in the necessity of the illumined satguru, who alone brings the shishya to face and conquer the lower mind. He is the master who knows the Self and can therefore guide the disciple to the higher Self. The guru is a source of grace that sustains the shishya's personal sadhana as the spiritual forces unfold from within. For Nathas, the repetition of the sacred Panchakshara Mantra, Namah Sivaya, is the key to the awakening of Sivaness within each and every devotee on the path to Lord Siva's holy feet.

5. Scripture and Religious Perspective: The primary scriptural authority of the Nandinatha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara derives from the Vedas and Agamas, the Tirumantiram, Tirukural, Natchintanai of Jnanaguru Yogaswami, the Tirumurai and, last but not least, my published teachings, including Loving Ganesha, Dancing with Siva, Living with Siva, Merging with Siva, Lemurian Scrolls, How To Become a Hindu, Saiva Dharma Shastras and the Mathavasi Shastras.
The Natha Sampradaya teaches that Saivism is the oldest religion in the world, the eternal faith or Sanatana Dharma, the precursor of the many-faceted religion now termed "Hinduism." Within Hinduism today, there are four main denominations: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. But since long ago Sanatana Dharma has been none other than Saivism. Though the beliefs of Saivism and of other religions are diverse and different, the devout Saivite respects and encourages all who worship God and tries never to criticize or interfere with anyone's faith or practice. He follows that single most fundamental practice: seeing Siva everywhere and in everyone.

Saiva Siddhanta
Advaita-Dvaitau cha

Monism And Pluralism In Saiva Siddhanta

At the top of the mountain there is nothing but God. At the foot of it there is all the manifold variety and conflict.
Words of Our Master.
WM2, p. 364
With the starry firmament above and the Earth below, a yogi in full meditative posture has elevated his awareness, rising above the instinctive, emotional and intellectual states into superconsciousness. From such an inner state, it is possible to perceive the fullness of monistic theism.

the centuries, defenders of opposing philosophical viewpoints honed their positions and arguments to a steely, razor edge. From time to time, entire populations were convinced or even compelled to change their faith, as when King Asoka, born into the Brahmanical tradition, converted to Buddhism around 258 BCE and zealously promoted it from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka. Obviously, religious debate can have far-reaching effects, and such disputes are not merely the stuff of history, they are quite alive today. This resource chronicles a controversial exchange which took place in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, U.K. and the United States in the mid-1980s between two schools of Saiva Siddhanta, the world's largest Saivite denomination. On one side were the monistic theists, who stress the ultimate oneness of man and God, and on the other stood the pluralistic theists, who hold that God, soul and world are eternally separate. Herein are the positions of two subtlely but crucially different views of the cosmos and man's relationship with God. The debate is a living expression of the classical discussion about the Divine, one that is common to every religious tradition, and one that every seeker will benefit from exploring.

Just as there are three orthodox schools of thought within Vedanta philosophy (nondualism, qualified nondualism and dualism), there are two within Saiva Siddhanta (monism and pluralism). The purpose of this resource section is to present the monistic Saiva Siddhanta philosophy -- sometimes known as Advaita Siddhanta or Advaita Ishvaravada -- and to juxtapose it briefly with pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta or Dvaita Siddhanta. This comparison is important because the pluralistic teachings are widespread, so much so that many authoritative texts proclaim Saiva Siddhanta to be wholly pluralistic and completely overlook the monistic school, which is actually far older, though less well known. Between these two schools there continues a philosophical debate that has persisted for twenty centuries and more about whether God and soul are ultimately one or two. I first became aware of this perennial debate in 1948 while living and performing sadhana, living in little mud huts with cow dung floors, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, prior to my initiation from my satguru, Siva Yogaswami. I learned that various pluralist adherents in the area were not pleased with this modern mystic's monistic statements and conclusions. In my life, the issue again came into prominence in the early '80s after my recognition by the world community of Saivites as Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam and Jagadacharya of the Natha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara. By that time, our small but dynamic Saivite Hindu church had distributed thousands of copies of our Hindu Catechism,Dancing with Siva, boldly proclaiming the monistic truths of the Kailasa Parampara and bravely claiming the term Saiva Siddhanta as our own. This did not go unnoticed by pluralist scholars and pandits who for generations had faced little opposition to their claim that Saiva Siddhanta is pluralistic by definition.
Letters poured into our temple at Kauai Aadheenam in Hawaii, objecting to our philosophical position and urging us to give up the appellation Saiva Siddhanta, or to convert to the pluralistic view. We did not budge, arguing that, indeed, Saiva Siddhanta is the fitting and perfect name for our teachings. In response to these objections, we reiterated our philosophical position clearly and compared it with the pluralist views, citing scriptural sources in a formal document called "Monism and Pluralism in Saiva Siddhanta." And, in an inspired talk distributed throughout the world, I asserted, "There can be only one final conclusion, and that is monistic theism." To the pluralists, it appeared we had thrown down the gauntlet. The debate was on.
Once a relatively muted village affair, this age-old feud quickly escalated into a heated international debate among eight great monasteries in South India and Sri Lanka, of sangas in South Africa, Mauritius, Malaysia and England, and of philosophers, pandits, attorneys, judges and politicians from nearly every continent of the world. But for the first time, perhaps, the issue was faced with the goal of reaching a final resolution. Follow this debate, not as an exercise but as a way to deepen your own understanding of the ultimate things of life, of your own relationship with the universe around you, your own path toward merging in Siva.
Appreciating Religious Differences
Religion may be simply defined as man's knowledge of himself, of the world in which he finds himself and of the Truth or Reality or God which transcends both. When properly understood, religion does not divide man from man, making this one a faithless sinner and that one a worthy recipient of Divine Grace. Purely known and practiced, religion is leading man, all men, to enlightenment and liberation. But religion is not always purely known -- and even less often purely practiced -- which gives rise to differences. Differences in religion, arising as they do out of a variety of racial, cultural and individual experience, are to be expected and appreciated. They provide a fortress against philosophical monotony and spiritual stagnation. Though there are many who seek to convert the rest of the world to their own creed, the wise are tolerant of the beliefs of others and refuse to promote universal uniformity in cultural, intellectual or spiritual spheres.
Though their numbers are dwindling, there are still those who, in an effort to reconcile the differences between religions, claim that all religions are one. We commend the effort and all efforts which bring people into mutual understanding, which soften religious tensions, conflict and animosity. However, to simply say that they are all one and the same is simplistic. It is not true. All religions are not the same. To pretend that their differences are insignificant or nonexistent will not resolve those differences. Understanding, which brings mutual appreciation, is the only permanent resolution, and that comes through an open-minded and courageous study of the unique strengths and weaknesses inherent in each. This is the spirit in which we undertake this assessment of two philosophical schools that worship a one God, Siva, and together comprise the religious tradition known as Saiva Siddhanta.
The Two Schools Share a Vast Common Ground
Saivism is the world's most ancient religion, and its most comprehensive exposition is found in Saiva Siddhanta, which can be roughly translated as the "Final Conclusions of the Saiva Dharma." Saivism -- and most especially the traditions and philosophy expressed in Saiva Siddhanta -- is, we are convinced, the religion of the future, more suited than any other to a technological age, fully in harmony with science and more able to provide for mankind's resurgent demands for direct spiritual awakening and enlightened living than any other religion on the planet. The oldest faith has survived an age of reason, with its prophets of agnosticism, to become the newest faith in an age where mystical values are again appreciated.
For the most part, monists and pluralists within Saiva Siddhanta are of one mind. These are not diametrically opposing philosophies. They share more in common than they disagree about. In fact, between these two schools there is 95 percent agreement and only 5 percent dissidence. Both value the Nayanars and their Tirumurai. Both revere as scriptures the Vedas and the Saiva Agamas. Both follow the Tamil traditions. Both are committed to the importance of temple worship, urging the importance of temple worship and ritual for the benefit of the individual soul and of humanity at large. Both emphasize love of God Siva, who is both immanent and transcendent, and of the Gods, Ganesha and Murugan. They share the same scriptures and saints, a deep devotion to the sanga of fellow Sivathondars, a belief in karma and reincarnation, a firm faith in the need to live a virtuous life and to perform sadhana and yoga, a veneration of the satguru and his necessary role in the spiritual illumination of the soul, which, they concur, moves progressively through the stages of charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Both reject the Vaishnavite concept that God incarnates as a man. They both argue vehemently against the Advaita Vedanta view of maya as mere illusion, insisting that this world has a divine purpose -- the evolution of the soul -- and that, even though it is only relatively real, it is certainly not unreal. They do not agree with the Advaita Vedanta conception of the ultimate unreality of the soul, or of the Vedantin's relegation of the mystical science of temple worship to a kindergarten for young souls. Again and again on a hundred issues they find themselves in harmony. Clearly, pluralists and monists agree ninety-five percent as to what constitutes Saiva Siddhanta. We can never forget that. Tiru A.P.C. Veerabhagu, an eminent South Indian Siddhantin, a pluralist, called for our working together and lucidly summarized our essential points of agreement as "guru, linga, sangam and valipadu (temple worship)." This, he said, is the essence of Saiva Siddhanta as found in ancient Tamil literature, the common ground of the two schools.
Definitions of Monism and Pluralism
Webster's Dictionary defines monism as "the doctrine that there is only one ultimate substance or principle, that reality is an organic whole without independent parts." This is the opposite of dualism: "the theory that the world is ultimately composed of, or explicable in terms of, two basic entities, ...the doctrine that there are two mutually antagonistic principles in the universe, good and evil." Pluralism is defined as "the theory that reality is composed of a multiplicity of ultimate beings, principles or substances."
Philosophical Differences between Monism and Pluralism
Stated most simply, the monistic school holds that, by emanation from Himself, God Siva created everything -- the world, all things in the world and all souls -- and that each soul is destined to ultimately merge in advaitic union with Him, just as a river merges into the sea. The pluralistic school postulates that God Siva did not create the world or souls, but that they have existed eternally, just as He has, and that the ultimate destiny of the soul is not advaitic union in God Siva but nondual association with Him in eternal blessedness or bliss, a union compared to salt dissolved in water. In one view, there is manifestation from Siva in the beginning and merging back into Siva in the end, and only the Supreme God, Siva, is eternal and uncreated. In the second view, there is no beginning for the soul, but eternal coexistence of the soul with Siva from the kevala state, which goes back to the absolutely primordial time, to the shuddha state, which extends forever into the future. In the monistic view, God Siva is everything; even this physical universe is a part of Him, though He transcends it as well. In the pluralistic view, God Siva animates and guides the universe, but it is not a part of Him. The crux of the difference, then, is whether there is one eternal reality in the universe or three, whether the soul is eternally separate or is, in essence, one with Siva.
The Importance of Such Subtle Issues
Of course, these are subtle distinctions which may not seem to relate to one's daily religious experience. Thus, we may be inclined to dismiss such matters as of concern only to theologians, satgurus, swamis, yogis and philosophers. Yet, they are the very core of religion and cannot be regarded as trivial. They affect every Saivite, for they define two distinct perceptions of the nature of the soul (and therefore of ourselves), of the world and of God Siva. They offer two different spiritual goals: either to merge fully and forever in Him (a state which transcends even states of bliss) or to remain eternally separated from God (though such separation is seen positively as endless bliss, which cannot be derogated). One view is unity in identity in which the embodied soul, jiva, actually is and becomes Siva; the other is unity in duality, two in one (two because the third entity, the world, or pasha, does not ever, even partly, merge with God), in which the soul enjoys proximity with God Siva but remains forever an individual soul.
A Summary of Monistic Siddhanta
God Siva created and is constantly creating, preserving and reabsorbing all things, emanating from Himself the individual soul of man, all the worlds and their contents. He is the Beginning and the End, the Author of Existence. He is both material and efficient cause, and thus His act of manifestation may be likened to sparks issuing forth from a fire or fruits emerging from a tree [for definition of cause, see page 543].
The individual soul -- which is an effulgent being, a body of light, anandamaya kosha -- is created, evolves as a seemingly separate being and ultimately merges in undifferentiated union and oneness with God Siva, which oneness may be called identity. The essence of the soul, Satchidananda and Parashiva, is eternal and uncreated. It does not evolve, for it is forever perfect. This essence of the soul is not different from Siva.
But monistic Siddhanta also teaches that the soul is, in a temporary way, different from God. This difference exists with respect to the soul's individuality, not its essence. The body of the soul, anandamaya kosha, composed of pure light, is created, and it is limited. It is not Omnipotent or Omnipresent at its inception. Rather, it is limited and individual, but not imperfect. That is what makes for evolution. That is the whole purpose behind samsara, behind the cycles of birth and death, to lead this individual soul body into maturity. Of course, the various faculties of mind, perception, discrimination, which are not the soul but which "surround" the soul, are even more limited, and it would be, as stated above, folly to equate these with God Siva, to say they were the same as He. Ultimately, after many births and further evolution which follows earthly existence, this soul body does merge in God Siva. This merger is called vishvagrasa. Then, of course, the soul cannot even say, "I am Siva," for there is no "I" to make the claim. There is only Siva.
The world and the soul are, in truth, but various forms of Siva Himself, yet He also transcends His creation and is not limited by it. Also, the world and the soul cannot stand independent of God, a fact which makes it clear that they are evolutes and not eternal entities. When world and soul are absorbed in His Divine Form at the time of mahapralaya -- the end of a cosmic creational cycle -- all three malas (anava, karma and maya) are removed through His grace, and the soul ceases to exist as an individual, losing its separateness through union and fulfillment in Siva. After mahapralaya, Siva alone exists, until creation issues forth from Him in yet another cosmic cycle.
A Summary of Pluralistic Siddhanta
Pluralistic Siddhanta holds that there are three eternal and coexistent entities -- God, soul and world. When we speak of Siva's creation of the world and all things in the world, we must understand that the primordial material of creation always existed and that God Siva merely fashions it into its myriad forms, just as a potter shapes a multitude of pots from pre-existing clay, but does not also create the clay. Thus, God Siva is the efficient cause of the universe, but He is not the material cause. The material cause is maya, which is eternal and uncreated. The soul, too, exists from eternity, and God Siva fashions the various bodies needed for its evolution and provides the faculties of perception, discrimination, and so forth. The ultimate destiny of the soul is to reach the feet of God Siva and enjoy nondual (but not advaitic in the sense of oneness or identity) union in Him, which may be thought of as eternally blissful beatitude and nearness. The soul rests in union with Him, as salt dissolved in water, while yet retaining its individuality. At the time of mahapralaya, it is not only God Siva which exists; rather, the world and an infinity of souls are drawn near God Siva. Souls retain their individual and separate existence, whether real or potential, awaiting another cycle of cosmic creation.
Dancing with Siva is based on the first of the above conclusions as the pure, original and highest conclusion of Saiva Siddhanta. This monistic Saiva Siddhanta interpretation is the conclusion of our Paramaguru Siva Yogaswami, of my own personal realizations and of every single one of my sannyasins of the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order. It is the view of creation and union described in the Vedas and Saiva Agamas. It is the postulation of the Nayanars of Saiva Samayam, as expounded in their 18,400 Tirumurai hymns. And it is the clear teaching of the peerless Rishi Tirumular in his Tirumantiram, the first and foremost scripture on Saiva Siddhanta. Furthermore, it coincides with the teachings of hundreds of sages, saints and satgurus throughout the history of the Saiva Neri, including Vasugupta, founder of Kashmir Saivism; Srikantha, founder of Siva Advaita; and Basavanna, founder of Vira Saivism.
Four Arguments Regarding Monism and Creation
We present now four arguments which proponents of the Meykandar school have put forth for hundreds of years to support their doctrine, known as Pluralistic Realism, followed by a monistic response and elucidation for each. Each discussion pertains to the doctrine of creation, disproving which is central to the integrity of any philosophy that propounds ultimate dualism. From these four arguments one can gain a concise overview of the differences between the two schools.



If you speak of a creation, then we must ask, "Why did God create?" There can be no reason that a perfect God would create either the soul or the world. All reasons for creation -- whether it be some divine desire to enjoy creation, a demonstration of His glory, a necessity to create or merely a playful sport -- make the Creator less than complete, less than self-sufficient, less than perfect. Therefore, there could not have been a creation, and it follows that the world and the soul must have always existed.


The question "Why did God create" arises from the second-chakra consciousness of logic, but the answer exists in the sixth-chakra consciousness of divine sight. We can never find an entirely adequate reason for creation, any more than a firefly can comprehend the incredible effulgence of a supernova. It is simply God Siva's nature to create; it is one of His five powers, or expressions, along with preservation, dissolution, concealing grace and revealing grace. There really is no reason. He creates worlds as naturally as we create thoughts. Is there a reason that we create our thoughts and feelings? Not really. It is simply how we are. It is our nature to do so. We require no reason, and no reason can be found, for it is a fact that lies beyond reason. Similarly, God's nature is to create, and no reason can explain or limit His actions. The power of creation is, in fact, part of His Perfection. To find no reason for the creation and then to conclude that it never happens is like a firefly, unable to understand the stars above, concluding that stars do not exist. The argument that creation somehow limits God is unfounded, for the opposite is more limiting, denying Him the powers of creation and ultimate dissolution.



The world is full of sorrow, injustice, evil, disease, death and all manner of imperfection. The soul, too, is tainted with the imperfections of ignorance and limitation. Neither the world nor the soul could possibly be the creation of a perfect God, for imperfection cannot arise from perfection. If God had created the world or the soul, surely He would have made them perfect, and there would be no evil. To say that the world, with its obvious faults, is manifested from God is to malign Him. The only satisfactory explanation to this problem of evil is to assume that the world always existed and that the soul has been immersed in darkness and bondage beginninglessly. Furthermore, if God had created souls, they would all be equal, all alike, for He would not have shown preferences, denying to some what He granted to others. But we observe that souls are different. Therefore, God did not create the world or the soul.


Of course, it cannot be said that Perfection, if It were so inclined, could not give rise to something less than perfect. A Perfect Being could create an imperfect world. Regarding souls, the argument is flawed in that it disregards the Vedic view that Siva created the cosmic law of karma, and each soul, not God, is responsible for its actions and thus its differences and inequalities. And, of course, such inequity is a natural feature of the ongoing creation and unfoldment of a cosmos in which some souls are young and inexperienced, others old, mature and nearing their merger.
The deeper monistic response to the argument is that this world is, in fact, perfect, not imperfect. The world and the soul are God Siva's divine and flawless creation. It is superficial to say that sorrow and death are evil, that only joy and life are good. That is an incomplete view of the pairs of opposites which, taken together, comprise a perfect whole. Life is precious, indeed possible, because of death. Light depends for its existence on darkness, and joy depends on sorrow.
The Abrahamic theologians saw a world in which there was good and bad, and were unwilling to make their God responsible for both. They therefore posited the ultimate dualism in which all that is good, true and beautiful is created by a benevolent God, and all that is evil, false and ugly is the handiwork of a malevolent Satan. Siddhanta pluralism, likewise perceiving an imperfect world, instead of postulating a malevolent being to account for the ostensible defects, proposes that the world and the soul have always existed, without creation.
The argument that God could not create as He wills is also flawed in that it limits the unlimited. It compromises the omnipotence of our great God Siva, implying that He is not everything, that He did not create everything, that there are other and independent entities, separate realities, over which He has dominion but which have their own eternal individuality, too.
The view of Shuddha Saiva Siddhanta as expressed by Saint Tirumular, the Saiva Nayanars and Siva Yogaswami is that this world is, when viewed from superconsciousness, perfect and that God Siva has purposefully created each thing and its opposite: good and bad, beauty and deformity, light and darkness, joy and sorrow, life and death. Jnanaguru Yogaswami taught us, "There is not even one evil thing in the world." He urged us to "See God everywhere," not just in the obviously good. "Sarvam Sivamayam," the satguru observed. From our ordinary consciousness, this may be difficult to understand, especially when we personally are confronted with disease, death, violence, poverty and all forms of misery. But in fact, it is these sets of opposites, of joys and sorrows, that provide the means for the growth and maturation of the soul, that make us seek beyond the world of duality, that purify and evolve each soul and bring it to Siva's holy feet. From the enlightened summit reached by the siddhas, all is seen as necessary and good, all is seen as God Himself. If it is true that the world is divinely perfect, as our scriptures and siddhas say, then a perfect world has issued from a perfect Creator, and the argument is answered perfectly. Saint Tayumanavar wrote of creation as emanation, and a few verses from his sacred hymns are cited below.
In the final dissolution all that was visible vanished, and what resulted was mukti of blemishless bliss; and so the functions of creation and preservation, along with maya, ceased to exist; but who was it that stood with the garland of radiant-eyed white skulls stretching along His Hands and Feet? (15.3. ht)
Alone, by Thyself, Thou arose in the Vast Expanse
and danced in the arena of the Void.
Thou created the sky and the other elements,
Thou preserves them and dissolves them. (20.6 & 8. ht)
What Do the Nayanars Teach? The 63 Nayanars, Saivite saints, represent a fundamental source of spiritual inspiration for South Indian Saivites. Eight of these saints left a legacy of philosophical-devotional literature (Tirumurai) that provides insight, knowledge and authority for Saiva Siddhanta. No Siddhantin will gainsay their teachings, and thus it is important to know their views on the subject at hand. Here are three among thousands of testimonies in the Tirumurai that Lord Siva is everything, that He became everything.
Thou became the flesh! Thou became the life! Thou became the awareness within it! Thou became everything else. He is Himself He. He also becomes me. (Saint Appar)
He is the fruit, the juice and even the taster thereof; the "Thou" and the "I." (Appar's Nindra Tiruttandakam 6.94.5)
He is the knower; He is the revealer;
He is the knowledge; He is even the known;
He is also this vast world, the sky and so on. (Karaikkalammaiyar 20)
Views of Satguru Yogaswami: In recent times, Sri Lanka's greatest siddha was Siva Yogaswami (1872-1964) of Columbuthurai. He was a yogi and mystic who awakened inner knowledge, who realized Siva through great sadhana and tapas. Considered among the greatest of modern sages, a true jivanmukta of the highest order, he was the spiritual guide for Saivites throughout Sri Lanka and South India for many decades. He taught again and again, in person and in his published Natchintanai, that Siva is both Creator and creation. Here are a few relevant quotes from his teachings. (The numbers following the verses denote page numbers in the English edition of Natchintanai.)
Can you not perceive that it is That which has become both heaven and Earth? There is nothing else but That! (382, 34)
He has become the sun and moon. He has become the constellations of the stars. Mantra and tantra has He become. He has become the medicine and those who swallow it. He has become the Gods, Indra and all the rest. He has Himself become the universe entire. The soul and body, too, has He become. (144; 219)
All is the work of Siva. All is the form of Siva. He is everything. (127) You and I, he and it, fire and ether, ghosts and devils, other beings and Gods -- upon examination will all appear as He. (123)
Before the body falls, revere the God who both the One and many has become. (202)
All is Siva. Father and mother are Siva. All the Gods are Siva. The whole universe is Siva. (237)
Jnanaguru Yogaswami taught us, "When the Vedas and Agamas all proclaim that the whole world is filled with God, and that there is nothing else, how can we say that the world exists and the body exists? Is there anything more worthy of reproach than to attribute an independent reality to them? Sages, too, have declared: 'Those who have become Your own are not other than You.' Thus, for several reasons of this kind, there is nothing other than God." Thus resound the Natchintanai verses of my satguru, affirming the monism of Rishi Tirumular.



If there is a beginning, then there must be an end. But modern laws of physics tell us that energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed, they simply change form. Creation implies that something arises from nothing; and destruction implies that something becomes nothing. But this is absurd and irrational. To think of the immortal soul as undergoing a birth and death is absurd. Why would a benevolent God bring a soul into existence only to lead it, ultimately, to destruction, to nonexistence? Obviously, He would not. We must, therefore, conclude that the soul always existed, that it is eternal and uncreated.


The use of the word creation might well make one conclude that Siva is "making or bringing into existence something out of nothing." That, to be sure, is the Judaic-Christian Western notion of God's creative act. But in the Vedas, their Upanishads, the Tirumurai and the Agamas, we find creation to be from and of God Himself. The English term for this is emanation, defined in The Oxford Dictionary as: "The process of flowing forth, issuing or proceeding from anything as a source. Often applied to the origination of created beings from God; chiefly with reference to the theories that regard either the universe as a whole, or the spiritual part of it, as deriving its existence from the essence of God, and not from an act of creation out of nothing." In his Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion: Eastern and Western Thought, Dr. William L. Reese defines emanation as: "From the Latin e ('from') and mano ('flow'). Emanation is the doctrine of the production of the world as due to the overflowing superabundance of the Divine. An alternative to the doctrine of creation.... A similar idea is present in Hindu philosophy as well."
This pluralist argument assumes a form of creation analogous to a potter's fashioning a pot: God Siva fashions already existing matter into various forms. God is the potter (called the efficient cause, from the word effect, to make). By means of a wheel (called the instrumental cause, thought of as God's power, or shakti), He molds from eternally existing clay (called the material cause and thought of as primordial matter, or maya) a pot (the effect or creation of these three causes). If we hold such a view of the creative act as described in this analogy, then naturally the destructive act seems abhorrent, for it means the ruination of the pot or its return to formless clay. Every Saiva Siddhantin is taught that the soul never dies, is never destroyed, so we are almost lured into accepting this argument to preserve our very existence.
But there is another understanding, of God Siva's creation: the creation of the soul is like a wave arising from the ocean. In this traditional Hindu analogy, the wave has a beginning, an evolution and an end. Does something arise out of nothing? No, water arises out of water. Does that water cease to exist when it returns to the vast ocean? No, it merges back into the ocean. It merely ceases to be a distinct wave and becomes one with the ocean. That merging is fulfillment, not destruction. So, while pluralists argue that destruction cannot apply to the soul, because that leads to nothing, to nonexistence, monistic theists answer that union in God is the ultimate blessing, the finite returning to the Infinite, the most glorious goal imaginable, the consummate condition called vishvagrasa. The soul arises from Siva, evolves through many births and ultimately merges back in Him. Is it destroyed in that merging? No, it is made complete and perfect. It becomes Siva. "Jiva becomes Siva."
Finally, the doctrine that the soul, as an individual and independent entity, or being, has a beginning and an end should not be understood to mean that it is ultimately destroyed or eliminated. Such an annihilative concept is alien to Saivism. Rather, the soul is fulfilled, made perfect and brought into supernal grace when it merges ultimately in Siva. When the soul merges in Siva, when anava mala, which separates it and gives it limited and separate identity, is completely removed, there is no ruination or loss, except the loss of separateness and beclouding malas. Quite the opposite: there is grace and union, there is return to Siva's Perfect Being. The ego could construe this end of individual existence as something terrible, but that would be to misapprehend the greatest reward there is -- perfect union in Siva from which the soul was issued forth.
But the question of the creation of the soul is not the real issue. The fundamental issue may be described as follows: Is God Siva everything? Is this universe, including all souls, in Him and of Him, or is it distinct from Him? Is there more than one eternal Reality? Monism or, more precisely, monistic theism, holds that God Siva is everything, the one and only eternal Reality. The universe and the soul are also Siva. Monistic theists contend, then, that the soul's individuality is Siva, but it is only a part of His Wholeness (which part, being of the nature of manifest creation, relates to His perfection in form -- Maheshvara), while its essence is identical with His two innermost perfections -- Satchidananda and Parashiva. It is this essential identity which the mature yogi realizes in his contemplative, superconscious states. Clearly, Satchidananda and Parashiva are not created and do not perish, as all created things must. What is created is the individuality of the soul, which we term the soul body. That individualness -- which is a subtle, conscious, unique entity endowed with the powers of ichcha, kriya and jnana: desire-love, action-will and awareness-wisdom -- is created, and does perish, does merge in Siva, in the state called vishvagrasa, when anava mala is removed through His Grace. If anava mala is removed, then separateness no longer exists and the soul merges in Siva wholly and irrevocably. Here are a few verses from the Upanishads and other Saivite scriptures on emanational creation, which is Saivism's traditional philosophical view:
He (the supreme soul) desired, "Let me become many; let me be born." He performed austerity. Having performed austerity, He create all this, whatever is here. Having created it, into it, indeed, he entered. Having entered it, he became both the actual and the beyond, the defined and the undefined, both the founded and the nonfounded, the intelligent and the nonintelligent, the true and the untrue.(Taittiriya Upanishad 2.6.1 upr)
He is the one God, the Creator. He enters into all wombs. The One Absolute, impersonal Existence, together with His inscrutable maya, appears as the Divine Lord, endowed with manifold glories. With His Divine power He holds dominion over all the worlds. At the periods of creation and dissolution of the universe He alone exists. Those who realize Him become immortal. The Lord is One without a second. Within man He dwells, and within all other beings. He projects the universe, maintains it, and withdraws it into Himself. (Shvetashvatara Upanishad 3.1-2 upp)
Brahman is that from which all beings are born, that by which they live, that into which, when departing, they enter. (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.1.1-6 uph)
As the sea issues forth foam, waves and bubbles which subside into it, the Absolute Spirit is the substratum whence arises the world animate and inanimate, and thither it ends. (Mapadian 151)
It is likened to the sparks which issue from a fire. (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.1.20 upr)->
As a spider sends forth and withdraws its web, as hair grows from the body of a living person, so from the Imperishable arises this universe. (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7 upr)
The Raurava Agama describes creation as a spark of fire or light issuing forth from the third eye of the Creator.
Rishi Tirumular on Creation: Rishi Tirumular states unequivocally time and again in his Tirumantiram that God Siva has created everything from Himself in a process of emanation. The Sanskrit word for creation is srishti, meaning "to emit," "to let loose," which corresponds closely to the definition of creation as found in the Tirumantiram. Tirumular employs the Tamil word padai. Here are a number of the relevant verses from the Tirumantiram.
Of yore He created worlds seven.
Of yore He created celestials countless.
Of yore He created souls without number.
Of yore He created all -- Himself, as Primal Param, uncreated. (446)
In the Primal Play of the Lord were souls (jivas) created;
enveloped in mighty malas were they. Discarding them,
they realized the Self, and sought the feet of their ancient Lord.
Thus they Siva became, with no more births to be. (2369)
All worlds by vast oceans He girt, my Lord, filled pervasively,
in omniscience, overseeing all. Of yore He created all, entirely,
and stood diffusing His golden hue in worlds everywhere. (3007)
Sadashiva, the He-She, creates universes all.
He has five sons, the Holy One who creates universes all,
Himself as the lotus-seated Brahma, the Creator, became. (386)
Out of ichcha, of the three shaktis, arose maya; and maya in union with bindu yielded the rest of the three mayas (shuddha, ashuddha and prakriti). And nada was of Para born; and all this is the creative play of Parashiva, the Ultimate. (399)
The One alone created the worlds seven. The One alone spanned the worlds seven. The One alone survived the worlds seven. The One alone pervaded body and life. (404)
One clay, many the receptacles; one God pervades all species. (440)
In union that knows no separateness, verily,
God is the Beginning and End of All. (1570)
The Paraparam that is the End and the Beginning, Immanent,
He expanded thus. As Cause and Effect, too, He is. (1927)
Vaikhari and the rest of sounds, maya and the rest of impurities, purusha and the rest of tattvas illusory -- all these, acting on shaktis jnana and kriya, the Lord true from time immemorial made. (2007)
If the cardinal directions are all Siva, why speak of someone else, O you men? All smoke emanates from fire. All creation arises from our Primal Lord. (3010)
Tirumular's importance in Saiva Siddhanta is unshakable. Kalaipulavar K. Navaratnam wrote, "Saint Tirumular may be said to be the father of Agamic Saivism in South India" (Studies in Hinduism, p. 166). Tiru A.V. Subramania Aiyar affirmed, "Saint Tirumular is regarded as the foremost Teacher and Guru in the Tamil land, and Saint Tayumanavar, who styles him as Thava Raja Yogi, traces his spiritual descent from him." Rishi Tirumular's message resounds again and again: God Siva created, or emanated, everything from Himself, and everything includes the soul, maya that is the substratum of this universe, the tattvas which constitute all forms, even the celestial Gods. And He Himself is His creation, both material and efficient cause, as Tirumular states in the following verses:
He is the tattvas and their Lord. (2795)
He is the First Being, the effort and the end of effort, too. (11)
The ancient scriptures say the expanding space is His body. (2463)
Holding the worlds apart, as the heavens high He spreads,
Himself the scorching fire, the sun and moon. (10)
He is the master mahout of all jivas; He is jivas themselves, too. (3039)
Water, earth, sky, fire and wind, the spark of light within the body -
all these He is. He is Paraparam, He is Siva, our Lord.
He is the walking jiva here below. Deathless He is. (3045)



Siva pervades the soul, yet the soul is different from God Siva. Being different, it does not wholly merge in Him at the end of its evolution. Rather, it reaches His holy feet and becomes one with Him in every way except in the performance of the five powers, which are reserved for God alone. The individual soul never attains to the powers of creation, preservation, destruction, concealing and revealing. To say that the soul is God is an impertinent presumption. Look at this helpless creature, unable to control his own mind and body, ignorant of what will happen even an hour from now, powerlessly caught in the tides of fate, limited in a thousand ways, yet here he is claiming that he is God, the Supreme Being! What folly to claim that the soul is equal to Siva! It is God Siva who, by His limitless will, power and knowledge, does everything. The ultimate destiny of the soul, therefore, is to attain God's grace and live in perfect love and blessedness forever at His feet. We call this union advaita, but that does not mean oneness; it means not twoness. It is one and yet not one, like salt dissolved in water, like a flower and its fragrance. This is the true meaning of advaita. To us, advaita means that the soul and God are not separate; they are, inseparably united, even as salt is contained in the sea and fragrance is imbued in a flower. The salt cannot be the sea. The fragrance cannot become the flower. They have their individual existence, and yet they are one in proximity. Even so, the purified soul is embraced by the love of Siva, and in that embrace, God and soul become one. Nevertheless, the soul remains soul, and God remains God. This is the true meaning of advaita.


The ultimate end of the soul is, of course, determined in the beginning. If the soul is a spark from Siva, as the Raurava Agama says, then it is natural that it returns to Siva, like a drop emerging from the ocean and then once again merging into that ocean. If the soul is separate at the outset, then it must remain separate in the end. So here again we confront the issue of whether or not Siva is the material cause of the world and the soul.
As to the five powers, Rishi Tirumular states that the soul attains them in its ultimate evolution, not as an individual separate from God, but by wholly merging in God. The pluralist school assumes that attainment of these five powers somehow threatens, or imposes on, the sovereignty of God Siva. This would, of course, be true if there were still two entities, God and soul, in which case there would arise two Supreme Beings, then three and so on. But Rishi Tirumular makes it clear that the soul attains the five powers by becoming one with Siva, as a drop returned to the ocean shares in the ocean's majesty, not by becoming another competing ocean, but by the fact of its union. Here are a few verses from the Tirumantiram which remind us of the original monistic Saiva Siddhanta doctrine:
The tiny atom, swimming in the vast universe,
merges in the Vast -- no separate existence knows.
So also the spirit's plastic stress, sweeping through all bodies,
at the sight of His holy feet, discovers its ancient home. (137)
None know where the Lord resides.
To them who seek Him, He resides eternally within.
When you see the Lord, He and you become one. (766)
They tarry not in the pure maya spheres of Siva tattvas. There they but attain the status of the Gods. But, that as a springboard, their soul reaches farther out into Siva Himself and merging in His union, Self effacing, they become Immaculate Siva, they, forsooth, as Shuddha Saivas. (1440)
When body and Siva, as unbroken, unite in yoga,
then shall the grace of Siva-Shakti be.
Then does jiva become Param.
Jiva that leaves this body then becomes all-pervasive.
Without beginning or end, it merges forever in Siva. (2588)
Verses from the Agamas: If we accept that the 28 Saiva Agamas are a primary scriptural basis of Saiva Siddhanta, then we must inquire as to what they have to tell us. Quoting from The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi, edited by Arthur Osborne: "The Agamas are traditional Hindu scriptures regarded as no less authoritative and authentic than the Vedas. They are regarded as divinely revealed teachings, and no human authorship is ascribed to them. Temple worship is mainly founded upon them. There are twenty-eight Agamas that are accepted as authorities. From among them, Sarvajnanottara and Devikalottara are outstanding as expressing the standpoint of pure Advaita or nonduality.... Both are instructions in the Path of Knowledge given by Lord Siva" (p. 105). Mr. Osborne then quotes from the Agamas, from which we offer the following excerpts:
I will tell you, O Guha, another method by means of which even the unqualified, impalpable, subtle and immanent Absolute can be clearly realized, by which realization the wise become themselves Siva. This has not hitherto been expounded to any other. Now listen!
I permeate all this -- visible and invisible, mobile and immobile;
I am surely the Lord of all and from me all shine forth.
Giving up the separate identity of yourself as distinct from Siva, meditate constantly on the nondual unity: "I am He who is known as Siva." One who is established in the contemplation of nondual unity will abide in the Self of everyone and realize the immanent, all-pervading One. There is no doubt of this.
When a pot is moved from place to place, the space inside it appears to move, too, but the movement pertains to the pot and not to the space within. So it is with the soul, which corresponds to the space in the pot. When the pot is broken, its inner space merges in the outer expanse; similarly, with the death of the gross body, the spirit merges in the Absolute.
The Wisdom of Satguru Yogaswami: How does Satguru Siva Yogaswami view the unity or nonunity of the soul and God? He proclaimed:
By what does the eye see? That is the atma (soul) or God.
You are the sole emperor of the universe. (18)
What is my real nature? I am the Immortal One. (20)
"Jiva is Siva," Chellappan declared. (See also: 30, 45, 77, 93, 107, 125, 166, 181, 187, 218, etc.)
"Aham Brahmasmi (I am God, Brahman)" --
make this your daily practice. (38, 133, 185)
"I am He," you must affirm and meditate each day. (106)
The whole world has evolved from One.
The whole world is sustained by One.
The whole world will merge into One.
That One is my support -- O Siva! (163)

The Tirumantiram and the Meykandar Shastras
To fully appreciate the doctrines of the two schools of Saiva Siddhanta, we must consider briefly the contents of two important texts: the Tirumantiram and the Meykandar Shastras. The Tirumantiram is the work of Rishi Tirumular, a siddha, a realized master and perfect yogi who composed over 3,000 mystic verses to delineate the path of enlightenment and the nature of the reality he had himself realized. These profound, esoteric and sometimes cryptic and abstruse verses comprise the tenth book of the Tirumurai, one of the primary scriptures of Saiva Siddhanta. It is, in fact, the oldest (ca 200 BCE), most mystical and most comprehensive of the Tirumurai and the first instance in history where the term Saiva Siddhanta is recorded.
The Meykandar Shastras are fourteen Tamil treatises written over a long period during the Middle Ages by six authors. They are scholarly texts presenting in detail the metaphysics of pluralism and refutations of other systems of thought. The fourth of these is Sivajnanabodham, composed by Saint Meykandar around 1200 CE, fourteen centuries after the Tirumantiram. Sivajnanabodham means "Knowledge of Siva Realization" or "Compendium of Siva Knowledge." It is considered by most Siddhantins as the authoritative summation of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, containing in forty lines all that is amplified in the larger commentaries and texts that comprise the balance of the Meykandar Shastras. In its aphoristic brevity, this digest may be likened to the philosophical equivalent of Einstein's cryptic equation, E=MC2. This text, which may well be the shortest scripture ever written, is considered by many to be his only work, though others contend that he also composed the commentaries on the verses.
Whereas Tirumular spoke from his own direct, inner knowing of Absolute Reality, attained through sadhana and yoga, writers of the Meykandar Shastras took another approach, working through inference and reason, assembling, collating and synthesizing the existing tenets of Saiva Siddhanta of their day. Whereas Tirumular lived before the dawn of the Common Era, authors of the Meykandar Shastras lived fourteen centuries later, during the Middle Ages. Whereas the Tirumantiram is a primary scripture (the tenth of the twelve Tirumurai), the Meykandar Shastras are a secondary scripture, not included in the Tirumurai. Whereas Tirumular is one of the 63 canonized Saiva Saints, called Nayanars, Meykandar and his commentators are not. Thus, we have two forces: one spiritual and the other theological or philosophical; one intuitive, the other intellectual and political; one founded on enlightenment and the other based on exceptional mentality.
While the verses of Sivajnanabodham are arguably in consonance with Tirumantiram, the commentaries, being the balance of the Meykandar Shastras, are not. Commentators and scholars who followed Meykandar interpreted his work (and the Tirumantiram) as pluralistic, setting into motion roughly 800 years ago the present-day pluralistic school, a school that has played a dominant part in the modern history of Saiva Siddhanta. Pluralists place the beginning of their school at the time of the Meykandar Shastras. Historically, it arose out of a broader field of Saiva Siddhanta, monistic in character, which existed long before.
An analysis of the history of the times suggests that the founding fathers of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta were -- as so often happens in particular historic circumstances -- responding to powerful and compelling movements then in the ascendency. These included an aggressive Christian theology, the potent Vedantic teachings of Adi Sankara, and Madhva's dualistic Vaishnavite school -- which were dominant forces in India during those formative centuries. This may be why the final conclusions found in the Meykandar Shastras are philosophically close to the dualistic theism found in the Judaic-Christian-Islamic faiths, and in Vaishnavism. We might surmise that adoption of the pluralist stance in India was influenced by the desire to show that the same postulations offered by Catholic and Protestant missionaries already exist within Hinduism.
Apart from the Sivacharyas who study Sivajnanabodham as part of their priest training, few Saivites have deeply studied it, and fewer still are familiar with the contents of Tirumantiram. So, it is not surprising that they have assumed -- wrongly -- that the conclusions of the Meykandar Shastras are in agreement with the Tirumantiram. A few know of the monistic school, which defends God's role in creation and postulates an ultimate and complete merger of the soul in God, called vishvagrasa, but they often do not know that this is the original Saiva Siddhanta of Rishi Tirumular and before. Rather, they think of it, as they have been taught, as a renegade philosophy so similar to the postulations of Advaita Vedanta that it probably had its source in that tradition. This, of course, is not so.

Perhaps the Meykandar Sutras Are Not Literally Pluralistic
What did Meykandar himself have to say about monism and creation? A careful analysis has convinced us that he did not disagree with Tirumular. We adduce here Meykandar's famous twelve sutras as translated by Kavi Yogi Shuddhananda Bharati, The Revelations of Saint Meykandar.
1. He, she and it -- these are the three terms in which the cosmic entity is spoken of. This cosmos undergoes three changes -- birth, growth and death -- triple functions. It appears, stays and disappears; but it reappears by dint of the ego-consciousness which binds it. He who ends it is its origin. He, Hara, is the Supreme Master: so say the seers of knowledge.
2. He is one with souls; yet He is Himself unattached, beyond all. He is identified with His willpower, His knowledge-force in inseparable union. Through this force, He pervades all and submits souls to birth and death, allowing them to eat the fruits of their dual acts [good and bad deeds].
3. Because it says: "The body is the mechanism of nature. A soul dwells in its core." For it responds, "Yes" or "No." It asserts, "This is my body." It feels the five sensations. It is conscious in dreams. It does not hunger or eat or act in deep sleep. It knows when taught.
4. The soul is none of the antahkaranas [the inner faculties or senses]. The soul does not feel shrouded by egoism. It is cognizant only in conjunction with the Inner Instruments, just as the king knows the state of affairs through his ministers. Similar is the relation of the soul with the five planes of experience, too.
5. The senses perceive and carry impressions of external objects to the mind. But they cannot know themselves; nor do they know the soul. The soul perceives through the senses and the mind. But similarly, it cannot know itself or God. It is the Divine Grace that activates it, just like a magnet activates iron.
6. If [God] is knowable, then He is nonreal; if unknowable, He does not exist. Therefore, the wise of the world say that He is neither of the two, but the Supreme Reality, both knowable and unknowable. [This version is from Mariasusai Dhavamony's Love of God According to Saiva Siddhanta, who renders this sutra and the next more adequately.]
7. Before Being, all things are nonexistent; hence, Being does not know [nonbeing]; nonbeing does not exist, so it cannot know [Being]. Therefore, that which knows both [Being and nonbeing] is the soul, which is neither Being nor nonbeing [Dhavamony].
8. When the soul is sufficiently advanced in tapasya (spiritual discipline), the Supreme Lord comes in the form of a divine master. He instructs the soul: "O Soul, thou hast fallen into the hands of the hunters [the senses]; growing up among them, thou hast forgotten the Lord, who is thy very core. Awake!" The soul wakes up to Reality, renounces all attachments to the senses. It devotes itself unreservedly and uniquely to Hara and attains His Blessed Feet."
9. The Lord cannot be seen by carnal eyes, by the senses. The eye of knowledge must open. Thought must fix in it. Bondage of the lower nature must be left off as a mirage. Then the soul finds shelter in God. To attain this blissful state, the soul should meditate upon the mantra Namah Sivaya.
10. Siva is one with the soul. The soul must merge its individuality, become one with Him and do His Will; then there shall be no stain of maya and karma left in its immaculate self.
11. The soul sees and enables the eye to see. Even so, Hara sees, knows and enables the soul to see and know. The soul, by ceaseless devotion (love), attains the feet of Hara.
12. The three-fold impurities prevent the soul from attaining the virtuous, puissant feet of Hara. After washing off their stains, the liberated soul should keep the company of devotees, full of devotion, devoid of delusion and worship the forms and images in temples as Hara Himself.
The doctrine of Pluralistic Realism is said to derive from Saint Meykandar's Sivajnanabodham. However, a careful reading reveals no overtly pluralistic teaching in these twelve respected verses. That, we surmise, came later, from commentaries made on Sivajnanabodham. In fact, in the first verse Meykandar states that all things -- which he calls "he, she and it" -- undergo the three processes (creation, preservation and dissolution). He also states that Siva is Himself the end and the source of existence. These twelve terse verses are the whole of Saint Meykandar's teachings as written by him.
Meykandar speaks of God, the Creator, as Beginning and End. Nowhere does he tell us that souls coexist from eternity with God, that there were three things in the beginning and will be three in the end. Rather, he clearly states that there is one Beginning, God; there is one End, God. Nor does he speak of an eternal, uncreated world. He assures that God created in the beginning and will reabsorb in the end.

Concerns about Vedanta, Siddhanta and Maya
One concern that may arise in discussing monism in Saiva Siddhanta is that to accept an ultimate identity between God and soul (monism) would be tantamount to adopting Adi Sankara's (788-820) Advaita Vedanta philosophy. In fact, the pluralistic arguments above were originally formulated as a refutation of his Vedanta. This concern can easily be allayed. Saiva Siddhanta and the Vedanta expressed in the Vedas are not two irreconcilable views. Tayumanavar sang, "Vedanta is the fruit on the tree of Siddhanta." Satguru Siva Yogaswami taught us that "Siva is the God of Vedanta and of illustrious Siddhanta," and "Vedanta and Siddhanta we do not see as different" (nt. 166, 41, 64, 87). Monistic Saiva Siddhanta embodies both Siddhanta and Vedanta. More precisely, Vedanta is the summit of the vast mountain of Siddhanta; monistic Siddhanta is the whole, and Vedanta is the part, the highest part of that whole. Here we speak of Vedanta not as the denial of all but the Absolute, as in Sankara's view, which regards maya, meaning the entire manifest creation, including the soul and its evolution, as an illusion. Rather, we speak of the original and pristine Vedanta of the Upanishads, a perspective that accepts maya as Siva's grace in form rather than deluding appearance. To the Siddhantin, the world is Sivamaya ("made of Siva"), God's gift to mankind. While Advaita Vedantins hold that the world is nothing but maya (by which is meant illusion) and the greatest obstacle to Brahmavidya, "knowledge of God," Siddhantins see this world as Siva's gracious way of leading us to union with Him.
Let me elaborate for a moment on these two perspectives on maya. One is that maya is illusion, that this world is merely an appearance and not ultimately real at all. The other is that maya is God's loving creation, real and important for our spiritual progress. Devotees ask, "Which is correct? Can it be both?" In every aspect of the path there is the highest and the lowest and the in-between look at things, depending on where you are: on the mountainside, on the top or at the bottom. From Absolute Consciousness, maya is illusion, this is true -- an illusion to be disregarded, a barrier perpetuating the all-pervasiveness of consciousness which, from an even higher realization, is also an illusion. We are speaking of the contest between Parashiva being the Absolute and Satchidananda being the Absolute. So, the dual, dual/nondual and the nondual are the yogi's frustration in these higher states of mind. Once timeless, causeless, spacelessness is realized, all of this falls naturally into place. One sees form, time and causation as an illusion, a relative reality, and within it the mechanism of its own perpetuation of creation, preservation and destruction every microsecond, every second, every hour of every day of every year in the great cycles of time. This is maya. Its complexities are even greater than mathematical equations of all kinds.
So, you have a true/true and you have a true. True/true is seen by the Paramatman, the soul that has realized Parashiva. And the true is seen by the atman who has realized the all-pervasiveness of God. One is on the brink of the Absolute, and the other is the Absolute. Being on the brink of the Absolute is true, but being the Absolute and breaking the seal is the true/true. There you see all of the acts of Siva's play, in all of its many manifestations. Then there is the false/true. The false/true is understanding the true/true and the true, and being able to explain them intellectually but being devoid of experience. The true/true and the true are both of experience.
God Siva has endowed all creation of form with three of His powers, creation, preservation and destruction, and all life, as it is known, maintains itself. A flower creates, preserves and destroys. Microscopic organisms create, preserve and destroy. Because everything is not creating, preserving and destroying at the same time -- the process creates various densities of form, which we Saiva Siddhantins call relative reality. Those who don't understand the creative processes of Siva and the yoga processes of seeing through the ajna chakra, may consider the external world as illusory and a hindrance, or a temptation, to their desire for moksha. Therefore, they emphasize the concept of giving up desire, which is the desire to enter the illusory world and become part of the illusion, thereby giving up advaita; whereas monistic Saiva Siddhantins identify closely to Siva and, as an extension of His will, knowledgeably create, preserve and destroy, and understand themselves. Other organisms do likewise, but without being totally aware of these three functions.
I see maya both as creation, preservation and destruction -- and as illusion. The mechanism and the fact form the perspective of Parashiva. You have to realize that when the seal at the crown chakra is broken, the whole perspective changes and you see everything from the inside out, and you, to yourself, are the center of the universe. There is no doubt about it. And every manifestation of maya, which itself is manifestation, and the intricacies of anava and the complexities of karma can be and are seen through.

The Extinction of Separateness, or Anava Mala
Any discussion of monism and pluralism in Saiva Siddhanta must eventually confront the issue of anava. Anava may be simply defined as "ignorance, the sense of separateness and ego," or more technically as the individuating veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is often thought of as darkness. In Saiva Siddhanta, anava plays an important philosophical role as the root mala, the first and foremost shroud which covers the soul and conceals God. It is also the last veil to be removed from the soul in its evolutionary progress.
For the monist, the removal of anava mala occurs at the point of merger in Siva. In his Tirumantiram, Rishi Tirumular is clear that at the conclusion of the soul's evolution, at the point of final merger called vishvagrasa, all three malas are totally absorbed by the grace of Sadashiva.
Ridding themselves entirely of anava, and losing all consciousness of jiva memory,
they become bindu and nada, the highest
heavenly goal of oneness with Siva tattva. (500)
Even as a shadow disappears with the body,
even as a bubble returns into water,
even as a flame of camphor leaves no trace,
so it is when jiva into Param unites. (2587)
Pluralists agree that karma and maya are destroyed fully, but assert that anava is merely nullified or subdued, when the soul attains to the feet of Siva. In explaining this condition, they offer the analogy of seeds that have been fried. Such seeds exist but no longer have the power of germination. By this view, God is able to destroy the lesser malas of karma and maya, but He does not have the power to extirpate anava. The monist counters that anava mala is indeed ultimately destroyed by Siva's grace, for that is essential for the soul to merge fully in God and attain to its true identity. [from below] With the destruction of anava comes the total loss of separateness. When separateness is lost, then there is oneness.
For the pluralist, it is absolutely imperative that anava be somehow preserved, for that is by definition the preservation of the separateness of God and soul. What Rishi Tirumular, the Nayanar saints and our Saiva Siddhanta scriptures tell us is this: even the most tenacious of the malas, anava, is completely annihilated when the soul merges in God Siva. With the destruction of anava comes the total loss of separateness. When separateness is lost, then there is oneness, not "not-twoness." The conclusion is compelling and clear: anava mala does not shroud the soul forever; rather, it is removed by Siva's grace, as are the other two malas. With its removal comes one incontrovertible fact: monism. Saint Manikkavasagar sings:
Having lost our identity, we merge in Him
and become Siva ourselves. Purifying my soul,
He took control of me by making me Siva.
Having destroyed all my three malas, He made me Siva and took lordship over me.

A Vital Question: What Happens at Cosmic Dissolution?
According to Hindu scripture, notably the Puranas and the Agamas, Siva's creation -- the three-fold cosmos of physical, subtle and causal planes -- undergoes three kinds of dissolution. The first is called laya, the dissolution of the Bhuloka or physical world, which occurs every 306.72 million years, according to the Puranas. The second is pralaya, the dissolution of both the Bhuloka and the Antarloka, the subtle and causal worlds, which occurs every 4.32 billion years. The third is mahapralaya, the dissolution of all three worlds, which occurs every 154.569 trillion years. Whereas creation, shrishti, is Siva's outbreath, absorption, samhara, is His inbreath in the natural cosmic cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution.
The Saiva Agamas refer to pralaya (intermediate dissolution) and describe it as pasham and pashu, the world and soul, being drawn to Siva's feet and remaining there until the next cycle of cosmic creation, at which time they issue forth again. In other words, world and soul are reduced to their causal form. They are extremely close to Siva, so close that, for all practical purposes and appearances, only Siva seems to exist, but actually all three entities (God, soul and world) are there, retaining their separate existence. Thus individual souls survive the dissolution called pralaya. Both schools agree on this description of pralaya, except that monists would contend that during every cycle ending in pralaya, advanced souls will have merged fully in Siva, without separation. It is in the description of mahapralaya that the two schools totally differ. There seems to be no official doctrine on this issue expressed by the Meykandar commentators, but contemporary pluralists have described mahapralaya in exactly the same way they describe pralaya. Monists, however, contend that at mahapralaya all three worlds, including time and space, dissolve in Siva. This is His Ultimate Grace; the evolution of all souls is perfect and complete as they lose individuality and return to Him. Then God Siva exists alone in His three perfections until He again issues forth creation.
Certainly, mahapralaya is a long way off, and there is much time for speculation. In our discussions, we learned that some pluralists will theorize that all souls must, at the end of their evolution, form a one enlightened soul which lives in communion with Siva throughout eternity -- thus losing their personal identity. Nevertheless, the doctrine that the soul is forever separate from Siva is ultimately dashed upon the rocks of mahapralaya. Even Arulnandi, the most respected of Meykandar's commentators, admitted to the completeness of mahapralaya and thereby transcended pluralism when he wrote in Sivajnana Siddhiar:
Only One remains at the end of time.
If two others (pashu-souls and pasham-fetters) also
remained at their posts, then it cannot be.
A Crucial Verse from the Tirumantiram
In our debates on Saiva Siddhanta, verse 115 from the Tirumantiram was brought forward as Tirumular's definitive statement on the ultimate nature of God, soul and world. The following translation was offered for discussion.
Of the three entities, Pati, pashu and pasham (God, soul and bondage), just as Pati (is beginningless), so are pashu and pasham also beginningless. If Pati gets near pashu and pasham, which are not capable of affecting Pati, the pashu (or pashutvam) and the pasham (bonds -- anava, karma, maya) will disappear.
While pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta takes strength in lines one and two, monistic theism is ratified by lines three and four, where Tirumular says that ultimately there is but one Reality, not three. We find Tirumular telling mankind he has discovered that the soul and the world are beginningless, but that they end when they come into contact or proximity with Siva. They disappear or merge in Him. Monists find that this verse coordinates perfectly with the monistic view that the essence of soul and world are as beginningless and eternal as Siva Himself, while the individual soul body has both a beginning and an end.
Alas, as in all things, there are at least two views. In this case, pluralists argue that Tirumular indeed meant the fettered soul when he used the word pashu in the first half of verse 115, but, we were told, "here in the latter half of this verse it is used in the sense of the fettered state. It is not the soul itself that disappears, but its fettered state." If Tirumular had meant that it is not the soul that disappears, he would have said so. But he did not in this verse nor in any other verse in his treatise of 3,047 verses. Instead, he said the soul and the world both disappear when they near Siva. He alone exists. Let Tirumular's own words be the final guide:
Out of the Void, a soul it sprang. To the Void it returns. Yet it shall not be Void again. In that Void, exhausted, it shall die. That is the fate of Hara and Brahma, too, who do not survive the holocaust of samhara. (429)
Of yore He created the worlds seven.
Of yore He created celestials countless.
Of yore He created souls (jiva) without number.
Of yore He created all -- Himself, as Primal Param, uncreated. (446)
Jiva Is Siva. Tat Tvam Asi. Aham Brahmasmi. Sarvam Sivamayam.
Again and again in Saiva scripture and from the mouths of our satgurus we hear that "Jiva is Siva," "I am That." It is a clear statement of advaita, of monism, of the identity of the soul with God. Not only have all Saivite sects accepted this view, it is the conclusion of Sankara, Vallabhacharya, Ramakrishna, of Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda, Siva Yogaswami, Anandamayi Ma, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and others. Are we to assume that all great souls in Hindu religious history were wrong? Were they deluded? Did they stray from the path and fall short of the goal? Each and every one of them? Certainly not! Their monistic realizations were in fact the revelation of Truth in Sivajnana. And it is that same revelation that is propounded today by my Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order as an essential and unquestionable facet of the monistic theism of Saiva Siddhanta.
Many South Indian pluralistic Siddhantins deny the great Upanishadic sayings, the mahavakya, by basically ignoring all but the Meykandar Shastras, which they take to be the most important and authoritative scriptures. Some will go so far as to say that all other references in scripture which do not accord with the Meykandar Shastras are to be discarded or disregarded. In Tiru M. Arunachalam's book, The Saiva Agamas, he discusses and later condemns this kind of posturing, quoting a typical pluralistic Saiva Siddhantin writer's posture on the Vedas: "The Saiva Siddhantin has to ignore... the part in the Jnanakanda dealing with the absolute identification of the jivatma and the Paramatman. The other parts of the Vedas are to be fully adopted by the Saiva Siddhantin, just like the Agamas."

Why Yoga Is Needed in Saiva Siddhanta
It is sad but true that when a fine soul, raised in the pluralistic school of Saiva Siddhanta, reaches toward the greater heights of spiritual sadhana and personal experience of Truth or God through yoga and meditation, he cannot find within his native Siddhanta a sufficiently profound pathway that satisfies and fulfills his spiritual yearnings, and he is therefore not infrequently inclined to leave the South and find spiritual solace and direction in the North of India. There, more often than not, he eventually adopts a school of Vedanta whose view of God and man unfortunately denies Siddhanta. Why? Because in Vedanta he finds the deepest of all human philosophical conclusions -- monism. By this process, South Indian Saiva Siddhanta has been losing swamis to the Vedanta schools, and suffering from a spiritual "brain drain."
This is unnecessary, for Siddhanta has always provided a monistic path which embraces Vedanta. Saiva Siddhantins everywhere can be proud that the highest teachings of monism were propounded by Rishi Tirumular eight hundred years before Adi Sankara was even born. The monistic truths found in the school of Advaita Vedanta were expounded by our own siddhas and Nayanars long ago. They taught this, and more. In fact, Tirumular, in order to distinguish his monistic theism from the pluralistic theism of others, coined the term Shuddha (pure) Saiva Siddhanta to describe the teachings of his Tirumantiram.
In my experience, in many cases, pluralist practitioners, heavy with the weight of book knowledge, refuse to listen to the inquiring minds of their youth, who then feel, quite naturally, that their religion is bigoted, intolerant, suffocating, unreceptive to their bright and eager desire to perform yogic sadhanas to know about God and His greatness. They are hushed and stifled and even beaten if they offer any "unorthodox" ideas or challenge the accepted creed, and soon they learn simply not to ask, for it just gets them in trouble. Or worse, when answers are offered, they are couched in arcane terminology which does not clarify but further confounds and confuses them. No wonder suicide is highly rated as a form of escape by youth.
The fear of parents' thrashing makes young ones fear God, as parents are the first guru. Naturally, swamis are to be feared next, as are the Catholic priests and nuns who beat them as a form of discipline with little mercy in schools. This is totally Abrahamic in context -- the fear of God, the beating of children, the denial of questioning. It is certainly not the free-flowing, inquiring, examinating, self-effacing monistic Saiva approach taught in traditional gurukulas in ancient times. So explained Swami Gautamananda, president of the the Ramakrishna Mission in Chennai, where ahimsa, nonhurtfulness of any kind, mentally, emotionally or physically, was the protocol in his matha and schools.
Youth are often told, "You just can't understand Saiva Siddhanta unless you know classical Tamil." Imagine if a young Christian were told he couldn't comprehend his religion unless he studied Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, or the ancient Hebrew and Greek in which their Bible was originally written! Christianity would soon wither and perish from the Earth. The fundamentals of Saiva Siddhanta should be easily taught to the youth in any language to give them a foundation for living, to be practiced in confidence and without intimidation.
Not a single one of our Nayanars was a Tamil pandit or scholar, but will anyone claim they did not understand Siddhanta? No, religion is not learned in libraries or universities, but in transforming personal experience, in temples and caves and satsanga. It is learned in the silence of meditation and contemplation, in the rigors of sadhana and yoga, practices which are universal, transcending all cultural and linguistic barriers. Tens of millions of Saiva Siddhantins have a direct and simple approach to their religion. They love Siva Peruman. They worship Siva Peruman. They serve and meditate upon and speak sweetly of Siva Peruman and of His devotees. They know that Siva is found in the heart, not in books, and they seek Him there. That is the vigorous and living faith of Saiva Siddhanta, the San Marga, the true path to God Siva's Feet.
Vedanta captured the respect and imagination of the world and became immensely popular by offering its own positive, intelligent, well-crafted and pragmatic approach for seekers in the East and the West. Monistic Saiva Siddhanta is, we are convinced, more enlightened, more positive, more intelligent, more practical. It has a great future. But to live in the future, it must come out of the past. That is one reason we have worked so hard for over half a century to give Siddhanta a fresh, new, bright, attractive modern-English thrust, availing ourselves of technological means of propagation. Most have applauded the effort; many have requested that we continue introducing Saiva Siddhanta to the international community.

Summation: Visions of Truth, Dualism and Nondualism
Saiva Siddhanta, the final conclusions of the awakened soul who soars in superconsciousness above the mountaintop, diffuses through our minds as the distilled essence of the Vedas, the Saiva Agamas, and the Tirumurai, most especially the great Tirumantiram. Saiva Siddhanta is thickly rooted in these scriptures and surges forth as a giant banyan of their expression. These are our scriptures, and within our scriptures are found both the essential oneness of monism and the evolutionary two-ness of theism. Therefore the rishis of the Upanishads, the siddhas of the Agamas, our Saivite Saints and our Siva Yogaswami Parampara of the Nandinatha Sampradaya have always taught monistic theism so that you, too, can awaken the natural perceptions of your own soul.
From this mountaintop perspective, we can observe, appreciate, understand and be lovingly tolerant of all theological paths to God Siva. This is because we are seeing the outer and inner worlds from our soul's perspective. However, when people see the outer and inner worlds from intellectual states of mind, perceiving a concrete reality of you and I and God and world eternally separate, with no union of being, there is a tendency to be rigid and intolerant, quite the opposite of the soul's natural state of mind. There is no need for seekers to participate in these kinds of battles. What is important is for each of you to follow the path of our Saivite saints and siddhas. It is a path more of love than of learning, more of tolerance than of entanglement. Our sages and seers have made themselves sufficiently clear. They need no interpolations.
Let us stand together, united in the knowledge of monistic theism as taught by our Nayanar saints and the enlightened savants of the Vedas and Agamas. Let us remain high-minded in our thoughts and actions. People, who are always at one stage or another on the great San Marga, will at some point lash out and attack you. This is predictable and natural. Set a fine example of tolerance and understanding in your community. Always hold the mountaintop perspective.
Remember, from the very beginning of man's encounter with reality, in both the East and the West, discussions have persisted between those who see the world as one and those who see it as made up of two or more. Asked by sincere devotees about how to understand the two schools, I once answered: Both are right. However, one is more advanced, more enlightened. But that does not make the other wrong. It all depends on whether you are on the top looking down or on the bottom looking up. One view is for the intellectual, the other is for the rishi. The intellectual will see it only one way; he will then discard the other view as wrong. The rishi can see it both ways, yet he knows that the monistic view is the higher realization. It all depends on where you are in your spiritual unfoldment. This is the merger of Vedanta and Siddhanta.
We recently heard a physicist say that his mentor, Werner Heisenberg, observed that there are two kinds of truth -- shallow truth and deep truth. Shallow truth is one whose opposite is false. Deep truth is truth whose opposite may be perceived as an integral part of its own validity. That wise observation of the physical universe also applies to our spiritual knowledge. The deeper mystics do not draw a square to exclude, deny and condemn views which oppose their own. Instead, they draw a wide circle that embraces the entirety of the vast mystery of Siva's creation.
You see, there are stages of realization, and the world and God and soul look a little different from each stage. It really all depends on the window we are looking out of, the chakra in which we are functioning. Thus, in exploring monism and dualism one must keep an open mind. This will bring the realization that the view called monistic theism is the summation of them both and is the highest realization, the ancient philosophy that is indigenous to man, preceding even the Vedic era. What, then, is monistic theism? It is the belief in God, but God not separate from man. It is external worship of Siva which is then internalized into realization of one's own Sivaness. It is a bhakti, experiential, yogically transforming philosophy.
The dualistic or pluralistic conception appears true from one perspective, but it is only a slice of the whole. It is not the whole. Regarded most simply, pluralism came as the philosophical conclusion or realization of saints within the charya and kriya padas, while monism joined with theism is the overwhelming vision within the yoga and jnana padas.
Here is another way to explain the same thing. Visualize a mountain and the path leading to its icy summit. As the climber traverses the lower ranges, he sees the meadows, the passes, the giant boulders. This we can liken to theism, the natural dual state where God and man are different.
Reaching the summit, the climber sees that the many parts are actually a one mountain. This is likened to pure monism. Unfortunately, many pure monists, reaching the summit, teach a denial of the foothills they themselves climbed on the way to their monistic platform. However, by going a little higher, lifting the consciousness into the space above the topmost peak of the mountain, the entire truth is known. The bottom and the top are viewed as a one whole, just as theism and monism are understood and accepted by the awakened soul. The knower and the known become one.
Pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta makes the part into the whole, tending to deny, limit, redefine and modify the monism taught by the Saiva saints and proclaimed in the Vedas and Agamas. To know the final conclusions, to comprehend the monistic theism of Saiva Siddhanta, one must go a little farther, do more sadhana, in order to see these truths from a higher plane of consciousness. As Rishi Tirumular admonishes, "Siddhanta without Vedanta is the common Saiva's lot." By Vedanta, he meant the advaitic, monistic, final conclusion of the Vedas, which really, esoterically, are the results of the realization of thousands of seekers. When yogic realization, and transformation because of it, is not present, Vedanta is said to become "the path of words.'' However, the basic understanding of Vedanta naturally leads into Siddhanta, once understanding matures into directing the force of desire into realization of the Self. Here we have the happy and necessary blend of Vedanta and Siddhanta as a way of life and spiritual practice. The acceptance of both schools gives strength; the rejection of one or the other drains energies through intolerance and limits the full comprehension of God, world and soul. If you understand this, it will make you strong. It will make your religion strong.
My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, asked me which of these schools of thought was the right one. I told him that both were right in their own way. It all depends on whether you are on top of the mountain looking down or at the bottom of it looking up. He smiled and nodded. Jnanaguru Yogaswami taught that monistic theism is the highest vision of truth. For pluralists to deny the Vedas is to deny Vedanta, and that is to deny Truth itself. For Vedantists to deny the reality of God and creation is to deny Siddhanta, and that also is a denial of Eternal Truth. We cannot find a more shallow course of action than to declare the enlightened postulations of the illumined saints as superficial affirmations or as mad ravings, which a pluralist pandit once told me they were.
It is argued -- as an issue involving Tamil nationalism within their state, Tamil Nadu, in India -- that embracing monism may divide the Tamil people. This is indefensible. Monistic theism is the soul of Saivism, and therefore it is the soul of the Tamil people. It is monistic theism that will unite all the Tamils the world over in a one unanimity of belief, worship and understanding.
It is also contended that by preserving pluralism as a unique feature of Tamil Saivism, the Tamil identity is being preserved. This is a very narrow view. It only preserves a partial understanding of Truth and denies the Tamil people their rightful heritage of the fullness and richness of Sanatana Dharma. Dravidian history reveals that a united people are those who all worship the same Supreme God in the same way, pledging their allegiance to the fullness of the eternal truths discovered by their saints and sages. Thus, each one is strong in his or her dharma, with developed qualities of leadership, compassion, insight, cooperation and fortitude. Thus, each one awakens the burning zeal of sadhana to personally experience these inner Truths. The results of this unity are great civilizations like the Indus Valley, the Chola Empire and the Vijayanagara Empire. But today we find the Tamils a people fractioned among themselves, divided into a multiplicity of "-isms." The more religious have escaped into the heights of Siddhanta-Vedanta. The more intellectual or Western-educated are ensnared in arguments and Western rationales or have wandered off into Buddhism and Christianity.
Monistic theism, that all-embracing and ancient path which is common among all Saivite sects, is the solution to international unity among the Tamil people in the twenty-first century as it was 5,000 years ago, for its theology closes the door to conversion and puts the heart and mind at peace. Furthermore, it is this mountaintop view of reality which alone can free the soul from the cycles of birth and death, joy and sorrow. In this age of enlightenment, religion and the knowledge of Truth that it holds must be unquestionably easy to understand and universally available to all who seek refuge at Lord Siva's holy feet.
The monism/pluralism debate, rekindled by our statement that there can be only one final conclusion, was resolved in the understanding that within Saiva Siddhanta there is one final conclusion for pluralists and one final conclusion for monistic theists. This occurred in February of 1984 at the South Indian monastery of Sri-la-sri Shanmuga Desika Gnanasambandha Paramacharya Swamigal, 26th Guru Mahasannidhanam of the Dharmapura Aadheenam, at a meeting of professors, advocates, theologians, academicians and pandits on the issue. The resolution came when His Holiness, presiding over the meeting, effectively declared that all who follow the Meykandar philosophy are indeed pluralists when he had prepared for publication two booklets written by the late Saiva Siddhanta scholar, V. K. Palasuntharam: 1) Souls Are Beginningless, and 2) There Has Always Been Only a Pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy.
Heretofore the Meykandar exponents had been equivocal in this area, considering themselves sort of dvaitic and sort of advaitic, and redefining the word advaita (which means "not dual") to allow for two things to exist in the state of oneness. Through His Holiness, the followers of the Meykandar lineage had formally and publicly declared themselves pluralists, and thus acknowledged their difference with the monistic school of Saiva Siddhanta as expounded by Kauai Aadheenam's 162nd Guru Mahasannidhanam and the Saiva Swami SaMgam.
At the same time, as a result of two sometimes heated debates at national and international levels and numerous formal papers, now the pluralistic school, which had been the popular view for centuries, heartfully and in loving trust accepted what had been the ever-present monistic Saiva Siddhanta position. Thus the spirit of Sanatana Dharma that is modern Hinduism bound the monistic school and the pluralistic school into a productive partnership for the good of all, working together in the great Hindu renaissance, which is surging forward as a result of the global Hindu diaspora, and spawning an indomitable Hindu front.
We are happy to say that peace, tolerance, forbearance and mutual respect now exist between these two schools. We feel that the foundation for this coexistence of love and trust was made on January 30, 1981, when we met with His Holiness for the first time. I was on a holy pilgrimage to Saivism's most sacred sites with my entourage of forty Eastern and Western devotees when messengers from His Holiness invited us to visit his ancient Dharmapura Aadheenam. Together we sat in the inner chambers of his palatial spiritual refuge, built by maharajas in the sixteenth century. It was quite a spectacle -- Eastern pandits with their guru, and Western mystics with theirs, discussing the philosophical enigmas that have perplexed the mind of man from the dawn of history. Through our translators, we spoke of God, of the soul and the world, and of the dire need for Saivite schools in South India, and around the world, to pass this great knowledge on to the next generation.
After our lively discussion, a special lunch was served. Later, one of our swamis casually inquired of His Holiness about his large golden earrings, wondering where such a pair might be obtained for myself. Without hesitation, the guru summoned an aide and whispered some instructions. Moments later, a pair of earrings identical to those he was wearing were placed in his hands. His Holiness indicated that these were for me. Joyfully shrugging off our objections that he was being too generous, he immediately set about placing them in my ears with his own hands, enlarging the existing holes to accept these massive gold rings which are the traditional insignia of a paramacharya guru mahasannidhanam aadheenakarthar. Then he presented new orange kavi cloth to me and to my accompanying swamis.
We gratefully accepted the Sannidhanam's unexpected and generous gift as a gesture of goodwill to help us on our way of spreading the message of Saiva Siddhanta. Perhaps even more importantly, it was to us a sign of cooperative efforts between two great monasteries, one firmly teaching pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta in the East, and the other boldly promulgating monistic Saiva Siddhanta in the West. We thought to ourself that all that transpired after this would be for the best. To the onlooking pandits, this presentation of the acharya earrings meant that all knowledgeable Hindus would know that the Guru Mahasannidhanam of Dharmapura Aadheenam and the Guru Mahasannidhanam of Kauai Aadheenam would work together for the future of Saiva Siddhanta. Later the same day, Mahasannidhanam asked me to address several thousand people who were seated in the giant inner hall overlooking the large temple tank. I spoke of the greatness of Saivism and Saiva Siddhanta and the effects of its spreading into the Western world. The day culminated when His Holiness handed me an ornate silver casket, in which was kept a precious scroll honoring our work in spreading Saiva Siddhanta.
Later, after being engraved with words of acknowledgement, the casket was officially presented to me at the 1,000-pillared hall in Chidambaram Temple just before the sacred bharata natyam performance by premier dancer Kumari Swarnamukhi, a state treasure of Tamil Nadu, which we arranged as part of our Innersearch Travel-Study Program. This was the first dance performance within the temple's precincts in over fifty years, since the Anglican British outlawed the dancing of devadasis in temples. More than 15,000 devotees were packed into the viewing area while 300,000 more, we were told, filled the 35-acre temple complex. The entire city of Chidambaram came forward, as well as neighboring villages, for this historic presentation of all 108 tandava poses, a magnificent event held on the temple's most popular evening, establishing once and for all that, yes, dance could again be held in Chidambaram. This tradition, once banned, now continues at Siva's most hallowed sanctuary.So, dancing with Siva began again on that historic day -- a dance that never ends. We look forward to the day when dance in each and every Saiva temple in South India and around the world is a vital part of worship. That day is not far off, for temple congregations in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States already take great joy when their girls and boys dance for God and the Gods. That dance is the perfect metaphor of Siva's gracious presence in the world He created!

Chapter 18
1.       Looking at Shree’s divine feet, I bowed to him completely, mind feels very content, when one has sighting of Shree
2.       You are sea of blessings, a great store of kindness, store of goodness, all ends are you only
3.       Shree’s feet is the only place of goodness, whoever came to know this, his fortune is great
4.       Some such followers, planned a great event, taking Shree’s permission, successfully completed the event in splendor
5.       On the occasion of Shree’s 50th birthday, the idea of performing ‘Somyag’ was presented before Shree
6.       Very systematically, all the events were listed, end middle and at the beginning, events were kept
7.       Various committees were formed, invitation cards were printed, plans got in motion, followers were engrossed in the work
8.       Various committees were prompt in their works, everyone was busy in their planned work
9.       The facilitator/organizer of Somyag were Baburao Parkhe, the doer of Somyag were Vishwanath Shastri
10.   The recipient guest of Somyag, the great authoritative Mahadev Shastri Apte of Goa
11.   The work of Agnihotra who has accepted lifelong, only he is capable recipient of Somyag
12.   The great place created by Lord Parshuram, the center of meditation, is the region of Goa, at this very place
13.   From the beginning of time, from the creation of universe, the example of Yagna system told by Vedas, Parshuram started at this place, and the great work continued
14.   Datta gave Parshuram the special ‘Shreevidya’, Parshuram only gave the discourse of ‘Tripuri’ mantra to Shree
15.    The mystery of Shreevidya, is in the fire worship and Yagna, performing Agnihotra is true prayers to Lord Parshuram
16.   1962 – Shree went to Mhapshe Goa and gave the discourse of Agnihotra to Mahadev Apte
17.   The fire which was established in Goa by Parshuram, Shree lighted and solidified it blowing on it
18.   After Mahavir Buddha, for 2500 years, there was no influence of religion, such was the destiny
19.   At the end of this period and at the 50th birthday of Shree, due to both these special reasons, it was decided to do Somyag
20.   The holy fire lighted by Shree, that fire of Parshuram, Apte brought this fire and entered the holy place of Yagna in Pragyapuri
21.   One month before, 1970 Jan 27, they reached
22.   Shree himself came in front, and welcomed the holy fire, everybody came to Gurumandir to the tune of musical instruments with great celebrations
23.   By welcoming the fire, by holding the royal umbrella over it, by playing auspicious musical instruments, procession was taken
24.   Procession started from the temple of Khandoba, in grand new Palkhi, started in great pride and splendor
25.    At the door of Gurumandir, Shree worshipped the holy fire, Matoshree Shardabai worshipped the fire with great splendor
26.   To the Brahmans who had gathered there, Shree gave as much money as could fit in his hands, all the Brahmans were satisfied
27.   Apte stayed only on cow milk for one month, he did specific penance for Somyag
28.   Joglekar from Gokarna were on the position of ‘Hotya’, he selected all the ‘Bhosars’ on the appropriate posts
29.   After selection of everybody was done, discourse was given to all, in total there were 17 ‘Thurthigyans’ in the Somyag
30.   The selection of Thurthigyans  was done, they were worshipped by milk and honey, and the discourse of Somyag was given to recipient of Somyag in a religious methodical manner
31.   These Thurthigyans had the following gans – ‘ Hotrugan, Udgatrugan, Bhrahmagan, Ardgyavugan’
32.    The Thruthigyans from Hotrugan  recited the Rugveda mantra, the pundits from Ardgyavugan said Yajurveda
33.    Udgatrugans Thruthigyans sang Samveda and the Brahma Thruthigyans sang the Arthveda
34.     By being decorated by the four Vedas, the Yagna began at the place of Shivpuri
35.   One month before in Shivpuri, the preparations were going on in full swing, hundreds of people by their own free will did the religious work all day long
36.   From the ghats – mountain passes – of Satara, Somvalli was brought and in this way the arrival of Somraj happened in the Yagna place
37.   The events of the Yagna, Athithiyasesthi were welcomed and worshipped, they were kept in the Yagna place for three nights and Tanumpatra event was performed
38.   All the Thruthigyans were touched to vessel filled with Druth, in the morning and afternoon for three days – Pravarg and Upasad Yag were performed
39.   Cow’s milk was poured in Pravarth, it was boiled in Mahavir vessel and it was offered in worship to Ashivano God
40.   On the main day of Sonya, Thruthigyans from Hota gan, started the recital of Pratarnuvak at the break of dawn
41.   In the morning ‘Prathasavan’ in the afternoon ‘Madhyadinsavan’ in the evening Thruthiyasavan, the juice of Som was extracted
42.   The Som juice was offered to various Gods and offered in worship to Uttarvedvar, Shastra and Devastu mantra were sung by Hotrugan
43.   Public recital of Devastu verses were sung by Udatgyan, after the main day of Yagna, the Yagna puch – tail end of Yagna was performed
44.    Then Avabhrutsnan was done in splendor, Udaniya isthi finished and the grand closure occurred
45.   This was a short description of events of Somyag Yagna, in this way the events of Somyag occurred
46.   The expense was done immense, there was a huge crowd, the programs were going on continuously, everybody was impressed
47.   Two miles from the village is the great divine place of Shivpuri, shops were setup on both sides of the road
48.   Decorated arches were setup at various places, all the trees were lighted up and decorated by electric light bulbs
49.   The vehicles of state transport were continuously running on the roads, there was no count of private vehicles
50.   The boogies of railway trains, were continuously emptied here, bullock carts and two wheelers were running, a lot of people came
51.   Hundreds of tents were erected, big buildings, bungalows, schools, temples, all of them were taken for residing of the people
52.   In the village, people even stayed in the houses of villagers, the huge crowd of people increased by the moment
53.   The whole village was very busy, various shops were decorated, all the surroundings were decorated by lighting
54.   At the entrance of Shivpuri, the great entry door was looking grand, in the middle of the door idols of three Gods – Trimurti was decorated, elephant heads were on both sides
55.   In Shivpuri, is situated the grand burial place of Shivanand and the marble statue of Shivanand is decorated at Shivpuri
56.   The grand idol of wellness, of great God saint Jamadagni , with its great aura, was sitting in the place of Yagna
57.   The idol of Jamadagni was so impressive and captivating that one would get list looking at it and one would think that the great saint himself is sitting at that place
58.   At that place was cowshed, there was a board with a message, the importance of cow’s milk was mentioned and importance of mother cow was narrated
59.   In the place of Yagna was the great grand powerful all encompassing idol of Lord Parshuram
60.   The body was very fit and muscular, in his hands was a very sharp weapon called ‘Parshu’, nest of white hair decorated on head, eyes were very sharp
61.   The fingers of the hand were in a particular manner as if they were depicting or telling the letters in the words ‘Shree’
62.   In the word Shree, there are three letters – Sh means Sha, Sha means wellbeing and goodwill,
63.   Ra is Agnibiz – seed of fire, E is the Shaktibiz, the union of these three letters is the word Shree
64.   Shree means ‘Shreevidya’, the one which was told by whom, and to who he got it, great divine authority of theirs
65.   Shree got the Shreevidya from Lord Parshuram, both of them were standing at the place of Yagna
66.   He is the sea of favors, store of kindness, store of wellness, such Shree were standing there
67.   His behavior and outlook was very pleasant, sharp and glowing were his eyes, body was strong like Kanchan, such a Shree was standing there
68.   In Shree’s divine presence, the chanting of mantras was going on in the Yagna, offerings were made in Yagna vessel, everyone was impressed
69.   Apart from the main event of Yagna, known knowledgeable Brahmans, came from faraway places, there were many intelligent Brahmans
70.   Reciting of Gayatri mantra, reading of Chidabar Dixit, reciting of various mantras, many such recitals
71.   Such recitals were done by many, a display of tools of Yagna was arranged
72.   There was a separate platform for Parshuram’s idol, on the way of circling the Yagna, many idols were kept
73.   Idols of the Ten reincarnations, pictures of saints, idol of Renuka Mata, made up of seven metals, pictures were displayed
74.   Datta, Shripadvalabh, Narashimasarawati, Samarth, Balapa and Gangadhar Maharaj, seventh one is Shree
75.   Seven attractive pictures were arranged neatly, the seven avatars should be made easily known was easily accomplished in this
76.   In the room in the front, Shree used to stay, there were arrangements to take his sighting, there was a large crowd for his sighting
77.   By taking Shree’s sighting, people used to feel content, by just seeing Shree people used to feel grand
78.   In the adjoining room, many idols were kept, Sonamata was standing, Swami Shivanand were sitting down
79.   Idol of Swami Samarth, a beautiful picture of Bhausaheb Shingavekar was put up in the room
80.   At that time, Vimal circus had to the  village, three elephants from there were brought to the Yagna
81.   The arrangements for lunch and dinner were excellent, 2000 people sat at one time to eat, servers served food systematically
82.   The lunches would begin from 11 in the morning and they used to go till 11 in the night
83.   Thousands of helpers, did the helping work out of their own will, many big officers and industrialists were also seen amongst the helpers
84.   By treating this work as work of their own house, and keeping the helping nature, everybody got engrossed in the work of helping everybody
85.   Whatever work one felt apt to so, he should do that work, and complete it with complete devotion, this is their offering to Yagna
86.   This was everybody’s thinking, there was no jealously or selfishness, all work was going on with one heart, with everybody’s free will
87.   Nobody asked for anything, people gave a lot with their own free will for the Somyag Yagna
88.   The king of Nepal Mahendra, he gave a lot of help, showed a lot of faith and devotion towards the Somyag
89.   People from various regions, offered wealth, food and picked up their share of help and work
90.   America, Canada, Japan, Sweden, followers came together from various countries, whole of India came to the Yagna
91.   On the Shree’s room, there was a board of ‘Om Tathatsu’, there was a separate platform for Agninarayan – the fire God
92.   Dakshiagni, Ghardatya and Ahvaniya, these were the three fire vessels and further was the platform of Pragvansh
93.   Further there was Uttarvedi, at this place, the goat used to be sacrificed, but in this Yagna there was no violence
94.   The juice of Som was offered on the Uttarvedi, this was the specialty of this Yagna
95.   Next to Uttarvedi, a tower of religion was erected, it is of seven feet height, present at the place of the Yagna
96.   This tower is going to be built solid of 40 feet height, the work is in progress
97.   Sanskrit seminar was held here, arrangements of everybody were appropriate, millions of people gathered, food distribution was in that proportion
98.   On the Bori river in Rampur, Avabhrut went for bath, at the time of Yagna, it felt as if heaven had descended in the city
99.   One saint same and said – ‘ We have come from Kashi, will we get a place here?’, arrangements were made on Shree’s orders
100.                        But the saint disappeared, Shree said – they were Kashivishweshwar – The God from Kashi himself, all people were surprised
101.                        Lord of Kashi himself came, this is the receipt of Yagna, by praying to Shree, I end this eighteenth episode

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