Thursday, 13 August 2015

Tamil Saivism & Vedas

The Nayanmars. Picture taken at KL Mariamman Devasthanam.
The Tamils are largely Hindus. The Hindu philosophy is based on the teachings of Vedas, Agamas, Upanishad, Itihasas, Puranas, Gita and various other texts. Veda and Agama fall into a class known as Sruthi meaning not of human origin or heard. 

Today we also have Tamils who are Christians and Muslims. In the past, we also had Tamils who were Jains and Buddhist. The Bhakti movement revived Hinduism among the Tamils who at one point of time embraced Jainism and Buddhism. It was the Bhakti movement headed by the Alwars and Nayanmars which returned the Tamils to Hinduism.

The Tamil Hindus can be divided into the principles of Shan Matham meaning 6 Religion. Most of them are either Saivites or Vaishnavites. The Saivites have Thirumurai as their holy book while the Vaishnavites have the Nalayira Divyaprabandham.

The present day Tamil Saivites follow the Saiva Siddhanta school of Saivism. In the past, there were other schools such as Pasupatham, Vamam, Bhairavam and a few others.

There is a Saiva Siddhanta movement in Malaysia which promotes the Thirumurai. They are also doing more than just promoting this. They are portraying Vedas and Agamas as something alien to the Tamil people. 

They do this because both the Vedas and Agamas are in Sanskrit. They also claim that the Siva worshipped by the Tamils is not the same as the Rudra mentioned in the Vedas.

Since this movement claims that their teaching is based on the Thirumurai, let us examine some hymns from the Thirumurai to confirm if their claim is valid.

The Thirumurai is a collection of teachings and hymns of the saints known as Nayanmar. There were 63 Nayanmar. Their work is collected into 12 volumes. The volumes were arranged without following the chronological order for some mysterious reason.

Among the oldest is Thirumular's Thirumantiram. This is also known as the 10th Thirumurai. Thirumular dedicated a chapter for Veda and Agama. It is known as Veda Sirappu (Greatness of Veda) and Agama Sirappu (Greatness of Agama)

Veda Sirappu
வேதத்தை விட்ட அறம்இல்லை வேதத்தின்
ஓதத் தகும்அறம் எல்லாம் உளதர்க்க

வாதத்தை விட்டு மதிஞர் வளமுற்ற
வேதத்தை ஓதியே வீடுபெற் றார்களே

Vētattai viṭṭa aṟamillai vētattiṉ
ōtat takumaṟam ellām uḷatarkka
vātattai viṭṭu matiñar vaḷamuṟṟa
vētattai ōtiyē vīṭupeṟ ṟārkaḷē

Thirumular mentioned that there is no Dharma other than the one prescribed in the Vedas. It shows how much importance is given to the Vedas as it is seen not only as a divine revelation but also as a complete knowledge system. 

Agama Sirappu
அஞ்சன மேனி அரிவையோர் பாகத்தன்
அஞ்சொ டிருபத்து மூன்றுள ஆகமம்
அஞ்சலி கூப்பி அறுபத் தறுவரும்
அஞ்சாம் முகத்தில் அரும்பொருள் கேட்டதே

Añcaṉa mēṉi arivaiyōr pākattaṉ
añco ṭirupattu mūṉṟuḷa ākamam
añcali kūppi aṟupat taṟuvarum
añcām mukattil arumporuḷ kēṭṭatē

Here, Thirumular explains that the Agama is born from the 5th face of Siva (4th line). The 2nd line states that there are 25 + 3 Agamas. So there are total 28 Agamas. 

1. Kamiga
2. Yojana
3. Sivithia
4. Karana
5. Ajitha
6. Deeptha
7. Sukshma
8. Sahasra
9. Hamsuma
10. Suprabeda
11. Vijaya
12. Niswasa
13. Swayambuva
14. Agneya
15. Vijaya
16. Raurava
17. Makuta
18. Vishala
19. Chandra Jnana
20. Mukha Bimba
21. Purorgeetha
22. Lalitha
23. Siddha
24. Santana
25. Sarvokta
26. Parameswara
27. Karana
28. Vathula

The Sanskrit Agamic text contains rules on rituals and even temple construction. Tamil temples generally follow the Kamiga Agama. 

Another Nayanmar, Thirunavukarasu @ Appar who is considered as among the 4 main Nayanmars, also referred to the Vedas.

அரியானை அந்தணர்தம் சிந்தை யானை
அருமறையின் அகத்தானை அணுவை யார்க்கும்
தெரியாத தத்துவனைத் தேனைப் பாலைத்
திகழொளியைத் தேவர்கள்தங் கோனை மற்றைக்
கரியானை நான்முகனைக் கனலைக் காற்றைக்
கனைகடலைக் குலவரையைக் கலந்து நின்ற
பெரியானைப் பெரும்பற்றப் புலியூ ரானைப்
பேசாத நாளெல்லாம் பிறவா நாளே.

Ariyāṉai antaṇartam cintai yāṉai
arumaṟaiyiṉ akattāṉai aṇuvai yārkkum
teriyāta tattuvaṉait tēṉaip pālait
tikaḻoḷiyait tēvarkaḷtaṅ kōṉai maṟṟaik
kariyāṉai nāṉmukaṉaik kaṉalaik kāṟṟaik
kaṉaikaṭalaik kulavaraiyaik kalantu niṉṟa
periyāṉaip perumpaṟṟap puliyū rāṉaip
pēcāta nāḷellām piṟavā nāḷē.

The 2nd line describes Siva as an Atom (the core) of the Vedas. Vedas are also known as Marai in Tamil.

Thirunganasambanthar said the following in the 6th Thirumurai.

பார்மலிந்தோங்கிப் பருமதில்சூழ்ந்த பாம்புரநன்னக ராரைக்
கார்மலிந்தழகார் கழனிசூழ்மாடக் கழுமலமுதுபதிக் கவுணி
நார்மலிந்தோங்கு நான்மறைஞான சம்பந்தன்செந்தமிழ் வல்லார்
சீர்மலிந்தழகார் செல்வமதோங்கிச் சிவனடி நண்ணுவர்தாமே

Pārmalintōṅkip parumatilcūḻnta pāmpuranaṉṉaka rāraik
kārmalintaḻakār kaḻaṉicūḻmāṭak kaḻumalamutupatik kavuṇi
nārmalintōṅku nāṉmaṟaiñāṉa campantaṉcentamiḻ vallār
cīrmalintaḻakār celvamatōṅkic civaṉaṭi naṇṇuvartāmē

The word Kavuni in the 2nd line refers to the Kaundinya Gotra of the Brahmins. Sambanthar was born in this lineage. The 3rd line describes Sambanthar as a person who has knowledge in the 4 Vedas and he has written the verses in refined Tamil. Those who recite it will attain the feet of Siva.

The following verses are by Appar. He describes Siva as Vethiyan or the giver of Vedas in the first line. In the final line, he describes NaMaSiVaYa as the companion which will give salvation.

சொற்றுணை வேதியன் சோதி வானவன்
பொற்றுணைத் திருந்தடி பொருந்தக் கைதொழக்
கற்றுணைப் பூட்டியோர் கடலிற் பாய்ச்சினும்
நற்றுணை யாவது நமச் சிவாயவே

Coṟṟuṇai vēthiyaṉ cōti vāṉavaṉ
poṟṟuṇait tiruntaṭi poruntak kaitoḻak
kaṟṟuṇaip pūṭṭiyōr kaṭaliṟ pāycciṉum
naṟṟuṇai yāvatu namac civāyavē

The Rudra of the Vedas is Siva. They are the same. The terrifying aspect is Aghora while the auspicious aspect is Siva. The word Siva can be found in the Namakam and Chamakam of the Sri Rudram in the Yajur Veda.Take a look at the following final lines of the 1st Anuvaka of the Namakam

namaste astu bhagavan viśveśvarāya mahādevāya
tryambakāya tripurāntakāya trikāgnikālāya
kālāgnirudrāya nīlakanthāya mrtyuñjayāya sarveśvarāya
sadāśivāya śrīmanmahādevāya namaha

The Sanskrit Panchakshra NaMaSiVaYa occurs in the 8th Anuvaka of the Namakam

namah śivāya ca śivatarāya ca 

Pancha means 5 and Akshara means syllable. When this is written in Tamil, it will become NaMaChChiVaYa with 6 syllables. This is because in Tamil, when the first word ends with a vowel, it has to take the base syllable of the 2nd word for a proper continuation. 

So Nama Sivaya becomes Namach Chivaya in Tamil. Si is written as Ich and expanded as Cha or Sa. You can take a look at the last line of Appar's verses shown above.

So although written with 6 syllables in Tamil, it has to be still be correctly pronounced as 5 syllables in the Sanskrit way. The pronunciation of Chi happens because of conversion from Sanskrit to Tamil as explained above. If we were to separate Tamil Saivism from any Sanskrit influence, the pronunciation of NaMaSiVaYa can become inaccurate. 

There was a Nayanmar known as Pasupathi. He recited the Sri Rudram daily in the temple water tank. He did this with great intensity. For this reason, he was addressed as Rudra Pasupathi Nayanar. 

These are some of the examples taken from the Thirumurai. It shows that the authors of Thirumurai, the Nayanmars glorified the Vedas and the Agamas. 

The Nayanmars accepted it as the source of our knowledge system. They then wrote their own hymns and explanation based on this knowledge system for the benefit of the common people.

Even in the annals of the Tamil people, our kings are known to be not just patrons of Tamil language, but also guardians of the Vedas and Vedic practices. 

Kings like Palyagasalai Mudukudumi Peruvazhuthi Pandya was famous for his patronage of Vedic sacrifices. The Pandya, Chera and Chola kings were even mentioned in the Mahabaratha, a Sanskrit Itihasa. They participated in Yudishtira's Rajasuya sacrifice (Vedic sacrifice).

It only shows that the Tamil society had deep Vedic roots. 

Based on all these, it makes no sense for any present day Tamil Saivite association to distance itself from the Vedas or even the Agamas simply because they are written in Sanskrit. The Thirumurai which they held with high regards is linked with these scriptures. 

Siva worship transcends all boundaries and that includes linguistic boundaries. Love towards ones language should not become an obstacle to embrace complete Siva worship. 

Unfortunately, some are trying to make it exclusively Tamil. There should be an end to this extremism which is spreading like cancer among the present day Tamil society.



- Comments

15 comments:

  1. My explanation was too large (more than 4,096 words) thus was rejected; but anyway the Tamil Civa and Vedic Siva are not the same. As consolation what these Saiva people are preaching is also not the Tamil Civa. They have a third form which is unique to them and it is the Saiva Siva. I am talking on the theological aspect of the religion.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Vanakkan Dr Veerapandian Aiyah,

    Thanks for circulating this link. Sharmalan Thevar: Tamil Saivism & Vedas

    What this author says, was already well known views of people who are blind supporters of Rik, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedhas. Such people consider Sanskrit is the only language of God. Invariably, these people have little knowledge of Sanskrit Vedhas and Thirumurai.

    They read here and there and quote some convenient passages from these primary sources.

    Saiva Agamas (available in Tamil as Thirumanthiram and also in Sanskrit (but only in Grantha script) are treasures of Tamils, written by Tamils and used exclusively by Tamils. That is why, the Temples in Tamil nations are distinctly different. The Sanskrit Vedhas do not even make a mention of Agamas or Temples. It is a great injustice that not-so-divine document (sans.vedhas) are used exclusively in Temples of Tamil Saivites. Hindu temples in other states do not use Sanskrit that much.

    Thirumurai, Saiva Siddhantha and Saiva Agamas provide a consistent and highly Divine model of God who is an embodiment of pure love. There are hundreds of views on God in Sanskrit Vedhas which are confusing and inconsistent.

    Koothapiran (Natarajah), Aalamar Chelvan (Dhakshna Murthy), Karai Midatru Annal (Neelakanta) are the forms originally contributed by Tamils and not found in Sans.Vedhas.

    One of the basic attribute of Tamils' Siva (not Shiva) is பிறவா யாக்கைப் பெரியோன். The Rudra of Sans.Vedhas was born to Prajapathy, a human. How can they claim Rudra is Siva?

    It will be a travesty of truth if any one think that Siva worship has anything to do with Sans.Vedhas. Concept of Siva was conceived and developed by Tamils and accepted by most linguistic groups of India. The evangelists of Sans.Vedhas adapted some of the prevailing concept of Siva (several centuries ago) and plagiarized it in Sanskrit.

    Materialistic Tamils solely depend on English. Religious Tamils blindly follow Sanskrit. We hardly have real Tamils.

    Anbudan

    M Arjunamani
    President, World Saiva Council Australia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for posting this from the President of World Saiva Council Australia. I will soon explain with proper elaboration on why his points are wrong.

      Delete
    2. POINT 1
      "What this author says, was already well known views of people who are blind supporters of Rik, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedhas. Such people consider Sanskrit is the only language of God. Invariably, these people have little knowledge of Sanskrit Vedhas and Thirumurai. They read here and there and quote some convenient passages from these primary sources."

      As the author of the article, I would like to strongly point out that I am not a blind supporter of any scripture or literature. I analyze things and write based on that. If the President cared to read my article properly, he would have noticed the last lines of my writing:

      "Siva worship transcends all boundaries and that includes linguistic boundaries. Love towards ones language should not become an obstacle to embrace complete Siva worship"

      So to me, it does not matter whether it is the Vedas, Agamas or something else. Hope this is clear.

      Delete
    3. POINT 2
      "Saiva Agamas (available in Tamil as Thirumanthiram and also in Sanskrit (but only in Grantha script) are treasures of Tamils, written by Tamils and used exclusively by Tamils. That is why, the Temples in Tamil nations are distinctly different. The Sanskrit Vedhas do not even make a mention of Agamas or Temples. It is a great injustice that not-so-divine document (sans.vedhas) are used exclusively in Temples of Tamil Saivites. Hindu temples in other states do not use Sanskrit that much."

      The Agamas are written in Sanskrit. The script used is Grantha. The Grantha script was developed to cater for

      Sanskrit. Besides scripture, Grantha was also used by the ancient Tamils to trade with non-Tamil nations that used Sanskrit such as those in Southeast Asia. The Pallavas helped to introduce this script. Hence we can find stone inscriptions written in Pallava Grantha in many SEA places with a history of trading.

      Since the president quoted Thirumanthiram, I would like to ask why the President ignored that the great sage Thirumular also praised the Vedas. This is explained in Veda Sirappu. Thirumular also declared that both Vedas and Agamas are of divine origin. But the President of World Saiva Council Australia seems to have some hatred towards Vedas.

      This goes against the teachings of Thirumular himself. As Saivites who uphold the Thirumantiram, he should set an example by following the teachings of Thirumular, not go against it. So a true Saivite will uphold not only the Agamas but also the Vedas as both these scriptures were praised by Thirumular.

      Here is the evidence taken from Thirumantiram:

      வேதமொ டாகமம் மெய்யாம் இறைவன்நூல்
      ஓதும் பொதுவும் சிறப்பும் என்றுள்ளன
      நாதன் உரைஅவை நாடில் இரண்டந்தம்
      பேதம தென்னில் பெரியோர்க் கபேதமே

      Vētamo ṭākamam meyyām iṟaivaṉnūl
      ōtum potuvum ciṟappum eṉṟuḷḷaṉa
      nātaṉ urai'avai nāṭil iraṇṭantam
      pētama teṉṉil periyōrk kapētamē

      In this hymm, Thirumular declares both the Vedas and Agamas are of divine origin. He then clarifies that Veda is General and Agama is Special. He further mentions that for those who are truly learned, both are the same.

      I wonder why Mr.President can't see the bigger picture as desired by Thirumular himself.

      Delete
    4. POINT 3

      "Thirumurai, Saiva Siddhantha and Saiva Agamas provide a consistent and highly Divine model of God who is an embodiment of pure love. There are hundreds of views on God in Sanskrit Vedhas which are confusing and inconsistent."

      It is confusing and looks inconsistent because it only takes a properly trained person to understand it fully. This is why it falls under the Shruti category like the Agamas. Shrutis are not a piece of cake to be digested by ordinary people. To make the digestion available for all, the saints came up with Smirtis like Vedanta, Upanishad, Thirumurai etc etc. Whatever they have written is based on their mastery over the Shrutis

      Delete
    5. POINT 4
      Koothapiran (Natarajah), Aalamar Chelvan (Dhakshna Murthy), Karai Midatru Annal (Neelakanta) are the forms originally contributed by Tamils and not found in Sans.Vedhas

      These forms were inspired by the Vedas, not the other way around. For example, Neelakanta is the name he received after drinking the Halala poison. The word Neelakanta is mentioned in the Vedas. I even gave the 1st Anuvaka of Sri Rudram Namakam in my article. The word Neelanta was highligted there. If Mr.President actually read my article fully, he wouldn't even mention this. Now I began to wonder if he actually read what I wrote.

      Delete
    6. POINT 5
      "One of the basic attribute of Tamils' Siva (not Shiva) is பிறவா யாக்கைப் பெரியோன். The Rudra of Sans.Vedhas was born to Prajapathy, a human. How can they claim Rudra is Siva?"

      The are various forms of Rudra and similar deities in the Vedas. Is Mr.President referring to them or is he referring to the Rudra mentioned in Sri Rudram? The Sri Rudram contains various references of Rudra as Siva being his auspicious form while the terrifying form is known as Aghora. I even gave evidence of the Panchakshra NaMaSiVaYa taken from the Sri Rudram. I even quoted Appar's hymms on NaMaSiVaYa and also the Nayanmar's words on Vedas. Rudra Pasupathi Nayanmar chanted the Sri Rudram daily and this is from the Yajur Veda.

      Is Mr.President now going to claim that the Nayanmars are also wrong since they chanted Sri Rudram and made reference to the Vedas?

      Delete
    7. POINT 6
      "It will be a travesty of truth if any one think that Siva worship has anything to do with Sans.Vedhas. Concept of Siva was conceived and developed by Tamils and accepted by most linguistic groups of India. The evangelists of Sans.Vedhas adapted some of the prevailing concept of Siva (several centuries ago) and plagiarized it in Sanskrit.Materialistic Tamils solely depend on English. Religious Tamils blindly follow Sanskrit. We hardly have real Tamils."

      Nayanmars like Appar, Sambanthar and Thirumular had nothing against the Vedas. They praised it. What you are doing under the so called Saiva banner today is misguiding the Tamil people. You are deviating from the real teachings of the Nayanmars. You are telling them something which was never told by the Nayanmars. You then market it and sell it to the naive people. This is happening because you have hatred towards certain community and certain scriptures which you think is alien to you. Your desire to make Siva exclusively Tamil shows how shallow your mentality is because you are willing to lock Siva within your walls of linguistic hatred.

      Siva is beyond all these. He has no boundaries.

      Delete
  3. For POINT 4, would also add Purana as one of the inspirations.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Theology apart, I have a sneaking suspicion that Christian Missionary mischief may be at play here, to divide Hindus further as North Indian Saivites and South Indian Saivites ( Sanskrit vs Tamil) !
    R.Venkatanarayanan

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Mr. Sharmalan,

    I really appreciate your inquisitiveness to explore the world of Saivism especially through the eyes of our great saint Thirumular. The broader views of Saivism from various thought of schools are always able to capture more information. But the TRUTH of that information must be deeply investigated. The selected verses of Thirumanthiram will serve certain view. But the fundamental inquiries only can be answered by the holistic perspective of all the verses of Thirumanthiram.

    These are some selected sites for your mind screening and for your further inner inquiries.

    https://sites.google.com/site/ulagansbooks/cittanta-attuvitam
    https://sites.google.com/site/sacredtamil/siddhanta-and-vedanta
    https://sites.google.com/site/sacredtamil/tirumular--saiva-siddhanta
    https://sites.google.com/site/tirumantiram/tirumular-utcamayam/a1-pakuti-1

    The Tamil divine literature world is very vast and beautiful. I think you have started gain access into it. Be more explorative and try to penetrate the mind of our great Tamil saints. They are brilliant scholars. Please read Meykandar and Arunnanthi scholarly Saiva Siddhanta works as well.


    Prof. Veerapandian brought your web site into our discussion. The letters from Mr.Arjunamani and me were not addresses to you but to Prof. Veerapandian.

    It is wise to send or cc to you a copy of those since your work is part of our discussion.
    Thank you for your kind contribution to our Saivite community. Keep it up. All the best to you and keep yourself open and penetrative.

    Love is Siva. Truth is to be investigated.

    Thank you.

    With love,
    Dr.Sivakumar
    avisramu1001@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. வேதமொடு ஆகமம் மெய்யாம் இறைவன் நூல்
    ஓதும் பொதுவும் சிறப்பும் என்றுள்ளன
    நாதன் உரையவை நாடில் இரண்டந்தம்
    பேதமதென்பர் பெரியோர்க்கு அபேதமே

    Vētamoṭu ākamam meyyām iṟaivaṉ nūl
    ōtum potuvum ciṟappum eṉṟuḷḷaṉa
    nātaṉ uraiyavai nāṭil iraṇṭantam
    pētamateṉpar periyōrkku apētamē

    Translation from Tantra 8, Tirumantiram

    vedham and Agamam are the truthful Godly scriptures.
    They are there as general and special.
    When the conclusion of those two Lord's words
    are sought, some say 'they are different',
    but for elevated ones they are not different

    ReplyDelete
  7. To me, the author's views are balanced because they are referenced and logical. I am nonetheless disheartened to learn that language is being used to segregate rather than to unite people in their own faith. To me, if a community is pushing for a particular language as they teach a faith, I feel they are not teaching the Word or Love of God, but inculcating love for that language. Then doesnt it become a language appreciation class? And when done fanatically, it distracts real religious enthusiasts and students automatically find the 'path of least resistance" ( to learning their faith). They rather reach God without concepts being claimed to "theirs" or "ours". Maybe this is the reason present day students of our Hindu faith, though possibly thirsting for Saiva Siddhanta, are content watching from outside rather than entering the arena and fend off language enthusiasts before getting to the sweet nucleus of religious understanding. Again, i am also surprised how when i had brief introduction to both languages at a certain point in my life, I found that teachers who taught religion through Sanskrit never detracted to how it is Sankrit that is superior. Humility regarding the greatness of their revered language was so pervasive that I felt their Love to their faith and all languages that led to understanding it. That mindset made me a fan, just as how Hinduism has long made me a fan of its bigger thinking just by saying all faiths of the world lead to God. For this day and age, any other concept is self destructive. Ethnocentrism in any faith is the seed of demise, in my humble opinion. I wish all paths to be upheld. But spending time and mental effort to bifurcate and seperate people who already belong to a single faith, is futile and thus very unattractive to new aspirants. Why make God purely the territory of some and not all? Perhaps this is the reason one of the comments to the author states that today there are few real Tamils; So long as a language is used to separate people, people will gravitate to a place where God is attained through all-inclusiveness and acceptance, not ethnocentricism and validation of ones own roots. This is just a view from a less religiously educated person, seeking God through those who have found peace in themselves already and are not using language, state or culture to claim God. Hope Saiva Siddhanta brings more people back to Hinduism, the way our saints wanted it.

    ReplyDelete