This is an ongoing series on the Siddhar Paramabarai of India. Siddha refers to perfected masters who have achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. We look at various Siddhas who have graced upon this earth with their Presence — their life and the wisdom they shared in the form of poems, couplets that are referred to as Siddhar Padalgal. To begin with, we are looking at Siddhas from the tradition of “Pathinen Siddhargal”. In the previous issues, we saw about Kudhambai Siddhar, Pambatti Siddhar, Idaikkaattu Siddhar, Sattaimuni Siddhar, Sundaraanandar Siddhar, Karuvoorar Siddhar, Goraknatha Siddhar, Matsyendranatha Siddhar, Ramadevar Siddhar, Dhanvantari Siddhar and Patanjali Siddhar. In the Guru Poornima special edition of series we were blessed to also write about the great Siddha Avvai.We also saw how the Siddhargal poetry is presented in Sandhya Bhasha. In this article, as a continuation to our previous two articles, we will continue to see the glory of Siddha Thirumoolar.
In the last two editions we saw the great life charithiram of Siddha Thirumoolar. As a disciple of Nandinatha Siddhar, travelling south, transmigrating to Mulan’s body, revered as Thirumoolar and authoring of Thirumanthiram are the highlights of our previous accounts.
In the previous two editions we saw an overview of Thirumanthiram and select poems from First, Second, Third and Fourth Thanthiram (first part or chapter) which begins with a synopsis of all that is to follow in this great mystical work of Siddha Thirumoolar. In this edition we will see some poems from the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Ninth Thanthiram.
The Fifth Tantra is a very special one. It gives a resume of the essential features of the Saivite religion. This includes the four forms of Saivism, the four stages, the four relationships the soul has with God, the four realizations attainable and the four aspects of the Descent of Grace. It ends with a delineation of unorthodox paths, conduct to be avoided, and an affirmation of approved margas or religious paths. It is in this Tantra that our Siddhar Thirumoolar introduce us to Saiva Siddhantha Marga. In Saiva Siddhantha, Lord Thirumoolar pioneered the reconciliation of Vedanta and Siddhanta. Following is one of the way he introduces the Path
சத்தும் அசத்தும் சத சத்தும் தான் கண்டு
சித்தும் அசித்தும் சேர் உறாமே நீத்த
சுத்தம் அசுத்தமும் தோய் உறாமே நின்று
நித்தம் பரஞ் சுத்தம் சைவர்க்கு நேயமே.
Those who tread the path of Suddha Saivam
Their hearts intent on Eternal Para;
Transcending Worlds of Pure and Impure Maya,
Where Pure Intelligence consorts not with Base Ignorance,
And the lines that divide Real, Unreal and Real-Unreal
Are discerned sharp.
Saiva Siddhanta is the name of one of the school of Hinduism. It is today the oldest, most vigorous and widely practiced of the six forms of Saivism. It has many millions of devotees, tens of thousands of active temples and dozens of living monastic and ascetic traditions. Saiva Siddhanta once enjoyed a glorious presence throughout India. Today it is strongest within the Tamil traditions of South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and elsewhere. In fact, it is sometimes referred to simply as Tamil Saivism. The term Saiva Siddhanta means ‘the final, or established, conclusions of Saivism.’ Today there are two primary schools of Saiva Siddhanta. One is the pluralistic school of Meykandar, which holds that God, soul and world are eternally separate. The other is the monistic school of Tirumular, which stresses the ultimate oneness of man and God. Tirumular’s lineage is specifically called Shuddha Saiva Siddhanta. And the Fifth Tantra expounds its path.
The Sixth Tantra covers a variety of aspects of Saivism and is more readable than most of the others. Some of the areas covered are: the Siva Guru, attainment of Grace, renunciation, the signs of sin, penance, jnana and Siva darshan in people, and a description of worthy and unworthy persons. In one of the stanza, Siddhar Thirumoolar equates Guru to Siva Himself. He says:
எல்லா உலகிற்கும் அப்பாலோன் இப்பால் ஆய்
நல்லார் உள்ளத்து மிக்கு அருள் நல் கலால்
எல்லாரும் உய்யக் கொண்டு இங்கே அளித்த லால்
சொல்லார்ந்த நல்குரு சுத்த சிவமே.
He is beyond worlds all
Yet, here below, He bestows His grace abundant
On the good and the devout,
And in love works for salvation of all;
Thus is the Holy Guru
Whose praise is beyond speech
Like unto Siva, the Being Pure.
And in another stanza, the Siddhar calls Siva Gnani is Siva:
சிவனே சிவ ஞானி ஆதலால் சுத்த
சிவனே என அடி சேர வல்லார்க்கு
நவம் ஆன தத்துவம் நல் முத்தி நண்ணும்
பவம் ஆனது இன்றிப் பரலோகம் ஆமே.
Siva Jnani is none but Siva Himself;
And they who seek his feet as Siva’s
Shall in sooth the wondrous Tattva mukti gain;
They shall no more be in the cycle of births;
Sure their reward, the Liberation Finite.
The Seventh Tantra is a treatise on some advanced and highly technical aspects of Saivism. It is partly written as an exposition of Tirumular’s own realizations. It discusses the Lingam, Grace and corresponding attainments, mudras, control of ida and pingala nadis, worlds reached by different classes of yogis on death, and the Sat Guru.
The Eighth Tantra covers many of the important theological elements of Siddhanta and is certainly one of the most inspiring. Among the concepts presented are expositions of: the five sheaths (bodies), the eleven avasthais (states), the three padarthas (pati, pasu and pasam), and how they are essentially one, the 36 tattvas and their elaboration into 96 tattvas, the four states (waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep and turiyam or the “fourth,”) and Turiyateetam or the “state beyond the fourth,” the three malas, the freeing of the mala fettered soul (Iruvinaioppu, malaparipaka, and Saktinipata), the mahavakiyam of the Upanishads, advaitic realization where the soul becomes Sivam leaving behind the tattvas, malas and all avastais, the true Siddhanta where knower, known and knowledge become one, the affirmation of Siddhanta and Vedanta as the same, the three gunas, the dasa-karanas, and the extirpation of desire as a necessity for Realization. Many important technical aspects of the Self, Jiva, the objective world are discussed in great mystical depth in this Tantra. In one such stanza, Siddhar expounds on one of our MahaVakyas- TAT-VAM-ASI which can be roughly translated as You are That. He says:
சீவ துரியத்துத்தொம் பதம் சீவன் ஆர்
தாவு பர துரியத் தினில் தற்பதம்
மேவு சிவ துரியத் தசி மெய்ப் பதம்
ஓவி விடும் தத்துவ மசி உண்மையே.
Turiya of Waking State
The end of Jiva Turiya is the beginning of Para Turiya Jagrat;
At the end of Para Turiya
Is Para Pada (Tat-Pada)
Three steps beyond,
In the fourth, is Siva Turiya (Asi Pada).
The Ninth Tantra is essentially a description of the fruits of realization. This includes an account of the attainment of akasa, the budding up of knowledge, the bliss of true knowledge, the state of liberation, and the Samadhi of Silence. It also contains descriptions of Siva’s various dances, the ashram of the Guru and the meeting of the Guru. These nine tantras end with hymns of praise to Siva and a description of Siva’s all-pervading nature.
Thus continues the Thirumanthiram of Siddhar Thirumoolar with detailed exposition of various aspects of Universe as well as our Self. The elixirs offered by Siddha Thirumoolar are so many. We invite you to contemplate more on these lines and share with us your insights. We also invite you to share with us lines from Siddhar Padalgal that have deeply touched you. You could write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In absorbing this, may our abhyasa continue, may our shraddha in the Siddha Parampara strengthen and may revelations awaken as we grow within!