DRAVIDIAN RELIGIONS AND SOCIAL HARMONY
SEMINAR ON 6-3-2009 CONDUCTED BY DRAVIDIAN UNIVERSITY, KUPPAM, A.P.
SPEECH BY SENTHAMIZH VELVI CHADHURAR M.P.SATHIYAVEL MURUGANAR
Dear president, eminent speakers and elite audience!
I am indeed, privileged in the entirety of the term to be in the midst of this seminar before the august dignitaries to take upon the lovable task of presenting to you a speech on Saivam viewed from Social harmony.
Antiquity of Saivam
As all of you are aware, the Christian Religion, acclaimed to have a highest percentage of followers in the world over, blossomed out only around 2000 years ago. There is Buddhism, an another religion accredited to have a large percentage of adherents world over second to Christianity. This one had come into existence say around 2500 years ago. Next in line is Islam which sprouted out only around 1500 years ago.
Just as these three popular religions, so are there many other religions, noticed or less known which have a definite date for their coming into being. What is great about Saivam is, unlike others, it is the only religion, of Dravidian Origin, which dates back to a time, prehistoric, unfathomable and a hoary part. When did it begin is inscrutable still. It is concomitant, perhaps, with the emergence of the world. Probably this is the first religion of the world and the oldest of all.
Evidences of its antiquity
Would it be an exaggeration to make a statement as above? No, press reports appeared in London and Ceylon well nigh the turn of the 20th century come handy in testimony to the above. Here are the reports; one is that appeared in the News Review of London dt.23 Sep 1937 which goes as this:
“In the wild mountainous state of Colorodo, seventh largest in America, Scientists of the U.S.Museum of Natural History three months ago announced discovery of a lost world. The focal point was Siva’s Temple, half a square mile of solid rock plateau, isolated from the main land by 9000ft. canyons eroded by rivers some 200,000 years ago.”
Another report appeared of the same news in Cavalcade of London dt.18 Sep 1937 which describes thus:
“In September the world was thrilled by the story of the American Scientists who scaled the lost world of Siva’s Temple in the canyon of Arizona. Siva’s Temple explorers found flint arrow head and white headed mice.”
A daily of Ceylon viz. Times of Ceylon, Sunday Illustrated dt. 17 June 1937 explains thus:
“Siva’s Temple is one of the surface points which have been felt high and day by waters on four sides. Conservative estimates put the date when it was cut off from the rest of the world as at least 100,000 years ago.”
I sanguinely hope that these would suffice for serving proof or staunch evidence for the unfathomable antiquity of Saivam.
Fundamental Principles of Saivam keep it alive
At this juncture, a question fleeting past in the minds of the people is fully justified. i.e. what are the principles of Saivam that are well set so that Saivam is still in existence exuberantly alive right from the hoary past, becoming not anachronic even today. Yes, we are justified to pause to ponder over the same here briefly.
Lingam, the form of Siva
Before we set about explaining the basic principles of Saivam, we are to confront a misunderstanding in regard to image of Lingam, abode of Lord Siva, and clarity the same inter alia. It is because that many people, especially, western scholars are oft-repeatedly mistaking the form of Lingam for phallic emblem. It therefore dawns rightly upon me, as a prime duty to clarify what Lingam alludes to, before taking off.
Light, the form of the Lord
All religions, primeval or present, concur in one that the supreme power i.e. God, supposed to control the entire cosmos, is an entity in the form of light. No religion sees God as one other than light. Even as religion, Einstein, a gigantic scientist of his times, while advancing his theory of relativity proved inter alia that no velocity of any object can surpass that of light and if attempted so, would get absorbed in that of light.
It is therefore clear, even by standards of science that light is insuperable and can therefore be identified rightly with the Almighty. This is what is proclaimed in Thiruvasakam, one of the Saiva Thirumirai Psalms as,
‘Athiyum Anthanmum illa Arum perum Jothi”
(ஆதியும் அந்தமும் இல்லா அரும்பெருஞ்சோதி).
Meaning as it does, the line above says that the Lord is nothing but a light, rarefied and immense, which has no beginning and end as well.
A property peculiar to light is noteworthy. It emanates from a fire seized of any object as closely associated with a flame. The flame has a tendency always to shoot up howsoever the object of flame is dipped.
From light to lingam
Finding so many criterions in common between the Lord, the light and flame, Dravidians started off worshipping the Lord through flame. Dravidians, in great love for god, wished in course of time to extend their worship to anointing, showering with flowers, encircling with incense of best fragrance and so on and so forth. Finding them infeasible with flame, they resorted to image of stone, resembling the flame, erect in position. Never-the-less, anointing the image required them to form a base around it for collection of water and cleaning thereof with channel-like end for way out. This is how the image of Lingam had come into existence.
Lack of understanding leading upto inane conclusions
Not understanding the enigma underlying the Lingam form of worship i.e. worship of light in the image of erect flame, many scholars of west and some in India too are distracted unfortunately to the misconception of phallus worship with respect to Lingam image.
The problem can reasonably be traced to the fact that western scholars visiting India are used to sound those people in North, apparently in the grasp of the subject, jump to conclusions without verifying with experts of South, especially Tamilnadu, rife with worship of Lingam and temples thereon.
At this juncture, it calls to my mind an instance where a European Sanskritist unaware, perhaps, of the bearings of the expression rendered the collocation, ‘Parama Hamsa’ into great goose. Unfortunately he mistook Hamsa for goose.
Pithy principles of Saivam
Adverting to the quintessence of the tenets of Saivam of incalculable age, we may, without reservation, say that the extent of it diverges to the magnitudes of earthly sea and heavenly sky. Not all can therefore be explained in such schedule as 30 minutes. However I would endeavor to put it in nut shell just as Sivagnana Botham did. It is so terse and laconic a work of Saiva Siddhantha as to have described the entire gamut of Saivam in just six hundred and odd letters of Tamil. Knowing as we did, no other religion has such a work to its credit.
The epistemology, it deals with is par excellence and pabulum i.e. material for intellectual nourishment. It subsumes everything about the world, soul, and Almighty and analyses them syllogistically and as a sequel establishes a School of Thought viz. Tripartite Ontology, what we call in Tamil ‘Muppporul Unmai’ – all in capsulised form.
Saiva Siddhantham as the name goes explains the ontology in three terse words called Pathi, Pasu and Pasam, otherwise called the Shepherd, Sheep and the Shackle. These are the great triple S advanced by Saiva Siddhantha where Shepherd adduces to Pathi or the Almighty, the Sheep to the innumerous souls, as we are and the Shackle to inhibitive substance that separates souls from God. This School of Thought, as G.U.Pope rightly observed, is the choicest product of Dravidian intellect.
It may be explained away in just simple words as this. The Sheep must break open the Shackles with which it is bridled and attempt to attain the haven of the Lord, the Shepherd. But alas! It is not so easy as is expressed.
Learning of souls through births
It is a great process of learning, the process through innumerous births, each one educating and exalting the soul by and by. But then, what shall be the criterion to decide the constituents of birth such as place, environment, education or illiteracy, pundit or plebian, prince or pauper, male or female is another question.
Birth due to karma
This shall not, as saiva siddhantam rightly points out, be decided by God of his own, if done so, the Almighty will be underwritten for a charge of being unilateral, which He is not. Hence there must be some other constituent which decides the birth of soul i.e. its deeds of the past. The consolidation on consummation of the deeds of the past indulged in by the soul is called karma in Sanskrit and Vinai in Tamil. It is cog wheels of this karma by which cycles of birth are evolved.
We all know well that every action has equal and opposite reaction. It is applicable not only in mundane physics but also in metaphysics. The Almighty is thus relieved of the charge of being unilateral by the way he decides the birth of a soul taking the residue of karma into account. May be, therefore, the cog-wheels of karma is inexorable, yet the Lord is not.
Souls ripe to Beatitude
Thus in various births the souls are redeemed of the shackles and enlightened by and by and in the process, a stage would come of when the souls do away with mundane pleasures and pine for the indescribable permanent pleasure in the haven of the Lord where they are bestowed by the Almighty with much-wished-for beatitude.
Appar Swamigal, one of the great Saiva quartet Saints, reveals this in his psalm in one line as this:
‘Venduvaarku Venduvathey Eevan Kandai’
(வேண்டுவார்க்கு வேண்டுவதே ஈவான் கண்டாய்)
This means, you get what you are pleased to! The Almighty bestows all that a soul wishes for, the wishes changing every time and He plunges the soul into experience of what it desired for, until it is disdained in the last. He comes to the succor of the soul, the moment, the soul pines for Divine Delectation which is inseparable and immortal unlike the mundane pleasures and at last the soul is there in his haven as wished for.
Anavam, the ignorance – inhibitive
Now comes the question why then the soul is not wishing for the permanent pleasure i.e. bliss in the first instance itself? It is because of these ignorable caused of a material entity known as Anavam, the mantle of ignorance shrouding the soul. This is the main Shackle that impedes the process of enlightening through births. It is this Shackle of ignorance that is chipped off through births by and by.
Body made up of Mayai
To give birth, god makes use of a substance called Mayai that is primordial and increate with which 36 elemental categories of body are produced and forged into a body by the God, soul being interned in it.
From the above, it may be seen, Shackle that inhibits soul from Almighty consists of three parts such as Anavam, Karma and Mayai. Of these three Anavvam is concomitant with the existence of soul which is to be divested of, for which Mayai is made use of by the Almighty commensurate with the karma of the soul.
Union of God – Advaitham
Thus the sheep-like soul is redeemed from Shackles and brought into union of God, the Shepherded which union is called Advaitham in Sanskrit and ‘Irandatrathu’ in Tamil.
This state of union of bliss is explained by the Saiva Siddhantham as one where two separate distinct entities become united in an inseparable way. The two are one in union which is called ‘Not-Two’ state.
Unlike other religions, Saiva Siddhanta, thus in its infallible approach and guided by syllogism explains and establishes the Tripartite Ontology with meticulous accuracy and without detriment to any of the three entities said afore.
Glimpses of tributes to Saiva Siddhantham
A close and critical study of Saiva Siddhantham would make any one pour in tributes for its valuable and rational approach. That is why Mr. Theos Bernard, a famous western philosopher is quoted as below:
“The exposition by Saiva Siddhantha is no mere metaphysical speculation but is purely a logical account on scientific principles.”
Another western philosopher viz. John R.Grace has observed as follows:
“It is a tribute to Saiva Siddhantha that the system of metaphysics coexists with a workable philosophy of phenomenal life. While retaining the traditional importance of metaphysics, this system places equal stress behind the potential practical.”
Saivam and Social Harmony
Unlike other religions, the Saivam, as one cognizant of existence of world and realities, not negating them as a myth, has been pragmatic in respect of social responsibilities. Adherents of Saivam as they are, Saiva Saints have never turned blind to the life here and now. Never in their annals, we could see anything that would disrupt the social harmony for the sake of religion. Bigotry and fanaticism arising out of religion, caste and creed have been done away with by Saiva Tenets with disdain and Saints thereon.
Apartheid chided by Appar
Appar, one of the Saiva Saints, ventured to state that he would prostrate before a pulaiyan i.e. pariah one who is socially untouched for his caste by birth provided he worships Lord Siva dear and near. Thus the caste that is seen to make discriminations among men of society has been torn asunder by Appar.
Chiding those who are bent on discriminations due to caste and lineage, Appar further proclaimed in one of his poems thus :
சாத்திரம் பல பேசும் சழக்கர்காள்
கோத்திரமும் குலமும் என் செய்யும்?
“Saathiram pala pesum Sazhakkarkaal
Kothiramum Kulamum EnSeiyum ?”
These lines declare thus: oh! charlatans! what caste or community is to render in bringing oneself close to the grace of the Lord unless one evinces altruistic affection and love for God.
Sambanthar and Jains
One many ask here of the confrontations Sambanthar one of the Saiva Quartet Saints, had with Jains of Pandya State of his times.
A good question, of course, and deep analysis of the confrontations would reveal facts. Social harmony is one thing; the individual identity is another. One is not to be lost for another. It is unity in diversity and principle of coexistence without doing harm to the other that would contribute social harmony. Some of the Jains, inhabited Pandya state then had failed to see the point and indulged in excesses with political overtones for the sake of religion.
Whereas Sambanthar is well aware of the fact that all religions are but creations of the Lord Himself in order to cater to the needs of persons of various levels of intelligence, one serving as ladder to the other. It is explicitly declared by Sambanthar in one of his poems that Lord Siva is just the same as Vardhamanar, the great Jain Preceptor.
சாமகீதர் வர்த்தமானர் சண்பை நகராரே (1:66:10-4)
‘Samageethar Varthamanar Sanbai Nagarare’
He declares further that Preceptors of all other religions are also none but Lord Siva Himself. He says Lord Siva only procreated all religions as a mother.
ஆயாதன சமயம் பல அறியாத அந்நெறியின் தாயானவன் (1:11:5)
“Aayaathana Samayam Pala Ariyatha Anneriyin Thayaanavan”
Hence responsibility in respect of causing social disharmony in the name of religion squarely rests on the then Jains of Pandya State. Sambanthar, on the other hand was perforce to confront the situation.
Thirumoolar and Religious harmony
Another important Preceptor, perhaps source to all other Saints of Saivam, is Thirumoolar who is quoted as below in one of his poems called Thirmanthiram:
தத்தம் சமய தகுதி நில்லா தாரை
அத்தன் சிவன்சொன்ன ஆகம நூல்நெறி
எத்தண்ட மும்செயும் அம்மைக்கே இம்மையில்
மெய்த்தண்டம் செய்வதவ் வேந்தன் கடனே
“Thaththam Samaya Thaguthi Nillaatharai
Atathan Sivan sonna Agama Noolneri,
Eththanda mumseyum Ammaikhay immaiyil
Meiththandam Seivathav Vendhan katanay”
The essence of the poem sparkle with true luster of Saivam. According to Thirumoolar, Lord Siva would, with all certainity, punish those who do not adhere to the religion he belongs to, of course, in the worlds after life. However, it is the Ruler’s inevitable duty to punish those who practice perfidy to one’s own religion, in the world here and now.
The poem conveys that Lord Siva will be harsh towards a Christian who is not true to it, towards a Muslim who is not true to it and in just the same way towards all other religionists who are not true to their respective religion.
It may be seen from the above, that Saivam do not want people to apostatize from one religion to its fold, but requires people, motley in attitudes and attachments, to be true followers of their respective religion.
This is the essence of Saivam which is essential basis for Social Harmony. It shows how effectively cosmopolitan the Saivam is in bringing about Social Harmony.
Saivam finding place on other religions
Here is another perspective that deserves our attention. Finding features in common with all the religions would, for sure, serve to bring about Social Harmony. As the Saivam is the pristine, primitive and the oldest of all religions which pervaded the world over, the impacts of Saivam has left indelible marks in all other religions in one way or other.
Taking Christianity at the first instance, many evidences come forth to our succor. An extract of encyclopedia of India brought out by E. Balfours goes as this ::
“The name Sivan is variously pronounced and written Siva, Shiva, Sivin, Seo, Sheo, Sed, Sivin, and Chivin and the earliest mention of this God is in the books of Amos (Ch V.25-26) … It is evident from that even then (955 BC), the emblems under which Siva is still worshipped and the marks which its followers put on their foreheads were well known”
We know very well from the Bible that Moses received 10 commandments from the Almighty. It says that Moses received them in the month called Sivan. An extract to the effect is here:
“The events occured on the 6th day of the third month Sivan “- Analysis of Scripture History(p.77)
The Buddism has also components of Sivan in its fold. An extract of the work titled ‘Sanchi and its remains” authored by General F.C.Maisey (p.8) brings out interesting points thus:
‘Inside it, I conclude, still is a Fakir’s cell with an adjoining Shiwala or temple of Mahadeva containing the Linga and Yoni emblems of Siva and Parvathi and several fragments from the Buddist ruins.”
Similarly the other important religion viz :: Islam has also remnants of Saivam in its fold. A.H. Sayce in his book titled ‘Origin and growth of religions – Ancient Babylon’ says thus (p.408)
“The sacred stone was Bethel or House of God; no habitation of a mere spirit, but the dwelling place of deity itself. The worship of these sacred stones was common to all the races of the Semitic family. The famous Black Stone of the Kaaba at Mecca is a standing witness of the fact. So firmly rooted was the belief in its divine character among the Arabs of the Mohammed’s day that he was unable to eradicate it, but was forced to make a compromise with old faith by attaching to the stone the traditions of the Old Testament.”
I am afraid, citing examples, found to be enormous, world ramify to volume of a book.
All these testify to the fact Saivam is the oldest and all-pervading which has left remnants in all other religions, say, off shoot of Saivam. The fact that it has remnants in every other religion would be a definite sign for being the source of Social Harmony. Let us therefore unite with the links of Saivam, of course, without losing identity of each religion.
Before I conclude, I take this opportunity to thank one and all who have been instrumental in bringing me over here and offered this ever memorable opportunity of delivering a speech as this. Thank You!