by Pathmarajah Nagalingam


Chapter 10




Developments in Siddhanta


The philosophy of the vedas is called vedanta and the philosophy of the agamas is called agamanta, or siddhanta. Several philosophies arose from the vedas including the shad dharsanas. However only vedanta survives as a school today, yet the other shad dharsanas exist only as contributaries to the existing schools of though.

Today when people think siddhanta, they think only of the Meykandar, tamil, and pluralism, which is erroneous. It is not that siddhanta suddenly burst on the scene in the 13th century. The bakti saints were siddhantists. On top of the some 30 southern siddhanta schools, there were at least a dozen north Indian sanskrit based siddhanta schools in the pre-Meykandar eras.

It is not that siddhanta suddenly burst on the scene with Tirumular too. He simply wrote for the first time the teachings of the agamas and vedanta into tamil. The entire upanishads is siddhanta too. That word 'siddhanta' is used there. With temples, there is triadism there, and so there is siddhanta, which pushes it into the first millenium BCE, and prior to that.

Siddhanta preceded Meykandar, preceded Tirumular, is found in the upanishads, is found in the vedas, and probably preceded the vedas well into sumerian origins! It only took first definitive order with Tirumular, then a second definitive order with Aghorasiva, and finally a third definitive order with Meykandar.

Siddhanta underwent three stages of development:

1. Nandikesvara in the 2nd century BCE (confirmed by Panini) and his disciple Tirumular are the first known ones to propagate it, the former in sanskrit (Nandikesvara Kasika which is monistic) and the latter in tamil (Tirumantiram).

2. Aghorasiva in the 12th century combined the northern sanskrit and the southern tamil schools, and perfected the rituals. He paved the way for the beginning of a pluralist interpretation.

3. Meykandar in the 13th century which deconstructed all other existings schools including Shankara, Ramanuja, the buddhists and jains. We celebrate Meykandar because he deconstructed Shankara's mayavada advaita vedanta.

In the history of siddhanta we see a evolution of siddhanta from monism to a unique non-dualism.



The first known guru of the Suddha, or "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 is the twenty-six Sanskrit verses, called the Nandikesvara Kasika, in which he carried forward the ancient teachings.

Tirumular put the vast writings of the Ågamas and the Suddha Siddhanta philosophy into the Tamil language for the first time. Tirumular's Suddha 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, while Gorakshanatha's is called the Ådinatha Sampradaya.

A New Siddhanta

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 Åmardaka 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, Sadasiva, Èsvara and Suddhavidya), into the category of pasa (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 Ågamic tradition through his writings. To this day, *Aghorasiva's Siddhanta philosophy is followed by almost all of the hereditary Sivacharya (saiva-brahmins) temple priests,* and his paddhati texts on the Ågamas have become the standard puja manuals. His Kriyakramadyotika is a vast work covering nearly all aspects of Saiva Siddhanta ritual, including dîksha, saµskaras, atmartha puja and installation of Deities.

In the thirteenth century, another important development occurred in Saiva Siddhanta when Meykandar wrote the twelve-verse Sivajñanabodham.

Siddhanta was an all-India phenomenan, and it still is. It is just that most people are not aware of it but use vedanta and vedanta terms out of ignorance. If there is a temple, a mantra chanted repetitiously, a yantra, a forehead mark, then that is siddhanta, that is agama. Is there a place in India where there is no temple, no one using forehead marks, no one chanting a mantra repetitiously?

"Kashmir is the place where Saiva Siddhanta was flourshing well. There was exchange of ideas between Tamilnadu and Kashmir. The texts are shared between them. Even in the Tirumanthiram Verse 98 says, 'Thaththuva jnanam uraiththathu thaazhvarai'. 'Thazh varai' means on the low plains at the end of himalayas and here it indicates Kashmir. Some says it is Mount Kailash but geographically it is still a high mountain not the low hill plain. Ugrajothi,Satyojothi, Ramakantha I, Ramakantha II are well known saiva siddhanta scholars from Kashmir and extensively quoted in the pre MeykaNdar Saiva texts. Somasambhu, Agorasivam, Appaiya Deekshitar, Neelakandar are well known Saivaite scholars from Tamilnadu in the pre MeykaNdar era. While Kashmir scholars quotes extensively form the Agamas of South indian origin in their books, the Tamilnadu scholars too quote extensively from the texts of these Kashmir scholars.

In Tirumanthiram Verse 102 Tirumular says;

kalantharuL kaalaangar thampaal akorar
Nalantharu maaLikaith thaevar naathaanthar
PulamkoL paramananthar pokka thaevar
NilamthikaL moolar niraamayaththoarae

Which means there were seven sages along with him; Kaalangar, Akoorar, MaLikaiththaevar, Naathanthar, Paramanandar and Bhogathaevar. This Bhoga Thaevar is of Kashmir and the author of Thathuva Pirakaasikai, the first book among the eight books of Ashda Pirakaranam. Whether he is originally from Kashmir or settled in Kashmir is not known. Tirumanthiram Verse 70 says about four of them including Tirumular set to go one each to four directions for spreading the message. So the Bhoga Devar may be the one set to go to Kashmir. But these are all our presumptions and there is no concrete evidence for these."

Dr. K. Loganathan

But siddhanta is not widely known in India and its not just because of the language it was written in. It is because writers omitted to mention that since most of the works deals with Siddhanta, Saivism and Shaktism. There are hundreds of works in sanskrit on the various schools of siddhanta, more than in tamil, and written in all parts of India, mostly in the north. But the writers did not want the Hindu public to know that; that siddhanta is more widespread than vedanta, that it is equally (or more) associated with the north than the south. The writers wrote focusing on vedanta, upanishads and the bhagavadgita. This misrepresentation by omission led many to think that siddhanta is only associated with the south or the tamils.

Judging by the number of works in sanskrit and tamil, we can say that a majority of our philosophers were siddhantists and the vast compendium of philosophies were on siddhanta, and that vedanta is a minority opinion. Considering the two hundred odd monastic orders of various sampradayas, and including the vaishnavas as agama-based, as they truly are, one can say that the smartha-vedantic schools is a tiny minority in Hinduism, less than 3%, and the rest of the 97% of the Hindus are siddhantists. The siddhantic-agamic ascetics in Kasi alone outnumber all the vedantins in India. The minute one applies a tilak on the forehead, one is a siddhantin. Is there anyone in India that is not a siddhantin? But of course people do not quite bother to delineate and articulate their philosophical positions clearly that way.

On languages and extent of literature, as mentioned before more than half the extant Hindu literature today is in tamil, and any book or philosophy that does not deal with the body of tamil literature, is not representative of Hinduism or its philosophies, is not talking about Hinduism, it is talking of something else. As the major part of sanskrit literature is written in ancient tamil grantham script, and is not available in nagari or devanagari at all till today, not available north of the vindhyas, one wonders how those philosophers and scholars in the last two hundred years could have read those texts and write about Hinduism and its philosophies.


A Brief on Advaita in Siddhanta

Vedanta is considered as the culmination of Vedas. Similarly, Saiva Siddhanta is considered as the culmination of Saiva Agamas. It is for this reason Siddhanta is sometimes referred to as ‘Agamanta’.

Unlike the Vedanta, Saiva Siddhanta considers three kind of relationship of God with the Soul. God is one with the Soul, along with the Soul, and different from the Soul. This aspect of relationship in three states (onraai, udanaai, veraai) is the Advaita relationship mentioned in Siddhanta philosophy.

The three kinds of relationship of God to the soul can be explained with an analogy. The Soul is one with our physical body. Similarly God is one with the soul. The soul is along with the body and animates it. Similarly God is along with the soul and animates it. Yet the soul is different from the body. Similarly God is different from the Soul.

The second Aphorism of SivaJnanaBodham speaks of the Advaita relationship in Siddhanta philosophy as follows:

“The primal Being, God, is non-separable from the souls, being one with them, different from them and making them to take births and deaths ceaselessly, experiencing the fruits of the twin karma. This is done by His Sakthy who is eternally in implicit union with Him.” (Dr. K. Ganesalingam)

The above is a concise summary of the similarities and differences between siddhanta and vedanta over the term advaita. As one can readily see, siddhanta is far more sophisticated, and in fact bridges non-dual, dual and plural relationships of god, soul and the world. Siddhanta is not different from vedanta, just more sophisticated in explaining the relationship of the triad. Which is why sages and scholars say vedanta is general and siddhanta is specific. This makes vedanta dated, passe, and well, obsolete, as we have moved far forward from being mere simplistic.

Additionally, the explanations of the three-fold relationships within siddhanta gives rise to monistic theism (advaita isvarapada) and pluralism, although both agree on all the points, that souls are beginningless, that there is actual embodiment (sariraka) of the soul and disembodiment.

In my opinion Meykandar's philosophy, insofar as the relationship between god and soul, is not pluralism but a unique monism or advaita. Kauai Aadheenam calls it 'advaita isvarapada' or monistic theism. It is non dual. At the same time since there is Isvara, a Personal God, there is dualism, and as there is padam, there is worship which makes it outright dualism as the path or marga.

In the beginning there was neither existence nor non existence. Nothing was there. Suddenly Brahma and Vishnu sprang forth from Nowhere, and were wondering who they were, and from where did they come from, what they should do, and whether they should create the world, and if so, who should do it. Then they were astonished to see an infinite linga of light arise from the Nowhere. So they decided to find its origin and ends in order to prove their own greatness.

Today, like the two gods, scholars want to do the same thing. They want to 'measure' god, find the ends, figure out and map the entire route, leave no mystery behind, no stone unturned. Isn't this what all philosophers do - try and 'measure' God? We are the 'gods' searching for causes and reasons for creation, and just how exactly dissolution is going to take place, all in minute detail, step by step, frame by frame detail, with ample footnotes thrown in.

Even Brahma and Vishnu couldn't and surrendered in abject humility. Only then He revealed Himself to them, and even after that, the gods could not describe it for the benefit of us all, for posterity. We better do the same thing. I propose we too surrender so that He may reveal to us. It seems like a wiser idea.

There is an area, the state called parasiva, which cannot be explained. In this transcendent state no one can even say if God exists or not, or if soul exists or not, let alone the relationship is one or two. In this area, it's best to leave it as an inexplicable mystery that only Rudra the Dissolver would know.

The same logic applies in that matter of creation of souls and worlds. We will only end up with very logical and rational explanations but based on non falsifiable postulates. Since creation is very difficult to explain, we *might* have a better chance at exploring dissolution. Understanding cosmic dissolution may give us some understanding on creation.

We observe atrophy in this universe and its logical to infer that dissolution in the world is already taking place. We are well into mahapralaya. The texts tells us that all including the gods and all iconic forms will dissolve into that great Nothingness, the inexplicable parasiva. At that point only Rudra exists, and there will be no one to ask Him any questions, like, why? There will be no one to observe what He does after absorbtion. And how long the period of rest lasts. This does not arise as time and space too will be absorbed. And whether there will be any re-creation, and if so, how exactly Rudra does it.

Nobody knows. The questions don't arise as there is no one around to ask and record for posterity, and accordingly there are no answers. The same applies on creation. This is where we must stop the 'measuring'. The ends - creation and dissolution should always remain as the mysteries of god, and not as subjects of philosophies.





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