by Pathmarajah Nagalingam


Chapter 11




What is a Siddhanta

Tamil Civilization
Vol.3 No.2&3


I believe that each person must struggle metaphysically and rediscover for himself the Fundamental Ontology of Triadism with which the metaphysics assumes the name of Saiva Siddhanta.


1.0 The Rules of the Game

The metaphysical question of the meaning of life, why we are here as creatures in the world with bodies and psychophysical utensils for effecting actions and gaining experience, painful at times; where we are heading to and so forth resolves itself into the question about mukti or moksa (Ta.vIdu) the highest of the four purusarthas.

As the brilliant and insightful biographical sketches of the Saiva Nayanmars given by Sekkilar in the famous Periapuranam would reveal, no matter what route we have taken in our intellectual development, no matter how these developmental processes have been conditioned by accidents of birth, historical circumstances and cultural dynamics, this question of questions bursts upon one, gripping the soul so earnestly that all other endeavours are reduced to triviality and superficiality. The historical records of the Nayanmars, Alvars and a host of others throughout the world also reveal that this question is not the privilege of the rich or those with some divine rights decreed by tradition or scriptures. It emerges in the bosom of man and woman alike, rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged. It emerges in the contexts of a life shattering vacuum in the deepest recesses of the person, raising him or her immediately above the ordinary. The person gripped with this question is reborn with all that constitued him, that was him buried irrevocably deep down. Kingdoms are given up, family and kinship ties severed, the pleasures of life forsaken in search of an answer to this basic question of life, of existence.

Persons stung with this question constitute a new community of their own where the accidents of birth and attainments in scholarship, power and wealth are absolutely irrelevant. They become a new species of human beings with a deep and implicit understanding of each other, in particular, the common presuppositions that now begin to condition their existence. The commonalities that unite these beings do not identify the method with which they seek the answers. The methods are as diverse as the individuals and each brings along a distinct temper and orientation, at least at the beginning. Seeking an answer to this question is actually an attempt to gain clarity with respect to the goal, the terminus absolutes of existence as such. A new mode of psychic struggle develops within, where all the intellectual and behavioral competencies are pressed into service for the supreme task of gaining this clarity. Metaphysical systems, religious cults, philosophy, sacred music, dance, drama, poetry, yogas and tapas, mantras and yantras and so forth constitute some of the methods recorded in the history of mankind.

In all these, the philosophic method has a pre-eminence over the others. The term 'philosophy' is used here in the Indian sense i.e. a rational enquiry into the sustaining darsana or katci, i.e., a vision, an insight or the grounding Idea. A gestaltic Idea, a global vision of the world that channels the psychic processes of the individual and hence regulates his behaviour becomes the object of philosophical enquiry under certain circumstances. For the Idea could be vague, mistaken, irrelevant, not ultimate and so forth.

The Idea is an objective reality and hence it is possible to undertake an enquiry into it and work towards a consensus and clarity. It is possible for many to gain a vision of the sustaining Ideas and thereby agree or disagree among themselves. It may also be impossible for many for lack of sufficient intellectual tuning (apakkuvam) and where such is the case a training program is installed to gradually heighten the sensitivity and competency to the required levels. This sensitivity is only a precondition for gaining a vision of Ideas and thereby qualify for a discourse on them. The enquiry then is conducted among individuals who have visions of the Ideas but who are inclined differently with respect to different Ideas. Where a consensus is reached, a particular Idea among the different Ideas is assented to as the most comprehensive, meaningful, errorless, satisfying and so forth.

The philosophical enquiry, then, though throughly rational, is not logical in the ordinary sense of the term. It is thoroughly rational in the sense that we use principles that we are aware of and can be stated in explicit terms and simultaneously avoid the a priori acceptance of a body of scriptures or the pronouncements of a particular individual as absolutely authoritative and so forth. The enquiry rightly should begin with suspending all the accomplishments of the cultural and intellectual past-- there must be an intellectual nudity, so to speak, a nirvana of prejudices and presuppositions. It is only within the framework of such an enquiry, an Idea among so many Ideas could emerge as the final, the ultimate, the true, the most meaningful. We shall use the term siddhanta to designate an Idea with the above qualifying characteristics or ilakkaNam.

The term siddhanta is appropriate in many ways. It is a compound formed of two terms viz. sid and anta. Sid is an ancient proto-Dravidian term which occurs as sid in Sumerian with such meanings as 'recitation', 'calculation', 'reckoning' and so forth. The old Tamil term cettu 'to think, ponder' is obviousoly a derivative of this. In view of this, it is possible to consider cittam, cintanai, citti, cittar and so forth as Tamil words related to the ancient proto-Dravidian sid. The sense we propose for the present use is that of vision, an insight, an awareness or consciousness as structured by an Idea. This combined with the meaning of 'limiting' the 'highest' and so forth associated with anta, we are led to view the meaning of siddhanta, as the most enduring, unassailable, errorless, the absolutely true, the most meaningful, the most comprehensive vision or consciousness as constituted by an Idea. Siddhanta Mukti would then be a vision of Mukti, a consciousness of the ultimate goal of existence that answers to the above qualifications.

It must be stated here rather emphatically that an enquiry into Siddhanta Mukti, is not an enquiry into the psychological processes involved in the genesis of the Ideas on mukti. We are indifferent as to its genesis- whether it is revealed in dreams or some other subliminal states of consciousness, or intuited through ardent tapas and yogas or arrived at through careful considerations of the semantic and other nuances of the sacred literature or through the performances of the sacred dances or singing and listening to sacred hymns and mantras, or through meditative practices using the yantras as props and so forth do not furnish the criteria that command our assent as to its ultimacy-- the anta-ic character of the consciousness of the most meaningful goal of existence. The routes followed give us only knowledge of the routes and not that of the terminus. In following a route, we are aware of the route and that we are heading somewhere and these two are distinct. The route does not reveal the Idea that sustains the travel, the Idea too, other than sustaining the travel, does not incline the individuals to a particular route. The routes could be numerous, for clearly the existence of one does not preclude the possibility of another.

A caution is necessary here. While it is possible for many routes to reach the same destination, it is equally possible for different routes to reach different destinations. Also we cannot, strictly speaking, sever the linkage between routes and destinations. One may very well have chosen a particular route knowing very well where it leads to and such a person may be inclined positively towards some other routes knowing very well or not being informed (by reliable persons) that these too lead towards the same goal.

Among individuals who differ in their concept of where they are heading too, what is the meaning of existence, we have to resolve first the differences in this domain before coming to resolving difference in the choice or routes. Only subsequent to clearly grasping that a particular Idea of mukti is the highest, the most meaningful and the true, that we possess the appropriate criteria for deciding which among the different possible routes could be trusted upon and which could not. An enquiry into Siddhanta mukti is undertaken precisely for this purpose: to sensitize ourselves to the criteriological features of the sense of mukti that answers to the description of the ultimate goal of existence.

Such an enquiry, it must be noted, precludes those incapable of ever generating, even vaguely, such an idea at all. They are prephilosophic, lacking the cognitive tuning that would reveal, in some form or other, the notion of the ultimate goal of existence. They exist, live as creatures of nature pulled and pushed by forces beyond their comprehension.

This enquiry then would be confined to those who have risen above the natural state of existence and seek to attain a reflective awareness, a clear grasp of the true mukti. Let us also note carefully: an enquiry into siddhanta mukti is not a logical enquiry, a deductive, inductive or even abductive acrobatics. There are no a priori axioms or rules of inference on the basis of which we churn out notions of mukti and select one among the many as the true one. It is not a nigamana of Indian Logic nor a theorem of the Western logic.

What then are the rules of the game?

What we are seeking is clarity of vision and in that clarity also realizing that a particular vision of mukti cannot be subverted or supplanted by another. In the process of the enquiry, we gain vision after vision of that which we have called mukti, sensitize ourselves to what each one of them imply in terms of the mode of existence in the world, attitude towards existence and react to those implications and thereby evaluate them in some sense. Generating a vision or idea, noting its implications for existence, reacting to that implied possibility and thereby evaluating the vision itself constitute the activities involved in this enquiry. It can be seen that the process is akin to recognizing something as what one is after and ascertaining that there is no error in this recognition. This enquiry then presupposes a specific cognitive capacity among all - that of being able to recognise a particular vision of mukti as constituting the ultimate. We possess in other words a citsakti (as Agora Sivacariar would describe it) within our cognitive competency that enables us to recognise a vision of mukti as the ultimate one. However, the vision in itself, no matter how clearly it is grasped, cannot reveal itself as the ultimate and true- the citsakti remains impotent under such circumstances. The citsakti becomes operative only when the vision is brought to bear upon existence - how the Idea would ground the manner in which we would relate ourselves to the world. The citsakti guides existence and is operative in every conduct of life, in every action we execute.

There is also another set of circumstances within which citsakti becomes operative. When one among the different visions of mukti stands out as the most comprehensive, that which subverts and supplants other visions but remains itself unsupplanted and unsubverted and beyond and above which no other visions of the same species can even be generated, citsakti becomes operative in recognising this as the siddhanta mukti or para mukti.

The notions of 'supplanting' and 'subverting' that we have used above needs further clarification. The notion of siddhanta as a vision that remains unsupplanted and unsubverted is a more general notion than the notion of siddhanta mukti -i.e. the Idea of mukti that is a siddhanta. A siddhanta, first of all, is a vision, a sight or perception of something. A vision, it must be noted, is always that of someone and of something. The objects are there prior to the vision; the vision reveals the objects to the individual who generates the vision. A vision is not a light that exists on its own revealing objects in addition to revealing itself. A vision is a generated consciousness of an object and therefore there must be the generator of the consciousness and the object of which it is a consciousness.

What is clear also is that neither the processes of generation nor the subjective inputs of the generating self establish its validity. A vision is valid and correct if it is true to the object it reveals, the object of which it is a vision. And this is again established by citsakti through evaluating a number of visions of the same objects. The citsakti recognises one among the many possible ones as free of aberrations, distortions, and so forth. The many visions prior to the activation of citsakti remain ungrounded- they could not be valued as true or illusory, misleading and so forth. A vision is seen as an illusion, as an error, only when through the functions of citsakti, another vision emerges as true to the object. An illusion is then a supplanted or subverted vision and siddhanta is that which supplants and subverts. An enquiry into siddhanta then arises on the implicit assumption that visions that define our consciousness of the world remain ungrounded- we are neither certain not uncertain with respect to their validity. Note that a vision could be a siddhanta right at its inception, but we are unable to say so before the operations of citsakti, till it is noted that it remains unsupplanted and unsubverted. Describing a siddhanta as free of doubt and error, as is done by Arunandi Sivacariar, though not incorrect, is inadequate. Such a definition does not reveal the procedures involved in the establishments of siddhantas. Doubts and uncertainties are subjective conditions and the absence of these is not sufficient for grounding a vision as a siddhanta. In perceiving we gain a vision with or without accompanying uncertainties and where this vision is further cognised as true to the object of which it is a vision, that it remains stable despite changing vicissitudes, an invariant across time and space, it becomes a siddhanta. This may be what Arunandi meant by AcaRRu aRivatakum in which case what we are doing now would be restating his case perhaps in greater detail.

Siddhantas are then visions grounded well in reality, consciousness of the world that can be depended upon, trusted upon, taken as true and so forth. In ordinary existence we presuppose many such siddhantas and act successfully for obtaining whatever we want.

Siddhantas as such can be numerous, each existing independently of others. They constitute the consciousness space of an individual thereby influencing his behaviour. There are certain general characteristics of siddhantas that ought to be noted carefully.

(A) The siddhantas constitute a coherent system with any one of the siddhantas not subverting or supplanting another. All siddhantas, are stable, true and non-illusory and hence the trusted basis of consciousness. They are all equally beyond doubt and uncertainty.

We shall term this the coherence theses.

(B) Now a belief in a vision and a tenacious clinging to it for some psychological reason or other (membership to a cult, assent to a sacred lore, enslavery to a guru etc.) should not be mistaken with a siddhanta. Also, while a siddhanta commands a consensus of opinions, an assent by a vast majority of people, these in themselves do not constitute the identifying criteria of a siddhanta. Whether assented or not, a siddhanta is a siddhanta for all people and for all times. Siddhantas are objective entities cognisable by all under certain specifiable conditions. Siddhantas are visions that can be discovered, insights that can be gained, by any, provided certain preconditions are satisfied.

We shall term this the objectivity thesis.

(C) Siddhantas, as already noted, are stable, invariant, uncontroverted, unsupplantable vision of Reality, visions of the world out there that constitute the basis of human consciousness. As such, it is clear that they are trusted, relied upon, presupposed in all our endeavours. Having accepted them as siddhantas, we cannot feign to deny them, distrust them, cast a methodical doubt on them and so forth.

This we shall term the reliability thesis.

The siddhantas on the whole then constitute a coherent system, are reliable (or relied upon) and objective.

A certain qualification is necessary here. While siddhantas constitute the basis of consciousness, they are not the only elements constituting consciousness. Visions of reality that are not grounded yet as siddhantas or known positively as ungroundable; visions known positively as illusory, misleading and so forth are also elements of consciousness. What the reliability thesis seeks to affirm is that among such visions that constitute sonsciousness, there must be at least some that are siddhantas, that not all of them are illusory or ungroundable and so forth.

Having clarified the meaning of siddhanta, we have also to clarify in a similar manner the concept of mukti.

Mukti, let us recall, answers to the question of the meaning of existence. It provides the sense for living, the overriding goal of all our endeavours and struggles. It provides a vision of what a psyche would be ultimately, at the end of both the evolutionary and developmental process, a vision that is absolutely satisfying and that which nullifies any looking beyond. It is the absolute end of psychical existence to which not only there is no alternative but also about which nothing else is even thinkable. It is a vision of a sense, a meaning for living, that sublimates any further endeavour in that direction; the vision closes on itself putting an end to the whole quest. It is a terminus that terminates all enquiry, all struggles towards perceiving the meaning of existence.

The siddhanta mukti then must be such a vision that is coherent with the other Siddhantas, objective in the sense outlined earlier and of course reliable.

Now an important objection could be raised. The language in which this whole enquiry is couched presupposes a certain view, a vision, and therefore inconsistent with the principles enunciated. The objection is valid. But let it be noted: we are aware of it and are prepared to cast out the whole perspective, should it emerge erroneous. The vision presupposed is that which is consistent with the view that human behaviour is essentially that of acting, doing this and that for accomplishing something or other, on the basis of whatever one is aware of. This vision of behaviour, which has been discussed in greater detail elsewhere, is taken as a siddhanta, at least provisionally. No enquiry is free of perspectives; what is required is an awareness that a certain perspective is being presupposed as well as a preparedness to cast it aside, should it emerge erroneous in the course of investigations.

This explanation justifies beginning our enquiry with the understanding that living is learning and there are on the whole three distinct but interrelated strands of learning. The alpha-learning is the instrumental learning, the primary motivation being self-gratification. It is an outcome of activities indulged in for self itself and not for any other. It is also a form of learning that is directed away from the self so that it does not reveal to the learner the changes taking place within the psychic constitution. Such changes remain unconscious to the alpha-person.

At some point in time, attention shifts to such changes in the psyche and with this we have the onset of beta-learning. The subjectivity of the psyche, the learner is attended to and it develops from being an enquiry into the nature of the psyche to transforming it into image-selfs that are generated within as better alternatives. The technology is one of disengagement through intense reflection and meditation so that in the end, the psyche is freed from some deep limiting factors (karma and maya) and becomes truly autonomous. The only delimiter that remains is ANavam causing a Darkness or Ignorance to prevail in consciousness. The learning processes that bring about the elimination of this Darkness within has been termed gamm -learning.

In retrospect it turns out that gamma-learning is primary and one that has been there all along, though unconscious to the individual. It is that which regulates the predispositions underlying alpha-learning and changes in personality during beta-learning.

The psyche becomes conscious of gamma-learning at the end of beta-learning and pursues it with all the vigour that can be mustered. During the conscious phase of gamma-learning, it is seen to be one of archetype-assimilation. This constitutes the characterstic feature of gamma-learning. This means that during the unconscious phases of gamma-learning it is also one of archetype-assimilation, the archetype being images of the Supreme Deity characterised by fractional portions of three aspects: Universal Consciousness, Absolute Power and Unconditional Love i.e. C, P and L. Each archetype is a measure of these three with the higher constituted with larger measures. The mechanism of gamma-learning can then be seen as follows, at least provisionally.

A psyche [S-A] is at any time an archetype assimilated as its being-- incorporated as itself unconsciously initially but consciously subsequent to beta-learning. Here "s" stands for self and "A" the archetype assimilated or about to be assimilated. It holds in vision the next level of archetype and endeavours to assimilate it and become that. This process continues until the special archetype [S-A]* emerges in consciousness. The C,P and L are no more fractions but rather full portions. This is obviously the ultimate in the archetypical formations and therefore once the psychic transformations to this specific archetype is effected, an ultimate end in gamma-learning is reached. The essential consciousness of the gamma-learner who is given the consciousness of [S-A]* that sustains his learning is: 'I am That' with ' I ' referring to the self and 'That' referring to [A*].

The 'I' refers to a psyche and when used by different people then to different psyches. The referent is not unique. Also the referents are not all identical - while being psyches, they could be psyches that have incorporated different archetypes.

This sort of analysis cannot be carried over to 'That'. For the referent here is unique, no matter who refers to it, it is one and the same transcending space and time and identity of the referee.

Is it possible then to have a vision of mukti as this ultimate stage of archteypical assimilation? All psyches in the end become [A*], and hence indistinguishable from each other no matter what route they have taken in this transformational process. The person is also identical with the Deity for he would have a full measure of C,P and L that is characteristic only of the Deity.

This vision immediately raises many problems. If we retain the identity of each psyche and at the same time maintain that ultimately they are indistinguishable from Deity, then, of course, eventually there would be infinitely many Deities, equal in Consciousness, Power and Love.

This vision creates uneasiness within us, for all along we have assumed the uniqueness of D- there could be only one Supreme Deity even when infinitely many psyches attain mukti.

We are forced to explore other possibilities, generate other visions that do not contradict established siddhantas.

2.0 The Theistic Considerations

One possibility that occurs immediately and which is currently advocated by Advaita Vedanties is to remove from the above vision the idea that the psyches retain their identity even in mukti. We could say that in mukti, the situation is different -the psyche is no more at this point. It becomes materially one with the Deity, absolutely non-different from it. All psyches then dissolve their being into the being of Deity at the point of mukti. The psyches will not be experiencing the Deity as the psyches are no more. The limit of ' I am That' tranformations is evaporation, or dissolution of I; in the end there is only That.

This vision brings along with it the whole range of vedantic ideas. If in the end only That has being, clearly all else must be false, suddha mithai, maya and so forth. This vision supplants a whole range of others, and it must be emphasized, the whole range of others that we have taken as siddhanta. It does not falsify this or that belief that could have been mistakenly taken as siddhanta; but rather, it wipes out the whole lot of them indiscriminately. It does not rectify our mistakes, correct our errrors and improve upon our visions. It cuts asunder the fundamental idea that sustains our existence viz., that of learning and developing into higher and higher levels through learning.

Not alone that, it also leads to the notion that even our siddhanta about the Deity i.e. an entity characterised by a full measure of C, P and L, is mistaken. Since in the limit only D is real and there is no experienceing of Deity, there could be no language about It-the mukti is anirvacana. Hence also qualityless- nirguna. We are forced to revise our notion of Deity-- the Deity prior to mukti is saguna i.e. with the qualities of C, P and L. But on mukti it becomes nirguna. The archetypes, including the highest are mere images, mirages of the Absolute which is in itself Nirguna Brahman, undermining again our earlier idea about the archetypes.

Clearly this is unacceptable. The mukti as Siddhanta can correct and rectify our mistaken visions about it and the related ones but it cannot supplant the entire range of Siddhantas and beliefs that sustain existence and make even this enquiry possible. There may be errors in our visions but all visions are not erroneous. That we learn is a Siddhanta and that this enquiry is part of this learning process is also a Siddhanta. They are incontrovertibly true; visions that can never, never be supplanted. We are then forced to conclude that the vision of Vedanta Mukti is mistaken, erroneous and an illusion. Along with this, we have to reject the whole of the Advaita Vedanta of Sankara.

Now there is another alternative proposed within the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. One can cite Catcitananta Pillai (19th. Century; see his Vedanta Ilakkanam) as the most brilliant exponent of this veiw.

It is undeniable that there are psyches and during the learning phases at least, an infinity of them. There is subjectivity in every experience - to say that a vision is an experience is to admit there is subjectivity and hence a psyche. Now mukti is a vision and hence an experience and therefore undeniably the experience of a psyche. The psyche is even in mukti. This means, in the formulation of learning process as one of 'I am That', 'That' vaporises and only 'I' exists. Since 'I' only exists, has being in this ultimate state it follows, all psyches become identical in this limiting case. This means that perceived differences and individuality during the learning phases, must be false, a mithai, purely an appearance rather that reality. Since 'That' also disappears, it also follows that the archetypes are mere chimeras, subjective constructions, imaginative fictions without any substantive reality. Since 'I' only is ultimately real, it also follows the self must also be the Deity, the Atman is Brahman--- it is one and the same entity, the psyche, that has been perceived (wrongly of course) as Atman and Brahman. These difference are aspectual and not real and vaporise during mukti.

This vision which grounds the psyche as the sole absolute reality and the perceived differences, distinctions and so forth to mere appearances, create the same problems as Sankara's Advaita and hence we have to reject it on the same grounds as well.

These monisms uproot and supplant the most obvious Siddhantas and undermine the very reality of the enquiry that we are pursuing now. This very real thing that all of us are pursuing so earnestly now, all of a sudden as if by a sinister magic, is made into a dream-like reality. It negates the whole of experience, negating even the objectively valid distinctions that we have established. What is more, we cannot now, from this perspective, distinguish between cakkiram (conscious experience) and coppanam (dream consciousness) denying what we are most certain.

We reject both the Brahman Advaita of Sankara and the Atman Advaita of Catcitanantar to secure the siddhantas we live by. This mukti cannot be Siddhanta Mukti, a vision of the ultimate that we seek to establish without supplanting what we know for sure as Siddhanta and the right to pursue further enquiries into siddhantas by rectifying our errors, correcting our mistakes, misperceptions and so forth. The Vedantic concept of mukti does not accord with the criteria we have established.

What emerges from this analysis is that we cannot deny the reality of both Atman and Brahman, the psyche and the Deity in the Siddhanta Mukti.

Let us now consider other possibilities with this realization firmly anchored in our consciousness.

The psyche is, exists, has being and so does the Deity in mukti. But the psyche in mukti is not the one in ordinary life-it is Deity- psyche indistinguishable from Deity in terms of C(consciousness), P(ower) and L(ove). Becoming indistinguishable from the Deity in this manner could then be construed as the mukti we are seeking. But then how do we avoid the multiplicity of Deities that results?

Perhaps we have not really understood the Deity as it is till we are face to face with this dilemma. Deity is not simply a unique entity with the full measure of C, P and L; it is a totality that includes all as parts of Itself. The learning psyches, the psyches that have attained mukti all are equally parts of Deity. The difference between the ordinary Souls and the Muktas is simply one of estrangement and integration. The psyches that have attained mukti become fit to be integrated into the very body of the Supreme Deity without any more of even the slightest estrangement. The Deity is the Highest Person, the most inclusive Organismic Substance, the most inclusive Totality greater than which there is nothing. (Recall Nammalvar's famous: Uyarvara uyarnalam utaiyavan.) The multiplicity of individuals -- intelligent non-intelligent equally alike-- are integrated into a single collective substance, a unity of individuals whose individuality is not annihilated. The psyche in mukti retains its identity, it is not annihilated but through a process of integration into the body of the Deity of a most intimate kind, loses its sense of individuality to a sense of Unity with the Totality. We have then the vision of mukti as 'duality -- non-duality' so ably expounded by Ramanuja using the visions of the original genius Nammalvar that goes under the name Visistatvaita.

This view, unfortunately, is not without its problem. The solution, it turns out, is no solution at all. It is simply a clever artefact devised to give a meaning to the sense of oneness with Deity on attaining mukti. In conceptualising this as being integrated into the very body of the Deity in a most intimate kind of manner (sexual union is an apt analogy here), what we attain is a sense of oneness with a simultaneous loss of self-consciousness. The psychic consciousness is trapped in the consciousness of supreme bliss and thus prevented from being self-conscious. The absence of self consciousness also means that it is not conscious that it is experiencing something, united to something as a result of which it is in a state of Supreme Bliss. This leads to the conclusion that a psyche integrated thus is not conscious of the Deity at all. In this concept of mukti, the vision of the Deity is blocked off from the consciousness of the psyche that has attained mukti and is experiencing the supreme bliss.

This immediately strikes us as defective. A psyche whose consciousness is not fully translucent is still a psyche with Darkness within; a psyche imperfect in some ways. Even when we re -establish the consciousness of Deity to such a psyche through postulating oscillations between consciousness of supreme bliss and consciousness of Deity, the imperfection is not removed. It exists each time it experiences the supreme bliss and since the experience is cyclical, this defect is also not something that becomes eliminated completely.

If this vision of mukti is now revised and reconstrued as a state where there is both consciousness of the Deity and/or being integrated in a most intimate kind of manner with it, together with the consciousness of Supreme Bliss, the unitary consciousness postulated is no more. The consciousness of Deity brings along with it consciousness of self as the one in whose consciousness the Deity is. The subject-object distinction in consciousness is there betraying an absence of advaita.

This concept of mukti then fails to validate itself. Much more serious is the manner in which it supplants the Siddhanta that living is learning, that knowledge is a product of learning. For in the vision of mukti as an integration of self into the body of the Deity which is now seen as the most inclusive Totality, clearly the processes involved are not learning processes. Learning as activities that remove Ignorance are supplanted and replaced with processes, largely emotional in nature, of attaching, uniting with, surrendering to and so forth i.e. prapatti. What would facilitate integration is emotional proximity, closeness or identity and such processes are not learning processes. Philosophic endeavours to gain an understanding of a deeper kind cannot be accommodated and religious life would be interpreted as a non-intelletual enterprise with the jnana route discarded as vain. Philosophic reasonings would be confined to justifying the approach of absolute self-surrender (prapatti) thus denying the autonomy of the intellectual powers

On these grounds again the 'dual-nondual' concept of mukti fails to ground itself as Siddhanta and we are forced to discard as erroneous approaches such as that of Ramanuja and his followers.

The above theses and the detailed analysis we have provided make the source of the problems rather clear viz. the attempt to maintain both the sense of oneness with the Deity and the non-annihilation of the psyche even at this terminal point. Another alternative immediately occurs to us now: we can deny the psyche ever becoming the [S-D]* and maintain that it is the nature of the psyche to maintain its being and its distinctness from the Deity even at the point of mukti.

No psyche can ever acquire the full measure of C, P and L and hence equal D in any way. The Deity is forever above the psyche and there is always an absolute, unbridgeable chasm between the two. For the psyche is a dependent entity while the Deity is not. Whatever measure of C, P and L that a psyche has, is not something that is generated by itself-it has them by virture of the benevolence of the Deity. The Deity has the power to withdraw and should this be done, the psyche will have nothing, it will be pushed again into utter Darkness.

This then is a duality thesis, much like that advocated by Madhva.

The point in favour of this thesis is that it retains all the Siddhantas that we have accepted hitherto, in particular our understanding of the Deity as one having a full measure of C, P and L and the learning paradigm within which we have been operating. (Hence the acceptance of Siva and the creation of Sankara-Narayana cult among the followers.)

But this concept again fails to validate itself. For if there is always an absolute distinction between a psyche and Deity, then no matter at what point in time, the psyche can never become the ultimate Deity-Self i.e. [S-D]* This means that there is forever a Darkness within the psyche -- a Darkness even on attaining mukti. But this Darkness, as we have already noted, is due to the presence of ANava malam in the psyche, a delimiter that somehow introduces a Darkness, an Ignorance within. Now this, certainly, is contradictory to the concept of mukti as a state where the psyche is absolutely free from all the delimiters. Mukti, we are inclined to believe, is a state of absolute purity and not defective in any sense.

We are again forced to reject the duality-thesis on the grounds that it does not correspond to our concept of mukti in an essential manner.

We have, with this rejection, reached a crisis in philosophy. There appears to be no way of grounding mukti as Siddhanta. No matter how we look at it within the paradigms that we have accepted as Siddhanta, mukti refuses to ground itself, validate itself. We are forced then to question the paradigm itself. Perhaps the learning approach we have adopted with its acceptance of the reality of innumerable and anati psyches, a Supreme Deity and a cluster of malas equally anati, Siddhantas consonant with the concept that behaviour is essentially that of acting, doing something to achieve something are erroneous in a very subtle way. We have to reject all these and explore the new possibilities that emerge and consider them one by one.

For reasons that will become obvious later, we shall call all these new alternatives reductionistic theses.

3.0 The Reductionistic Theses

a) In order to adhere still to the concept of human behaviour as that of effecting of actions, we could retain the psyches and elimate the Deity from our ontology. If we do this, of course, we have to abandon a number of the other categories as well, in particular the things we have termed Deep Limiting Constraints. We have to maintain that there are no such malas - the individual differences in behaviour of the creatures, the hierarchical differences among them and so forth are to be explained by some other means. We can attribute, for example, the delimitedness, the imperfections of the creatures to the physical bodies they own and the cultural, social and ecological environments to which they are exposed. The psyche in itself is absolutely pure, it is its commerce with the material bodies that is the source of the psychological defects and imperfections.

If the psyche is pure in itself, then it must be pure consciousness devoid of any wants, needs and so forth. In other words the psyche is not that which acts, the agent of actions. The agent must be then the material substratum to which the psyche is engaged. The material substratum must be active, in perpetual, unceasing motion creating the impression that the creatures are in process.

With this vision of creature behaviour, the concept of mukti as a state where the psyche is detached completely from any commerce with matter suggests itself. Once thus detached. The psyche regains its original purity, becomes absolute and 'pure' consciousness without any defilements or pollutions. The psyche becomes the Purusa, that detached and aloof consciousness that has effected the separation.

We are now discussing views close to those of classical samkhya, probably the first philosophical school to emerge in the Indian soil.

When we further identify this Purusa with Brahman, and take the psyches not as real substantive entities but rather 'reflections' of Brahman, which is in itself Pure Consciousness, in a polluting material complex, we have the doctrines of a sect of Vira Saivas (expounded in Siddhanta Sikamani of Sivaprakasar). On mukti then, the psyches are no more, all equally become Brahman. On this account the concept of delusion, so characteristic of Vedanta doctrines, re-emerges with a new twist. The psyches are seen only as 'empirical selfs' but which are deluded into thinking as real substantive entities in virtue of the fact that they mistakenly attribute the agency of actions to themselves. With the escape from this delusion, the empirical selves are no more, the atman becomes Brahman again.

What is wrong with this? Why are we reluctant to accept this as the ultimate human possibility? We cannot reject it on the ground that it subverts the Siddhantas we live by. They are given a peculiar status -- they are true as far as it goes, as far as ordinary existence goes. But they are not absolutely true; in the ultimate stage of development, they are not simply false but they cease to be; they evaporate into a Nothingness.

The ground for rejecting it must be found within the postulates - we should point out, if we could, an internal inconsistency among the among the postulates.

And we can see it as follows. Among the processes mentioned, the most interesting are those related to effecting a real separation of the psyche from the defiling material substratum. Clearly this is not accidental and haphazard, without any sense of direction. It is a directed course of activities that leads to something immensely beneficial to the psyches - viz., liberation from being defiled by active involvement with material complexes. Hence, certainly, it could not be simply processes of the perpetually active prakriti. If it is not, then it must be activities, initiated by the psyches themselves to effect the severance from being imprisoned in a material complex. The concept of action and along with it the psyches as their agent is being smuggled back in contradiction to the assertion that behaviour is simply a process of the ceaselessly active prakriti. Now if the psyches are agents of such actions, then clearly they act out of a need, the need to effect a liberation from being defiled by the commerce with the defiling matter. This then brings along with it the idea that the psyches are imperfect in themselves; from the beginning they have an intrinsic weakness, a proneness to be involved with material complexes.

With this analysis, we are back to square one - to the concept of psyches as agents who act primarily to liberate themselves from the deep limiting factors that expose them to being 'defiled' by material complexes.

For similar reasons we have to reject the Vira Saiva doctrines as well. The psyches that act to liberate themselves form delusions through effecting a disengagement from material bodies, clearly cannot be simply 'reflections' of Brahman within a material substratum i.e. insubstantial, shadowy creatures. They are real as they effect real actions.

b) In the reductionistic escape routes, as the above thesis makes it abundantly clear, the retention of either the psyche or Deity leads to internal contradtictions. Therefore another possibility suggests itself - we can reject the substantive reality of both the psyches and Deity and admit only a stream of consnciousness instead. An acting creature can be reconceptualized as a flow or stream of two kinds of processess - one material and another consciousness. To accommodate continuous change we may even postulate momentary particulars instantaneous realities, the ksanas, that emerge incessantly without being caused and without causing anything. What a creature sees as suffering is actually a turbulence in the flow of the instantaneous realities. Peace comes to prevail and immense bliss along with it when this turbulence is eliminated and a coherence is achieved.

We are now talking, of course, the kinds of solutions Gautama Buddha gave that have been so influential all over the world. What is taking place here, it must be noted, is also a reconceptualization of the concept of mukti itself. Along with rejecting the learning paradigm of behaviour, the concept of mukti as something that is expereinced by a psyche is also rejected. More than that, in this vision there is no experience to talk about at all. There is flow of consciousness either turbulent or coherent and that is about all. There is nothing which sees, perceives a thing as such and such, confirms or corrects its perception and so forth.

The problem with this perspective is that it fails to account for the fact that there is experience and that it is an experience of something. As Husserl, Sartre, Ramanuja and a host of others have noted, consciousness is normally always consciousness of something; consciousness in revealing itself, also reveals something other that itself. It is translucent as Sartre would describe it. And as it is stated by Thirumular, if there is nanam then there is also neeyam.

With this clarification in mind if we review the Buddhist solution, we will note that the stream of consciousness is also a stream of momentary particulars just like the quanta of energy pulses that constitute the material base. Now if both are perfectly discontinuous, and a continuously changing flow of instantaneous particulars, with nothing permanent, a problem arises - there could be no distinction between turbulence and coherence in flow. Hence along with it, the distinction between living in suffering and attaining mukti. The elimination of the psyches and the Deity eliminates also the very question of mukti in obvious contradiction to the very enquiry we are undertaking.

The attempt to redefine the stream of consciousness in terms of a stream of thoughts along with other changes in the concept of material world, that become necessary (e.g.William James in his Principles of Psychology) also does not solve the problem. Thoughts are not simply impressions; they are generated forms of awareness which presuppose a complex execution of cognitive acts of various sorts, an execution that cannot take place without there being an intelligent agent. This whole question has been explored in greater detail in the linguistic discipline that goes by the name of Process Grammar. Thoughts simply do not emerge one after another in a continuous flow-one is generated, maintained and terminated and another generated and so forth. Neither the thoughts themselves nor the material processes terminate one and originate another. Such generative and terminative changes are products of actions where there is an intelligent exercise of power betraying a substantive intelligent entity as the causal agent of such action. Thus we derive a self-contradiction within the perspective of this more drastic reductionistic thesis. The concept of mukti then fails to ground itself as a Siddhanta -- the mukti thus defined is not the Siddhanta mukti that we are seeking.

c) The reductionistic theses centering on the psyches and Deity are fruitless; they do not lead to concepts of mukti that strike us as the concept of mukti that we are seeking. The only concept that is left is the concept of mukti itself. It would appear that for avoiding self-contradictions we have to accept the existence of innumerable psyches and a Supreme Deity as a Siddhanta. But could we redefine the concept of mukti with which we started and thus avoid the problems that surfaced initially? Mukti may not have anything to do with gamma-learning. Perhaps we are mistaken in our concept of learning, in our identification of the three strands of alpha beta and gamma forms of learning and the features we attributed to these and the manner in which we thought they interact.

i) We could, for example, settle for just one form of learning - that of acquiring logically valid knowledge, knowledge free of doubt and error. The attainment of such clear and logically non-erroneous knowledge constitutes learning and where all that is to be known is in fact known without error and doubt, then we have reached a point where we could proceed no further. We could define the attainment of such a perfect state of knowledge as mukti, much like the nyaya-vaisesika philosophers of ancient India.

But there are problems.For one thing, if mukti is such an attainment, then perhaps no one could ever attain it. Knowledge is infinite and no matter how many times a psyche is reborn and no matter how gifted it is in its intellectual powers, a state of consciousness where it knows all that is to be known without doubt and error is an impossibility. Mukti thus defined is made something unattainable forever. The psyches are condemned to a perpetual cycle of births and deaths.

Now, this can be avoided by defining mukti not as the attainment of perfect knowledge but rather the intellectual capacity for logically valid, doubt-and-error free knowledge.

With this redefinition, the focus shifts to subjective conditions of the learning psyche. Mukti is a kind of transformation of the subjectivity of the learning psyches. If it is the subjectivity of the psyches that is the source of misperceptions, fallacious conclusions, errors and so forth, then clearly, we are returning to the concept of learning that was rejected initially. Learning is not simply a process where error free knowledge is acquired; it contains also processes whereby the psyches are transformed. This brings back the concepts of Deep Limiting Constraints in the psychic constitution and the three strands of learning with which we started this enquiry.

ii) The above problems emerge when we try to redefine learning in terms of acquisition of logically valid knowledge. But that is not the only alternative available for redefining learning. We can, for example, redefine it as a process in which there is ethical development -- through true visions a person discards the impurities, the factors that 'defile' the pscyhe and attains a purity where it sees only the good, and the right. Learning is ethical development and it ceases when the visions are good and perfect.

We can recognise such a trend of thought in the essential insights of the Jaina thinkers.
If such a perfection is a subjective condition then it raises the problems about grounding it absolutely. Different psyches could differ in their concept of what constitutes the good and perfect vision and there appears to be no means for agreeing or disagreeing. It could turn out to be simply a matter opinion, subjective fancies, imaginative fictions rather that something objectively valid for all. And what fails on this criteria, cannot certainly be siddhanta mukti.

It must also be noted that both these attempts to redefine learning and thereby the concept of mukti, also make the Deity irrelevant for the enterprise. The role of the Deity in learning is problematic - it has to be reduced to an Ideal Self, the limit of what every psyche could become. If this is done then the Deity becomes a projection, a fiction without any substantive reality whose sole function is to provide a criterion for development. And since it is purely subjective, this Ideal Self again fails to resolve conflicts in case where different Ideal Selfs are postulated.

We have reached another point of crisis. Our hopes of grounding mukti on the basis of a variety of reductionistic theses also fail through self-contradictions. The vision of mukti that emerge in the course of all conceivable reductionistic approaches disintegrate for lack of logical cohesion, consistency among the visions taken as Siddhanta. However, one important fact emerges through noting the inconsistency of these reductionistic attempts. They establish as sound, as valid the notion of learning with which we started our enquiry. They validate as siddhanta our concept of behaviour as effecting of actions and that creatures are in fact icca-nanam-kriya corubi. Learning is an activity in which there is reduction in the scope of ignorance and that development is the gradual reduction of Darkness/Ignorance within the psychic constitution.

But within this framework, what could be the concept of mukti that is obviously and irrefutably a Siddhanta?

4.0 The Siddhanta Mukti

The solution is glaring at us but due to some imperfections within us, we have failed to note it. Perhaps it is something that we could think of only by experiencing the crises that we have faced in our enquiry.

Let us recall the vedantic type of enquiry we conducted at the beginning of the essay where we noted with dismay the failure of the time honoured concepts of mukti that have been fathered upon the Vedas and the Upanisads. The Advaita of Sankara and its variants, the visistadvaita of Nammalvar-Ramanja and the uncomproming dvaita of Madhava all fail to ground themselves within the frame-work of the learning paradigm that we have assumed and now seen most certainly as the siddhanta. What is uniformly true of all these Vedantic doctrines is that they try to locate mukti within the gamma-type of learning. And they do this for an obvious reason - they lack a developmental perspective; they fail because they do not have the concept of transcendence, creative advance, the lifting up of a struggling psyche to a higher plane, happening of the most beneficial kind and whose agent is not the psyche but the Supreme Deity Himself.

This transcendence is then, what has been left unconsidered so far. Mukti then is not an accomplishment of the psyche, it is not the end of the psycho-transformational processes where eventually the psyche becomes the highest archetype and thereby equalling the Deity itself in C, P and L. Mukti is a transcendence from being a gamma-learner. It is a happening that immediately lifts the psyche above the existential form of being a learner. On mukti the psyche transcends the learning processes and becomes one with the Deity. Facilitating such a transcendence is not annihilating, evaporating or destroying the psyche. It is a lifting up to another level of existence, the highest level of existence possible for any psyche. It is the ultimate state of existence effected upon the psyches by the Supreme Deity Himself.

It must be noted that the phenomenon of transcendence is not something new. It has been all along the essence of gamma-learning. It is that which provides that initial dim awarenes for psyches completely enveloped in utter Darkness and launches them into phenomenal existence as icca-jnanam-kriya-corubi. It is that which underlies each ascendance in learning and existence which finally lead the psyches into human type of existence where consciousness of itself as it is becomes available to the psyches. It is also that phenomenon which underlies each one of the disengagements the psyche effects and finally confronts the Deity itself as a gamma-learner. At some point in this phase another transcendence occurs leading the psyches to their ultimate form of existence.

This has to be ultimate for a number of reasons. We have seen that gamma-learning is a form of learning directly under the control of the deity. The alpha and beta learnings are something brought about by the psyches with whatever foundation provided by the Deity through the mechanism of gamma-learning. The essence of gamma-learning is its autonomy - it is not a derivative process such as that of alpha and beta learning processes. In other words, there cannot be another level of learning which indirectly shapes the forms of gamma-learning. If that is so, then it is transparent that on transcending gamma-learning, a psyche ceases to be a learner. It is transposed into a form where there does not arise any need to learn; more generally, it becomes a psyche without any needs at all. It is filled up, there is no more even the shadow of Darkness within its consciousness. It has no will of its own, no more tendencies to effect actions for reasons of the self and for itself. The final transcendence does not annihilate the psyche, the subject but rather only the selfhood, the ego or the subjectivity. The experiences are the experiences of a subject but, it must be emphasized, without any subjectivity, without any atmabodha 'mental constructs'. The psyche is absolutely pure without any will for atmabodha.

The will of the Deity becomes its will. The psyche, in other words, is no more an icca-nanam-kriya-corubi but simply a nanam-kriya corubi like the Deity Himself.

This transcendental experience without any subjectivity is peculiar. The experience is the experience of the Deity - the psyche coincides with the Deity in being. It is a oneness in being, in behaving. The psyche moves in perfect harmony, in perfect synchronicity with the Deity. Dispositionally the psyche is indistinguishable form the Deity. All its activities are in fact the activities of the Deity. The very subjectivity that would lead to activities of its own is annihilated completely and irrecoverably.

This perfect coincidence, coherence and homogeneity with Deity, the impossibility of distinguishing the psyche form the Deity dispositionally, is the real meaning of oneness (advaita) that we sensed as part of the meaning of mukti. The psyche in mukti is not equal in anyway to the Deity; it is rather indistinguishable form the Deity because of the perfect harmony and homogeneity. Such a psyche then because of this coincidence and homogeneity is the Deity itself - the true guru; it does not do anything that the Deity does not. It is the Deity itself as far as behaviour goes. The language of such a psyche also becomes a deep silence (mouna mudra) as it is unable to establish a fissure between itself and the Deity. It shows, however, its oneness in disposition, in behaviour.

This then is the Siddhanta Mukti on the criteria that we have established earlier. It grounds itself - there are no internal contradicitons or controverting of established siddhantas. It is perfectly coherent with the concept of living as learning and existence as a struggle to remove the Darkness within. It is also deeply satisfying and appears to be the right solution, beyond any shadow of doubt, to the problem of the meaning of human existence. The Siddhanta Mukti is not annihilation of the subject, but only the constrained subjectivity. It is a transposition into an inseparable unity, a supremely blissful oneness with the Deity Himself. Most certainly we cannot think of anything higher than that homogeneity.

Now we are in a better position to understand the essence of Saiva Siddhanta and in what sense it is a refinement of Vedanta (vedanta telivam siddhantam). It gives an account of advaita without annihilating the psyche in the process. The psyche is there as a subject, however, without any subjectivity. This clearly is, what was meant by " atu taane aakiya anneRi" and "eekan aaki iRai paNi niRRaal" pregnant phrases used by Meykandar in his Sivanana Bodam. It is not Vedantic monism that reduces the earlier siddhantas into mirages and delusions, a falsity of a peculiar kind.

The siddhantas remain siddhantas-the valid visions remain valid for eternity; the attainment of mukti does not change the earlier visions that were grounded as valid. By seizing upon the concept of transcendence that the developmental perspective of Saiva Siddhanta afforded, Meykandar, for the first time in the history of mankind, gave the outlines of a concept of mukti that is indeed the siddhanta.

In all humility, homages to Meykandar, that illustrious son of the Tamil genius.




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