Sivaprakasam (Study in Bondage and Liberation)

by N. Veerappan | 2018 | 57,559 words

The Sivaprakasam is a 14th century Tamil text belonging to the Shaiva-Siddhanta literature dealing with the spiritual aspects of human life, such as bondage and liberation of the individual self. The Siva-Prakasam consists of 100 stanzas (verses) spread over two parts. The first part deals with the embodied condition of the self whereas the second ...

Author (Umapati Shivam) and his Works

Umapati Shivam’s works in Tamil

Life and works of Umapati Shivam may be traced to Pulavar Puranam, Shaiva-Santanacarya Puranam and the invocatory poems by various poets who came after Umapati -like the Ennat Kanni of Tayumanavar. These indicate that Umapati Shivam was the fourth and the last Santanacarya in the line of preceptors. The tradition available in Tamil sources indicates that Umapati was born in Chidambaram and his father was Nataraja Diksitar. Umapati Shivam was a scholar in Vedas, agamas and Shaiva-Tirumurai. He was one of the three thousand Tillaival antanars. When Umapati was going to the temple with temple honours to perform puja for Lord Nataraja, he heard a remark from a passer-by (Maraijnana Sambandhar), “… One blind by day is riding on dead wood” (Pattacattaiyil pakarkuruduekuthu). Umapati Shivam, on hearing this, realized that the passer-by was the preceptor for whom he was waiting all along. Maraijnana Sambandhar wanted to test the ripeness of his disciple and drank the rice gruel which was being used for the warping work. Umapati Shivam unhesitatingly drank the gruel which trickled down from his master’s elbow. Maraijnana Sambandhar then initiated Umapati Shivam into the Shaivapath and taught him Shivajnana bodam .Umapati came to live at Kotravankudi.

Umapati Shivam eulogizes the greatness and compassion of his preceptor and describes his encounter: “Seeing others paying their respects to him, I also did. By merely looking at me, he destroyed all my demerits and bonds at one stroke and made me realize the emptiness of this family life and riches”. From his words one may infer that Umapati Shivam was a householder in the beginning and later he became an ascetic. After the diksha , he realized thatonly the sacred ash, the form of Shiva and Shiva puja are of value. There is a shrine over the remains of Umapati Shivam in Kotravankudi , a few miles away from Chidambaram and is visited by pilgrims even today. It is also said that the flag in theChidambaram temple did not go up for hoisting, but was later hoisted by Umapati Shivam.The flag song (Kodikkavi ) ends with the refrain to the effect that he hoisted the flag. This may be interpreted either literally or esoterically.

Historians are in a position to comprehend that Umapati Shivam lived during the period 1290 AD to 1340 AD. This is based on a date mentioned by Umapati Shivam in his work Sankarpanirakaranam which states that this work was approved by scholars in 1235 Salivahana year (1313 AD). Wherever he refers to the Vedas and agamas , he mentions them as works of God. Vedas, agamas and the principal commentaries on Brahma Sutra enabled him to understand, comprehend and criticize the shortcomings of other schools of thought. He emphatically states that Shaiva Siddhanta is the final as well as total essence of Vedas and agamas .In addition to Sanskrit literature,he was a great scholar in Tamil literature also. He was also of firm conviction that in addition to Vedas and agamas , ‘Tirukkural ’ is also a work of truth and virtues forever. He quotes some couplets from Kural in his Siddhanta works in Tamil. In addition to the eight shastras already mentioned, Umapati Shivam alao wrote six works in Tamil: Koilpuranam, Tiruttondar purana saram, Tirumurai kanda puranam, Sekkilar puranam, Tiruppadikkovai and Tiruppadikakkovai.

Koil-Puranam gives an account of the history of Chidambaram and greatness of Nataraja and of His Grace. This work speaks of the sacred ash and the four important Shaivaite practices of Carya, kriya , yoga and jnana . He elaborates on the aspect of formless Shiva assuming a form and dancing thereby illustrating the five cosmic functions. Umapati Shivam wrote another book Tiruttondar purana saram , on the essence of Periya puranam , a work of Sekkilar (12th century) who emphasized the greatness of Grace and its functions. Umapati Shivam wrote another bookTirumuraikanda Varalaru describing the events leading to the tracing and recovery of Tirumurai in Chidambaram temple. Tiruppadikkovai is another work giving an account of poems sung by the Devaram authors.

Shivaprakasham consists of 100 stanzas. The book is divided into two parts. The first 50 verses–podu –give an account of the embodied condition of the individual self. The remaining 50 verses–Unmai - speak of the released condition of the self. Umapati Shivam is the first author using these terms in Shaiva Siddhanta. Also he is the first author to use the term Shaiva Siddhanta in his book Shivaprakasham .Tirumular uses the word ‘Siddhanta’ in the sense that it is the essence of Shivagamas .

Shivaprakasham is the earliest one that uses the expression “Shaiva Siddhanta” among the literary works available. He made this work as though it is a hand book containing all tenets of the system including refutation of the criticisms raised against it by other schools.

The following commentaries are available for this work, Shivaprakasham:—

  1. Ilakkanam CidambaranadaMunivar (Edited by K. Nagalinga Munivar 1897)
  2. Madurai Shivaprakasar. (Edited by Shaiva Siddhanta Maha samajam 1940)
  3. Cintanai Urai (Edited by Shaiva Siddhanta Maha samajam 1934)
  4. Commentary on Shivaprakasham by K.SubramanIa Pillai (Paraphrase, Reprint, Dharmapura Adhinam, 1962)
  5. Commentary by T. S. Meenaksisundaram Pillai (Paraphrase, Tiruvavadu turai Adhinam 1967)
  6. Commentay by Tiruvilangam of Ceylon 1918.
  7. Commentay by Tirumurukamamalai Adigal 1908.
  8. Commentay by Jnanaprakasha Swamigal of Tondaimandala Adhinam 1981.

Punkur Shivaprakasar’s Shivaprakasa Kattalai deals with the tenets explained in Shivaprakasham. Ambalavana Munivar, a devotee of Dharmapura Adhinam and a disciple of Velliambalavana Tambiran wrote the gist, Kolu. Madurai Shivaprakasar gives great importance to this gist and mentions this very often in his commentary.

A reading of other Tamil shastra works by Umapati Shivam shall help us to go further deep into various aspects of the doctrine of bondages and liberation. His other works are:—

Tiruvarutpayan: The name of this work implies the fruit of Divine Grace. Tiruvalluvar, the Tamil poet, wrote his work Tirukkural in couplet form and gave an explicit description of “dharma ” “artha ” and “kama ”–three outofthe fourmain ideals of Hinduism. Umapati Shivam has completed the same by expounding the jnana /moksha in Tiruvarutpayan.Umapati explains the essence of Shaiva Siddhanta in Tiruvarutpayan viewing it from the angle of Divine Grace. There are 10 chapters in Tiruvarutpayan: 1.The nature of God 2. The nature of individual self 3. The nature of anava (which is a principle of darkness) 4. Thenatureof Grace 5. The nature of the Preceptor as the incarnation of Grace. 6. The way of knowing reality. 7. The manifestation of the essential nature of the self. 8. Methods of obtaining bliss. 9. The significance of the five letters (Pancakshara ) and 10. The nature of jivan muktas . In this work, Umapati Shivam has, for more clarity, made out six realities out of the three enunciated by Shaiva Siddhanta: Pati, pashu and pasha . These six realities are (1) one and only God (2) Many individual selves (3) Defilement or anava (4) Karma (5) Shuddha Maya and (6) Maya .

The next work of Umapati Shivam is Vina Venba consisting of thirteen verses. This work is a compendium of questions and answers, the inner meaning of which can be very easily understood. This work is comparable to Iruba Irubadhu of Arulnandi Shivam. The philosophical aspects of the existence of light and darkness, the preceptor, advaitaof Shaiva Siddhantaetc., are brought out in simple verses in this work. The important contention of this work is to explain as to how Shaiva Siddhanta reconciles the various difficulties in philosophical investigation.

Pottripahrodai contains 95 couplets and a Venba at the end. This work emphasizes the importance of Grace and five functions of Lord Shiva. He says that Grace descends upon the self through the preceptor who is Shiva Himself according to Shaiva Siddhanta. This work as well as Nenju vidu tudu, another work of Umapati Shivam attributes all acts of Shiva as His Grace towards the living beings.

Kodikkavi contains four verses, one in Kattalai Kali Turai meters and the rest in Venba meters. The first verse speaks of the inherent ignorance of the self. Though light and darkness reside in the same place, darkness cannot envelop light whereas light removes the darkness. The second verse speaks briefly of the nature of God, Shakti , kevala and sakala avasthas . The third verse explains the advaitic relationship of the Lord with self. This verse describes God being associated inseparably with self but yet transcending speech and mind. The last verse deals with various forms of recitation of pancakshara .

Nenju Vidu Tudu : Tudu in Tamil means sending a message, usually to a lover. Umapati Shivam in this work sends his message of devotion to his ‘guru ’ Maraijnana Sambandhar. In this work, he deals with God’s Grace and his compassion towards the self. He says that all events of the world are regulated for the benefit of living beings. He compares the Lord to a king having a kingdom spread over the whole universe.

Unmai Neri Vilakkam : This book deals with the Dasha Karyam which means ten steps of the spiritual progress. They are tattva rupa [rupam], tattva darshana [darshanam], tattvashuddhi, atma rupam, atma darshanam, atma shuddhi, Shivarupa [Shivarupam], Shiva darshana [darshanam] , Shiva yoga [yogam] and Shiva Bhoga [Bhogam] . The first verse speaks of tattva rupam, tattvadarshana [tattvadarshana] and tattva shuddhi . The second verse explains atma rupam, atmadarshana [atmadarshanam] and atma shuddhi . The third verse expounds Shiva rupa [rupam] . The fourth explains Shiva darshana [Shiva darshanam]. The Shiva yoga is explained in the fifth verse and the last one describes Shiva Bhoga.

Sankarpa Nirakaranam: Umapati mentions and criticizes the following systems in this work. They are 1. Mayavada 2. Aikyavada 3. Pashanavada 4. Bhedavada 5. Shivasamavada 6. Isvara ayikiyavada 7. Nimitta Karana parinamavada and 8. Shaivavada . He has arranged the systems in such a way that we have not only criticism of a former by a latter school in the order mentioned, but also an advance by the latter on the former.Arulnandi Shivam dealt with in the parapaksha of the Shivajnana Siddhiyar ,the systems which were heterogeneous in nature.Umapati Shivam expounds the inner schools of Saivism which were homogeneous in nature except Mayavada and ayikiyavada.Mayavada is so called because it uses the term ‘Maya ’ to account for the appearance of the world. We have to note the unique treatment of maya in advaitaVedanta of Shankara and the treatment of mayain Shaiva Siddhanta.Maya as expounded by Shankara is indescribable (anirvacaniiya ) whereas in Shaiva Siddhanta, it is a derivative power of Shiva. It is also one of the three bonds and one of the categories of the system. Arulnandi Shivam explained mayavada in parapaksha of the Siddhiyar .Umapati also explains this in Sankarpanirakaranam knowing the importance of this system. He terms Shaiva Siddhanta as the essence of Vedanta .

Madurai Shivaprakasar gives the history of Shivaprakasham in his commentary. Shivagamas originated from Lord Shiva. Shrikanda Parameshwara taught Pati, pashu and pasha from jnana kanda of the agamas to Shri Nandi Deva who, in turn, taught this to Sanatkumara. The latter taught it to Satya jnana Darshni from whom Paranjothi Munivar learned and passed it on to Meikandar.

Meikandar wrote Shivajnana bodam which is the first (mudal) work in Tamil. Arulnandi Shivam wrote a poetic commentary on Shivajnana bodam . This is known as Shivajnana Siddhiyar . Umapati Shivamlearnt from Maraijnana Sambandar. He thought that these two works are helpful to persons of high intelligence having God’s Grace. So he wrote the book Shivaprakasham with the help of the above two works. He says Shivagamas and Grace helped him by giving proper direction in writing this book. So Shivaprakasham is considered as “carbu nool’ meaning that it is based on the first original work Shivajnana bodam as well as on auxiliary work (vazhinul), Shivajnana Siddhiyar .

Hence Shivaprakasham is considered as a treatise that embraces the original texts as well as giving further details in a simplified expression. It differs in some respects from earlier works in interpretations but adhering strictly with main concepts of earlier works.

Umapati Shivam’s works on Shaiva Siddhanta in Sanskrit

Umapati Shivam also wrote many others books especially in Sanskrit (i) Paushkarabhashya (ii) Sataratna Sangraha (iii) kunjitanguistvam (iv) Natarajadhavanimantrastvam (v) Pantanjala sutra (vi) commentary on Sahasranama [Sahasranamam] (vii) Shri Rudra camaka [camakam] (viii) Vayu Samhita (ix) commentary on Yantra vidanam  (x) Jnana Caridai.

Umapati Shivam is therefore a preceptorunparallel to anyone in the spiritual line of Meikandar, Arulnandi Shivam and Maraijnana Sambander who are the pillars of Shaiva Siddhanta wherein Umapati Shivam has occupied his unique place. Umapati Shivam had a disciple Arulnamacivayar who, in turn taught Namacivaya Murthigal. The latter disciple founded Tiruvavadudurai Adhinam. Another disciple of Maraijnana Sambandar was Maccuchettiyar. The eighth generation of his disciple was Gurujnana Sambandhar who founded Dharmapura Adhinam. Both Adhinams preserve and propagate Shaiva Siddhanta. Hence it is to be appreciated that Umapati Shivam was the last spiritual preceptor who started the inspirational propagation.

Umapati Shivam says that all the books and ideas of ancient times need not always be of meritorious knowledge. Similarly, all the books and ideas of very recent times need not lack in merit. He says that the men of (uttama) original knowledge are capable of recognizing the merits of the books and faiths of recent origin. The second set of men of Madhyama knowledge may compare the relative merits of ancient works and recent ones. The third type lacking in intelligence (adhama ) tend to praise or criticize a new work because others also do it. Thiruvalluvar also says that a wise man shall always endeavor and adapt the ideas after analyzing the merits and demerits of the systems or a person.

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