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 ...

Means of release in Shaiva Siddhanta—Importance of Preceptor

The various doctrines thus speak of different means of liberation in accordance with their own interpretations of liberation.Jainism, Buddhism, Advaita, Dvaita and Vishistadvaita accordingly speak of the necessity or otherwise of preachers (Guru) and shastras . The philosophy of Shaiva Siddhanta, in accordance with unique interpretation of liberation, attaches much importance to removal of anavamala which obscures the wisdom of the self. Hence it speaks of the removal of anavamala and necessity of a Guru for guiding the self. It also attaches much importance to availing of Divine help of pancakshara (mantra of five letters) to keep it in the liberated state. “Mulamala”—anavamala binds the self in kevala state thereby obscuring it from realizing its capacities. The self is associated with tattvas and exercises the faculties of affection (Iccha), conation (kriya) and cognition (jnana). This leads to bondage of karma and is consequently led into seemingly endless births and deaths entailing much sufferings. The basic cause for this misery is its association with anavamala . The self is lead to believe that these worldly pleasures are real and ever-lasting. Hence its position sinks to a degraded state of sakala . Due to the intelligence of the self having the guidance of Shiva’s Grace in its sakala state, the self realizes the worthlessness of worldly pleasures and objects, and finally feeling discontented with its life hitherto, looks on to the saviour, Lord Shiva who out of His ever-compassion and mercy comes to the rescue of the self as a Guruin physical form.

Umapati Shivam says that the self stands to gain the fruits by undertaking a course of righteous practice ordained by great books of wisdom of Shaiva Siddhanta.[1] Here Umapati Shivam refers to both Shivagamas as well as Devaramby calling them great books of wisdom. According to Shivagamas , the self has to practice Carya (External worship), kriya (Acts of rituals), yoga (Mystical union) and get jnana (Cognition) before it could ‘meet’ the Lord. Umapati Shivam says that the purpose of all actions is attainment of ultimate knowledge for getting guided by Divine Grace to liberation.[2] The practice of Carya is known as dasamarga (the path of servitude) and leads the self to “saloka ”. The practice of kriya is known as Satputramarga (the sons’ path) and leads the self to “samipya ”. The practice of yoga is known as Sahamarga (the friends’ path) and leads the self to “sarupya ”. The release attained by Jnana (the path of knowledge) is “sayujya ” which is the perfect release (Supreme Bliss).

Arulnandi Shivam explains the practice of Carya, kriya , yoga and jnana and the corresponding results thereof in his work “Shivajnana Siddiyar”.[3] Hence, Umapati Shivam does not repeat the same in “Shivaprakasham”. The followers of Siddhanta pursue the practice in the above four paths in order to reach the feet of Lord Shiva. (i) The right path(sanmarg [sanmarga]), (ii) The friends’ path (Sahamarga), (iii) The sons’ path (Satputramarga), and (iv) The path of servitude (dasamarga) respectively known by the names of jnana, yoga, kriya , and Carya as said earlier. These margas or paths lead the pursuer into four stages of release sayujya, sarupya, samipya , and saloka respectively. The path of knowledge culminates in final release (Para mukti) and the rest in penultimate release (Apara mukti).

The observance of Carya involves cleaning the temples by smearing the floor with cow dung, adoring the idol of Shiva with garlands of different kinds of flowers, always uttering the prayer songs in praise of the Lord, lighting the temple lamps, maintaining the gardens, and also offering services to the devotees of Lord Shiva. Observance of this path leads to saloka , that is, they will reach the world of the Lord.[4] The sons’ path is the path of kriya which consists in the worship outward as well as inward of the form and formless aspect of the Divine. The worshipper worshipsLord Shiva with fresh and fragrant flowers with scented smoke and holy water for ablution and food offerings, purifies in the five-fold ways, meditates by invoking Lord Shiva, praises Him as love personified and performs fire rituals. If one performs these duties daily in earnest, he will attain “samipya ,” the Bliss of nearness to the Lord.[5] The friends’ path is the method of yoga which is another name for the inward worship of the formless. It consists in controlling the senses, checking the two breaths with one-pointed-ness of mind comprehending the seats of the triangular muladhara and other centers within, contemplating the resident deities of these seats and passing beyond into the region of Chandra mandala , drinking at the fount of ambrosia (a place wherefrom delightful things come) to the body’s fill, and establishing oneself in contemplation of the highest Supreme. If one performs this eight-fold yoga , sins will roll off and the yogi will attain the form of Shiva Himself (sarupya).[6]

Arulnandi Shivam finally states that the best way to attain liberation is the method of knowledge. This consists of systematic understanding of the many-fold sciences and puranas , karma portion of Vedas and agamas , sastras and schools of faith and eventually discarding their many-sided meanings as disvalues.This finally results in analytical understandig of the ultimate concepts of Pati , pashu and pasha .Then, after due reading and hearing, the contents of the knowledge portion of the sastras which point to the primacy of the concept of Pati dawns upon the individual self due the Grace of God Himself.The right way implies the knowledge of the Divine Immanence (Universal pervasiveness cum inheritance.) and of the non-dual relation of Shiva with the selves–a relation which admits of no distinctions of the knower, known and knowledge.[7] The selves blessed with such knowledge will attain “sayujya ” the final release (Supreme Bliss). Regarding the significance of Carya , kriya , and yoga which lead tojnana , it has been said that in Carya and kriya stages, attention of the self is diverted from the outer world to Shiva through the divine mandates prescribed for the self in these two stages. The self comes to the conclusion in the “yoga ” stage that the knowledge attained through the outer and inner organs is not true knowledge and that a higher medium other than the senses is necessary for the attainment of true knowledge.[8] As such, the first three are merely preparatory stages that are preliminary to reach the final state. The enjoyment of saloka , samipa and sarupya are not permanent.[9] When the merits of the self are exhausted, the self must come back to earth.Even meditation will not help if we do not have knowledge. Meditation is possible only with the help of instruments and mind. These instruments and mind cannot take us beyond the material world.[10] If the chain of birth and death is to be cut off, jnanamarga is the only way; for, as ignorance remains the cause of delusion and misery, it is true knowledge that can only bring about enlightenment and happiness .[11]

Jnana is of two forms–Grace (Tiru Arul) and Shivagamas . The Shivagamas deal with the Grace of Shiva. Grace helps the self to remove the evil effects of mala which is eternal.The Shivagamas enlighten the self about the three entities Pati, pashu and pasha . In this connection, Madurai Shivaprakasar says that the jnana of the Devaram authors—Sambanthar, Sundarar, and Thirunavukkarasar as well as that of Karaikal Ammaiyar is Tiru Aruljnana –the first one herein mentioned above. He further says that the jnana of the teachers beginning from Nandideva who get knowledge through the Shivagamas belong to the second category.[12] Insupport of his view Madurai Shivaprakasar quotes two verses from Shivajnana Siddiyar (Supakkam P ayiram 4 and Parapakkam verse10) for supporting his view.In the first verse,Arulnandi Shivam states that due to previous virtuous and good deeds,some may love and worshipShivam even withoutguidance from books. Lord Shiva showers salvation upon them out of His Grace. In the next verse, Arulnandi Shivam expounds Shivajnana Siddhiyar to those who want to know the means of attaining the feet of the Lord and not to those who are well-versed in the Shivagamas or to those who remain in complete ignorance. It is believed that the subject was first taught to Nandideva by Lord Shiva. Nandideva imparted the teachings to Sanathkumara who,in turn, transmitted the same to his lineage.The verse ‘7’ of Shivaprakasham emphasizes that the experiences of the authors of Devaram bring out the philosophy of Shaiva Siddantha.[13]

The self has to understand the true significance of the scriptures only through His instructions and hence the necessity of Guru may be understood in the right perspective.[14] Arulnandi Shivam very clearly states that God only can teach the self about Himself and no one else can do it.[15] So it is impossible for the self to know God without the help of God. This is similar to the crystal unable to reflect without the sunlight being incident on it. This is akin to the instruments (of the self) which neither know themselves nor the self that directs them. The self also does not know itself nor does the self know Pati who guides it. Hence Shiva inherently dwelling within the self imperceptibly will not be known by the self unless Shiva manifests Himself.[16] It is also pertinent to note that God only can appreciate the unhappy condition of the self and purify the mala fettered onit. It is similar to the condition whereinonly the inmates of a house know best the ailments of the Patient in the house.[17] Umapati Shivam states that the complete removal of mala from the self is not possible without Shiva appearing as ‘Guru ’ because the removal of the snake poison is not possible without the aid of a snake charmer.[18]

Umapati Shivam stresses that a blind man cannot let him to be led by another blind man. In a similar way, the self cannot attain release with the help of anyone other than Shiva. The release that transcends all tattvas can be reached only through the aid of Shiva who is totally and completely ‘cit ’without any impurity. The author asks in Tiruvarutpayan, if the great wise Guru who can show the path leading to the transcendent Lord does not come, who else can ever show the right path to the self.[19]. Hence it may be very well concluded that the administration of wisdom by Shiva Himself to the individual self is the condition for attainment of Bliss by the later.[20]

Umapati Shivam says that one should make best use of the Guru’s instruction by attending to it with concentration. He should reflect on what is taught to him and ascertain the truth of it.[21] He should also attain a state in which the self comes to be in union withShiva who is already dwelling with the self.The Guru’s instructions enable the self to learn about its own nature so that it can aspire to realize all its inherent capabilities. Umapati Shivam then deals with the nature of Divine Wisdom (Jnana Vaymai). He says that without the help of instruments of knowledge, the individual self cannot have perception of anything. In the kevala state, the self has no experience of the objects.With the instruments of knowledge, the individual cannot attain the feet of the Lord. In the ‘sakala avastha ’, the senses partially manifest knowledge of the individual. Partial manifestation of knowledge seldom makes the self to realize the Divine Wisdom. According to Umapati Shivam, God is very gracious to appear as preceptor to deserving selves who have performed penance for a long time and thereafter He communicates Divine Wisdom to them.[22] God shows the way to sever connection from these instruments and to reach His feet.[23]

In the ‘sakala avastha ’, the tattvas are provided by the concealing ‘Shakti ’ for the individual self to affect partial release from the fettering effects of pasha . The self will have finite experience and this will hasten the state of ripeness for pasha so that pasha may become ready for removal. When this state is reached, God appears as the preceptor and effects purification of ‘tattvas ’ by means of adhva shuddhi and thereby effects the finitising of pasha . Thus the individual self attains a new state of knowledge and life in which its knowledge, action and feeling being unconstricted, become infinite in due conformity with the infinitude of ‘Shiva-Shakti ’ even in its embodied state of existence. This is technically described as the symbolism of attaining the Divine Feet. Umapati Shivam explains the nature and form of Divine knowledge which is made accessible to the self when God appears as preceptor to the self. He says that Divine knowledge pervades the self for its ultimate good, unaffected by the intelligentand non-intelligent entities in the world. The intelligent and non-intelligent world functions toward the appointed destiny because of the presence of concealing Shakti . Pati transcends the intelligent and non-intelligent entities and functions for the benefit of effecting good evenly to all. None is dear to Him, andnone is hated by Him. All are His favourites. This may lead to a question as to whether God’s presence is felt in different ways by different selves. A magnet remains a magnet attracting iron, but rusted iron is never attracted by the magnet; this is not partiality on the part of the magnet. Shiva is always known as Sankara–Doer of good. H.W. Schomerus explains, “He is present in all the selves in the same way, but He shows this immanence in different ways in different selves depending on whether they devote themselves to Shiva eternally present within them; for, different selves worship God differently and this is determined not by God but by anavamala ”.

Appar also says,

He will not be good to those who approach Him not ;
He is good to those who approach Him ;
Yet He has no partiality, likes or dislikes ;
He is called Sankara as He is beneficient ”.[24]

Thus the Divine knowledge is made accessible to the individual self in a dramatic manner–God appearing as a preceptor in human form to the eligible individual self becoming a pupil. The nature and form of this Divine knowledge pervades the world for the ultimate good of the self. It remains a transcendent presence with the wholesome object of extending the good equally to all who want to avail the same. Umapati Shivam explains this with the help of an analogy. The sunlight permits the crystal to show its natural lustre and the power to reflect the colours with which it comes into contact. When the colours fall upon the crystal and when the sun is not directly above the crystal, then the crystal reflects the colours with which it is associated. When the sun is directly above the crystal then the crystal will not reflect the colours associated with the sunlight. In the same way the concealing Shakti of God makes the self plunge into the worldly experiences when the mala attached to the self is not mature.

Umapati Shivam vividly brings out this concept in his concluding couplet Arul Uru Nilai .[25] In Tiruvarutpayan , Umapati Shivam emphasizes upon the gracious role of the Lord by His support of the self all along its spiritual journey, not withstanding its ineptitude and ingratitude. In other words it is very clearly brought out that Tiru ArulShakti is the embodiment of the compassion and grace of Lord and this is ever available to the self when it seeks the same. The author says that Shiva is ever ready to liberate the self and is waiting until its mala is wiped out entirely. The self in the kevala stateengulfed in total ignorance is brought to a state of sakala bringing it to worldly knowledge. The self with body and organs of internal and external mechanisms is in sakala state but this is inadequate to bring it to the state of the shuddha avastha. Shuddha avasthais the stage of the self for attainment of lotus feet of Lord Shiva. Lord Himself specifically intervenes by coming to the self in the form of Guru . He (Guru) disguises himself in a perceptible form for two purposes: the removal of the veil of ignorance due to anava and imparting Divine Wisdom to the man who is a ripened self in all respects. This compassion of God is known as Arul . We may really wonder that Shivawho remained hidden for the self from time immemorial (i.e. self did not care for Him so far) does shower the compassion and graciousness through His ArulShakti now, This is stressed upon by Umapati Shivam in Tiruvarutpayan.[26] ArulShakti has patience and unswerving benevolence. It remains hidden within the bonded self and thereby provides for mala-paripaka .[27] Mala-paripaka is ripening of impurities for dissipation.

When the bonded self attains mala-paripaka ,Shiva comes to him taking on a perceptible form[28] through His Arul Shakti . Umapati Shivam calls this gracious form as ‘Arul Uru ’. This Arul Uru is none other than Arul Guru who communicates to the self to make it realize Divine Wisdom. This is possible through penance by the self for a very long time. Only because of this penance by the self, Arul Guru shows the way to sever connections from pasha and pashu knowledge and the implements thereof. Then onwards He dwells in the ripened self as its unforsaken leader (Neengatha ko) guiding the self until it unites in love with Shiva.

The Arul Guru comes in a physical form.[29] He appears in two forms. One is from within the self at the ripening stage; the other is in physical form having human body of shuddha stage revealing graciously a perceptible sign to such a self at ripening stage. The Guru within cures the ‘malady within’, consisting of the subversion of the self by the five senses[30] on account of which the self was blind to the true nature of the world as well as the self itself. The Guru is like a physician curing the sick–self living in unreal world–‘Asat ’. He enables it to reach out to the expanse of the All Bliss–Grace of Shivam. Shiva, in his Guru -form is a ‘Vallal’–a philanthropist because He enables the weakening of anavamala within the self and offers Himself as the sweetest Bliss. He comes down from His unperceivable highest state, taking a very gracious perceptible form upon this earth in order to bestow the self with Grace. So His physical Guru -form is ‘Vallal’ which can be perceived by those who have the eye to perceive Him.[31]

Just like Guru is ‘Aruluru -within’ as well as ‘Arul-Guru ’ of physical form who would appear for the ripening self, Umapati Shivam says there are three categories of people to whom neither of the above would be visible either internally or externally. These three categories are (i) those who are driven by desires kindled by senses i.e. those whose ‘iccha ’ is not freed of the stronghold of anavamala (ii) those of evil intent who are vitiated by ahankaram and are ready to do any evil deed i.e. those whose kriya is not freed from the stronghold of anavamala and (iii) those who are senseless, though perhaps even learned, and fail to discern the true nature of things i.e. those whose jnana is not freed from the stronghold of anavamala .[32] Meikandar says the same in an affirmative way that jnana comes to a man only after certain maturity has been attained by the person through the paths of cariya, kriya and yoga . A person craves for eating sweets again and again; similarly, the self also craves for seeking the joys that result from previous actions. The self cannot be liberated from this craving except through the path of cariya, kriya and yoga . Thus the self becomes, by degrees, ripened for the renunciation of I and Mine.[33] Umapati Shivam has explained the path of carya, kriya and yogain various contexts.

Footnotes and references:


Perunul sonna
Arathinal vilaivadhai—
Sivaprakasam 07.


Kiriyai ena maruvumavai yavum gnanam kidaitthharku nimithamenak kilaikkum .Sivaprakasam 10.


Sanmargam, sagamargam, sarputhira margam,
Dhasamargam endrum sankaranai adaiyum
Nanmargam nalavaidham gnanayogam
Narkiriya sariyai ena navitruvadhum seivar,
Sanmarga mutthigal salokkiya samippiya
Saruppiya sayuchiyam endru chadurvidhamam;
Munmarga gnanatthal eidhum mutthi
Mudivu enbar; mundrinukkum mutthi padham enbar .Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 270.
The followers of Siddhantha pursue, in order to reach the feet of Sankara, four good ways: the right way, the friends way, the son’s way and the servant’s way. They are also known by the names of carya, kriya , yoga and jnana margas . These margas or paths lead the pursuer respectively into four stages of release–saloka, samipa, sarupa and sayujya . The last path is throughknowledge and culminates in final release (Paramukti ) and the rest in penultimate release (Aparamukti ) -Sivaraman.K., SSS English Translation , (ThiruppanandalShri Kasimadam, 1988), 142.


Ichchariyai seivor isan ulagu iruppar .Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 271.


Bhatthiyinal aruchhitthup paravip pottrip
Parivinodum yeriyil varum kariyamum panni,
Nitthalum akkiriyaiyinai iyattruvorgal
Ninmalanthan arugu iruppar ninaiyum kale
.Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 272.


Muzhuch chothi ninaindhu irutthal mudhalaga vinaigaluga marga Attanga yogam —Shivanthan uruvatthaip peruvar. Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 273.


Nanmarga jnanatthai nadi jnana
Neyamodu jnathiruvum nada vannam ,
…jnanap perumai udaiyor Shivanaip peruvar thane.Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 274.


Schomerus, H. W., ShaivaShiddhanta, (Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. Ltd,2000), 304.


Unmaich chariyaikiri yayoga thanmai yorkkuch chaloka samipa sarupangal Maruviyidum—Sivaprakasam 10.


Bhavikkin manadhi vendum payanilai, karanam nitthup
Bhavippan yennil yenna pazhuthula.Sivaprakasam 86.


Jnanatthal vidu” endre nanmaraigalpuranam
Nalla agamam solla, allavam ennum
Unatthar yen kadavar?—
Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 279.


Uyar Jnanam irandam mara
Malamagala agalatha mannu bhodhath

Thiruvarulondru ondradhanaith theliya odhum
Shivagamam endrulagariyach cheppunule
.Sivaprakasam 10


Perunul ” used by Umapati Shivam includes twelve Tirumurais and Shivagamas according to the commentary of Madurai Shiva Prakasar.


Jnanam ivan ozhiya nanniyidum narkalanarp Bhanu ozhiyap padin .Tiruvarutpayan 50.


Sakala kalaijnanangal thirikala jnanam
Andhamilaanimadi jnanangalellam
Adaindhidumasan arulal adiser jnanam
Vandhidu mattronralum varadhagum
Mattravaiyum avanarulal maruvumanre .Shivajnana-Siddhiyar-Supakkam 327.


Illa mulaippalum kannirum enthizhaipal
Nallay, ulavamal; nir nizhalpol–illa
Aruvagi nindranai yar arivar thane
Uruvagith thondranel uttru
.SB 8.2.3.


Agatthurunoyk kullina ranri yadhanaic-
Chagat thavarum kanbaro dhan .Tiruvarutpayan 42.


Vidanagula mevinumeyp pavaganin milun
Kadanilirulpovadhevan kan.Tiruvarutpayan 47.


Arariva rella maganra neriyarulum Perarivalan varadha pin .Tiruvarutpayan 49.


SchomerusH. W., op.cit., 304.


Mundhiya orumaiyale mozhindhavai kettal, kettal
Sindhanai seidhal, unmai thelindhidal, adhudhanaga
Vandhavaru yeidha nittai maruvudhal endru nangam
Indhavaru adaindhor mutthi yeidhiya iyalbinore .Sivaprakasam 83.


Ittiya thavatthinal iraiyarul uruvai vandhu kuttidum .Sivaprakasam 68.


ivattrai nikkik kuraikazhal kurugu mare .ibid.


Salamilan sankaran sarndhavarkallal
Nalamilan nadoru nalguva nalan
Kulamilaragilum kulatthuk kerpa dhor nalamigak koduppadhu namachchivayave .Appar Devaram Nama Shivaya Pathigam.


Mukthi -attainment of Shiva is a gift far beyond the deserts of the inept self who has attained no relationship with Arul, though Arul has been very closely associated with self to this day.
Ittrai varaiyiyaindhu medhum pazhakkamila
Vettruyirkku vidu mighai
.Tiruvarutpayan 40.


Ariyamai yunnin ralitthadhe kanum
Kuriyagi ningadha ko .Tiruvarutpayan 41.


Mala-paripaka -ripening of impurities in readiness for dissipation. Shakti-nipata-Descent of Divine power making the advent of the instruction phase of Grace


Umapati Shivam states “kanum kuriyagi” ([...]) in Tiruvarutpayan i.e. God deigns to become through the mediary of His Arul, a perceptible form for the man who attained “mala-paripaka”.Umapati Shivam calls this one as “Form of Grace”–Aruluru.


(1) jnana Guruvaleye jnanatthai adaiyamudiyum .
(2) jnana Guru Shivameavar .
(3) jnana Guruvai ulagam unaramattadhu .
Manaikkatti manaip piditthal enbargal ,
Iraivanum achcheyalaiye seigiran. Pakkuva
anmavagiya manavarai atkolvatharku avaraip
Pondra makkal vadivil–Guruvadivil varugirar
—Anandarajan.A.,Tiruvarutpayan , (Chennai, Narmada pathippagam,2010), 113.


Manikkavasagar says that the five senses are swaying him.
Yan aimbulangalkondu vidundhagai yenai vittududhi kandai .TV. Nitthal Vinnappam. 12.


Meikandar compares this with another metaphor of touching love of mother.Shivajnana-Bodam 8.2.3.


Poyyirunda sindhaip poriyilar bodhamam
Meyyirandum kanar miga . Tiruvarutpayan 44.


Tirukkural explains that the element of renunciation of I and Mine is implied by the word, “thavamvideadhikaram 27.

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