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 ...

Main stages of liberation

The liberation of the individual self is dealt with by Umapati Shivam in Shivaprakasham under three main stages of progress of the individual self viz.,

  1.  atma-darshana [darshanam];
  2. atma-shuddhi and
  3. atma-labha [labham] (gain).

The author hasalso dealt with the same aspect of liberation of individual self from bondages in his work Unmai Neri Vilakkam (exposition of the true path). The progress and maturing of the individual self is explained by him in 10 stages—Dasha Karya [karyam]—meaning ten actions or performances of wisdom occurring for the individual self development.

His treatise enumerates the ten actions of wisdom as below:

1. Tattva Rupam [rupam]: (Knowledge of evolutes)

The process of understanding the nature of 36 Shaiva shiddhanta tattvas or evolutes (from earth to Shiva) including their appearance as well as merger back is known as tattva rupa [rupam]. The individual self understands the same through shastras according to its own knowledge.

2. Tattva Darshana [darshanam]: (knowledge of insentient):

The individual self has to understand that the aforesaid tattvas are all insentient by nature and they are incapable of knowing anything on their own in the absence of the individual self. This aspect is known as Tattva Darshana [darshanam].

3. Tattva Shuddhi : (Purification of self from the evolutes)

The individual self realizes that it is above all 36 evolutes. The self in its omnipresent form, views them that the same are misleading and are the causes of ignorance. Hence it understands that it should not get misguided by the evolutes.[1]

4. Atma rupa [rupam]: (Understanding the nature of the self)

The individual self first understands that the evolutes are insentient. It also recognizes that the evolutes are mere instruments of knowledge and they do not understand themselves. The individual self thus proceeds to recognize that it has knowledge or ability to know. This is called atma rupa [rupam]. The individual self also understands that it cannot have the knowledge without these instruments of knowledge.

5. Atma darshana [darshanam]: (insight into self-hood)

During the above process of occurrence, it dawns upon the individual self that its knowledge and action do not happen on its own accord but they do happen only with Grace of God. This dawning is known as atma darshana [darshanam].

6. Atma shuddhi : (Purification of self-hood)

When the understanding and maturity of the self ripens, it understands that everything does happen with the Grace of God; the self completely abides to the reality that it is not doing anything on its own and that everything goes on with the Grace of God only. The self gets completely involved in and absorbed by Grace of God at this point wherein it gets purified of evolutes as well as the residual mala . This is called atma shuddhi .[2]

7. Shiva Rupa [rupam]: (Inculcation of upadesha by preceptor)

The individual self was initially shrouded by mala and its cognition was totally suppressed. Hence it suffered under the clutches of the cycle of birth and death. Lord Shiva, who is the embodiment of unlimited and grand compassion, remains one with the self, non-separable as well as continuously causing changes in the self, but Himself remaining unchangeable. During this process of education and enlightening, the self attains a level of maturity, wherein Shiva appears before the matured self as a preceptor to administer, instruct and inculcate upadesha . The self realizes that it is He who has appeared before it as a preceptor. This acknowledgement by the individual self of the appearance of Lord is termed as Shivarupa [shivarupam].[3]

8. Shiva Darshana [darshanam]: (Perception of Lord Shiva)

The realization of appearance of Lord Shiva in physical form as Guru leads the individual self that remained so far aloof with pashujnana and pasha jnana , to view Lord Shiva as being omnipotent in the whole universe and beyond—everywhere and forever. The individual self now sees and perceives Lord Shiva only everywhere and forever without interruption. This is termed as Shiva Darshana [darshanam].

Umapati Shivam describes vividly the above aspect of Shiva Darshanam in Unmai Neri Vilakkam . The individual self was earlier considering all the pasha evolutes as “mine” and self as “I” being the possessor of the same. When the Guru appears before the individual self, it gets rid of its anavamala and feels the Grace of Lord Shiva. This aspect in Shaiva Siddhantais known as Tiruvadi Darshanam or sighting of the Lord’s Divine Feet. The self starts feeling nothing else, but the omnipresence of Lord’s Grace wherever it goes and whatever it sees. All events, objects and living beings appear to it as a manifestation of 171 Lord Shiva. This is technically called Tirumuga Darshanam or sighting of the Lord’s Divine Face.

The individual self thus liberated from pasha and pashutva (finitude of individual self) gets totally involved with the Grace of Lord Shiva and thereby attains the total Bliss in His company. This is known as Tirumudi Darshanam or the sighting of the Divine Crown.

The self thus gets immersed in the Divine feet, Divine face and Divine Crown of Lord Shiva and it sees everything as Lord Shiva only. From this very moment,it starts leading a life of an ascetic. But there is another possibility for the self to be misled to believe that the self itself is “God”—Aham Brahma Asmi . When the individual self abandons such feeling of egoism of anavamala , it continues to sight Lord Shiva everywhere and forever. This is called Shiva Darshana [darshanam].[4]

9. Shiva Yoga [yogam]: (Union with Lord Shiva)

Having undergone the process of Shiva Rupam and Shiva Darshanam , the individual self realizes the fact that (i) Lord Shiva is the sole agency in all that is happening everywhere in this universe (ii) we do not have any sort of total independence and (iii) it is He who ordains us to enjoy the fruits of our actions.

When the individual self reaches this conclusion, it is not affected by likes and dislikes nor is it afflicted by pain and pleasure. It becomes mature enough to look upon them from an elevated higher plane. It understands that these do not affect the self. The self becomes rigid in its belief that Lord Shiva is the cause and He is the very cause of all causes. The individual self understands that total surrender is the best solution. Under this condition the self gets united with Lord Shiva in advaitic union. This is called Shiva-Yoga [yogam] in shastras .[5]

10. Shiva Bhoga [bhogam ]: (Enjoyment of Bliss)

The individual self in advaitic union with Lord Shiva shall remain in total Bliss enjoying Sivananda . As in the process of Shivayoga [shivayogam], the individual self surrenders itself and its agency to the control of the Grace of Lord Shiva which enlightens the path to go forward. It shall remain away from pleasures, joy, anger, miserism, amorousness and the five great sins of murder, illusion, theft, alcoholism, adultery etc. But when the individual self is in union with Lord Shiva and at the same time, it happens to perform such acts, then Lord Shiva shall come to the self’s rescue as though He has done the deeds and not the self. It implies that He absorbs the individual self within Himself, thereby absolving the individual self of any consequences of the action performed by it.

Shivagamas term this event as “Shiva Bhoga [bhogam]”. The individual self under the Grace of Lord Shiva remains in union and it enjoys the Bliss of Shiva who is non-separable from the individual self but Himself remaining unchangeable[6]. Here Umapati Shivam has added a special conjunction “um” along with all the acts of sin that may be carried out by the liberated self. It implies that the liberated self shall never perform such sins in normal course unless God wills otherwise.

Footnotes and references:


Manmudhal Shivam adhu iram
Vadivu kanbadhuve rupam
Manmudhal Shivam adhu iram
Malam sadam endral katchi
Manmudhal Shivam athu iram
Vagai dhanil thanniladhu
Kannudhal arulal ningal
Shuddhiyaik karudhum andre
.—Unmaineri-Vilakkam 1.


Paiirul ningi jnanam
Dhanaikkandal anmarupam
Niyum ninseyal ondru indri
Nittrale darisanam than ;
Poi ivan thanmai kettup
Porulil bhoi angut thondradhu
Ayvidil anmashuddhi

Arulnulil vidhitthavare .—ibid. 2.


Evvadivugalumthan am
Ezhilparai vadivu adhu agik
Kavviya malatthu anmavaik
Karudhiye odukki akkip
Pavvamvindu agalap pannip
Parippan oruvan endru
Sevviye uyirul kandal
Shivarupam agum andre


Parai uyiril yan enadhu ondrara nindradhu adiyam ;
Parppidam engum Shivamait thondral, adhumugamam
Uraiirandha sugam adhuve mudiagum endru iv
Unmaiyinai migath thelindhu porul veru ondru indrith
Tharaimudhalil pogadhu, nilaiyinil nilladhu

Tharparayil nindru azhundhadhu, arpudhameagith
Therivu ariya parama anandhatthil cherdhal
Shivan Unmaith tharisanamaich cheppum nule


Epporul vandhu uttridinum, apporulaip partthu, ingu
Eidhum uyirdhanaik kandu, avvuyirkku melam
Oppil arul kandu, ShivatthuUnmaikandu ,
Uttradhu ellam adhanale pattri nokkith
Thappinaich cheivadhum adhuve, ninaippum adhudhane ,
Tharum unarvum posippum adhudhane agum ,
Epporulum asaivu illai ena andhap porulodu
Iyaivadhuve Shivayogam enum iraivan mozhiye .—ibid.5.


Padhahangal seithidinum, kolai, kalavu, kallup
Payindridinum, neriyalla neri payittrivarinum
Sadhineri thappidinum thavarugal vandhidinum
Thanakku ena orseyal attrut than athuvai nirkil
Nadhanavan udaluyirai, undu urangi, nadandhu
Nana Bhogangalaiyum thanagach cheidhu
Bhedhamaranindru ivanaitthan akkividuvan
Perugu ShivaBhogam enap pesumneri idhuve.—ibid. 6.

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