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 ...


Shivaprakasham, the tertiary text of Shaiva Siddhanta,makes important contributions to strengthen the existing foundation, offer further clarity and streamline the regularity in the tenets and doctrines of the Siddhanta. Umapati Shivam, in the invocation songs (mangala vazhthu) at the very beginning, brings out the glory of Lord Nataraja, Shivakami Ammai, Vinayaka and Muruga and gives the list of holy hereditary lineage of Santana acaryas. Tiru Nandi Devar was the first preceptor and Sanatkumara was the second preceptor. Paranjoti Munivar, the third preceptor of the lineage initiated Meikandar who has done Shivajnana bodam ,the main literary work in Shaiva Siddhanta.

Umapati Shivam, being the last preceptor of the lineage has the privilege to know and inform us about the three preceptors prior to him. Meikandar of Tiruvennai Nallur adopted Arulnandi Shivam as his disciple. Maraijnana Sambandar was the preceptor of Umapati Shivam who has given the full list of lineage of preceding Santanakuravars—Meikandar, ArulnandiShivam and Maraijnana Sambandar in fifth verse of Shivaprakasham.

In addition to this, Umapati Shivam mentions the date 1313 AD as the date of composition of his workSankarpanirakaranam. It is the only clue with which we may get a clear idea about the period of all the 14 Siddhanta works. The seventh verse of Shivaprakasham briefly gives the content of the whole text. It says that ShaivaSiddhantashall be clearly understood by the inner schools of Sh aivism and may not beso well understood by outer schools. Umapati Shivam says that this is in accordance with the aspects of the great work called Shivagamas. Great work (perunul), in Shaiva Siddhanta, generally denotes Shivagamas .In addition to Shivagamas, perunul also denotes Tirukkural andtwelve Tirumurais .Umapati Shivam has given importance to Tirukkural in his other works also.

The central message of Shivaprakasham is the conception of advaita given by Umapati Shivam in the 7th verse of the work. The individual self and Shiva are one in union just like the body becomes one in union with the self. At the same time, the individual self and Shiva are different entities in the same way as the eye and the sun are different. Even though the sun and the eye are different, the act of seeing is possible only when theyact in unison. Consciousness of the individual self helps eye light in seeing and so the action of togetherness among them is the important aspect of this relation. These three aspects form the important conception of advaitain Shaiva Siddhanta(union in shape, different as entities and inseparably together at all times).

In verse 23, Umapati Shivam clearly states the ShaivaSiddhantaposition that efficient cause—nimitta karana and material cause—upadana karana of the world are different from each other and he puts forward his arguments in a very convincing manner. In verse 31, Umapati Shivam talks about the nature of karma as being generated through thought, word and act. Umapati Shivam says that sin cannot be destroyed by meritorious deeds (punya). Both merits and sins are to be experienced separately. The karma account is not akin to totalling the figures of a bank account, where we deposit and withdraw money. It is also enjoined that non-adherence to performance of acts stipulated in perunul shall lead to sins whereas adherence to stipulated ones shall lead to punya and both are necessarily to be enjoyed, provided that performance of such acts under the guidance of Grace shall not bring punya or papa .

It is also emphasized that the attitude of the performer decides whether an act is punya or papa . He makes a significant point that expiation of sins can be made by living a righteous life even without performing the expiatory rites thereby meaning that such rites shall necessarily lead a person to adhere to a righteous life. Thus righteous living can annul the previous demerits. Shivaconsiders ripening of anavamalaand maturity of mind, and rewards appropriately.

Umapati Shivam, in verses 34, 35 and 36, establishes the existence of spiritual defilement along with the individual self that is beginningless (anadi). Assuming that there is no 204 anavamala ,Umapati Shivam says that in caseGod liberates the self when merits and demerits become equal and cancel each other, the question as to why at all the embodiment is provided to the self by Him remains unanswered. Again if the self, in kevala avastha , is assumed to be free from anavamala and is already having pure knowledge without defilement, there is no necessity for maya and karma to act upon the self and then liberate it. If maya and karma can act upon an undefiled self in kevala avastha as well as insh uddha avastha (liberated condition) then the concept of mukti becomes questionable. Umapati Shivam has also explained that the self can clearly recognize and understand the existence of anavamala through the Grace of God only.

Umapati Shivam continues this exposition again in verse 70 that maya providesthe self in sakala avastha with the body, implements, the world and enjoyment, and the Grace of God shall continue to be with the self, but the self shall not realize the same due to its spiritual ignorance. When the self realizes the truth of the existence of anavamala and the consequences due to the meritorious and de-meritorious deeds thereof, the Grace of God shall become axiological. This pure wisdom or God-knowledge shall remain totally enlightening the self thereafter. The same shall be transparently understood by the self. As and where this happens, Godappears as Guru in physical form to guide and liberate the self from the defilement.

In verse 50, he has explained the non-validity of reasoning suggested byother philosophies for the attainment of liberation or mukti . He rejects the contentions in this regard put-forth by carvaka/lokayata, Buddhism, Jainism, prabhakara (mimamsa), Bheda, Abheda, Bhedabheda,Shiva-Samavada, Sankya,Siddhas, Padanavada and other faiths due to the reason that the so called liberated state of the self in these faiths are always subject to any one or more of the 36 tattvas experienced by the self during sakala avastha , prior tosh uddhaavastha—the liberated condition. The self shall enjoy the Supreme Bliss of God in its liberated condition when it is rid of anavamala, maya and karma and it stands by the side of Grace of God and acts as guided by the Grace of God.

Umapati Shivam also lays importance on the appearance of Guru inphysical form for an individual self during the sakala stage. He advocates upadesha to the ripened self as 205 diksha . When the self gets diksha , it starts practicing sadhana . The self shall continue to practice regularly chanting the pancakshara (the holy five letters) in addition to performing estoric and extoric worship. The pancakshara prevents the self from getting into the trap of anavamala and thus saves it from becoming a prey to its consequences, provided the self adopts and practices the pancakshara in the true spirit. By the application of jnana and kriyaShaktiof the preceptor, agamiya and sancita are destroyed, and the prarabdha karma is experienced by the self. Thus maya and karma are also destroyed.

The practice of Carya , kriya and yoga lead one to the path of jnana . What is sought in the former three worships is the Supreme Being transcending the structure of experience. At jnana stage, the faculties of jivan mukta are focused only on the Supreme Being. With this focusing on Shiva, all other things pertaining to the practices in this world shall leave him, as though a thing in the hands of a person asleep falls away from him. The person on his own volition behaves in accordance with the tenets enunciated in perunul even though he may abandon such practices.

Umapati Shivam narrates the path of jnana and the fruits of accession to attainment of Divine knowledge in three stages: (1) atma-darshana (insight into the true nature of self) (2) atm a-shuddhi (Purification of self-hood) (3) atma-labha (Gaining of true selfhood in union with Supreme Bliss). The verse seventy one describes these three stages of the individual self with atma jnana in advaitic union with Shivajnana. The verses 72 to 75 describe atma-darshana, atm a-shuddhi and atma-labha [labham]. The verse 75 emphasizes that Grace of God only shall lead the individual self throughDivine knowledge to jneya (neyam)—Lord Shiva.

Verse 83 details the atma-labham :

1. Listening to the words of the preceptor;
2. Meditating on the meaning of such words;
3. Getting a clear vision of their truth and;
4. Remaining absorbed in union with Lord Shiva.

The last stage constitutes liberation—experience of transcendental wakefulness keeping in union with Grace followed by manifestation of Supreme Being. This absorption with Being is called, ‘nittai maruvudhal ’ wherein the individual self, which is in union with Lord Shiva already but remains as a different entity, becomes one in action with Himself. This stage of the self with embodiment makes him a jivan mukta . When the body leaves him, he attains para-mukti .

The Unmai Neri Vilakkam by Umapati Shivam elaborates the various stages of the process of liberation of the individual self as Dasha-karya [karyam]:

  1. Tattvarupa [tattvarupam];
  2. Tattva darshana [darshanam];
  3. Tattva shuddhi;
  4. Atma rupa [rupam];
  5. Atma darshana [darshanam];
  6. Atma shuddhi;
  7. Shivarupam;
  8. Shiva darshana [darshanam];
  9. Shivayoga [shivayogam];
  10. Shiva Bhogam [bhogam];

The above Dashakaryas are adopted by Umapati Shivam from Shivajnana bodam as detailed under:—

Shivajnana bodam sutra
Path / Means of Liberation Fruits of Liberation
7 8 9 10 11
Tattva rupam , Tattva darshanam , Atma rupam Tattva shuddhi, Atma darshanam, Shivarupam. Atma shuddhi, Shiva darshanam. Shivayogam Shiva Bhogam

It is to be appreciated that the author has given the Dasha Karyam in three steps of Atma darshanam, Atma shuddhi and atma labham ,in brief, in Shivaprakasham .

Adoption of pancakshara , along with other forms of worship with holy ash, keeps the liberated self in his embodiment as jivan mukta—a person living with his body totally unaffected by any other acts, emotion or desires but ever enjoying the Supreme Bliss. During this para-jnana stage also, he shall continue to perform Carya, kriya and yoga pertaining to jnana like Carya in jnana, kriya in jnana and yoga in jnana .

Umapati Shivam has treated the Dasha Karyam in three stages in Shivaprakasham but retaining the solemn doctrines within the three stages: Atma-darshanam involves knowing the true nature of the self. Atma shuddhi involves self-purification wherein egoistic efforts are abandoned and the self totally trusts in Grace. Finally the self gets the Atma-Labham wherein it gets into the spiritual experience of the Supreme Bliss.

Then Umapati Shivam proceeds to explain the nature and greatness of the liberated self.He narrates that jnana shakti and kriyashakti of the preceptor destroy the agamiya and sancita karmaof the self. Since the state of the self in union with anavamala gets weakened,the prarabdha karma is experienced by the liberated self without aversion or desire.

The union of the self with Grace—Shiva Yoga—grows into Bliss—Shiva-Bhoga. The self remains under the influence of the inner glow ignoring the external materialistic world. This condition is known as shuddha avastha . It may be noted that the self in sakala avastha has become one with anavamala and functioned accordingly whereas the self in shuddha avastha becomes one with Grace and shapes its actions, desires and knowledge. The self in shuddha avastha shall not abandon the worship of Carya etc., but these worships of Carya, kriya and yoga may leave the self without its consent, provided it remains in Pati-jnana (Divine Knowledge).

In this research work, attention has been paid to bondage of the self and its liberation as explained in Shivaprakasham. Hence this work is mainly restricted to Shivaprakasham in addition to references taken from Meikanda Shastras and Tirumurais to elucidate the points wherever necessary. However a detailed study of all 14 Shastras and 12 Tirumura is may be undertaken for comparing this aspect,which can be taken up as a new study at a later date.

Similarly, a comparative study of western philosophy regarding bondages and liberation may also be undertaken. This endeavor shall definitely help to ensure personal as well as social discipline when a person is motivated towards self-liberation, thereby offering services to everyone without any desire or return thereof.

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