On Monday, April 2nd, Master Subramuniya gave his opening address to thirty Himalayan Academy students in the Guru Temple at Sivashram on Hawaii's Garden Island. The unprinted manuscript of the ninth and final tantra (book) of Saint Tirumular's great opus on Saiva Siddhanta, Tirumantiram, had just arrived from India to complete the set of 25 typewritten volumes containing over 3,000 verses and representing many years of work. This arrival, coupled with the fact that the students had just completed a thorough study of Saiva Siddhanta, prompted Master to speak at length on a subtle, complex and important aspect of the Siddhanta philosophy.
A few among the students had, during the course of their studies over the past years, encountered subtle differences between the original postulations of Saint Tirumular, given in the first centuries before Christ, and those of Meikandar who lived in the 12th Century. Students have often asked Master to lend clarity to the potential confusion which revolves around two distinct views of God, soul and world - Pati, pasu and pasam. It was to this long-standing philosophical enigma that Gurudeva addressed his comments.
For those not familiar with the issue, it may be simply stated. The original Tirumular school holds that the soul is created by God Siva, journeys through its evolution in a world created by Siva for that purpose, and ultimately merges totally into the Godhead. The Meikandar school holds that God, soul and world are three eternally self-existent entities. God created neither the soul nor the world, but they are beginningless. In its final evolutionary state the soul becomes of the nature of Siva, yet remains eternally individuated in the bliss of Godhead. For those who are familiar with this subtle, yet crutial, point and for those who take a joy in pondering the dizzy heights of etiology, Master's address will be most interesting and instructive.
The two doctrines represented by Tirumular and Meikandar, have been briefly stated above.
Heretofore there had been a single school of thought called Saiva Sidhanta, but within that school there has long existed two antipodal doctrines as to the creation of the soul and its final disposition. These two doctrines, represented by Tirumular and Meikandar, have been briefly stated above. Gurudeva stands by the original Saiva Siddhanta of Saint Tirumular as being in accord with his own spiritual realizations. He therefore has "divided" the Saiva Siddhanta into two distinct schools, with the Saiva Siddhanta Church abiding with Tirumular's conclusions. Actually, Master has not made a division. He has but revived the original Siddhanta and clarified that within it there exist the school of Tirumular and the School of Meikandar. With this cursory summary we may enjoy his address.
"Today is the 14th anniversary of Himalayan Academy which was begun on April 1st, 1965. Today I am going to speak to you about the Tirumantiram which has been to translated for the first time in the world's history completely into the English language by Dr. B. Natarjan in Madras, South India. I am going to tell you a story that begins more than two thousand years ago with a Himalayan rishi by the name of Tirumular. Before we begin the saint's story, I want to tell you a little about his book. For Saivites the Tirumantiram is an authoritative scripture. It was written in Tamil more than 2000 years ago, and contains over three thousand verses divided into nine Tantras, or books. I went to India in 1977 and visited Dr. B. Natarajan in Madras and asked him if he would complete his translation of the Tirumantiram. He had done just a little bit of it that we had discovered in some publications during our research at the University of Hawaii. He said, "Yes, because you have asked me, I will do it." And he did. It is really a lifetime's work and an enormous undertaking by Dr. Natarajan. It is now complete and will be printed in madras in the next few months. This is a tremendous service to our religion by Dr. B. Natarajan, and we are very grateful to him, especially here in the West where this kind of scripture just isn't available.
Saint Tirumular's story is very interesting. He was an accomplished yogi, or siddha from the Himalayas in North India, and he was sent on mission from there by the rishis of the Himalayas to South India to spread the purest teachings of Saivism to the people there. Hinduism is a missionary religion. Everyone within it is on a mission or is purifying himself through sadhana enough so that he can be given a mission for the religion from some great soul or a God perhaps. This is the pattern within Hinduism, and Saint Tirumular's mission was to establish at one point in time the final conclusions of the Sanatana Dharma, the purest path of Hinduism, Saiva Siddhanta.
When Tirumular arrived in the south an extraordinary miracle occurred, a boon from Lord Siva to help him in his task. As Tirumular was walking through a forest he came upon a pitiful scene. A herd of milk cows were standing around their young cowherder who had just died for some reason, and it was evident from the lamenting of the herd that they had loved him very much. So touched was Tirumular by this scene that he was inspired to relieve the anguish of the gentle cows through his siddhas, or yogic powers, by bringing the dead cowherder back to life, if only for a short time. So he sat down in deep meditation, left his own body and entered the body of the cowherder, causing it to stand up again and carry on as usual. He comforted the cows and led them back to their village, leaving them there. He returned to the forest for his own body, but no matter how he searched he could not find it! It had simply vanished! Again he sat down in meditation to see what he could discover and by his spiritual insight he discerned that it was Lord Siva Himself who had taken his body, leaving him with the cowherder's body.
Tirumular accepted the will of Siva immediately and went on his way in his new physical form. This exchange had a real advantage, however, for he could now speak Tamil, the language of all of south India at that time, and he knew all the culture and customs of the South as a native Tamilian.
Tirumular began his mission of establishing the purity of the Saivite path soon after that when he settled down near Chidambaram, an ancient temple of Lord Siva as Nataraja, the King of Dancers. It was there that he began composing the Tirumantiram. Legend has it that Tirumular would sit in samadhi for a full year without moving, and at the end of the year he would break his meditation long enough to write down a single Tamil verse giving the substance of his unfoldments that year.
This may not be accurate by the calendar, but it is true to the spirit and quality of the Tirumantiram. It is without a doubt the most complete and authoritative scripture ever written. It is a document upon which the entire religion could stand if needed, for it is a summary and compilation of all that Saivite Hinduism contains and is an inspired revelation of the original Saiva Siddhanta. Tirumular was the first rishi to speak out the truths of Saiva Siddhanta, and perhaps no one before or since his time has been qualified to understand all the Tirumantiram says, much less to improve upon it. It is that perfect and that complete.
The Tirumantiram is especially precious and especially welcome to me because within its pages I have found confirmation of all my own deepest Realizations and postulations from my own experience. I find complete harmony and accordance with the truths set down by the Saint more than two millenia ago. They speak of the eternal path for all mankind, and the destiny of all souls, Lord Siva, and this is why this book is so valuable to me, as a verification of my own knowledge. Here now are a few quotes from the Tirumanitram:
Of yore He created the worlds seven,
Of yore He created celestials countless,
Of yore He created souls without number,
Of yore He created all - Himself,
as Primal Param, uncreated.
The Primal One created the elements five.
The Primal One created the endless eons past.
The Primal Once created the countless heavenly beings.
The Primal One created and sustained as well.
It takes a bit of meditation to understand the Tirumantiram because you have to know your occultism and scriptures to catch the meaning. It's all in rhyme and in code - when the Five become Six and the Seven become Twelve and so on, all talking about the petals of the chakras and the Siddhanta philosophy. For this part of the translation we had to hire brahmin priests and shastris from various parts of South India to help in translating some of these deeper, more esoteric tantras about the kundalini and all. Here are a few more verses for your meditations:
Body the gambling board,
Five are the dice,
Three are the channels,
Fifty-one the squares;
Thus the Jivas play the game.
He who leads them to it,
The mystery of His play,
I know not.
A rare Ruby - He is easy of reach.
The One Lord - He is easy of love.
He is the Light within Brahma, the Creator;
And now I know why the Creator does it so easily.
If this body comes to harm,
There is One to fashion another.
If this land to destruction goes,
There is another land for people to inhabit.
If this house to pieces falls,
There is another house to dwell within.
Thus do their thoughts run, unconcerned,
Those who know of Siva's bounty.
These esoteric verses are understandable if you learn how to study them and meditate within yourself. They are important because they tell about what our religion believes about inner, spiritual matters - about the soul and the world and their relationship to Siva. Our beliefs are very important, for our beliefs create our attitudes and desires. We base our values and attachments upon our beliefs, and yet we may never in our lives have examined the subconscious beliefs that determine our path in life, that are the bedrock of our destiny in this life. Our beliefs guide our evolution. It behooves us to know what we believe. For example, if we hold a belief that God and the soul are co-existent, if we believe that god did not create the soul and the two will never merge as one this could cause us to hold a certain attitude of indifference toward God and toward our own purpose, wouldn't it? Why should we work to improve ourselves unless it is to feed or clothe ourselves better, to make ourselves more comfortable on our endless journey? Believing that the soul is destined never to merge with God makes the soul sort of like a spaceship drifting forever in space with no final destination. Why would we want to meditate? What purpose would there be in meditation? No purpose. This is why people who do not believe that god and the soul are destined to merge in union rarely practice yoga or meditation. They become scholars or philosophers or scientists.
I call these philosophies which believe that God is eternally separate from the soul "terminal philosophies." They are self-defeating philosophies. They do not hold forth the final destiny of the soul, for the soul is destined ever to remain separate from God. It is much like the idea of an eternal heaven that is prevalent in Western religions, where the soul goes to heaven and stays there blissfully in God's presence forever. That is not our view of the soul's final state which is true and complete union. In fact that union never ceased to exist, and it is merely that the soul must realize its eternal union with Siva.
We can ask, "If Siva created the soul, then is not the soul different from Siva?" For our answer let us look at the natural world. When a tree "creates" a fruit, that fruit is not a "something else." It is not different from the tree. The Western idea of creation is a flash of lightening and the world appears as an entity different from the Creator. The truth is more like the tree, though that analogy is only a partial analogy and does not explain how the soul merges with the Absolute. All of creation is the manifestation of Siva's own Being, like the fruit is the natural manifestation of the tree. Thus souls and the world are Siva. Yogaswami said some wonderful things about this. He said, "It will not be an overstatement if I say that man is God." he also said, "Nothing exists except the Lord. Everything is His action...Nothing exists apart from God. It is like the waves and the ocean." This is my inmost belief too.
If we hold the belief in some eternal Hell where souls burn forever for their mistakes, then this creates attitudes which are more fearful in nature, dreading the possibilities and the consequences of life. But it we believe that God created the soul and that the two will ultimately merge in non-dualistic union, then this gives us purpose, this gives us a goal and energy for striving. An ultimate conclusion can be drawn and our life based upon it. You can experience your oneness with God even now as you draw closer and closer from one level of consciousness to another and then finally become identical to God, your own Self.
God Siva created the soul. How did he do this? Was it like a potter shaping clay into a pot? Was it like a carpenter creating a house out of lumber? It was more like our earlier example of the tree. In order to create another tree, the tree sends out its branches and the fruit grows on the branches and the seed grows within the fruit. The fruit drops off and the seeds sprout and a shoot comes out, it becomes a twig, then a sapling, then a small tree, and then a large tree. Finally the tree is fully matured and it sends out its branches and begins the process all over again. In this way Lord Siva has created all individual souls.
We must understand the difference between the Self and the soul. Many people think that the Self is something that you get. You pursue it and after a while you get it, like you'd get something in the world. But the Self is not separated from you, by even the tiniest amount. You cannot go someplace and get it and bring it back. The formless Self is never separated from you. It is closer than your heartbeat, though we do not always see it that way. And yet you seem to pursue it and yet you seem to get it. It is very difficult to explain.
The soul is different. The soul has a form. The soul is form, a very refined and subtle form, to be sure, but still a form and form obeys the laws of form. The soul has a beginning in Lord Siva and an end in union with Him. The purpose of life is to know God, your very Self. This is the end of all religion, of all religious effort. This is why we say that religion is this process of lifting ourselves up, attuning our minds to the laws of life so that we become stronger and more mature beings. We become higher beings, living in the higher chakras, and we come closer, and closer to God. God doesn't come closer to us. How will God come any closer? He is closer to you right now than your own thoughts. God isn't going to change. How will God change? It is we who grow, it is we who unfold through our efforts to understand and obey spiritual laws. It is we who come closer and closer to our destiny. God is our very Self, and that Self is within us all the time only we do not realize it. We can sense it, even now, but to experience it within ourselves is a much deeper realization. It is the ultimate realization on this planet, and it is the one work we are each here to do. It is our life.
The nature of God and the nature of man and his world has been pondered by humanity throughout history. God, the soul and the world - the nature and relationship of these three have inspired and perplexed uncounted generations. To some, God is an impersonal Energy, or Force. To others He is an aged Father. Others say God is Absolute and beyond all describing. The entire range of mankind's religious and philosophical systems of thought can be classified easily into one or more of these three views of God, and each view is correct, as far as it goes. But when we speak of God we must understand that He is all-pervading, expansive, beyond the mind that seeks to understand Him.
I like to say God, God, God. There is one God only, but man's comprehension of himself and his universe is helped by consciously exploring these three aspects of the one Divine Being: the Absolute Self, Pure Consciousness flowing through all form, and the Creator of all that is.
Lord Siva is the Absolute Self, the timeless, formless, spaceless Reality beyond the mind, beyond our subtlest understanding. This Self can only be experienced, and then you can never seem to explain it.
Lord Siva is pure consciousness, the Substratum, or Primal Substance of all that exists. He is the Energy within all existence. He is Satchidananda, or Truth, Consciousness, Bliss. As pure energy, pure consciousness most subtle, Lord Siva pervades all that is.
Lord Siva is the Primal Soul, the Original Soul and the most perfect Being. He is the Source and the Creator of all that has been created; the Lord of all beings. He created all souls out of Himself, and He is ever creating, preserving, and destroying forms in an endless Divine Dance. When I was quite young, I was taught that Lord Siva is God - God the Creator, God the Preserver, and God the Destroyer. Siva is all of these.
Whether He manifests existence out of Himself or withdraws it entirely into His Being it is all of Himself, it is all Siva, the Auspicious One. Existence is indeed eternal, yet manifesting and dissolving in natural cycles of time and space. When the scriptures speak of the world or the soul as being eternal, we must understand that it is not any particular part of the world or any single soul that exists forever. Rather it is the existence of that which we call world. When this world ends, worlds and worlds will continue their existence in other parts of this universe. And when a great soul merges forever into Siva, there will be other souls working their way through their karma toward moksha. In this sense we can say that the worlds and souls are eternal, and this is to me the most profound understanding of these references in scripture.
According to ancient Saivism. God created all souls, and the soul, too, ultimately dissolves in non-dualistic union with its Creator. These are the final conclusions of the Upanishads, and they state it in this way:
"He is the one God, the Creator.
He enters into all wombs.
The One Absolute Eternal Existence,
Together with His inscrutable maya,
Appears as the Divine Lord, and Personal God
Endowed with manifest forms.
With His Divine Sakti He holds dominion
Over all the worlds.
At the time of the Creation
And Dissolution of the Universe
He alone exists.
Our Lord is One without a second.
With His Divine Sakti He reigns over all the worlds.
Within man He dwells, and within all other beings.
He projects the universe, He maintains it,
And He withdraws it into Himself.
He is the Origin and the Support
Of all the Gods;
He is Lord to all.
He sees all and knows all.
Thou doth pervade the universe,
Thou art consciousness itself,
Thou art Creator of Time,
Thou art the Primal Being.
Here's another quote from the Upanishads:
The rivers in the East flow eastward.
The rivers in the West flow eastward.
The rivers in the West flow westward,
And all enter into the sea.
From sea to sea they pass,
And clouds lift them to the sky as vapor
And send them down as rain.
Just as these rivers,
When they are united with the sea,
Know no if they are this river or that river,
Likewise, all those creatures that I have named, when they come back from Brahman
Know not whence they came.
All those beings have their Being in Him alone.
He is the Truth.
He is the subtle existence of all.
Thou art That.
It is wonderful to study the scriptures, and to find in them these profound insights which then stimulate our own inner knowing. So, there is the Impersonal Absolute, the all-pervading consciousness and the Personal Lord and Creator. All these are God, Siva. Lord Siva is God.
As you study Saiva Siddhanta in the years ahead, you will undoubtedly encounter various interpretations of the scriptures, for there are various stage of unfoldment, each with their own perspectives and understandings. These differences should not confuse us, but rather challenge us to look ever deeper within ourselves for the truth. Remember, philosophical issues are never resolved through discussion or debate. The only permanent resolution is through unfoldment and realization. Once you have seen it for yourself from the inside, you will be able to understand how it is that different people interpret it differently."