by Dr K.Loganathan
[Agamism 2: The Centrality of Mantrayana; Agamism 3: No Authoritative Texts; Agamism 4: The Meaning Freedom; Agamism 5: The Temple as media]
There is a demand that I should write without any further delay on Agamism
and hence an attempt at this series. I am
about to complete the enormously fascinating literary masterpiece of Sulgi, the MutarIbiyam ( 2000 B.C.) that the
Sumeriologists have been calling Sulgi Hymn B. In this "song" that runs to 385 lines and resembles in this one of the
Pattuppaaddu of the third Sangam epoch, he outlines beautifully the philosophy that I have begun to call Agamism, the
philosophy that remains to this day but buried deep down in the weighty debris of Vedism that for historical reasons has
been projected as the foundation of Hinduism and along with that not only an authoritative position to Vedas but also to
Brahmins, all contrary to the very spirit of the Vedas and meaning of Brahminhood. There is a need to RECOVER this
deeper layer and which is still available among the Tamils especially their literature which is vast , to say the least.
The Absence of Authoritative Texts
The most important feature of this Tamil or Dravidian culture is that
THERE ARE NO AUTHORITATIVE texts like the
Bible of the Christians ,the Al Quran of the Muslims and Vedas of Vedic brahmins which embody ALL the TRUTHS
and which are beyond question and which determine to the minutest details the daily life. While in Sanskrit there are
Dharma Sastras like Manusmriti and so forth there NO such dharma sastras that seek to codify and regulate social
behaviour but only Niiti Sastras that are ethical treatises mostly in the form of recommendations and in this very much
like the ancient Sumerians. In other words there are NO TEXTS that can be quoted for establishing a TRUTH and
conclude that a conduct of behaviour is RIGHT etc. The place of such texts in religion is taken over by HYMNS and
which CONTINUE to be produced from time to time as the need arises and as poets of genious are born. And we find this
in the words of Sulgi himself: What are needed are soul-touching Hymns that would uplift the soul and only such hymns
will last forever and hence all others being historical and hence transitory.
281: a-na ab-tuku hur-re a-na ib-hul
Whatever may affect (the soul), whatever afflicts the sipirit
282. a-ba nam-til an-na ba-an-e
He who (succeeds in ) lifting up the soul
283. u-me-da u-ul-li-a-se
Then (will last) forever.
Thus the central elements in CULTURING man are hymns that touch the
soul and uplift it and make one rejoice in this
being uplofted and whoever and whatever makes this possible will last forever.
What we have here is the view of MEDIA as the most important element
in terms of a TECHNOLOGY that facilitates the
accessing modes of experience that remain for the most part UNACCESSIBLE. In other words the Sadhana, and hence
the Science of Hermeneutic Technology becomes that which is central in Agamism. We see this most clearly in
Civanjaanabotham of Meykandar where the second part, and the most important part, is divided into Sathanaviyal and
Payaniyal and the first parts the Piramanaviyal and IlakkaNaviyal, parts simply outlining TRUTHS that would justify the
technologies that get outlined in the second part. There is a RECOMMENDATION of what one should do with the
explanation of the OUTCOMES that would follow and why and with a proviso that anyone can question the wisdom of
What is important are PRAXIS and NOT DOGMAS or believes or prescriptions
of some mystic individuals dished out as
god-given words and hence BEYOND DOUBT and hence something one should subscribe to with HEAVEN promised
as the reward and hell if not. (The original geniouses like the Vedic Rishies, Buddha, Jesus and Mohd Nabi (sal) may
NOT have intended thus but however their followers appear to have made their utterances so )
We have to wrest out the essences of AGAMISM from these basic observations.
We notice that some CRITERIA are
given for them to become everlasting or at least long lasting. They must TOUCH the soul, make the person rejoice. And
over and above that it must UPLIFT the spirit and which presupposes that under normal circumsatances we REMAIN
NOT UPLIFTED and hence existentially in an ecology somehow LOW. But should we get UPLIFTED to another
existential world then there is REJOICING for several reasons. What is important here is that HYMNS UPLIFT and that
is the primary function of really potent hymns. But why this is considered so important for CULTURING the individuals?
Apparently there are LOW mental ecologies , the existence in which will make a person LOW in culture and hence
capable of everything low and beastly. However when such a person is UPLIFTED and transposed to a higher mental
ecology, then he would BECOME a person of HIGHER CULTURE with noble thoughts and PRAXIS consistent with
The emphasis in AGAMISM is this UPLIFTING a person into a higher mental
ecology and through that CULTURING
him and NOT through PRESCRIBING what ought to be done and what ought not. Once a person gets UPLIFTED by
whatever means he bceomes cultured and hence INCAPABLE of anything mean, low and evil.
In this view is already built-in another important fabrique of Agamic
Culture, that of OPENNESS and hence individual
freedom. The hymnal literature are given only a CRITERIA -- that they be soul-touching and be uplifting. And in this
they DO NOT isolate only particular literary productions as the soley authoritative and all others as UNRELIABLE and
the works of evil forces. There is FREEDOM for the production of such hymns and whether they will turn out to be
lasting or not is left to the texts themselves. Anyone can produce hymns but if they FAIL to touch the soul and uplift it by
transposing into a higher mental ecology, then they would NATURALLY die off. There is a kind meritocracy here at
work. Any one is FREE to sing hymns and project them as divine etc but however only the genuine will survive and the
false will naturally die off. One need NOT argue for its falsity etc. --just like a badly raised house will collapse and decay
so would hymns of no merits whatsover.
Now this also includes another kind of freedom , that of individuals
of DIFFERENT maturity and tastes. The hymns that
are uplifting to one group of people may NOT be so to another and vice versa. And here Agamism ALLOWS these
different types of Hymns for they serve to UPLIFT at least SOME MEMBERS of the Society. If they do so, even though
they may not be the HIGHEST possible but they are also allowed and encouraged as there are INDIVIDULAS who get
UPLIFTED from very low state of Being into something higher. Such hymns have some merits in this way and hence to
be allowed for.
Thus we have in AGAMIC society hymns and literature of various
sorts, the high and low. There are supremely elegant
verses of outstanding metaphysical reaches such as those of the Nayanmars and Alwars along with songs for the village
deities, like Mariamman thalaaddu etc. Both are allowed to be in society as MEDIA of some utility for all of them equally
serve the main purpose of uplifting the soul one way or another.
Agamism-2 :The Centrality of Mantrayana
One of the things that anyone who pours over these ancient Sumerian
texts would very soon discover is the enormous
importance Sumerians gave to the fine arts particularly music and dance and their centrality in the cultures of both the
Temple and the Palace. Of course MUSIC is part and parcel of every culture and primitive religious rituals are all
basically connected with dance and music and the attendent trance experiences. But here we find this practice continued
unabated and at the same developed further with some deep thinking about their effect and thus transormed into the
science of MANTRAYANA, another central element in Agamism. What surprises us is the SOPHISTICATION and
ANALYTICAL understanding that borders a rigourous science of a kind
The following lines are ample testimony to the enormous importance Sumerians
attached to MUSIC as such and also to
the ANALYTIC undertanding they had about them
These lines are only a sample and are taken from Sulgi's MutarIbiyam
(Hymn B) (2000 B.C.)(The Tamil renderings and
grammatical lexical discussions are availbale in Tamil and will be uploaded in the near future)
156. u nam-nar-ra gu-mu haba-sum
Dedicated myself also to music
158. tigi a-da-ab nam-nar su-du-a buru dagal-bi mu-zu
I penetrated the depth and width of the comsummate
musical training of the tigi and adab compositions
159. gis.su-kar-ke sa-NE dab-be hun-ga [x]
The su-kar instrument to appease the heart in anger
161. zi-zi-i su-su-ba gis mu-e-hur-hur
By pondering and striving I succeeded in fixing their rules
162. gis.gu-us gis.za-mi-a-kam-ma sag-ga mi-ni-zu
I learnt the sweetness of the thiry(?) stringed instrument and of the za-mi
163. gis.sa-es u sa nam-nar-ra-ka/ sa-sa gu-la mi-ni-zu
The 3(0)-stringed instrument, and the essence (heart) of the musical craft, the great sa-sa
164. gis.al-gar gis.sa-bi-tum in-di lugal-la/ MIR su si mi-ni-zu
The algar, the sabtum (which) are of the king's rite,
I taught the herald their fingering
165. gis.mi-ri-tum nig-SID-bi-se / su mu-un-bu-bu-i
I (taught/knew) how to pluck of the strings of the mirItum
166. gis. UR-za-ba-bi-tum gis.har-har gis.za-na-ru
The Urzababa instrument, the harhar, the zanaru
167. gis.ur-gu-la gis.dim lu ma-gur-ra-/NE-gin KA mi-ni-e
The " Big Dog" , the gis.dim, that give sounds like (the cries of ) boatman
We have the science of music called "'naranam" (nam-na-ra-) that
occurs very frequently and which is derived from Ta.
naar: a fibre string. Obviously the term is derived from the plucked intrument , the Yaaz which is mentioned above over
and above a variety of percussion intruments. Furthermore we have the occureence of the very importnat word
"in-di"(164) with the meaning 'the rites of kings" from which the word "Hindu" as well as Indra might have been derived.
Thus it may be possible that the word "indi, indu" was in use but more in the sense of the "rites of kings" rather than in the later sense of some kind of religion.
Thus it is possible then that Agamism, the generic name that we are
giving to the whole gamut of metaphysical
experiences and to the founding philosophy of such experiences , would include "Indu/ Hindu" originally restricted to the rituals of the royal house but later extended to describe a religion.
One of the reasons given for the very great importance attached to
music was accessibilty and entry into "su-bar-ra" from
which we can derive both "suvaram" meaning musical sounds of a kind that is still in use and "suvanam" meaning the
Thus as part of Hymnology that we have isolated to understand
the meaning of Agamism, we come to another notion
arising from music that was and still is associated very closely with Hymnology. The hymns are SUNG to the
accompaniment of a variety of musical intruments and there are RHYTHMS and CADENCES that were keenly studied
by the SUMERIANS. They saw that music stimulates the mind and enables a person to recover his energy and
enthusiasm. Or as Sulgi puts it, the music touches the FEELINGS and can gladden the heart.
Thus we get a CLUE as to the importance of Dance and Music and
to the connection they have in culturing the soul.
They TOUCH the FEELINGS and hence by training the ears to FINE MUSIC they can, not only transform the feelings
but also REFINE them! Thus MUSIC can be, if developed, like great everlasting Hymns -- uplift the soul and transpose it
into a higher existential world.
To culture the FEELINGS, as all psychologists would agree, is NOT easy
at all. But the Sumerians seized upon music
and dance which seem to have this capacity and cultivated them as an important field of Hermeneutic Sciences as
evidenced by the presence of numerous treatises written on Music and Dance most of which are lost. However in
Sillapathikaram and in some surviving texts such as Panjca Marabu and so forth we can get an idea of the immense
ANALYTICAL UNDERSTANDING they had of Music and Dance. And against this background it should not be
surprising that to this day dance and music are continued to be cultivated as integral parts of Temple rituals.
Against this background we can understand better why the ThirumuRais
were HYMNS coming with definite melody or
PaN and ragam. They were meant to be SUNG to the accompaniment of musical intruments and Sambantar is reputed to
have sung the hymns he wrote to the accompaniment of intrumental music provided by one Yazpaanar.
The Heaven as the Mantra Space
Another important reason for this must also be noted. I think
it is NOT an accident that the Sumerian"su-bar-ra" has come to mean
both "suvaram" meaning fine musical sound and 'suvanam" meaning the heavens.
It must be the case that as the
Sumerians pondered over the enormous culturing offect of fine music as such , they must have hit upon the
understanding that like the Hymns they too LIFT UP the souls to ANOTHER WORLD, the world where ONLY FINE
SOUNDS are present and which REFORMS and REFINES the soul in addition to bringing cheers to their heart.
Consistent with their ECOLOGICAL thinking they must have understood
this as another world and because of the
tremendous impact they had on persons, they must have called the HEAVENS, the Celestial World etc. The heavens is
NOT a world in outer space but rather that in which we ARE and which we can access through MUSIC of a particular
kind. An apt analogy is the Cyber Space which is already here but which we can access only with the use of computers.
Thus music became even more important than before as parts of
religious rituals-- they were seen as Sadhanas--
Hermeneutic Technology -- that would transpose an individual in the Mantra world, the HEAVENS and in this way
enable a person to enjoy genuine metaphysical life.
Agamism 3: No Authoritative Texts
By Authoritative Text I mean texts like Vedas, Bible , Al koran
and so forth which serve for the adherents the SOLE
AUTHORITY for settling the various questions that arise in the course of life and help them to come to a DECISION.
While there are many shades in the strictness with which these texts are taken as authority -- in all these traditions there
are also people who exercise a lot of caution-- the extreme situation is met with when they CLOSE their minds to
alternative possibilities and the possibility of TRANSCENDING these texts and live a life FREE of them. From looking
at the current situation it is impossible for a Christian or a Muslim to be so unless the Bible is taken as the SOLE authority
for the Christians and the Al Koran as such for the Muslims. It is that which gives the religious identity and which makes
them a member of a religious community that extends to politics also. The whole fabrique of life is fashioned in
accordance with the interpretive understanding of such scriptures and to avoid divergencies, there is also strict policing of
the interpretive meanings.
While there are some positive things in it -- they serve to maintain
people in some kind of religious life- the negative thing
is that it CLOSES the mind so that if they take ONE scripture as authoritative ANOTHER is REJECTED. Within the
authoritarian framework this, of necessity has to be so for otherwise there will confusion. One cannot have TWO
MASTERS whose demands are different.
Confining ourselves to Dravidian Culture we find that such a scriptural
TEXT is ABSENT even though some individuals
particularly those enflamed by the reformatory Dravidian movement of recent times have tried to raise the status of
ThirrukkuRaL to this position but very much contradictory to the very spirit of ThirukkuRal itself. ThirukkuRal does not
pretend to be the SOLE AUTHORITY but on the contrary emphsises a THINKING culture by defining intelligence itself
as that which SEEKS truth from the utterances no matter what the substance is and no matter who declares it.
This is interesting for against the background of Sumero Tamil , we
can see that while it is the OLDEST literary culture in
the world having written literature dating back to about 4000 B.C., it has NOT produced anything close to the Vedas,
Bible and Al koRan.
Why is this and which constitues the ESSENCE of Agamism, in my view?The
roots are to be found even in Sumerian
times in such utterances of Sulgi as follows:
MutarIbiyam ( Sulgi Hymn B)
241 KA-an-na Ka En-lil-la-ta
The words of An, the words of Enlil
242. zi kalam-ma zi-kur-ra-ka-ka su sa sa-ba-gal
(who are) the life of the country, the life of all foreign lands
243. ga-la-nu-dag-ge mus nu-tum-mu-bi me-en
I never neglected, constantly ( revered them)
Sulgi claims that though he knows the words of An, the BEING-IN-ITSELF
and that of Enlil , BEING-as the-WORLD
constitute the very life of ALL nations, he only revered them , consulted them without neglect so that he would make the
correct decisions. But supremely authoritative is AN, the BEING Himself and NOT the words that emerge within a
historical situation and probably to guide the individuals caught up in a certain dilemma. I can give more evidences such
as the Sirbiyam of Enhudu Anna who declares indirectly such a notion by the very compostion of the excordium itself.
She mentions that by composing that exordium she won the favour of An or Innana and receivedd all the glorifies that
she somehow lost. The appeal is NOT to some scriptural text but s to BEING itlself DIRECTLY
Now Appar provides another metaphysically profound expalanation as to
why only BEING is the Sole Authority and
NOT anything else-- kings, religious leaders, scriptural texts , traditions and what not. For it is only BEING who regulates
the FUNDAMENTAL processes, processes such as life and death, longevity and untimely death, misery of guilt and
happiness by being free from it and so forth.
This is available in the following verse of Appar(969) where I provide
only the relevant parts of my own interpretive
The citizenship to metaphysical world of BEING provides for him an alternative,
that unlike the socio-political,
LIBERATES the individuals and where only actions that are liberating will be strongly favoured and fostered. This
is another system also available in existence-- that of metapolitical system with all kinds of armies of BEING.
First BEING is there whereby as the Pancakritiyan , HE who conceals
an reveals and in revealing produces, sustains
and destroys the world and everything in it. He is also the MALE-FEMALE and hence the POWER underlying the
sexual dynamics and hence HE who controls the sexual libido and happiness as such. In this HE also burns to ashes the
impurities and replenishes the anmas with the much needed psychic energy that reactivates the sexuality and makes
posible one to live longer.HE is also the BULL of VIRILITY that provides a healthy and youthful body and hence the
GROUND of good health. And also HE is the supremely ETHICAL who bounces upon the immoral like a tiger but
would and at the same time GRACE those who repent and reform with kindness and gentility like the sanguine deers
These are the TANTRAS, the strategies in the WAR GAME that HE conducts throughout and to which all of us are
subject to whether we like it or not.
The ordinary political processes and the machinery that
maintains it, sustains only the life of ensnarement and does
NOT have the powers such as those of BEING to work towards liberation. BEING has control over the
FUNDAMENTAL PROCESSES of life whereelse the king only over a small fragment of it and that to with a very
fragile hold-- it lasts only as long as the people consent to be his army.
Now replace here the King with a SCRIPTURAL TEXT raised to the
level of an absolute authority and we can see why
they cannot supplant BEING. What emanates from BEING does NOT exhaust BEING,; BEING always remains the
OVERFLOWING SURPLUS and hence NOT CAPTURED in entirety in any scriptures. If this is the TRUTH then
certainly no scriptural text can be the SOLE AUTHORITY for there are LACKS in it, BEING overflows whatever that is
available in the scriptures.
Thanks for the question. But first let me see whether I have understood
you correctly. From what you have said it appears
that you agree that in Agamism there are NO scriptural texts that are Soley AUTHORITATIVE, that there are NO SUCH
TEXTS that are emanations from BEING who is SOLEY AUTHORITATIVE. However you seem to claim that this does
NOT mean we don't have an AUTHORITATIVE view or a fundamental UNDERSTANDING of BEING that prevents us
becoming a Christian, Muslim and so forth whose faith requires subscription to a particluar scriptural texts as the THE
Now I think you are proposing that Agamism in NOT subscribing
to any scriptural texts opts for ALL and seeks a
COMMON and SHARED VIEWPOINTS in all these. And in this you also a see a poblem: the problem of identity: What
am I? What are we vis a vis Christians Muslims and so forth.
Let this be the substance of this Fourth Essay on Agamism
Agamism 4: The Meaning Freedom.
Agamism stands for MOVEMENT of the spirit in which we DISCARD identities
as we progress just as we discard the
cloths we wear as they get worn off. It does NOT deny that people need the security- providing identities and tribalism
along with it but it also encourages the dissolution of them on the way. It takes all to a metaphysical WAY of Being in
which the tendency to claim " I am this, I am that" is DISSOLVED so that it becomes supremely irrelevant and
unimportant what identity we have. In fact it seeks to RAISE EXISTENCE to the level where we can TRANSCEND
such socio-psychological socio-political necessities so that one lives as "Naam aarkkum kudi allom" as Appar has
declared and which means Being-in-the -World i.e LIVING but NOT belonging to any of the TRIBES, political religious and what not. This is the life of TRUE FREEDOM and which remains always the POSSIBILTY of ALL
INDIVIDUALS. Agamism as a culture understands this as the human essence itself and the cultural impulses and
dynamics it promotes are consistent with it. And because of this it enshrines what I call Njanasamattuvam, a metaphysical equality of all indivuals including the animals in terms all having this POSSIBILTY and RIGHTS to move towards it and live as such.
You can see that this CUTS across and undermines not only the VarnashramaDharma of Hinduism that perpetuates Caste distinctions in terms of the authority of Vedas but also the religious identities which become the traps that arrest the mind from the FULL exercise of the FREEDOM it is capabale of .
The Experience of Light.
This claim is NOT based upon some authority in terms of a person or
texts but rather a TRUTH that can be tested by
anyone who wish to challenge it. It is an UDERSTANDING and it belongs to HERMENEUTICS , an understanding that anyone can acquire provided he strives earnestly towards it. And in this the Experience of LIGHT that is recorded by the
mystics all over the world become supremely relevant and Agamism right from Sumerian times HAS BEEN a culture that understood this possiblity and its universality.
The Sirbiyam of En Hudu Anna ( 2200 B.C.) begins with this arresting line:
"Nin me sar-ra u dalla-e-a" meaning " Lady of all Powers, resplendent Light"
And from from the epic tale "Enmerkar and Aratta" ( 2400 B.C) we have:
500. da-ga-ni mah-am sa-bi su-su~-am
His speech was (now) great, its contents expanded
501. Kin-gi~a ka-ni dugud su nu-mu-un-an-gi-gi
The emissary, his mouth( being) heavy, was not able to repeat it
502. bar-kin-gi-a ka-ni dugud su nu-mu-un-da-an-gi~gi-da-ka
Because the emissary, his mouth (being) heavy, was not able to repeat it.
503. en-kul-aba~a-ke im-e Su bi-in-ra inim dub-gin bi-in-gub
The lord of Kulaba patted clay and wrote the message like (on a present-day) tablet
504. u-bi-a inim im-ma gub-bu nu-ub-ta-gal-la
Formerly, the writing of messages on clay was not established
505. i-ni-se Utu ude-a ur he~n-na-nam-ma-am
Now, with Utu's bringing forth the day verily, this was so.
These few lines in addition to throwing immense light on the origin
of Sumerian writing system, in fact on the origin of
the art of writing itself, also disclose how this unknown poet connects the origin of this invention not only with
EriMerkar (or En kulaba) but also dinger Utu, the sun Deity. The lines 504 & 505 are very important in conjunction
with this. The poet is aware of a time where the literary productions were mainly oral, recited, memorized and repeated.
But now however thanks to the brilliance of EnMerkar, the art of writing has come to prevail. But how was EnMerkar
able to accomplish this? The answer is given by the poet himself in line 505. Today the inner sun has arisen and brought
forth day or clarity and on account of this inner illumination, the art of writing exists (ur; Ta. uRu) thus (
he-en-na-nam-ma: verily Ta. innanamma (ingnganam) : thus). The utu here is not only the physical sun that brings forth
daylight but also the inner radiance that illuminates the mind and drives away ignorance and incompetence. EnMerkar is
the person or king or deity in whom this inner illumination is disclosed, shows itself in an intellectual accomplishment of a magnificent kind.
That ENMerkar is the later day VEL mUrukan of Tamils is quite
obvious and I have attended to this in great detail in the monograph on
"Inner Radiance". However the point here is that it was quite
a common phenomenon , the experience of
Light, the Utu, the Inner Sun and which underlies the birth of Creative Intelligence as such. The art of writing on clay
tablets was attributed to the GROWTH of UNDERSTADING as illuminated by the rise of Inner Sun , the Dingir Utu.
This experience of Light is NOT peculiar to the Tamils alone. William James in his "Variety of Religious Experinece" has drawn our attention to it by quoting extensively from the writings of the mystics from all over the world.
The Authoritativeness of Light
The experience of light by producing Illuminations, develops UNDERSTANDING
and the LIMIT is reached when
Absolute Consciousness , the CIVANJANAM is experienced. This is THE substance of Meykandars Civanjanabotham
and I have already written quite extensively on it. This Civanjanam in dissolving TEMPORALITY, the psychological
time consciousness , wipes out TIME consciousness itself as a fabrique of Human Understanding and hence the very
condition of the emergnece of the-tic consciousness, the CudduNarvu. Now all linguistic utterances presuppose TIME as
the fabrique of the mind for without TENSE there cannot be Noun Phrases and Verb Phrases. And without the capacity to form such grammatical elements how can there be LANGUAGE as such? If at this level the conditions for language to be are overcome how can there be SCRIPTURES of whatever kind? And if there no scriptural utterances are possible then of course Civanjaanam is POST LINGUISTICAL. However it may the Deep Structure of aal sciptures and hence
something attainable by studying them and then TRANSCENDING them and establish COMMUNION with BEING in
Deep Silence, the Silence of Buddha.
Only because of this the Saivites opt for Silent Dialogue and Cin Muttirai as the appropriate language of communication as this point.
All of us are UNITED at this point with NO IDENTITY distinguishing one from another.
Sorry for the delay. Just that the demand on my
time is great and I have to organise myself neatly. Not that I am
complaining but nevertheless the time is limited and topics on Agamism are inteølectually very demanding just like the
verses of Naymanars and Azvars.
Any way with respect toyour queries I must explain
that I do NOT subscribe to the Aryan Dravidian divide. This divide
is a fabrication of the IndoEuropeans and NOT something subsribed
to by our ancinnts including the Brahmins. Yes there was Varnasrama Dharma
but it was NOT Aryan-Dravidian Divide, it was a sociological stratification
WITHIN a homegenous community, homogeneous despite many different
ethnicities. It was homogeneous in a cultural sense and
homegeneity is provided by AGAMISM which is IMPLCIT in the living cultural dynamics more than in written texts.
Vedism is an offshoot of this vast tradition just as are Tantrism and so many other cults that tend to distort the true essence of Agamism.
However you are RIGHT in noting that the scpritures
though valued immensely, are NOT elevated to the most
authoritarian position and that when the Vedists tried to do that they met challenges continuously till it was undermined.
You may say that Buddha was probably the most prominent among them and historically very influential. But another
revolt came from the South , from the Pulavars or philosophers of the Sangam epoch who contributed to the rise of
Tholkaappiyam with its focus on existential analytics using the LANGUAGE and variety of its uses for reaching the
depths of the mind.
Anyway I want to focus on the role of the Temple in this fifth article.
Agamism -5 :The Temple as a Media
The archeological records show that temples were built in Sumeria even
around 4000 B.C. and surprisingly enough with
many donations coming from the women folk. And interestingly enough the most notable verses on Temples were sung
by the immensely philosophic lady En Hudu Anna (2200 B.C.) who has also analysed the important psychological and
sociological functions of the temple. The Temple was a MEDIA for the formation of the mind and channeling it in the
RIGHT direction. We see such ideas below: (taken from Kes Temple Hymns)
32. e* zi-da-gal an-ne us-sa
(Great, true temple, reaching the sky)
33. e* men-gal an-ne us-sa
(Temple , great crown, reaching the sky)
34. e* tir-an-na an-ne us-sa
(Temple, rainbow, reaching the sky)
35. e* mus-bi an-sa-ga la--a
(Temple, whose platform is suspended from heaven's midst)
36. te-me -bi abzu-a si-ga
(Whose foundation fills the Abzu)
37. gizzu-bi kur-kur-ra du-la
Here we have lines describing what is now called the Vimanam or gopuram,
the Tower that meets ones eye even from a
distance. This has a psychlogical function of lifting up the consciousness by FREEING the mind from the earthly
concerns so that a person becomes FORGETFUL of the earthly concerns at least during those moments he wanders into the temple. Here the Temple serves as a MEDIA that transmutes thinking of a person and USHERS him into ANOTHER WORLD , the heavenly world, the world of the Gods. Not only that , the FINITE mind, preoccupied with narrow personal concerns is lifted up to see the VASTNESS of the universe and through that realise how feeble and miniscule he and his thinking is. The temple through the massive tower HUMILIATES and WOUNDS the human EGO by the disclosure of the VASTNESS of the UNIVERSE.
This very ancient idea gets repeated in the following verses of Thirumular.
ilinga mataavatu yaarum aRiyaar
ilingka maavatu eNdisai ellaam
ilingka maavatu eNeN kalaiyum
ilingkama taaka edutatatu ulakee.
People do not seem to know what is meant
by Civalingkam. This vast manifest universe is actually Civalingkam. And
all the sciences and arts that drive away ignorance is also Civalingkam.
In fact this whole world serves as the Civalingkam
i.e. the symbolic media that INFORMS of the presence of BEING.
tuuya vimaanam tuulama taakumaal
aaya cataacivamaakum naR suukkumam
aaya palipiidam pattira lingkamaam
aaya aranilai aayntukoL vaarkakkee.
The Vimanam or Kopuram is the Gross presentation
of BEING who as Cataciva remains as its Suukkumam .ie, the
Hidden reality, the concealed presence. The palipiidam, the spot for sacrifice is the Pattira lingkam, i.e that which is
spread out for the individuals to SACRIFICE their ego. Understand by proper investigations that this is how the temple is
structured as media for understanding Aran Nilai, i.e the Way of BEING.
So we can see that the Temple is peculiar media which shapes and
channels thinking in such a way that a person who
allows his understanding to be formed by it is LED to understand BEING-IN-ITSELF and
BEING-as-PHENOMENAL-PRESENCE i.e. BEING as Civa and Cataaciva.
The Vimanam or TOWER is for attracting the worldly mind unto the
metaphysical depths . The Tower is also
ANdalingkam, the Symbolic presentation of this vast universe in its entirety. But this is only the first step, the first kind of
mental reorientation it effects. And as the person enters the temple and moves around noting everything inside it including the arcanas the recitation of mantras and so forth, his eyes are OPENED towards the DEEP STRUCTURE that gives
SENSE or Meaning for the whole temple as media. It INFORMS but what doe it inform or communicate? It
communicates the PRESENCE of BEING , BEING-as- Phenomenal- Presence, BEING-as-THERE for his
comprehension -- BEING as Cataciva.
But this happens only when a person witnesses the Deity in the
KaruvaRai, the dark chamber when the priest lights it up
with camphor. But one should see standing near the spot for Sacrifice which is seen as the Pattira lingakam. The word
"Pattiram" means leaves and hence something like a receiver on which we have to place i.e sacrifice something. What we have to sacrifice at this spot is our EGO, our self-conceited ARROGANCE and along with it our METAPHYSICAL
IGNORANCE. Only when we sacrifice our EGO that narrows and delimits our horizon of thinking that we can
WITNESS the Hidden or concealed presence of BEING.
There are a lot more such notions even in Sumerian literature.
Such fine analysis of the metaphysical siginificance
underlying temple worship are also elsewhere in Thirumantiram as well as in numerous Siddha texts.
The Pedagogic Functions
The most important function of temples as media is that not only they
FREE the mind from the earthly concerns but also
PULL it into the DEPTHS and through that make a person SACRIFICE the elements that narrows his vision and hence
his understanding. It is a media that transmutes the EXPERIENCE itself so that a person who undergoes it gets
PURIFIED by a vision of the Depths. There is TEACHING but in a silent manner, using only GRAPHICS and SOUND
so that the mind gets TUNED to its own hidden potentials, and of course to different degrees depending upon the
cognitive maturity and sensitivity of the individuals.
The PULLING into the Depths is simultaneously effecting personal growth,
the person gets tranformed into a better
person. And once a person becomes better certainly his THINKING will NOT be same as before, it will be on a HIGHER
level. Now if the thiking becomes PURER and Higher so would be the behaviour.
So we see the immense Sophistication with which Agamism DEVELOPS the
mind and because of which it sees the
scriptural texts only as adjuncts to such experiences.