[Agamism 26: BEING and Purusha; Agamism 27: The Yoga Nidra of Vishnu; Agamism 28 :BEING as the TERRIBLE]
Agamism 26: BEING as Purusha
Studies on the Ten Avatars of Thirumal
Dear Friends ,
For a long time I have been interested to study in sufficient depth the metaphysical understanding hidden in theconcepts of TEN avatars so well established in Vaishnavism. But it has to be postponed for lack of a native book thatdeals with these concepts adequately though these avatars are mentioned in Tamil right from the days of Paripaadalperhaps 2nd Cent B.C. I have also come across mention of some of these Avatars and mythical themes inSumeroTamil texts where Thirumaal is called Se-ir maal Mu-ul-lil and so forth.
Thus Hinduism as Agamism shows a remarkable continuity from Sumerian times thus ruling out that it was a contribtuions of theAryans or IndoAryans whoever it may be.
Recently I came across an ancient book that goes with a
name Asdap Prabhantam, a collection of EIGHT
literary texts composed by Pillai PerumaaL Ayangkaar also known as MaNavaaLa Taasar. He is said to be a discipleof Kuurataazvar and is ascribed the date of 12th century. This collection of EIGHT of what are called
CiRRilakkiyam ( minor literary texts) contains also Thiruvarangattu Maalai , a text of about 110 verses that detailsall the Avatars of Thirumaal with metaphysical insights that are very interesting.
So I thought why not make this text available also in English along with my analysis of Avatars which are to meRoot Archetypes in the Jungian sense. These archetypes are noted to occur as the constituents of the dreamexperiences of people all over the world. I have come across them in both in my dreams as well as in drawings of the Access Test especially the Baum tests . This is study may contribute substantially to understand the structure ofwhat Jung calls the Collective Unconscious, a layer of Unconscious common to the whole of humanity.
I am giving the text in the original Tamil along with English transliterations and translations guided here by the elegant commentary by Vidvan M. Narayana Velup Pillai.
This text has been published by Mullai Nilaiyam (1995) and edited by Prof. M. Canmukam Pillai.
In the following two verses, the author describes BEING as Purusha , an understanding of BEING in relation to a fascinating viewof Cosmos that has been among the Tamils from at least the Sumerian times.
padupparvait paNi mellaNaiyaaka paruvaraiyaal
tadupparvaip paNdu maNdu kalmaari taraNiyidantu
eduppavarait tam adiyaar idum paccilaikku mutti
koduppavaraic cempoR kooyiliLLee kaNdu koNdannee!
I managed to behold in the Temple of Pure Gold , Tirumaal who sleeps over the soft bed formed by the coiled snakeAticeedan, who with the massive Mountain Govarttanam stopped the rain of endlessss rocks that was showeredduring ancient times, who assuming the form of the Boar went underground and brought back the EARTH when itwas swallowed by the primordial flood waters; and who grants redemption for those humble souls who worship Himoffering the leaves of sacred TuLaci
aaLaanavarkaL kan kaLikuura arangkattu aravaNaimeel
kaaLaasalam enak kaNdu koNdeen marai kaaNavoNNaata
taaL aayiram cempon maamudi aayiram taama nedun
tooL aayiram tirukkaN aayiram konda cootiyaiyee
I managed to behold that for those who have become the sincere devotees to BEING who as NarayaNa sleepsover the bed of Coiled Snake in Tiruvarangkam, is actually the Hill that drives away all the poisons of Existence. Ihave also witnessed the fact this BEING of Pure Light who is beyond the reach of any of the scriptures actuallymanifests Himself with a thousand legs , a thousand eyes a thousand crowns of Pure Gold, and a thousand majesticshoulders of Black Hue and stands as the cosmos all just to redeem the creatures!
We should avoid dismissing such magnificent METAPHORICAL descriptions
of BEING that actually articulate theARCHETYPAL presentations of BEING
as silly idolatry without trying to UNDERSTAND what is being
communicated by such images. It is clear that the author is trying to make sense of the COSMOLOGICAL matterswithin with stands EXISTENCE of the human beings and the other creatures and all because this EARTH is there assuch and such. An attempt is made here to understand the COSMOLOGICAL factors that sustains this world, thisEARTH , a globe , an insignificant dot in the cosmos but nevertheless so important for human existence.
The BEING can stand on His own without MANIFESTING Himself in whatever form. But HE is NOT unkind inview of the fact HE knows that there are countless number of anmas fully in the DARK and stand there already doomed.Thus HE shows Himself as the Cosmos , and spreading out within it as the immanent presence, the Antariyaamin. Itis the PRESENCE of BEING as the Cosmos as well as the Spirit spread out everywhere that is being described asBEING with a thousand legs faces eyes and so forth, a form of description that has been there from Sumerian times and something also that has entered the Vedic lore such as Purusha Suktam and so forth.
But within this, BEING does not remain INDIFFERENT to whatever happens in the world. And it is only at thislevel of understanding the FUNCTIONING of BEING that the notion of Avataaram is brought in . The COSMOShas to be MAINTAINED as suitable location for the continuous presence of the creatures. The rain of ROCKS mayactually be the countless number of meteors that always can hit the earth and destroy it as it has done to some other planets . The Kovarttanam means the HILL where reside the Gods and hence it looks as though there are deities that actcontinuously so that the earth remains free of the impact of these rocks in the heavens.
The Earth also can be DISSOLVED or withdrawn into the primordial Spacetime Matter and thus remain resolved andpresent nonseprated from such a primordial matrix of Matter. It is here that BEING is said to take to Form of the Boarthat with its tusks digs into this Primordial Matter and isolates the EARTH as such and brings it out into the open ,makes it stay there so that an ECOLOGICAL environment suitable for the living presence of the creatures iscontinuously available.
The TuLaci may stand for VEGETATION in general and worshipping BEING with offers of this TuLaci may in factstand for an attitude of LOVE unto NATURE, the need to control the acquisitive passions to destroy nature andthereby introduce an ecological IMBALANCE that can be self destructive. The LOVER of BEING does notINTERFERE with NATURE but lives along treating the vegetation as HERBS ( paccilai) that would cure his soul.
It is also interesting that BEING is described as PURE LIGHT and someone who resides in the Temple of Pure Gold.BEING in Himself is LIGHT which is the FORMLESS FORM and hence beyond all these Avatars, archetypalpresentations. The Pure Gold stands for deathlessness, everlastingness and BEING as present in the Golden Temple also means HE IS THERE indestructible, hence present no matter what happens to the cosmos.
Agamism 27: The Yoga Nidra of Vishnu
One of the notions that accounts for the continuity of Hinduism from Indus period is Yoga as one of the motifs depicted in sealsfound is that of Yoga posture. Now from the Sumerian we can substantiate this with numerous textual evidences. It turns out thatYoga practices were already well developed as part of Temple Culture and there are many asanas and meditative posturesmentioned.
Though Yoga is predominantly Saivite but in earlier times it was also integral to Vaishnavism. One of the most widespread Yogaconcept in Vaishnavism is that of aRituyil that is mentioned in Paripaadal ( ~ 200 B.C.?) and which gets mentioned in this text asYogat Tuyil or Yoga Nidra, the Yogic Sleep.
This is mentioned quite widely also in Sumerian and I give the following lines from "a-ab-ba hu-luh-ha"
56. u-lul-la ku-ku gud sun-na ( The One Who Feigns Sleep, Wild Bull)
81 u-lul-la ku-ku za-e < mah-me-en> ( The One Who feigns Sleep, you are exalted)
This notion of Feigned Sleep appears to be the same as "aRi tuyil " and "Yogat Tuyil" of Tamil texts. The following line alsocomes along with this description of the epithets of EnLil :
79. i-bi-du ni-te-na za-e < mah-me-en> ( The One Inspecting for Himself, you are exalted)
Here the translation of 'i-bi-du" as "inspecting " though not wrong is better rendered as "seeing". The word 'ibi" is a variant of Su.igi ( ingi?) and Tamil 'imai" , eyes and 'du" is the auxiliary verb " idu: to do". Thus it is another form of Tamil verb "imai-idu"meaning 'seeing" and which is rendered in Modrn tamil as "imaittidu". The 'ni' here though originally the neutral personal pronoun but now stays as "nii" the second person singular. The 'te-na" survives as 'taanee": by oneself.
Thus we have here the notion that Enlil SEES on OWN meaning His SEEING is NOT caused by any other force. His SEEING isoriginal , the most Primordial , HE effects it on His OWN and because of which there exist seeing as such in the world.
In the following verse of MaNavaaLa Taacar we have the smae meaning
brought in greater detail. The visions possible duringYoga Nidra are not
the ordinary sensual but rather that of Transductive Perceptions, visions
such as those that become availableduring dreams and similar states of
transductive perception that the Saivites call the Visions of the Third
Eye, the Nutal Vizi Naaddam . MaNavaalar also notes that Vishnu assumes
this posture so that human beings can enjoy such visions and through thatbecome
aware of the aesthetically endearing, that which cultures man and lifts
him up into the realms of the Good and Noble,
those that are termed the KaliyaNa KuNam.
puung kaaviri punal kooyiluLLee mikka pookamellaam
yaangkaaNa yookattuyil koNdavaaRu eLLum eNNeyumpool
niingkaatu ulakattu uyirkuyiraaki niyaamakanaay
oongkaaramaay atan udporuLaay ninRa oNcudaree
In this Temple by the sides of the cool waters of Kaviri, BEING having shown Himself as the Pure Light alsodiscloses himself as the Primordial Sound, the Logos or Ongkaaram and its evolutes and like the oil within the seedsstands as the animating principle within all the living creatures showing forever all that is Good and Beautiful. Now inaddition to that in order that I behold all these excellence He becomes the BEING-as- Yogi, sleeping the sleep inwhich the hidden are seen, so that I can enjoy the transductive perceptions.
Here we see the author touching the universal ground within which BEING is apprehended as both Pure Light andthe Primordial Sound, the roots forms of the genesis of UNDERSTANDING as such. At this level there is NODIFFERENCE whatever between Saivism, Saktaism and VaishNavism. Also such experiences have been recorded inthe mystical experiences of many mystics throughout the world and belonging to different religions. BEING whenapprehended at the deepest level shows Himself as Pure Light and Sound.
The notion of being within all living creatures as the animating principle is a notion that can be understood only withinHermeneutics where everything is seen as a TEXT with a duality of structure - the Surface and the Deep. Here whenwe take the living creatures and appropriate their living essence, the spiritual character as a TEXT then we can note the presence of BEING within all as the Deep Structure as that which really animates them, makes them 'living" as such.
But the most important and something that became historically an important
contribution of the VaishNava
metaphysics is that BEING stands here as Niyaamakan, He who feeds into the mind of all creatures the aestheticallyappealing, the Good and the Beautiful, the KalyaaNa kuNam as they say. Piercing through the evil ugly anddespicable that like the Saivites the Tamil VaishNavites also see as that contributed by the Malam, that which darkensthe soul, BEING presents the esthetically captivating , the beautiful and pleasant and thereby making the anmas enjoythe higher kind of cultural life.
But these things remain hidden and covered-up by the Brutish Matter and to see it all one must have a gaze thatpenetrates into the interiority of the superficially physical. For this one must be capable of transductive perceptions,visions into depths akin to that which become available while dreaming and enjoying visions beyond the sensual. Theauthor notes that even this competence becomes available to one only because BEING takes the form of ONE inYoga Nidra, the Yogic Sleep, a sleep which is NOT real sleep but rather one in which one continues to SEE but not with the senses. In such visions do not use senses but perhaps the sense faculties available in the brain and are visionsnot formed by the input from the senses but by inputs from BEING Himself , BEING as the Yogic in false sleep. And it is here that BEING as Light and Sound also become relevant.
Agamism 28 : BEING as the TERRIBLE
Hinduism is frequently misunderstood when they look at the TERRIBLE forms such as Kali Rudra Narasimma and so forth.These forms of WRATH of BEING are different from the DEVILISH and FIENDISH, the Satanic Forces that in themythologies are depicted as Asuras or the Raksasas ( Ta. arakkan)
The terrible forms of BEING are just as ancient as the benign
and BEING assumes such forms for the GOOD of mankind. Both the terrorists
and heroes kill people but while the heroes are respected and sometimes
even worshipped as Mahaviiras, the terrorists are hated and despised and
their death are matters for joyous celebrations. The Heroes are people
who are possessed of the TERRIBLE forms of BEING while the terrorists that
of the Satanic Forces. Human beings become the platform for the actions
of these hidden forces. Of course, as the mythologies indicate to us ,
the devas are always the victorious teaching us that
BEING is the Most Powerful.
Among the TERRIBLE forms of BEING the most ancient seems to be Mahakaali,
and Rudra may be the masculine form of thisrather primitive form of MOTHER.
At least this is what we can gather from the exordium of Enhudu Anna
(~ 2200 B.C.) towards In-anna ( Ta. iin annai: the mother who generates
all). In this hymn , in addition to describing Her as the resplendent
LIGHT ( u dalla-e-a) and the beloved of An ( nun-gi an-na) she is
also described as the devastratrix of the lands ( kur kul kul ) Incidentally
the term for Kali in Tamil "KoRRavai " is derivable from this expression
: kur kul kul > kul kul amma> kul amma> kol
Some other lines of great interest are the following:
22. ni-me-gar-hus-bi u-mu-re-gin ( In fear and trembling at (your) tempestuous radiance)
*Ta. nOy mey kaal ushNabi uu mooree kaaN
23. me-ta me-hus-bi su ba-e-re -ti ( They receive from you their just deserts)
*Ta. meyttu mey ushNabi cuur avaree til
Thus these line indicate that the devilish individuals are PUNISHED and that it is part of LOVE of BEING that He/She assumes the destructive forms.
In the following verse, Sambantar provides a similar kind of interpretation
of why BEING assumes such terrible forms. He locates the difference at
the INTENTIONS these forces display: while the Satanic Forces create religions
and ideologies that IMPRISON the mind and build metaphysical castles to
keep them imprisoned thus, the Divine Forces DESTROY such religions
and ideologies to FREE the mind and make people progress within a
frame work where questions are asked and investigations are continuously
karattaan mali cirattaan kari urittaayatoor padattaan
purattaar podipadat tannadi paNi muuvarkadku oovaa
varattaan mika vaLittaan idan vaLar punnai muttarumbi
virat taatu ponmaNi iinRaNi Viizim Mizalaiyee!
The Satanic forces that cause there to be religions that do not allow free questions emerge with thousands of handsindicative of their tireless strategies, thousands of heads showing that they never tire of thinking of more damages, andalways wear DARK hued garments that disclose the presence of DEVIANT thoughts. Since these forces would imprison the anmas in the Three Castles of aaNavam Kanmam and Maayai, BEING would assume the FIERY FORMS to burn to ashes these fortresses of mental slavery and set the anmas on the course of FREEDOM. Now when these fiends repent and beseech the LOVE of BEING, He would grace them tirelessly with all they desire in order to develop further. Such a BEING stays in this beautiful temple of Viizim Mizalai surrounded by Punnai treesthe pearl-like flowers of which spread pollens of pleasant fragrance all around.
From Sumerian times at least, we have seen the attempts of man to comprehend the Divine Presence everywhere in terms of images of Purusha probably derived from Peru-saan , large person that has given us such terms as Pemmaan, PerumaaL and so forth. Here in this verse we have however the same kind images but for understanding the presenceof EVIL everywhere and the countless number of ways it shows itself. If the divine forces, the Devas, are active andfull of strategies and ever active to establish the GOOD in the world, so are the Satanic forces which are equallypowerful and inventive but for arresting the THINKING LIFE of the anmas where lies the possibilities of becomingtruly FREE.
The Fiendish forces are described symbolically here as with many hands and faces, a way in which POWERFULbeings are disclosed in dreams with the evil ones also with beast-like bodies. Here the description of Black Garmentsas the attires of the Asuras, is also symbolic and also experienced as such in dreams. The BLACK in the dreamsdisclose the presence of DARK thoughts and hence cruel and murderous intentions.
BEING assumes the FIERY and equally TERRIBLE forms such Kaali Narasimma Rudra and so forth or at leastshows Himself as such in the language of dreams to show that HE combats with equal if not more FEROCITY forotherwise the Satanic forces cannot be defeated.
Isn't there then a DIFFERENCE between the Divine and the Satanic forces?
Certainly there is and Sambantar brings it out quite beautifully in this verse. The INTENTIONS of the Devas andAsuras are different. The Asuras develop religions that ARREST and ENSLAVE the mind by creating castles in theSpace and putting all inside them and NEVER allowing them to escape from them. This is tantamount to creating a believe system or an ideology and IMPLANTING that in the mind of people and NEVER allowing them to bequestioned at all. For once questioning is allowed and they become "aayum camayangkaL" , religions that investigate and learn, then of course they are set on the path of FREEDOM, that which the satanic forces will never allow. The Devas on the other hands as forms of BEING will forever destroy such fortresses so that the FREEDOM of mind is maintained and LEARNING of the useful kind always takes place. Thus while the divine forces destroy in order to release the anmas, the Asuras destroy in order to imprison the mind and make them stagnate and become evil like them.
Furthermore BEING is never vengeful even though very destructive unto the destroyers of FREEDOM. What BEING intends is to CHANGE or TRANSFORM and when the Satanic forces lose their satanic intentions then are showeredwith all the good things so that there is nothing but all kinds of prosperity and happiness, a state of the worldcommunicated symbolically by the imagery of a Tree that produces pearl-like flowers that also spread out pollens of good fragrance.
Agamism 29 The Dance and the Diksa
The notion of DANCE plays a central role in Saivism symbolized by the icon Civa Nadarajah a wonder in Plastic art where a deep kind metaphysical understanding is made to manifest itself through bronze, copper or some other physical media. .For those who dwell in deep contemplation on the MEANING of this ICON along with the mantra Ci-vaa-ya-na-ma , as if by magic the metaphysical eyes are opened and the mysteries surrounding existence and thereafter become objects of direct visions that generate an understanding that is deeply satisfying and brings about the real Santi ( which does consist in just muterring the word santi repetitiously) Such an understanding is available only for the genuine metaphysical individuals and in the following verse of Punitavati this gets mentioned beautifully.
Individuals -- broadly speaking are the metaphysical and ordinary, the average. What unites them however is DEATH as much as birth. But at the point of death what happens to their souls is quite different and it is here the difference emerges. The ordinary individuals when die just become a corpse to be burned to ashes in the burning grounds. Their anma survives with all karmic deposits remaining untouched and constituting the mantra-complexes that shape and form the next birth. But for the individuals who have been genuinely philosophic and who have been seeking TRUTH by destroying various kinds prejudices that condition their existence the BURNING extends to their disembodied soul where Siva executes His fiery DANCE to burn of even the karma so that we have genuine Tiikkai ( Diksa) and for which purpose He permeates the whole universe with Fire and the Snake symbolizing the TWIN activity of annihilating and regenerating that I believe , also gets mentioned in Rig Veda where they are attributed to Agni and Soma with the LOCAL expressions of the processes attributed of Mitra and varuNa.
The metaphysical individuals enjoy this genuine Tiikkai and this constitutes the central natural process that brings about EVOLUTION of the anmas into higher species. This is also central element in the Theory of Disclosive Evolution of Saivism where BEING is seen as the ONE who facilitates evolution and that too on the basis of the PRAXIS of an individual in his worldly existence.
Individuals who can raise themselves above all kinds of prejudices and seek after TRUTH are rare enough but Punitavati feels that BEING graces only such individuals by purifying even their souls by burning it in the Mantra world where they roam about.
Incidentally this notion of Tiikkai (Diksa) seems to be dead among the
Hindu leadership where they have reduced it all to various kinds of silly
naadum nakarun tirintucenRu nanneRi naadi nayantavarai
muudi mutupiNattu iddamaadee munniya peey kaNanj cuuzac cuuzak
kaadum kadalum malaiyum maNNum viNNunj cuzala anal kaiyeenti
aadum aravap puyaGkan eGkaL appan idan tiru aalaGkaadee
If you ask me about how my Father dances the Dance of destruction
and regeneration in Tiru AlaGkaadu, let me tell you. He, in order
to do Grace to those who have searched diligently the metaphysical illuminations
that would dispel the Darkness of Ignorance within by traveling to
many countries and visiting many temples, seeing many thing and discussing
with many scholars on the meaning of the Way, causes them to fall dead.
Then before the corpse decays , He causes it to be covered and placed
on the Pyre to be burnt to ashes. But my Father surrounded by the
ghosts all around and always He dances in the forest the seas the
hills, the sky and the earth so that both the physical body and the subtle
body (where remains the karmic deposits) gets destroyed. And He dances
this Dance wearing Fire in his hands symbolizing Destruction and Snake
on His neck symbolizing regeneration
Here Punitavati brings out the real meaning of Tiikkai (> Sk Diksa) the burning off that purifies and regenerates the anma. The philosophical individuals forever in search of TRUTH and for which purpose travel every nook and corner of the world and interacts with all kinds of people with the qustion : What is the Right Way? finally attain the Tiikkai and spiritual regeneration that allows Being-with-BEING i.e. Moksa.
The dance of destruction for the ordinary individuals extends only to
the destruction of the Gross physical body that has served as a system
for effecting various kinds of actions and does not touch the Puriyadda
Teekam, the subtle body that survives the physical and serves the basis
for another rebirth. Here karmic deposits are still there and the next
line of existence is strictly in accordance with Karmic Traces
that has been stored there, the Prabta Karma. But for the philosophical
individuals who have destroyed all national religious racial and such other
prejudices and sought after TRUTH in earnestly, the Tiikkai extends to
the subtle Karmic Body as well and for which purpose Siva pervades
the whole universe -- the forests, seas,
hills , sky and the vast earth so that this subtle body of the illuminated individuals gets purified as well and hence eventually become Karma free. This purification also comes along with regeneration symbolized here by the Fire and Snake for the anmas are INDESTRUCTIBLE and terminating one kind of form demands providing another.
In this Dance there comes to be Disclosive Evolution of the anmas where they evolve by become CLOSER to BEING, a feat that is possible and given to them as a BLESSING only if the become PURE, a condition that is possible only if they become the seekers of TRUTH by overcoming all kinds of prejudices.