The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati 51-60
51: The Masculine is Destructive 52: Hari is Effeminate and Love 53&54 ; Siva Shows VishNu from Within 55. The Killer in Realms of Sensual Pleasures 56. Destroying Thought and Becoming Pure and Free 57. Sacrificing and Alms Giving 58. Freedom and Bondage 59. Moksa and Immortality 60. Skinning the Mad Elephant
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-51
The Masculine is Destructive
The Saivites appropriate the World as a Muurttam, a reality that is given structure and function and hence the dynamics by the Muurtti, an Icon , a presentation of BEING, as Cataaciva and so forth. Thus though at the surface level it is physical, but at the metaphysical depths lurks BEING agitating it and making it a dynamic reality , a muurttam. And the historical processes that are quite easily observable are understood in terms of the functions of BEING and on account of which BEING is also seen as the Dancer, one who dances various kinds of dances.
Now in this verse Punitavati attends to the processes of destruction and regeneration, which is fundamental to it and because of which there are deaths and births. The deaths are seen as merciless but necessary activities of BEING but BEING-as-Rudra, BEING who separates out from His Female Half, Uma.
In any society as well as in individual life, there are moments of wars of destruction one has to effect mercilessly in order to destroy thoroughly the EVIL in society as well as within oneself. There are the periods of Utter Darkness where the Malam, the Black Hole takes over the functioning of the individuals as well as society at large and brings about not only wars where people are killed but also MENTAL DEATHS whereby society as a whole becomes stagnant, stereotyped, unproductive, unadventurous, conservative, repetitive, cowardly and so forth.
At such moments what can release the people from this mental death is the Dance of Destruction of BEING-as-Rudra, something He would do it out His love and for the people who deserves it and quite mercilessly by keeping away Uma who may interfere with this.
The Feminine in nature and the root cause of which is Uma of long dark hair and circular bangles is for the productive and regenerative but not the Masculine who is devoid of all these concerns. When the Masculine separates out from the Feminine , it also becomes destructive and quite mercilessly at that and as should be.
ÌÆÄ¡÷ º¢ÚÒÈòÐì §¸¡øÅ¨ÇÂô À¡¸ò(Ð)
±Æ¢Ä¡¸ ¨ÅòÐ ²¸ §Åñ¼¡ -¸ÆÄ¡÷ôÀô
§À÷ þÃÅ¢ø ®Áô ¦ÀÕí¸¡ðÊü §À§Â¡Îõ
¬ÃÆøÅ¡ö ¿£Â¡Îõ «íÌ!
(«-¨Ã: ¾¢Õ Å¢.¸)
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±õ ¦ÀÕÁ¡§É! ¸Îïº¢Éò§¾¡Î þó¾ ¯Ä¨¸§Â ®Áì ¸¡¼¡ì¸¢ §Àö¸§Ç¡Î þ¨½óÐ ¯ÉÐ Å£Ãì¸Æø ´Ä¢ôÀ , ÐýÉ¢Õû Ýúó¾ §ÀÃ¢ÃÅ¢ø ¦¿ÕôÀ¢¨É Å£º¢ Å£º¢ ¿£ ºí¸¡Ãò ¾¡ñ¼Åò¨¾ ÀÂ¢Öõ §À¡Ð, ¾É¢Â¡¸§Å ¬Î¸! ¯ÉÐ þ¼Ð Àì¸ò¾¢ø ¸Õ¨ÁÂ¡É §¸ºõ À¼÷óÐûÇ, ¨¸¸û ¿¢¨ÈÂ ¦Àñ¨ÁÂ¢ý ÅÊÅ¡¸¢Â Å¨Çó¾ Å¨ÇÂø¸¨Ç ¿¢¨ÈÂ «½¢óÐûÇ ¯¨Á «õ¨Á¨Â ¯ý§É¡Î ¯¼ý ¨ÅòÐ «¾¨É ¬¼ §Åñ¼¡õ! (¸Õ¨½§Â ÅÊÅ¡É «õ¨Á þ¾¨Éì ¸ñÎ ¦À¡Úì¸¡û)
kuzalaar ciRupuRattuj koolvaLaiyai paakat(tu)
ezilaaka vaittu eekaa veendaa - kazalaarppa
peer iravil iimap peruGkaaddiR peeyoodum
aarazvaay niiyaadum angku!
O my Lord! You have on your left as your equal half the charming Uma, with long dark and curly hair and hands full of circular bangles. Now when you transform the whole world into the burning grounds and in the dark night and in company of the ghosts you dance the Dance of Destruction throwing burning fire everywhere, don’t take Her along with you. (Being the embodiment of the Feminine she may not accommodate herself to it!)
Saivism sees BEING as Ardhanari, the Androgynous reality where while right half is Siva, the male, the left half is Uma, the Female. Though BEING is a complex of Male and Female, there are occasions where they separate out and we have icons as BEING-as-Male-Only and BEING-as-Female-Only and which are related to the destructive and generative processes in nature.
Anyone who sees nature as it is, can see the presence of DEATH and along with it also the presence of BIRTH, the twin processes that are constitutive of the world processes in general. Having grasped this aspect of the natural, Saivite thinking penetrates into its depths and notes the presence of BEING as the real cause of it all and all because of the presence of Malam, the Dark Stuff, that which is forever blind and hungry to swallow everything manifest and turn the whole world into an empty nothingness, an utter darkness, PeeriruL.
Thus along with divine and the good there are in the world forces that are under the dominance of Malam, the Dark Stuff and which emerge as the Satanic Forces that write wanton destruction upon individuals and society. Such forces must be FOUGHT and DESTROYED mercilessly and at which point the world becomes the burning grounds where with single-mindedness BEING-as-Rudra dances His Dance of Fire eliminating all the evil forces from the surface of the earth so that the space is cleared for the good to prevail and prosper.
It is only a war of destruction that can clear the Existential Space for the emergence of the creative and productive and hence economic and other kinds of prosperities.
At such moments Punitavati notes, Siva should keep away Uma, the embodiment of the feminine for the Female is more concerned with the generative and regenerative and hence will not approve of the merciless destruction, which has to proceed anyway for the good of the world. Thus keeping Uma along with Him during this Dance of Destruction may not be advisable for she may interfere and thwart the whole process.
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-52
Hari is Effeminate and Love
In the Icon thinking of Punitavati (as is also in that of Poykaiyaar) there is NO EXCLUDING the icons of VishNu. Their icon thinking accommodates both types of icons, giving their appropriate meanings. VishNu is feminized man, man softened and made loving and gentle and hence no more combative and warlike and this is also taken as an Icon of Siva
Saivism here not only accommodates itself to destructive-regenerative by seeing BEING as Ardhanari, half man and half woman but also disruptive and accommodative, fighting bravely but also giving in, compromising, cementing the wounds and establish peace. It is this aspect of Man that is established by the Red Eyed VishNu that is highlighted here by Punitavati and where she notes that for Siva to wear the gruesome Garland of Skulls (ciramaalai) is inappropriate when He holds the Red Eyed Tirumaal as His equal half.
«í¸ñ ÓØÁ¾¢Âõ ¦ºì¸÷ «¸øÅ¡ÉòÐ
±íÌõ þÉ¢Ð ±Øó¾¡ø ´ùÅ¡§¾ - ¦ºí¸ñ
¾¢ÕÁ¡¨Äô ÀíÌ¨¼Â¡ý ¦ºïº¨¼§Áø ¨Åò¾
º¢ÃÁ¡¨Ä §¾¡ýÚÅ§¾¡ º£÷?
(«-¨Ã: ¾¢Õ Å¢.¸)
«õ ¸ñ: «Æ¸¢Â þ¼Á¸ýÈ. ¦ºì¸÷ - º¢ÅôÒ. º¢ÃÁ¡¨Ä §¾¡ýÚÅ§¾¡÷ º£, ÓØÁ¾¢Âõ ±Øó¾¡Öõ ´ùÅ¡§¾
±õ¦ÀÕÁ¡ý º¢ÅÉ¡¸ ÀÃó¾ ¦ÀÕ¦ÅÇ¢Â¢ý Å¢ñ½¢ø Å¢óÐ§Å¡Î ¸ÄóÐ ÓØÁ¾¢Â¡¸×õ «§¾¦À¡ØÐ ¿¡¾òÎ¼ý ¸ÄóÐ ¸ÎïÍÃòÐ ¦ºì¸÷ ¦ºùÅ¡Éò¾¢ø ¸¾¢ÃÅÉ¡¸×õ þÉ¢§¾ ±Ø¸¢ýÈ¡ý. þôÀð¼ þ¨ÈÅý, «ýÀ¢¨É§Â ¸Õ¨½¨Â§Â ÅüÒÚòÐõ ¦ºí¸ñ ¾¢ÕÁ¡¨ÄÔõ ¾ÉÐ ºÃ¢À¡¾¢Â¡¸ ¦¸¡ñÊÕì¸, «ï»¡ýÚ ¦ºïº¨¼§Áø «îºó¾÷ÅøÄ ¸À¡ÄÁ¡¨Ä ¾Ã¢ôÀÐ «Æ¸øÄ ±ýÀ¦¾¡Î ´ùÅ¡¾ÐÁ¡õ!
aGkaN muzumatiyam cekkar akalvaanattu
eGkum initu ezuntaal ovvaatee - ceGkaN
tirumaalaip paGkudaiyaan cenjcadaimeel vaitta
ciramaalai toonRuvatoo ciir?
BEING as Siva appears in the wide Space as the Full Moon when in union with Bindu and as the burning Sun of the red sky when in union with Natam. Now when He also has as His equal half VishNu of eyes of Infinite kindness and Love for all, it is not only inappropriate but also not elegant to wear the garland of skulls on His hair!
BEING is all-inclusive and hence capable of showing Himself as Siva as well as VishNu. In this verse Punitavati alludes to the fact that Siva has as equal half also the Red Eyed Tirumaal, the red eyes implying infinite kindness and Love. Through this Icon of SankaranarayaNa, Punitavati also implies that Tirumaal with red eyes is another version of the Woman and hence similar to Ardhanari form of BEING though VishNu is somewhat masculine. But here the masculine is dominated by the Feminine and hence can be said to be feminized masculine, the combative and warring Masculine softened and made gentle and loving. Siva on His own is destructive and warring but when He chooses to be kind, piece loving and compromising, places as His equal half the Icon of the Red Eyed VishNu
Thus BEING is capable of both destruction by becoming the Rudra and peace generating by becoming SakaranarayaNa, Siva with the red-eyed Tirumaal as His equal half.
When BEING takes this icon form, is it appropriate and elegant to wear the Garland of Skulls on His hair?
Punitavati feels that it is inappropriate and not becoming at all for the garland of skulls spells out death and destruction and not at all peace and prosperity, pleasures and joys
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-53&54
Siva Shows VishNu from Within
The two verses below are related to each other as they deal with the same theme and with an important message. BEING assumes the Siva muurttams for promoting ascetic way of life and that of Tirumaal for sensual enjoyment, going to the limits of the GOOD, the beautiful and elegant. And they alternate with Siva, the fiery, also disclosing from within the presence of VishNu of the complexion of the Dark rainy clouds. The heating up the interior and drying up all the jest for living is the function of the fiery Siva while refreshing and rejuvenating is that of Tirumaal! And in the world as well as in life, they go together, alternating perhaps, one way of life sliding into the other, the ascetic returning to the family life and the family man becoming ascetic and so forth.
The point is that BOTH ARE NECESSARY and perhaps in life we must also ALTERNATE between these two - become ascetic to destroy or burn off the worldly desires so that we can enjoy deep metaphysical insights and then return to family life to replenish and refresh self only to become ascetic again some time later.
The presence of both Siva and VishNu icons within the SAME BEING who manages the world and hence also human existence seem to imply that asceticism and its opposite are NOT permanent ways of life but only temporary!
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ciiraanta KonRai malar tazaippac ceeN ulavi
niiraarnta peeryaaRu niittamaayp - pooraarnta
naaNpaambu koNdacaitta nammiican ponmuditaan
kaaNpaarkku cevveeyoor kaar!
O devotees of Siva! Have a good look at His Golden Hair! This, when full of the fresh and blooming KonRai flowers and with the Ganges in the Deep Space, overflowing with swelling waters and when He plays the creatures aiming at them the snake of KuNdalini, the libido, appears as of the color of Dark Clouds (or rainy season)
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kaar uruvak kaNdattu en kaNnutalee eGku oLittaay
oor uruvaay ninnoodu uzi taruvaan - niirruva
meekattaal ceytanaiya meeniyaan ninnudaiya
paakattaan kaaNaamee paNdu!
O my Lord with the Blue Throat and the Third Eye on the forehead! Today you disclose from within you the Tirumaal whose body has the color of the waters of the dark clouds and who is made to appear the same as you and function along with you so that it also appears that he is also an equal half yourself (just like Uma) but then before this where did you hide him so that he was invisible?
One of the characteristics of the Icon thinking of Punitavati (as that of Poykaiyaar) is that of integrated vision of all icons especially that of Siva and VishNu. They see them as the SAME BEING assuming the shapes of Siva muurttams and VishNu muurttams depending on the occasions.
But what are the occasions that necessitate these different shapes?
While the Siva icons are for BURNING, singing to ashes and thus destroy and devastate the existing, that of VishNu icons are for the opposite processes - refreshing, rejuvenating, regenerating, replenishing and so forth. The world has both -destructive and regenerative, death and rebirth for otherwise the evolution into higher is impossible. The lower must be destroyed in order for the higher to be present.
In human life these appear as moments of asceticism and moments of sexual enjoyment where both are only transient. Prolonged ascetic way of life brings premature death and continued indulgence in sexual and sensual pleasures deprives one deep metaphysical insights hat would enable the evolutionary ascendance of the self. So the game goes: BEING assumes the forms of Siva to promote asceticism and that of VishNu the enjoyment of sensual pleasures by way of rejuvenating the soul and both are the SAME BEING!
Punitavati does not isolate these two kinds of games BEING plays in managing the world but rather sees them as the plays of the SAME BEING conditioned as above. But this must have come as new insight to her for she wonders where Siva HID Tirumaal so that though an equal part of Him, he was invisible till now.
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-55
The Killer in Realms of Sensual Pleasures
The Icon Thinking is the most primordial metaphysical thinking and which was also the kind of thinking with which civilization as we know began. But in the course of history this primordial and the closest form of thinking of natural metaphysics seems to have become distorted and corrupted and which may be, as Prof Antonia T. de Nicholas has been saying, because of the lateralizing metaphysical thinking in favor of Left Hemispherical and thereby also suppressing the Right Hemispherical, and which socially expresses itself as the suppression of Female and dominance of the Male. Also worshipping WORDS in favor of DIRECT experiencing of the metaphysical depths comes to prevail because of the same trend.
With the spread of Semitic faiths with their iconoclasm, this primordial icon thinking has also suffered immensely. To this we can add also the modern positive science with its aggression into nature and transforming the world and existence itself into a technological product. The Natural is NOT allowed to be what it is in itself, it is transformed into what man imagines it should be. We do not have natural kind of existence but existence as founded by the technological products. We also do noy have natural Metaphysics but only various kids of ideologies.
It is against such developments that we have to see the enormous importance of the Icon Thinking of Punitavati and hundreds of such other baktas and who left behind a vast literature - the Tevaram and Divvya Prabantam corpus with more than 16, 000 verses altogether.
In this the Saivite thinking has an importance that should NOT be lost sight of - in seeing BEING as Siva-Sakti, a Male-Female complex, it retains the original thinking before the lateralizing and left hemispherical dominance. As part of this Punitavati sees Siva also including VishNu as part of Himself.
And the words are NOT that important, what are important are the Icons, the images that are meaningful and prelinguistic and a DIRECT encounter with them. As we have to hold them in becoming reverence and meditate upon them to gain meanings after meanings that grip the soul producing an exhilaration that is otherwise not enjoyable at all.
In this verse Punitavati, in gaining such a deep insight, goes a bit further and explains why Siva is said to contain VishNu as part of Himself and NOT the other way round. Siva is a Power over Death while VishNu all other devas are not.
ÀñÎ «ÁÃ÷ «ïºô ÀÎ¸¼Ä¢ø ¿ïÍñÎ
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Á½¢ÁÚÅ¡öò §¾¡ýÚõ ÅÎ.
(«-¨Ã ¾¢Õ Å¢. ¸)
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±õ ¦ÀÕÁ¡§É! «ýÚ «Ó¾õ ¸¨¼¨Âô §À¡ö À¡ü¸¼Ä¢ø ¬Ä¸¡Ä Å¢„õ Åó¾¨¾ì ¸ñÎ ±øÄ¡ §¾Å÷¸Ùõ «ïº¢§Â¡¼ ¿£ §Â¡ «ïº¡Ð «¾¨É ¯ñÎ ¿¢ý ¸ñ¼ò ¾¡Éò¾¢§Ä§Â þÕò¾ «¾É¡ø, ¸ñ¼í ¸Õò¾¨É, ¿£Ä¸ñ¼ý ¬Â¢¨É. ¬Â¢Ûõ «§¾ Å¢„ò¨¾ò¾¡ý, Ìñ¼Ä¢ô À¡õÒ ¦¿Ç¢Ôõ Å¡÷ ¦ºïº¨¼§Áø ¿£ ÝÊÂ¢ÕìÌõ àÂ ¦ÅñÁ¾¢Â¢ý ¯û§Ç ¿¢ü¸¢ýÈ ¸Ã¢Â ¿¢ÈòÐ ÅÎÅ¡¸×õ ¦¸¡ñ¼¨É§Â¡? Å¢ÇõÒ!
paNdu amarar anjsap padukadalil nanjcuNdu
kaNdaG kaRuttatuvum anRiyee - uNdu
paNiyuRuvaar cenjsadaimeel paalmathiyin uLLee
maNimaRuvaayt toonRum vadu!
My Lord! In those days when the Devas and Asuras churned the Ocean of Milk in order to get the Ambrosia, unexpectedly the most potent Poison emerged and on seeing which even the Devas, including VishNu and Brahma, ran away in mortal fear. But then you emerged and bravely drank it and kept it in your throat and because of which you became the NilakaNdan, the Blue-throated. Now I am wondering whether the dark spot on the Pure White Moon that you wear on the locks where rustles also the Snake is also the same poison!
The icons teach and they teach by stimulating questions that are novel. Here we have an instance of it. The mythical tale of a profound kind, that of the Devas and Asuras churning the Ocean of Milk using the Snake Vaasuki as the rope and the mountain Meru as the rod is well known. They expected the amutu, the ambrosia but not the aalakaala visham; the most potent poison that nevertheless emerged and that was even beyond the control of VishNu and Brahma . It was Siva who bravely drank it and kept it at His throat thereby saving both devas and asuras.
This Alakaala Visham, the most potent poison that would kill even VishNu and Brahma is the first of appearance of aaNava malam, or simply the Malam, the Black Hole that would wipe out everything so that there will only an emptiness, a total darkness. Siva as the Destroyer of the World as a Whole is the only Power who can manage this Malam, the root metaphysical stuff of annihilation of all, including the whole universe. VishNu, Brahma, the Devas and Asuras have presence in the world and as the powers managing it only because the world as whole is made to be present by Siva by violating the Malam and defeating it and holding it back so that the world as a whole is sustained in its presence.
It is because of this understanding that Siva is said to be the NilakaNdan - He keeps the World Poison in His throat and hence as a part of Himself and hence as something under His control and management. Because of this Siva is also known as Mirtiyunjjayan, He who can rescue creatures from death for unlike other deities, it is Siva who has control over DEATH because He controls the Poison, the Malam itself.
Certainly Punitavati understands all these. But then why same Dark Patch in the Pure White Moon that Siva wears in the locks that also the snake? she asks, having gained some deep insights into the meaning of the snake and the moon as meaning icons in themselves.
The snake is sexual libido, not the Vaasuki which is the KuNdalini Sakti of the whole Universe but rather that tiny bit of it that enters the creatures including human and makes them crave for sexual enjoyment. The Pure White Moon is Pure Love, the Divine Love that is wholly spiritual with nothing of the physical or carnal. This is the kind of LOVE that exists between Siva and Uma, the most endearing, the most intimate and which can never tolerate any separation, a fissure.
But in real existence this ideal is NOT possible and all because of the snake, the sexual interest of the humans. Thus the White Moon gets tarnished with the poison entering it also. As long as human beings pollute the Pure Love with sexual interests, the tie or bondage to physicality, the Maaya Malam, survives and that will bring along with it death as such.
As long as we remain tied to the physical and hunger after the sensual pleasures, death is inevitable; within the mechanisms that afford these pleasures lurk the Poison that would kill!
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-56
Destroying Thought and Becoming Pure and Free
We hear that Rig Veda emphasizes ‘sacrifice’, Yajna as the central element of religious life. The term ‘Yajna’ is a variant of Su. ejen, eji, iji and which simply means ‘fire’. So the intial meaning of ‘Yajna’ may be simply ‘burning” i.e. Tiikkai (Sk diksa) as the central element of metaphysical life. One has to burn to ashes, destroy, sacrifice the existing in order free the space for the hidden and concealed to show itself up and sustain itself as there.
This notion ‘destroying” ‘sacrificing” etc has taken some grotesque icon forms and which frightens away the timid and shallow minds. However unpalatable for such minds, it is a truth and we cannot wish it away with ridicule sarcasm etc. The processes of destruction-regeneration go together and we have to allow these processes in our mental life also in order to register progress in metaphysical life.
The higher in metaphysical life is NOT a matter of rational thinking but rather something that requires the sacrificing of it; throw into skull bowl of Siva when He comes in the Avatara of a beggar, here the Kapaali.
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vaduvanRu enak karuti nii matittaayin
cuduveN podi niRattaay collaay - paduveN
pulaal talaiyin uL uuN puRampeesak keeddoom
nilaat taliyil cuudvaay nii!
O Lord who appears Pure white because of smearing the whole body with ashes of the burnt universe as a whole, you have to explain to me one thing. You beg alms using the skull that contains the white brain matter and eat the food thrown into it. When you appear as Kapaali of such a form, there are many who ridicule you. Now if you think that there is nothing wrong assuming such forms, explain also why you wear the Crescent Moon in your head?
While VaishNavism, a system of icons interrelated to each other, emphasizes the benign and beautiful and hence the aesthetical, Saivism accommodates within itself both the gruesome as well as the benign and in this deeper and more realistic. It incorporates within itself the basic understanding that at the deepest level all in the world are subject to destruction and regeneration and that unless one destroys the existing one cannot allow the hidden to surface forth and sustain itself and at which point VishNu can prevail along with Brahma of scriptures. BEING-as-Siva provides the FOUNDATIONS on which the soft and gentle VishNu and the scholastic Brahma can exercise their powers.
The notion of destruction that gets emphasized so extensively gets mentioned here in two different ways. One is that His whole body is smeared with the ashes of the burning grounds and which shows that He is the DESTROYER supreme . And only such destroyer of all can also be the ground of the regeneration as indicated by the fact that He wears the Crescent Moon on His majestic tuft.
It is against this we have to see the significance of the Avatara of Kapaali, an icon in which he begs using the skull of brain matter as the bowl. Can he not use a more elegant and less frightening bowl for begging? And why should he beg at all?
Those who do not know the symbolic significance of this Avatara will ridicule it, as it has happened in the times of Punitavati and with which she was not happy at all.
The skull has two different meanings here. One is death and another is the emptying the head from the gray matter, the brain it holds. Siva comes down to beg with the skull bowl to deprive the anmas of the brain i.e. the thinking. The rational mind must be killed and destroyed to relieve the anma from thinking for the rational mind can stand in the way becoming Free of dogmas and creeds. Unless the anma becomes free of even thinking, thus give away the thought systems, it cannot become PURE and thereby fit for receiving the Grace of BEING.
Sacrificing and Alms Giving
In the evolution of religious practices throughout the world and in all religions we see an interesting kind of evolutionary development pertaining to the central ritual of SACRIFICE. Initially it was animal or even human sacrifice and later just simply giving away what is cherished i.e. the taanam and tarumam, the charities. The Tamil word Pali Idal records in its meaning this evolutionary change. Initially it was simply sacrificing goats chicken and so forth but certainly from about the time of Bakti period it has come to mean giving away as alms to the beggars even though the construction of Pali Peedam, the sacrificial platform still retained as part of the Temple architecture.
Now corresponding to this we see the Violent Rudra becoming the gentle Beggar, the PitcandaNa Muurtti, who does NOT promote violence but rather one who INDUCES the given away the cherished and on their own accord. Begging is NOT snatching away or even depriving through causing battles wars and death.
And Punitavati, with amazing depth of insight into these matters explains this evolutionary change in the following verse.
The poisonous Snake (and which is the snake of dream symbolism) stands for sexual libido, a form of KuNdalini and as well understood by the Tamil Siddhas. As long as this snake exists in us - and it exists as long as we are sexual - then we remain tied to the FLESH, the MEAT of our own body. This is Maaya Malam, the clinging to the physical and hence an attachment that prevents us from entering and enjoying the meta-physical, the realms beyond the physical. And this freedom can be accomplished only by SACRIFICING the FLESH, initially and perhaps ritually animals substitutes for the physical body and later though viratas, tapas of a severe kind the attachment to one’s own body itself. The body itself becomes the target of violent attack like St. Theresa whipping her own body till it bleeds. Such violent practices are observable in all religions including in Hinduism. Fire walking ceremony (also available in Pagan Scotland), carrying Kavadi with hooks piercing the faces and tongue and so forth are to be observed to this day in Hinduism ( and many other religions)
To free oneself from the FLESH that presence of sexual libido imposes upon one, one has to SACRIFICE the FLESH in various ways.
However when the snake is NO MORE i.e., the attachment to the FLESH is no more through the absence of sexual libido or its transmutation into higher cognitive powers, such sacrifices are not required anymore. Such practices give way to donating, giving way spontaneously what is one’s own i.e. one becomes charitable and which is also an institution of universal prevalence in all religions
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nii ulakamellaam irapinum ninnudaiya
tiiya aravoziyac celkaNdaay - tuuya
madavaralaar vantu paliyidaar anjci
vida aravam meelaada mikku !
O my Lord! Assuming the shape of a beggar even if you roam around the whole world begging as alms the dirt within the anmas, you must note that the Pure Young maidens will not come forth and sacrifice or offer anything to you for fear the poisonous snake that encircles you neck dancing! So please approach them in a shape where you do not wear this snake!
The theme here is the fear of the PURE young maidens of the Poisonous Snake and because of which would not come forth to offer as sacrifices or alms the impurities within when Siva approaches them in the Avatara of a beggar. We see here the ritual action ‘pali idal’, sacrificing transmuted into giving alms, i.e. Piccai Idal and hence something done voluntarily. The violent ritual of sacrificing that may involve killing of animals or even torturing the body, is transmuted into that of alms giving and hence something not at all violent. But this is possible especially for the pure young maidens only when the Poisonous Snake is ABSENT. But why this?
The poisonous snake signifies the sexual libido and when Siva approaches the PURE young maidens and who the pure anmas in general, there will be RECOILING away for the sexual libido comes along with a violent way of life and hence demanding sacrificing (even animals) rather than just giving away spontaneously and without any violence the impurities within.
So Punitavati pleads to Siva to assume shapes without this snake i.e. without the symbol of the sexual libido to succeed in getting as alms the dirt within the anmas so that He also succeeds in PURIFYING them
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-58
Freedom and Bondage
Punitavati provides an interesting analytics of EXISTENCE, being present in the world as such. There are TWO basic tendencies, sometimes this and sometimes its opposite. We want to enjoy life to the maximum and because of which we want to continue to live deathless - as an immortal and in which there is an endless stream of pleasures, the aiswariyam, the best of the joyous. Many religions including Tamil VaishNavism focus on this and even talk of Paradise or Vaikundam in terms of this. The VaikuNdam is the metaphysical realms of the most beautiful, excellent and so forth.
But in contrast to this there is also the OPPOSITE tendency - that of becoming FREE of such desires for pleasures and with that become PURE, not desiring anything at all.
Thus there is a strong tendency for the ASCETIC way of life and at the same time its opposite - to perpetuate existence and seek out immortality.
In the deep recesses of the human mind there is already pressures towards MOKSA, which requires FREEING oneself from all and another towards IMMORTALITY, cheat death and continue to live deathless.
In this remarkable verse, Punitavati attributes the first to the functions of the GOLDEN HAIR of Siva and the second to the flower decked intensely BLACK curls of Uma, His equal half.
The Woman part of BEING creates pressures towards cheating death and live as an immortal; the Man part of BEING creatures pressures towards FREEING oneself from all bondages and enjoy Moksa.
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mikka muzaGku eriyum viiGkiya poGkiruLum
okka udaniruntaal ovvaatee - cekkarpool
aakataan cenjcadaiyum aaGkavanRan ponnuruvil
paakattaaL puungkuzalum paNbu
The joint presence of both the fiery flames of immense brightness and intense darkness is totally incompatible. But that’s what we find in the body of Siva as the Ardhanari, the Androgynous Reality. His Body is red and golden and so is His matted hair. But the hair of the Woman who is an equal half of His body has a flower decked long curls of immense Darkness!
As we have already pointed out the HAIR is very symbolic in religious life. In Hinduism one of the common rituals is that of giving up the hairs to the gods periodically by way symbolizing an element of sacrifice, here the hair, which is the symbol of sexual libido, something connected with the symbol of the snake.
The ascetic shave off and move about as Moddai, the clean-shaven announcing through that the ascetic way of life one has chosen.
However it is NOT sporting hair or giving up on it but rather the COLOR, the black and red or golden that is analyzed here by Punitavati. The flower decked and very black hair belongs to the Woman, Uma and the flowing but red or golden belongs to the Man, Siva showing that their FUNCTIONS in the world are rather different and complimentary to each other.
The golden hair LIBERATES or FREES the soul while black, the magical black hair BINDS the soul to the world, the Earth, to be continuously present in the world. So there are opposing tendencies in all creatures: to enjoy the worldly pleasures and at the same time to FREE oneself from them and become PURE.
This is an important aspect of existence - on the one hand we want to have an unending flow of worldly pleasures and on the other its very opposite - that of being FREE of it.
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-59
Moksa and Immortality
One of the central themes in SumeroTamil epic of Gilgamesh is the difference between what is enjoyed by Ziusudra and Gilgames. While Ziusudra becomes one among the gods, Gilgamesh fails in this and is condemned to live renewing life whenever necessary with eating some herbs from the depth of the seas.
This theme reappears here but as the difference between Saivism and VaishNavism on the one hand and Saivism and Saktaism on the other and related to symbolic meaning of the Sacred Ash.
It is BEING as Siva, the one who has the Third Eye on the forehead and holds the most potent poison on His throat who can confer Moksa, something different from immortality. Thus it is Siva who can singe to ashes everything and hence who can make one a Ziusudra, one among the gods and NOT VishNu or Ambal who both tie down the soul to phenomenal presence and hence immortality as what they can confer as the best.
This verse brings out another hidden meaning of the Sacred Ash that indicates the BURNING away and purification. It is NOT sacrifice as such that can lead to Moksa but the BURNING to ashes all attachments and which is beyond the capabilities of the souls or even such gods as VishNu Ambal and so forth. Such a burning and purification can take place only as the BLESSING of BEING and hence beyond any willful act of the individuals.
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paNbu uNaramaaddeen naan niiyeep paNittuk kaaN
kaNpuNaru neRRik kaRai kaNdaa - peN puNarum
avviruvoo maaL uruvoo aaneeRRaay niiRu aNivatu
evvoruvoo ninniruva meel
My Lord! I remain bewildered not knowing clearly the essence of the Woman who stays your equal half. O you having an eye on the forehead and a dark patch on your throat! You have to tell me the truth of that so that I can see it clearly. Who really wears the Sacred Ash symbolic of Absolute Purity and Freedom: Is it the Woman in you or the Black VishNu who also occupies the same space? O you riding the mighty Bull, let me know the truth!
Saivism includes VaishNavism but as a variant of the Woman, BEING one-with the Bindu. Thus VishNu is the Sakti but with a little more of the masculine Natam. Thus while in one extreme we have the Pure Sakti, BEING one-with the Pure Bindu, and another extreme we have the Pure Sivan, BEING one-with the Pure Natam, in between we have VishNu but more inclined towards the Woman and more the soft and gentle because of that.
The problem that troubles the mind of Punitavati is with respect the Sacred Ash: who wears it? Uma or VishNu who occupies the same space in the body of Siva?
The answer is actually neither Uma nor VishNu who are shapes of divine powers that bind the souls to the earthly. VishNu wears the Tiru MaN, the Sacred Earth and Sakti wears the Red and round kuGkum both indicating powers that tie down the souls to earthly life, towards a perpetuation of phenomenal presence, the samsara, as they say.
The Sacred Ash is peculiar to Siva who can become the Rudra and BURN every attachment to ashes and thereby FREE the soul from samsara and hence grace the soul with Moksa.
The Icon-Thinking of Punitavati-60
Skinning the Mad Elephant
The themes where tiger and mad elephants are flayed and their skin worn by Siva are quite well known. When we do not UNDERSTAND the meaning of such strange stories, we are bewildered and wonder how consistent can such themes be with the claim that Siva is LOVE itself.
But when we take these themes as belonging to the field of Hermeneutic Semiotics and NOT to the naturalistic, only then we can understand that there is no inconsistency at all and that these are done only because of LOVE. There is LOVE in the depths of all but covered by forces of ignorance and because of which people become mad elephants violent tigers and so forth. These beasts have killed and flayed to release the LOVE deep within o express itself.
Violent tigers and mad elephants are METAPHORS for people who are violent and dogmatic and because of which fanatical where UNREASON and IRRATIONALITY prevail. Siva plays various kinds of games including creating conflicts and disputes among such people especially among dogmatic and fanatical so that eventually they come to senses. It is this making them RETURN to common reason or simply commonsense that’s the meaning of skinning them and having removed it wearing it Himself so that it becomes unavailable again to the individuals.
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meelaaya meekanGkaL kuudiyoor pon vilaGkal
poolaam oLi putatittaal ovvaatee - maalaaya
kaimmaa matakaLiRu kaar urivai poorttapoo(tu)
ammaan tirumeeni anRu
O my Lord! There were people like mad elephants with long black trunks, fanatical because of dogmatism. You skinned them and wore the dark skin as your garment but which appears to be something improper and inconsistent with your essence.. For at that point you appeared like the dark clouds above in sky coming together and descending upon a golden hill and bury its brilliance!
The mythical theme of Siva skinning the dark and mad elephant and wearing its skin is quite well known though perhaps not its meaning which is given here by Punitavati but only indirectly. The dark and mad elephant with long and dark trunk is a METAPHOR for the religiously fanatical individuals who with their DARK THOUGHTS and in state of IGNORANCE, assume whatever little they know is the truth and converting it into a DOGMA, maintain it as truth not with reason but by fanatic zeal. They make the dogmas beyond question and are even ready to kill and eliminate individuals who dare to question them nevertheless.
To put them aright Siva assumes a form where such individuals are engaged in disputes of various kinds including riots, battles and wars. It is only at the point of defeat with blood flow that such individuals are subdued and their dogmatism vanquished. The thoughts that become dogmas are the dark skin and it is this that is peeled off and with that the mad elephant like religious fanatics deprived of their THOUGHTS and hence dogmas.
Siva is Golden and Brilliance itself and wearing such a dark skin or dark thoughts that breed fanaticism in inconsistent with His essence. Siva clarifies through ILLUMINATING and not arresting thinking and He never allows dogmatism that creates religious madness and morbidity.