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Thread: A Study on "Tamil Saivaism" that developed in Tamil Nadu from Ancient times

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    A Study on "Tamil Saivaism" that developed in Tamil Nadu from Ancient times


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    A Study on "Tamil Saivaism" that developed in "Tamil Nadu" from Ancient times

    (1) Evolution of Saivaism

    In India the "God Supreme" of no specific form or name was given many different 'forms' and 'names' by various "Hindu Religious Beliefs" - as God Siva (Shiva) in Saivaism, as God Vishnu in Vaishnavaism, Goddess Sakthi in Saktham, God Kanapathi in Kanapathiyam, God Skanda in Kaumaram, and as God Agni in Vedism - (collectively known as "Hinduism") - and was worshiped by Hindus from the time immemorial.

    The origin of the worship of "God Supreme" as "God Siva" is not clear, but in all probability the religion Saivaism professing the worship of "God Siva" originated among a very early civilisation (unknown to us) in the Tibetian region adjacent to the present northern - Nepal and present Uttarkand) of India.

    It is here the Mount Kailash, also known to the Indians as Mount Meru of the vast and breath taking heights of the Himalayan mountain range is situated, and the river Bahirathi originating as a tributary from the Mount Nanda Devi - also of this range about 100 miles south-west of Mount Kailash, joins with another tributary known as Alaknanda at a point known as Gangoththri to form the great river Ganges.

    Mount Kailash Mount Nandadevi
    River Bahirathi River Alaknanda
    Confluence of River Bagirathi and River Alaknanda at Gangoththri being the starting point of the great river Ganga

    An early civilisation of this region in all probability conceived the original form of "God Siva" as a human masculine, having - a lock of hair (kontrai) on his head bearing the crest moon and the river Gangai flowing from it, a third eye in his forehead and a blue mark around his neck, holding a trident in one hand and dressed in tiger skins with cobra snakes around his neck and arms, with "Goddess Sakthi" - deemed as his inherent energy - on his left side as a human feminine, and both having the bull as their vehicle, and with the snow capped Mount Kailash of the Himalayan mountain range as their abode.




    Courtesy: Owner of the Youtube Video - Vin V


    The point of the earliest era from whence the worship of "God Supreme" in the form of "Siva" took shape, among the civilisation in the vicinity of Mount Kailash in the Tibetian region, could be taken as the time of inception of the Saiva religion.

    The Saivaism over a period of time gradually spread all over India, including the regions in its north-west among the Indus Valley civilisations, and in the remote south upto Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, where the sage Agastiya and king Ravana respectively became the ardent devotees of God Siva.

    Over a period of time in some regions of India the original Saivaism underwent further developments evolved by the Sages and Saints of those regions, independently with the evolution of new religious concepts on the special attributes and glories of "God Siva" and "his new forms of representation in relation to these special attributes and glories", religious philosophies, modes of worship, and religious texts - greatly influenced by the language, culture and traditions of those regions, and integrated with the practices of the original Saivaism.

    The religious "beliefs and rituals" known as "Saivam" or "Saiva Samayam" in Tamil, and as "Saivaism" or "Saiva religion" to the rest of the World, is the main branch of the Hindu Religion of today.

    It acclaims the worship of the "God Supreme" - "the one who has not even a name or a form" - as enlightened by the Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasakar of Tamil Nadu as "Oru naamam oar uruvam, ontrum illaarkku" in his religious text Thiruvaasakam (in Tamil) ’[/color] meaning the one without any - "form" or "name" celebrated and worshiped with many names and forms. .

    The Tamil Saiva Saint Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar also of Tamil Nadu too asks the God himself "what shall I say to those who ask which is the form of your God, tell me which is your form" - as "Ev uruvoan num piran enbaar hatkku en uraihen, Ev uruvo nin uruvam eathu" in her religious text 'Atputhath Thiruvanthathi' (in Tamil), being quite uncertain of his real form.

    Thus the original Saiva religious concept of God, and the related forms of worship that reached various parts of India from the Tibetian region, continued to be practised in their original forms "being a common religion (Saivaism) to both Aryans in the North and Tamilians in the South of then India". This was the reason why the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar of Tamil Nadu has mentioned in his religious text the "Thevaaram" in the sixth Thirumurai (in Tamil) as ".....Ariyan kandaai, Thamilan kandaai....."

    (2) God Supreme represented in three forms in “Tamil Saivaism”

    Thus the Saivam or Saivaism which developed in Tamil Nadu is called "Thamil Saivam" (or Tamil Saivaism), as much as the Saivam that developed in Kashmir is known as "Kashmira Saivam" and that developed in Karnataka as "Vira Saivam".

    The “God Supreme” of the Saivaism that developed and practised in Tamil Nadu - known as Tamil Saivaism was of three aspects. The “formless” (Aruvam in Tamil), of “semi-form” (Aru-Uruvam in Tamil), and of “human forms” (Uruvam in Tamil).

    (3) The "Uruvam" form of God Siva

    In the Uruvam form “God Siva” in the Saivaism of Nepal, North & Central India was represented as a human masculine, having - a lock of hair (kontrai) on his head bearing the crest moon and the river Gangai flowing from it, a third eye in his forehead and a blue mark around his neck, holding a trident in one hand and dressed in tiger skins with cobra snakes around his neck and arms,

    However God Siva in his Uruvam form was ‘mainly’ represented as Thenmukakkadavul (Thetchanamoorththy), Maathorupaakan (Arthanaatheeswarar), Kalyaanasunderar, Uma-Maheswarar, Somaskandar, and as Aadavallaan (Nadarajar) among many others based on his various aspects, and with Goddess Sakthi as Malaimahal (Parvathi), Alaimahal (Lakshmi), Kalaimahal (Saraswathi), and Kaali (Durga).

    All these forms of “God Siva” evolved in Tamil Nadu, as part of the development of the original Saivaism of Nepal in South India and became apart of Tamil Saivaism.

    The "new" concept that God Siva having performed eight Thaandavams (Dances - Nadanam) for the welfare of all living beings of the Universe at eight Thandava Thalams, namely the Aanantha Thaandavam at Ponnambalam in Thillai (Chithambaram), Santhiyaa Thaandavam at Velliambalam in Thiruaalavaai (Mathurai), Gowri Thaandavam at Chittrambalam in Thirupputhoor (Paandiya Nadu), Thiripura Thaandavam at Chiththiraaambalam at Thirukuttraalam, Kaali Thaandavam at Raththinaambalam at Thiruvaalankadu, Muni Thaandavam at Thaamiraambalam in Thirunelveli. Sangara Thaandavam ?? All these eight Temple Shrines were all located within Tamil Nadu.

    Also new concepts of God Siva's eight deeds with mythological stories relating to them too developed in Tamil Nadu, and these deeds were associated with further eight Siva-Temple shrines which too were all within Tamil Nadu, and were known as Atta Viratta Thalams. These Temple Shrines were namely, Thirukkandiyoor, Thirukkovilur, Thiruvathikai, Thiruppariyaloor, Thiruvirtkudi, Thiruvaluvoor, Thirukkurukkai, and Thirukkadavur.

    (4) The "Aru-Uruvam" form of God Siva

    In the Aru-Uruvam form “God Siva” was represented in Nepal, North, Central & South India and Tamil Nadu as Sivalingam that originated from Nepal, and further developed as Lingothbhavamoorthy in Tamil Nadu with the swan and boar shown above and below the standing Siva in human form, carved out within the vertical face of the Sivalingam or Lingam.

    The concept of God Siva being represented in five element forms of the universe too developed in Tamil Nadu as fire, water, air, earth, and space, and was represented in his symbolic forms as Panchalingams (five Lingams) with each Lingam representing an element. Further concepts that these five elements were associated with five important Siva-Temple Shrines all being within Tamil Nadu too developed, and were known as Panchabootha Thalams (shrines). These Temple Shrines were Thiruvannaamalai, Thiruvaanaikkaa, Thirukkaalaththi, Kanchipuram, and Chithambaram respectively. (However very unfortunately the Thirukkaalaththi temple which has been a part of Tamil Nadu, has been included into Andhra Pradesh during the formation of States on linguistic basis within India in A.D.1956)

    (5) The "Aruvam" form of God Siva

    In the Aruvam form “God Siva” was represented as the “Infinite” - of no defined shape - known as “Ongkaaram” in Tamil and “Pranavam” in Sanskrit.

    The Aruvam form of God Siva namely the “Ongkaaram” has been referred to by the ‘third Thamil Sangam’ "Poet Saaththanaar, the Tamil Saiva Saints of Tamil Nadu - namely the Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar, Maanikkavaasaka Swamikal, Thirumoola Naayanaar, Pattinaththaar, the Tamil Poet Avvaiyaar and the others" - in their respective Tamil Saiva Religious Literature.


    In “Tamil Saivaism” the “God Siva” was the - core essense of “Ongkaaram” (Ongkaaraththu ut porulaai nintraan). This is confirmed from the following references:

    “…..Oru sudaraai ulahu elum aanaan kandaai
    Ongkaaraththu ut porulaai nintraan kandaai
    Virisudaraai vilangu oliyaayi nintraan kandaai….”


    meaning: “……see (him) who became as one flame of seven worlds
    see (him) who stood as the core essense of Ongkaaram
    see (him) who remains the brightness of the spreaded flame …..”


    6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, Thirumalapaadi Pathikam, Verse 10

    “…..Ongkaaraththu ut porulaai ulaham ellaam pettraanai…….”

    meaning: “……one who was the core essense of Ongkaaram, attained in all worlds…..”

    6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, Thiruvaanaikkaa Pathikam, Verse 3

    “Ongkaara meip porulaai udambin ullaal
    karu eentra engal avai arivaan thannai…….”


    meaning: “……as the truth of Ongkaaram, who knows our heart that came forth from foetus inside the body…..”

    6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, Thiruvaalam Polil Pathikam, Verse 3

    “Uun angaththu uyirp paay ulahu elaam
    Ongkaaraththu uruvaahi nintraanai…..”


    meaning: “…..all over the world where bodies of flesh with life are, the one who remained in the Ongkaaram form…..”

    7th Thirumurai - by Saint Suntharamoorththy Naayanaar, Thiruvalivalam Pathikam, Verse 1

    “…..Uyya en ullaththul Ongkaaramaai nintra
    meiyaa vimalaa vidaipaahaa……”


    meaning: “……for (my) salvation stood as Ongkaaram in my heart the truth, vimalaa, the one riding the Nandi (bull)…..”

    Thiruvaasakam – by Maanikkavaasaka Swamikal, Sivapuraanam 33-4

    “Uyyu neri kaattuviththittu Ongkaaraththu utporulai
    Ayyan enakku aruliyavar aarperuvaar achchove….”


    meaning: “……showed the path for salvation, the core essense of Ongkaaram the God blessed me - who will get (such) achchove……”

    Thiruvaasakam – by Maanikkavaasaka Swamikal, Achcho Pathikam

    (6) The worship of of God Siva on all three forms by Ancient Tamils

    In Tamil Saivaism - eventhough “God Siva” was worshiped in all three forms as Uruvam, Aru-Uruvam and Aruvam, ‘on realisation of him’ by human beings - he was found to be none but one.

    This is confirmed by the "Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkaraser" of the sixth century as follows:

    “.......Uru moontraai unarvin kan ontraan aanaai….”

    meaning: “……of three forms and on realisation one who became one.......”

    6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasu Naayanaar, Thiruvaalam Polil Pathikam, Verse 3

    The very fact that the God is one but was worshipped in various forms, was well known to the Tamils of Tamil Nadu as early as the third century B.C. This is confirmed by the following reference in the Tamil literary work known as Kurinchippaattu by "Poet Kapilar" of this period.

    "......paraviyum tholuthum viravu malar thooyum
    veru pal uruvit Kadavut perniyum
    naraiyum viraiyum oachchiyum alavuttru......"


    meaning: "......singing hyms and worshipping God with variety of flowers strewn to his many different forms with offering of perfumes and incense too made......"

    Kurinchippaattu - of Paththuppaattu by poet Kapilar, lines 5-7

    In Saivaism, the "God Supreme" who is invisible to all human beings and the other living beings, has been given the name as "God Siva" and a form as human - and held supreme of the universe. He is known to have given vision - to those who have reached a very high state of spiritual conciousness - "in the very forms" he was intensely worshiped by them in great piety, being either human forms or symbolic forms having different names for each of these forms.

    (7) The new holy religious texts, modes of worship, and religious practices of "Tamil Saivaism" of Ancient Tamils

    Likewise "new"- holy religious texts, modes of worship, and religious practices - too took shape independently, influenced by and blended with the culture and traditions of Tamil Nadu that existed during the early period.

    During the early period of Saivaism in Tamil Nadu, the Saiva religious texts that evolved from this region were called the Agamams. Saivaism apparently was the first known religion of Tamil Nadu, and the Agamams were the original holy texts of Saivaism of this region.

    Agamams means religious texts, and was a general term used to specify the Saiva religious texts that evolved and developed in the early Tamil Nadu. However during the later periods with the coming of the Vaishnava, Saktha and Jain religious texts, to differentiate the Saiva religious texts from the others, it was called as the Siva Agamams. The Tamil Saiva Saint Thirumoolar mentions in his Tamil religious text Thirumanthiram that the original Agamams were in Tamil in addition to it being in Sanskrit.

    (8) With the evolution of "Tamil Saivaism" of Ancient Tamils, God Siva was considered as Deity of Tamil Nadu

    These developments in Tamil Nadu undoubtedly would have been the reason that made the great Tamil Saint Maanickavaasakar praise "God Siva" as "then naadudaiya Sivane Portri, ennaattavarkkum irraiva poatri" in his Portri Thiruakaval of Thiruvaasakam (in Tamil), claiming him specifically as the God of the southern country the Tamil Nadu - where he evolved in new human, symbolic, and element forms of the universe, with the associated temple shrines "all being within Tamil Nadu itself" - while he was also the God of all other countries (in India).

    Also he is referred to as "Thillaiyut Kooththane, then Pandi naataane" in the Sivapuraanam of the same Thiruvaasakam, meaning he as the 'Dancing God of Chidambaram' (Thillai) of Tamil Nadu, and also associating him with the southern Pandiya Nadu of the Tamil kings. It was the southern most region of the ancient Tamil Nadu where the holy mountains of God Siva, namely the Mahendra Malai and Pothikai malai were situated.

    This could have been the reason why the poet Kallaadanar who wrote the Saivite religious work known as Kallaadam (In Tamil), has mentioned God Siva as the "then Thamil Kadavul" meaning the "Southern Tamil God".

    Also the poet Perumpattra Puliyoor Nambi who composed the religious work the Thiruvaalavaayudaiyaar Thiruvilaiyaadal Puranam (In Tamil) has referred to God Siva as "Thiruvalar Thamil Chokkan", and as "Senthamil Mukkat Chokkan" (Chokkan or Chokkanathar = God Siva).

    To be continued


    Last edited by virarajendra; 22nd March 2017 at 07:55 AM.

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    Last edited by virarajendra; 21st March 2017 at 03:44 PM.

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