Friday, October 23, 2009

Sithars - spiritual search for unity...!!!

Sithars - spiritual search for unity
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

The word Sithars has its root in the North Indian word 'Sithi' - meaning successful. These Mystics believe in the experience of reality that is elevated above normal human understanding. It involves a form of spiritual search for unity of self with God. Such Mystics may experience trances, dreams of visions. Mysticism is based on Yoga.

They are said to be Jeevanmukthas - that is though they have physically departed from this world, they move about in the midst of people in astral form. By Yoga they perpetuate themselves.

Eight abilities
While they walk on earth, these Mystics have achieved eight abilities, not possible for the common man to achieve. These are: 1. To grow to massive proportions. 2. To become a minuscule form. 3. To be light as air. 4. To be as heavy as gold. 5. To be able to rule over everything. 6. To be able to attract everybody. 7. To be capable of transmigration. 8. To be able to experience and enjoy whatever desired.

It is said to be that there were 84 such Mystics in North India. South India speaks of 18 such Mystics. They had no proper dwelling place. They are constantly on the move. Dressed in only a loin cloth, having renounced all mundane desires, they roam the earth singing philosophical songs to awaken people to realize the truth - God, taking about the world, life, the body and soul. They expounded the theory that everything originated from Sakthi and will end in Sakthi.

One God
The Saiva Saint Thirumoolar was one such famous Sithar. Others well-known are: Agasthiyar, Pokar, Bamalinga Adigalar and Pattinathar. The thirteen other Sithars' sayings are also, thought provoking and enlightening. They believed in one God, in many forms.

His life is more or less a legend. After passing through the abode of Sage Agastiyar, he finally reached a place by the banks of the river Kavery at Tiru Avaduthurai in the Tanjore district. There he saw a herd of cattle bellowing in distress and grief over the dead of their master Moolan who died suddenly. Being moved at the grief of the dumb creatures, he left his body in a safe place, and by his Sithic powers entered the body of Moolan. The cattle rejoiced.

He herded them to their master's house but instead of going to the house he turned back. But Moolan's wife called him home. He of course was aloof. The woman complained about him to her people.

When her people came and saw him, they realized that he was in Sivayoga and took her away.

Thirumoolar went back to find his body but could not find it. By his superior knowledge, jnana, he knew it was the work of Lord Siva.

Inner mystics
"He created me well, so that I could sing His praise in Tamil," he said, and he took it upon himself as an order from Lord Siva to spread the 'Agama' knowledge through the Tamil language. Then he wrote his 3,000 songs which arose out of his inner mystic experience. He wrote about the cosmic self, and his merging with Lord Siva. He was supposed to have lived for 3,000 years composing one song per year when he awoke from his deep meditation.

Though this is legendary, records say that Thirumoolar actually lived in the Tanjore district in the 5th century BC. It is his philosophical utterances that laid the foundation for Saiva Sidhanta philosophy. He planted the seed of Saivaism in the minds of the people of South India. It was Thirumoolar who sang,

"Keep at least a leaf to worship God with,
Give even a blade of grass to the cow,
At least a morsel of food to the hungry give,
A kind word shall you give to the affiliated,
Surely you can afford this."
It is having the mind to give that matters.
Our karma

He advises man to care for his body, for therein dwells God. "If you cherish the body, it will in turn cherish the soul. When the body perishes, the soul also leaves."

A well cherished soul will find another body to dwell in temporarily. He insisted on the body being cared for, so that one can worship God with all parts of the body. Further the body must be there to the working out of one's own Karma. This is seen in one of his verses:

"Thou art the creator,
Of the fruits of thy actions,
Thou art the enjoyer thereof and,
Thou art the master of thy destiny."


Mayurapathy Sri Bathrakali Ambal Temple

The Mayurapathy Sri Bathrakali Ambal Temple which is dedicated to Goddess Kali is situated at Mayura Place, Wellawatte, Colombo and the Chief Trustee of this Temple Pon Vallipuram is rendering yeoman service for the last 22 years. The temple now has a dignified look and hundreds of devotees from all communities congregate daily to perform poojas.

Even the President Mahinda Rajapaksa had visited this miraculous temple twice to receive the divine blessings of Bathrakali Amman. Besides, Prime Minister, Members of Parliament of successive Governments have visited this temple several times.

Pon Vallipuram's service with the divine grace of Bathrakali Amman for the improvement of this temple in various ways has been duly appreciated and immensely recognized by the devotees belonging to all communities and denominations. The temple has a wedding hall, a hall for cultural activities and "Araneri School" for the benefit of the Hindu students.

He invites Tamil scholars and religious personalities practically every year during Aadipoora Mahotsavam and Chariot festivals of this temple to deliver religious discourses and lectures.

Pon Vallipuram, being a highly disciplined and remaining very religiously, traditionally and culturally rich has a broadmind and is receptive to contemporary ideas for the sake of his religious activities.

In recognition and appreciation of his tremendous service in the spheres of religious, social and cultural activities, the members of the "Ahila Ilankai Kamban Kalagam" organized a function recently to felicitate and honour Vallipuram in his completion of his 80th Birthday.

A religious book titled "Arul Kalasam" consisting of God Kanapathy Kalasam, Shiva Kalasam including Thevarams by the great saints like Sampanthar, Thirunavukkarasu, Sundarar and Saint Manikkavasagar and Vishnu Kalasam, Sakthi Kalasam, Luxmi Kalasam, Skanda Kalasam, Pal Theiva Kalasam, Gnana Kalasam was released.


Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka
Continued from October 09 Part iv
S. Pathmanathan

The vertical strips, four in number, are found only on the cardinal faces of the domical octagon, the intermediate octants being left blank. From this flat top of the cornice of this eight-sided drum forming the lower part of the story sprang an octagonal dome splayed like a bell and ribbed at the angles. The dome was 11 ft. 3 in. in diameter at the bottom.

The vimanam as it once stood, seems to have had height of 31 ft. 9 in. above the ground. It was capped by a lotus mahapadma, which was 3 ft. 8 in. diameter. The shaft and finial which rose from its centre was set on socket 4 in. square. From each side of the octagonal dome a single "Caitya window" projects boldly as a large-boarded dormer.

The ground floor of the antarala differed in ornamentation from the shrine only in the omission of niches and reduction in the number of pilasters from six to four on the sides and to two in front, with a pair of semi-pilasters flanking the entrance.

Of the flat lower roof of the vestibule less than half the elongated slabs, which ceiled it horizontally, from east to west, remain in position.

There were two subsidiary shrines within the premises of Siva Devale No. 2 as suggested by the ground plan of minor buildings and other evidence from architectural remains.

To the southeast a minor shrine set apart for the God Ganapati had existed. It had two chambers, an 8 ft. square cell and an antarala that was 6 ft. long and 5 ft. wide. A similar edifice was constructed at a distance of three yards of the northwest angle of the shrine.

To be Continued


Vedas as a source of spiritual transmission
Prof. P. Gopalakrishna Iyer Dean/Facility of Arts, University of Jaffna

The Vedas are the source of Hindu religion and culture. The Vedic transmission is of a heavy antiquity, and his Vedic chanting is still survive in Hindu religion. This tradition of hymn recitation remained primarily of ritualistic nature. The Vedas are four in number. The Rig. Veda, the Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.

In all the Vedic Samhitas consist of nearly 20,389 mantras. These collections include repetitions especially of a number of Rig Vedic Verses in the other Vedas. Devi Chand in his introduction to his translation of Yajur Veda praises the genesis of the Vedas as follows:

Vedas are the word of God, revealed in the beginning of creation for the moral, spiritual and physical guidance and uplift of humanity. They are replete with eternal truths and throw a flood of light on the various aspects of life to make a man perfect and ideal. God out of His infinite source of knowledge reveals in the beginning of creation a part of it adequate for the requirement of the soul, its spiritual satisfaction, fulfilment of its thirst for truth and making its journey of life successful.

The Vedas, literally meaning knowledge, are applauded as the foundation of the early religious beliefs of the Hindus.

The religion and culture of the Hindus are rooted in the Vedas and no specialist either eastern or western has placed much later than 1500 B.C. some have placed them very much earlier. Sri Aurobindo thus says the following words on the Vedas:

The wisest then depended on inner experience and the suggestions of the intuitive mind for all knowledge that ranged beyond mankind's ordinary perceptions and daily activities. Their aim was illumination, not logical conviction, their ideal the inspired seer not the accurate reasoner.

The Rsi was not the individual composer of the hymn, but the seer (drsta) of an eternal truth and an impersonal knowledge.

The language of the Veda itself is sruti, a rhythm not composed by the intellect but heard, a divine word that came vibrating out of the Infinite to the inner audience of the man who had previously made himself fit for the impersonal knowledge.

The words themselves, drsti and sruti, sight and hearing, are Vedic expressions: these and cognate words signify, in the esoteric terminology of the hymns, revelatory knowledge and the contents of inspiration.

The Vedic concept of revelation there is no suggestion of the miraculous or the supernatural. The Rsi had acquired by a progressing self-culture. The revelation came only at the end: the light was the prize of a final victory. The Vedas reflect the continuous image of the journey of the soul's march on the path of truth. According to the religious thinkers the Rig Veda may be regarded as a record of great achievement made by humanity.

Devi Chand's view regarding the Rishis is that the names of Rishis attached to the mantras are the names of those research scholars and seers, who expounded the meanings of the verses and commented upon them.

They are not authors or writers of those verses as some say. Devata is the subject matter of a verse, the topic discussed in it all good men and beneficent forces of nature like air, fire, water, sun, moon, breaths, lightning, father, mother, teacher, preacher and soul, which are beneficial to humanity are called devatas.

On the antiquity of the Vedas, Sri Aurobindo mentions that the text of the Vedas, which we possess, has remained uncorrupted for over two thousand years.

It dates, so for as we know, from the great period of Indian intellectual activity, which founded the culture and civilization recorded in the classical literature of the land. He continues that we cannot say to how much earlier a date our text may be carried. But there are certain considerations, which justify us in supposing for it an almost enormous antiquity.

An accurate in every syllable, accurate in every accent was a matter of supreme importance to the Vedic ritualists. Devi Chand observes that Swami Dayananda accepted the Veda as the rock of firm foundation, and took it for his guiding view of life, his rule of inner existence and his inspiration for external work. Further he regarded it as ever more, the word of eternal.

Truth was the key word of Vedic teaching, truth in the soul, truth in vision, truth in the intention truth in the act.

Western scholarship seemed to have classed the Veda for ever as a ritual liturgy to Nature Gods. Devi Chand mentions that the genius of the race looking through the eyes of Dayananda pierced behind the error of many centuries and the intuition of a timeless revelation and a divine truth given to humanity.

While discussing on the history of Vedas he mentions that Dayananda does not believe in the history in the Vedas. Western scholars like Griffith, Max Mueller, Monier - Williams, Mc Donel Bloomfield and few Eastern scholars too believe in history in the Vedas. Swami Dayananda's view on the history would be the history in the Veda militates against the eternity and revelation from god and reduces it to a man-made composition.

Dayananda affirms that the truths of modern physical science are discoverable in the hymns.

According to him that Veda contains truth of science as well as truth of religion. However Swami Dayananda has contributed immensely for the correct interpretation of the Vedas and would be honoured as the discoverer of the right clues. Even Aurobindo Ghosh, a great yogi and rsi is of opinion that there are truths of science in the Vedas. The Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda Contain sections which reflect scientific truths.

There are different schools of Vedic interpretation: firstly the Niruka, which was based on philological method: and secondly the historic method which was termed by Yaska as aidhasika method which consisted in elucidating a Vedic passage by referring particulars events in known history, the mythological method being another school of interpretation. The scientific method consists in identifying the Vedic truths with natural phenomena and explaining them as physical scientific truths.

The intuitional interpretation is extremely abstract method and is possible only for those who are given to yogic spiritual discipline. Yaska used this method in one of the chapter of his book. There are some Vedic texts which cannot be explained in any way but only with this. The ritualistic method is the easiest and most direct way of interpreting the Vedic texts.

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