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

Thread started by virarajendra on 26th January 2017 10:47 PM




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

The "God Supreme" of the religion “Saivaism” - that originated in the Nepal region north of of India, is identical as that of all the other religions of India and that of the World - "who is none but one who controls the creation, salvation, and destruction of all living beings and the nature of the universe.". In reality "God Supreme" has “no form” and “no name” and is the supreme power of the universe, who controls the creation, salvation, and destruction, of all living beings and the nature of the universe.

With the passage of time the original Saivaism of Nepal region which gradually spread all over India and towards Tamil Nadu of South India. It underwent further developments in Tamil Nadu - 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"

The "Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasakar" very clearly states in his “Thiruvaasakam” (in Tamil), that “God Supreme“ as - Oar Uruvam Oar Naamam ontrum illaarkku Ayiram ..... meaning the one without any - "form" or "name" celebrated and worshiped with many names and forms.

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

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

(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).

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".




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