Evolution of Saivaism and it's development in Tamil Nadu

Thread started by virarajendra on 26th February 2005 08:14 AM

Author - Virarajendra

Evolution of Saivaism and it's development in Tamil Nadu

(1) Introduction to Hinduism

"Hinduism" is a "general term" given to a religion which is essentially "a grouping of the ancient religious - beliefs and rituals of India" known as Saivam (Saivaism), Vainavam (Vaishnavaism), Saktham (Sakthism), Kanapathiam, Kaumaram, and Vedam (Vedism).

In India the "God Supreme" was given many different forms and names as God Siva (Shiva) in Saivaism, God Vishnu in Vainavam, Goddess Shakthi in Saktham, God Kanapathi in Kanapathiyam, God Skanda in Kaumaram, and God Agni in Vedism etc - among the various religious beliefs of Hinduism, and was worshiped by the Hindus from the time immemorial. The above God Forms never took birth in this world in human forms. Hence they were called by the prefix title (the) "God". However in Vainavam (Vaishnavaism) it was further considered that God Vishnu took ten incarnations in this world among which, are the incarnations as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.

Jainism and Buddhism preached by Lord Mahaveer and Lord Buddha - being the two other religions of India, upheld the principle of non-existance of God. Sikism recognises the "God Supreme" as the Guru (Preacher) to the mankind.

Among the world religions - the Islamic religion referred to the "God Supreme" - of no specific form or name - as "Allah" and Prophet Mohammad as the Messenger of the "God Supreme". The Christian religion referred to Lord Jesus Christ - as the Son of this "God Supreme" - of no specific form or name. Judaism too recognised the existance of the "God Supreme" - but of no specific form or name. In reality the "God Supreme" of the religions that sprung from India and of the other world religions - "is none but one

From the early days different Hindu religious beliefs and rituals that sprung from India, were practiced side by side with the patronage of the kings ruling the different regions of then India.

At times the beliefs and rituals that received the preferential patronage from the kings of a particular region, caused much influence over the other beliefs and rituals practised in the same region and undermined them. This to a certain extent caused the fusion of the (Hindu) beliefs and rituals of the preferential religion, with the other religions of that region.

Today Hinduism is a religion that is practised predominantly in India, Nepal, and Bali Islands of Indonesia, and to a great extent in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, in certain regions - of Sumatra & Java of Indonesia, in ceratain regions of Bangaladesh & Pakistan, Thailand, Miyanmar, Andamam & Nicobar Islands, Fiji Islands, Mauritius Islands, South Africa, Re-Union Island, U.S.A, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, to some extent in Germany, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, and to a reasonable extent in few other countries.

(2) Evolution of Saivaism

The Saiva 'beliefs and rituals" was known as Saivam and Saiva Samayam in Tamil, and as Saivaism and 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 oor uruvam, ontrum illaarkku" in his religious text Thiruvaasakam (in Tamil).

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.

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.

The origin of the worship of "God Supreme" as "God Siva" is still 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 Uttar Pradesh 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.

This 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.

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.

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 and Dravidians 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....."

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 their own "new" - God forms of "Siva" and "Sakthi", religious philosophies, modes of worship, and religious texts - greatly influenced by the language, culture and traditions "of those regions of India", and integrated with the practices of the original Saivaism.

(3) It's early development in Tamil Nadu - Thamil Saivam

During the early period of Tamil Nadu too, the original form of Saivaism with the "God Supreme" represented in the form of "Siva & Sakthi", and the forms of their worship as evolved in the Tibetian region were well known.

With the passage of time the original Saivaism gradually underwent further developments in Tamil Nadu - with the evolution of new religious concepts on the special attributes and glories of "God Siva" & "Goddess Sakthi", and "their new forms of representation in relation to these special attributes and glories" too cameforth in Tamil Nadu with God Siva as Lingeswarar (God Siva represented in the form of Lingam), Thenmukakkadavul (Thetchanamoorththy), Maathorupaakan (Arthanaatheeswarar), Kalyaanasunderar, Uma-Maheswarar, Somaskandar, and as Aadavallaan (Nadarajar), and with Goddess Sakthi as Malaimahal (Parvathi), Alaimahal (Lakshmi), Kalaimahal (Saraswathi), and Kaali (Durga).

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.

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)

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.

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.

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).

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.

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".

(4) The Mahendra Malai(Mountain) in Tamil Nadu considered a Holy abode of God Siva

In ancient times there had been mountains in Tamil Nadu which were held as holy abodes of God Siva and Goddess Sakthi by the Saivites of Tamil Nadu, as much as Mount Kailash of the Tibetian region, having their own concepts on the importance and significance of these mountains coming forth from the Sages & Seers of Tamil Nadu over a period of time. They were evidently the Mahendra Malai in the Kanyakumari district, Pothikai Malai in the Thirunelveli district, (Thiru) An-naa Malai in Thiruvannamalai district, and the Eengoi Malai in the Namakkal district (near Musiri), all being within Tamil Nadu.

Among them the "Mahendra (Mahenthiram in Tamil) Malai" draws our importance, as this mountain is not only held as the holy abode of God Siva and Goddess Sakthi, but also related with the evolution of the original Agamams.

The following references confirms the association of God Siva with this mountain.

"Thuu vellai neerani emperumaan
sothi Mahenthiranathan vanthu
thevar tholumpatham vaiththa Easan"

Thiruvaasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasakar, Thiruvarththai, Verse 9

"seer Mahenthiraththu pirappl avan Palli"
2nd Thirumurai by Saint Thirugnanasambanthar, Pathikam 39, Verse 4

"Mahendra mamalai.....Pothiyin malai......atethuvoam
idar keda nintru atethuvoam"

6th Thirumurai by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, Pathikam 70, Verse 9

"mani neer aruvi Mahenthira mamalai mel uraiyum
kuravaa...Thillai ambalak kooththane"

9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 1

"vaane thadavum nedung kudumi Mahenthira mamalai meliruntha thene.....Thillai ambalak kooththane"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 3

"varuneer aruvi Mahenthirap pon malaiyin
Malaimahalukku arulum kuru nee"

9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 10

"malai sool Mahenthira maamalai mel kurava.....Thillai ambalak kooththane"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 9

"Mahenthira vertpa.....Thillai ambalak kooththane"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 2

"maventhu saaral Mahenthiraththil valar nayaha.....Thillai ambalak kooththane"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 8

"mariyeru saaral Mahenthira malai mel iruntha marunthe.....Thillai ambalak kooththane"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 4

The Mahendra Malai was also known as Manthira Maamalai which too is confirmed by the following references:

"Manthiram enba Mayenthira Vetpe" (Vetpu - Mountain)
Kooththa Nool Chapter Thari Nool, Line 15

"Sinththanaikku ariya Sivame pottri
Manthira maamalai meyay pottri"

Thiruvaasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasakar, Pottri Thiruakaval, Line 205

"Manthira maamalai Mahenthira Vetpan"
Thiruvasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasakar, Keerththi Thiruakaval, Line 100

(5) Location of Mahendra Malai

The Mahendra mountain range was situated in the extreme south of the present Tamil Nadu, evidently stretching beyond the present Kanyakumari region which formed an integral part of the Pandiya Nadu of the first Tamil Sangam period.

At some stage a great sea tide (tsunami) coupled with a very big under water land slide took place, resulting in many mountains including Pahruli river and the vast tracts of land beyond the present Kanyakumari region belonging to then Pandiyan king submerged in to the sea.

Evidently in this tragedy the southern most part of the 'Mahendra Mountain range' sank into the sea, while the northern part of same with a single tall peak known as Mahendra Malai survived. The great sea tide that took place with the sinking of an extensive land area, is confirmed by the following reference in the Tamil Epic Poem of the third Tamil Sangam period (B.C.200 - A.D.200) namely the Silappathikarem.

"Pahtruli aatrudan panmalai aduk kaththu Kumarik Kodum kodung kadal kolla vada thisai Gangaiyum Imayamum kondu then thisai aanda Thennavan vaali"
Silappathikarem, Mathurai Kandam, Kaadu kaan kaathai - Lines 19-20

The above reference in Tamil in Silappathikarem means: "Praise to the Thennavan (Pandiyan king) who on the fearce sea submerging the river Pahruli with many range of mountains including the Kumari range, conquered the Gangai (river) and Imayam (Himalayan mountain) and ruled from the south".

The fact that many range of mountains submerged under sea is confirmed by the Epic Poem the Silappathikarem which states it was the territory of the then Pandiyan king. This falls in line with what is stated in the Valmiki Ramayana (in Sanskrit), that beyond the Pandiyan kingdom was the Mahendra Malai, the northern peak of this Mahendra mountain range that escaped and survived to this date.

The following reference confirms the sinking of the southern part of the Mahendra Mountain range, and the location of it's northern surviving peak. The reference is as follows.

"……From there you shall cross over the river Taamraparni……from there that is divine and fully golden and decorated with pearls & gemstones you shall see the Pandiyan's Kavadam. From there you reach the ocean and on resolving - the resolve of the purpose. There "with its one end verily penned in by Sage Agastya inside the ocean, the fortunate Mt Mahendra is there, with its marvellous pinnacles and the best among the mountains……."
Valmiki Ramayana, Kiskinda Kanda (English Translation)

The Valmiki Ramayana further indicates that the remaining portion of the Mahendra mountain was lying down south of India beyond the Thamiraparani river in between the then Pandiyan capital Kavadam and the sea in the days of the Ramayana epic, and even today. The Kavadam or Kavadapuram was the Pandiyan capital of the second Tamil Sangam period.

The fact about the survived portion of the Mahendra mountain range, is further confirmed by the reference in the Tamil Thirumurai as follows:

"aluntha Mahenthiraththu antharam putkku arasukku arase"
9th Thirumurai by Saint Thirumaalikaithevar, Pathikam 3, Verse 5

Further the location of the Mahendra Malai is also indicated by another reference as follows:

"then munai vattil ma Mayenthirame"
Kooththa Nool by Saththanaar, Chapter titled Thari Nool

The survived peak of the Mahendra mountain range could be seen even today, south of Thamiraparani river in the present Kanyakumari district, almost midway between the Thirukkurungudi and Bhutapandi having a height of 1,654 Metres (5,425 Ft), and presently called as the Mahendragiri. (Giri is mountain - in Sanskrit & Malai in Tamil)

(6) Naan Marai revealed by God Siva to four Munivars on Mahendira Malai

"Marai in Tamil means "Samaya Koatpaaduhal" - that is "Religious Doctrines", intended for or understood by learned people and the Priests with specialized knowledge of the religion. Naan Marai means four religious Doctrines, which at a subsequent period were known as Agamangal

There exists a mythological tradition which states that the Agamangal were first revealed by God Siva to Goddes Sakthi, and then re-revealed to fours Munivars on Mahendra Malai(mountain). This tradition is confirmed by the follows:

".....Arul arunth thiru Mathurai Aalavaayit Chokkan
parivaaka munoru kaat parpoha mukthi tharum
porul aru Agamangal Poruppu Araiyan thavap payanaanth
thiruvaana Umai ketpa selunth thiruvaai malarnth thananaal...."

Thiruvaalavaayudaiyaar Thiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam - by Perumpattra Puliyoor Nambi, chapter - Valai veesina thiruvilaiyaadal

"......Velli maalvaraik kayilaiyil veetriruntharulith
thullu vaarpunal Veniyaar arul seya tholuthu,
thellu vaaimaiyin pin Agamath thirannelanth theriya
ulla vaaru kettarulinaal ulakai Aludaiyaal....."

Thiruththondar Puraanam - by Seikkeelaar, chapter on Thirukurippuththonda Nayanaar

It is said, that it was after the revealation of the Agamangal to Goddess Sakthi, that God Siva re-revealed them again to the four Munivers on the Mahenthra Malai. This is confirmed by the following reference:

".....mannu maamalai Mahenthiram athanil
sonna Agamam thotruvith tharuliyum......"

Thiruvaasakam - by Maanikkavaasakar, keerththi thiruvahaval

The above reference is inline with the tradition, that the earlier revealed Agamangal (sonna Agamam) were re-revealed (thottruvith tharuliyum) to the Munivers.

The Naan Marai of Saivaism were namely Aram, Porul, Inbam, Veedu. God Siva revealed these four original Marais (religious doctrines) to the visualising senses of four Munivars, "under the shade of the Aalamaram" (Aal nilal keel) on the Mahendra mountain on their intense worship of him, which were later composed in Naan Marai by these four Munivars. This attribute of God Siva, evolved with his new form as Thetchanamoorththy.

The "Kooththanool" a third Sangam period (Second century A.D) - Tamil dance treatise too confirms that the four original Marais were revealed by God Siva to the four Munivars on the Mahendra Mountain.

"Manthira maamalai Yanthira thavacil vadakku parithi kidakkap poam vali, naalvarkku Thanthira Naan Marai koorum Kooththanum Kooththiyum iyatriya kooththai kandaan Agaththiyan"
Kooththa Nool - by Saaththanaar, Line 8

The essense of the Naan Marai was the Sivathanmam.

These are confirmed by the following references.

"Arisaiyum vada aalin keelirunthu angu eer irruvarkku
irangi nintru neriya Nann Marai porulai uraiththu"]
1st Thirumurai by Thirugnanasambanthar, Thiruvilimalai pathikam, Verse 1

"Nantraha Naalvarukkum Naanmaraiyin utporulai
antru Aalin keel irunthu angu aramuraiththan kaanedi"
Thiruvaasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasagar, Thirutchaalal Pathikam

"Arunthavarukku Aalin keel aram muthalaka naankanaiyum
irunthavarukku arulumathu ennakariya iyambedi
arunrhavakku ara muthal naanku antru aruli sethilanel
Thiththavarukku kula iyatkai theriya kaan saalalo"

Thiruvaasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasagar, Thirutchaalal Pathikam

"Aal athan keel irunthu naalvarkku Aram, Porul, Veedinpam (Veedu + Inpam)....therinthaanai[/u]"
6th Thirumurai by Saint Sundaramoorthi Nayanar, Pathikam 66 Verse 2

"Saiva vedham, thaan ninaiththa iympulanum
alintha sinthai Anthanaalarkku, Aram, Porul, Inpam, Veedu
molintha vaayaan mukkanaathi....."

1st Thirumurai by Saint Thirugnanasambanthar, Pathikam 53, Verse 6

Note: "vedham" in Tamil in the above refers to "disguise" and not to Vetham - that is the Vedas. Also "alintha sinthai" means restrained mind.

"Senthamilar theiva Marai naavarselu nat kalai therinthavar"
3rd Thirumurai by Saint Thirugnasambanthar, Pathikam 80, Verse 4

"Aram kondu Sivathanmam uraiththa piran"
2nd Thirumurai by Saint Thirugnanasambanthar, Pathikam 43, Verse 6

(7) The earliest Tamil Saiva Priests of Tamil Nadu were the Paarppanar and the Anthanar

The God Siva was given many names to exibit his various attributes, resulting in he being also known as the "Paarppanan" and the "Anthanan" during the early days of Tamil Nadu.

The abode of God Siva in the original Saivaism was Himalayas the Paarppatham in Tamil. The Goddess Shakthi of the Paarppatham mountain was called Paarppathi and the God Siva of the Paarppatham was called as the Paarppanan - in Tamil.

This is confirmed by Thiruvasakam of the Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasagar in which he addresses God Siva as Paarppaane !!

".....moopaai moovaa muthalaai nintra
muthalvaa munne enai yaanda
Paarppaane em parama......"
Thiruvaasakam by Saint Maanikkavaasagar, punarchchi patthu, verse 10

Saint Maanikkavaasagar again refers to Paarppaan as follows:

".......Paraaparan paaril vanthu Paarppaan ena,
Siththar suula Sivapiraan Thillai muuthoor nadam seivaan......"

Thiruvaasakam - by Saint Maanikkavaasagar, Senni Paththu.

That is - the Paraaparan (the God) came to earth (known) as "Paarppanan", (was the) Sivapiraan (who) performs dance at Thillai muutoor (Chithambaram) surrounded by Siththar (Sages).

The significance of the name Anthanan to God is still not known, but however it was also a name used to refer God as Siva with a prefix during the very early periods, which is confirmed from the follows:

"Pirai mudi Anthanan"
Kallaadam by Kallaadanaar, chapter 44, line 16

"Piramanum Thirumalum kaithola peralall aya pemmaan
aravam 'Ser sadai Anthanan" Ananginodu amarum idam"
1st Thirumurai - by Thirugnanasambanthar, Thirukatchiehambam pathikam, verse 9

"Piravaa neri thantha per arulaalan
maravaa arul thantha maathvan Nanthi
"Aravaali Anthanan" Aathi Paraaparan
uravaaki vanthu en ulam puhunthaane"
Thirumanthiram by Thirumoola Naayanaar, 7th Thanthiram, verse 1803

Here God Siva is specifically referred to as "Aravaali Anthanan" meaning the Anthanan of the ocean of Aram (Virtue) by Thirumoola Naayanaar of the fifth century A.D. in his religious work Thirumanthiram in Tamil.

Incidently it should be noted that Sage/Poet Thiruvalluvar who belonged to the period first century B.C. too uses the term "Aravaali Anthanan" in his great Tamil work on Code of Ethics namely the Thirukkural, in the first chapter on Adoration of God as follows"

"Aravaali Anthanan thaal senthaarkku al-laal
piravaali neeththal arithu"

Thirukkural - by Thiruvalluvar, chapter on Kadavul Valththu, verse 8.

meaning: Only those who submit at the feet of the God of
Virtue it is possible to overcome the ocean of

The above resulted in Tamil Saiva Priests who officiated the rituals of worship to God Siva {the Paarppanan or Anthanan} in the Saiva temples, to be known as the "Paarppanar" and the "Anthanar".

The earliest Tamil Grammer treatise the Tholkaappiam and the Tamil Thirukkural clearly says the virtue maintained by these Tamil Saiva Priests as follows.

"...penu thahu sirappit Paarppanan.."
Tholkaappiam, seyyul iyal, verse 182

"Anthanar enboar Aravoar matru evvuyirkkum
senthanmai poondu oluhalaan"

Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar, chapter on Neeththaar perumai

(8) Evolution of Vedism in the Sind Valley region of East Pakistan

Around the year B.C.1500 the Indo-Aryans migrated to the Sind region (the Punjab region of the present Pakistan and India) from the north-west through Kabul valley region, defeating the Dravidians of the Mohenjodaro & Harappa civilisations of the Sind Valley along the river Sindu (Indus) which flourished between B.C.2500-1500, and settled along the river Saraswathi of this region running parallel to the river Sindu.

The fact the 'Rig Veda' was composed by them around B.C.1500 'from this region' is confirmed by the references to the river Sindu and many references to the river Saraswathi of this region - being the 'only two main rivers mentioned in the entire Rig Veda' (not the great rivers Gangai or Yamunai or even the Himalayan mountain range). The religious culture that was developed by the Indo-Aryans in this region after their migration was known as the "Vedic Culture". This Vedic Culture gradually spread to the other regions of North and North-East India over a period of time.

During this period the 'Cyrus the great' (B.C.580-529 BC), the first Achaemenid Emperor founded Persia (present Iran) and conquered the Asia Minor and led his armies towards east and further-east and conquered many kingdoms including the Sind valley region (the Punjab region of present Pakistan and India) around B.C.570. Thus came the end of the 'cradle of the Vedic Culture' the Saraswathi and Sind valley region of North-West India.

Also around this period appeared two great Sages in North India namely Lord Mahavira (B.C.599-527) and Lord Buddha (B.C.563-483) spreading their respective religious doctrines namely the Jainism and Buddhism - in North India. The rise of the new waves of religious culture of these two faiths, lead to the gradual decline of Vedic Culture in the Sind region of North-West India from around B.C.600. The Persians (Non-Islamic) of this period were referred to as "Yavanas" in the Sanskrit Ramaayana of Sage Vaalmiki of little later period.

This period of Vedic Culture from B.C.1500-600 was known as the "Vedic Period" of North India in history, and the Sanskrit language that was professed during this period as "Vedic Sanskrit". The literature that developed during this time was known as the "Vedic Literature".

Around B.C.600 the great Grammerian Panini wrote the first Sanskrit Grammer. The Sanskrit language that was in use as from B.C.600 was referred to as the "Classical Sanskrit". No where in any Sanskrit Literature of the Vedic Period the Epic story of Raamaayana has been mentioned. However there are references to Vedas in the Sanskrit Raamaayana of Sage Vaalmiki. Hence it is clear the Ramaayana episode took place 'after' the period of "Vedic Sanskrit" around B.C.600 - during the period of "Classical Sanskrit".

(9) The coming of Vedism to Tamil Nadu

With the coming of the Vedism to Tamil Nadu the Vedic Priests namely the Brahamanar also known as the Vediyar (Vethiyar in Tamil) introduced their Vedic Doctrines namely the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas and the connected Vedic Rituals namely the Homam & Yaagam (Yagna). At a subsequent stage there developed the fourth Veda known as Atharva which too was introduced to Tamil Nadu

During Silappathikarem period it was clearly evident that they performed their Vedic Rituals (Homam & Yaagam) in their own Religious Centres outside the Siva and Vishnu Temples of Tamil Nadu, but gradually received much authority in performing their Vedic religious rituals within these Temples and in the Social life of the Tamil people - parallel with the Tamil Saivite - Paarppanar and the Anthanar performing Saivite religious rituals, under the patronage of the ruling Tamil kings of then Tamil Nadu.

This caused the original Tamil Saiva Priests - the Paarppanar and the Anthanar - the necessity to differentiate themselves from the Vedic Priests, and referred to themselves also as the "Aathi Saivar" meaning the original Saivas.

Earlier those who were entitled to do "all the daily rituals of worship" in Siva Temples at the time the four Agamams came into existance, were only the "Aathi Saivar" as seen mentioned in the subsequent Siva Agamams.

With the comming of the Vedism into Tamil Nadu, it appears the original Tamil Naan Marais have been translated into Sanskrit by the Vedic Seers with modifications to the original Tamil texts, newly incorporating some Vedic rituals and values in same and called them the Agamams, with the Aram, Porul, Inbam and Veedu being referred to in them as Sariya, Kiriya, Yoga and Gnanam.

There are two evidences found, in the recent Tamil translation of the "Uttara Kamika Ahamam" confirming that the principal four Sanskrit Agamams were the translations of the original Tamil Naan Marai, while it appears that the other Agamams were later developments based on the four original Agamam written directly in Sanskrit by the Vedic Priests, who came into Tamil Nadu.

This made them claim subsequently that the Vedas were the general treatises, whereas Agamams were the special treatises of the Vedism, as also seen referred in the Thirumoolar's Thirumanthiram by which time Vedism has already penetrated into Tamil Nadu.

The Naan Marai which was the earlier specific name for Siva Agamams, which later was also used to refer the four Vedas with the introduction of same into Tamil Nadu. As they had to be differentiated among them, the Agamas were called as "Thanthirams" and the later Vedas were called as "Manthirams" - in Tamil Nadu.

They were also known as "Thanthira Naan Marai" as seen in the Kooththa Nool - by Saaththanaar, Line 8 and "Vedaththu Nan Marai" as seen in the early Tamil Literary work the Paripaadal - Chap 3, line 66.

The Tamil Saiva Saint Maanikkavaasagar of Tamil Nadu of later period confirms in the Sivapuraanam of his work Thiruvaasakam, stating that God Siva revealed the - "Nan Marais" which later were also known as the Agamams - on the Mahenthira Malai.

The reference is as follows.

"Mannu maamalai Mahenthiram athanil
sonna Akamam thotruviththu aruliyum"

Thiruvaasakam, Section on Sivapuranam, Page 22

"Maa etaakiya Akamam vaankiyum matravai thammai Mahenthiraththu irunthu Uttra iym muhankalaal panintharuliyum"
Thiruvaasakam, Section on Sivapuranam, Page 23

"Thattham samayath thahuthi nillaathaarai aththan Sivan sonna Agama Nool Neri eththandamum seyum ammaiyil…."
Thirumanthiram, verse 247

(10) The original Siva Agamams and it's subsequent growth

Siva Agamams were originally four in number grew later to nine and finally ended up at twenty eight. The following references confirms the above.

"naalvarkku Thanthira Naan Marai koorum Kooththanum

Kooththa Nool - by Saaththanaar, Line 10

Note: The term "Marai" (Religious Doctrines) was used earlier only for Agamams, and with the comming of the Vedism to Tamil Nadu it gradually became a common term to indicate both Agamams and the Vedas. However at times even in the late periods it was still used as special term to indicate the Agamams as seen below.

"Angamaai aathiyay Vedamaahi,
aru Maraiyodu Iym pootham thaaneahi"

6th Thirumurai by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, Nintra thiruththaandakam, Verse 6

Arisaiyum vada aalin keelirinthu angu eer irruvarkku
irangi nintru neriya naanmarai porulai uraiththu
oliser neri aliththoan nintra koyil

paarisaiyum panditharkal pannaalum payintrothum
osai kettu verimali polirt killai Vethangal porut sollum Milalaiyaame

1st Thirumurai by Thirugnanasambanthar, Thiruvilimalai pathkam, Verse1

In the above references the Agamams have been shown seperately from the Vedas, and refered to as Marai and NaanMarai which later increased to Nine, and subsequently to twenty eight during the time of Tamil Saiva Saint Thirumoolar as confirmed in his Tamil religious work Thirumanthiram, the references to which are as follows.

"Munthi uthikkintra muulan madavarai
Thanthiram onpathu saarvu muvayiram
Sunthara Agama
sol molinth thane"

Thirumanthiram, verse 101

"Anjana Meni Arivaiyor paahaththan
Anjodu irupaththu muntru ula Agamam Anjali koopphi arupaththu aruvarum
Anjaa muhaththil arum porul kettathe"

Thirumanthiram, verse 57

(11) Names of the original Siva Agamams

It is not clear which were the first four Agamams revealed by God Siva to (the visualising senses) of the four Munivars on Mahendra Malai. However with the growth of these Agamams to nine, we are made aware of the names of these nine Agamams by the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirumoolar in his Tamil religious text the Thirumanthiram. In fact he has said that his Thirumanthiram was based on these nine Agamams. This is confirmed as follows.

"Moolan madavarai Thanthiram onpathu saarvu (mu)vayiram
sundara Agama sol molinthaane"

Thirumanthiram - Sirrappu Payiram, verse 101

The names of these nine Agamams are as follows.

(1) Kaarana Agamam
(2) Kamika Agamam
(3) Veera Agamam
(4) Siththa Agamam
(5) Vaathula Agamam
(6) Viyamala Agamam
(7) Kaaloththira Agamam
(8) Suppira Agamam
(9) Mahuta Agamam

The names of the nine Agamams mentioned above are confirmed by the following verse of the Thirumoolar's Thirumanthiram.

"Pettra nal Agamam, Kaaranam, Kamikam
uttra nal Veeram, uyar Siththam, Vaathulam
matrav Viyamalam ahum Kaaloaththiram
thuttra nat Suppiram sollu Mahutame"

Thirumanthiram, verse 63

Subsequently the Siva Agamams grew into twenty eight, and the additional Agamams which made this number are as follows.

(1) Yosaka Agamam
(2) Sinthiya Agamam
(3) Asitha Agamam
(4) Theeptha Agamam
(5) Suukuma Agamam
(6) Anjuman Agamam
(7) Visaya Agamam
(8) Nisuvaasa Agaam
(9) Suwaayambuva Agamam
(10) Aakineya Agamam
(11) Rouvara Agamam
(12) Chandragnana Agamam
(13) Mukavimba Agamam
(14) Prokeetha Agamam
(15) Lalitha Agamam
(16) Santhana Agamam
(17) Sarvoththa Agamam
(18) Paaramesuvara
(19) Kirana Agamam

(12) Original Agamams were in Tamil and subsequently also in Sanskrit

The original four Nan Marais were in Tamil, and subsequently they have also been in Sanskrit - translated with modifications and were called as the Agamams, which is gleaned from the references in the verses in various religious texts, and in the Saint Thirumoolar's Thirumanthiram which are as follows:

"Muththamil NaanMarai mulaiththa
arul vaakaal vithi koori"

Kallaadam by Kallaadanaar - Line 16/17

"Muththamil NaanMarai Gnanasampanthan"
1st Thirumurai - by Saint Thirugnanasampanthar

"Van ThamilMarai yorkku vaan urai koduththa
thinthiral neduvel Seralan kanku"

Sillappathikaaram - by Ilango Adigal, Katturai Kaathai Lines 63/64

"Thangi mihamai vaiththaan Thamil Saththiram"
Thirumanthiram - Verse 87

"Sadasiva Thaththuvam Mutthamil Vedam"
Thirumanthiram - Paayiram - Verse 76

"Thamil sol Vada sol enum ivvirandum
unarththum avanai unaralumame"

Thirumanthiram - Verse 66

"Ariyamum Munth(u) Thamilum udane solli
kaarikaiyarkku karunai seithaane"

Thirumamthiram - Verse 65

From the above reference it should be noted, that Thirumular himself confirms Tamil being earlier than Sanskrit in antiquity.

(13) Siva Agamams were the principal religious texts of early Saivaism of Tamil Nadu

From all available evidences it could be proved beyond doubt that Siva Agamams in Tamil were the original holy texts of Saivaism of Tamil Nadu, long before the Vedic religion from North India having Vedas (in Sanskrit) as it's principal holy texts, gradually took a place of pride along with Saivaism in Tamil Nadu in the subsequent periods.

The Siva Agamams essentially consists of informations on the represention of God as Siva in different forms with each form to represent his different attributes, the iconographic details in casting these forms of God Siva in metal and stone for the purpose of worship, the details of constructing the structural shelters namely the temples and connected structures in stone and brick to house these Icons, the forms of worship and religious practices to be followed in worshiping the Icons installed in these temples, to invoke the presence of God as Siva in them, and prey for their salvation and blessings by way of various forms of worship, for the well being of the human beings.

Finally it spells out the religious philosophy of Saivaism known as "Saiva Siththantham" an illumination on the God - Soul relations, and the worldly bonds which prevents the soul reaching the God and as to how to relieve themselves from these bonds in their quest in reaching the God's feet.

The God Siva's form such as Sivalingam, Siva with Gangai and crest moon in his knots of hair with snake around his neck and a blue kandam on his throat, and the trident in one hand, and the other forms such as Lingothbhavar, Arthanaatheeswarer, Thetchanamoorthy, Kalyanasunderar, Uma-Maheswarer, Somaskandar, etc are only known to us from the Siva Agamams.

Only the Siva Agamams mention about Panchabootha Thalams, and Atta Virratta Thalams. Hence we could very correctly and evidently conclude that the Siva Agamas were the earliest principal religious texts of the Saivaism that developed in Tamil Nadu.

(14) Saivaism during the period of "Thamil Sangams" of Tamil Nadu

To follow soon before - End Dec 2012

The above Research Article is "not the ultimate" on the Subject of it's Title, but "to be further improved" with "corrections made where necessary" - for it's perfection and reliability.

"New additions will be made" with the findings of new authentic informations on the title of this Article from various sources from time to time, to make this Thread in this Website more informative.

The Article itself will be continued further exploring the "Development of Saivaism in Tamil Nadu from the ancient times to this day


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