Comparitive Study of the Symbolism in Saiva Siddhantha and Freudian Psychoanalysis




The period from the 5th century when Pallavs ruled cholamandalam and the imperial cholas from 9th century till 13th century was the period of saiva devotional hymns.

Thirumanthiram, which is a philosophical work was written in 5th century.. First purana in tamil was Periapuranam by Sekkizhar of 11th century. The thirumurai -12 were compiled at these period it self.

In the end of 13 th century the cholamandalam (cauveri delta) was beginning to see the decline of imperial cholas. The rise of pandyas and their plunder, revenge and destruction lead to the necessity of forming monasteries in the cauveri delta in order to preserve the theological literature and schools of thought. The saiva savants acquired liberal land and temple administrative rights from the rulers. For that time devotional writings have become adequate and saiva religion was well established in south India and srilanka. The philosophy has swelled enough with copious minor treatises and more systematic metaphysical doctrines. Scholars worked to compile the treatises into a formal anthology.

Meykandar of pennadam settled in chidambaram-malaikatti street, finalized his seminal work SIVAGNANABODHAM. His disciples Umapathi, Maraignanam and Arulnandhi namely in succession followed his mission. The Thiruvaduturai adheenam was first established in the same period followed by the others along the river banks. The 14 sastra texts were compiled into Meikanda sandana texts.

Subsequent political changes lead to power vacuum for about a century. Vaishnavite-telugu Vijayanagara empire occupied cholamandal. However the monasteries continued to get patronage. The Marathi interlude at the 18th century did not disturb savite traditional works. Temple constructions were encouraged.

From the 5th century to the 18th century the temples were constructed and maintained in the Agama traditions. The gopurams were several storied with imposing flag post at the entry. The sacrificial pedestal(palipeeda), the bull(nandi) and the linga formed the core symbols of worship. Temple culture was a form, part and parcel of Tamil life. Even small villages had large fortified temple complexes. A few of them are the largest granite structures in the world till this date.

Hence forth we find a decline in saivite studies and religion. There were more liberal and humanistic schools like Paramathuvaiddha are seen and later the influence of Brahma samaj and Arya samaj in cholamandal.


The sivagnanabodham is arranged in 12 sutras(stanzas). They convey the truth in 39 adhkaranas(concepts). They can be studied as follows:

Concept-1: the universe has three functions-birth,sustenenance and death.
             -2:  the universe is created by siva
             -3:  the men and women are the product of the triple functions.
            -1:  Siva is the life
            -2:  Siva gives the fruit for the human deeds. 
            -3:  life has defective qualities from birth.
            -4:  Siva is omnipresent.
            -1: life has no knowledge on its own as it expresses it by self.
            -2: the material body expresses its self and it is hence different from life.
-3: the states are five and each are felt with life of its own.
-4: the dream are separated from conscious and hence they are life of its own.
-5: sleep has respiration and hence it is an another life.
-6: life has forgetting qualities hence it is different from Siva.
-7: thus all lives are different as they have different names.

            -1: the deeds have different  as they are functionless without adding life.
            -2: the dirt conceals the knowledge of life.
            -3: the life is contaminated by the three form  of dirts.

            -1: the knowledge is mediated and performs through life.
            -2: the life perceives knowledge through Siva.

            -1: the knowledge of life is perishable
            -2: the eternal knowledge is Siva

            -1:  Siva  has no attachment.
            -2:  attachments do not contaminate Siva.
            -3: life can reach Siva and enjoy.
            -1: the life gets correct knowledge through meditation
            -2:siva is the master for the life.
            -3: life looses its self by attaching with senses.
            -4: life when detaches itself from senses understands self.
            -1: life sees Siva by knowing Siva only.
            -2: Siva emanates from life when attachments(bonds) cease.
            -3: chanting the five letters of Siva liberates from the smell of the dirt.

             -1: be united with Siva
             -2: be ones duty as the duties to Siva
             -1:the benefits of the knowledge goes to Siva
             -2: the continuous thought and love of Siva leads to him

             -1: destroy the three forms of dirt(self entitlement, false deeds& false perception)
             -2: be in company with Siva conscious people
             -3: Siva conscious people and sivalinga are to be worshiped as Siva
             -4: the worshipfulness alone saves.




1.How many substances are there?(monism vs. pluralism)

	There are two forms. 

2. What are they?

	1.siva (pati) 2. body(pasu).

3.How are they composed?

	Pati is supreme. Pasu was created and exists independently. It is bonded by desires(pasa).   

4.How do they interact?

 	Pati stays and pasu moves steadfast towards it by removing bonds(pasa).


5.How did universe come into being?

	The universe is the creation of Siva. 

6. Are there space and time? 

	The Siva creates the space and time and  he is beyond that.

 	The body is the creation, sustenance and destruction of Siva and hence within space and time.

	Siva is the ultimate knowledge. 
	The life knowledge is acquired and not a-priori. 
	It is by the contact with Siva life acquires knowledge. 
	Life gets knowledge by meditating on Siva. 
	The knowledge is concealed by the contamination of the dirts(mala) . 

The pati qualities as mentioned in the first two sutras are highest qualities.

The pasu has five states of existence, transient knowledge, a transient life and transient thought(memory) as mentioned in the third sutra. Life is bonded with(pasa) and hence contaminated by dirt(mala) and it prevents the acquisition of knowledge. The pati is responsible for the knowledge, but it is destroyed by dirt and hence becomes transient(fourth, fifth and sixth sutras).

In the seventh sutra the pasa and pati antagonism is clearly demonstrated as they never unite.

The process or the method of pasu(body) reaching the pati are explained in all the rest of sutras.


Sigmund Freud belong to Austria and a Jewish by birth. His works started in the early1900 onwards. He explored unconscious parts of mind using analytical-interpretative model.

Freudian interpretation of mind has revealed three modes .
1. superego
2. ego
3. id.


the reservoir of highest social and spiritual aspect and qualities which are determined in the conscious mind by interacting with external world of the individual. It is partly conscious and partly unconscious.

the most active part of mind which uses various defenses and regulates the mind against the destruction and the drives of the self. It is partly conscious and partly unconscious.

the repository of basic animal qualities like feeding, reproduction , excretion, safety..etc. It is totally unconscious.

Superego drives the mind towards higher social qualities including spirituality. Highest superego state may be the one of the union with supreme metaphysical entity. Id strives to preserve the mind and the body , by indulging in worldly deeds or pleasures which are necessary for the very survival of materialistic existence of organism. The ego uses defenses to prevent the harsh punishments of superego for failing to fulfill the social or spiritual norm. It also minimizes the primitive drives of id without renouncing the life sustaining necessities of the body. The purpose of these transactions is the fulfillment of manís basic needs and desires. When these systems are at odds , person is maladjusted.


The Freudian theory is the study of physical matter-mind. In fact he is a biologist of mind. The description, the language and the symbols he has used to profound it are the one which are very pertinent.

The saiva doctrine is the study of metaphysical one. The relationship between the body and soul is dual one. While the body is physical the Siva is beyond physical mode. The body relieves from material bonding and reaches the soul(Siva). The symbols here are namely linga, bull and the sacrificial pedestal as seen in all saivite shrines.

The pedestal stands for severance of bonds. The bull(nandi) for the body+mind. The linga is the soul persona.

The symbolism in saiva school and Freudian school are similar. Pati=linga=superego. Pasu=nandi=ego. Pasa(mala)=pedestal(for sacrifice)=id(primitive drives).

Like the nandi moving towards the linga severing the pasa -mala, the ego regulates itself with superego and minimizes the id drives to achieve higher social ideals.


It is needless to say the meanings in both theories are aimed at different perspectives. But the superego qualities desired in saivite society are the one desired in the 8th -12th sutras. That makes the social and psychological profiles of the authors of saiva doctrines. Hence the symbolism in the two schools are analogous. However the object studied in each are different -materialistic(Freud) and spiritual(saiva). Symbolism is a mental process and saiva schools have used it liberally. Mental processes are studied by Freud but with materialistic- wordly approach.

There is need for study in this area in the post modern context where the is a revival of re- approachment between spiritual and materialistic schools.