Civajnanam Tradition and Authority


university Sains Malaysia


Dravidian Philosophic Tradition

When we view the growth and development of Dravidian Philosophy right from the Prevedic Sumero-Dravidian times, we can recognise two basic tendencies that we can call Siddhantic and Viddhantic. Both words are derived from the Sumero-Tamil root: sid- meaning to recite, learn, understand etc. to which are related such terms as cittam, cintai, cittu, cittar, and cettu. We can also derive such terms as vid- vittai veda and so forth from the same root. But here by Siddhanta we mean the sciences and by Viddhanta ideological systems where man sets himself to construct various conceptual systems through the power of imagination alone. The Viddhantic includes the Vedantic but more comprehensive. Thus while the Siddhantic leads to an UNDERSTANDING of the world and hence EXISTENCE and the birth of theorias (note: not the theories of positive sciences) i.e. a deep understanding of the world or a DARSANA of TRUTH, the Viddhantic leads to various conceptual fabrications or ideological systems satisfying in some ways. In this sense and in a very simplistic way, we can view the philosophical battle in the Tamil country as between these two forms of thinking with Siddhantic constituting the central tendency. If for Greeks and the West man is a rational animal, for the Dravidian man is a learning-teaching animal, i.e. pedagogic. The Dravidian entelechy, the moving principle is that of pedagogy.

In the 13th century Meykandar accomplishes what no other philosopher, even to this day, has accomplished, viz. Fundamental Ontology (anatip poruLial) i.e. Pati Pacu and Pacam as ANATI- metaphysical realities ALREADY THERE uninaugurated or unoriginated. This notion was first announced by Thirumular in the 7th century itself but which remained simply a notion and not a fundamental philosophical TRUTH till the time of Meykandar. Under the impact of Meykandar’s brilliant achievement, there was a great outburst of philosophical and scientific activities. It cannot be an accident that the Siddhas became very active and productive in areas other than philosophy and metaphysics- in psychology, physiology and human anatomy, pharmacology, medicinal sciences, psychotherapy and many others subsequent to Meykandar. Meykandar appears to have given the Fundamental Ontology that all sciences need.

The pedagogic nature of the Dravidian sciences led to the identification of a LOGIC inherent to it and we find the rigorous expression of it in the Civanjanabotham of Meykandar. The divisions of Pramanaviyal, ilakkanaviyal, catanaviyal and payanial defines the rational structure of the pedagogic sciences and because of which the subsequent treatises on S.Sid were cast into these forms. Since Fundamental Ontology i.e. the Pramanviyal and Ilakkanaviyal termed collectively also as the Pothu, the universal, once accomplished is accomplished forever, metaphysical inquiries as such came to a close. However in the matters of Catanaviyal there cannot be such a final and conclusive achievement. The cariyai kriyai yokam and jnanam and related matters became the main focus and we find the Siddhas competing very effectively with the Saiva Philosophers. Within the main stream S. Sid tradition , we have the 16th cent. Tattuvappirakasam of probably Sikazi Tattuva Nathar as a very significant achievement in this line of inquiry. Because the LOGIC inherent to the pedagogic systems was not explicitly formulated by Meykandar, and that provided by Arunandi was not entirely satisfactory, there were also interesting investigations into this. While many texts produced are lost, we are fortunate to have Pati Pacup Pacap Panual of Kankatti Marainjana Sambanthar as a record of the logical investigations of the period. We can also include the following texts as truly S.Sid. in the sense that they keep to Fundamental Ontology of Thirumular-Meykandar: the texts of CiRRampala NadikaL such as TukaL Aru Potham and TukaL Arupothak Kattalai of possibly one of his students,; the Sathya jnana Potham and many others of Civanjana Vallal, the Cataciva Rupam of CattaiNatha Vallal, the Saiva Samaya Neri and others by Kankatti Marainjana Sambanthar, the Pancathikara Villakam of Sithambaranar and numerous brilliant texts by the Siddhas which are slowly becoming available to the world.


A close scrutiny of these texts makes it abundantly clear that in this Siddhantic i.e. pedagogic scientific tradition there is NO AUTHORITY OTHER THAN THE AUTHORITY OF TRUTH. All investigations are hermeneutic- interpretive studies of TEXTS and TEXT ANALOGUES which always come with a DUALITY of structure, the Surface Structure that constitutes the phenomenal component of experience and Deep Structure, the hidden the noumenal but which is the Nimitta Karana, the Agentive Cause. Whenever there is an enigma , there is a TEXT of some kind that we do not understand, there is IGNORANCE in us about its content. Then we try to destroy this ignorance by the exercise of some UTTTIES, and gain a vision of the D.S elements that in fact agentively fabricate the phenomenal S.S elements. We gain LUMENS , variously called uLLoLi, CiRcakti etc that confers clarity of understanding and hence subjective certitude. A penetrating decompositional analysis of this primary process of philosophic experience, as already undertaken by Meykandar shows that in such processes there is SHOWING and because of which there is SEEING on the part of the anma. When the anma SEES as shown and only as shown, TRUTH is apprehended and a feeling of certitude is also experienced along with it. When a person endeavors unfailingly along these lines, he is helped by the PANCAKRITTIYAMS of SIVA, the BEING. It is Civa who thus instructs the anmas, and the WORLD PLAY is enacted by HIM in the assembly of Tillai precisely for this purpose. As long as the anmas continue their pedagogic odyssey, through countless births and deaths always mindful that what one ought to gain is TRUTH and nothing else, there will a come a time when BEING will confer MUKTI and release the anma from phenomenological circulation that, in fact, can be interminable.

We must remember that Civa is present in the soul of every man instructing each according to his own pakkuvam, or readiness to learn. Everyone is guided all along by the ever present BEING and hence when all our hermeneutic efforts are consistent with the inner guidance that is always available, we shall develop, progress and succeed in accessing higher modes of being in the world. And in this the experiencing of TRUTH is very important. When we experience something with apodictic certainty, indubitable and absolutistic, we are also given to understand that we are moving in the RIGHT direction, travelling along the RIGHT PATH that Thirumular called Sanmarkkam and Thirunjanasambanthar ThiruNeri. The san- markkam is path (markkam) of gaining lumens (san)

Philosophical inquiries, no matter how profound and penetrating, can only emplace us on the RIGHT PATH, secure a way of life in which we experience TRUTH and nothing else. They cannot do more than that. A profound knowledge of a philosophical system is nothing more than good scholarship. When a philosopher ceases to LIVE IN TRUTH, he will not develop as an individual and become closer to Civa, i.e. lose pacuttuvam and gain in Civattuvam. Such an individual will be avidly scholastic but not wise. Even philosophical texts such as Civanjanabotham, can only set us on the path of ThiruNeri, by justifying that way of living as the RIGHT one. An understanding of the text in itself is not attaining MUKTI which is always the exclusive privilege of Civa to confer.

If this is the case then we must draw out an immediate implication of this. If it is the exclusive privilege of BEING alone to confer MUKTI, then we cannot set up any scripture or rituals such as the Cambava Tikkai as authoritative in itself and hence also any person who may be the producer of such scriptures and manager of such rituals . CIVA is a living presence and only HE and no other can confer MUKTI and that too only for the deserving .

The absolute authoritativeness of BEING follows from the fact that it is HE who is the cangkara karanan, the agency of destructive -generative processes in the world and without which there can no changes let alone developments. The cangkaram are acts of episodisation where when something, say X , is episodised, another, say Y, is allowed to show itself up as there now in place of the earlier X. The episodised or historicalised, i.e. put as now in the past, is not annihilated or destroyed but rather assimilated into the fabric of Y and so in a way retained. Such episodisations are universally present and all of them have as their component processes the pancakrittiyams but we can SEE them only within the framework of hermeneutic scientific glances as Meykandar painfully shows in the first sutra of Civanjana Botham. As we pursue inquiries within this hermeneutic glances firmly well entrenched, we meet TEXTS after TEXTS with each new TEXT more comprehensive and deeper than the earlier. In the end the whole world is taken as a TEXT and metaphysical inquiries entered into. It is at this point that Fundamental Temporality, Fundamental Intentionality (aaNai) and so forth are met with and FUNDAMENTAL ONTOLGY as such established. It is here too the presence of BEING is noted through first noting the universal presence of episodisation i.e. the pancakrittiyams and because of which BEING is known as cangkara Karanan, Antham-Athi and so forth.

As we investigate anything whatsoever within the framework of the notion of Hermeneutic Science, BEING enacts unknown to us, episodisations- cangkarams- within our understanding facilitating thereby learning and hence development through the destruction of ignorance caused to be there by anava malam and so forth. The Malams are the Dark Forces that always act to pull the anmas towards the evil, ignoble, bestiality, ignorance, stupidity, sloth and what not. The hermeneutic scientific way of being in the world is that which ensures that we are in the CANNITHI or PRESENCE of BEING so that we are graced with episodisations continuously and because of which there is gaining of LUMENS and hence learning as such.


The Undermining of Siddhantic Tradition

The Dravidian philosophic tradition suffered a tremendous set back from the beginning of the 17th cent, the

century of some great Siddhas and Saiva philosophers. The decline of the Cholas and the general pessimism that came to prevail made the Viddhantic ideas rather attractive, a drug of a kind to sooth the pains of continuos humiliation at the hands of foreigners. But the seeds of Viddhantic development was laid by Kannudaya Vallal, who actually began as a strict Saiva Siddhanti but drifted away with his formulation of philosophical methodology as consisting that of Sruti, ukti and anubavam. For him the Sruti was the Hymns of Thirunjana Sambanthar and he argued that such sruties are authoritative thereby undermining the pedagogic scientific character of genuine Saiva Siddhanta. He in fact coined the hybrid term Vedanta-siddhantam to distinguish his system from that of Meykandar. The 16th cent. Smartha Brahmins, Corubananthar and Tattuvarayar seized upon this opening and quickly displaced the Thirumurai as Sruti and emplaced the Upanisads especially the Mahavakkiyas. The 16th cent Corubasaram, Corubavunthiyar and the numerous works of Tattuvarayar such as Tattuvamirtham, Amirthsaram and so forth and later Kaivalya Navaneetham of Tandavaraya Suvamikal signify the growth of the Viddhantic tradition going well beyond AthiSankara himself in the subtlety of analysis. In the 19th cent. it is works on the Viddhantic tradition that remain quite outstanding despite the attempts of Somasundara Nayakkar. Arumuga Navalar and many others to arrest this unhealthy development.. The Vivekacudamani of Sankara became the model and numerous texts, brilliant in many ways, such as Subanuva Rasayanam of Sundara Swamikal, the Vedanta Ilakanam of Caccithananthar, the Ilakkanavirutthi of an unknown author , the Motca Sathanam of Ramanatha Yogikal and numerous others were composed and studied avidly submerging the Siddhantic tradition or at least weakening it considerably. Also Vedanta tradition ceases to be that of Smartha Bramins only- it became the main philosophy of leading Tamil thinkers.

The Death Of Saiva Siddhanta Tradition

It can be seen that in all these Vidhhantic texts the notions Sruti Ukti and Anubavam continue to be paraded as constituting the Logic of philosophical inquiries, however the choice of Sruti is not that of Thevaram as it was the case with Kannudaya Vallal but rather either the Upanisads or the writings of Sankara. Though towards the end of the 19th cent. such valiant individuals as Somasundara Nayakkar, Sundara Sivaccariyar, Arumuga Navalar, Pampan Swamikal and many others put up a battle to arrest the decline of Siddhanta and the rise of Viddhanta, it appears to have had no effect at all necessitating the frontal attack by Periyar in the early 20th. Century.

Recent developments in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere indicate that the hermeneutic scientific spirit of true Siddhanta tradition is dead and it is the authoritarian Viddhanta thinking that reigns supreme. Even the Atheenams meant to keep alive the scientific spirit of Saiva Siddhanta have failed in it miserably. The notion of TRADITION has now been raised to the level of an Authority so that such Atheenams demand compliance and submission failing which the right to call oneself a civajnani is not confered. The attainment of Civajnanam is seen as a matter of undergoing certain diksas and the Atheeenams self-arrogating to itself a position of AUTHORITY through maintaining the rights over these diksas.

In such a decay and degeneration of Siddhanta tradition, the spirit of open ended and free inquiry i.e. the practice of Hermeneutic Sciences can never flourish. The literary productions become simplifications, which in fact effect dilutions, tedious and repetitious commentaries or empty eulogies. New depths are not accessed and if at all, the persons in authority , the Atheenams and others actively discourage their proliferations for fear of losing their own authoritative positions. The practical and urgent problems are bypassed or ignored as any active and meaningful analysis will lead to the birth of new ideas. As it stands today the Siddhanta tradition has become a DEAD tradition, lacking in vitality and enterprise.

This is the situation in which we are right now and with which we cannot be complacent. Come what may we must dismiss all authorities except the authority of TRUTH and press our hermeneutic inquiries into areas untreated earlier. A tradition is alive only to the extent it is productive of new ideas.

We must also note a peculiarity about the Siddhantic Tradition – it is a tradition that detraditionalises an individual. It encourages freedom and autonomy so that in the end an individual becomes totally autonomous like our Appar, unafraid of any earthly power. The siddhantic tradition in being essentially pedagogic DEVELOPS educationally an individual so that he is emplaced in ThiruNeri after which Civa Himself takes over. No man should aspire to be CIVA himself or to pretend to do what only CIVA can do viz. confer MUKTI. 


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