Siva Bhogam


Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan,University of madras,Chennai


Literally the word "bhoga" means "enjoyment", "pleasure", "eating", "experience", "prosperity", "aspect" of God in which knowledge and action are well balanced etc. In religious parlance, it indicates the "enjoyment of divine bliss". According to Tirumular, bhoga, mukthi, buddhi, siddhi, oneness etc. are granted by Siva Himself. He also holds that it is difficult to communicate the state of experience of the Sivayogins who have enjoyed the Sivaloka, Sivayoga and Sivabhoga within themselves through yogic slumber i.e. deep meditation. St. Sundarar also maintains that Lord Siva grants gold, true wisdom, bhoga and wealth etc. Here the usage of the word "bhoga" refers to worldly enjoyment. The Saivites are not averse to the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. But one should not totally engross in empirical joy forgetting the abiding bliss of Lord Siva. i.e., gradually the aspirant has to convert towards the "enjoyment" of Siva’s grace rather than revolving in the whirlpool of worldly existence.

When the aspirant enjoys the bliss of Siva, it implies that he becomes one with Him very deeply. In Saivism "enjoyment" means the soul’s involvement in the object of enjoyment. It is Lord Siva who grants it. While granting Sivabhoga, will not He enjoy the same? To this question the Siddhantins reply that Lord Siva has no activity for His own enjoyment. Whatever he does is for the benefit of the soul. As an inner dweller of the soul it is Lord Siva who is also enjoying implicitly the bliss along with the souls. Also it is Siva who becomes the object of enjoyment too! Hence the enjoyer and the enjoyed are ultimately Lord Siva Himself. He is of the very form of bliss (Saccidananda) itself. The human soul with the help of the mind and sense organs converts the worldly pleasures as spiritual joy.

The Sivajnani (those who have attained the wisdom of Siva) declare that there is no such things as "We", everything is "HE". Even the sensuous pleasures emerging through the residual karmas (Prarabdha vinai) haunt them, they treat such pleasures as Sivananda. Such experience will not be worldly, but "Siva-experience". Lord Siva too enjoys this kind of experience along with the soul. When the entire empirical experience is transformed as the Sivabhoga, Prarabdha karma will seldom affect the realized souls. Both in the states of bondage and liberation Lord Siva illumines the souls in a limited as well as unlimited way respectively. Hence the enjoyment of pleasure or supreme joy at the earthly level or at the emancipated level is due to the benevolence of Lord Siva who is the custodian of the indwelling spirit at both the levels of existence. But owing to the veiling factors most of the human beings could not realise this truth and hence the qualitative difference in the enjoyment of happiness arises.

The perennial bliss of Siva is exclusively experienced and enjoyed only by those who develop single minded devotion towards the Lotus Feet of Siva. When they see everything through His eyes (i.e. grace) by focussing the consciousness towards Siva, whatever may be the consequence, only Sivananda will be experienced by them. Tiruvundhiyar (33) holds that the acquired lower pleasure (siRRinbam) is converted as the highest joy (pErinbam). Tirukalirruppadiyar (76) maintains that the embodied yogis, in order to subdue the felt lower pleasure will transform it as the supreme bliss. Sivajnana Siddhiyar (@:5, 26) gives the grammer for the devotee (adiyar) as one who treats all the visible factors as yielding only Sivanubhuti (pErinbam).

Umapathi Sivacariyar in his Thiruvarutpayan says carcastically thus " "Those who walk behind the light that arises to dispel darkness experience joy. Unlike those who walk, putting the light behind them". The implicit meaning of this verse is that in the State of bondage or spiritual immaturity, souls put themselves before grace. In the state of release, they follow the Light of Grace.

It is quite interesting to note that during the state of bondage, Siva knows as the soul through the senses, and hence the objects of such knowledge do not belong to Siva, but only to the souls. For, the souls are still under the grip of egoity leading to assertive as well as possessive behaviours. In the state of release, as the enforcement of egoity is annihilated, the soul knows everything as Siva, hence, other than Siva, every object of knowledge belongs to Siva only. At this stage the enjoyment of Sivabhoga commences. The mission of eminent Saiva saints on earth is to show about the fnal beatitude wherein the divine fervoured soul looks at the flora and fauna of this world as indicating the immanence of Lord Siva. This delightful divine effulgence culminates in divine oriented service eventhough it may appear against the established norms of the society at large.

Umapthi Sivacariyar, the author of Unmai Neri Villakum gives a vivid picture of Sivabhoga by extensively pointing out the improper ways of doing things on earthly plane, but with divine consciousness.

"Even if blunders are committed, murder, looting and indulging in lust are practiced, , unprincipled path is followed, the communal norms are violated and mistakes are done but if one becomes THAT without any action for himself, Lord Siva will enter into his body and soul, eat, sleep, walk and make all multifarious experiences as Sivabhoga. He will stand undifferentiated from him and make him as Himself. This is the path spoken of by the Sivagamas which yields the overflowing supreme bliss".

We can quote from the life portrayal of the Saiva Saints from the Periyapuranam, who did unjust deeds but with the awakening of Siva-consciousness enjoyed Sivabhoga:

(a)Committing of blunders: Eripatha Nayanar knocked down the elephant and its five riders when the elephant destroyed the flowers meant for Siva worship brought by Sivagamiyandar and the drivers did not prevent the elephant from indulging in such act.

(b)Practice of murder : Kotpuli Nayanar killed his kith and kin who ate the rice meant for feeding the Saiva devotees.

(c)Practice of robbery : Idangazhi Nayanar robbed of the paddy preserved in the kings godown for the purpose of feeding the Saiva devotees and which act was hailed by the king.

(d)Practice of extra-marital sexual joy : Tiruneelakanda nayanar indulged in extra-marital sexual relations for which his wife deserted him. By Siva’s divine drama the couple were united.

(e)Practice of unprincipled path : Murkka nayanar earned money through gambling mainly for the purpose of offering food to Saiva devotees and never did he touch the money for personal gratification.

(f)Practice of violating the recognised communal code of conduct : Thirunalaippovar Nayanar, a butcher by birth developed a deep desire to visit Thillai and have a glimpse of the cosmic Dancer, an act considered in those days much against his birth and profession. But ultimately devotion to Siva triumphed.

(g)Committing of mistakes : Sundaramurthy Nyanar broke the promise which he gave to his second wife Sangili Nachiyar when he left the frontiers of her area to see his first wife Paravai Nachiyar at Thiruvarur.

All these above mentioned seemingly immoral deeds have been treated in the Saiva religious parlance as moral actions which were much appreciated than condemned. For these actions had been enacted without selfish motivations and personalistic aspirations, but with pure love and true joy towards Lord Siva. The joy enjoyed and exhibited by the Nayanmars of this nature culminated in the enjoyment of supreme bliss.

It has been well brought out in the Sivajnana Siddhiyar about the nature of the realized souls who have attained jnana samadhi. Such persons will have neither likes nor dislikes, they desire nothing; they care not for social etiquette, austerity (tapas), rules of the monastery (ashrama) and charity (dhana). They have no impurity in their hearts. They care not for religious marks. They do not follow the lead of their bodily and mental senses. They have no bad qualities and no creed and no caste. They become like children , mad men and possessed person, and they may delight in singing and dancing too. They require not the aids of place, time and postures. They perform actions without any thought of the results, their minds do not move like a swing; they never leave the feet of Lord, in all their daily actions, in walking and sitting, in sleeping or walking, in eating or starving, in purity or impurity, in wealth or poverty, in pain or pleasure, in enjoyment or separation, in likes or dislikes, though these actions may or may not be performed like any other person.

The moment the truth is realized about everything being in God and God being in everything, the world is transformed as an abode of God. When the internal senses are directed towards Siva then the human faculties will all be converted into Divine faculties. If one follows the path of the spiritual perceptor, then easily one can realize the presence of God within Himself as an immanent principle. It will pave the way for realizing the transcendent being even in everyone’s waking condition. Then all kinds of experiences will become Sivanubhuti or Sivabhoga.


"The Sunstone sleeps in Cotton enclosed

The Sunstone burns not the fragile stuff

Let but the sun’s rays fall ! How it shrivels and bursts into flames ! Even so the impure withers before the Lord’s cathartic glance" (Thirumanthiram 117, Translation by Dr. B. Natarajan)

This verse reveals the fundamental truth of Saiva Philosophy viz. God’s grace alone will annihilate the impurities which enshroud the human souls beginninglessly. The human souls’ efforts to climb the ladder of spiritual perfection is possible only when the impurities are eliminated which in turn is possible only when the grace of Siva is invoked. Thirumular explains this philosophical truth with an appropriate analogy. The sun stone will never burn the cotton even if they are kept together. For the sun-stone by its own original nature cannot burn the cotton. But the moment the rays of the sun are focussed towards the cotton, instantly the latter burns. Likewise the souls and the impurities always go together. The soul’s endeavours in spiritual realms and religious austerities will seldom annihilate the impurities totally. The moment the grace of Siva dawns, instantly the soul is freed from the clutches of the bonds which were hitherto binding the soul. In the holy presence of Siva’s grace the bonds will never be active and the soul shines in its pristine purity and radiates with wisdom. Hence the obligation before every Saivite is not to pray for peripheral things, but to crave for enjoying His grace incessantly!


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