SAIVA EXISTENTIAL PHILOSOPHY AND FAMILY LIFE
Dr. K. Loganathan, Malaysia
World Saivism and The Renewed Interest in Family Life
We are not Brahmanism dominated Hindues but Siddhanta instituted Saivites, or more specifically World Saivites. World Saivism is the new name for the old Hinduism the fundamentals of which are immensely distasteful to us. In calling us as Saivites and not Hindues, we imply many fundamental changes in our existential philosophy. In this paper I want to work out the philosophy of family life by pointing out its enormous importance for existence as a whole, including the religious. Most of the great thinkers who shaped Tamil thoughts were family men or at least men who understood the enormous importance of the FAMILY as an institution for the general well being and personal growth of man and woman. We can name Tolkappiyar, Thiruvalluvar, Thirumular and so forth. And the greatest of them Meykandar and his foremost student Arunandi were family men. Meykandar as a conclusion of his philosophical investigations does not recommend Brahmacaria or even Vanaprastha - wondering in the woods eating leaves, roots and fruits in the old age - but rather intense social existence of a religious kind.
One ought to live a life where there is always a struggle to purity ourselves from the ignorance that obstructs our Being one with SIVA; exist amicably with people treating them as friends, respecting those genuine sivajnanies pure in heart, worshipping without fail the deities in the Temples as SIVA Himself in various presentations.
Living with people treating them as "anbar" - people dear to oneself is possible only when we realize the truth that SIVA IS LOVE and sivatattuvam is being full of LOVE. Everyone should strive to become an embodiment of LOVE itself in order to attain the supreme illumination that is CIVAJNANAM which on its wake bestows MUKTI.
The attainment of such SIVAJNANAM is the meaning of Existence and Saiva Existential Philosophy articulates ways of living consistent with this. It also claims that this is the TRUTH on the basis of researches that are thoroughly rational. This philosophy is not articulated as an exercise in imagination but rather as a discovery of TRUTHS that actually found authentic existence through hermeneutic researches into the hidden elements that fabricate human existence as such.
ARUL AND SIVATTUVAM
To understand the many developments of the philosophical thoughts of the Tamils, how they battled with the life negating dry asceticism of Buddhism, Jainism , Vedanta and some Saiva sects and established the relevance of family life for the religious struggles of man, we have to return to Tolkappiyam particularly Porul Atikaram, where it all begins. The thought processes channelled by this text, unfolding also many hidden elements beneath its overt articulations constitute the history of Dravidian philosophical adventures culminating in the celebrated Civajnana Botham of Meykandar. (henceforth C.B.)
There is an amazing continuity despite many revolutionary changes, a continuity that constitutes the identity of the peculiarly Tamil as distinct from the Buddhist, Jaina and Vedanta forms of thinking. In this intense philosophic struggles that lasted for millenniums, deeper and deeper insights were gained, more and more of the hidden mysteries accessed and through that deeper and deeper illuminations attained. Meykandar's C.B. is a milestone in these struggles, the finest achievement of not only the Tamil Saivites but also of man as a whole. The more recently produced World Saiva texts such as Arut Kural, Thiru Nerit Telivu and so forth continue to articulate these same insights carrying them forth further and further so that a comprehensive philosophy of Authentic Existence is made available.
One of the important notions that constitutes this identity is the notion of Divine Games or Pancakrittiyam, the view that life is constituted for us, as for ourselves by mantric powers that remain however unconscious for most of the time. Tolkappiyar mentions this in terms of the different deities that constitute the different phases of Human Existence; Appar describes it beautifully in the words : "Aatuvithal yaar oruvar Aadhatharee?" If played by the Divine Powers, who can fail to play? Karaikkal Peyar articulates the same in the words : "Arulee Ulakellaam Aalvippathu" It is divine Grace that rules the whole world. In Arutkural we come to a conscious understanding of it, how Thiru Arul has worked out the immense history of mankind and continues to work ceaselessly. The Saiva Existential philosophy has this notion of ARUL as its foundation and seeks to propound a way of living so that we gain more and more of this ARUL and through that finally SIVATTUVAM. And it appears that for this the family life is important - in order to attain SIVATTUVAM a man and woman must come together and maintain a family. The family unit becomes central not only in social existence but also religious. But why this is so? In order to answer this question we have to go back to Tolkappiyam where it all began.
Analysis of Life in Tolkappiyam and Arutkural
Tolkappiyam divides existence into Aham - domestic - and Puram - public - with Uham - the religious considered as part of Puram. Arutkural overcomes this confusion and maintains the tripartite division of existence into Ukam, Aham and Puram giving a foundational status and importance to Ukam.
Each one of these forms of life is entered into by people all over the world and are reflective of fundamental DESIRES that exist in them. These desires are manifestations of psychotropisms - pulls that exist in the psychic interiority of all creatures in response to the PULL OF SUPREME BEING that leads towards MOKSA in the end. But this pull though felt, is considerably weakened by another, that of ANAVAM that always tend to obstruct and destroy the pull of the DIVINE. The creatures thus can always FALL and degenerate into the beastly. It appears that the DIVINE BEING in order to arrest this FALL and hence self-destruction discloses Himself in the forms of SIVA and SAKTI with SIVA establishing lumenotropism that constitutes political life and SAKTI establishing charmenotropism that constitutes family life. We can view SIVA and SAKTI also as the CIVA TATVAS - BINDU and NATHAM.
A man is overall a psyche dominated by Natham and hence in need of Bindu. A woman is overall a psyche dominated by Bindu and hence in need Natham. A man thirsts for fulfillment through appropriating Bindu; a woman thirsts for fulfillment through appropriating Natham. These thirsts emerge as sexual desires and hence the institution of marriage. Through living as a family their cravings are satiated up to a point and an equilibrium attained. This is the model that is potrayed to us by SIVA in the archetype of arthanarisvara - an androgynous deity having the Male and Female in equal measures.
Why family Life is Important for Religious Development?
A man and women who have not overcome their sexual desires through ways and means consistent with fundamental moral principles, will be forever in search of such fulfillment rather than the higher. The sexual cravings are immensely powerful and unless satiated reasonably well, desires for its satiation take grotesque forms sometimes even making the person insane. Desires are hierarchical in nature, as it has been noted more recently by Abraham Maslow - unless the lower are satiated, the higher will not arise.
This knowledge has been the foundation of Saiva Family life at least from the days of Tolkappiyam if not earlier. More recently Tamil siddhas such as Pokar Korakkar Agathiyar and so forth have reaffirmed it both as physicians as well as civajnanies. CIVA in disclosing himself as arthanariswara - sung eloquently in every line of Devaram - TELLS us humans that it is a NECESSITY of a FUNDAMENTAL KIND for the psychological well being of all.
Coming to Know SIVA Through Family Life
Family life though a life where sexual desires are overcome through satiation, is also important for another reason. There is LEARNING of a fundamental kind that a man and woman effect rather unconsciously in living as a family. It is this aspect that is not understood by the Vedanties and others and because of which they extol Brahmacaria even for the unripe youths that results in psychological disasters of various kinds. When a man loves a woman and establishes a psychical fusion with her, along with quenching his thirst for sexual bliss, he causes the BINDU hidden within him to emerge to the foreground of consciousness so that BINDU too along with the pre-existing NATHAM shape his psychology. BINDU is that TATVA that makes a person soft, gentle, loving, kind and so forth. Thus through loving a woman and entering into an intimate life with her, a man causes BINDU to become more pronounced in his psychic being and through that acquire motherly qualities of Love, kindness and so forth. His masculine aggressiveness and arrogance gives way to loving and nourishing; from a selfish individual he becomes a Tondan - a social worker.
The woman on the other hand, develops rather in a different way. The existing BINDU dominance makes her soft, gentle, submissive and timid, a person always seeking a support system that would provide the psychic security that she badly needs. The more she lacks Natham the more submissive and non-independent she becomes. When she holds a man in her heart in loving devotion and psychically fuses with him, she gets also surfacing to the foreground, the civa tatva NATHAM within her psychic interiority. When this process continues happily for several years, there comes a point where Natham is quite dominant within her and because of which she loses her timidity, anxiety, submissiveness and so forth and becomes just as independent and bold as a man. Thus we can see that though they develop in different ways but are complementary to each other and at the end both become psychically alike - both have BINDU and NATHAM in equal measures so that they are in fact archetypally arthanarisvara in effect.
But what is the relevance of this for religious life?
The Beginnings of Genuine Religious Life
A man or a woman hungry for sexual gratification cannot and will not enter genuine religious life which is a quest for pleasures of a different kind - Sivanantham. Unless the thirst for bodily pleasures are satiated and the psychical imbalances in terms of Natham and Bindu overcome this desire for SIVANANTHAM will not arise. For it involves seeking the heavenly as opposed to the earthly, the spiritual as opposed to the material. Only when the psyche becomes an archetype of Arthanarisvara - sexually androgynous with an intimate fusion and unity with the Male and Female elements in equal measures, that the desire for physical pleasures is neutralized. Thus now the stage is ripe for the bursting forth the higher desires, the desire for spiritual illuminations, religious excursions into the realms of the gods. And having Bindu and Natham is equal measures within their psychic interiority they are also able understand matters that are spiritual, religious, metaphysical and so forth. They provide the pre-understanding that makes the spiritual discourses intelligible.
But is that all to Family life? No, certainly not - an important and universal institution such as this should certainly serve many more useful purposes.
Kundalini and Family Life
As it has been voiced by many siddhas and civajnanies, the sexual act is that act which secures Kundalini which also serves as the amirtham - that which provides the psychic energy that ensures virility, excellence of health, cheerful disposition and a desire to live. When overcome with miseries and melancholy, the desire for Death arises making some commit suicide or effect actions that are equivalent to that. Premature asceticism that Vedanta favors is a form of such a death - the person though living is spiritually dead as she or he becomes totally indifferent to whatever that happens around him or her. The feelings of compassion and so forth are deliberately killed by suffocation and rationalized as Brahmavidya to subdue the guilt that arises along with it.
Meykandar in enunciating authentic existence as that founded upon the principle of LOVE, is totally against such Vedantic monstrosities. A life full of LOVE and designed to further the loving disposition requires that one to be cheerful, happy and so forth. Since Kundalini is that which underlies cheerfulness in disposition and so forth, sexual life within the framework of genuine LOVE is strongly recommended. The Siddhas, being physicians as well, recommend it also for reasons of good health - the Kundalini is the amirtham, the medicine supreme that battles with all the death bringing diseases, vanquishes them and thereby ensures longevity.
At higher levels, the sexual act gets transformed into uniting with God Himself; the ordinary human love becomes BAKTI, love of God. The human sexuality becomes transformed into divine sexuality.
It is at this point that a person becomes a Saiva Ascetic in the sense that he does not anymore care for the earthly pleasures but only the heavenly. The Sannyasam in Saivism is not a life based upon INDIFFERENCE to the worldly but only indifference to the personal. He seeks universal happiness by sacrificing self happiness. And this because he lives among the Gods and loves them deeply as did our Nayanmars and Alvars.
To rise to the stature of a Nayanmar and be fit to receive the ARUL of SIVA is the aim and goal of Saiva Family Life. And this means a live of intense concern and care and not total indifference.