I am not at all well read in the Vedas and my studies of Vedas against the background of Sumerotamil is just beginning . However even at this I am beginning to see that socalled Vedantic philosophies , supposed to articulate the central metaphysics of the Vedic lore do not do it at all but paint a picture more like that of the Buddhists who developed an ascetic philosophy and in which BEING and the anmas had no place.
I was indeed surprised to see the immensely Modern Tamil sounding sloka of the First Hymn of Rig veda : 1.7 upa tvaagne dive-dive dosha-vastar dhiya vayam ( *Ta. uppa tu akniyee tivee tivee toosa vastu tiiya vaiyum). The mention of burning to ashes ( tiiya vaiyum) some stuff called the Dhosa Vastu seems to be better retained in Saiva Siddhanta than in any of the Vedantic traditions. For quite obviously this Dhosa Vastu is the Tuuci Vastu, the TukaL the Dirt that infects the soul and makes it EVIL , makes it do things that are bestial.
This Dhosa Vastu is that which is called Malam, the metaphysical stuff which DARKENS the soul ( See Malay: malam: night), makes it BLIND and be IGNORANT. It appears to me that whoever sang this hymn was already quite familiar with this notion of Malam ( many instances of this in Sumerian literature) and that it is only BEING who can singe to ashes these Dhosa Vastu.
In this series I hope to bring out this forgotten dimension of Rig Vedic understanding of metaphysics by reference to Saivaite literature that remains very faithful to this notion. As the first in this series I provide the first two verses of Punitavati, also called Kaaraikkal Peyar , the women ( ~ 6th cent) who spearheaded the Bakti revolution in the South.
Punitavati :Tiru Alangkaaddu Muutta Tiruppatikam
kongkai tirangki narambezuntu kuNdukaN veNpal kuzivayuiRRup
pangki civantuu irupaRkaL niiNdu paraduyar niiLkaNaikkaal oor peNpeey
tangki alaRi ulaRu kaaddil taazcadai eddut ticaiyum viici
angkang kuLirntanal aadum engkaL appan idam tiru aaLangkaadee!
If you ask me where is the location of my Father where HE dances the Dance of destruction it is Alangkaadu, the Place of Banyan Tree. And there roams around a female Ghost shrieking and howling with shrunken breasts, with enlarged nerves that are conspicuous ( and ugly) , depressed and sunken eyes, sharp teeth with the two canine teeth projecting out as if of animals, and sunken belly . There My Father dances the Dance of destruction furling His long hair in all directions and with Kindness cooling His whole body, throws the Fire everywhere furiously to destroy whatever needs to be destroyed.
This female ghost with such an ugly and fear striking appearance is
Punivati herself projecting an image of a being she she WANTS to
be, a ghost in fact of such a description so that she would APPEAR
as such to the people especially to men. For she wanted to be FREE of sexuality
when her husband abandoned her and married another in another city and
led a normal family that he so much wanted. There was no hatred in his
heart for Punivati but only respect but however her ardent Love for Siva
was such that she could not be the average woman, a typical wife,
homely and rearing children and all that that an average man would
expect when he gets married and commits himself for a settled family with
a women. This wasn't the case with Punivati who was torn between
the life of the flesh, such an average life and that of true
spirituality where there is NO thought at all except for BEING , atruly
metaphysical life with no thoughts whatsoever
for the physical and mundane.
The drama where her husband abandoned her and married another woman settled her dilemma - she opts for totally metaphysical but which requires not just forgetting but rooting out completely every trace of sexuality in her. To be totally absorbed in the thoughts of BEING she must burn to ashes all her sexuality even that at the deepest recesses of her mind that may burst out in dreams and in such other moments of transductive perceptions. In another words she wants to be GHOST to the earthly people , present but DEAD to its allurements, absolutely PURE with no thoughts at all for the wordly.
And who can bless her thus except Civa , the Destroyer , He who emerges as the True BEING over all other archetypes because only He who destroys can regenerate all ?
The woods , the kaadu where there is Banyan Tree is immensely symbolic. For this is the Bothi Tree, the tree under which sits BEING as Tatcinamurti, the Form He assumes for instructing on absolute illumination through the language of deep Silence. Punavati here shows that she understood that is NOT fasting, doing various of penances and yogas that is really effective in conquering sexuality but rather the Civanjaanam, the Absolute Illumination, the Absolute Understanding. When the meaning of existence is UNDERSTOOD without any doubts and with apodictic certainty the sexual desires evaporate on their own accord. That which finally conquers the beastly sexual libido is Metaphysical Illuminations, something that only BEING can bless one with provided He decides to engrace the soul thus .i.e. becomes COOL to bless thus.
The Ancient Patikam of Tiru Alangkaadu.
kaLLik kavaddidaik kaalai niiddi kadaikoLLi vaangki macittumaiyai
viLLa ezuti veduvedenna nakku veruNdu vilangku paarttut
tuLLic cudalaic cudupiNat tiic cuddida muRRunj cuLintu puuzti
aLLi avikka ninRaadum engkaL appanidam tiru aalnagkaadee!
If you ask me how Civa dances the dance of destruction, this is how it is. In the burning ground where abound the Cactus, he extends his legs in the vacant places in between and taking the charred sticks He removes the charred parts and prepares them again for burning. And never cooling down from the anger against the arrogance of the ignorant fools , he isolates the inner fetters that chain the anmas and burns them as if burning dead bodies to ashes and continues relentlessly despite they writhe in pain all just to purify them
The burning ground where Civa dances the dance of destruction is the world as well the heart where immense suffering is made the stuff of experience. It is EXISTENCE in unbearable pain that becomes the CRUCIBLE where gets burnt the DIRT that makes one bestial and evil. These are the mummalam, the aaNavam Kanmam and Mayaai, those elements that are already there and which INFECT the souls like disease producing viruses so difficult to eliminate from the soul. It is experience of PAIN that actually burns off these Dhosa Vastu and the Dance of Destruction is aimed at this and hence simultaneoulsy and anukrakat tozil, an act of Grace.
War, pestilence, social discord, violence, the disruption of family life ( as in the case of Punitavati), natural disasters, extreme poverty , personal defeat and disasters and all such elements of EXISTENCE have a meaning , that of purifying the soul so that it is freed of its Egotism, Arrogance, Fantasies , False Ideologies and so forth.
We are bound to be subject to the Dance of Wrath of Civa as long as we go the wrong way, the way of Egotistic Arrogance , the way where Bakti is NOT nurtured and mental health is NOT fostered.
Dhosa Vastar Dhiya Vayam-2
Let us contemplate more on this very powerful demand of the rishi. The demand is for VIOLENCE and hence a request that BEING shows Himself as " agnim ellee ( or azalee)" a brilliant and devastating FIRE with the capacity to burn , to set to fire so that things burn down to ashes. This kind of request , a request fro Divine but Violent interference is NOT new for we have same request made by En Hudu Anna in her Sirbiyam towards KoRRavai or Durga : (13) izin-e ne-ra kalam-e seg-ga (raining fanned fire down upon the nation; *Ta. eejenee nirai kaLamma seengha)
Perhaps there were many acts by the warring tribes where they actually set fire to the whole cities and destroyed it including the people. The Sumerian literature records many instances of this. Such historical events must have led to the metaphysical understanding that there is also BURNING DOWN the evil forces by BEING Himself and for which purpose he assumes the archetypal form of Agnim Ellee
In Saivism this understanding is retained as an axiomatic truth and incorporated in the symbolism of Civa Nadarajah where he holds the FIRE in one of his hands.
This burning by Agni , it must be noted , is an element of world history as well as personal existence and is understood by the Saivite as Tiikkai but now understood only as a ritual of Diksa and in that losing the original meaning. The Tiikkai is NOT a ritual where you worship the Fire circumbulating the Fire Pit, the Agni KuNdam, reciting some slokas and so forth and where some Brahmanahs throw in some sticks and ghee to make the fire brilliant and strong . This is reducing something realistic into the magical . The Yagas could only fill the sky with smoke , they not prevent for e.g. the Muslim invaders from invading the South and burning down many temples.
The Tiikkai of Agni is manifest in historical social and personal events in which through various kinds of PAINS and SUFFERING people are to forced THINK metaphysically and in the FIRE of metaphysical illuminations that emerge burn off the Dhosa Vastu within them. All of us are capable of being drawn to the Evil, the Vakai Tree where abound Ghosts instead of the Bhoti Tree where abound Metaphysical illuminations. BEING becomes the Burning Fire when we are caught by the Ghostly Vakai Tree and he BURNS us to free us from this Tree, through making us fight each other, try to destroy each other and but in this social burning making there emerge introspection in which we sit back and realize the evil we have done both at the individual and social level , understand that as it is without magicalising it calling mythiya, irreal just a delusions and forth , something we are ever ready to do and call it Advaita Vedanta.
We have to BURN ourselves in the crucible of TRUTH by recognizing the presence of the Dhosa Vastu in us without pretending that it does not exist, that we cannot be wrong evil immoral unjust unethical and so forth. We shouldn't cheat ourselves by transforming this need for REAL ACTION into a magical one like Agni Hotram , the ritual of Tiikkai and so forth.
At least this is what I gather from Punitavati from her following Hymn.
vaakai virintu ven neRRolippa mayangkiruL kuur nadu naaLaiyaangkee
kuukaiyodu aandlai paada aantai koodatan meerkutittooda viici
iikai padar todar kaLLi niizal iducudu kaaddakattee
aakang kuLirntu anal aadum engkaL appan idan tiru aalangkaadee
This is how Civa, my Father dances the Dance of Destruction in Tiru aaLangkaadu to redeem the anmas enmeshed in the dirt and filth ( of mummalam) by singing them to ashes. In that burning ground where the Vaakai tree that hoststhe ghosts spread out with long branches , amidst the crackling noise of the dried fruits falling from the tree, inmiddle of the night where the Darkness is the thickest , where in the long shadow of Cactus grow the creepers, andwhere the Owls, vultures and such other birds of prey dance and chirp in mirth in the tree branches, my Fatherdances the dance of Fire overcome with Kindness for the suffering anmas.
At a superficial glance this description of the Dance of Fire may appear bizarre and entirely inconsistent with Kindness and Love that BEING is, Siva is ( anbee Sivam). But Punitavati is very clear, this burning is an act of Kindness -- itis out kindness ( aakang kuLira) that Siva dances the dance of fire ( anal aadukinRaan). For EVIL in man has to beburnt and singed to ashes to make him pure and only BEING as Siva can do it. He is the Savior, the one who savesthe anmas from the forces of EVIL and when the anmas are CAUGHT and in the thick of this capture HE has to interfere and burn to ashes these evil forces to SAVE anmas from total destruction!
The metaphors brought in here are dream images , visions of transductive perception that describe the conditions andmanner of this dance of destruction.
First of all we do not have sitting beneath the Bothi Tree but rather
the Vaakai Tree where nestle the Ghosts. When an anma approaches the Vaakai
Tree instead of the Bothi Tree, the tree of Wisdom, that anma moves in
the direction of EVIL , in the direction of the Dark Forces, the Satanic
Powers that would kill any humanity that remains in the
bosom. The person who moves thus will become devilish and existence in its shadow will mean LOSING every
vitality and energy one has and which is symbolized by the dried fruits dropping off noisily from the tree, the tree of body.. There are psychic drying and withering and slwly but definitely dying. Every bit of energy , the KundaliNi will drop off and the person will succumb to diseases of all sorts certainly including the mental without being able to remain IMMUNE to any one of them.
The middle of the night where the Darkness is the thickest is also very symbolic. BEING is very patient but thispatience sees a limit when the soul become fully darkened by the thick presence of aaNvam, that which introduces the DARKNESS of the mind. When the IGNORANCE becomes thickest and the individual and society as a whole isabout to disintegrate with people becoming warring tribes with jealosy and mutual hatred for each other and the individuals psychologicall weak but strong with suicidal tendencies murderous propensities, HE interferes and dances the dance of destruction of this aaNavam, the root cause of it all.
It is certainly not a pleasant experience, not even a gentle persuasion with philosophical discourses upateesams and soforth. In the Full Darkness of the mind these cultural tactics do not work at all. The afflicting aaNavam is so thick that drastic and very painful measures are necessary and battles and wars are NOT excluded. And thus we have some people becoming the owls vultures and such other birds of prey and NOT the parrots peacocks swans and such other birds of happiness, knowledge and aesthetical appeal. This also goes for the cactus and thorny creepers -- they are not the konRai mullai taamarai and such other Divine flowers and plants.
The whole ecology dirtied and filled with filth in which the ghost can dwell has to burnt down to allow it to regerate itself as something Pure and Divine
The dance of Fire is actually an enactment where pains are produced to be experienced by the anmas in both socialand personal existence. Such experiences of excruciating pains are the kinds experiences that would redeem them from the evil grounds in which they already are , pull them back and set them on course towards the Bothi Tree.
Dhosa Vastar Dhiya Vayam- 3
The continuos presence and influence of Rig Vedic hymns in the Tamil mind and the regeneration of the cult of bakthi and thus also constituting a bringing back the ancient Sumerian metaphysical ideas is quite evident in the following verse of Punitavati 1.4 where there are explicit mention of 'oomak kuzi' or 'oomak kuNdam' the 'su-luh' ( Ta. cuulai) of En Hudu Anna. The Crucible of Fire where everything that is filthy and dirty is burnt to ashes and which constitutes the notion of Tiikkai though certainly not peculiar to Saivism but it is here that it is the given a central place in the metaphysical understanding and because of which BEING Himself is understood as "antam-aati" as Meykandar does , THAT which is the foundation of destruction ( antam) and hence also that of regenerations( aati). The destructive-productive processes , the Panjca Krittiyam in greater detail is lowest level of of the world processes and hence the most universal -- hidden in all metaphysical thinking that are not simply mere speculations bordering fantasies.
Punitavati in this verse thinks cosmically and sees the burning of the Dhosa Vastu by BEING not just that which happens in the interior of the individual psyches but something that happens everywhere in the whole of cosmos. This Dance of Fire is a cosmic phenomenon and the ritual of Homa ( Ta. oomam) is simply pedagogic, a way of installing and appropriating this kind of understanding so that it gets well entrenched in the mind and the metaphysical thinking does not become forgetful of it.
For BEING dances the Dance of Fire 'aNdam nimirntu' i.e. as there everywhere in the universe in the depths as well in the open
Such a notion is available also in the following sloka of Rig Veda ( 1.4) ( as I read it)
agni-a aam yajnam attu-varam visvatta paripuur asi/ saa iid deeveshu ki-a-si-aa-ti
It is indeed the glorious Fire that fulfills the world from all that emerges from the celestial festival (of light) it effects and let the divine outflow from that reach the world always.
This same notion is also related to that " agni ellee puroohitam" "the Brilliant and Hot Fire that lights up the whole world".
But what does it mean metaphysically? There can be light only if the elements that install Universal Darkness are destroyed. And thus we see another meaning of Dhosa Vastu : the elements like the Black Holes of Modern Physics that swallow everything manifest , everything that lights up and populates the universe, hence the aaNava malam of Saiva Siddhanta.
I see a connection and perhaps a rebirth of these very ancient notions
ii the following verse of Punitavati truly majestic in its diction and
kuNdil oomakkuzi cooRRai vaaGkik kuRunari tinna atanai munnee
kaNdiloomenRu kananRup peeykaL kaiyadittu oodi idukaadu aranGaa
maNdala ninRu kuNaalamiddu vaatittu viiciyedutta paatam
aNdamura nimirntu aadum eGkaL appan idan tiru aalaGkaadee
If it is asked why BEING the Absolutely Transcendent manifests Himself as the Dancer with Fire in this TiruAlaGkaadu which is actually this whole universe , it is for preventing the whole universe from being eaten up by theaaNava Malam and let it continue to be there and for which reason He dances majestically in such a way His raised leg reaches every corner of the vast cosmos. And He dances in such a way that the dirt in depths are eaten up by the dwarfish jackals and on seeing which the demons and ghosts bitterly moan that they could not see them in the firstplace and overcome with intense anger dance wildly clapping with their hands. But my Father dances in circlesdisputing with these evil forces howling at them when necessary turning the whole Cosmos into a cremationground.
The metaphorical excellence and metaphysical reaches of Punitavati are very difficult to bring out in full. Punitavati's thinking is NOT local regional or even global. It reaches the whole universe , the vast Cosmos and there she sees themajestic Dance of Destruction of Siva who for her, her own Father, someone emotionally very close and hence not distant at all. The Malam, the ceeRu or cooRu, the filth, the Dhos Vastu, that the demons and ghosts enjoy eating are in the mysterious Depths and which are in the anmas already and which also want to multiply. If allowed then not just the creatures but the whole universe will be swallowed and in the end there will be only the Darkness of Pure Emptiness , of NOTHING-thereness. That is the desire of the ghosts , the antigods, the Anti Christ, and which are forms of aaNavam and which are different from the dwarfish jackals which are cunning but not evil. (perhaps the priesthood is implied here)
The Malas , the Dhosa Vastu is not simply that which pollutes the mind and lead the wrong way, the way in whichpeople are led to do the evil -- murder, rape , wanton destruction of lands, bloody wars , mass massacres and whatnot. It is this as well as that which can swallow the whole manifest universe and if NOT fought against and subdued , then there will be no universe at all for the anmas to assume a body , come into existence and effecting various kindsof actions LEARN and get enlightened. Thus allowing the Malas to prosper at the cosmic level is simultaneouslyDEPRIVING the anmas worldly existence in which they can redeem themselves.
BEING, that Power that installs 'being', the " the there-ness or is-ness" ( following Heidegger here) of all things, of course will not allow for this total annihilation and even annihilated would continuously resurrect the cosmos so that it continues to be there. Thus at the deepest level where BEING asserts His presence and reaches every nook and corner of the Vast Cosmos with his ever moving raised Leg , the Edutta Patam, dances the dance where the filth is eaten up by the inconspicuous jackals which are yantras that purify them and not by the demons and ghosts who would thrive with greater strength if allowed. These evil forces are SUFFOCATED with DEPRIVATION so that they would become weak and powerless. And such a tactic or Tantiram of BEING is noted by them, and they groan in bitterness and dance the dance of petty destructions which are seen in the world as wars, massacres, rapes , setting fire to properties, the deliberate spreading disease germs , poisonous chemicals and so forth. But BEING doesn't remain silent. He motivates world wide protests, antiterrorists actions , long marches , boisterous censures and so forth among people somewhat close to Him.
Thus in the wake of such battles against ghosts and demons the whole world becomes the Idu Kaadu, the CremationGround but all for the good for at the end when the battle is over and all the evil forces are subdued , the land becomes again a fertile pasture where thrive economic as well as all other kinds of prosperities.
This whole metaphysical Understanding of the Dance of Siva and how He always the keeps the demonic forcessubdued is symbolized in the Icon of Siva Nadarajah, where this Demon , the Muyalakan is kept well under theuttiya Paatam, the firm and unmoving leg.