Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang



 1.0 Introduction

 2.0 EnMerkar of the Sumerians and the Velmurukan of the Tamils

 3.0 Murukan in Ancient Tamil Literature

 4.0 The Numen as the Sun and the Growth of Early Caivism

 5.0.The Numen as Creatrix (World Mother)

 6.0 The Sumerian Beginnings of Hermeneutics




1.0 Introduction

Erich Neumann, the famous Jungian psychologist and philosopher who has explored the deeper layers of the human mind and unearthed many archetypal forms that structure the human psyche, mentions that the road of the human ego, though a road to consciousness, it has not been from the beginning a road in consciousness. "What is 'given' to man is always the relation of the ego to the unconscious and to a world changed by the projection of unconscious images. Consciousness arises through a process in which the ego comes to grips with the unconscious...?' (Neumann, 1970, p.379). And further he says that "The development of the ego and of consciousness, in so for as it is a progressive human development, is dependent on the creative -that is, on the spontaneity of the non-ego, which manifests itself in the creative process and is by nature numinous. The encounter with the numinous constitutes the "0therside" of the development of consciousness and is by nature "mystical" ( ibid. p.380).

We share with Neumann in the meaning of "mystical" and the present study also points towards the same understanding. Outside and "above" (or below) the consciousness of man, his comprehension and articulations in symbolic and nonsymbolic languages there has always been an inner radiance, immensely creative and seductive with which he had to battle only to submit to its dictates in the end.

Indian civilization from ancient times has been fighting this battle and out of it, it has produced an immense array of philosophies, cults, religions and so forth and along with it a vast range of literature in Sanskrit, Tamil, Pali and many other languages. As such it is impossible even to give a sketch of all these in a brief paper such as this. Even within Tamil language the literature is vast, running to several thousands ranging very widely in the "mystical" tunes they sing out.

Our objective in this paper is very moderate. I want to focus upon a single theme - the recognition of inner radiance and the various ways in which the Tamils battled with it and the literary productions - both philosophical and poetical-that ensued as a result of it.

1.1 It must be mentioned here that Tamil, as distinct from Sanskrit which is well known throughout the world, belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and probably the language of the Indus Valley people who have bequeathed the 'Indianness' to the Indian civilization. Recent investigations also indicate that the language' of Sumerians, supposed to be a splinter group who migrated from the Indus area to ancient Iraq, can be considered in fact as Archaic Tamil (Loganathan Mutharayan K. 1987). The linguistic, ethnographic and cultural affinities are so close that the linkages cannot be dismissed as accidental. I shall begin the encounter with numinous, the non-ego in man that surrounds his psyche from this Sumerian times and trace it towards the beginning of the twentieth century. This encounter has constituted the basis of several branches of Saivism ending in the Tantric traditions that emphasized mantrayana, yantrayana and tantrayana and so forth. Despite the vast gap between the Sumerian literatures dating back to the third millennium B.C. and the historical period i.e. third century B. C. there is an impressive unity and growth that is immensely illuminating in itself. The battle with the numinous within has been a long one, with each success ushering in a cultural metamorphoses of a deep kind and finally founding what can be called Thanscendental Hermeneutics, a discipline that transcends philosophies, depth psychology, religions and so forth.


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2.0 EnMerkar of the Sumerians and the Velmurukan of the Tamils

The literary productions of the Sumerians date back as far as the Fara Period (c. 2700~2600 B. C.) and whatever that have been recovered through many archeological expeditions are classified into various genres: myths and epic tales, hymns, lamentations and historiography documents, essays large and small, precepts and proverbs (Cohen 1973, p.2). The text "EnMerkar and the Lord of Aratta" that narrates the conflict and diplomatic negotiations between the two kings runs to about 636 lines and is classified as an epic. Without going into a detailed study of this text, we shall select a few lines here and there that is germane to our theme.


First of all, this EriMerkar, though said to be the king of Uruk or Kulaba, is also said to be the son of the Deity Utu, the sun. This is mentioned is several places in this text and also in many others.

35. en-me-er-kar-dumu -utu-ke :

EnMerkar, the son of Utu

67. Inanna nin-kur-kur-in-ke

Inanna, the lady of all lands

68. en-me-er-kar-dumu-utu - ra - gu. mu - mu- de-e

called to EnMerkar, the son of Utu.

69. en-me-er-kar ga-na mu ga-e-ri na-ri-mu he-e-dab

come EnMerkar, (for) counsel I would offer you, let my counsel be taken.


Without going into a detailed and lengthy etymological, and linguistic analysis , we would like to point out that the Su. Merkar or me-er-kar is in fact the Ta. murukan, muruka,; a deity that is worshipped to this day particularly by the Tamils. The Su. Utu, the sun is identical with Tainil Ut'-, to arise as in uta-y-am : sun rise. In the Cankam period (300 B.C - 200 A.D.) we have one Utiyan Ceralitan meaning the -Atan belonging to the country where the sun (utiyan) sets (ceral). Here Utiyan obviously means the sun. EnMerkar when said to be the son of the Deity Utu, we have an interpretation of one deity in terms of another one in which a filial relationship is brought in to explain the relatedness. The relation is that Merkar is also 'a spark of light, a brilliance that streams forth, blazes forth out into the world. In Ta. meruku means brilliance, radiance and muruku is a variant of this. Thus the linguistic affinities and meanings point to the fact that the Sumerian deity 1 king EnMerkar and the Tamil deity Veel Murukar are identical and that this is a deification of streams of radiance, rays of light that beam into the world. That both, in addition to lighting up the physical universe, also light up the inner world of 'the human psyche are evident from the following lines.

500. da-ga-ni mah-am sa-bi su-su~-am

His speech was (now) great, its contents expanded

501. Kin-gi~a ka-ni dugud su nu-mu-un-an-gi-gi

The emissary, his mouth( being) heavy, was not able to repeat it

502. bar-kin-gi-a ka-ni dugud su nu-mu-un-da-an-gi~gi-da-ka

Because the emissary, his mouth (being) heavy, was not able to repeat it.

503. en-kul-aba~a-ke im-e Su bi-in-ra inim dub-gin bi-in-gub

The lord of Kulaba patted clay and wrote the message like (on a present-day) tablet

504. u-bi-a inim im-ma gub-bu nu-ub-ta-gal-la

Formerly, the writing of messages on clay was not established

505. i-ni-se Utu ude-a ur he~n-na-nam-ma-am

Now, with Utu's bringing forth the day, verily, this was so.


These few lines in addition to throwing immense light on the origin of Sumerian writing system, in fact on the origin of the art of writing itself, also disclose how this unknown poet connects the origin of this invention not only with EriMerkar (or En kulaba) but also dinger .Utu, the sun Deity. The lines 504 & 505 are very important in conjunction with this. The poet is aware of a time where the literary productions were mainly oral, recited, memorized and repeated. But now however thanks to the brilliance of EnMerkar, the art of writing has come to prevail. But how was EnMerkar able to accomplish this? The answer is given by the poet himself in line 505. Today the inner sun has arisen and brought forth day or clarity and on account of this inner illumination, the art of writing exists (ur; Ta. uRu) thus ( he-en-na-nam-ma: verily Ta. innanamma (ingnganam) : thus). The utu here is not only the physical sun that brings forth daylight but also the inner radiance that illuminates the mind and drives away ignorance and incompetence. EnMerkar is the person or king or deity in whom this inner illumination is disclosed, shows itself in an intellectual accomplishment of a magnificent kind.

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3.0 Murukan in Ancient Tamil Literature

By ancient Tamil literature we mean the literary productions of the Third Academy that lasted from about 300 B. C. to about 300 A. D. The earliest text is Tholkappiyam a massive text in linguistics divided into three books, the first dealing with phonology, the second with syntax and semantics and the third with what can be called ethnolinguistics, poetics, literary hermeneutics and so forth. In these literature there is continuous and abundant reference to Murukan. Tholkappiyam mentions him as the Cey-o-n, the

Radiant/ Red One, and ascribes him to the world of Kurinci, the inner or psychological ecology that regulates the sexual impulses and symbolized as the hilly tracts with abundance of luxuriant vegetation.

While EnMerkar in Sumerian, has En Aratta as his foe, in the Tamil literature Murukan has to battle with Cur, the impersonal fear and anxiety that plagues man forever. Kamil V. Zvelebil (1981 p. 32) after studying all the texts where there are references to Murukan sums up the chief theme as follows:

' Analogical with the notion of aNangku but most frequently in contrast to it, the ancestors of the Tamils possessed a concept of impersonal Fear called Cur, inherent in certain places and objects. Soon it began to be viewed as a persona, an embodiment of Evil and of Angst, and as such, it - or rather he -became the chief enemy of the most potent Dravidian god, Muruku or Murukan, who was invoked to dispel or destroy it with his shining spear.' The spear of Murukan, it should be noted, is always jnana-vel - the spear of knowledge, of illumination.

The battle with Cur and a number of other themes that crystallized around Murukan, finally resulted in a magnificient epic, Kantapuranam (14th Century A.D.) just as magnificient as Ramayana though mostly confined to the Tamil speaking Saivites. Regarding this, Zvelebil again has this to say, "Thus, the war between Cur and Murukan represents the struggle between untamed, wild, threatening nature and culture. Nature cannot be totally destroyed, only subdued. Hence Cur is not totally annihilated but transformed into the peacock and the rooster both of which serve the god, one as his vehicle, another as his banner...?' Thus the nature: culture opposition is resolved in this myth by Murukan's taming of nature and making it subservient.

The mystical relevance of this famous epic is clear. Man is thrown to evil, to disorder, to ignorance and such other forces that make him beastly, mean and low. This is the Cur that takes hold of him and channels his psychic energies in that direction. But Murukan interferes, irrupts irresistibly and battles with the Cur. And in this eternal battle that consists the essence of the mystical, heroic-mystical as Neumann would put it (Neumann, 1970), a metamorphoses, a transfiguration is effected. Culture comes to prevail over the lustful primordial and primitive libidinal forces. Murukan as the civilizing force that drives off ignorance and incompetence, is also, interestingly enough the theme of the Sumerian epic mentioned above.


3.1 Murukan and the Beginnings of Tantric Psychology


By Tantric psychology we mean the system of psychology that describes the transfigurations of human personality and along with it the growth of competencies in terms of entries into six inner psychological worlds or existential worlds i.e the six atara cakras that are hierarchically organized. It appeared in the Indian soil around the fourth century A.D. or so and spread all over India and across the seas both in the Saivite and Buddhist garbs. The earliest references in Tamil occur in Thlrumantiram (6th century A.D.). It is presaged in the 5th century Buddhist classic in Tamil Manimekalai. But its beginnings can be traced to the basically ecological psychology that remains the main theme in the Third book of Tholkappiyar (see Loganathan Mutharayan K. 1990). The relevant psychological findings embodied in Tholkappiyam can be summarized as follows:

(i) The real determinants of behavior are the uripporul, psychic pressures that emerge within and seize control of the cognitive processes and which are in turn are regulated by certain Deities or archetypes deep within.

(ii) There are five types of basic psychic pressures and all behaviors whether Sexual (akam) or socioeconomic (PuRam) are ultimately products of these inner instinctual forces;

(iii) The above five are really archetype dominated and hence being divinely guided are taken as normal, moral, socially acceptable and so forth. What is common to these five is that there is agreement and understanding resulting in actions mutually beneficial to the partners.

(iv) The behaviors and actions that are one-sided, oppressive and effected without mutual agreement and consent are the deviant, abnormal and immoral. They are not archetype regulated - in fact outside the reach of the divine powers.

(v) The regulation of behavior by the archetypes is through the mechanism of mandalas, understood here as ecological structures that are either physical or ecological, i.e dwellings.


But the most important concept hidden in the body of Thol. That became enormously important in later times is the special treatment accorded Paalai, the desert-like ecological region and Paal, the Brilliance or Numen that regulates the social relationships. Paalai, unlike the other four mandalas, is not given a special geographical or ecological locality by ToIkappiyar himself though it is done so by later grammarians. Paalai, according to Tholkappiyar, is the four mandalas but during the times of midday and the extremely hot season's of summer Thus Paalai is the existing geographical, ecological regions during the times of intense heat and light that burns off all most everything.

Also while regulating archetypes are posited for the four Mandalas the Paatai, at least in Tholkappiyam does not have an archetype peculiar to it. But in later times the mother goddess of Destruction KoRRavai, and the sun god Atittan and so forth are noted. This carries the important implication that the ecological archetypes, Mayon, Ceyon and so forth are transmuted into the brilliant and primordial godhead, the supreme radiant Attitan, the sun-like numen or its mother goddess forms.

There is evidence in Tolkappiyam itself that Tolkippiyar meant by paal (Ta. paanu: the supreme as intense light) precisely the numinous reality that is intelligent, while remaining together-with and one-with every psyche, stands simultaneously transcendent to all regulating everything through its decrees. This is clearly mentioned in the following sutra.

onRee veeRe enRiru paalvayin

onRi uyarnta paalatu aaNaiyin

otta kizavanum kizattiyum kaaNpa

mikkoon aayinung kadivarai inRee ('KaL. 2)


Among people who remain united as one or disunited and isolated; there is paal which while remaining together with them also stands above, decreeing (in various ways) on account of which the appropriate male and female meet (and fall in love). In this if the male is above in every respect, there will be no opposition at all.

Here the Radiant Principle is not identified as a god, as even an archetype but purely in itself as radiance, as light but however decreeing the conditions of sexual bliss. We shall return to this theme later (see 5.0).


3.1.1. Murukan as the Radiant Principle in the Cosmos

In the ThirumurukaaRRuppadai (Mur) of Nakkirar, dated around the second or third century A.D., we have the paal, the pure radiance of Tholkippiyar identified with Murukan along with a metamorphoses of the vision of Reality on a cosmological level.

In Mur we have a single Deity, the supremely Numinous Murukan, who arises in the universe like the brilliant sun that dispels darkness, animating everything and disclosing itself in various ways consistent with the cognitive competencies of the individuals. An immense fluidity in the conception of archetypes is introduced by articulating that all archetypes are in fact different manifestations of a single reality, the Supreme Light. The literary structure chosen is that of aaRRuppadai, a form of language use where one explains to another desirous of wealth where to go and how to get. Mur transforms the concept of wealth itself- the real wealth that is worth seeking is not properties and fame but rather knowledge of basic principles that would serve leading a noble life in this world (nalampurik koLkai pulam purintu uRaiyum celavu -63). It is further indicated that such a knowledge is obtainable only through seeking the vision of Ceyoon, the supremely Numinous, that animates the whole world and brings about nobility of thought in the bosom of man (ceevadi padarum cemmal uLLam -62).


There cannot be more than one Supreme Power and if there are different archetypal manifestations in human consciousness determining in an effective manner their behavioral characteristics, it follows that the Supreme Power which in itself is Numinous, but must now incorporate within itself all the differentiated archetypal forms and their earthly manifestations. The literary contents of Mur show this, and this is what Nakkirar is trying to accomplish. Thus onto the body and adornments and central dispositional aspects of Murukan, as he discloses himself in ParamkunRam, are projected the essential features of the physical world as articulated in Cankam classics. The whole understanding of physical reality painfully attained and articulated in the body of Tolkappiyam and elsewhere is integrated into the body of Murukan to indicate that even this knowledge is after all a product of Murukan arising as the illuminating principle in the hearts of men. But having integrated the past naturalistic knowledge, Nakkirar goes further to integrate more and more of the manifest reality.


In Alavay, Murukan discloses himself as Arumukan - a six faced polycephalic Being wearing a crown that is as brilliant as the suns and the stars. Each one of the six faces, with a pair of hands for each, are said to perform specific universal functions simultaneously. Thus the first face showers radiance, sends rays of light that dispel Darkness within and without. Another face full of love turns towards the ardent worshippers and provides various kinds of varam - boons that are demanded of Him. The third face is turned towards the learned and enlightened antanar and appreciates their velvi - rituals of fire that are in fact philosophical discourses of a sublime kind. The fourth face looks and protects the objects that are yet to be manifested as phenomenal realities i.e. those that are still in the Depths and slowly makes them appear in the world and in human consciousness like the soft rays of the moon that illuminates only partially and gently. The fifth face reveals anger and readiness to battle the evil antigods who forever plague the devas and human beings. The sixth face wears a smile towards Valli, the erotic principle and source of the sexual libido, the universal dynamic principle that pushes all living things towards seeking bliss in general. The acceptance of Valli indicates that this

enormously powerful and blind dynamics can be regulated and subdued only by Murukan - the principle of intellectual illumination, clear understanding.

In this interpretation of the polycephalic Being of Murukan, we see an attempt of Nakkirar to integrate the whole knowledge of the sociopsychological studies of Tholkappiyar, the understanding of human reality as such into the body of the Numinous as Murukan. The whole content of PoruLatikaaram of Thol. is encapsulated into this magnificent mandala symbolism of a polycephalic godhead.

Nakkirar having thus assimilated the knowledge of the world such texts as Tol. discloses into the body of the Numinous, leaps beyond it now to assimilate more and more of the world into it. If Alavay is the earthly, the natural, the complex phenomenal reality, the Avinankuti is the ideal, the celestial, the heavenly world where Murukan resides with his consorts surrounded by the devas and ascetic yogis (muni) and so forth. The devas who shine brilliantly like the stars, move swiftly and violently like the storms created when the stars collide; powerful like the cosmic fires generated in such collisions, with voices as loud as thunders that such cosmic fires generate. Thus here we see Murukan as the supreme of the celestial world also, in a mandala symbolism that is only hinted at in Tol. The imagination of Nakkirar leaps beyond the natural and reaches the Depths, understood here as the heavenly but which is really the unconscious and postulates Murukan as the supreme of even that distant world.


If Alavay is earthly, the phenomenal, the Avinankuti the heavenly or the Depths, Erakam is the mandala of the heavenly on the earth. For here abound the twice born, the earthly human beings transmuted as the heavenly, given over to nothing else except philosophical pursuits. Murukan stays within, listening to them and illuminating the finer points of the supreme knowledge.


Subsequent to the above mandalas, Nakkirar begins as the fifth mandala -KunRu tooRum aadal - literally dancing in every hillock but meaning disclosing himself even as low level deities that form the center of cultic festivities, rituals, ceremonies and so forth. He also appears as the Velan, the magic man, to the kanavar, the uncultured hill tribes who are given over to orgiastic festivals. In other words Murukan is not only the Numinous that pleases the cultured and civilized, the ascetics and philosophers but also discloses himself as the lower archetypes- the minor deities, that agitate from within and promote activities that are even barbarous, cruel, orgiastic, behaviors that are unenlightened and dark.

The sixth mandala is Pazamutirccoolai - a kind of Garden of Eden, where he resides as the archetype that manifests itself in the heart of the true bhaktas -the aarvalar; who genuinely seek Him through true understanding of His greatness, and praise Him in epithets that are befitting.


Though a more detailed study of this magnificent piece of mystical literature will unearth more significant insights about the penetrative visions Nakkirar had attained into the Mysterious Depths, sufficient has been said to relate it to the beginnings of Tantric Psychology as such.


One of the most significant points implied by Nakkirar by the choice of theme and the literary structure of aaRRppadai, is that in order to attain a knowledge of the Numinous, that shines forever within and without, it is not sufficient to pray, sing and dance, perform various kinds of rituals and organize noisy and boisterous festivals. One has to travel physically and mentally; and visit the different temples, each of which is a model of a cosmic mandala under the regulation of an archetypal-form of Murukan, and gain an understanding of the whole of cosmic phenomena. This immensely vast and profound understanding of the whole of Reality in its entirety, the high and low, the cultured and uncultured, the civilized and uncivilized, must be gained in order to gain an understanding of Murukan, the Numen.


In the Tantrism of Mur the temples are now seen as models of the cosmic mandalas, architectural monuments that feature the essentials of the mandala, a region of Reality under the sovereignty of an archetype. A person's cognitive resonance with such temples, an understanding what it stands for symbolically, constitutes an important act of worship, an act that would bring one close to the Numen, The Supreme. Where, through a combination of physical and mental pilgrimages, a person attains an understanding of all the cosmic mandalas and the archetypal-forms of Murukan within it, one begins to understand the Supreme himself.


Such an understanding of the Numen and how it stands to Reality does not constitute Tantric psychology yet but prepares the ground for its emergence, an event that took place untidily at first but very clearly and surely by the end of 6th century A.D. This we see in the massive text Tirumantiram of Tirumular, a text we shall refer to repeatedly in the course of this study.


What Tirumular does is to psychologise the cosmic mandala views of Nakkirar with the understanding that there is a homological relationship between the macrocosmic universe and the microcosmic human beings and other creatures - whatever that is in andam, the macrocosmic universe is also in pindam, microcosmic body of the creatures.


For Tirumular the human body is not simply an assembly of biophysical organs, a complex machinery of a kind - it is also a Temple, a location where the divine archetypes can disclose themselves (uun udampu oor aalayam). This means that if there are mandalas at the macrocosmic levels, there must be similar structures within the human also. Thus begins the recognition that within the body there are psychical mandalas - atara cakkaram - totaling six in number starting with the muladhara and so forth.


With the recognition of the psychic cakras and an archetype for each, begins the essentials of Tantric Psychology, leading to mantrayana, yantrayana. tantrayana and so forth, topics that are beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is clear that the continuous battle with the non-ego, the Numen within has in one of its developments given birth to Tantric Psychology, a system of psychology that forms the foundation for the long and ancient tradition of Siddhas - the mystics of Power both in India and elsewhere.


The essentials of Tantric Psychology that complements the mandala concept with the cakra (wheel) concept disclose a fundamental linkage between the psychic conditions of a person and the world that becomes accessible to him and constitutes the horizon within which he operates. Through accessing higher and higher cakras within, he also accesses more and more of Reality expanding thereby the universe of his knowledge, the horizon of his understanding. Only when he has accessed all the cakras within and thereby brought into his consciousness the whole of the vast Reality, the manifest and the unmanifest, that finally he enters the realm of Eternal Flame, that stands burning and radiating ceaselessly, unaffected by the turbulence of the individuals aspiring to glow within its radiance.


3.1.2. Murukan in Higher Mysticism


The worship of Murukan continues for several centuries as an integral part of Southern Caivism without recording significant advances until the advent of Arunakiri Natar in the 14th century A. D. Here we see the irruption of the radiant principle in the guise of Murukan again taking the mystical adventures of Arunakiri to unfathomed new heights. The literature of one of the great mystics of India, Arunakiri Natar whose personal life is one of immense turbulence, is vast and is collected together as Thiruppukaz, kantar Alangkaaram, kantar anuputi and so forth. The most famous. THiruppukaz contains verses of  scintillating melodies unheard of before which in its wake opened up new branches in linguistics concerned with the vaNNam - the melodies and how they pattern linguistic structures - syntactical, semantical and morphological. But philosophically (or mystically) the most important is Kantar Alankaram, full of linguisticalizations of the highest reaches of the mystic visions. Below I provide some examples, translated into English (which do not do full justice to the majesty of the original)

Thou art the six-faced Radiant guru,

The sweet nectar that flowed out of immense kindness on top of the hill that arose in the Brilliance of great illumination;

Eternally standing and informing the understanding of the majesty of the Radiance that emerges as unique in pure nothingness, vast Emptiness (8)


The Lord of VaLLi, that damsel whose sweetness cannot be captured in words,

Instructed me once and if where to repeat it,

It is: He is not the vast sky, or the winds, or

the fires, the earth;

Not the selves, not the bodied or disembodied!

(He is totally transcendent to all) (9)


Thou art beyond the reach of all words and thoughts and through that dumbfounding the valiant individuals throwing them into a helpless silence,

Thou art the Lord of Spear (of Light) who conjoins VaLLi the daughter of the Hills and embraces her bravely as a valiant youth.



Towards the end of 19th century there arose another great mystic, Arutpirakaaca VaLLal whose verses, almost six thousand in number collected together as Arutpa '- 'Songs of Grace', constitute another expression of this same higher mysticism, the worship of Murukan has brought about. Though towards the end of life, VaLLalaar records new advances in the mystical visions, he begins his mystical carrier however with praises to Murukan, whom he calls in one of his early poetry, "The world illuminating Pure Light that is also the self illuminating inner light" (CaNmukat tuyya maNi, Unmukac caiva maNi,)


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4.0. The Numen as the Sun and the Growth of Early Caivism

The interpretation of the Numinous as Murukan constitutes one line of development of the battle with the nonego that surrounds the ego-consciousness as the unconscious, the mysterious but which in itself is Pure Radiance. Another line of development that has also been immensely productive begins with the identification of this Numen as the Sun that brightens up the whole world.

We saw that Utu is the Sun in the Sumerian literature and that, only when it arises within the mind,, there results cultural accomplishments of great significance. We also saw that the Paal in Tholkappiyam, the divine principle that reigns over the Paalai, the desert-like psychological interior landscape was also known an Atittan, the Sun.

These brief references are sufficient to indicate that even in those ancient times, the Numen was also understood as both illuminating the physical as well as the psychological - the same element illumminates both the worlds. Such ideas record great advances in periods subsequent to Thol. and are summarized in sufficient detail for us in Thirumatiram (6th century AD), an encyclopaedia of ancient mystical wisdom that serves to this day a treasure house of immensely fascinating philosophical ideas.


4.1. The Numen as the Sun in Tirumantiram

The Numen as the Sun is here further identified as aNdaatittan, pindaatittan, manavaatittan njaanaatittan, and civaatittan. These more differentiated and deeper understandings of the Numen as the sun finally resulted in the discovery of Natham and Bindu, the Animus and Anima principles that exists in Taoism as Ying & Yang and in Western alchemy as the Sun and Moon principles an interpretation also widely available in many tantric texts, including Tirumantiram (TM)


Andaatitittan (The Sun of the Universe)

By this term is meant the sun that illuminates the world, the physical sun that rises and falls and thereby creates days and nights, the various seasons of the year and so forth. The Numen, it is stated by Tirimular, discloses himself in the physical form in order to instruct the creatures that they should understand the godhead as Numen, as Pure Radiance and worship It thus .

The Godhead travels (in the sky) with the devas

as brilliant radiant light over the hill

crowned with clouds,

So that the creatures can recognise the Godhead

as benevolent radiance and worship Him thus.

TM( 1938)


The sun worship which resulted from such understanding of the mystical relevance of the physical sun, results in a better understanding of Godhead himself wherein His munificence and the essential benevolent characters are recognized.


The sun worship through what is called civattiyaanam, involves dhyana practices wherein the whole psychological interiority of a person is opened up to be flooded by the immensely radiant light. The immense illumination that results in such practices also purifies the interior, burning off all immoral impulses and evil thoughts.


4.1.2. Pindaatitittan (The Sun in the body)

The term refers to the Numen that radiates through the whole of the human body (pindam) that is both psychical and biophysical. The poisonous discharges of the biophysical processes as well as the dirt of ignorance that make a man immoral and evil are burnt off and removed by the Sun that arises within.

Standing actively, staying unperturbed, lying

Unconcerned, and arising when necessary,

The Brilliant Godhead stays in the psychical being,

Destroying the dark forces and expelling them from the body or as

Consuming heat swallowing all

TM (1948)


It is this pindaatittan that also illuminates the psyche opening up new universes by breaking down the limiting horizons that establish cognitive boundaries for what can be grasped and understood and thus made elements of consciousness. This is done through unfolding within, new and hierarchically higher cakaras, that define the competencies that become available to the psyches.

The inner sun arises within, without any blemish

as the cakra that has a triangle within a circle as the pure circle

as the pure hexagon as the twin circle

as the lotus with eight petals, and

as the lotus with sixteen petals surrounded by a circle



These geometrical shapes and lotuses with different number of petals constitute the mandala symbolism, the wheels in Tantric Psychology that define the psychical competencies of varying kinds.

The highest mystical states are attained, according to Tirumular when a person in his psychical metamorphoses follows unflinchingly and unafraid of anything this whole course of movement of the inner sun to its conclusion.

Those who are able to allow in themselves

for the inner sun to arise and move over the

horizon and decline ultimately

Are indeed the brave who are capable of great

Accomplishments and self-understanding that is authentic;

All the different purely verbal discourses are

vain chatter that withdraw into empty blabber

in the face of illuminating brilliance of this sun



There is a need to rise above the purely verbal discourses; the epistemological and philosophical inquiries, the heated disputations and so forth are vain; what is needed is the opening up of the mystical vision that brings into consciousness more and more of the hidden realities. The focus must be to SEE more and UNDERSTAND more.


4.1.3. Manavaatittan (The Sun in the mind)

The word 'manam' means here the mind, the psychical organ or component that desires to own and enjoy whatever meets the eyes or the senses. The psyche that is full of uncontrolled desires, seeking gratification of all kinds in an untrammeled manner, is also regulated by cognitive constraints, moral percepts and so forth. The inner Numen when it arises or splits into these contradictory psychical forces is said to show itself as the sun-principle and the moon-principle, with the former serving to exercise constraints while the latter providing the blind and powerful dynamics that emerge as desires.

My self glows only when it gets at least a single ray

From the light radiating field where

as the sun there are rays that evaporates

the cold dews, and as

the moon there are rays that

try to cool off the heat.

TM( 1951)


The 'cold dews' are fears, anxieties, worries and so forth. It is the illuminating light of the intellectual, cognitive or reflective processes that through providing the necessary clarity of understanding dispels them totally. The energy that is consumed in this immensely demanding psychic activity is provided by the gentle glow of the moon-principle within that restores the lost energy through opening up the flow of nectar, the elan- vitale, the life energy itself, the amirtam, the juice of Soma, the moon God.


It is also mentioned that understanding the existence of Godhead and consequently the practice of rites and rituals , i.e. religious life as such, exists only because the Numen arises within as the sun and moon principles providing thereby a peep into the deeper mysteries, the immensely powerful realms of the non-ego and at the same time arousing an irresistible curiosity to fathom them, to explore them and bring them within the horizon of the conscious.

There exist rites and rituals only when the sun and moon-principles arise within;

The moon arises within the field of the sun

And with these two principles as basic

Those who attain clarity that is total,

achieve in selfhood

the selfhood of Siva, the Godhead

(TM 1952)


The selfhood of Siva is the ultimate selfhood that is possible for any creature; a state Being of absolute transparency, where there does not exist even an atom of ignorance, of cognitive blindness or darkness, a way of Being in which everything is transparent.


4.1.4. Njaanaaitittan (The Sun of illumination)


The understanding of Numen and how it works within remains still within the archetypal, the symbolic. Such descriptive terms as sun-principle, moon-principle and so forth though not incorrect but betray an articulation still within the symbolic, archetypal. Where it is further abstracted and a deeper clarity attained, we have the recognition of the Numen in itself, in the most technically precise terms. It is here that the technical terms Bindu and Natam are introduced in place of the moon and sun principles. Even hare a further distinction param (transcendental) and aparam (immanent) are introduced in order to better grasp the workings of the Numen and how it functions to dispel the ignorance and finitude that burden the psyches from beginningless times. Along with it an array of other technical terms are introduced constituting what can be called the theoretical framework (the tatvas) within which the mystical is understood in all its profundity.



The Bindu differentiates itself into param and aparam,

and within these arise the Natam of both types.

The Transcendent Being (param) introduces

various measures within which they are to be disclosed,

and Thereby urges the illumination within all creatures.

TM (1956)



The Numen activates what is elsewhere called Kutilai, the stuff of mantras, and having brought Bindu, the circular element and Natam, the pillar-element, introduces also various measures (Kalai), most often 16 for Natam and 12 for Bindu so that they emerge in the consciousness of creatures - not abruptly but rather gradually.


The emergence of Natam and Bindu is that which makes intelligence as such possible and along with it the hermeneutic competency, i.e. the capacity to understand anything at all and communicate them somehow that is basic to all living things.

The primordial sound that introduces intelligence and understanding,

Is the activity of paranatam that urges clarity, and on account of which

The Bindu generously differentiates into the audible (vaikari)

and inaudible languages tpaisayanti etc.)

That serve to dispel the fivefold realms of ignorance.

TM (1957)



The audible language is the language of speech. But this is a very late stage in the evolution of language phylogenetically and ontogenetically. Prior to these there exist the inarticulate paisayanti, mattimai and cuukkumai. The primordial mantra oom or aum is said to be aticuukkumai, the extremely subtle or the most undifferentiated. It is not possible to go into the details here for the field has been quite exhaustively investigated by many able scholars and yogis. It is sufficient to note that such investigations go into the root of the hermeneutic competency itself, how it is possible at all for not only human beings but also the nonhuman creatures to understand anything at all, show a measure of intelligence in their behavior. It must be noted that even within the human, the hermeneutic competency is not restricted to the linguistical but also extends to the symbolic, the language of dreams and mythologies and even deeper modes of disclosures that we shall describe briefly later when we discuss the birth of Transcendental Hermeneutics among the Tamils.


Thus as Numen that generates all forms of languages and as the Benevolence that allows these to be possessed by the creatures, it also facilitates the understanding of itself, as it is in itself, in its pure authenticity and on account of which it is known as njaanaatittan, the sun of absolute illumination that helps the creatures to understand the Being-There of Itself.

The immense Brilliance fills itself in authentic understanding

and in the face of which

Vast universes appear and disappear without a war.

It is seen as omnipresent without any sign of travel

It lords over all in ways that are so perplexing

TM (1961)


It is interesting that Thirumular, despite articulating neer aRivu i.e. authentic understanding of Numen as Absolute Brilliance that pervades the whole universe, also says that it is not an easy matter to understand it as thus. No creature can grasp, understand anything at all of Him without His immense kindness, munificence, a view that constitutes the central notion in the vast range of philosophies that are termed Caiva cittaantam (Saiva Siddhanta), the foundation of the Caivite religion of the Tamils.


4.1.5 Civaatittan (The Sun as the transcendent Ground)

The Numen as the Ground of hermeneutic competency, of intelligence as such in creatures is also the activating principle in the whole universe, the source of all dynamics - movements, changes, transfigurations, metamorphoses and what not. And as such it is that Primordial Being or BEING who issues forth the immense range of archetypes that in fact move the complex machinery of the cosmos - both physical and biological including the psychological.

It, from Itself issues forth the three beams of light

however remaining in itself one;

It, from Itself issues forth the archetypes Brahma, Vishnu and so forth

and regulates the cosmos;

It stands as one with the body and psyche without any sense of separateness;

It stands as the boundless space,

and the Light and Darkness there

(TM 1966)



The three beams of light are the gentle glow of the moon that constitutes the affectivity in creatures, the radiant rays of the sun that serve to illuminate understanding and the heat rays from Agni, fire that burns off the evil, the dirt. The term 'Civa' (meaning Red) is applied to Numen precisely on account of this. Civa is the savior, where both these words probably having the same etymological roots in the Sumerian, sipa, the shepherd who guards the flock and the guardian Deity that protects the people as in sipa sag gig-ga (The guardian of the black-headed people i.e. the Sumerians)


Though the Numen is absolutely transcendent to all, as the BEING that remains when everything is no more, it is also present everywhere. Any attempt to imprison Him within the fold of His corporal presence is a folly. Such an attempt is like trying to shut in the sun when it gets reflected in a pot. This eternally creative productive BEING cannot be imprisoned into any kind of dogma, religion, philosophy and ideologies.

When the sun is reflected in every pot on which it shines,

Any attempt td imprison Him by tightening the lids on the pot is bound to fail;

He cannot be contained within

In a similar manner this BEING that swallows

the poisonous products stands unbounded though

present in the mind and body (of all creatures)

TM (1965)



The root cause of the endless struggles of the creatures, they being thrown into the endless chain of birth and death, the wheel of samsara that keeps on turning relentlessly, is that from beginningless times all psyches are affected by aaNavam, the primordial Darkness in itself that finitises the psyches and simultaneously pulls them towards the Dark, towards Ignorance or anjnaanam, abconsciousness. That which is capable of dislodging this infinitely strong Dark principle from its firm hold on the psyches is civaprakaacam, the absolutely illuminating radiation from this Numen. It is only CIVA the Numen who can irradiate the psychic beings deep into their interiority and very thoroughly so that in the end there is not even a dot of this Darkness in it.

The immensely distressful darkness of passions

And absence of consciousness

Is dislodged only by the absolutely illuminating

radiation from CIVA;

The psychic Darkness is dispelled just like the

physical Darkness when the sun arises

(TM 1964)


4.2. Civattiyaanam

There are many more details on this topic also available in this massive book. But it is hoped that sufficient has been said to indicate how the ancient understanding that is first articulated in Sumerian times continued to be interpreted further and further and through that a deeper and more differentiated understanding was gained.

We should mention here that it is on the basis of such theoretical understanding that a species of dhyana, known as Civattiyaanam is included in the Caiva agamas in those parts concerned with the rites and rituals. This dhyana practice, understandably enough includes as it's first part, worship of the sun in a number of prescribed ways. Central here is the creation of a mental vision of the Sun God and holding firmly that vision, contemplating meaningfully on the Sun as andaatittan and so forth. In the final Civattiyaanam, what is involved is purifying every part of oneself through allowing CIVA himself irradiate every part of the body and mind so that there exist no blotches of Darkness at all.


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5.0. The Numen as Creatrix (World Mother)


The worship of Mother Goddess, anthropologists affirm, is as ancient as the stone-age beginnings of the great world civilizations. Indologists, noting its ubiquity in both 'high' and 'low' cultures of India in a bewildering variety of forms and its total absence in the early Vedas of the Aryan tribes who poured into India around 1200 BC ascribe it mainly to the Dravidian folks. Some even go further. S. A. Tyler claims that all of Indian civilization is built on an underlying base of Dravidian language and culture (Cf. K. Zvelebil, 1981 p. 1). In Sumerian literature too we meet a legion of gods and goddesses, almost similar to the modern Hinduism that is Tantric in its essentials. But Sumerian literature also show, as the brief references we have made so far would indicate that it was not exclusively given over to the worship of the feminine presence in the world, though undoubtedly, it is given a significant place indeed sharply differing in this respect from the Vedic Aryans.


Erich Neumann, in his classic study on the mother archetype (Neumann, 1955 & 1974) has this to say about this interpretation of the non-ego.


"The term Great Mother, as a partial aspect of the Archetypal Feminine, is a late abstraction, presupposing a highly developed speculative consciousness. And indeed, it is only relatively late in the history of mankind that we find the Archetypal Feminine designated as Magna Mater. But it was worshipped and portrayed many thousands of years before the appearance of the term. Yet even in this relatively late term it is evident that the combination of the words "mother" and "great" is not a combination of concepts but of emotionally coloured symbols. "Mother" in this connection does not refer merely to a relationship of filiation but also to a complex psychic situation of the ego, and similarly the term "Great" expresses the symbolic character of superiority that the archetypal figure possesses in comparison with everything human and with created nature in general" (ibid. p. 11).


The Feminine in the world is recognized in the infinite productivity and creativity along with a ruthless and relentless destructivity that is visible in both the physical and psychological realms. And along with it there can be recognized also sexuality as such, the Eros and its universal presence in all creatures. Less evident is the recognition of the important function the Feminine has in the realm of cultural productivity and mental creativity. These higher level functions of the Feminine in the philosophical and cultural was very early recognized by the Dravidians and to this day the Feminine is highly regarded not only socially but also in the realms of rituals particularly in the Tantric forms of it. No mystic of great repute has failed to sing the glories of the Great Mother, the Ampaal.


51. The Great Mother in Sumerian Literature

What is fascinating however is that even during Sumerian times, this dual faced Great Mother, benevolent and at the same time gruesome and immensely destructive is also understood and described as resplendent light, a description that we meet continuously in Dravidian mystic literature. For in the deeply philosophical, mystical poetry 'The Exaltation of In-anna' (Hallo, van Dijk, l968), the mystic women poetess, also the head priestess of a temple, Enhuduanna, the daughter of the Great Sargon(~2200BC.), describes In~anna ( Ta. ii: to give, iin: to give birth, annai: mother; in-anna would mean - the mother who gives birth to all, the puvanambikai of Tirumular,) in epithets that are echoed to the present.

1. me-sar-ra u-dalla-e~a

Lady of all the me's, resplendent light

2. mi-zi melam gur-ru Ki-aga an-uras-a

Righteous woman, clothed in radiance, beloved of Heaven and Earth


The me here is the protoform of Tamil moy meaning power; sar-ra exists in Sanskrit as sarvam - all. The term u in itself and its derivatives uL, oL, oN and so forth in Tamil means light, just as in Sumerian. The Su. dal can be equated either with teL meaning clear or taL meaning to push forward, radiate. The teL has the adjectival form teLLiya which is very close indeed in grammar and morphology to Su. Dalla-e-a. Whatever it is, it is clear that In-anna, the generatrix of the world, the Great Mother is actually radiant light who gathers unto herself all the powers that underlies the creative productivity of the world.


The second line is also equally fascinating. The Su. mel or mul has the Tamil correspondences in mul-lai (white), min (to shine, the star) and so forth. The word minnal means both the lightning as well as shining forth. Thus Su. melam is probably the protoform of minnal. The term Su. gur-ra has its equivalent in Ta. kuuRai, meaning garment, a piece of cloth. Thus the Great Mother attires herself in clear and radiant light. This understanding betrays that what is interpreted as Great Mother is actually the Numen, the numinous reality that stands transcendent to all.


Ki-aga an-uras-a an important term is translated as 'beloved of Heaven and Earth'. In Tamil, kaangkai means 'heat' and it is possible that kaamam, an ancient term in Tamil (as well as Sanskrit) is a derivative of this. For kaamam too, though means sexuality in general, also means heat. Allowing for this possibility we can translate the above phrase as: the sexual flame of all in Heaven and Earth (an: Ta. Vaan,aan: sky; ur: Ta. Uur: the world, city etc.).

This interpretation of In-anna as the source of the immensely powerful libidinal forces in all creatures is consistent with her character as the creatrix of all. However an explicit reference and an adequate description of this function is given by Enhuduanna herself in the same exordium.

5.1. Uru kur za-ra li-bi-in-du-ga

Over the city which has not declared "The land is yours"

52. a-a ugu-za li-bi-in-es-a

Which has not declared "It is your father's, your begettor's"

53. inim-ku-zu bi-in-du-(g) ka-giri-za he-eb-gi

You have spoken your holy command, have verily turned it back from your path

54. sa-tur-bi-ta giri-he-eb-ta-an-ze-er

Have verily removed your foot from out of his byre

55. mi-be dam-ani-ta sa-ga-na-an-da-ab-be

Its woman no longer speaks of love with her husband

56. gi-u-na

It night they no longer have intercourse

57. ni-ka-sa-ga-na nam-mu-da-an-bur-re

She no longer reveals to him her inmost treasures


These lines are sufficient to indicate the hold of In-anna on the sexual pleasures of all creatures, as part of the powers that she gathers unto herself. If any community, people or nation belittles her; she would withdraw from them, throwing them into impotency, infertility and unproductivity. The "innermost treasures" are probably the mysteries surrounding existence, the Depths that remain an integral part of all. When the Feminine is ridiculed, the doors to the Depths are closed leaving men trapped in infertile ideas, robotic existence who out of the immense emptiness and meaninglessness of existence wage wars that are immensely destructive not knowing the meaning of it all. The catastrophe of castration, one of the primitive fears in man that emerges even in early childhood, befalls one who dares to deny the homage that In~anna richly deserves.


Such dire warnings of Enhuduanna that the world has scorned for millenniums particularly in Christian West, is being reissued, an amazing phenomena in itself by a modern American psychiatrist, brought up in early childhood as a strict orthodox Jew. Thus Edward C. Whitmont who has dared to speak of the "Return of the Goddess'; begins his book:


'At the low point of a cultural development that has led us into the deadlock of scientific materialism, technological destructiveness, religious nihilism and spiritual impoverishment, a most astounding phenomenon has occurred. A new mythologem is arising in our midst and asks to be integrated into our modern frame of reference. It is the myth of the ancient Goddess who once ruled earth and heaven before the advent of the patriarchy and of the patriarchal religions" (Whitmont, 1987).


As a professional psychiatrist he also mentions that '.... the motif of the return of the Great Goddess and her consort is encountered over and over in the dreams and unconscious fantasies of people who seek psychological help to overcome the deadness of their lives" (ibid., p.27).


Towards the end of the same chapter, he observes: "The Great Goddess and her phallic Dionysus-Pan consort were representative of a world soul and of its inherent power of destruction and renewal. They stood for continuity of life and existence in which birth, love, aggression, violence, destruction, and rebirth were like pulse beats. We have lost sight of this aspect of reality. Consequently, our present views and our relation to existence have become warped, absurd and unrealistic. Collectively we are in an existential deadlock of estrangement from nature and from ourselves" (ibid., p.34). How true the words of Enhuduanna have become!


The Dravidian tradition that we are studying now is unique in the world in having kept alive this eternal duality inherent in the Numen in the concept of Civa-Cakti, the masculine Natam, the Feminine Bindhu, who are in eternal embrace symbolized by the undying Civalinkam standing there in the world everywhere as the basis of all creativity and productivity in the physical, biological and mental. The eternal inseparability of the two and the subordination of the Feminine to the regulative masculine, was recognized quite clearly even by Enhuduarina, which she expresses in the following lines:

14. an-ne me-si-ma nin ur-ra u-a

Endowed'with me's by An, lady mounted on a beast

15. inim-ku-an-na-ta inim-du-du

who makes decisions at the holy command of An


Here An has the Tamil equivalents aaN (male person) aaL (person; to rule) aNNal (lord, god) etc. These two lines definitely disclose the subservience of In-anna, to An whose woman she is (nug-gi Ta. Nangkai: beautiful women; mentioned in line 3 : nu-gig-an-na). The Feminine in itself is pure potentiality. It has to be infused by the Masculine so that it can realize its own potentialities. It is An who gives all these powers which remain blind uncontrolled and beastly till the words of An are listened to. The lady riding over the beast (ur: dog; ur-mah: lion; Ta. uur: to crawl,'move; uurti: vehicle; arimaa:lion etc.) is the Feminine given the power to produce uncontrollably. Here 'inim-ku- an-na-ta' is the regulatory power, the structuring, ordering, ordaining principles

(Ta. en; to say; ku: divine; king, god etc.). Inim-ku are not ordinary words but rather those which divinize, spiritualize the beastly. The Divine Mother who is potentially also beastly is also one who discloses the divine within when she submits to the words of An and abides by them.


5.2. The Great Mother in Tamil Literature

Tholkappiyam, in its third book that we have mentioned earlier, reflects the scientific or hermeneutic understanding the Tamils of the Third academy had about the social world and its depths. What is specially interesting of this account is that understanding of family life and the roots of sexuality is given prominence over that of the social, political and academic. Further it is also maintained that both are inseparable, and that the public is an outward expression of inherent sexuality that founds the domestic. Life as a whole is divided into Akam (the sexual, the family life) and PuRam (i.e. what is outside akam) in which every division of the socio-political life is said to have a division of the akam as its basis. It is also recognized that underlying both kinds of dynamics is the depth psychological, or mystical as regulated by some archetypes. In this book kaLaviyal is a chapter on sexuality and we have quoted a sutra from it earlier (see 3.1). Here, it should be noted that the term paalatu aanNai can also be understood as 'the power of paal, the Brilliant' with the connotations that the Power or Sakti as such is the Feminine Principle. In ThirukkuRaL (3rd century A.D.) one of the greatest classics in Tamil, the author devotes the whole of the third division to a delicate and sensitive portrayal of the intricacies of genuine love life between a man and a woman, sharply contrasting with the acrobatics of the sexual acts described in the Kama sutra of Vatsyaya and in many other such books. The emotion of love, though an expression of inherent sexuality, is not the same as lust, immoderate thirst for the sexual bliss forgetful of the divinity inherent to it.


By the time of Tirumular, such reflections and researches had attained a depth beyond which the Tamil mind has not appeared to have moved. To this day Tirumular stands as the authority in such matters. We shall describe the essentials briefly in the following pages to indicate its flavor.


The following verses echo the ancient descriptions of Enhuduanna, wherein the Great Mother is clothed in radiance, in resplendent light.

As light that is benevolent she spreads all over the world

As diamond Brilliance she is within, one-with the self

As the light of language she stays one-with the eyes

of all the creatures caught in the endless chain

of birth and death.

TM( 1004)


The linkage of the Feminine with the intelligence giving speech, with the hermeneutic competency along with kindness, is brought out very clearly here. She is described as diamond brilliance on account of its tenacity, indestructibility.

While standing within with complete understanding of everything,

as the inner light

She stands as a young woman, adorned in sweet smelling flowers with Him,

In deep embrace that is immensely productive.

For anyone who understands Her thus and

Pays homages, she bestows happiness and longevity.

TM. (1039)



This clearly discloses the inseparability of both, Civan and Cakti, the Power. She has to be understood not in isolation, not as a Being distinct and autonomous from Him (as is portrayed in some Sakti tantras) but always along with Him, in an embrace that never ceases to be. She bestows longevity and all kinds of prosperity only on those who truly understands Her thus.

The following verse discloses the linkage between pleasures in life, self-illumination and self-redemption.

The Female, full of Kindness, Beautiful and

happiness itself,

Disclosing to me what is despicable, immoral and

lowly, and thereby

Informing me of the essentials of self-redemption

illuminated me, and redeemed me thereby.

(TM 1040)


The redemption here (civakati) is the highest mode of Being ever possible for man, being in a state of full and total illumination. It is also interesting that she is said to disclose what is unpleasant, despicable, that which introduces a sour taste in our mouth (puLi uRu pun pazam). Obviously the reference here is to the miseries, the endless worries and anxieties that a woman can cause in a man's life and masculine frailty at the face of it, a substance also of many beautiful poetry of the Cangkam epoch.


5.3. Tirumular and the Science of Mantrayana

From ancient times the primitive sciences of witchcraft, sorcery, magic, medicine and so forth seem to have developed along with the worship of the Feminine Principle. Many disciplines have grown as matured and rational sciences from such humble beginnings. In the worship of Great Mother that has been continuous throughout the history of the mystical among the Dravidians, we have ample evidences for such a claim. Along with siddha medicine and extremely deep and highly technical science of mantras and some branches of linguistics stand also sorcery, witchcraft, magic and so forth (Ta. calliyam) also in the name of mantrayana contributing to its disrepute and contempt among many. But the best of the mystics who were vehemently against such paltry indulgences devoted all their rational capabilities to this science and have produced texts on this subject that are indeed awe inspiring by the depth of penetration into the mysterious and clarity they managed to attain.


One such a text is the fourth book in Tirumantiram, having about 500 verses detailing minutely the different primordial mantric syllables or mantragrams, their different combinations and permutations, the organisations into various cakras or yantrams, the deities of which they are expressions, the science of worship, the outcomes of such practices and so forth. There is another ancient book, also attributed to Tirumular, Tirurumantira Maalai 300, which has been published with an extensive and scholarly commentary by Civappirakaaca Teecikar (1976, 1990). There are many others both in Tamil and Sanskrit. Many technical treatises that are on what is called Prasada Yoga also belong to this field.


It is impossible to discuss the details here. However since an account of the mystical surrounding the universal Feminine will be incomplete without this, particularly in the context of the Dravidian, we shall provide a sketch of the essentials here following mainly the quite easily available texts by Tirumular


What physics is to the whole range of physical sciences, mantrayanaa is to the whole range of sciences - the physical, biological, psychological, mystical and so forth. We can even go further. It is Mantrayana that can comprehend even the arts within a scientific frame of mind. It is the universal science, the science that explains every rational behavior. For, the mantrams pervade everywhere and everything determining their properties and behavior including the psychical, mystical and what not. In Tirumular, the mantrayana has a universal scope such that no science or any rational activity of man can escape its reach.


The three key terms mantram, yantram, tantram always occurring together has been given many etymological interpretations some of them purely speculative and fanciful. Our identification of Sumerian as archaic Tamil, helps us to provide a new and more satisfying etymological derivation of these terms. The term - tra or Ta. tiram is common to all these and it is possible that it's protoform is til-la which in Sumerian means that which exists, is real, lives and so forth. The word til occurs as an expletive in the Cankam classics. But it is also available in the notion of tillai manru, the universal platform where Civa dances with Cakti and brings forth into existence, into Being-There-as-World as such out of a seeming Nothingness, a Darkness where nothing is visible. In Sumerian there is also a place called Dil-mun that scholars have taken to be a real city located somewhere near modern Bahrein. However it is clear that til probably means being-there as a reality, as a manifestation, as a phenomenal reality as opposed to being in the womb of Darkness. In view of this, til-la could be that power that brings this about; the agency of such an act of giving birth, of delivering as a being in the world. And allowing for the well established phonological change l -> r in Dravidian, we have til-la > tir-ra > tiram.


Now in Sumerian as well as in Tamil mun means spatially the front, and temporally the past (or the future). In Tamil we also have man, possibly a derivative from this, but meaning firm, stable, unchanging and so forth. Thus combining the two, man-tiram could mean the powers inherent in nature that brings forth various entities into a relatively stable existence, a meaning quite consistent with their uses in the various sciences including the lower. Through a recitation of mantrams one can effect something, bring about something that one desires provided one choses the right mantram and applies it the right way.


Similarly we can derive Ta. entiram or yentiram from the Su. e, and Ta. ee meaning to go forward, to fly speedily and so forth. It is movement towards something and hence the notion of a vehicle, a machinery is inherent to it. Yantram is the vehicle, the machinery, the technological machinations that exist in nature serving the productive and creative forces, the mantrams.


The basic root of tantra or Ta. tantiram is tan possibly related to Sumerian tar and Ta. taa, taru'- meaning to give, yield, bestow and so forth. A tree is named a taru on account of its productivity. Tantiram would mean then that which causes to yield what one wants, a strategy, a maneuver, a trick and such other acts. A text is said to be a tantra for it embodies the application of such strategies for the disclosure of some fields of knowledge. In common usage tantiracaali in Tamil means one full of tricks, a skilful person.


Such meaning as the above also point to a very ancient origin of mantrayana possibly to the Sumerian times, a thesis that needs to be investigated further. That this is not an impossibility can be substantiated from the exordium of In-anna of Enhuduanna itself. For in that text, in lines 123-133 we have the refrain he-zu-am meaning 'be it known' some of which are reproduced below.

123. an-gim mah-a-zn he-zu-am

That you are lofty an Heaven, be it known

(vaan ngin maa-ai jiia i su-aaka)

124. Ki-gim dagal-ta-za he-zu-am

That you are broad as the earth - be it known

(kii-ngin tavalla jii-a i su-aaka)

125. Ki-bala-gul-gul-lu-zu he-zu-am

That you devaste the rebellious - be it know

(kiiz vala kolkollu jiia-i su-aaka)

125 a. Kur-ra gu-de-za he-zu-am

That you roar at the land - be it known

(KunRa kuu-idu jii-a i su-aaka

126. sag-gis-ra-ra-za he-zu-am

That you smite the heads - be it known

(senni aRu aRu jii-a i su-aaka)

The refrain zu-am appears to be the protoform of su-vaka a terminal word in a class of mantrams available in the Tamil as well as Sanskrit corpus from ancient times. The original meaning of the term as it exists now is lost though it still functions as a form of mantram.


These few lines, which are identical in stylistic structure with a number of exordiums in Tamil where in place of he-zu-am we have pooRRi (be praised) or vaazka (long live) and so forth clearly demonstrate the ancient origins of mantrayana as such. The Tamil constructions above have approximately the same meaning as the Sumerian.


5.3.1. The Universality of Mantrayana


By Thiruvampalac Cakkaram Tirumular means the universal yantram which includes within it every conceivable mantric configuration or mantragrams. It includes within itself the aksaras, the capsules of power both audible and inaudible organized into a wheel of audibles surrounded by circles of the inaudibles. These mantrams as capsules of power penetrate into every phenomena - the physical, biological, psychological, depth psychological, literary and the mystical that transcends all.

These mantrams spread out among all the creatures,

Giving to each whatever they desire;

And when properly approached

they drive away every obstacle on the way,

Recite aum in order to be strong and healthy

(TM 923)


The absolutely transcendent Numen (paraparan)

stands one-with without ever separating

From the five basic aksaras (na-ma-si-va-ya) which

are primordial and also stands together with the

Fifty one differentiated aksar&s, all organised

neatly into this (universal) cakram

(TM 925)


These aksaras agitate the basic physical elements

and bring into open the different hues inherent

And when these aksaras stand

Organized into complexes as cakras

Stands the Nurnen also among them

( TM 927)


The cakras stand indestructive though they

spread out throughout the entire world

And from this Numen that stands with cakras

as its field enacting the bewildering world of Maya,

The divine selves milk the elixir of life,

like a calf from the mother cow; and

Arise from this to the Meru,

the hill of transcendent illumination

calf ftranscendent illumination

(TM 928)


There are many more verses similar in nature to the above attesting to the universal presence and their relevance for the night journeys of the mind, into the Depths of oneself and into realms beyond. It is also said that the essences of all archetypes - the gods, goddesses, the demons, acuras and what not, the inhabitants of the Depths - are in fact cakrams, configurations of these power capsules. The verses above also indicate that the absolutely transcendent Numen, stands one with them with these mantra worlds as its platform, the stage where it enacts the bewildering world of maya, which any mystic must transcend and go beyond. But those who know the art, also know how to extract from this the elixir, the ambrosia that bestows longevity and happiness beyond measure.


5.3.2 The Universal Pressures


The mantras and their complexes akkaracakras are in fact power capsules, the Sumerian me's (cf.Ta. moy, peey) that really crystallize whatever in the world.

And even though they are endless and infinite, a certain typological identification are possible, a number of general categories within which they can be understood are possible. A fundamental division is into siddhi and buddhi which roughly correspond to the Western Eros and Kratos. It is said roughly because these Western notions are basically depth psychological where else siddhi and buddhi, while subsuming these also incorporate the different forces in the biophysical realms as well. It is an attempt to comprehend the different pressures or pushes that exist in the world as a whole, the psychological being only the psychical manifestations of them. It also should be noted that these pressures as such are related to the Feminine aspect of the Numen, with the austere Masculine understood as the engunattaan - the Being of the eight fold attributes which are recognizable also through these siddhis and buddhis, in their qualitative aspects.


The siddhis, psychologically understood are the different instincts that push the creatures hither and thither and thereby underlie the competencies they acquire. They are identified as anima, mahima, karima, lahima, piratti, pirakamiyam, icattuvam and vacittuvam


Here anima is that which makes one so penetrative and minute (anu : atom) so that one dominated by this power or capacity can stand reduced to a nonentity (TM. 653)


lahima is the power to arise above and become the form of radiance itself by actually seeing Numen in this form. Such a person stands illuminated, and having seen Truth itself subsists with an absolute universality of mind (TM 655).


Mahima is the pressure that underlies the seeking towards immortality that actually is a pressure to stand firmly in atemporicality - beyond the reach of the temporal mode of Being in which one expects, anticipates, predicts and because of all these calculates in so many different ways. Mahima, greatness in itself, or Deathlessness accrues to one who liberates oneself from the forever ensnaring temporicality of being-in-world (TM. 656 -658).


Pratti is what obtains on attaining Mahima, the unhistorical mode of Being. Now unrestricted, without any positive or negative prejudices, in the light of authentic objectivity the whole of the phenomenal reality is seen in their true light, because there does not exist anymore anything that is unconscious. Every drama of the world, stands there in consciousness in absolute transparency or perspicuity (TM 659).

Karirna is what obtains even when this atemporical consciousness is dissolved. The self in its absolute purity sinks into Paracakti, the transcendent

cauldron of Power itself, oblivious to the whole of the phenomenal drama of the world historical and ahistorical (TM 660-662).


Prakamiyam is having the Numen itself now, and not its world of Play, as what that confronts ones consciousness, what one seeks to understand (TM. 663).


Icattuvam is the attainment of god-like powers by continuous holding within consciousness, the Numen itself, and thereby assimilating unto oneself the properties of the Numen itself - one becomes a secondary Numen and thereby acquiring powers that were inherent hitherto only to the Numen.


Vacittuvam is the final stage where the Masculine , that which shines forth as the sun and stands as the Natam itself now meets the Feminine Aspect in ita true authentic form. Where a union takes place, the senses are lost as unnecessary constraints and one exists bodiless spreading all over the world carried by the Feminine Power.


The above is a brief description (too brief perhaps) of what pertains to the mystical. But the field is wider than this as it is described in an ancient text (Tirumantra Malai) by Tirumular himself. These siddhies, within the depth psychological or mystical are in fact the so called instincts that pervade the interiority of every creature, man and animal, manifesting themselves to varying degrees in their behavior, most of it unconsciously.


It is clear that the above siddhies are expressions of the Eros, the seeking of pleasure unbounded which the Sumerians understood as the gift of In-anna, the generative Power Related to this is the Kratos, the energetic processes in the world that is the source of all effectivities, creative productions, generations and so forth. It is called putti in Tamil (Ta. puu : to arise, flower, blossom) because without such processes the world will be an emptiness, a void, a pure darkness.


These putties are again divided into eight different types: vaciyam, mokanam, tampanam, uccadanam, vitvesanam, petanam and maranam. The vaciyam are processes that integrate, causes to unite, bind, cohere and so forth (Ta: vaci = to bind). Mohanam are the processes where through the appreciation of the beautiful the intellect is dulled, the resistance removed and the affective aspects made to dominate. The tampanam are the processes that stabilize, strengthen and thereby avoid disintegration, and also those that constrain and restrain something. The uccadanam (Ta. ooccu : to drive away) are the processes that drive away the impending, cause to fade away from being, to disappear, vanish and so forth. The akarusam or more often karunai ( Ta. Karai: to call) are actually processes that attract unto themselves objects other than itself; the magnetic, gravitational and such other forces that call forth towards itself various other objects. The vitvesanam appears to be the opposite of akarusam - those which cause dissociation; repulsion and so forth. Petanam are transformational processes underlying metamorphoses, change, transfiguration and so forth. The maranam are the destructive, annihilatory processes that bring about death, decay, disintegration and so forth.


These processes are more commonly discussed under five heads: cirutti (creation, bring into being), titi (maintenance, sustenance, retention), cangkaram (annihilation, destruction, disintegration) anukrakam (the bestowing of grace, illumination, enlightenment) and tiropavam (concealing, hiding, covering up from being disclosed). There are many books dealing very extensively with these processes and how they bring about everything in the world. The panca atikara vilakkam of Citampara Munivar is particularly illuminating though he does not discuss like Tirumtilar the various mantras, their configurations, the different archetypal forms associated with them and so forth. (see : Loganathan Mutharayan, K. 1987)


It should be mentioned here that the development of mystic literature in Tamil probably upto the end of the fourteenth century presupposes the ideas we have sketched above under the science of mantrayana. However in the 18th and 19th centuries, the mystic literature assumed a distinctive quality of its own which cannot be understood unless we also explain some new developments in philosophy - the birth of Philosophical Transcendental Hermeneutics as such among the Tamils.


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6.0. The Sumerian Beginnings of Hermeneutics

It should not be surprising that as one of the earliest literary civilizations in the world, that went to the level of even establishing schools (e-dub-ba) for young children along with many higher academies for adults, hermeneutics in its various forms also developed in Sumeria. There are many references and descriptions scattered in the body of myths, hymns, tales and epics. Such beginnings as we see here mature as 'scientific' methodologies in the historical period underlying the productions of such 'scientific' treatises as Tholkappiyam and many others.

We have already referred to a line about Utu, reproduced below for convenience:

505. i-ni-se utu u-de-a ur he-en-na-nam-ma-am

now, with Utu's bringing forth the day, verily, this was so


As we have already mentioned, the preoccupation of the author here is the growth of understanding and hence hermeneutics in a broad sense. The meaning of the line discloses how the author understood or interpreted the origin of the art of writing. The understanding that results in arts and crafts, in technological advances is a kind of disclosure, a gift of Utu, the sun or the Sun Principle that arises within and illuminates the mind.


Among the twenty or so Sumerian royal hymns, pertaining to king Sulgi, which are dated around 2100 B.C. some contain detailed information on the literary and pedagogic activities of those times. In Sulgi hymn B, we have the following lines:

3. Sul-gi lugal uri-ma-ke

'Sulgi', the king of Ur

4. a-na za-mi-bi-im kalag-ga-na sir-bi-im

This is the song of his power, this is the hymn of his valor

5. gal-an-zu nig sag-bi-se e-a-na mu-ta-ri-bi-im

of the wise, in all things foremost, this is the lasting record

(Castellino, C. R. 1972, p.30)


What is relevant here are the immensely interesting descriptive phrases:

za-mi-bi-im (Ta. caamipiyam?), sir-bi-im (Ta. siirpiyam?) and mu~da-ribi-im (Ta. mutaripiyam.). The Su. zami which means 'praise' survives in colloquial Tamil as caami, a term of address for brahmans and gods. The bi-im is to be noted in such terms as Tol-kaappiyam (tol: ancient, kaa: language, grammar? Note Su. ka: mouth, Ta. & Sk. kaaviya etc.). The term sir is obviously the protoform of Ta.. ciir, meaning 'glory; 'song' etc. This term has given ciir, 'song' as well as a technical term in poetics; ciirtti and form that kiirtti which is still in use as in meyk-kiirtti etc. The sir-bi-im appears to be the same as meyk-kiirtti of the Cola period that details the accomplishments of a monarch and 'kiirtti tiru-akaval of Manikkavacakar (9th century A.D.) wherein the great accomplishments of Civa are glorified. The term mu-ta-ri-bi-im, the everlasting record, can be analyzed into mutu-ari-piyam, a text that destroys, kill (ari), growing old or decay (mutu), a meaning similar pookkaru panuval of Panamparanar, in the introduction of Thol. The poetry of the great stands undying, undecaying - it kills death or deathlike processes that would throw anything into oblivion. Such descriptive terms pertain not only to the contents of the poetry but also their role in relation to history. A text can survive historically only by the excellence of understanding it unfolds in an idiom that in itself is beautiful, captivating and so forth.

Some lines in the same hymn disclose some details about the e-dub-ba, the school for young children.

13. tur-ra-mu-de e-dub-ba-a-a-am

since my (very) youth belonged in the edubba

14. dub ki-en-gi ki-uri-ka nam-dub-sar-ra mi-ni-zu

[And] on the tablets of Sumer and Akkad, I learnt the art of the scribe

15. nam-tur-na, ga-e gin-nam im nu-mu-sar

of the young, none could write tablets like me



dingir Nidaba sig-ga Nidaba-ke

[As for me] goddess Nidaba, fair faced Nidaba

19.gestu-gizzalJa su dagal-la ma-ni-in-dug

with a generous hand, provided me with intelligence and wisdom

20.dub-sar ig-tag-a nig-e nu-dab-be-me-en

whatever the teacher brought forward, I let nothing go by


The word Ta. tuppu, which corresponds to the Su. dub tablet, has at present the meaning 'clue'; 'sign'; 'symbol' that requires deciphering, interpreting and so forth as in 'tuppu tulangkal. The term Ta. caRRu (Su. sar) means to tell, relate, narrate and so forth. Hence the phrase tuppu-caRRu ( Su: dub-sar) probably means interpreting, deciphering what is there as signs and symbols in the tablets i.e. a notion very close to that of 'reading' as such. In view of this tuppu-carru~nam. (Su. nam-dub-sar-ra) probably means the art or skill of interpreting some symbols and getting at the message or knowledge content thus communicated.


The line (20) is most important for our purposes. The Su. ig, means 'doors' and igi, ibi eyes. Su. tag means to attack, assail which is also the meaning of Ta. taakku. Hence ig possibly means the doors of perception or the senses in general and derivatively perception, cognition, understanding and so forth. The Ta. kaN also means both 'eye' as well as 'knowledge' 'understanding' and so forth. Corresponding to the Su. ig, igi, ibi we have Ta. akki,, imai meaning 'eye'. In view of these correspondences Su. ig-tag-a probably means 'what reaches understanding' i.e. knowledge as such. It must be noted here that the notion pratyaksa (perception) widely prevalent in Indian epistemological theories is probably a variant of this same notion, derived probably from Ta. Porutu- akki, i.e. that which conjoins the senses, or that which reaches understanding.

Sulgi in line (20) claims that everything (nig, Ta. nikara) that reaches his understanding (ig-tag-a) from diciphering a text (dub-sar), did not certainly escape from him (nu-dab-be-me-en, Ta. tappu: to escape) i.e. he retained them all without ever forgetting.


This concern with reading a text, understanding what it says, retaining whatever thus understood and so forth are certainly the beginnings of literary hermeneutics as such, a full pledged form of which we see in Tholkappiyam particularly in marapiyal that forms an appendix to it.


6.1 The Literary Hermeneutics of Marapiyal


The Literary Hermeneutics is called NuulneRi by Tolkappiyar and he holds on to it as the methodology underlying the whole range of linguistic phenomena that he investigated. The nul utti portion of marapiyal (the last sutra) defines what are called otta katci utti and enumerates thirty-two uttis as such. The utti corresponding to Su. ude-a is what brings forth understanding, illuminates the mind. otta katci is an important term that would help us unravel what kind of hermeneutics is being articulated in marapiyal. otta katci means having the same (otta) vision or understanding (katci). A text which presents itself to a person instigates him by the vision or understanding it incorporates within itself so that he would aspire to have the same vision or understanding. This explains why a person would 'read' something at all, the motivational dynamics underlying the hermeneutic efforts. What removes the initial distance in understanding between the person and the text that is read are the tames, the various movements of understanding that dispel the ignorance within it so that the understanding available in the text being read, becomes also part of one's own understanding.


Since we have discussed at length the meaning of utties elsewhere (Loganathan Mutharayan, K. 1991) we shall not go into the details here. Utti, in marapiyal appears to be similar to learning as such rather than the purely translational movement of understanding, a difference that distinguishes Dravidian Hermeneutics from the Western, particularly that of Heidegger and Gadamer. The understanding of a person of whom the text is instructive, and who is cast into being a learner in reading the text, has within it some obscurants that resist, block off the text being seen in a transparent manner. What the utties that come into play do is to remove obscurants within the understanding of the reader so that now the text shines out brilliantly in his understanding. The message, the subject matter of the text become radiantly conspicuous pushing the medium - the text itself- into the background, into an irrelevancy. Such obscurants within was called in marapiyal vinai (Ta. vi1: to bind, constrain) and probably is the same as the notion of 'prejudice' available in Western Hermeneutics. The utti as that which removes such obscurants within cannot simply be mere translational processes but rather something transformational, bringing transformations, bringing about growth and development. If by reduction of ignorance, which such utties bring about; we mean learning as such, then clearly utties are those movements of understanding that go under the general rubric of learning, in the broadest sense.


This literary hermeneutics underlies the Dravidian linguistic tradition and stood as the essential methodology till the advent of modernization. It set the model for scientific inquiries into many related fields - music, psychology, dance and so forth. But with the advent of the mystical literature from the 5th century onwards that have been compiled into Thevarat Thirumucai and Divya Pirapantam - the bhakti poetry that constitutes the sacred lore of the modern Tamils, the methodological structures available in Literary Hermeneutics collapsed through inadequacy giving rise to what can be called Transcendental Hermeneutics, a kind of Hermeneutics that begins with Meykandar and is supplemented by Kannudaya VaLLal, the kind of Hermeneutics that made possible even deeper and deeper mystical visions such as those of Tayumanavar, Arutpirakaca VaLLal and so forth.


6.2 The Transcendental Hermeneutics of Meykandar

By transcendental hermeneutics we mean a vigorous inquiry that is concerned with fundamental ontology, known traditionally in the West as metaphysics. The central question is : what is (or are) Real or absolutely there and what are not real or only transitory, ephemeral and so forth. The Cjvanjaan bootam of Meykandar (13th century A.D.) is a brief text characterized by an astuteness and brilliance that has not been met with ever since. This book marks an important mile stone in the cultural history of the Dravidians providing to this day the philosophical foundations for the Saivite way of life. But since this is an accomplishment in fundamental ontology, its appeal is universal. It is the presupposition of all philosophical inquiries, depth psychologies and religious cults.


He departs from the literary hermeneutics by taking as his TEXT not this or that literary or nonliterary productions of the mind but rather the world-as-a-whole and the fact that we are in it inextricably, unavoidably. We are thrown into Being-in-the-world, as Heidegger would put it and which Meykandar notes under the ubiquitous deiticity (Ta. cudduNarvu) of all human and creature understanding. By deiticity we mean here the fundamental need to have recourse to spatiotemporal referential frames for the understanding of anything at all. This is because understanding is finite, there is an inherent finitude that throws understanding to referentially and temporality. Understanding is spatially directional and temporally historical. It is characterized by cuddu'- the need to confront a thing as an object, as that which stands there as an object in itself posting the self as the subject that apprehends it.


But whatever that is comprehended within this inherent deiticity is characterized by impermanence - the muu vinaimai : coming into being, being-there and ceasing to be. Nothing that is understood within deiticity, including the understanding, the various ideas, theories, knowledge and so forth is absolutely permanent. They are ephemeral, not absolutely self-sustaining.


Such a character of the world in which we are, a world where everything including the ideational - percepts, philosophies, dogmas, religious cults, scientific theories and what not - is impermanent points to a ground that is not ephemeral but rather absolutely real, standing there transcendentally unaffected by the fleeting transitoriness of the worldly. We can intuit the reality of the ground, by the nonautonomous character of everything that constitutes what we call the world. For even though ephemeral, it is characterized by historicality, - from the death of one emerges another and such a historical succession goes on endlessly. And within this historical succession we can discern a pattern, an order, an organizational structuring of the entities whereby they emerge as animate or inanimate and within the animate the sexual differentiation into Male and Female. The historicality of the processes, and the differentiation of entities into these categories cannot be products of blind chance. Nor can they be a cascade of momentary particulars, dying as they are born organizing themselves into such a historicality and sexually differentiated realities as the famous Buddhist logicians of the Tamil country, Dignaga, Dharmakirtti and so forth would claim. The historicity of the world processes, the visibility of sexual differentiation and the fact that understanding is undeniably deitical, all point to a Reality beyond the visible, autonomous in itself and standing there as the ground of everything that transpires as the world and Being-in-the-World.


This ground is not anyone of the deities, the archetypes that have been the subject of investigation from ancient times constituting the field of mysticism or what is the same the depth psychologies. These archetypes as powers that are associated with mantric configurations are also as ephemeral as the others. The ground is characterized by two processes, anukirakam and cangkaram which we shall render as disvoiding and voiding. The voiding is that act whereby everything that is there as the world and in the world is withdrawn completely into the void so that there prevails only nothingness or as Meykandar puts it absolute darkness (Ta. malam). In opposition to this is disvoiding -pushing out into being there in the world from out of the bosom of the void. It is only because of this primordial act of Dis-Voiding, casting aside the shell of Darkness that envelopes everything that there is anything at all in the world. Meykandar also claims that the Agency that brings about this primordial. Voidance, has to be also the same as that which brings about the primordial Dis-Voidance.


The ground is the Numen, the Brahman (i.e the Radiant Reality) and it is an aspect of It's AruL, infinite munificence that Dis-Voidance and Voidance are 'done'. The Numen is characterised by infinite love and the acts of Voidance and Dis-Voidance are spontaneous expressions of this. The Numen as the Ground, as the agency of the primordial acts of voiding and dis-voiding stays one-with everything inseparably and simultaneously Above everything in its Directivity (Ta. aNai). Underlying the historicality of the world processes, (Ta. marapu) is this Directivity, providing a sense and a connectedness despite continuous disruptures in the worldly processes. We can discern a Meaning in the historical processes and this meaning is in fact an intuition of this Directivity underlying it all.


The act of Dis-Voiding which is simultaneously unfolding the whole phenomenal world, bringing into being - there, establishes the world in which we are. But within this there is death, decay, destruction, annihilation and so forth. And also among the unfolded not all are benign and benevolent - there are malignant dark forces that cause infinite miseries, dispose the creatures towards the evil and so forth. These cannot be from the same source as the benign and benevolent. Hence Meykandar reasons, there is Malam, the Darkness principle, as an autonomous entity, just as absolutistic and eternal as the Numen. The act of Dis-Voiding which is simultaneously giving birth to entities as such is actually an act of piercing through this Malam, the Black Mass that dissolves everything within its reach into nothingness. This Malam, it should be noted, transforms the mantric configurations that emanate from the Numen into the malignant and evil forces and thus transforms them into the forces of death, disease, destruction, and calamity .


The Malam, it is now recognized is also the primordial source on account of which the human or the creature understanding is characterized by finitude, ignorance and a proneness towards the evil, towards the despicable.

The human understanding is characterized by a duality - it recognizes within itself its own inherent possibility towards the divine, the sacred, the good and at the same time something contrary to this - the evil, immoral, cruelty and such other malignancies. Existence is a struggle basically because it is always torn between these two pulls that are contrary to each other. In other words the existence of man is characterized by Moral Dilemma in an unavoidable manner, as a result of which there are psychological conflicts of a serious sort. Similarly there are many such features distinctive of man and other creatures which point to the fact that the psychic beings are not archetypes in flesh or reflections of the Numen within the phenomenal world but rather independent realities just as autonomous and absolutistic as the Numen and the Black Mass. There are innumerable psychic beings that remain indestructibly there even though they may go into circulation, into various births and deaths, the possibly endless chain of camcaram (samsara).


I have omitted many other details for want of space. What we have sketched above roughly summarizes how Meykandar established the fundamental ontology - the pati (Numen), pacu (innumerable psychic entities) and pacam (the restraining, binding, constrainting factors) which have been presupposed even in Tirumular but without the philosophical clarity that is furnished by Meykandar. This fundamental ontology also helps Meykandar to justify the reality of the mystical, religious life. The destruction of the finitude and the tendency towards the evil and the ignoble constitutes the essence of self-redemption. One must dislodge the grip of the Dark Mass, the source of death and miseries, something that can be done only by gravitating more and more towards the Numen which is also a possibility that is always available to us. The progress in the mystical, in the religious development of man is measured by the degree to which he allows the Numen within to shine forth in his understanding and regulate his existence. The closer he is, the more divine he becomes. The function of the religious - the rites, rituals, meditative practices, scriptural recitations, exegetical exercises, philosophical disputes and what not, are in fact institutions that help the individual from sliding into the grip of Satan - the Black Mass, and maintaining the Numen in sight forever and gradually dedistancing self from the Numen itself, something that can be done by gradually definitising the psychic being of the self itself. This basic de-finitization is the meaning of the mystical and the religious. When the selves are completely de-finitized, it is redeemed totally. At the point of redemption (Ta. vitu peru, mutti), the self does NOT cease to BE - it is there but totally purified of the finitude that has been its essence from the beginningless times. To be redeemed is to be de-finitized, something that takes place spontaneously as we allow the presence of Numen to be more and more prominent in our understanding.


In this manner, Meykandar provides a philosophical justification that has formed the foundation of the Dravidian culture for several centuries. But within this Transcendental Hermeneutics, there were some loose ends which were made good by another brilliant Philosopher, Kannudaiya VaLLal (14th century) supposed to be the son of Meykandar himself as one tradition would maintain. Since he has introduced in his investigations that matured gradually some important innovations while still remaining with the transcendental Hermeneutics of Meykandar and which have been enormously influential particularly in the realm of the mystical, we shall now describe briefly the essentials.


6.3 The Sruti liermeneutics of Kannutaiya VaLLaL


The term sruti, in general means the revealed literature, and VaLLal in his usage gives a peculiar twist to it. It is not any revealed literature - there are many such a kind but only those that are spontaneous, unplanned, unpremeditated utterances of the highest mystics whose mode of Being in general is characterized by the language of Deep Silence (Ta. moonam). We term the hermeneutics of VaLLal, Sruti Hermeneutics in view of not only of this redefinition but also the peculiar importance he attaches to such texts in the process of self-redemption.


VaLLal does not quarrel with the fundamental ontology of Meykandar. He also does not quarrel with the nature and meaning of self-redemption. What he quarrels with is the absence of negative appraisal of the rites and rituals over and above the positive that certainly pertains to them. The final state of self-redemption is peculiar and is possible only through srutis which are more than philosophical discourses, even of the subtlest kind. It is agreed that individuation process is essentially de-finitizing, the breaking out of every bounds that man has erected around himself to safeguard his sanity. It is burning off every attachment, every care and concern so that one is purified deep within of everything that is binding towards the merely worldly. If that is so then rites and rituals, dogmas and religious creeds, codes of ethics and ideologies, even meditative practices that are channeled towards exploring the unconscious - all these must be thrown away as one would a ladder after climbing up a height. The religious practices, in the broadest sense, that underlie the creation of religions and cultures must be transcended absolutely and in no uncertain terms to achieve genuine redemption, individuation. For every religious practice even of the meditative kind, as long as they are indulged in without the thought of discarding them, further binding takes place perhaps to something new, possibly also broader and more inclusive. But nevertheless, they are bondages possibly with new boundaries for understanding. Every practice activates a deep archetype which unknown to the individual take possession of him, disclosing simultaneously new and perhaps more inclusive horizons. And one would persist in the creation of such horizons unendingly unless one is also aware of the need to throw away everything and absolve oneself of such practices and binding oneself to ever widening horizons.


The genuine mystic, the Civajnani is such a person, characterized by an absolute universality - no distinction of caste, creed, dogma, ideology and so forth are visible to him, are meaningful to him. There are no prejudices on the basis of which he identifies himself with a certain group and by that act becomes antagonistic towards others. The self-identification processes, the essential element of group dynamics does not exist - he has absolved all these as meaningless and stands transcendent to all in a state of absolute universality and freedom, in absolute purity of mind.


The language of communication of such an individual is Deep Silence, not the silence that transpires in oral discourses but Silence as the language of total communication, that which is mute but in that communicates the Deepest. The highest of self-redemption is characterized by the transcendence of subject - object dichotomy --- there is no objectivity and subjectivity. At the highest state there is nothing that can be put in confrontational position, the understanding is fully translucent and hence there are no intentions and intentionalities that underlie the projective and objectivising tendencies. Because of this, linguisticalization becomes an impossibility as the assertorial attitude is no more. One is in a state of euphoria because there are no pressures of whatever kind emerging within creating intentionalities of various kinds.


Such individuals utter nevertheless and only these utterances constitute the sruti; for such utterances are not intentional productions of individuals; the subjectivity of the individuals are no more as there is no more finitude. The utterances emerge not as linguisticalizations of new understandings reached but rather spontaneous disclosures not of individuated individual but Numen that now completely takes over the self of the individual. The self is not in the world as a finite self but is with-the-world in being-one-with-the-Numen. This is the highest possibility for any psychic being, the loss of finitude and along with it the subjectivistic tendencies and become thereby fully immersed in being-one-with-the-Numen; a transcendental withdrawal in which the self remains unannihilated, a notion that is expressed in the phrase Qzivu-il odukkam that VaLLal chose as the title for his book.

The mystic poetry of Thayumanavar in the 18th century and Arut Prakasa VaLLalar in the 19th century sing out in beautiful lyrics the views and visions that are in fact elaborations of those of KaNNudaiya VaLLal, that we have sketched above. The pressure towards universality, the displacement of the reign of intellectual debates with sympathetic understanding, compassionate attitudes, the discarding of dogmas, religious creeds, rite and rituals and so forth constitutes the main themes. Arut Prakasa VaLLal, calls his way of life cutta sanmarkkam, a Way of Life in which the universality in every man, the Numen within is acknowledged. Once an individual manages to raise himself to this state, his personality is ruled totally by what is called jiva karunyam -- a compassionate affection towards all including the animals. This is an innate potentiality lurking deep within every individual showing itself in various kinds of affections within the finitude of ordinary existence but which become the ruling factor in self-redeemed individuals. This is the kind of compassion that constitutes the essence of the Numen itself and on account of which Arutpirakacar has introduced the term Arut Pruncoti - the immense Radiance that is Benevolence itself.


We shall now conclude this essay with the quotation from ArutKuRaL, a massive text which is a 20th century expression of this whole philosophy:

Muttikku vittaakum moonamozi payivaanai

Ettikkum eettum initee



The whole world happily praises the glories of the One who intones the Mute Language that forms the seed of genuine self-redemption.

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A revised version of a paper presented at the: Seminar on Mystic Literature, East and West organised by Humanities Faculty, University Sains Malaysia, July 17th. &18th.1993 and later published in the journal of the Institute of Asian Studies, Madras Vol. XI No. 2 March, 1994.


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