Sunday, May 9, 2010


The Shiva in me is the Shiva in you,
That Shiva in us all, that is Shiva truly!
That Shiva, that inscrutable Shiva, that Supreme
He who is not a He, nor She, nor both, nor neither
That is Shiva, all-pervasive, all-knowing, all-Being One.
Aum Shivaya.

The Shiva in this world is the Shiva in the next,
That Shiva in all the worlds, that is Shiva verily!
That Shiva, that boundless Self Divine, that Infinitude
He who is neither here, nor there, nor everywhere, nor nowhere
That is Shiva, ever-resplendent, ever-blissful, ever-auspicious One.
Aum Shivaya Namah.

Agnideva © 2010. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Light of Lights

This is That, the Truth of things: as from one high-kindled fire thousands of different sparks are born and all have the same form of fire, so, O fair son, from the immutable manifold becomings are born and even into that they depart.

The Purusha is divine, the formless, even He is the outward and the inward and He the Unborn; He is beyond life, beyond mind, luminous, Supreme  beyond the immutable. Life and mind and the senses are born from Him; and the sky, and the wind, and light, and the waters and earth upholding all that is. Fire is the head of Him and His eyes are the Sun and Moon, the quarters His organs of hearing and the revealed Vedas are His voice, air is His breath, the universe is His heart, Earth lies at His feet. He is the inner Self in all beings.

From Him is fire, of which the Sun is the fuel, then rain from the Moon, herbs upon the earth, and the male casts his seed into woman: thus are these many peoples born from the Purusha. From Him are the hymns of the Rigveda, the Sama, and the Yajus, initiation, and all sacrifices and works of sacrifice, and dues given, the year and the giver of the sacrifice and the worlds, on which the moon shines and the sun.

And from Him have issued many Gods, and demi-gods and men and beasts and birds, the main breath and downward breath, and rice and barley, and askesis and faith and Truth, and chastity and rule of right practice. The seven breaths are born from Him and the seven lights and kinds of fuel and the seven oblations and these seven worlds in which move the life-breaths set within with the secret heart for their dwelling-place, seven and seven. From Him are the oceans and all these mountains and from Him flow rivers of all forms, and from Him are all plants, and sensible delight which makes the soul to abide with the material elements.

The Purusha is all this universe; He is works and askesis and the Brahman, supreme and immortal. O fair son, he who knows this hidden in the secret heart, scatters even here in this world the knot of the ignorance. Manifested, it is here set close within, moving in the secret heart, this is the mighty foundation and into it is consigned all that moves and breathes and sees. This that is that great foundation here, know, as the Is and Is-not, the supremely desirable, greatest and the Most High, beyond the knowledge of creatures.

That which is the Luminous, that which is smaller than the atoms, that in which are set the worlds and their peoples, That is This - it is Brahman immutable: life is That, it is speech and mind. That is This, the True and Real, it is That which is immortal: it is into That that thou must pierce, O fair son, into That penetrate.

Take up the bow of the Upanishad, that mighty weapon, set to it an arrow sharpened by adoration, draw the bow with a heart wholly devoted to the contemplation of That, and O fair son, penetrate into That as thy target, even into the Immutable. OM is the bow and the soul is the arrow, and That, even the Brahman, is spoken of as the target. That must be pierced with an unfaltering aim; one must be absorbed into That as an arrow is lost in its target.

He in whom are inwoven heaven and earth and the mid-region, and mind with all the life-currents, Him know to be the one Self; other words put away from you: this is the bridge to immortality. Where the nerves are brought close together like the spokes in the nave of a chariot-wheel, this is He that moves within, - there is He manifoldly born. Meditate on the Self as OM and happy be your passage to the other shore beyond the darkness.

The Omniscient, the All-wise, whose is this might and majesty upon the earth, is this Self enthroned in the Divine city of the Brahman, in his ethereal heaven. A mental being, leader of the life and the body, has set a heart in matter, in matter he has taken his firm foundation. By its knowing the wise see everywhere around them That which shines in its effulgence, a shape of Bliss and immortal. The knot of the heart-strings is rent, cut away are all doubts, and a man's works are spent and perish, when is seen That which is at once the being below and the Supreme. 

In a supreme golden sheath the Brahman lies, stainless, without parts. A Splendour is That, It is the Light of Lights, It is That which the self-knowers know. There the sun shines not and the moon has no splendour and the stars are blind; there these lightnings flash not, how then shall burn this earthly fire? All that shines is but the shadow of His shining; all this universe is effulgent with His light.

All this is Brahman immortal, naught else; Brahman is in front of us, Brahman behind us, and to the south of us and to the north of us, and below us and above us; it stretches everywhere. All this is Brahman alone, all this magnificent universe.

Mundaka Upanishad (II:1:1-10; II:2:1-12) of the holy Atharvaveda
Translated by Sri Aurobindo
The Mundaka is a very ancient text that comes to us from the upanishadic era (800-400 BCE). By this time, the Vedic hymn collections were already of hoary antiquity and the esoteric principles hidden therein were being lost. A new generation of sages took it upon themselves to reveal again the esotery of the holy hymns to their disciples and put in written form this ancient knowledge. The body of teaching of these enlightened sages and the traditions which were founded upon these teachings are called Vedanta, the very essence of the holy Veda.

In the above text of the Mundaka we find an elaboration of Purusha Sukta, a key hymn from the Rigveda. Purusha in essence is  a personification of the infinite Divine Being, who is both the Creator and the fabric of creation. Personified He is called Purusha or Ishvara, God; sometimes prefixed by Parama- (supreme). In Shaiva tradition, Ishvara is called Shiva, or more aptly Sadashiva, the benevolent, all-knowing Lord. Fully realized, that Sat, the formless, the immutable Reality is called Brahman in the Vedanta, and Parashiva/Paramashiva in the Shaiva texts.

Once all polemics and argumentative mental states melt away, what is left is pure peace and unity. As the name would suggest, what yokes together the tradition of the Agama-Tantra with that of Vedanta is Yoga.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Transformation of Sundaranatha

It just so happened that once, a long time ago, a great siddha-yogi started heading southward on foot. At the behest of his illustrious master, he was to walk to the southern plains, to the land which long ago had been graced by Agastya, the ancient sage of legends. There, he was to spread the glory of the holy texts of Shiva, the Lord of all that exists. To fulfill the command of Nandikeshvara, his guru, Sundaranatha walked for a long time from the Himalayas down to the Tamil country in peninsular southern India.

He had almost reached his destination, when all of a sudden he saw in a meadow cows running hither and tither. The cowherd had died and the cattle were without a master to lead them homeward. Sundaranatha felt for the poor creatures. Under a tree, he sat and meditated. Entering deep yogic stasis, he left his own body and took over the lifeless body of Mulan the cowherd. As night fell, he drove the cattle home to safety. Upon return, to his surprise Sundaranatha’s own body had disappeared and nowhere to be found. He was left with no choice. He had to fulfill the command of his master and disseminate the holy knowledge that had been imparted to him. He had become a cowherd and was to remain as such forever more. Thus the great siddha-yogi came to be known as Tirumular (an honorific form of Mulan).

The above is a very simplified story of the ancient sage Tirumular, the author of the Tirumantiram in the Tamil language, a text fundamental to the Saiva Siddhanta philosophy. The Tirumantiram is an interesting work which blends together Shaivite Agamic doctrines with the Vedanta of the Upanishads, ritual worship and yoga, tantra and mantra, theism and monism. Without doubt, it was composed to bridge the gap that was developing between the growing Tantric and Vedantic streams. Though popular legends place the composition of the Tirumantiram as far back as 3000 years ago or more, purely historical analyses date the text to the 5th or 6th century CE.

Much has been said and written about the Tirumantiram. Here, however, our focus is not on the theology of the text, but the esoteric meaning of the legend of its author. What does it mean for the siddha-yogi to become a cowherd?

To understand the analogy of the cowherd, one must go back to the essential Shaivite terms: Pati and pashu. Literally, Pati means Master or Lord, and pashu means beast or cattle. In ancient Shaivism, Pati and pashu were terms used respectively to describe the Lord and individual souls who depend upon Him, as cows depend on their herder to bring them back home safely. He is Pashupati, Lord of souls, and they are his pashus. Pashupati is an exalted name of Shiva mentioned in the Yajurveda.

The transformation of Sundaranatha into Tirumular, therefore, carries great significance apart from the mundane. The transformation of Sundaranatha signifies the full realization of the siddha-yogi of his oneness with Shiva. The pashu has realized his complete oneness with Pashupati, the jiva (individual entity) has become Shiva; the atman has realized Brahman. He who was known as Sundaranatha is now Tirumular, a jivan-mukta. He has verily become Sadashiva.

Thus expounding I bore His Word
Down Kailasa's unchanging path,
The Word of Him, the Eternal, the Truth Effulgence,
The Limitless Great, Nandi, the Joyous One,
He of the Blissful Dance that all impurity dispels.
With Nandi's Grace I sought the Primal Cause,
With Nandi's Grace I Sadasiva became,
With Nandi's Grace Truth Divine attained,
With Nandi's Grace I so remained.
Tirumantiram, Mantra 91-92.

Such is the realization; such is the story of Tirumular.

Aum Namah Shivaya.

Agnideva © 2010. All rights reserved.

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