THE TEN SPIRITUAL CONQUESTS OF THE SOUL.
Apropos of the degree of sanctification attained by Master Srikantha, the saintly scholiast on Badarayana's Sariraka sutras, the great Appayya remarks in his Sivarkamanidipika that the Master became a competent spiritual exponent of the real verities by reason of his being well established in Daharavidya or dahara upasana. This Dahara upasana is the door way to the highest stage of godly experience attainable by man, an experience, the blessedness and peace of which is often described by Christian mystics as "Fellowship with god." The essence of dahara upasana is Siva darsanam, Brahmadarsanam, or "Seeing god." Dahara vidya is "knowledge of the mystery of godliness," "knowledge of the spirit", and Dahara upasana is "worship in spirit and in truth", "waiting on god", Dahara means 'subtle', 'spiritual', the subtlety and spirituality here having chiefly to do with the attainment of that knowledge or degree of sanctification whereby one can transcend his senses and thought. The Upanishads proclaim that within the "Cave of the heart" is the "subtle expanse," and in it abide the whole universe (Chhandogya Upanishad, VIII,I,3). This "subtle expanse is known as Dahara akasa (the Ponnambalam of the Tamil mystic literature) and by many another name. But none of these terms are to be understood in their material sense, representing as they do living facts of consciousness only to such as have become qualified by due culture to enter upon the Path of Light, but mere symbols to others. To give up the objective world is infinitely more easy than pacifying thoughts, or quieting subjective activities. When the mind can maintain its one pointedness (ekagrata) for some little time, it is next trained to drop the object (bija or lakshya) and remain in a condition of absolute calm. This is a very trying exercise accompanied by obscuring sleep or swoon, and the greatest aloofness is necessary to hold up the consciousness until a more vivid bhumika rises to view. As Patanjali ordains, the posture adopted in spiritual communion should be easy and pleasant. The Atma darsanam, and Brahma darsanam are only possible in that silence in the interior of one's being, a sweet silence which invariably supervenes when thoughts run down to a calm, a calm which must be absolute and complete. That silence is neither the obscurity of sleep, nor the hush that is occasionally super induced when the warring senses are overawed by a passing wave of strong emotion. It is a silence that is only too audible because of the inaudibility of the senses and thoughts. The various stages in the inner progress of the souls culminating at last in face to face fellowship with God are well analysed and summed up in the dasa karyani of the Saiva Siddhanta. The expression dasa karyani means "the ten achievements" which fall to the share of every Arurukshu engaged in Atmoddharana before he arrives at the luminous condition known sometimes as sahaja Samadhi or ceaseless "walking with God" waking or sleeping. These ten spiritual experiences, which according to one set of Jnanis, are further resolvable into thirty Erscheimungen, occur to the soul only during its five amalavasthas, but the ne plus ultra of the spiritual pilgrimage is the Bhuma glorified in the Chhandogya Upanishad, vii, 23, or the Saynjya siva bhoga. The Lord (Siva) is described as sat chit ananda, which is the same as saying that He is Life, Light and Love, and no better characterization will do justice to His supernal nature.
Mention is made of the stages of this dasa karyani in the great Jnana sastra, the great Siva Jnana bodham (Instruction in the knowledge of the spirit) which is an episode of the great Raurava agama. We have 28 Agamas or Sivagamas attached to the mystic philosophy of the Saiva Siddhanta, and they are the revealed truth treating of the science and art of purging the soul of its cankering impurities, and enabling it to behold god in all His glory, while yet tabernacle in the flesh. They are thus listed in Trilocharas Siddhanta-Saravali.
vv. 3 and 4 in Charyapada. The Rauravagamas thus Raudra, i.e. to say the system of mystic instruct on embodies therein is adapted to these souls who are not yet healed of their Anavamala, the Subtle Corruption which is the earliest to adhere to the soul and the latest to leave it. If an Agama be classed as Saiva in the mystic terminology of the Saiva-Siddhanta, the meaning is that it is applicable to such Vignanakalah (=Vignanakevalah, according to Tattva-prakasa an authoritative treatise on Agamic mysticism) as are already rid of the Anavamala. The terms Vijnanakalah and Vijnanakevalah indicated a class of souls in whom the only remaining taint is the Anavamala. Sivajnanabodham is held to be the cream of the Rauravagama, and has recently been edited in Sanskrit with a commentary, in the pages of the Pandit, Benares.
What constitute the dasa-karyani we will now see: the following are their names in ascending order. (1) Tattva-rupa, (2) Tattva-darsana, (3) Tattva-suddhi, (4) Atma-rupa, (5) Atma-darsana, (6) Atma-suddhi, (7) Siva-rupa, (8) Siva-darsana, (9) Siva-yoga and (10) Siva-bhoga. The experiences or achievements herein formulated appertain to the five states of the soul, detailed in the Karna, Svayambhuva and other Agamas, to the five Suddha-avasthas comprising Jagra, Svapna, Sushupti, Turiya, and Turiyatita. These conditions of the soul are mentioned also in Iraiyanarakapporul under the names kurinji, palai, mullai, marutam, and naital. The Suddha-avasthas are also known as amala and nirumala, in reference to those pure states of the soul, when it becomes capable of shining radiant in its investment of purity, even as a crystal column, while under the full blaze of the sun in the zenith (cf. Tiruvarutpayan of Umapati, v. 67). In the Upadesa-kanda of the Siva-purana (lxxxiv:vv. 59 and 60) the five avasthas enumerated above are said to belong equally to the kevalavastha, Sakalavastha, and Suddhavastha, while the Mandukyopanishad falls short of even these five avasthas, by mentioning four. It is probable, however, that the turiya of the Mandukya includes the turiyatita, and the four avasthas have reference to the amalavastha. The dasa karyani of the Siddhanta system, which are achieved by the soul only during the five states of the Suddhavastha, includes the twelve karyas beginning in the Pancha-bhutadhikkarna, and ending with the chaitanya-darsana, as well as the eighteen karyas beginning in the jnana-darsana and ending with the Paramanandavasa, and consequently thirty 'triumphs' in all. All these karyani (achievements by the soul) and avsthas (states of the soul) are to be realised in Samadhi or spiritual communion.
Tirumular devotes a large portion of his "mystic instruction" (Tirumantiram) to the dasa-karyani, and Siva-jnana-vallalar does likewise. Kumara tevar takes his cue from the God taught wisdom of the Saiva darsana, and endues the intellectual Advaita-vedanta with a mystic cult, by speaking of a so called "Vedanta dasavastha," and "Vedanta-dasa-karya." The total number of avasthas as realised by the Agmaic-jnanis in whom the kingdom of Heaven was fully established is eighteen. There is no doubting the fact that Kumara tevar was a sanctified soul, but in his hands the presentation of the advaita vedanta has assumed a complexion which shows it to be indebted to the Saiva siddhanta, in a real spiritual sense.
There is always a danger for those who are intent on cleansing their souls and knowing the true methods of finding God, when they have recourse to books for spiritual instruction, which are written by men who never enjoyed "Atma-puranam." Such books explain truths as revealed by the dry light of the intellect, and never as they are in their real nature. It requires the most penetrating mind to distinguish works recording the godly experiences of real Svanubhuti, from those that are misleading parodies of such. Intellect is mischievous, unless the Light of God shines through it freely and without stint. On this object Swami Vivekananda adds (Raja-yoga, p.70) "Read only those books which have been written by persons who have had realization." The Agamas are never tired of adding a similar warning against reading books written by those who are not of God but who affect by the power of their intellect to be of God. It must of course be confessed that till a man has entered the Path of Light, he cannot always successfully distinguish the utterances of a saint from those of the worldly that are perhaps drawn, or fell perhaps drawn, to the reality of the unseen.
St. Tirumular, the Anointed of God, thus sums up the great verities underlying the actual "Godly Experience" of Jnanis (the Seers of God).
v.3, of the 1st Tantra.
"Of the three that are styled Pati (God), Pasa (primeval corruption, sin), and Pasu (sin-bound soul), Pasu and Pasa are as eternal as God Himself, but Pasu and Pasa cannot contact Pati, as they disappear on nearing Him." This novel relationship between the three is brought out again under a different analogy:-
v. 5. Ibid.
Here, the சூரியகாந்தம் ( burning glass) is the soul under corruption, the சூழ்பஞ்சு (the surrounding cotton, the enshrouding lint) is the three sorts of corruption which enchain the soul, and the சூரியன் (Sun) is God in whose presence or when He becomes manifest, the திரிபுரதகனம் (the burning down of the three strongholds of corruotion) occurs. The three species of corruption, the removal of which is known as Pasa-kshaya are Anava-mala, Maya-mala, and Karma-mala, the nature of the different malas being of an intricate character. And about the glory of Illumination ("Orison" or "Luminous Sleep") the sage goes on to say:-
v. 7. Ibid.
v. 19. Ibid.
The last verse records an experience the true meaning of which is better felt than explained, as the Saint himself says a little previously (v. 17) that it baffles description. In the same connexion he says also
சத்தமும் சத்தமுடிவும் தம்முட்கொண்டோர்
நித்தர் நிமலர் நிராமயர் நீள்பா
முத்தர் முத்திமுதல் முப்பத்தாறே.
v. 13. Ibid.
முப்பதும் ஆறும்படி முததியேணியாய
செப்பவரிய சிவங்கண்டு தான்றெளிந்
v. 14. Ibid.
The Saint here gives expression to the greatest of truths in soul-culture which is within the actual experience of those who rest in God. Such souls "swallow up" (உட்கொண்டோர்) or extinguish the operations of 'corruprion' in the 36 "rudiments" (Galatians IV.9) beginning with the grossest evolute (சத்தமுடிவு=Prithvi) and ending with the finest or subtlest evolute (சத்தம்=நாதம்), and dethrone "death". They have crossed the "3 wastes" (முப்பாழுங்கடந்து) and become indistinguishable from God (cf. திருமூலர் 8-ம் தந்திரம், v. 374). In Tamil mystic literature பாழ் is the name given to that critical state which marks off the shading of one sort of consciousness into another. The "crossing" (கடத்தல்) has reference only to successful "crossing", whereby the "critical state" which usually robs a man of continuity of consciousness between one kind of Anschauung and another, is rendered proof against stupefaction. The ordinary man cannot with the best of care and diligence carry with him his so-called waking consciousness into dream or sleep. But when the soul is cleansed of its impurities, "sleep" in the ordinary sense becomes a thing of the past. And the degrees of illumination or sanctified perfection are sometimes classified as those of 'The Knower of God,' 'The Seer of God,' 'The Rester in God,' and 'The Walker with God'.
ஞானமார் சீவன்முத்தர் நால்வகையாவர்கேளாய்
வானிகர் பிரமவித்துவரன்வரியாள் வரிட்டன்
ஆனவர் நாமமாகும் * * * * * * * * * * * v. 94,
Kaivalya-navanitam of Tandavarayasvami is an able summary of the Vedanta of Sankara in Tamil, but the mysticism which imparts the greatest interest to that work is drawn unreservedly from the Jnana-sastras which form the bulk of the Saiva-Siddhanta literature. Our observation will find its justification in the commentary of Ponnampalasvami on Kaivalya-navanitam, entitled Tattvarthadipam, in which all the mystic experiences and truths detailed in the Text, are illustrated and explained by apt quotations from valuable sacred books of the Saiva Siddhanta, such as those of திருமூலர், வெண்காடர் and the like. There is a living mystic tradition, kept by regular spiritual successions of Masters in அகத்தியகூடம் of பொதியமலை, elsewhere, Masters who draw their inspiration from the Jnana Sastras of the Saiva-Siddhanta and to whom the "pure in heart" flock when seeking the true light of "Illumination."
The relation between soul and God, which finds such perplexing apparently and self-contradictory albeit fine, expression, amongst Sankarins cannot be better put than in the following words of Tirumular:-
அப்பினிற் கூடியதொன்றாகு மாறுபோற்
செப்பினிற் சீவன் சிவத்துள் அடங்குமே.
v. 24, of the 1st Tantra.
In the highest sense, therefore, that relation reminds us of the brine in sea-water and the peculiar intimacy attaching between the two. That relation is the crown and glory of the toilsome march which every godly soul feels necessitated to undertake, in order to work out to emptiness, in tears and tribulation, the various samskaras and vasanas which it has inherited from an infinite past. And the march is described in Agamic Mysticism in terms of avasthas and karyas, whose meaning was previously explained in a measure in a different connexion.
The dasa-karyani may now be considered in detail. It goes without saying that they are associated with the Jnana-pada or Vidya-pada of the Agamas, and hence are sometimes comprised in the term Agamantam (in contradistinction to the intellectual Vedantam which is only a theoretical and summary formulation of the highest spiritual truths). To show how sacred and God-leading the Agamantam has been deemed by the God-taught Mystics of the Maha-pasupata order, who are the "chosen seed" of God amongst the Vaidiks, a quotation from the Skanda-purana will suffice:-
Consequently, the dasa-karyani of the Agamanta stand revealed only to the duly initiated in the mysteries of the Spirit, who are thenceforward recognised as the fit heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The first change that comes over the soul is known as Tattva-rupam which means the apperception of the 'form' or actual constitution of the Tattvam. In Agamic Mysticism, Tattva is used in the sense of an evolute of Matter. The Thirty-six Tattva which are said in a sense to sum up the various modifications of Matter, constitute the 'Road of Matter', 'the Way of the Flesh', the modes of Old Adam', or in fact, the so called 'Tattvadhvan'. These Tattvas eventually drop off one after another leaving the soul pure and serene, and fit to work grossest evolutes of matter or the most obscuring veils of the out its salvation, under the gracious mercy of the Lord. The soul are designated Atma-tattvas or tattvas for the salvation of the soul par excellence, which are twenty-four in number. The earliest evolute of these is the "Mula-prakriti," Sthula prakriti" or "Prakriti" simply. The terms mean the 'rudiment of gross matter' or its equivalent. Pasusjkara, an Upagama of the Paramesvara, thus describes the evolution of the Mula-prakriti:-
The three gunas which are nothing else than affections, phases or modifications of the Mula-prakriti brought on by a change in the motion (kshobhana) of its particles, are the real cause of the apparent cumbrousness which enshrouds the Web of Matter, and of the glamour which the prapancha assumes for the man in the street. Hence, to dethrone effectively the fascinations of matter we should get to understand its real springs of mischief and blandishment. And the springs are to be found on that plane of matter where the gunas take their rise from the Mula-prakriti. The first step in the unravelling of the mystery of the flesh, and of the soul's bondage to it is the "Tattvarupam" of the Dasa-karyani. When this stage is attained the soul is able to look behind the glamour of the Atma-tattvas, right into the cause of "the tides" known as "the gunas", is able, so to say, to understand the genuine enlightenment, now understands the relation of the three gunas to its salvation by the operative agency of the karma-mala, and their exact significance in the Divine Dispensation.
V. V. Raman.