Saturday, November 20, 2010

siddhAs ascend the thirty-six tattvAs - mantrA 125

srigurubhyO namahA

In what is the 125th mantrA since the start of the thirumandiram, the sage shines light on the importance of the correct understanding of the 36 tattvAs that constitute all of creation. He makes clear that it is the knowledge of the component tattvAs and the gradual ascension of these (as if climbing a ladder to reach a higher level) is the distinguishing feature of the sivayOgin. The yOgin through the yogic methods dissolves the lower and impure tattvAs into their preceding tattvAs and finally attains to the pure splendour of the siva state - while being 'alive' or while being in the physical body.

சித்தர் சிவலோகம் இங்கே தரிசித்தோர்
சத்தமும் சத்த முடிவுந்தம் முள்கொண்டோ ர்
நித்தர் நிமலர் நிராமயர் நீள்பர
முத்தர்தம் முத்தி முதல்முப்பத் தாறே. I.1.13.125.

Siddhas Ascend the Thirty-Six Tattvas

Siddhas they that Siva's world here visioned,
Nada and Nadanta deep in them realized,
The Eternal, the Pure, reposing in Bliss unalloyed,--
Thirty and Six the steps to Liberation leading. I.1.13.125.

Com - Siddhas they that Siva’s world here visioned, The siddhAs experience the supreme bliss (AnandA) that is the fruit of the sivalOkA (the realm/world of siva) in this world while in the physical body through remaining immersed in the state of samAdhI. Nada and Nadanta deep in them realized, They are capable of cognizing nAdA and the very end of nAdA (i.e. nAdAntA) as states within themselves. The eternal, the pure, reposing in bliss unalloyed, -- They are beyond birth and death, immortal; they are taint less, pure; and they abide in a state of pure bliss always. Thirty and six the steps to Liberation leading. The path to liberation for these siddars who have reached such incredible heights of consciousness is the set of thirty six tattvAs.

# This is an important mantrA as the sage declares here that the ‘mukthi mudal’ or the first step to liberation of mOkshA is the understanding of the 36 tattvAs. To understand this better we need to know first of all what is meant here by the word tattvA. The Sanskrit word tattvA has many meanings, ‘reality’, ‘principle’, ‘underlying truth’, ‘thatness’ etc are a few of the meanings. Though in the context that the word is used here it is to be taken to mean the internal principles that serve as the building blocks of the manifest and unmanifest universe. In the samkhyA system (which was the first to enumerate the tattvAs) they hold that the tattvAs are 25/26 in number. However in the shaktA and the shaivA system the total number of tattvAs is taken to be 36.

These 36 tattvAs are grouped into three groups : Atma tattvA group (containing 24 tattvAs); vidyA tattvA group (containing 7 tattvAs); and the siva tattvA group (containing 5 tattvAs). These three sets are also known as the ashuddha tattvA group (impure tattvAs), shuddha tattvA group (pure tattvAs) and the shuddhAshuddha tattvA group (the mixed – i.e.pure and impure tattvAs). Though it is beyond the remit of the current post to delve into the details of each of the tattvAs here, just with the reader who is not exposed to the understanding of the tattvAs in mind, I will provide a brief list of the 36 tattvAs below. The interested reader who wants to know more will find plenty of other resources that detail the tattvAs.

The tattvAs listed from the subtlest of subtle till the last and most gross is as follows (shivAdyavani paryantam - from shivA till what is known as earth) -
1. shivA
2. shaktI
3. sadAshivA
4. IshwarA
5. shuddhavidyA
6. mAyA
7. vidyA (which is really avidyA in essence)
8. kalA
9. rAgA
10. kAlA
11. niyatI
12. purushA
13. prakrutI
14. manas (mind)
15. buddhI (intellect)
16. ahamkArA (ego or I awareness)
17. shabdA (sound)
18. sparshA (touch)
19. rUpA (form)
20. rasA (taste)
21. gandhA (smell)
22. shrOtra (ear)
23. tvak (skin)
24. chakshU (eyes)
25. rasanA (tongue)
26. granA (nose)
27. vAk (speech)
28. pAnI (hands)
29. pAda (feet)
30. pAyU (genitals)
31. upastha (anus)
32. AkAshA (ether)
33. vAyU (air)
34. tEjO / agnI (fire)
35. salila / jalA (water)
36. prithvI (earth).

In the list above, the first five tattvAs (shivA to shuddha vidyA) are the group known as the siva tattvA group or the shuddha tattvAs (pure tattvAs) as they pertain to the supreme level. The next 7 tattvAs (from mAyA down) are the group known as the vidyA tattvA group or the shuddhAshuddha tattvAs (pure and impure/mixed set) as they are the means for both the shiva’s modification to jIvA in the evolution mode and the jivAs transformation into siva in the involution mode. The last 24 tattvAs are the group known as the Atma tattvA group or the ashuddha tattvA (impure tattvA) group as they pertain entirely to the manifest reality at a much grosser level where the siva appears bound and limited as jIvA.

It is worth noting here that the Atma tattvA set corresponds to the sthUla sharIrA or the gross physical body; the vidyA tattvA set corresponds to the sUkshma sharIrA or the subtle body and finally the shiva tattvA set corresponds to the kArana sharIrA or the causative body.
So through the above mantrA the sage indicates that the siva siddars are those who while being engaged with the phenomenal world in this physical body are able to experience the highest of states (bliss) by being ever immersed in the light of the self. They are liberated while alive – jIvanmukhtAs.