Satyam Sivam Subham Sundaram Kantam
The Saiva Siddhanta system is the distilled essence of Vedanta. It prevailed in Southern India even before the Christian era. Tirunelveli and Madurai are the centres of Saiva Siddhanta school. Saivites elaborated a distinctive philosophy called the Saiva Siddhanta about the eleventh century A.D. Even Saivism is a very popular creed in South India. It is a rival school of Vaishnavism.
Tirumular’s work—Tirumantram—is the foundation upon which the later structure of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy was built. The twenty-eight Saiva Agamas, the hymns of the Saiva saints form the chief sources of Southern Saivism.
In the books which treat of Saivism, there is a reference to four schools, viz., Nakulisa-pasupata, the Saiva, the Pratyabhijna and Rasesvara.
Lord Siva is the supreme Reality. He is eternal, formless, independent, omnipresent, one without a second, beginningless, causeless, taintless, self-existent, ever free, ever pure. He is not limited by time. He is infinite bliss and infinite intelligence.
Lord Siva pervades the whole world by His Sakti. He works His Sakti. Sakti is conscious energy of Lord Siva. She is the very body of Lord Siva. The potter is the first cause for the pot. The stick and the wheel are the instrumental causes. The clay is the material cause of the pot. Similarly Lord Siva is the first cause of the world. Sakti is the instrumental cause. Maya is the material cause.
Lord Siva is the God of love. His grace is infinite. He is the saviour and Guru. He is engaged in freeing the souls from the thraldom of matter. He assumes the form of a Guru out of the intense love for mankind. He wishes that all should know Him and attain the blissful Siva-Pada. He watches the activities of the individual souls and helps them in their onward march.
In the Saiva Siddhanta, there are 36 Tattvas of which 24 are known as Atma Tattvas, 7 as Vidya Tattvas, and the remaining 5 as Siva Tattvas. The 24 Atma Tattvas are the 5 elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth; the 5 Tanmatras, sound, touch, form, taste and smell; the 5 sense-organs, ear, skin, eye, palate and nose; the internal organ; the 5 motor organs, speech, hand, foot, anus and the generative organ; and Ahankara, Buddhi and Guna. The 7 Vidya Tattvas are Purusha, Raga (love), Vidya (knowledge), Kala (art), Niyati (order), Kaala (time) and Asuddha (impure) Maya. The 5 Siva Tattvas are Suddha Vidya, Isvara, Sadasiva, Sakti and Siva.
Maya evolves into the subtle principles and then into the gross. The individual soul experiences pleasure and pain through Vidya. Siva Tattva is the basis of all consciousness and action. It is undifferentiated (Nishkala) Suddha. Maya, the Sakti of Siva starts her activities. Then Siva becomes the experiencer. Then He is called Sadasiva known also by the name Sadakhya, who is not really separate from Siva. The Suddhamaya becomes active. Then Siva, the experiencer becomes the Ruler. He is then Isvara, who is not really separate from Sadasiva. Suddhavidya is the cause of true knowledge.
The five activities (Pancha-Krityas) of the Lord are Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirobhava (veiling) and Anugraha (grace). These, separately considered, are the activities of Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesvara and Sadasiva.
In the five-lettered Mantra (Panchakshari) ‘Namassivaya’, Na is the screening power of the Lord that makes the soul to move in the world, Ma is the bond that binds him in the Samsaric wheel of the births and deaths, Si is the symbol for Lord Siva, Va stands for His grace and Ya stands for the soul. If the soul turns towards Na and Ma he will be sunk in worldliness. If he associates himself with Va he will move towards Lord Siva.
Hearing the Lilas of Lord Siva and the significance of Panchakshara, is ‘Sravana’. Reflection on the meaning of Panchakshara is ‘Manana’ or ‘Chintana’. To develop love and devotion for Lord Siva and meditate on Him, is ‘Sivadhyana’. To become immersed in ‘Sivananda’, is ‘Nishtha’ or ‘Samadhi’. He who attains this stage is called Jivanmukta.