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TukaL aRupootak KaddaLai и .

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by Tattuvappirakasar ( 14thcent) English translation and commentary by Dr K.Loganathan



This text is historically very significant for it is the earliest Tamil book in Philosophy that is wholly in prose and I hope to provide both the original in Tamil as well as its translation into English and later to be added to the World Saivism Campus.

The text bears the title "TukaLaRu BOtak KaddaLai " meaning a brief treatise concerning the instructions that would purify and liberate an individual from the internal and binding factors that serve actually the dirt, the TukaL. Thiru. M.Arunasalam considers the author to be Tattupirakasar ( 14th century) , the direct disciple of the celebrated CiRRampala NadikaL, and who is also the author of another massive and authoritative text on Saiva Siddhanta viz. Tattuvaprakasaam, a book that was very widely studied in those days. CiRRampala NadikaL  has also written another Saiva classic TukaLaRu BOtam and this kaddalai appears to be composed along the same lines  but more to clarify the doubts raised by the nonbelievers The whole text is in simple and elegant prose and the structure is highly reminiscent of the prose Upanishads and Socratic dialogues.

Despite the disarming simplicity, the treatise is clearly one of the deepest metaphysical masterpieces in world literature. Nowhere else, it appears to me, phenomenological investigation has been carried out to such heights and subtlety. Also the text is the clearest example of the form of metaphysical inquiry and excursions that forms the hardcore of Saiva Siddhanta system. The contents of the text reveal that what is undertaken is NOT a mere epistemological inquiry about various systems of thoughts or knowledge -- and whether it is Absolute Idealism , Subjective Idealism or Naturalism that is true, whether there is Absolute and if there is then the relationship between IT and self is identity or difference or qualified identity-with-difference and so forth. The inquiry is concerned with the activity of seeing in the broadest sense and the search is for the agent who actually does the seeing. Also the inquiry is also not about the different definitions of seeing or pratyaksa but rather on seeing and seeing more and more till there is nothing more to see and in that process 'seeing' also that which actually does the seeing. Thus the text is then strictly speaking neither philosophical nor scientific in the ordinary sense but rather AGAMIC, i.e. a manual of procedures for self-discovery of all that matters for understanding oneself  the meaning of existence. One could say then that the text is hermeneutical-psychological  in the sense that the overall effort is directed towards improving the UNDERSTANDING. It is psychological in the sense that a guru 'modifies' or transforms the psychological nature of sisya, a student through enabling him to SEE for himself his own self, the constraints that delimit his  understanding and the Supreme Agent  who grants the necessary liberation.

The author of the text clearly indicates that the form of inquiry that is unfolded in the body of the text is only for those who are in a very advanced state metaphysical maturity. The techniques described are techniques of gaining metaphysical illuminations ( njaana maarkkam) and they can be practiced only by those who have mastered the lower ( cariyai, kiriyai and yoga) in their previous or earlier existence. Towards the end of the text the Guru himself describes the technique as that of  can-maarkkam, a word that has become almost a cliche because of repeated and overuse. What it means is: the WAY ( maarkkam) towards Absolute IllUmination ( Ta. cun> can, cuur> cuun, cun : brilliance, radiance etc.)

The Guru here is obviously CiRRampala NaadikaL, the author of TukaLaRu BOtam, and a few other minor texts. He is said to be by Tattuva Prakasar at least, the last of the Meykandar  Cantana Acaryas, a great credit no doubt. It must be mentioned here that there is striking parallel in the sequence of development of themes  between the present text and TukaLaRu BOtam. Probably this KaddaLai is meant as an introduction of a peculiar kind to the teachings of CiRRampalavar as enshrined in the major treatise and by way clarifying further some themes. Or it could be considered as a literary record of the kinds of dialogues CiRrampalavar and his disciples had.

TukaLaRu BOtak kaddaLai

A rapid summary of the essential features of the text may be useful to grasp the overall thrust of the book.

The Guru begins his instructions as a result of the disbelief of a student in the reality and truth of a large number of objects he enumerates as the tatvas, the entities that he enumerates as constituting the Ontological Space of the universe. The student would believe in them only if  the Guru furnishes enough evidences to show that he has actually seen them. But the Guru , instead of furnishing evidences  to substantiate his claim or even entering into a subtle philosophical analysis  ( so notoriously common in India) of what is meant by real and so forth, decides to help the student to SEE for himself the objects he himself had seen.

This is  the novelty -- no quoting from sruties and smirities or the authoritative Acaryas  and Rishies  but opening the VISION so that anyone who is  skeptical can  SEE all the tatvas real as there and for himself.

The first part of the text is concerned with procedures that are termed collectively Cutta Tattuva TuudaNam. The student is led progressively to disengage himself from all the ninety-six tatvas that form the basis of empirical reality, the atoms of empirical experience.

The student is led progressively to disengage himself from all the ninety-six tatvas that form the basis of empirical reality, the existential stuff. This process of disengagement results in the person being able to see for himself, his SELF in its nakedness, itself as it is without any 'covers' arising out of of its engagement with the world of tatvas. The substages in this process psychic purification and liberation are : Pancha Puuta Pazippu where the psyche transcends the world of physical elements by a process of disengagement; poRiyaRa UNartal ,  transcending the world of the senses and sense data, AntakaraNa Cutti, disengaging oneself from the cognitive and psychological ( including the Depth psychological) mechanisms, and Kallaati Jnana NiraakaRaNam,  transcending through negating everything that is TEMPORAL and hence the historically constituted.

With these tanscendences the SELF is freed from the Maaya Malam i.e. being in active commerce with all the material processes including  the physical, psychological, historical and so forth. The SELF or anma (not to be confused with the Brahman of Vedanta) in bondage with the material processes is named CAKALAN; when it disengages itself completely from them and does not return to the earlier state of bondage to the material, it is named PRALAYAKALAN.

However the SELF that liberates itself from the world of tatvas discovers that it cannot SEE anything now, outside the fabrication of the tatvas, there is NO CONSCIOUSNESS as such borne of the primordial seeing. It realizes then that there must be an obscurant within the SELF as an integral part of itself , obstructing or not making available cognitions of whatever kind. This inhibitor of visions  hence cognition blocking stuff within is the ANava Malam, the stuff in the world akin to Black Hole that eats up every light, every vision producing primordial burst of LIGHT. Seeing only this ANavam Malam that ensues is termed Kevala Tarisanam.  Now with this vision emerges a desire to remove this DARKNESS that engulfs the SELF, developing a natural dislike for it , for the state of ignorance as a whole.

The UNDERSTANDING out of which this desire or motivational dynamics is born is termed Pacu Jnanam, Self-Consciousness.

At this stage when the student reflects upon the progressive disengagements he has effected, the metaphysical realms he has traveled, he begins to think that his SELF is the only intelligent entity and all the others are non intelligent physical stuff. This understanding underlies his belief that he is the Supreme Agent, i.e. becomes the propounder of "aham Brahmam asmi" claim. When the Guru points out that this claim is inconsistent with the fact he was cakalan who was in bondage with the material world, the student resorts to explaining the discrepancy in terms of karma. Effectively he says it is the karma that he has acquired and that is intrinsic to him that is responsible for his disengagement with the material universe, i.e.. assuming a psychophysical form, being born again and again and suffer existential repetition. However it turns out that though it is true that the SELF has karma, the self HAVING karma is NOT something that has come about as a result of self's own conscious actions, or the actions of Karma itself or any other tatvas that have been sighted so far. The student is led to  UNDERSTAND the possibility of there being another intelligent entity in the Ontological Space, an entity that stands one with and distinct from the self and all the material processes that have been ascertained as there.

The Guru also provides a detailed account of how this other intelligence, the Supreme Agent goes about determining the psychophysical experiences of the self consistent with the karma that has been acquired. Subsequent  to that begins instructions pertaining to procedures for removing the karma from the self.

Karma, it is mentioned, is not something that can be dislodged and thereby annihilated. It has to be DIGESTED, lived through and thereby removed. One must experience for oneself the course of experience the karma unfolds for the self. What can be done however is to prevent the further addition of karma to oneself. Karma accrues to one as a result of INTENTIONAL actions and once one raises oneself to a state of Being above this, one also frees oneself from further accumulation of karma.

This existential state is acquired as follows:

Caitanya is defined as a state of existence whereby the self believes that whatever that happens to oneself is caused by the Supreme Agent who acts in the guise of people and physical and nonphysical stimulations but itself remains unaffected by it all, and with this understanding well anchored ceases intentional actions  and executes only actions that in fact are of the Supreme Agent. There are actions in the world , the Para-praxis, the panjcakirittiyams and which are that of the Supreme Agent. And when the actions of the self become NON DIFFERENT from this Parapraxis, there is NO  ACQUIRING AND ACCUMULATING   karma (i.e. prapta karma) that would send the psyche for phenomenal recirculation.

When such a state of Being is accomplished, the Supreme Agent stays one with the self regulating all its praxis through the dynamic of aruL ,  Grace-Energy. At this juncture the false understanding that " I am Brahman" will disappear ; Tirotayi, that which conceals the cognition of aruL, will be dislodged, and with Kiriya Sakthi ( Praxic Energy) will cause the self to feel that All is Siva and Nothing else, and enjoy  the Sivoham Paavanai. This 'nothing else is real" understanding and feeling will eliminate all desires and thereby the genesis of further birth of intentional praxis, the appropriation of the Parapraxis  as for  ONE-SELF-ONLY

The additional explanations that is furnished by the Guru is clearly an account of the unconscious psychic processes under the control of the Supreme Agent. Normal existence is compared to a sleeping man from whom an object is stolen without he being aware of it.  Though normally he can cognize and understand, while sleeping he cannot do so, the cognitive mechanisms are deactivated and these too,  do not cognize on their own, being insentient and purely physical. The Grace-Energy (assuming the  form of Citsakthi, as  it was also called)  that informs a person and makes him be conscious, also allows him to be unconscious as result of his Karma ( Note: this theory of unconscious is rather different from that of Freud ans Jung) . In other words karma is identified as that which causes the self being unconscious of happenings around and within itself. Karma, as one of its functions, blocks off consciousness of processes under the control of Supreme Agent, the Parapraxis. Intentional actions being self-related and with narrowed or delimited consciousness add on to karma as such, what is technically called the Agaamiya Karma. By avoiding such self related intentional actions and  persist in doing actions with consciousness secured on the universal processes , i.e. Parapraxis-type , further additions to karma are avoided. During such modes of existence, Grace-Energy of the Supreme Agent floods the deeper reaches of  self removing or weakening the hold of the deep seated constraints within afflicting the perceptual processes of the self, the Malas.  At the end of this process or at least during the advanced stages of this process, the self begins to have visions of Siva Himself, the Supreme Agent Himself.

With these visions begins Siva-Consciousness.

When, in the brilliance of Siva-Consciousness, the self fails to be conscious of itself, it is said to be in a state of AruL Kevalam. This is overcome by gaining self-consciousness with the help of Grace Energy.

Next the self is required to center itself on Grace-Energy and remain absorbed in it. A new state of Being there in the world is gained and the object cognized is Parasakthi, the undifferentiated 'body' of Siva from which issues the Libido ( Iccaa Sakti), the Gnostico ( The Njanana Sakti) and the  Praximatico ( Kriya Sakti). Seeing and understanding these is termed Parai Tarisanam, uniting with it is Parai Viyattam, remaining in that state of Being firmly without any other thoughts is Parai Yokam.

Experiences such as these are called Sutta Avattai, Pure Experiences.

Lowering oneself in the bliss of this union is Parai YuNar Pookam. When this state of existence is stabilized , the cognitive processes of Siva Himself become that of the self itself, the pacukaraNam, the cognitive utensils of ordinary cognitions become the SivakaraNam, that which generate the Absolute illumination, the Civanjaanam.  Attaining a universality of this sort is Cutta Parai Yokam. Awareness of the experiential contents of this state is Mukti Caakkiram or Cutta parai Caakkiram.

Next the disciple  is instructed to disengage himself from this union and attain a transcendence. The non focusing on the awareness of that universal experience and the transcendence together is termed Trancendence-in- Parai. Consciousness is expanded further on effecting this existential state. Even this expanded consciousness must be transcended and on doing that one begins to have direct visions of Supreme Agent, Siva Himself. Prior to that there is immense bliss that floods  and floods the self as a result of the activity of Cutta Paraa Sakthi till the self is completely satiated and has no desires whatsoever. The Neyan, the inner most Regulator of the cosmic processes begins to appear when one stands even without the feeling that " I had enough" of the supreme bliss. When this is attained the Neyan overpowers the individual completely, within and without , like the waves of the stormy seas. This state is conjoining with Neyam. However this is only enjoying his Bliss-Energy and is not the attainment of mukti. Mukti results when Siva Himself takes possession of the self and transforms the selfhood into sivahood,  very much like the alchemists transforming the base metals into gold.

Now however a new and philosophically very significant problem is posed by the disciple. The dialogue that follows clearly shows why Saiva Siddhanta system has stood as a rock despite being by an army of critiques of all shades for  centuries and why after all it is indeed Siddhanta, the final view on the matter.

The disciple observes: The existential state whereby the self is united with Siva and enjoys immense bliss is NOT a stable one. When one with Siva, the natural world appears as irreal, a nonentity. However when the self disengages itself from that state of supreme bliss and re-enters the natural world of tatvas, it becomes real again and also the source of pleasures and pains.

The natural world in this way oscillates between being real and irreal -- sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. The disciple compares himself with a magician who causes objects of various sorts to come and go. He demands an explanation for the re-emergence of desires in him and because of re-entering the natural world.

The Guru explains it as follows: it is true that there is such a consciousness , phenomenologically it is the case. But the world of tatvas is real as much as Siva and both are distinct. Their reality is undeniable as have been SEEN as there by the self and remains to be seen also by any others who want to see for themselves. When the self disengages itself from them that in no alters their ontological reality, they being true and not simply fictional. Then what can oscillate however is their reality status in the consciousness or understanding in the individual self. The CONSCIOUSNESS of the world as real can shift to the CONSCIOUSNESS of the world as irreal, which is in fact the case with many. And this is due to vasana -- an after-image that it is left behind by the brilliance of Siva-Consciousness that is supremely overpowering. An after-image of this blinding experience of Light persists making the world appear as irreal mythiyayic magical and so forth. This kind of consciousness of the world as irreal, when it appears , must be tested for its reality, examined for its authenticity for being freed of the delusions  that lurk there.

Being embodies in a psychophysical body is also a cause for genesis of such alternating states of consciousness and such dilemmas will persists as long as one remains biological and hence also historical.

The Guru then describes a strategy for living free of these delusions. The self in itself is incapable of effecting any cognitions and hence generating any understanding or consciousness. It is only the Supreme Agent who is capable of this. So the self must acquiesce with this situation and consider that whatever it does, it is NOT the self that is actually doing it but rather the Supreme Agent. Everything that is experienced with this attitude deeply embedded is in fact Siva-Experience. Even here if illusory consciousness emerges, the self should examine that consciousness , learn to avoid being affected  by the non-existent imaginary objects, lower down oneself in Sivayoga and attain union with Siva again. When the self avoids thus the presence of illusions and stabilizes itself in the union with Siva,  waves of supreme bliss will reflood the self without bounds. No desires for the mundane world of tatvas will adhere to the self. Without speech, without mundane thoughts , with the inside and outside fully integrated , the self will exist in immense bliss in the indestructible mukti.

Metaphysics as Hermeneutic Science

This in essence is the 'teachings" embodied in the text and those familiar with the history of thinking in India , would realize the innovations being made here, innovations already implicit in the ancient Agamic tradition. One of the peculiar aspect of the text is that no experience of man is rejected as false through providing counter arguments but rather are accepted as phenomenologically true. Even " I am Brahman " sort of thinking and the consequent articulations of the sort  'the world is an illusion" and so forth are NOT denied as the way some understand the world. Having accepted all such experiences, what the Guru does is to provide an EXPLANATION of it and thereby make the disciple UNDERSTAND the genesis of it all.  Thus the whole  text provides a satisfying framework for understanding the whole gamut of human experience, the authentic and inauthentic, the normal and the abnormal, the sane and insane so that a person well equipped with this kind of UNDERSTANDING can avoid the false and misleading and maintain oneself in TRUTH, in Siva-Consciousness.

The overall thrust to UNDERSTAND everything makes the whole text essentially SCIENTIFIC not perhaps in the positive sense but rather in the sense of Hermeneutic Science, the forms of science the Indians particularly the Tamils have excelled from ancient times.

We see the following features running through the whole text that makes it hermeneutic scientific.

a) The "dialogue" is not a simply a dialogue in the  Socratic sense  where points of views are provided and exchanged so that an AGREEMENT can be arrived at. While there is undeniably a dialogue but the purpose appear to be to CAUSE an EVOLUTIONARY ASCENDANCE of the disciple.  The Guru having climbed up to  a higher ground in the metaphysical journey appears to PULL up the disciple to the height in which he is. So the whole discourse is not only a collective journey but also a climbing up the HILL of metaphysics, reaching heights never reached before . The disciple changes as person and for the better through reaching metaphysical heights already attained and enjoyed by the Guru.

b) We do not have  replicating by way of experimenting to refute a claim but rather  gaining ACCESS to a metaphysical way of Being and through gaining a SEEING or darsana , and then  confirming or disconfirming the initial claim . Thus instead of irrefutability or the impossibility of it, we have CONFIRMING or agreeing to through the SAMENESS of vision, metaphysical experience. It is the sameness of the experience of the disciple with that of the Guru that underlies the disciple AGREEING with the guru and thus confirming the claim of the Guru.

c) Since such experiential agreement  is also possible in the inauthentic and false ( there can be collective madness and shared ideological prejudices ) , TRUTH is taken as guiding principle and thereby falsity  inauthenticity  and mere ideological thoughts are avoided. Since such experiences are NOT peculiar either to the  Guru or the disciple or for that matter for anyone, the TRUTHS are OBJECTIVE, standing there as the fabric of the metaphysical world, accessible for anyone who would just try earnestly enough.  There are PROCEDURES that one ought to follow and ANYONE who follows  these procedures can enjoy the metaphysical truths.

d) However just the mere practice of the PROCEDURES is NOT sufficient for accessing the deeper metaphysical reaches. It is a conditional disclosure and subject to the workings of  aruL, the GRACE-ENERGY  and hence though something nonarbitrary and nonerratic but not mechanical.  Truths after truths are experienced, each experience of truth being an illumination facilitated by aruL, and which  destroys the ignorance or  Darkness within , not the Avidya of Vedanta but the Anj-njaanam of Saiva Siddhanta. This truth experience is UPLIFTING and hence enables a person to EVOLVE into a higher kind of species.

e) This kind of life organized for truth experiencing is TELEOLOGICAL with the TRUTH or Absolute Illumination, the Civanjaanam as its THAT-FOR-WHICH life is.  This provides the metaphysical MEANING for existence and thereby stabilizes existence itself by anchoring it on the GOAL, the primary Purusaartta of life, the attainment of moksa as such. This truth experiencing, it must be noted, is a more inclusive kind of science. It does not deny the positive sciences  but these as sciences concerned only  with discovery of universal laws under which the phenomenal can be subsumed , they restrict themselves  to the sensorial and to measurable, the quantitaive. The dynamics of Metaphysical explorations though guided by search for TRUTH, is NOT restricted to the discovery of regularities and laws that are mathematical in nature.  The spiritual though orderly nonhaphazard nonerratic and so forth but nevertheless as aruL conditioned,  it has laws of its own and which are praximatically linked ways of GAINING aruL.

In connection with this perhaps we should distinguish between TWO kinds of procedures that bring about UNDERSTANDING .

The first is : If to objects X under conditions C, the procedures ( operations etc.) Y are applied, the effect Z is observed, maintaining here that the self is a hygienically unaffected and uninvolved pure witness.

The second is: There are applications of procedures D, the discovery procedures, such that by such applications, including upon the person himself,  , one can  augment one's scope and  range of understanding so that it gets expanded from being to K to K* where K* includes domains in the dark in K and where  both K and K* are only truths.

The first is the dynamics of the positive sciences while the second that of Hermeneutic Sciences and both are valid in their won way.

The development of the course of the experiences of the disciple under the guidance of the Guru here is certainly of the second type, scientific but in the hermeneutic sense.

Further reflections on the essential contents indicate that there is IMPLICIT in it an UNDERSTANDING of a general sort that can be called PRAXIMATISM, an understanding that man is essentially praximatic and that only through the effectuation of actions of various sorts one can develop as a  person, enjoy higher and higher kinds of truths and through that also get lifted up existentially. It is NOT argued for explicitly but assumed as a truth about human beings.

The Guru provides a graduated series of actions or procedures that we shall praxims and lead the disciple to effect them,  enjoy their outcomes and through further questioning make the disciple UNDERSTAND what has transpired and thereby make him become less ignorant, less unconscious and so forth

We can categorize these praxims broadly as follows.

First of we have praxims that enable an individual to COGNISE objects that are beyond his cognitional range at the moment. Cognition here is simply a sighting (darsana), a seeing that reveals the existence of objects that remain unconscious or concealed, hidden from vision.  Such procedures  can be termed Cognitional Praxims,  efforts to break through the  curtain of unconscious and gain  an  access into the hidden.

But gaining a sight, a vision of the objects such as these makes them only  real, as things there in the Ontological Space without guaranteeing however that these objects are UNDERSTOOD and thus appropriated as knowledge. In order to gain an understanding of such objects and thus bypass them as things one has understood, one must fuse oneself or unite with them so that they "speak" about themselves and out of themselves , diffusing thereby the various and perhaps erroneous constructive understanding of them that are always possible for the  human mind.  The conceptual appropriation should be of the sort where such concepts are continuously INFORMED by what the object is in  itself . . Such cognitional praxims that makes the the person continuously glued  to the object can be termed Conjugal Praxims.

Cognition and advaitic union with the object sighted enable a non erroneuos , object informed conceptual prehension so that it ceases to be purely constructive fictitious imaginary and so forth. But such an understanding being focused upon that which is being processed, does not tell that there are no other objects behind or beyond the objects already known. In other words it does NOT touch the general Unconscious or the still concealed. The psychic union with the object assures absolutely its own existence but does not tell anything beyond itself. And in order to gain that kind of knowledge , the awareness that there are still more objects in the Ontological Space that  remain still unaccessed, one must be able establish a fissure with the object united with , and thus disengaging oneself from it, LOOK beyond it without however denying the reality of the object with which one remains now disengaged.

Such praxims , called KazaRci VinaikaL in Tamil, can be termed the Liberating Praxims.

The various praxims enumerated and recommended by the Guru for educating the disciple in metaphysics (that subsumes religion) appear to be the above THREE types.

The application of these praxims or procedures lift up the individual from a particular experiential state to another, deeper and more inclusive and certainly with LESS of the Unconscious or Ignorance and hence HIGHER.  The disciple ascends existential states higher and higher and thereby become a spiritually transformed and improved individual. The text then can be said to list down and administer a graduated series of praxims and as a result  of which an individual is lead to experience for himself without being misled the most authentic and spiritually highest state of Being ever possible for an individual.

In this manner, it appears to me, the Guru here effectively reduces the phenomenon of religious experience to a systematic and rigorous but qualitative science.

( Introduction concluded)