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Saiva Siddhanta, a Path of Knowing Thyself

Bodhinatha is getting ready for his trip to Toronto, Canada. His talk is titled "Saiva Siddhanta A Path of Knowing Thyself". In summarySaiva Siddhanta focuses on both devotion to God and meditation. Siva Yogaswami was both deeply devotional and profoundly yogic. He would say "Know Thyself by thyself." We are not our mind, body or emotion. The modern world teaches us just the opposite, but who is teaching us that we are a spiritual being? Both Yogaswami and Gurudeva had many quotes on this subject.

Unedited Transcript:

This morning, getting ready to go to Toronto in April. We have four different events we are going to, that are being arranged by the Hindu community there, plus some television coverage. So, we are getting ready. This is the first draft of a talk for the second event, 'Saiva Siddhanta: A Path of Knowing Thyself.' It will be translated into Tamil. We have to send this up in a week or two, so they can practice translating it, get it all straight.

Siva Yogaswami was both a consummate Sivabhaktar and Sivayogi, a great devotee of Lord Siva as well as a profound meditator. This combination of devotion and meditation is unique to the path of Saiva Siddhanta. Other Hindu traditions focus on either devotion or meditation but not both. In Saiva Siddhanta, deep devotion to God is, in fact, considered a prerequisite to meditation. Meditation is considered a practice that all need to eventually take up, after devotion has awakened.

That is, of course, a unique quality, as we know. Charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. We prefect our devotion in kriya and then we move on to yoga and learn how to meditate. So devotion in the kriya pada precedes meditation in the yoga pada.

As we mentioned, Siva Yogaswami was a great yogi. He would sit for hours, even days in deepest meditation. He would also stress the importance of meditation to his devotees and formulated a key teaching or Mahavakyam to help them meditate. Thannai Ari. In English, Know Thyself.

Here are some of Yogaswami's sayings on Knowing Thyself.

You must know the self by the self.

Concentration of mind is required for this.

You lack nothing. The only thing you lack is that you do not know who you are.

Truth is not encompassed by books and learning.

You must know yourself by yourself. There is nothing else to be known.

Of course, his first 'Natchintanai' begins with the famous line, "Our Gurunathan made me to know myself."

Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, Gurudeva, began taking his monks to Jaffna in 1970. Yogaswami, of course, had passed away in 1964, so we did not have the opportunity of meeting him. However, Yogaswami's disciple, Markanduswami, was living in a hut outside of Jaffna and would share Yogaswami's teachings with all who visited. So, many of our senior monks had the opportunity to visit him and listen to his explanations of Yogaswami's teachings.

Markanduswami liked to stress the teaching that Yogaswami only gave us one work to do and would say, "Yogaswami did not give us a hundred odd works to do, only one. Realize the Self yourself or Know thyself or find out who you are." In Tamil, Thannai Ari. He would say, "You cannot find the truth in a thousand books or by listening to people talk, you must realize the Self by yourself."

Of course, as we know, Gurudeva himself, would often speak about knowing the Self in such terms as, "You are here on this planet to realize the Self."

What exactly does it mean, to know thyself?

Satguru Siva Yogaswami explains this beautifully in one of his published letters called "Naan yaar, Who am I? You are not the body, you are not the mind nor the intellect nor the will. You are the atma. The atma is eternal. This is the conclusion at which great souls have arrived from their experience. Let this truth become well impressed on your mind."

This exact thought appears in the first Sloka of Gurudeva's work, 'Dancing with Siva.'

"Who am I? Where did I come from?

Rishis proclaim that we are not our body, mind or emotions. We are divine souls on a wondrous journey. We came from God, live in God and are evolving into oneness with God. We are in truth, the Truth we seek."

Yogaswami and Gurudeva are both explaining that in the great saying 'Know Thyself', self refers to the atma, our internal spiritual nature, our immortal soul. They are also pointing out that many people think that they are the body, how they look is who they are. Others identify with the emotions and memories of the mind. Still others think they are the intellect, the reasoning part of the mind and the will power to successfully accomplish their plans. Of course, much of the modern world teaches us to identify with our external nature. Movies and TV teaches us we are our body and emotions. In school, we are taught we are our intellect. Who is teaching us we are a divine soul? Certainly, only a few.

Yogaswami develops this theme even further in a second published letter entitled 'Guru Vachagam'.

"The atma is eternal, indivisible, whole and perfect. The body is subject to destruction and divisible. When that is so, can we say that they are equal? Is there anything more sacrilegious than to speak in that way? Intrinsically, the atma consists of knowledge. It is purity itself. The body is by nature ignorant and devoid of purity. Can one conceive of any greater folly than to compare the two? The atma is radiant and self-effulgent, the body is darkness itself. Is there then any basis for comparison?"

As we would expect, Gurudeva describes the soul in a similar way in 'Dancing with Siva', where he says, "Our individual soul is the immortal and spiritual body of light that animates life and reincarnates again and again until all necessary karmas are created and resolved and its essential unity with God is fully realized. Our soul is God Siva's emanational creation, the source of all of our higher functions including knowledge, will and love. Our soul is neither male or female. It is that which never dies even when its four outer sheaths - physical, pranic, instinctive and mental - change form and perish, as they naturally do."

Amazing, how similar the wording is!

In Yogaswami's first 'Natchintanai', he includes the statement "Jivan Sivan endran engal gurunathan," meaning "Jiva is Siva, declared our Gurunathan," and repeats it in different ways in many of the 'Natchintanai'.

"Jiva will Siva become for those who offer worship."

"Jiva has Siva become."

"That Jiva is Siva is clear."

In 'Words of our Master', Yogaswami also states this truth as, "You are God, I am God. Only one, no separation. You cannot separate me from you."

Gurudeva expressed the truth of the identity of man and God in saying, "Man is not man. Man is God."

He went on to distinguish between the soul body and the essence of the soul. "The soul body, the anandamaya kosa, is a spiritual body of light that is separate from God Siva and spiritually evolves from life to life. The inmost soul body is the blissful, ever-giving wisdom, anandamaya kosa. Parashakti is the soul's superconscious mind, God Siva's mind. Parasiva is the soul's inmost core. We are not the physical body, mind or emotions. We are the immortal soul, atman. The sum of our true existence is anandamaya kosa and its essence, Parashakti and Parasiva."

This beautiful explanation tells us how we are simultaneously becoming Siva as an evolving soul body and are already Siva as the non-evolutionary essence of the soul.

In conclusion, here are two scriptural quotes affirming our goal of knowing our Self and realizing our oneness with God.

From the Upanishads, "By austerity, goodness is obtained. From goodness, understanding is reached. From understanding, the Self is obtained and he who obtains the Self is freed from the cycle of birth and death."

And, a beautiful verse from the Tirumantiram, "Being the life of Life is splendorous jnana worship. Beholding the light of life is great yoga worship. Giving life by invocation is external worship. Expressing adoration is charya."

That is where it is so far. We want to inspire everyone to know themselves. In fact, we were just getting quotes on reprinting 'Know Thyself', which is very interesting, I was looking at that this morning. We are planning to republish our little 'Know Thyself' book. It was our first effort of color publishing, full color book. Getting the Macintosh computer to generate four-color publication. That was back in 1993, I think. So here we are ten years later gearing up to print it again with just a few minor changes. It will be a wonderful lead-in for those interested in studying the Master Course, to the Master Course trilogy. We will be able to hand it out in a very nice way, for example in Toronto it would make a very nice item on the literature table, 'Know Thyself' and hold it up and talk about 'Know Thyself'. It won't be ready for this time, but we can get ready for the future. A very nice combination.

Have a very wonderful, special Ardra day. We certainly will here.

Aum Namah Sivaya.