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What Are the Path's Four Stages

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 30

Naalupadasaivam: "A Saiva doctrine that the initiate should pass successively through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana stages and thence obtain moksha." The charya pada, the dasa marga, path of servitude. Sharing the world of God. The kriya pada, satputra marga, true son's way. Nearness to God. The yoga pada, sakha marga, way of the friend, experiencing inner light, sharing the superconscious mind. We talk to God. The jnana pada, san marga, sayujya patavi, union with God. There is no difference between Siva and the soul. God is our dearest Beloved. The three types of temples provide training and experience leading to worship and meditation in the Atma kovil.

Path to Siva, Lesson 30.

Unedited Transcript:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Mahesvara, Guru Sakshat, Parabrahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha.

Good morning everyone.

Nice to be back.

Today's lesson from Path to Siva is lesson 30.

"What Are the Path's Four Stages?

"When created by Lord Siva, the soul is young and immature. Its process of 'growing up' over many lifetimes happens in four stages. This is much like the development of a lotus flower. First it sends its roots into the pond's mud, then it grows a stem and leaves that reach the water's surface. Finally it blossoms in the full sun. Yet each previous stage of growth is still there supporting the flower. Siva's grace guides this process so that we learn and grow toward the light through experience, under the divine law of karma. As the soul progresses through each stage, it becomes less instinctive and more spiritual. Siva is continually creating souls, so at any point in time, there are on the Earth young souls, adolescent souls, middle-aged souls and old souls. The four padas, stages of maturation, are charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Charya is good conduct and humble service, attending the temple and helping with temple chores. Here, the main work is harnessing the instincts and developing virtuous qualities. Kriya is the stage of devotion, or love of God, expressed through home puja and temple worship. Yoga is the period of meditation and inner striving under a guru's guidance. At this stage, the temple is a sacred space for contemplation as Siva's veiling power gives way to His revealing grace. Jnana is the wisdom stage, where the realized soul sees himself as one with the temple Deity. These stages are also experienced in each lifetime. As children, we learn good conduct, as summarized in the yamas and niyamas. Then we are taught worship, expressing heart-melting devotion for God, Gods and guru. Next, we may learn to meditate, with the goal of gaining true wisdom. The four padas are not alternate ways, but progressive steps on a one path called the San Marga. Nor does the soul give up the practices of one pada when it enters the next. Thus the mature soul in jnana is a paragon of wisdom, yoga, devotion and virtue. The greatest yogis still love and worship Siva."

And we have Gurudeva's quote: "Some people think, 'When you get to the yoga stage, you don't have to do the worship, you don't have to do the service. You just do the yoga.' In our Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, when you get to the yoga stage and the jnana stage, you still enjoy the worship, you still enjoy the service. These are dear and intricate parts of your life."

There's a one word in the University of Madras Tamil Lexicon that summarizes the whole lesson called Naalupadasaivam. So Naalu is four. So the Saivism of four padas. How it would render in English.

It's translated as:

"A Saiva doctrine that the initiate should pass successively through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana stages and thence obtain moksha."

Pretty simple, right? That the whole path of Saiva Siddhanta in one word. Naalupadasaivam. There is a verse in the Tirumantiram that gives a little detail about each one that's quite interesting. Verse 1447.

"Those who follow the jnana path and who have been blessed with Siva jnana will ultimately attain oneness with Siva. Those who follow the yoga path and who are practicing the eight disciplines of yoga will evolve into siddhas in due course and install themselves in a state of total absorption. (Samadhi) Those who follow the kriya path in accordance with their maturity and choice of deity will perform the relevant ritualistic worship daily without fail. Those who have set themselves in the charya path are intent on rendering service to the devotees and to the temples spread over this large world."

Isn't that a nice illustration of each? Gives a very good sense of what each one is all in one verse.

We did a webinar a number of months ago. Saiva Siddhanta and we gave this idea there. This is just a review of it for those of you who would remember. Otherwise, it probably be a new concept.

It's that we have the pada but along with each pada we have a marga and a patavi. What in the world is a patavi?

So the pada tells us what we're supposed to practice. Charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. And then with the pada there's a marga. And the marga shows us the relationship of the soul to God in that pada. And the idea is, as we progress through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana the relationship to God gets closer. God's up here, we're down here and as we progress we finally touch. The jnana pada.

And the patavi is the Sanskrit word for attainment. Each pada has its own specific patavi, attainment or goal. So we don't use the word patavi in the Master Course but we use the word attainment. The English rendering of patavi. But it's nice to know that there is a word there that describes the attainment that is the result. In other words when we follow the charya pada well. eventually the attainment or the patavi comes to us.

So we'll just review those.

Charya pada, as we know, is the stage of good conduct and the marga that goes with it is the dasa marga, path of servitude. So we start out in the relationship of servant to master.

So when it comes to servant to master, what was that show, Downton Abbey? Was that what it was called? I think of a big house, with an old fashioned house. Couple centuries ago where the servants were all downstairs and the royalty, the master and family are upstairs. And some of the servants never even go upstairs. Only the head servants go upstairs.

So that's dasa marga. You know, you're down in the basement and you don't even go upstairs. You know the master's upstairs, somebody's there, but you don't really see them. You're at a great distance. And that's dasa marga.

And the patavi or the attainment is called salokya. sharing the world of God. In other words we're in the same house. In other words we're in the same house, we're in the same loka. Previously we weren't sure if God existed or not. Salokya doesn't sound like much but it's an improvement over not knowing if God exists or not. We feel God exists but He's at a great distance. That's salokya.

We get the kriya pada, religious action or worship stage. Satputra marga, true son's way, so we've moved closer, we're not, the soul is now like the son, s-o-n, to the father. So that's a lot closer than servant to master, son to father. But still there's a great difference. The son in this case, imagine a young son, is quite distinct from the father. So there's a closeness. So we've moved there and the patavi is called samipya. Nearness to God. So we're near. Like a son is when talking to his father. So there's a nearness. Before there was a distance. Servant to master. Now there's a nearness.

We're at yoga pada, stage of uniting or meditation. Sakha marga, way of the friend. Well God's a good friend. So friend is much closer and much more equal than son to father. So we talk to God and feel God as a friend to us.

Sarupya patavi. Likeness to God. So that's the idea in meditation, we start experiencing inner light, inner sounds. Those are the sounds and lights of the superconscious mind. And so we're sharing the same mind, the superconscious mind, God is experiencing the superconscious mind, we're experiencing the superconscious mind so there's a likeness. We're experiencing some of the same things because we're meditating.

We have the jnana pada, stage of wisdom. San Marga or true path. God is our dearest Beloved, "...implying transcendence of individuality and merger with the Divine." In the monistic philosophies we look at it that it means they're the same. That point there's no difference between Siva and the soul. Between you and Siva. There are lots of Yogaswami's statements and songs talk about that. "I am you, you are I." There's only one person. That idea of eventually being in a state where all you see is one person, which is yourself, which is Siva. There's no second. That's the idea there. And sayujya patavi or union with God. No difference.

There's another way I explain that in this technical way. I did a Publisher's Desk on it once. It's called "Our Three Kinds of Temples." Publisher's Desk uses the word Mandira for temple, Sanskrit. We can use the word kovil. Publisher's Desk uses Sanskrit terms. Be more general.

The first kind of temple is this kind of temple. Village temple or pura kovil. It's natural when we first get involved in religion, when we worship we come to the pura kovil. Come to the temple and we are the devotee attending the puja and the priest is doing the puja. So it's very simple situation. But when we really do well at that we can move on to the second type which is the grihya kovil or the home shrine.

Attending at the pura kovil provides us the training, the experience and knowledge of how to conduct, in a very simple way, a puja in our home shrine. If we didn't attend the temple we couldn't just say: Okay, now I'm going to do a puja. We would have no idea how to do it. So it's a training ground. It's an informal training ground usually. The priest isn't teaching us. In some temples the priest does teach atmartha puja. But in any sense, in either situation, by going to the pura kovil we eventually are able to have our own grihya kovil or home shrine. Or make our home more temple like because we have a shrine and we do an atmartha puja at it every day. So the vibration of the home goes up.

So when that's really going well we should go one temple further, that's called the Atma kovil, where we're meditating. Again it's very hard just to meditate. If you try and do that just as your first practice and it is based upon first perfecting the pura kovil then the grihya kovil then we learn how to worship in the Atma kovil. Yogaswami used to talk about that a lot in his songs; worshiping in the Atma kovil is one of his song themes.

That's a way of explaining Saiva Siddhanta without any technical terms at all. Kind of the opposite of pada, marga and patavi. But it's saying the same thing. It's a progressive practice. First we master the first stage to a certain degree, don't have to be perfect. Then we're able to take up the second stage. We master that to a certain degree. Then we're able to take up the third stage.

Well thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.

Photo of  Gurudeva
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