தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Journey Down Memory Lane To Reach 'tamiz Izam'
R.Shanmugalingam

Chapter 26

I am reproducing a paper on "Thevaram Period and the Tamil Social Order." read by the late C. Rajasingam at the International Institute of Tamil Studies, Madras, South India at a Seminar held on 20th June 1986. I take the liberty of reproducing the article as I found it very stimulating and informative. I am not a scholar nor an academic to doubt Mr. Rajasingam’s presentation as a "historical perspective on the oldest yet surviving culture called Dravidian." The author has taken pains to cover the widest possible areas of reference.

"The period covered by Thevaram and Thiruvasagam long preceded the Islamic and Christian. The latter were of Judaic origin with certain hide-bound and intolerant attitudes which paved the way for modern colonialism. The destructive impact on Saivism was most felt from these external and alien forces. Historians influenced by pro-Western and Judaic thought have in their own way, created a segment or division called Anno Domini (A.D.) by which to perpetuate the alienation and subjugation even of the great primordial Dravidian tradition. The Mohenjodaro and Harappa excavations point to Saivism in India millennia before Christ.

Modern literature both Indian and Western are culpable for their many facile assumptions and prejudices. The result is that the Christian view of the world has paled for many people. The symbolic treasure-rooms of the Thirumurais still remain marvelous store-houses though the modern world has gone decrepit if not diseased by the mummeries and show pieces of science. We have robbed ourselves of our roots and guided instincts in order only to become particles in a mass, Nietzche would say about this situation that we are ruled only by the spirit of gravity. Our historians have deceived us by their haste to copy the Western and Christian counterparts. This has made us indifferent and perverse caught as we are in a meaningless and accelerated tempo of life with little or no time for the things that once belonged to our memories.

When we neglected our Thirumurais, we allowed ourselves to be caught in all the haste of the devil as the Latin saying goes "Omnis festinatio ex parte diaboli est"- "All haste is of the devil." Hence Manikkavasagar made Siva stand outside all concepts of speed.

We are today empirical and therefore sinful. Our ego is at fault because the ego can grow only out of the darkness of the psyche. In Thevaram and Thiruvasagam are the richest experiences of mankind. They are so rich that their understanding became projected into the world’s greatest musical system. They are great and unequaled because they trampled on the ego as Siva symbolically did in his dance.

The pre-Christian Judaic tradition also had a law or TORAH set down in the so- called "Five Books of Moses." It was tribalistic or Jhavistic leading ultimately to the priestly. The "Ten Words " or Decalogue were closely akin to the Ten Commandments. The injunctions for example found in the "Book of the Covenant." were profane and tribal. The Christian Old Testament followed this pattern and so too the Islamic which was a synthesis of the Judaic and Christian. The sacred book of Islam expressed the impeccability of the prophets.

The Tamil or Dravidian grew into fullness of experience by sheer force of distinguishing between the products of the mind and the spirit. It was all the difference between individual points of view and the perspectives that were universal. This tradition produced a radiation all the time of the being’s Divine Essence. It was the state where the world was not renounced but the world either had left or been transformed. Wisdom remained not in any remote possibility but in the very applicability of its Science to everyday life. Thus Tamil tradition continued in terms of YUGAS stretching over vast periods of time literally understood as Sangam. Today where modern perspectives for example would not putt social existence as the determinant of consciousness it becomes either ephemeral or short-lived. In the Tamil Tradition which covered millennia there was NUMINOSUM. There was full view before the Tamil people of the Archimedian point outside the mind.

To put it more clearly what the Tamil people today accept as the marvels of science and technics are just the things contributing to their appalling lack of wisdom and introspection. All that goes with goes for modern Tamil writing is banal if it is not surface-scratching. There is an universal law contained in the tension of the opposites which only the Tamils of tradition knew. We who label ourselves Tamil are only caught in the snares and delusions, the lies and arbitrary opinions of the modern mind. Thus we are creating a history of alienation from ourselves as from our inner being.

When reading into Tamil history called the sacred and which covers a vast stretch of time before the beginning of the modern, one has to look entirely without modern lenses. What we see now is a soulless rationalism reinforced by a narrow materialistic outlook. The rational has pursued an unrelenting path into the gutter of commercial and industrial progress. Further afield it has through nuclear physics opened the frightful prospect of annihilation for mankind. But fortunately in a different direction, pointing to the way of recovery found in Tamil, there is the transcendental territory of the archetype. Jung would term it the "psychic infra red and ultra-violet" which exist outside the human eye. The archetype therefore in Jung’s terms belongs to the "invisible ultra-violet end of the psychic spectrum."

This transcendent element constitutes the world within us. In Jung’s own words: "The archetype as an image of instinct is a spiritual goal towards which the whole nature of man strives; it is the sea tot which all rivers wend their way, the prize which the hero wrests from the fight with the dragon." ( "On the Nature of the Psyche" (1947/1954). In C.W.8: "The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche", p. 415.)

In the long run and only significant period of Dravidian history identified with Sadism, the modern rational stand-point of consciousness can only be found to be worthless. That meant Tamil history was able to turn the objective world into the artistic. It also found without the slightest room for doubt that the archetype is a psychic organ present in all of us.

What price do we pay today having cut loose from our archetypal foundations? We are neurotic in the same way as our consciousness is rootless. We are total victims of the worst epidemic which is that of the psychic. We have not merely devalued our past but have become incapable of revaluation.

Our history today lacks meaning or continuity. We have lost our past and have now become devalued and insignificant. We are creatures of time. In the most vulgar and profane sense the eternal life of our species is no longer reflected in our individual lives as we meander from timelessness to the time-bound, from the eternal to the irrelevant.

What has modern physical science done? It has opened the way to a knowledge of atoms, electrons, atomic nuclei, electron waves etc. unknown to sight, touch or hearing. Outside and beyond these is the reality of Siva, the realization of whom calls for a heightened sense of life pervaded the entire Dravidian outlook before the Western blight destroyed every vestige of it.

Sociologically, under the all-pervasive influence of ARAM, there was harmony, symmetry, and beauty in Tamilian life. Thus Thirumoolar said:

Thiruvalluvar stressed ARAM because he was witness to the decline in the Tamil people’s perceptions after the golden age of the Thirumurais ended.

Tamil was outside the profanities of time and all that goes for modern Tamil is a deceit on the Tamil people.

is an ancient saying giving emphasis to the growth of Tamil outside the reach of every profanity.

The social order which created Tamil mystical poetry and preserved it in the memories of people has no relevance to history as understood today. Such voluminous compilations circulated in book form have ceased to create and enliven thought and experience as they did in the past. In fact time was not a determinant in Tamil thinking as it unfortunately has become today. To be more precise I would here quote Boethius:

Meaning: "The now that flows or moves creates time; the now that stays creates eternity."

Gnanasambanthar sings:

‘inRu’ meaning NOW here refers to the time that passes or the ‘nunc fluens.’ Manikkavasagar in ‘Koil thiruppathikam" brings out very forcibly the meaning of the NOW that stays (Nunc-stans). This NOW gives the meaning of Eternity as something ever-present called in Latin the ‘Nunc stans.’

Sufi mysticism has some great resemblance to this where the call goes out to live in the present by withdrawing from the past and the future. The luminous state is the Ever-present and therefore outside the pull of the dualities. That is why Thevarams are replete with this call:

Manikkavasagar calls Siva "the redeemer from the Dualities" in many places. Some examples are:

How closely the Tamil mystic has come to understand what is really the totality of man! Jung would say- though he knew nothing of Tamil- that the pairs of opposites constitutes man’s totality or the phenomenology of the paradoxical self.

Man in the Dravidian context was wholesomely integrated to the life of the Universe. The Thirumarais are sufficient evidence of this . There was an universality and validity in the psychic content of the Tamil man as he belonged to tradition. That Tradition was out of reach of modern history or geography. Further, it embraced a numerology which had nothing to do with the modern concept of numbers. Thus Thirumoolar gave definition to the ageless state, literally making each MANTTHIRAM cover an year of the mystic’s time-bounded existence. His life therefore stretched to nearly 3000 years. As a Siththar his awareness reflected the super-conscious state outside the profanities of time.

It is also clear that Thirumoolar was responsible for delving into the deeper aspects of the psyche-thus giving meaning to Yoga as it began to take root in the Aryan mind as well as in the Vedas and Upanishads. Thirumoolar is sufficient evidence of the timeless nature of Saivism long before religion became Aryanised as Hinduism. He codified the Saiva doctrine which stretched to millennia before Christianity and covered the Indian sub-continent from the Himalayas to the South. To signify the length and duration of the Saiva doctrine, he, as expositor, even entered the body of Moolan, a cowherd. His exposition of Thirumanthiram took place near Chithamparam and it comprised the entire final truth of Sithantham.

The basis of Dravidian life was a common understanding and outlook on the substance of living. It was not as today a greedy display of instincts to amass and exploit the products of industry. Such greed was not permissible in a society whose guiding principle was ARAM. When the Aryan influence began, it was retrogressive with its substitute virtue in DHARMA which carried with it an exclusive hierarchy which became dominant and oppressive. The Thevaram period was the peak in the struggle to liberate among the norms of ARAM. Manikkavasagar represented this peak because he was kingly power in every sense of both as Prime Minister and liberated being. His liberation was from the pairs of opposites and he saw easily how values need to be inverted to be one with the self.

This explains in an incomparable imagery how man, during the normal course of day-to-day living is driven by values which are topsy-turvy and therefore it is necessary for a purposive existence to reverse these in order to arrive at meanings away from mere profanities and banalities.

In the normal course we all think that we walk erect but "to walk on the head’ is a directly meaningful way of stating the reversed analogy. In truth, if man has to live by the Truth, there has to be a complete reversal of mundane and, what we today go by, of commercial values. The self is an unconscious prefiguration of the ego and here the way is shown of going over to realities that transcend consciousness. The mind is not severed from its primordial oneness with the universe which is where the West fared miserably with philosophy. Thus has inevitably resulted in the modern world conflict between science and religion.

The Tamil growth was marvelous evidence of the mind becoming a cosmic factor which modern psychology is proving to be of the very essence of existence. That Manikkavasagar and Sekilar had been chosen Prime Ministers shows the tremendous growth of kingly rule to reach and captivate the humblest mind. Periyapuranam is evidence of the pervasive influence of Saivism into every strata of Tamil society. Images of the Nayanmar were installed in temples and the Thirumurais were in the lips of all people. It was therefore already proved that the psyche is the sine qua non of all experience and that the unconscious is part of the psyche. To reach this state of positive affirmation and proof had naturally called for millennia of growth.

The Tamil decline of recent times is an alarming signal which calls for revolutionary change both in state policy and education. The tragedy is that, what grew into maturity over many millennia is now being sacrificed at the altar of expediency and commercial gain. The Siva of the Tamil was not an anthropomorphic concept put away in the clouds. It was the Redeeming Principle where all time conceived in terms of YUGAS was resolved. The beautiful song of Appar which brings out the meaning most clearly is:

This address has touched only on a few salient points because the subject needs to be covered in all the vastness of its application to human life. Tamil holds out the only hope of liberation even in this disease-ridden age. This disease has spread fast due to the conflict between science and religion especially in the West.

The West prides itself on the nuclear bomb as a devastating fact but, simultaneous with the growth of science, has been the failure to establish the reality of thought itself. The alienation from the inner being is the most catastrophic development of modern scientific thought, research and application.

The Tamil people no doubt lived wholesomely in the many millennia of their existence and they have a contribution to make to the world even to-day. That contribution will be when they have succeeded in retracing their steps so that they can re-live their great and un-surpassed tradition now being submerged in assimilating only the external world through the gateway of the senses. The time has now come for them to grow into the stature meant for humanity by translating, as they have done in the past, into visible reality the world within us."

continued

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