Tamil Veda (was Re: Advaita and Vaishnavam)

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sun Aug 8 18:36:39 CDT 1999

Ravi <miinalochanii at YAHOO.COM> wrote:

> The discussion I had with some of my shaivite friend is they often
> that aiyar-s are not loyal shaivites. But the fact is aiyar-s not
> shaivites or vaiShNavites for that matter. They also have the
> that aiyar-s don't hold the shaiva thirumurai (much more voluminous
> equally or more beautiful in language and content than nAlAyira
> divyaprabhandam) as thamizh veda-s. You might have heard aiyangars
> referring to tamil vedam. One call such and such thing a Tamil
> Tamil Bible or Tamil Koran, it does not make it one. There is
> comparable to Veda-s exist in Tamil. If at all anything that comes
> close to that splendour is thirukkuraL.

It depends on what  "Tamil Veda" means. If it is said that it is veda
because it has independent authority, that's not true. However, the
shaiva canon in Tamil is commonly accepted as Tamil Veda in the sense
the Mahabharata is called the "Fifth Veda". Both do not have
independent authority, but since they say the same things (at least in
most places) in a most beautiful and profound way, they are accepted
as the "Fifth Veda" and the "Tamil Veda".

In the book shrIvedapadastavaH, with notes in Tamil (published by the
Sringeri Mutt), SrI abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswami, calls the
shaiva-canon in Tamil as the drAviDa-Agama, and has blessed the author
Sri Sivaramakrishnaiyya for explaining the greatness of the Saiva
Canon which follows the tad-anusAriNAM drAviDAgamAnAM shreshhThatA.
"tat" in the phrase refers to the veda.

It is a fact that the Saiva canon in Tamil is equivalent to the
ShatarudrIyam of the yajur veda, and there are also many advaitic
pieces to be found in them. The author of the book I mentioned above,
Sivaramakrishnaiyya, has also shown in his learned preface how the
"Tamil Veda" closely resembles the shrIvedapadastavaH composed by
Maharshhi Jaimini. So we may indeed accept the Saiva canon as "Tamil
Veda", just like the Mahabharata is accepted as the "Fifth Veda".

> shaiva-vaiShNava problem runs for many centuries and literally
> (aiyars) hold the middle ground (or trapped in between!!). Sometimes
> they get aligned with shaivites. Often I find worshipping the same
> is more binding than the philosophical issues. You may see that
> mAdhva-s and shrIvaiShNava-s do not have that much philosophical
> clashes, because as long as viShNu alone is held supreme that is
> But viShiShTadvaita is so different from dvaita, if at all it is
> dangerously close to advaita.

The alleged closeness between vishishhTAdvaita and advaita is only
that it is alleged, it has no basis behind it. Doing "eternal service"
to vishhNu in vaikuNTha is hardly the kaivalyam of advaita. So is the
analogy of the body and the soul analogy in explaining the universe
and vishhNu, it goes against the fundamental tenets of advaita. The
vishishhTAdvaitins are vIra-vaishhNavas (a very ambiguous term), while
the Madhvas worship shiva (and other deities) also like smArta-s. In
fact, before taking their 2 year charge of the Udipi Krishna temple
(which goes by rotation), the mAdhva sannyAsis first worship
chandramaulIshvara. IMO, as far as daily practices go, a lot of
similarity exists between the Madhvas and smArtas.  I am not saying
dvaita is closer to advaita, but IMO, both dvaita and vishishhTAdvaita
are as far away from advaita as they can be.  Of course, dvaita and
vishhishhTAdvaita are also equally far away from each other :-). But,
at least as far as daily practices go, smArtas and mAdhvas are not as
far away away as smArta-s and followers of Ramanuja.


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