Caiva-ciddántam is a metaphysical-philosophical-spiritual school which takes the Civa (Shiva) Principle as the fundamental substratum in the world. It is very ancient and has a North Indian version as well as a South Indian. In both systems Civa is transcendent as well as immanent, but it also has a personal form, helpful in the worship mode. Divinity itself is beyond categories, those who worship it in the Civa mode must be beyond the constraints of caste and creed, and see Divinity in one and all.
Indeed, Caiva ciddántam attributes sacredness to all life. In its framework, the Divine gives its grace to all who seek it, sometimes even to those who do not. All life may be regarded as an expression of grace. The Divine participates in the course of every life, yet remains untouched by it all. All of creation is nothing but a reflection of divine ecstasy.
Three entities are real: pati which is the Divine, pasu which is the soul, and pásam which is the rope that binds the pacu to the worldly domain and constrains it from receiving the light from the pati and thus attain perfection. Through jñána (divine knowledge) and bhakti, (devotion) the bonds of pásam may be cut and one attains ultimate freedom.
Another key idea in the framework of Caiva ciddántam is that for interaction between the Divine and the human to occur, both should be on the same plane. Either the Divine comes down to our level (avatára), or we must raise ourselves to the level of the Divine. This transformation is said to occur in two stages: First there is the nullification of the physical dimension, or rather purification of the gross elements of which the body is formed (bhútashuddhi), and then through mantras the body becomes a one of spiritual energy (shaktadeha). By this process is civakarana (transformation into Civa) achieved.
In the Tamil tradition there are fourteen canonical texts expounding the principles of Caivaciddánta. Of these CivajñAnabodam of MaikanDadévaris regarded as the most important.
Aside from their metaphysical and spiritual visions, the Caiva poets of the tradition have made some of the most outstanding contributions to the rich realm of Tamil poetry. Their songs are so moving, and their visions so penetrating that these poets are remembered and recited in Civa temples all over the Tamil world, and they are venerated such as few poets are in any culture of the world.
The Caiva hymns are more than bhakti-poetry. They hymns break new grounds in various kinds philosophical thinking. Some of these were developed in the later MeykaNda Sastras. A note on the ci in Civan: The mantra syllable ci-káram, embodies the conception of creation as bringing into light the essence of Caiva Ciddanta.
March 21, 2011
Now you can get my translation and commentaries of this classic in Tamil spiritual literature on Amazon.com.