Two articles’ take on shaiva siddhAnta

Contrast access-ritual-knowledge-hinduism-case-veda-agama (by the young Āngīrasa) with the-hushed-splendour-of-saiva-siddhanta-will-humanity-realise-its-full-potential (which shrI Jataayu pointed me to) . Both are by tamiL-s, both dealing (in part) with broadly the same topic. The former is honest and clear – it evoked admiration in me. The latter immediately roused suspicion and slight underwhelmedness.
In the latter, the sections “Rejecting scriptural literalism” and “Egalitarianism” had me wondering “so what’s the big deal?”, when I came to “Siva, the go between.” I was thinking: “Why exactly is he writing this article? what’s so remarkable about nindA-stuti”. But when I got to “Against Casteism”, I was dumbstruck by the seemingly shameless misrepresentation of the tradition. Just take a scene or two from a story, scrupulously avoid mentioning *strong support for the varNa system* within the shaiva siddhAnta system (see the appropriate section in the former article) and magically stick the heading “against casteism”.
I suppose that we must be thankful that the author did not reduce the magnificent shaiva siddhAnta tradition to the level of the outright subversive lingAyata system. Assuming that he is just innocently trying to communicate his experiential joy (rather than slyly pushing a favorite agenda), the author would do well to be more honest and careful.
As a side note, looking at today’s नट-विट-शठ-s, we might do well to be a bit wary of “bards and actors”. Their current excessive influence seems to be a sad indicator of the state of hindudom.

On hindu consumer choices.

A response to what is presented in this video:


Very true that rAmadeva bAbA is intent on making loads of money (like a businessman) through patanjali products, and that most of them are not “fully Ayurvedic”. I even think that this is a well known fact, and that his buyers are not the fools needing a lecture. Given a choice, though, I would go for patanjali product since the profits will be used for the advancement of dhArmika socio-political causes (atleast relative to other alternatives).

I would even argue that for similar reasons, one should refuse to buy goods and services from communities and concerns (ultimately) intent on destroying our civilization and culture (which from their perspective are backward, superstitious and stupid). So, I choose my airlines, grocers etc.. with some care in this regard.

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A quote from Churchill

The notorious British fatso drunkard wrote a speech in 1931, of which I’ve highlighted a few sentences for your quasi-amused notice:

But that is not all. To abandon India to the rule of the Brahmins would be an act of cruel and wicked negligence. It would shame for ever those who bore its guilt. These Brahmins who mouth and patter the principles of Western Liberalism, and pose as philosophic and democratic politicians, are the same Brahmins who deny the primary rights of existence to nearly sixty millions of their own fellow countrymen whom they call ‘untouchable’, and whom they have by thousands of years of oppression actually taught to accept this sad position. They will not eat with these sixty millions, nor drink with them, nor treat them as human beings. They consider themselves contaminated even by their approach. And then in a moment they turn round and begin chopping logic with John Stuart Mill, or pleading the rights of man with Jean Jacques Rousseau.

While any community, social or religious, endorses such practices and asserts itself resolved to keep sixty millions of fellow countrymen perpetually and eternally in a state of sub-human bondage, we cannot recognise their claim to the title-deeds of democracy. Still less can we hand over to their unfettered sway those helpless millions they despise. Side by side with this Brahmin theocracy and the immense Hindu population – angelic and untouchable castes alike – there dwell in India seventy millions of Moslems, a race of far greater physical vigour and fierceness, armed with a religion which lends itself only too readily to war and conquest. While the Hindu elaborates his argument, the Moslem sharpens his sword. Between these two races and creeds, containing as they do so many gifted arid charming beings in all the glory of youth, there is no intermarriage.

The gulf is impassable. If you took the antagonisms of France and Germany, and the antagonisms of Catholics and Protestants, and compounded them and multiplied them ten-fold, you would not equal the division which separates these two races intermingled by scores of millions in the cities and plains of India. But over both of them the impartial rule of Britain has hitherto lifted its appeasing sceptre. Until the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms began to raise the question of local sovereignty and domination, they had got used to dwelling side by side in comparative toleration. But step by step, as it is believed we are going to clear out or be thrust out of India, so this tremendous rivalry and hatred of races springs into life again. It is becoming more acute every day. Were we to wash our hands of all responsibility and divest ourselves of all our powers, as our sentimentalists desire, ferocious civil wars would speedily break out between the Moslems and the Hindus. No one who knows India will dispute this.

But that is not the end. The Brahmins know well that they cannot defend themselves against the Moslems. The Hindus do not possess among their many virtues that of being a fighting race. The whole south of India is peopled with races deserving all earnest solicitude and regard, but incapable of self-defence. It is in the north alone that the fighting races dwell. Bengal, for instance, does not send from her forty-five million inhabitants any soldiers to the native army. The Punjab is a place where fighting races dwell|, on the other hand, and the Pathans, together with the Ghurkas and the Sikhs, who are entirely exceptional sects of Hindus, all dwelling in the north, furnish three-quarters of the entire army in the time of peace, and furnished more than three-quarters of it in time of war. There can be no doubt therefore that the departure of the British from India, which Mr. Gandhi advocates, and which Mr. Nehru demands, would be followed first by a struggle in the North and thereafter by a reconquest of the South by the North, and of the Hindus by the Moslems.

This danger has not escaped the crafty foresight of the Brahmins. It is for that reason that they wish to have the control of a British army, or failing that, a white army of janissaries officered, as Mr. Gandhi has suggested, by Germans or other Europeans. They wish to have an effective foreign army, or foreign-organised army, in order to preserve their dominance over the Moslems and their tyranny over their own untouchables. There, is the open plot of which we are in danger of becoming the dupes, and the luckless millions of Indians the victims.

It is our duty to guard those millions from that fate.

Motivations in transcending shAstra-vidhi

A running example

Suppose that an Agama (composed a millennium ago) says that only a member of a certain family or class can serve as an archaka in certain temples. Should such a qualification be enforced today with ruthless strictness (ie no exceptions)?

One’s answer may be “yes” or “no” due to myriad reasons. Let’s examine the reasons.

Motivations for promoting change

Reasons with roots in ashraddhA

  • Stupid ego: This was presented as a possible cause by shrI ghorAngIrasa – TW16, based on “यः शास्त्रविधिमुत्सृज्य वर्तते कामकारतः। न स सिद्धिमवाप्नोति न सुखं न परां गतिम्।। BG16.23।।”. People may say: “screw the shAstra, my intuition knows best. aham brahmAsmi.”
  • Allegence to various non-hindu and anti-hindu memes. (communism, buddhism, democracy, equality etc..)

Reasons with roots in shraddhA

TW16, following shankarAchArya’s commentary to BG 17.1 (“देवादिपूजाविधिपरं किञ्चित् शास्त्रं पश्यन्त एव तत् उत्सृज्य अश्रद्दधानतया तद्विहितायां देवादिपूजायां श्रद्धया अन्विताः प्रवर्तन्ते इति न शक्यं कल्पयितुम्” = “For, it cannot be imagined that even when they are aware of some scriptural injunction about worship of gods and others, they discard this out of their faithlessness, and yet they engage in the worship of gods and others enjoined by those scriptures by becoming imbued with faith!”), does not imagine any valid form of shraddhA in the shAstra for transcending particular shAstra-vidhi-s.

But this is a flawed caricature and presents a lack of sympathetic imagination (sorry, shankara), as:

  • One may place more value on the *intent* and spirit behind the vidhi, rather than the mere letter of the vidhi.
  • one can have shraddhA in all the vidhi-s, but to various degrees. Some may be more important than others. So, one may want to approximate it while trying to balance other dhArmic objectives of contemporary relevance.
  • Circumstances may not allow following the letter of the vidhi, forcing one to approximate.

Hence, we must these consider alternative reasons rooted in shraddhA.

The redoubtable PV kANe says, for example: “We need not give up the basic principles of Hinduism, but should reorientate them to meet new and more complex conditions and work out a changed social order” [HDs5.2]. It was such spirit which animated moves such as तत्त्वनिष्ठ-परिवर्तनवादी-परिषत् / धर्मनिर्णयमण्डलम् (1930-60) which formed under the guidance of the learned kevalAnanda-sarasvatI (of Wai, Satara, MH), including eminent scholars like PV kANe, shrIdharashAstrI pAThaka/ shankarAnanda-bhAratI, sadAshivashAstrI bhiDe, DaftarI, JS karanDikar, prajnEneshvarayatI etc.. (HDh5). Such intentions are quite noble, explicitly recognized by the dharmashAstra-s themselves to an extant (KV15) and are far from being stupid or inconsistent!

Motivations for resisting change

  • Valuing tradition itself over the values celebrated by the tradition!
    • Being practicing shiShTa-s (of the kind very rare these days), some people were accepting of some necessary change. On the other hand, I have heard folks remark that non-shiShTa-s in fact compete if not exceed shiShTa-s in refusing any change whatsoever.
    • This is akin to valuing the sheath the sword comes in more than the sword itself!
  • Just stupidity – inability to distinguish the essence from the periphery.
  • Undervaluing the need to respond to contemporary challenges.
    • This often comes with an undervaluing the need to understand the intent of the vidhi-s by understanding (among other things) the historical context in which they were composed.
  • Preserving privilege bestowed on one’s ilk by the shAstra-s in the context they were composed in.


brAhmaNatva, jAti-pride, veda-eligibility, transcending tradition.

Some stories

non-brAhmaNa learning the shruti

A few years back I began learning Sanskrit, and our classes would be on the premises of a ShriVaishnava temple. There, I noticed the purohit, Shri Dikshita ji, would conduct Vedakakshyaa. I always found that listening to Vedic chanting brought me into a meditative state very quickly, so I wanted to learn it (and for other reasons also). I went up and asked Dikshit ji, who is as traditional as can be, having grown through a dozen years of Veda payhadhala, plus a PhD in Sanskrit.

After introductions, his immediate response was to refuse, since “the class is only for those who have sacred thread”. I wasn’t sure whether he meant I should first have upanayanam, or whether it was just caste, so I inquired. He said it was caste, and kindly suggested I go learn the Bible in this life, since I was born Christian in his view. He became rather emotional, and said that according to Purushasukta, brahmins were by birth only, there was no two ways about it. However, very defensively, he ended by saying that if I wanted I could sit at the Vedakakshya, but as far as he was concerned, I was not part of his class.

I humbly accepted his refusal, but found his last disclaimer confusing. I didn’t want to go plonk myself in the back row if it was going to vitiate the atmosphere. I later found out that the previous year this had become an issue with the temple board, which got into trouble because some brahmin women who wanted to learn Veda were denied, and threatened to have the temple licence revoked per American law which mandates non-discriminatory services to get some tax benefits. So the temple board had told Dikshita ji to not be so point blank in his refusals. Thus the disclaimer. He was saying I could sit in, but between himself and God, he would not consider me his pupil, in fierce defence of what he considered Vedic Dharma.

I deeply appreciated his principled stand,and made it clear that I had no intention of vitiating the atmosphere, and would sit in only if he would not be upset by it. Somehow, it appears he did not expect this attitude or reaction from me, and he calmed down and seemed to become affectionate. He said it was not about being upset, as long as we were clear that he did not consider me a pupil.

After I was certain that no one would br upset, I began to sit in the VedaKakshya from the following week, in Veshti and angavastram, and with tilakam, as per the rules. It was fantastic, loved it. Previously, during my Islam immersion, I found that I loved listening to and practicing Qur’an recitation, and a Turkish friend of mine was a haafiz (memorized the whole Qur’an) and also a qaari (reciter according to proper scales and tones). That person had explained to me the “science” or qira’at and meditation, and it fascinated me. I wanted to dive into it, even more so with Veda. So I was enjoying it.

In initial classes, Dikshita ji completely ignored my presence, and at every class end when students would proffer abhivaadanam and dandavat pranaams, I would only prostrate in awkward by grateful silence because I didn’t have any traditional abhivaadanam!

Gradually, class by class, Dikshita ji developed an open fondness for me. Partly because I was learning Sanskrit and so we would chit chat in Sanskrit, and partly because I was able to follow and reproduce the chanting with minimal error. I grew up speaking languages like Hindi and Gujarati, and had recently begun learning Sanskrit, so the phonetics were easy, whereas most of the othet students were Tamil speaking, with no Sanskrit training, and so they struggled with the phonetics. The telugus among the lot did far better, naturally.

What perplexed me was that Dikshita ji was actually surprised that I would be even capable of getting it right – because I was not brahmin. He even asked me a couple of times again whether I was brahmin, or what my ancestors were before they became Christian, as if my pronunciation had everything to do with genetics. Another Telugu brahmin friend told me that non-brahmins could not recite Veda even if they tried because, being meat eaters, their tongues were thick and not flexible enough to pronounce Sanskrit. He did his PhD in atomic computing.

All the while, I could see that Dikshita ji’s (and the other students’) identification with brahmin caste was the main and often sole driver for them to invest their time and energy in duplicating this culture and keeping it alive. In Dikshita ji’s case, his whole life eas dedicated to it. If it were not for pride in being of brahmin lineage, I guess most of them would not have been there.

Over time, if I had to miss a class, Dikshita ji would even ask for me – showing that his ideology was nothing personal but rather just based on his understanding that has been transmitted for some time now, and which ‘traditionalism’ wishes to “protect” at any cost. He did his very best to keep high standards of practice.

I see people like himself as precious assets in revitalizing Veda-based civilization. But I doubt they can be thought-leaders,for various reasons.

Positive aspects of jAti-pride

no-income vaikhAnasa

i can accept the seven gen rule in case of people who are adopted into pancaratrika/saivagama system and practicing it meticulously. Otherwise, just opening doors to anyone meritorious (then with a reservation system) brought in would make it very materialistic. And i dont expect these new pujaris to hv the same kind of attachment that old families hv. Old family guys may not be knowing ritual intricacies. But i hv seen vaikhanasa families still serving in temples with no income. One brother works in bangalore while another works in their own temple.

The prodigal woman

A brom woman, who was almost a slut during her college days, changed completely n is leading a proper life as wife now.. All because her parents just told her that she wud bring shame to her grandparents n everyone

The tevAr case

Similarly, a thevar family boy who almost became preta for love, was stopped by family pride. He was asked whether he is going to give up right to carry azhagar for some girl.


The above were stories related by various friends. jAti-pride is useful in conserving the ideals of the sages. But jAti-exclusivity can be counter productive, exceptions have to (ideally) be made for exceptional cases. People like PV kANe or shatAvadhAnI gaNesha or kevalAnanda sarasvatI can grasp at the essence of tradition (with little or no real compromise), while lesser folk sacrifice the essence for the periphery -alas frustrating the intentions of the sages who they claim to follow.

आहवनीय-गार्हपत्ययोस् समत्वं कल्पयितुं गणितज्ञ-रामानुजप्रयत्नौ

आहवनीय-गार्हपत्ययोस् समत्वं कल्पयितुं गणितज्ञ-रामानुजप्रयत्नौ-

“Of these the squaring of the circle is central to the construction of an AhavanIya and gArhapatya of equal area and a multiple approximations are suggested by different yajurvedic traditions. Similar constructions to these yajurvedic attempts are seen in the Rhind papyrus and the work of Anaxagoras. Several millennia later the 26 year old Ramanujan supplied one of the best approximations for the squaring of the circle – the one shown above. With this he gets a fraction for approximating pi as 355/113 – one which would have made his yajurvedic ancestor proud.”

“To experience the greatness of great men one has to relive or redo some acts of theirs to the best of ones ability. In ones youth such enactments might inspire one to make a bid for greatness. Whether this happens or not is mostly up to your genetics. Nevertheless, through the enactments one can at least savor the experience of what it takes to get there. If there was one man in our midst who could have lived up to be a Gauss or an Euler it was Srinivasa Ramanujan.”


श्रावण्यां पूर्णिमायां वेदाध्ययनोपकर्मणा साकं सर्पबलेर् अपि भवितोपक्रमः। तदर्थं सङ्गृहीतेयं पद्धतिरस्तु युष्मच्छर्मणे –

  • टिप्पणिर् अत्र सूत्रटीकानुमता।
  • प्रमाणानि