Evangelization through Saivism
[This paper is prepared on the basis of the new research findings of Prof. Dr .M. Deivanayagam, by Dr.D.Devakala ]
Should we evangelize Christians?
The topic sounds like proselytizing Christians through Christianity; it is a general conception that there is no need to evangelize Christians since they are already Christians.
An in – depth study on Saivism and Vaishnavism reveals that they are the denominations of St. Thomas Tamil Christianity. If they are the denominations of St. Thomas Tamil Christianity, do we need to evangelize Saivites and Vaishnavites who are already Christians?
If there is a need to evangelize Christians, there is also a need to evangelize Saivites and Vaishnavites, who are St. Thomas Tamil Christians.
To Religion or Spirituality? :
What is the purpose of our evangelism? Are we trying to bring the souls to a religion i.e., Christianity or to Christ?
” he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment-to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”1
“I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”2
Generally the concept of evangelism is understood as if bringing the souls to a particular denomination in Christianity. But the concepts of ‘One fold One Shepherd’ and ‘to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ’ clearly express to bring everything under Christ beyond denominations and religions.
Hence, evangelizing Christians or Saivites or Vaishnavites is not to bring all under a particular denomination in Christianity but under Christ. That means they may be labeled as Saivites or Vaishnavites though they accept and follow Christ. Thus, the concept of ‘one flock and one shepherd’ will be brought into practice.
Understanding Saivism and presenting the message of Salvation to a Saivite, will be more practical and useful.
Traditional Thinking and Traditional Methodology:
We can follow traditional thinking and traditional methodology if it is applicable and fruitful. Otherwise it should be reconsidered. In the Indian context evangelism is being done in the traditional way. But history of religions reveal that Saivism and Vaishnavism, the denominations of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, known as ‘Hindu religion’ is the major religion of India. Hence we need to analyze the traditional methods and prosper with new effective evangelism.
The Method of Evangelism
The evangelical method of Christ and His follower Paul, paved the way for the development of Christianity all over the world in the first century A.D. While they talked to the Jews they preached the gospel to them according to the Jewish Scriptures and tradition.. When talking to non -Jews they preached the gospel based on the culture, worship and religion of the listeners.
When Jesus Christ went to Samaria, even though the Jews had no practice of intermingling with the Samaritans, he talked to the Samaritan woman who belonged to the clan of Israel and appreciated her religious faith. He did explain to her how the Messiah came to fulfill her religion. He stayed there and dined with them and helped them to understand the Truth. Likewise, Paul visited and observed the sculptures of the temples at Athens, studied and quoted their religious literature and explained to them the message of salvation.3
The following verses of Paul who converted to the Christian faith from other faith emphasized the need of having the knowledge about other beliefs and worship in order to evangelize dynamically.
“Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone to win as many as possible.”4
“To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
“To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law, so as to win those not having the law.” 5
“I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”6
Jesus Christ and His follower Paul have been the role model for evangelism amongst other religious groups. As the followers of Christ, St. Thomas and others who came to India might have followed Jesus Christs’ and Pauls’ method of evangelism in appreciating the beliefs and religions of India to enlighten the fulfillment of them in Christ. If this method is well analyzed, it could be realized that evangelism in India might have led to the development of Mahayana Buddhism from the Hinayana Buddhism, Svetambara sect from Digambara Jainism, the doctrine of fulfillment of sacrifice from the Vedic sacrificial worship and Saivism and Vaishnavism from the Ancient Tamil worship.7
Christianity developed in the Roman Empire is in the European attire because of the European civilization and culture, while the Early Indian Christianity which developed in India is in the Indian costume because of the Indian civilization and culture. So, Christianity which developed in the Indian culture can be seen clearly when it is analyzed on the basis of Indian culture and Indian language. European Christianity is Oriental man in European Dress and Early Indian Christianity is Oriental man in Oriental dress.8
What is St. Thomas Tamil Christianity:
Christianity in India can be classified as follows:9
1. St.Thomas Tamil Christianity
2. Syrian Christianity and
3. Europeanized Indian Christianity
Church history of India talks about Syrian, European and Europeanized Indian Christianity but doesn’t talk about St.Thomas Tamil Christianity because historians were not aware of it.10
St.Thomas Tamil Christianity is that which developed in India from 1st c. A.D within the Tamil culture in Tamil land and in the Tamil language. This has been neither recognized nor given due importance by the church historians till date.11
It is a traditional belief that St.Thomas, was martyred and buried in Mylapore of Tamil land, from where the Tamil Bhakthi Movement originated. Religions of Bhakthi Movement such as Saivism and Vaishnavism are later known as ‘Hindu Religion’.12
Proved that Saivism and Vaishnavism are the denominations of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity –
Debate and Video recordings:
In 1985 in his doctoral dissertation titled ‘Comparative study of Bible, Thirukkural and Saiva Siddhantha Sastras’ Dr.M.Deivanayagam had established that because of the great mission of St.Thomas in India, Thirukkual blossomed. Thirukkural, which had been translated into more than 40 languages of the world, is the First St. Thomas Tamil Christian Literature.
On the basis of Thirukkural, later on Bhakthi Movement originated and the religions of Bhakthi movement such as Saivism and Vishnavism have emerged and developed.
His new Research Findings can be precisely given as follows:
¨ Thirukkural is a St. Thomas Tamil Christian Literature;
¨ Saivism and Vaishnavism, known as Hindu Religion is the offshoot of St. Thomas Tamil Christianity;
¨ Saiva Siddhantha Sastras are the Theological expositions of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity.
The International Research Institute on Saiva Siddhantha in Dharumai Aadheena Mutt, near Mayiladuthurai, Tamilnadu, organized a Two Day debate on his book titled, ‘Comparative study of Bible, Thirukkural and Saiva Siddhantha Sastras’ on 5th and 6th December 1986. Dr. Deivanayagam was invited for the debate. The said new research findings have been established in the presence of the scholars of Saiva Siddhantha and the heads of the Dharumai Adheena Mutt, Thiruppananthal Mutt, under the Presidentship of Kundrakkudi Adheenam.
Prof. Dr. T.B. Sitthalingiah, Head of the Department of Saiva Siddhantha of Kamarajar University, summarized the two days discussions in the following words:
“A good Research Seminar took place here for the past two days. Dr. M. Deivanayagam clearly answered all the questions raised by scholars. When new findings were delivered, we still have not attained the maturity to accept them immediately. As Dr. M. Deivanayagam said, it was the beginning of an effort to seek new explanations. As such, this beginning was done well.” (Video recordings of Debate on the dissertation titled, ‘Comparative study of Bible, Thirukkural and Saiva Siddhantha Sastras’ in Dharumai Adheena Mutt, Near Mayiladuthurai, 5th & 6th of Dec.1986)
At the end of the seminar, the Head of the Dharumai Aadheenam Mutt finally honoured Dr.Deivanayagam .The programme was video recorded.
Why Christians couldn’t identify St.Thomas Tamil Christianity?
If Saivism and Vaishnavism are denominations of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, why Christians (Europeanized Indian Christians) in India find it difficult to identify Saivites and Vaishnavites?
In the Christian realm, we find followers of particular denomination difficult to accept and identify themselves with the other denominations; hence, understanding St.Thomas Tamil Christianity that is entirely different in culture and language is very tough for the Europeanized Indian Christians to understand.
There existed a vast difference between the European Christianity and the St. Thomas Tamil Christianity in both material and practical points of view, and differences are glaring Vernacular, Cultural, Social, and Geographical elements. No religion had ever originated in Europe! Nevertheless, in India, which is one of the countries of Asia, many religions came to existence. Therefore, it is natural for the Indians to call their land as a sacred land.13
Because of the differences in the features of civilization and culture as mentioned above the west and East looks at Christianity clothed in different.14
Therefore there is no wonder that the European Christianity, which is in the European dress, is not able to understand St. Thomas Tamil Christianity which is in the Indian dress. Since there is no place for Jesus’ and Pauls’ method of evangelism, in the European Christianity, St. Thomas Tamil Christianity is not identified easily.15
What is the need of understanding St. Thomas Tamil Christianity?:
It is a general conception that,
¨ India is a Hindu Nation;
¨ Hindu religion is the religion of the Aryan Brahmins;
¨ Christians are minority in India;
Though missionaries have all along been striving to bring India to Christ, census report of India shows very frail results. To date, the percentage of Christianity in India is not even 4%.
Christians who are considered to be a minority in Indian population are evangelizing Hindus who are the majority in India.
Proselytizing Hindus with the feeling of minority yields less fruit. But an in-depth knowledge on Hindu religion i.e., St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, makes the St.Thomas Tamil Christians to realize that they are not minorities but majority in India
In a nut shell it can be summarized as,
¨ Christians including St. Thomas Christians, are majority by religion in India and
¨ Majority by population of India since the Dravidians, inhabitants of India, form 90% of Indian population.
Evangelizing Hindus with the feeling of a minority is entirely different from evangelizing Hindus as a Hindu. Being a majority when evangelizing Hindus as a Hindu will be more dynamic and fruitful. Hence a knowledge on St.Thomas Tamil Christianity i.e., Hindu religion is highly indispensible for evangelism.
The New Testament, which was written by the Jews, was not in their own language but in Greek, a European language. Apart from this, the Greek terms Christ and Christianity and the usage of Latin in the Churches show the influence of European languages on the Asian religion.
Since St.Thomas Tamil Christian literature is found only in Tamil, they have not been given due importance in the past. Just as Early Christian literature developed in the Roman Empire is found in Greek, the St.Thomas Tamil Christian literature developed in Tamil land is in Tamil. As Latin followed Greek with respect to European Christianity, Sanskrit followed Tamil with respect to Indian Christianity. To understand Christianity the Asian religion, European languages are needed. To put it another way, it looks like an oriental man in European dress.
Christianity had spread rapidly in places where there was no religion. When it entered into the regions where there were religions (the area called 10/40 Windows), it could not spread successfully.
Name of God
Arbitrary and Logical names
In general, parents christen their children arbitrarily. One may name his child ‘White’ though it is black in color and another may name his child ‘Koteeswaran’ (Lord of Crores) though he is born in a poor family. Hence the names mentioned above are arbitrary. Usually parents name their children and it is not the other way round. Supreme God, is given different names by His children based on their presumption of the qualities that He has. Hence the names they give become logical. The logical names have specific reason and can be translated in different languages because of their logic / dialectic.
Messiah – Christ
‘Messiah’ is the Hebrew term which means one who is anointed. ‘Christos’ is its Greek term for the term mentioned above and it is the Greek translation of the Hebrew term ‘Messiah’, and it is not an arbitrary word. Now, what would be the Indian or Tamilian term for the term mentioned above? Since this is a logical term there would be Indian and Tamil translation for this term. Unless this term is analyzed on the basis of Indian culture and language and without any prejudice, the truth cannot be unveiled.
Tamil term for ‘Messiah’ is ‘Iraivan’. The term ‘Iraivan’ was referring to the King in Tamil literature. Thiruvalluvar first used the term ‘Iraivan’ to refer to God.
“Irul ser iru vinaiyum sera Iraivan
Porul ser pugal purinthaar maatu’
The above couplet states that God alone can liberate us from our sins (Orignal and individual sins) which lead us to darkness.
Translations of Logical Name ‘Messiah’:
Messiah – Hebrew
Christos – Greek
Iraivan – Tamil
The Son of God is known in different pronunciations in different languages. It is to be noted that the name ‘Yeshua’ was given by His parents and it cannot be translated.
Different Pronunciations in different languages:
Yeshua – Hebrew
Iesous – Greek
Jesus – English
Esa – Arabic
Esan – Tamil
“Esan vanthu Siluvaiyil Maandaan
Elunthu vuyirththanan naal oru moonril
Nesama Maria Magadalena
Nerilae intha seythi kandaal”.
“Esan Yenthai enaiadi nilalae” – Thirunavukkarasar-Thevaram.
Basic doctrines of Saivism and Vaishnavism (Hindu Religion):
The following are the five doctrines which became the fundamental principles for the religions of Saivism and Vaishnavism, developed in the post-Christ era.
1. Doctrine of Trinity
2. Doctrine of Avatar (Incarnation)
3. Doctrine of Fulfillment of Sacrifice
4. Doctrine of Forgiveness of Sin
5. Doctrine of Salvation by Faith16
Can we find these doctrines in the worships and religions that were prevalent in the pre-Christ era in India.
Worships and religions of pre – Christ era:
Worships and religions of pre – Christ era can be classified as follows:17
1. Indus Valley Worship 1. Buddhism and
2. Other Dravidian Worship and 2. Jainism
3. Aryan Worship
They can further be grouped as follows:18
- Worships which practiced sacrifice – Indus Valley worship, Ancient Dravidian worship and Aryan worship
- Religions which did not practice sacrifice Jainism and Buddhism
The history of religions reveals that the said five doctrines are not seen in the worships and religions of India mentioned above. The doctrines such as 1. Doctrine of Trinity 2. Doctrine of Avatar 3. Doctrine of Fulfillment of Sacrifice 4. Doctrine of Forgiveness of Sin and 5. Doctrine of Salvation by Faith are the doctrines of Christianity. Arrival of Christianity in India in 1st c.A.D. and its development in the Indian language and culture has culminated in Saivism and Vaishnavism. Hence these five doctrines became the fundamental doctrines of the offshoots of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity.
St. Thomas Tamil Christianity :
St.Thomas Tamil Christianity was evolved as Bhakti Movement in Tamil land. Saivism and Vaishnavism are two religions evolved out of the Bhakti Movement of Tamil land after the fifth century A.D.
n The 63 Nayanmars (Saints) of Saivism belonged to Tamil Nadu alone.
n The 12 Alwars (Saints) of Vaishnavism belonged to Tamil Nadu alone.
n The Twelve holy books of Saivism – Thirumurai (which is called ‘Dravida Vedam’) are found only in Tamil language.
n The ‘Nalayira Divya Prabandam’ which is called the ‘Dravida Vedam’ of Vaishnavism is found only in Tamil language.
n 274 out of the 280 ancient Saivite Temples of India are located in Tamil Nadu.
n 96 out of the 108 ancient Vaishnavite Temples of India are located in Tamil Nadu.
n In Saivism, the term ‘Kovil’ (Temple) means the temple at Chidambaram which is in Tamil Nadu.
n In Vaishnavism, the term ‘Kovil’ (Temple) means the temple at Srirangam which is in Tamil Nadu.
n All the 14 Saiva Siddhantha Sastras are in Tamil.19
Since St.Thomas Tamil Christian literature are found only in Tamil, they have not been given due importance in the past. Just as Early Christian literature developed in Roman Empire is found in Greek, St.Thomas Tamil Christian literature developed in the Tamil land is in Tamil. As Latin followed Greek in respect of European Christianity, Sanskrit followed Tamil in respect of Indian Christianity. St. Thomas Christians formed Sanskrit on the basis of the languages existing at that time in India viz., 1.Tamil 2.Pali.3.Arthamakathi 4.Persian 5.Greek 6. Latin and 6.Aramaic, to propagate the message of salvation to the Indians who were not able to understand Tamil. Hence ancient Sanskrit literature of Mahayana Buddhism, Saivism and Vaishnavism belong to post – Christ era. Sanskrit inscriptions do not occur before 2nd C.A.D.20
First occurrence of Sanskrit is only from 150.A.D. King Ashoka’s inscriptions are in the language that were existing at that time, and also they were in Greek and Aramaic, the foreign languages that were existing in his kingdom. But none of the inscriptions of Asokan edicts are in Sanskrit. If Sanskrit was prevalent in the pre-Christ era, king Ashoka would have used Sanskrit in his inscriptions to proclaim the verdict of cessation of sacrifice since sacrifice was very basic for the Aryan worship.21
The writers of the history of Christianity in India were not able to identify St.Thomas Christianity since they were not aware of the same, and at the same time they were incapable of analyzing the Ancient and Medieval Tamil literature from this perspective.
Ancient Tamil Christian Literature:
In the post Christ era, new concepts occur in Indian literature. In Thirukkural, an ancient St. Thomas Tamil Christian literature, (approximately after 2nd c.A.D.) the first three chapters are the invocation of God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son.22
On the basis of Thirukkural, in due course Bhakthi Movement developed and the religious literature of Saivism and Vaishnavism , the religions of Bhakthi Movement developed in Tamil in Tamil land.
Bhakthi Movement (Saivism, Vaishnavism..)
Saivism and Vaishnavism are the offshoots of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity. St.Thomas Tamil Christianity absorbed the elements of ancient Tamil worships that prevailed in the pre – Christ era, and developed as Saivism and Vaishnavism.
Saivism and Vaishnavism developed as a Bhakti movement around 6th, 7th c. A.D. in South India and spread to the North. Since it is now totally camouflaged by the Brahminical concept under the name of Hinduism, it is generally thought that the Vedas are the basis for the development of this Bhakti Movement. Generally Saivite Siva is identified with the Vedic Rudra and the Vaishnavite Vishnu is identified with the Vedic Vishnu. An in-depth study of the Vedas will unveil the hidden truths that Saivism and Vaishnavism have nothing to do with the Vedic Rudra or Vishnu.23
According to Saiva Siddhantha, Siva is a Supreme loving God who took the form of a man and suffered to save human beings. In the Vedas, Rudra is portrayed as one of the minor deities, and it is the god of storms. Likewise Vaishnavite Vishnu has nothing to do with the Vedic Vishnu. In the Vedas, Vishnu is the sun, a creature whereas Vishnu is the Prime God in Vaishnavism.24
Vaishnavism developed from Saivism:
In the first stage there was no distinction as Saivism and Vaishnavism. In fact, it is a later development. Vaishnavism developed as a separate denomination in due course.
‘Aran Naranan Naamam, Aanvidai, Vulhlhoorthi…’25
‘Thaazh sadaium neelh mudiyum onmazhuvum sakkaramum
‘Iranduruvum Onroi isainthu’26
This song expresses that both Siva and Vishnu were in one form / body.
Describing three divisions in a Sivalinga as
¨ Siva paagam
¨ Vishnu paagam and
¨ Brahma paagam
reveals the expression of Trinity through Sivalinga, in later period.
Though Vaishnavism developed as a separate denomination, sculptures of Vaishnavism worshipping Sivalinga, especially Rama worshipping Siva in linga form, reveals the antique and greatness of Saivism.
Doctrine of Trinity:27
Doctrine of Trinity is explained in Hindu religion (Saivism and Vaishnavism) as follows:
Christianity Father Holy Spirit Son
Saivism Appan Ammai Magan
Vaishnavism Siva Vishnu Brahma
St. Thomas Tamil Christianity is explained in different aspects in Indian literature and they are as follows:28
1. Historical aspect
2. Mythical aspect
3. Literary aspect
4. Theological and Philosophical aspect and
5. Iconographic aspect
1. Historical aspect:29
Substantial evidences are available in archaeology and literature, which indicate the development of Christianity from the early centuries of post – Christ era.
2. Mythical Aspect:
After Christianity started developing in India, the doctrine of Trinity was envisioned in different angles in mythical aspect.30 When the Trinity was explained as Father, Holy Spirit and Son, some envisioned the Holy Spirit in a female form. According to this school of thought, in a family, if there is a father and a son, naturally there would be a mother in between them. So, they envisioned the Holy Spirit as mother or Sakthi or Power and they explained the Trinity as Appan (father), Ammai (mother-Sakthi) and Makan (Son). They also explained Siva (which means love), Sakthi and Kumarakkadavul (son of God) as Somaskanda. Somaskanda is a Sanskrit term (Sa+Uma+Skanda) which means God who is with Uma (Mother) and Skanda (Son). This is known as Saivism.31
When the Holy Spirit was envisioned in female form by a school of thought, naturally there would be an opposition and another school of thought will emerge. According to it, since a virgin has given birth to a Son by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit must be a male, and it was envisioned in a male form. They explained all the three in the Trinity in male forms. (Father in male form, Holy spirit in male form and Son in male form). This is developed as Mummoorthy in Vaishnavism.32
While Saivism denoted Holy Spirit as Sakthi (female form), Vaishnavism denoted Holy Spirit as Vishnu (male form). The root word for the term Vishnu is Vinn, Vaan , which refer to the sky or firmament. Trinity is explained in Vaishnavism as Siva, Vishnu and Brahma that is Mummoorthy. This is known as Vaishnavism . Both the Saivite and Vaishnavite mythical explanations refer to God the father as Siva. God the Holy Spirit in two forms, one in female form that is Sakthi (Saivism) and the other in male form that is Vishnu (Vaishnavism).33
If the left half of Siva’s body is portrayed in female form (Sakthi), it is known as ‘Arthanarieswara’ and if the same left half of Siva’s body is portrayed in male form (Vishnu), it is known as ‘Harihara’.34
Since the left half of Siva’s body is portrayed in male form as well as in female form, it clearly shows that the left half of Siva’s (God the father) body is the metaphorism of Holy Spirit in two different angles.
The Son of God is envisioned in four angles in Saivism and Vaishnavism as follows:
1) The victory over Satan is explained in Kumarakkadavul (Son of God) concept;
2) Death and resurrection is explained in Ganapathi or Pillaiyar concept. (‘Pillai’ means ‘Son’ of God, and ‘ar’ is a respectable suffix)
3) His power of creation is explained in Brahman (creator) concept.
4) Son of God as the light of the world is explained in ‘Ayyappa concept’. People visit Sabarimalai to see light (Mahara Jyothi) in the Ayyappa worship.35
Father Holy Spirit Son
Siva (Appan) Sakthi (Ammai) Kumaran (Magan)
3. Literary aspect:
Doctrine of Trinity:
In Saivism God is visualized in three forms as ‘Aruvam’ (God without form), ‘Uruvam’ (God with a form) and `Aruvuruvam’ (God with semiform). This is expounded by Thirugnana sampanthar in Tevaram as follows:
‘Yaegan, anaegan, Iraivanadi….(Thiruvasagam, Siva….5)
‘The Triune Prime God’ 37
” The eternal God( Siva) and the Ornamented one (Vitnu).
And the eternal one on the Lotus (Brahma).
If examined are one and the same
But the ignorant are confused” 38
Doctrine of Avatar:
The purpose of the avatar of God is explained in Saivism as follows:
“Iravaa inbaththu yemai iruththa vendip
piravaa muthalvan piranthaan” 39
(The unborn prime God was born to give us eternal pleasure.)
If it is said that God became an avatar so that man can be liberated from the bondage of sin to acquire eternal happiness, then a question arises here. When did man fall into evil?
‘Aviyaai aviyumaagi arukkamaai perukkamaagi
paaviyar paavam theerkum paramanoi Brahmanaagi’40
(The supreme God became Brahma and he is the sacrifice and sacrificed Himself in order to redeem sinners from their sin)
Doctrine of Fulfillment of Sacrifice:
Sacrifice / Thavam:
Saivism and Vaishnavism accept that all people are born with a sinful nature. God alone is holy without sin. But Advaitists, whose doctrines are totally contrary to the doctrine of God, say that the concept of sin is ‘maya’ or illusion and Aryan Brahmins can claim that ‘I am God’ and become equal with God.
How can a man who is born with a sinful nature be liberated? It is explained in Saiva Siddhantha by the following illustration. If we want to make copper free from rust, gold, which is never affected by rust, should be melted together with it and mixed. Thereafter it will not be affected by rust. Likewise, God alone who is holy can liberate human beings that have a sinful nature by birth. In order to redeem man from sin and show him the path, God became a man with five senses.
God who accepted the penance of the suffering of death and offered Himself as a sacrifice is being sung in the following Saivite songs.
‘Aviyumaagi’41(One who became the sacrifice)
The song mentioned above explain that God became man and sacrificed Himself in order to redeem the sinners. God who sacrificed his five senses is known as,
‘Ainthaviththaan’442(One who sacrificed his five senses)
and it is being explained in Thirukkural as follows:
“Pori vaayil ainthaviththaan poitheer olhukka
neri ninraar needu vaalhvaar” 43
(Those who follow the one, who sacrificed his five senses on an instrument and showed the way and who is the life and truth, will have eternal life)
The term ‘Ainthaviththaan’ occurs only in two couplets in Thirukkural and it does not refer to a hermit who controls his five senses. Also this term is not seen in any song on sanyasins, but this term exclusively occurs in the chapter on invocation of God , and refers to God who sacrificed his five senses. Since it refers to God who took the form of a man it occurs in an invocation of God that is in the first and third chapters which is praising God the Father (Kadavul vaazhthu) and God the Son (Neeththaar perumai).
Doctrine of Salvation by Faith:
The redeemed souls are the temples of God;
‘Ullam perungovil voon udambu aalayam’444
Our soul is a great temple i.e., Sanctum Sanctorum, and our body is a temple)
4.Philosophical / Theological Aspect:
Fourteen Saivasiddhantha Sastras:
Fourteen Saivasiddhantha Sastras are theological expositions of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity. Their period was 12 to 14 centuries A.D. During the period of Kulothunga Chola 111, we find reference about ‘Kugai Idi Kalagam’. Siththars who were the followers and evangelists of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, who could not live in the city but lived in caves were terribly attacked, demolished and massacred. This is ‘Kugai Idi Kalagam,’ in the history of Tamils.
“Saiva tradition as preserved in Periapuranam has memories of mutts organized by Appar and other non-Brahman Saiva saints. These were their spiritual homes. When the temple cult came to be codified and conventionalized with the help of Gauda Brahmins and other north Indian Saivites during the Chola revival the mutt became the necessary adjunct of the temple presided over by Brahman for regulating and supervising the rituals. Slowly the objection to non-Brahmans renouncing the world and becoming the heads of mutts came to be established. The non Brahman ascetics had to resort to caves and their mutts came to be known as KUGAI. When the member and power of these non-Brahman mutts increased the orthodox people inspired a group of their followers to raze to ground these non-Brahman mutts and this is mentioned as KUGAI IDI KALAGAM in inscriptions of the reign or Kulothunga Chola III.”45
During this period of persecution, Meykandar, has written ‘Sivagnanapotham’ which condenses whole Bible into 12 sutras. In fact it is the book of ‘Soulology’ which condenses the 5 basic elements such as Body, Spirit, Soul, God and Egotism of world religions.
In the 14 Saivasiddhantha Sastras, the Sivagnanapotham alone is in aphorism. It contains 12 aphorisms. The rest are in poetical form. Except the first two Saivasiddhantha Sastras, the rest 11 were written to give explanations to Sivagnanapotham. Sivagnanapotham talks of creation of man, his fall and redemption.
Fundamental concepts explained in Saivasiddhantha Sastras:
Creation and fall of Man
The creation and fall of man is explained in the following sutra.
Avan, aval, adhu yenum avai muuvinaimaiyin
Thotriya thithiye odungi malaththulathaam
Antham Aathi yenmanaar pulavar.46
In the beginning, God created man (avan – the first man), woman (aval – the first woman), world (Adhu) in three different ways. They were holy and afterwards, they fell into sin (malam). That was the end of the holy life and the beginning of the sinful life, so say the scholars.
When did this happen? According to the Bible, the first man Adam had taken the fruit that was forbidden to eat. Adam was given the commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but when he disobeyed God, sin took dominion over him says the Bible. And the descendants of the first man, have fallen into sin. Hence the sinful nature that continuously passes through the generations, is known as ‘Sahasa Malam’ in Saivism, and ‘Janmabhandh’ in Vaishnavism.
How did the holy creation fell into sin? Saiva Siddhantha explains it as follows:
Muththi mutharkodikke mohhak kodi padarnthu
Aththi pazhuththathentru unthii para
Appazham unnaathe unthii para47
In the creation (the creeper) that was holy, in the first creeper, that is, in the first man, the creeper of sin spread and the evil fruit got ripened. Don’t eat that fruit.
When did this happen? According to the Scripture, the first man Adam ate the forbidden fruit. It was ordered not to eat the fruit of the tree. However, when he did not obey the command of God, sin took possession of him. His progeny too fell into sin. Thus, the sin that is continued also in his progeny is referred to in Saivism as ‘Sagasamalam’ i.e.,’Original Sin’48
Because of ‘Sagasamalam’ the human beings had fallen into ‘original sin’ and lost the power of realizing God. God became Guru to restore that power to realize God. That means, God is there as the magnet that attracts iron. The following verse of the Sivagnanapodham explains this fact as ‘Kaantham kanda pasaasath thavaiyae’ . (Sivagnanapodham, 5)
Out of the 14 Siddhantha Sastras, the first book ‘Thiruvunthiyaar’ explains clearly that God was born in the world as a Guru as follows:
‘Agalhamaai yaarum arivari thapporul
Sagalhamaai vanthathen trunthiippara
Thaanaaga thanthathen truntheeppara’49
The first creeper Adam was created to enjoy the heavenly bliss with God. But this became a creeper of sin/evil. As a result, evil became ripe in the world. To cut that evil creeper with the knife of grace and to make the fruit of heavenly bliss ripe in it again, the incomparable creeper, God’s Son came into the world.
Sivagnaanapodham explains that God who became Guru, made the people of the world realize it through his sacrifice and saved the human beings from their sins as follows:
‘Aimpula Vehdarin Ayarnththanai valharnthenath
Thammuthal gurvumaaith thavaththinilunarththivittu
Anniya minmaiyin arankazhal selumeh’50
The sins of man is washed away by the blood that God shed in his sacrifice on the cross. Hence, his feet are referred to as the holy feet that shed blood, ‘Semmalar Nohnthaal’ (Sivagnaanabodham, Slo. 12) and God is praised as ‘Ammalam kazhuviya Anbar’.
Saiva Siddhantha says that God’s sacrifice is the Supreme Sacrifice that surpasses the sacrifices of all the penitential hermits who take upon themselves all the sufferings in the world. Among the sacrifices that are done to lose one’s life, the Supreme Sacrifice is the one in which God sacrificed his life to suffer on the cross. By saving souls from the darkest corner and by bringing them to the light of the courtyard, his sacrifice alone becomes the Supreme sacrifice
Thirvunthiyaar says this truth in the following words:
‘Moolai irunthaarai mutraththe vittavar
Once the soul is cleansed from its sin through the sacrifice of God, it is freed from sin and it becomes a temple of God. This is explained as follows,
“Semmalar nonthaalh seral ottaa
ammalam kalhiee anbarodu mariyee
maalara neyam malinthavar vaedamum
aalayam thaanum aran yena tholhumae”52
(Once God cleanses a soul which is separated by sin from the feet of God which looks like a red flower because of his sacrifice (nonbu), it is freed from confusion, overflows with love of God, reaches the feet of God and become a temple of God.)
5. Iconographic Aspect:
The doctrine of God taking the form of man, coming into this world and sacrificing himself formed the basis for the development of the Bhakthi Movement and the sprouting of a large number of sculptures of God in the anthropomorphic form. The worshipping of images had started developing rapidly.
Saivite and Vaishnavite sculptures emerged in large numbers in the post-Christ era. 53
The Saivite and Vaishnavite sculptures which reveal the doctrine of trinity, doctrine of avatar etc. are not seen in the pre-Christ era and they are all seen in the post-Christ era only. An analysis of the development of Iconography in India would throw light on the development of Saivite and Vaishnavite religions. 54
“The idea of Eswara himself coming down amidst the mortals as an avatar to guide them to become perfect in their own nature, to become what they potentially are and living among them as a mortal, was in itself enough encouragement to the development of the images. They could evolve a definite iconography for the avataras”.55
The concept of trinity of Godhead as expounded in Christianity has its own center point in Saivism in the expression of “Somaskanda”. This expression when expanded would become Sa+Uma+Skanda which means God is along with Uma and Skanda. The same concept is depicted differently (Mummoorthy) in Vaishnavism. Hence also the chief God is Siva. Instead of the female Goddess Uma, we find another male God viz. Vishnu representing the Holy Spirit. In the place of Skanda we find Brahma, the son of God and the three persons in the Godhead are all male. This led to the concept of “Mummoorthygal”.56
The figures of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma are seen in Ellora, Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram. Though there are three names for each of the three personalities of God, the entity is one and only one. This triune God is depicted as “three faced Siva” with one body. 57
In Ellora and Elephanta the sculptures of Siva with three faces in one body are seen in large numbers. This shows that though God is represented in three different personalities as Siva, Sakthi and Kumarakkadavul, or, Siva, Vishnu and Brahma, he is not three but one God in three personalities.58
Sivalinkas engraved with Saivite and Vaishnavite figures are seen only in the post-Christ era. The figures of “Arthanarieswara” and “Harihara” convey that Sakthi and Vishnu are the metaphorism of Holy Spirit in female and male form. In the word Arthanarieswara, Artha means half, nari means female and eswara means God. Thus Arthanarieswara means God whose left part is female.59The sculptures of Avatar are seen in the post-Christ era.60
Thus the sculptures of Saivism and Vaishnavism express the doctrines of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity in different ways.
One Fold One Shepherd:
Soulology of the Tamils explains the concept of ‘One Fold One Shepherd’ systematically.
“Science without religion is Lame;
Religion without Science is Blind”
Says Einstein. Systematic and scientific study on the difference between ‘Spirit / Life’ and ‘Soul’ is ‘Soulology’. ‘Soulology’, the crown of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, that brings unity and brotherhood in the society, is decoded and disclosed. Papers on ‘Soulology’ presented by Dr.M.Deivanayagam, in the ‘First International Conference on ‘Thamizhar Samayam’ were published under the title ‘Religion and Soulology of the Tamils that unite the religions of the world’ (‘Vulaga Samayangalhai Onrinaikkum Thamizhar Samayamum Thamizhar Aanmaviyalum). This book on ‘Soulology’ was well received by the scholars and the seminars on Soulology, were video recorded.
Salient points in the new research findings:
1. Sangam Tamil literature (approximately from 3rd c.B.C. to 3rd c.A.D.) make references about Greeks, Romans, Jews and Syrians as ‘Yavanas’.
2. In Tamil Nadu, archaeologists have excavated a large number of coins of King Augustus, a Yavana, who was the ruler of Roman empire at the time when Jesus Christ was born.
3. In Taxila, archaeologists have excavated a large number of coins of King Gondophores, with whom, it is traditionally said that St.Thomas, a Yavana, had religious discourses.
4. It is a traditional belief that St.Thomas, a Yavana came to Taxila, from where Mahayana Buddhism and sculptures of Mahayana Buddhism were formed. The traditions also say that St.Thomas proceeded from Taxila to Tamil land. The traditions also say that he was martyred and buried in Mylapore of Tamil land, from where the Tamil Bhakthi Movement originated.
5. First ancient Tamil literature of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity is Thirukkural.
6. Syrian Christianity that existed in Kerala, a part of Tamil land, from 4th c.A.D. is different from St.Thomas Tamil Christianity.
7. A common belief is that Sanskrit is the language of the Aryan Brahmins, but it was devised by St.Thomas Christians to propagate the message of salvation. Hence the ancient Sanskrit literature are of St. Thomas Christianity i.e., Mahayana Buddhism, Saivism and Vaishnavism, which are of Post – Christ era.
8. Saivism and Vaishnavism were the developed forms of Tamil Bhakthi Movement i.e., St.Thomas Tamil Christianity.
9. Saivism and Vaishnavism developed in Tamil land and were propagated all over India by Nayanmars and Alwars of Tamil Nadu.
10. All the 63 Nayanmars (Saints) of Saivism belonged to Tamil Nadu.
11. All the 12 Alwars (Saints) of Vaishnavism belonged to Tamil Nadu.
12. The canon of the twelve holy books of Saivism -Thirumurai (which is called ‘Dravida Vedam’) are found in Tamil language.
13. The canon of ‘Nalayira Divya Prabandam’ which is called the ‘Dravida Vedam’ of Vaishnavism is found in Tamil language.
14. 274 out of the 280 ancient Saivite Temples of India are located in Tamil Nadu.
15. 96 out of the 108 ancient Vaishnavite Temples of India are located in Tamil Nadu.
16. In Saivism, the term, Kovil (Temple) means the temple at Chidambaram which is in TamilNadu.
17. In Vaishnavism, the term, Kovil (temple) means the temple of Thiruvarangam in Tamil Nadu.
18. Saiva Siddhantha is the theological exposition of Early Indian Christianity, which is also in Tamil.
19. History of Indian religions and literature reveals that St. Thomas Tamil Christian literature are found only in Tamil. Just as Early Christian literature developed in Roman Empire is found in Greek, Early Indian Christian literature developed in Tamil land is found in Tamil. As Latin followed Greek in respect of European Christianity, Sanskrit followed Tamil in respect of Early Indian Christianity.
20. ‘Soulology’, the crown of St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, that brings unity and brotherhood in the society.
21. Indian population comprises of 90% Dravidians and 10% Aryans. The Dravidians are the original inhabitants of India and majority in Indian population and most of them follow Saivism and Vaishnavism. The major religion of India is Saivism and Vaishnavism. Since Saivism, Vaishnavism or the so-called Hindu Religion is the offshoot of St. Thomas Tamil Christiany, the major religion of India therefore is St.Thomas Tamil Christianity.
From this brief summary it can be seen that Christianity is deeply rooted in Tamil land in Tamil culture and Tamil language from 1st c.A.D. and developed as St.Thomas Tamil Christianity, later known as ‘Hindu Religion’. This gives us a great opportunity to present the Gospel to the Hindus as a Hindu. This methodology which is used by the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:23 – 28 becomes very relevant for us to emulate and thereby bring Indians to the fuller knowledge of Christ; so that they can experience the power of His salvation.
- Ephesians 1:9,10
- ( John 10:16)
- Dr. M. Deivanayagam & D. Devakala, Christianity in Hinduism. Dravidian Religion Trust Chennai, 1997. Pp. 46-50.
- (Corinthians 9:19 New International Version NIV)
- (1 corinthians 9:20,21 (NIV)
- (1 corinthians 9:22 (RSV)7.
- Dr. M. Deivanayagam & D. Devakala, Christianity in Hinduism. Op.Cit., P. 48.
- Dr. M. Deivanayagam & D. Devakala, Op.Cit., (Pp. 46-50)
- (Dr. D. Devakala, Hindu Religion is the offshoot of St. Thomas Dravidian Christianity, Meipporual Publishers, Chennai 2006, P. 33)
- Dr. M. Deivanayagam & D. Devakala, Op.Cit.,. P. 39
- Dr. D. Devakala, Hindu Religion is the offshoot of St. Thomas Dravidian Christianity, Op.Cit., Pp. 23-24.
- Ibid, P. 36.
- Dr. D. Devakala Orgin of Development of Tamil Bhakthi Movement in the light of Bible, (in Tamil), Madras University, 1993.P.97
- Dr. Alexander Harris, The Development of Civilization and Religion in India and its Influence on the World Society, Pp.50-52, and (http:// www.appiusforum.net/paper.pdf).
- (Dr. M. Deivanayagam & Dr. D. Devakal, Creeds and Doctrine of Trinity in St. Thomas Dravidian Christianity, Meipporul Publishers, Chennai 23, 2005)
- Dr. D. Devakala , Op.Cit.,.
- Dr.M. Deivanayagam, Comparative Study of Bible, Thirukkural and Saiva Siddhanta (in Tamil), International Institute of Tamil Studies. Madras 113, 1985.
25. (Poigai Aazhvar, Muthal Thiruvanthathi,5)
26. (Peyazhvar, Moonram Thiruvanthathi,63)
27. Dr. M. Deivanayagam , Op. Cit.,
28. Dr. Devakala, India is a Thomas Dravidian Christian Nation. How? (In Tamil), Meipporul Publishers, 2005.
29. Ibid, Pp.156-162
30. Dr. M. Deivanayagam , Op. Cit.,Pp.130-135
37. (Thirugnana Sampantha Swamigal Devaram (Thalamurai), Sri Kasi Mutt, Thirupananthal 612 504, F.Ed.,1988, S.No.154 (1)
40. (Periathirumoli 2-5-3)
41. (Thirunavukkarasar Devaram – pa. a. 320)
42. (Appar 307-8)
43. (Thirukkural – 25)
44. (Thirukkural – 6)
45. (Thirumular Thirumandiram 1792)
46. (The notes on the Tamil Plutarch, Prof. T. P. Meenakshi sundaran. Quoted by N. C. Kandaiya Pillai, History of Hinduism, The Progressive Printers, P. 108, referred by Dr. M. Deivanayagem, Op.Cit., Pp. 149-150)
47. (Sivagnaanabodham – 1)
48. (Thiruvanthiyaar – 41)
49. (Dr. M. Deivanayagam, Sivagnaanapodham, 2004,Pp. 10 – 14).
50. (Thiruvunthiyaar 1)
52. (Thiruvunthiyaar. 12)
53. (Sivagnaanabodham. 12)
54. D. Devakala Jothimani, Origin and development of Tamil Bhakthi Movement (in the light of Bible), Op.Cit.,
56. Susmita Pande, Birth of Bhakti in Indian Religions and Art, Books & Books Publishers, New Delhi, F.P.1982, P-194
57. D. Devakala, Origin and development of Tamil Bhkathi Movement (in the light of Bible), Op.Cit., Pp. 165-170; 210-219.
60. Susmita Pande, Op.Cit., P.44