The Saiva Agamas are some of the earliest books in te Sanskrit language on Saiva religion and philosophy, written over a period of several centuries before the Christian era.
The Vedas have always been a source of fascinating study for orientalists of the West. Innumerable are the translations and critical studies; papers and books written on the Vedas, Upanishads and the Advaita philosophy of Sankara. ( It is now recognised that the Vedas as they are available today are only the compilation of Vyasa of a later day and that their original forms are not available. Vyasa is known as Veda Vyasa; Vyasa-‘compiler’)
Agamas, though they constitute an equally large body of ancient Sanskrit source material for a different concept of the same advaita philosophy of Vedanta, have not been studied by any orientalist; indeed they have not been studied at all or in depth even by any Indian scholar except perhaps Dr.Surendranata Das Gupta ( Oct 1885- Dec 1952) of Calcutta,even under te great grantha script.
Revealed by the Sadyojata Mukha. The following 5 agamas were revealed to Kausika Rishi, who then taught to three celestial who propagate it on earth
1-Kamikam -Feet-100,000 biliion-Pranava, Trikala,Hara
2-Yogajam -Shin -100,000 -Sudhakya,Bhasma,Vibhu
3-Chintyam -Toes -300,000 or 1000 -Sudipta,Gopati,Ambika
4-Karanam -Ankle -10 million or 40million -Karana, Sarva,Prajapathi
5-Ajitham -Knees -100,000 or 10,000 -Susicha, Siva, Achyuta
Revealed by the Vamadeva Mukha. The following 5 agamas were revealed to Kasyapa Rishi, who then taught to three celestial who propagate it on earth
6-Diptam -Thighs -100,000 -Isa,Trimurti, Hutasana
7-Sukshmam -Genitive organ -10 million -Sukshma, Vaisravana,Prabhanca
8-Sahasram -Hip -1 million millions -Kala, Bhima, Dharma
9-Amsumad -Back -500,000 -Amsu, Ugra, Ravi
10 -Suprabhedam -Navel -30 millions -Dasesa, Ganesa, Sasi
Revealed by the Aghora Mukha. The following 5 agamas were revealed to Bharadvaja Rishi, who then taught to two celestial who propagate it on earth
11-Vijayam -Stomach -120 millions -Anadirudra, Parameswara
12-Nisvasam -Heart -10 million -Dasarna, Sailasambhava
13-Svayambhuvam -Nipple -15 million -Nidhana, Padmasambhava
14-Agneyam -Eye -30,000 -Vyoma, Hutasana
15-Viram -Neck -100,000 -Tejas, Prajapati
Revealed by the Tatpurusha Mukha. The following 5 agamas were revealed to Gautama Rishi, who then taught to two celestial who propagate it on earth
16-Rauravam -Ears -80,000 million -Brahmanesa, Nandikesvara
17-Makutam -Crown -100,000 -Siva, Mahadeva
18-Vimalam -Arms -300,000 -Sarvamatra, Virabatra
19-Chandrajnanam -Chest -30 millions -Ananta, Brhaspati
20-Mukhabimbam -Face -100,000 -Prasanta, Dadhichi
Revealed by the Isana Mukha. The following 8 agamas were revealed to Agastya Rishi, who then taught to two celestial who propagate it on earth
21-Prodgitam -Tongue -300,000 -Sulin, Kavacha
22-Lalitham -Cheeks -8000 -Alayesa, Rudra Bhairava
23-Siddham -Forehead -15 millions -Bindu, Chandesvara
24-Santanam -Kundala ( ear rings) -6000 -Sivanishta, Samsapayana
25-Sarvoktham -Sacred thread -200,000 -Somadeva, Nrusimha
26-Parameswara -Garland -1,200,000 -Sridevi, Usanas
27-Kiranam -Ornaments -50 millions -Devatarksya, Samvartana
28-Vathulam -Garment -100,000 -Siva, Mahakala
All the agama manuscript are available only in the granta script, one which had been invented by the Tamil people for writing their Sanskrit scriptures, more than 1500 years ago.
These Agamas are not available in the North. Dr Das Gupta has stated “...no agama manuscript of any importance is found even in Varanasi, the greatest centre of Hindu religion, Sanskrit studies and culture.”
Agamas had the greatest revival in the days of the Chola Emperors of Tamil Nadu from 9th Century. Tis was the period immediately after Sankara. The Smarthas who adopted the philosophy of Sankara somehow deemed the agams to be ‘alien’ to themselves just because Sankara did not deal with them.
The Agamas very strictly laid down that only the Sivacharya class, the Siva Brahmins, were competent to enter the main sanctum or garbha graham and perform the worship in the Siva temples and that the Brahmins as such ( i.e the smartha Brahmin) shall not enter the sanctum, touch the Sivalinga or perform the worship.
A parallel in the domination of the Sanskrit influence of Sanskrit may be noticed in Vashnavism in the work of Ramanuja; a great acharya who gave his whole life to the establishment of Vaishnavism as a separate and independent cult in Tamil Nadu. He called his philosophy, Vasisthadvaitha.
But it is only the Saiva religion that held up the torch of Tamil culture by producing its own original basic scriptures in Tamil, without recourse to Sanskrit through Meykandar in the 12th century. A distinctive Saiva Advaita philosophy began to take shape from the days of Thirumoolar and Karaikal Ammaiyar. This was given a fresh life and a new direction in the Tamil language by the Saiva Nayamars such as Saint Sambanthar, Appar, Sundarar and Manikkavasagar
In the period of these saints, the essence of agamas flourished into temple building and temple worship from 9th to 13th century. Although the agama study and practice in Sanskrit was now revived, the whole Saiva cult of this period was Tamil based. The philosophy of Sankara was Sanskrit based and couldn’t combine itself into the new revival in Tamil Nadu in the Tamil language. The greatest exponent of this revival, Saint Thirugnanasambanthar, was though the Saiva himself a Brahmin.
It should be remembered that the Smarthis had the greatest authority over the Brahmins who were in consequence called Smarthas but they had no authority over the Saiva Siddhantins This is also a reason for the neglect of agamic studies in the past.
Smartism (or Smarta Sampradaya, Smarta Tradition, as it is termed in Sanskrit) is a denomination of the Hindu religion. The term Smarta refers to adherents who follow the Vedas and Shastras. They mainly follow the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Adi Shankara. But there have been instances when they have advocated or followed other philosophies.
The Velalar, otherwise called the Saivas, who were themselves the followers of the agamas, evolved their own philosophic doctrines from the 12th century and called their philosophy also the (Suddha) Advaita philosophy. All their original writing in this Saiva philosophy was in Tamil. The Saiva school emphasized temple worship which was not the creed of the Sankara advaitins.
The Saivas now took the line of least resistance by limiting themselves to their new Tamil text alone, ignoring all Sanskrit, unfortunately including the Agamas also. All these attitude caused the agamas to fade deeper. The agamas though written in Sanskrit were considered to highlight the Tamil ( often called Dravidians) culture and so the Aryans dominated north would not recognise this Dravida culture.
The Sivacharyas also are to be blamed with regard to this. They ‘crossed’ the Vedic or Smartha Brahmin in all matters and tried to climb in the ladder of caste by calling themselves Brahmins, although the Smartha Brahmins refused to recognize their brahminhood. Inter marriage among them is prohibited to this day.
But the agamas declare that the Sivacharyas is far superior to the (mere) Brahmin since he is the Siva Brahmin. Siva diksha is the exclusive privilege of the Saivas including the Sivacharyas. Generally the Smarta Brahmin is not qualified for Siva Diksha.
Occasionally in the modern day the smarta Brahmin comes forward to cook ‘food offering’ for the Sivalinga enshrined in Siva temples ( a service which according to agamas has to be done by the pachaka section of Sivacharyas); in such case he is given the first diksha – samaya diksha which makes him a Saiva and then allowed to cook the food.
Thus keeping the Agamas as their own privileged preserve; the Sivacharyas have kept the wider studies of the Saivagamas within them. The agamas in consequence came to perish. Howerver there are a few Sivacharyas who know the agams thoroughly and who have the agama texts at their finger tips.
The Vedas were the preserve of the elite Aryans and never came down to the level of common man, nor did their thoughts and rites reached the common man. But on the other hand, Agamas concerned themselves with all society, with common man and his needs both social and spiritual.
General assumption that agamas only deal with temple and temple worship rituals is wrong. The agamas deals with four parts, Sariyai, Kriyai, Yoga and Njanam. Here Kriya deals with temple construction and rituals and Njana deals with the highest philosophy that is none other than Saiva Siddhantham.
The emphasis on the kriya part in the newly rising cult of Saivism in the era of Chola Emperors and because of the separate evolution of the Njana part independently in Tamil language, the agamas had come to be called a mere ritualistic code ( which is wrong) by the pro Tamil culture.
The publication of Raurava Agama, Ajitha agama, Kalottara 1(sloka from Sata Ratna Sangraha) and Mrgendra agama in recent years by French Institute of Indology, Pondicherry under Dr Filliozat and Professor N.R Bhat had brought the agamas again in focus.
As far Saivism is concerned, it is considered as originated from the South and not from the North. The Saivism of the Tamilians, was the growth of an unbroken tradition probably from the prehistoric past and this had three elements fused into it.
These are an external worship of images as the manifest abode of God, both in shrines, throughout the land and in devotees own home; symbolism and the inward meditation and realization.
These 3 elements are; worship of images in the temples was “parartha pooja” for all mankind, for the welfare of the entire society and worship in homes was for individual and his family. Temple worship is done by a dedicated group of Sivachariyars for the welfare of community and worship at home is done by a person who had an initiation under a competent guru such as Vishesha Diksha for Sivapooja.
Second element is symbolism; the idol worshipped is not God; it is just a symbol intented to remind people of God and to direct their minds and hearts through the seen symbol to the Unseen One Beyond or Supreme.
The third element is meditation. What cannot be perceived by the senses externally, may be realized in the heart, with of course His own grace. Without constant concentration and meditation, external worship alone will not result in realization.
It is only this internal worship or atma pooja that lends meaning to external worship. These three are not separate compartments but basically one harmonious integrated whole in the ritual of worship.
1. The Vedas and The Agamas
The following agamic passages may be seen to affirm the origin of the Agamas from the Vedas:
“The Siddhanta consists of the essence of the Vedas” ( Suprabhedagama)...this tantra is of the essence of Veda’, this siddhanta knowledge which is the significance of Vedanta is supremely good” – Sivadvaita of Srikantha by S.S. Suryanaranyana Sastri 1972; page 3.
“It has been suggested that the agamic systems were developed out of the Brahmanas in the same way as the Upanishads, though at a much later stage and that some of the Upanishads like Svetasvatara which address the Supreme Being by a sectarian title and not as Para Brahman, long time ago, probably grew up under the shadow of the Agamas” – P.T Srinivasa Iyengar.
“The agamic cult which was that of the generality of the people and Vedic cult which was of only the priestly classes, officiating for themselves or for others. They existed and grew up side by side from the earliest times.” – Quote from Sivadvaita of Sastri
Perasiriyar, (13th Century A.D.) a commentator on the Tamil book Tolkappiyam, referring to the subject matter of the scriptures, mentions the Vedas and the Agamas separately, thereby implying that their contents are different and that they stand for two different bodies of doctrines.
Swami Prajananananda, quoted by Sir John Woodroffe, has clearly established that the agamic texts, as we know them today, had for the most part preceded Buddhism, and only the agamic cult had been able gradually to swallow up Buddhism on the Indian sub-continent and ultimately to banish it altogether from the Indian soil. It was not Upanishadic philosophy but the Agamic cult that was responsible for this. This is a very important observation deserving the careful attention of all scholars.
The four parts of the Agamas are likened to the four parts of Vedas – namely the mantra part or stotras comaparable to Sariya of the agamas; the Brahmanas dealing with rituals comaparable to kriya; the Aranyaka part to Yoga and the Upanishad or philosophy part equivalent to Njanapada of the agamas.
Exponents of the Agamas would go further and say that the Supreme of Saivism, Siva, is mentioned in the Vedic terms such as the following:
Isa vasyam idam sarvam
Yah parah sa mahesvarah
Sarve vai Rudrah.
Ambika pataye Umapataye
Yo vai Rudras sa Bhagavan Bhurbhuvas suvah
Tasmai namas tasmai tva jushtam
niyurajmi yasmai namas tat Sivah.
Haraya Rudraya Sarvaya Sivaya
Bhavaya Maha Devaya Ugraya
All the names mentioned in the last lines are the specific mantra names of Siva.
The Bharga Sabda in the Gayatri mantra ( Bhargo dhevasya dhimahi ) is considered to refer to Siva. Besides, the introduction of Sri Uma in Kenoupanishad clearly explains the Saiva Siddhanta doctrine that ignorance can be dispelled only with the bestowal of Siva’s Grace which is personified as Sakthi or Uma.
The Kaivalyopanishad, one of the early Upanishads, claimed by many to be of the Advaitic or Vedanta school, has the following lines ( sloka 7 ):
Tam Aadi madhyanta vihinam Ekam Vibhum
Chidanandam Arupam Adbhutam
Uma sahayam Paramesvaram Prabhum
Trilochanam Nilakantham Prasaantam
Here the description of Siva in so many words, as the consort of Uma, Parameswara, the Three eyed, the Blue Throated are the significant as pointing to the Supreme Being as Siva.
In the Devi ashtottra namas used by different Sivacharyas in temple worship today, one of the following names is “Aum Agamarupinyai Namah”; meaning that Devi is of the form of the Agamas. Siva and Sakthi are not separate and so this term is also significant.
Nama 290 in Lalitha Sahasranamam: “Sakalagama sandhoha sukthi samputa mauktika” meaning, “She wears the pearl in the nose ring enclosed in a shell composed of all the agamas”
2. Age of the Agamas
St. Thirumular mentions nine agamas by name, we may assume that the more important agamas were written long time before him. Even some later day Buddhist scriptures call themselves as agamas – Ekottaragama, Madhyamagama etc. Sakhya dynasty of Kapilavasthu in which great Siddharta was born were worshippers of Siva. The city is considered to be in the state of Nepal which continues to be a Saiva state to this day.
We may not be sure that the present versions of the agama are those which existed at that ancient past. As sruthis, they were handed down by word of mouth from master to disciple, through several centuries, before they came to be written down on palm leaf.
Naturally many changes would have taken place into texts, both consciously and unconsciously, as times changed and as needs and aims of society underwent considerable change. Hence it is possible the original texts became elastic and new ideas were incorporated into the texts.
Dr. Surendranath Gupta says “ The date of the Agamas cannot be definitely fixed. It maybe suggested that the earliest of them were written some time in the second or third century A.D. and these must have been continued till the thirteenth or fourteenth century”
Some Jain writings of a much later date were called the Jinagama. There were also the Sakthagamas, in praise of Sakthi, Vaikhanasa and Pancharatra are the agamas of two Vaishnava schools. The numbers of Saivagamas is very large and most of them preceeded the books of the other schools in point of time.
From the remote past, from the very early days when the agamas were just written, there existed only Saivagamas. The term agama signified only the Saivagama. The agamas of the other schools of Hinduism were not written at that time.
The Vedas are called Apaurusheya, not made by man. The Vedas are considered to have born from the four faces of Brahman. But this has to be understood as signifying that the Vedas were revealed to enlightened spiritual seekers who taught them to their disciples and were being continuously handed down from master to disciples and hence the name Sruthi until they were written down at a later stage on palm leaf.
The Agamas were revealed from the 5 faces of Lord Siva. – Eesanam, Tatpurusham, Aghoram, Vamadevam and Satyojatham. The Agamas did not come into existence simultaneously, but did certainly have a gradual evolution even in the pre-B.C and in the first millenium A.D.
Many of the Saivagamas had been quite ancient, besides some of the Agama systems are referred to by Badarayana and so those systems at least must have been earlier than the compilations of Brahma Sutras. The Brahma sutras, also known as Vedanta Sutras, constitute the Nyaya prasthana, the logical starting point of the Vedanta philosophy (Nyāya = logic/order). No study of Vedanta is considered complete without a close examination of the Prasthana Traya, the texts that stand as the three starting points. The Brahma Sutras are attributed to Badarayana.
The compilations of these sutras is considered to have taken place earlier than the Buddha and Mahavira. All these naturally certify to the antiquity of the early Agamas.
Parimelalahar of the 13th Century, the great commentator of kural and an ardent Vaishnavite, interpreting the phrase Engutattan occurring in a verse of the Kural, he lists the eight attributes of Siva and says that these are taken from the Saivagamas and there are no such attributes to Vishnu in any Vaishnava books.
The age of the agamas is based solely on theories by various scholars. The exact period of the agama’s origin is yet to be identified. The excavations of Mohenjodaro Harappa gives evidences that practices of Saivism existed few centuries before the Christian era and the agamas would have certainly existed before the said period which goes beyond time.
3. The term AGAMA
Several explanations have been offered for the term agama. One of it that because it existed from God, it is called the Agama, that which came (from God), a-gama.
Another is that the three letters a-ga-ma respectively denote pati, pasu and pasam; and that the agamas deals with these three entities and their relationship, and hence this name.
A Sanskrit verse gives an interesting meaning for the three syllables a, ga, and ma:
Agatam Siva valtrenhyah gatan ca girija mukhe
Matam ca Siva bhaktanam agamam cheti katyate
“ The agamas originated from the faces of Lord Siva, fell on the ears of Parasakti and spread in the world as the Matha ( Religion ), of the Siva bhaktas”, the agamas are mostly in the form of instructions from Siva to Sakthi. They take their name from the first letters, of the words agatam (originated), gatam (fell) and matam (religion) as mentioned in this sloka.
Although the special scriptures of Saivism, Vaishnavism and Saktism are generally known as agamas; this term has, however, come to have a specialised significance in later days. Only the Saivagamas are referred to as the agamas; the Vaishnava agamas are mostly referred to as Samhitas and the Sakta agamas are mostly referred to as the Tantras.
4. The number of the Agamas
The agamas are said to be infinite in number. The aspects of Siva are five in number – Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Isana. Each of these has five faces and from these twenty five faces were revealed numberless agamas, according to one tradition.
One tradition says that Sadasiva revealed the four agamas to Garuda, Vama, Bhutatantra and Bairava from the four faces and the well known 28 agamas from the fifth face Isanam.
The 28 Saiva agamas are said to have been revealed from all the five faces of Siva, the first four taught five agamas each, while the last, Isanam gave rise to eight. The first ten agamas were taught by Sadasiva to the Vidyesvaras, so they are called the Sivabheda agamas ( Saiva or God-taught).
The remaining 18 were taught to 36 Rudras beginning from Anadirudra, and hence these were called the Rudrabheda agamas ( Raudric or man-realized ). The first ten were taught again in turn to three celestial beings each, which the other eighteen were taught to two each, thus making a total of 66 celestials ( 30+36 ) who learned the agamas.
Ananthesvara taught the agamas to Srikanda Rudra, who in turn taught them to the sages. The sages initiated the disciples into the mysteries of the agamas and thus the books came to have value among the mortals. The Kamikagama shows all the 28 agamas in serial order, their origin, the number of verses therein, the organ of Siva which they represent and persons to whom they were revealed.
5. Content of the Agamas
Sadasiva revealed to spiritually advanced souls, the agamas, which embodied the path of such salvation to the mortals who are caught up in the cycle of births and deaths. The four paths towards this end have been developed by Tamil Siddhanta sastra writers in the evolutionary order of Sariya, Kriya , Yoga and Jnanam.
Jnana is the part of philosophy of the agamas ( Saiva Siddhanta ), while the other three may be taken as dealing with sadhana or practice. Of the agamas that is available in print today, only Suprabheda, Mrgendra and the Kirana contain all four parts.
From the volume of writing under each head, it can be clearly seen that the emphasis of the agamas was equally on the jnana and kriya parts, that is both the philosophical and the ritualistic aspects.
Among the 28 Sivagamas, the first 10 are called Sivabheda and the next 18 are called Rudrabheda. The Sivabheda agamas are 5 each from 2 faces; Sadyojata and Vamadeva while Rudrabheda agama are 5 from each face of Aghora, 5 from face of Tatpurusha, and 8 from face of Isanam.
There are 5 kinds of Guru Shisya relationship in Rudrabheda. The relationship between Sadasiva and Anadhirudra is Param; relationship between Anadhirudrar and Parameswarar is Maham; relationship between Parameswarar and Devas is Divyam; relationship between Devas and Rishis is Divyadivyam and relationship between Rishis and people is Adivyam
The Jnana Part
The Jnana pada is the part dealing with the metaphysical basis of the agama system. It provides the philosophical truths underlying the system and expounds the origin, the rationale and the goal. The Supreme is one and All is He, SIVA. The emphasis of Vedanta on the soul and mind is now shifted so as to encompass a larger part of man or rather the complete man.
This is of course because of Agamic teaching embraces the complex personality of man, his emotions and heart, and his will as well. This is the knowledge of Jnana pada.
The Yoga Part
The agamas were not the first to speak of the Yoga pada nor even Patanjali. Vedic writers would say that the yoga path is as old as the Vedas. They would claim that the Yajnas, sacrifices, were themselves a sort of yoga practice where the vedic seer tried to unite himself with the particular celestial who was invoked.
The agamic yoga part goes beyond the Patanjali’s raja yoga and lays down an inner discipline. The aim of yoga is of course Jnana. Hence this yoga seeks to purify, elevate and equip the disciple for a life which will explain the Truths realised through Jnana.
It is usual in the modern day to speak of raja yoga, bhakthi yoga, karma yoga and jnana yoga in treating of religious practices. Different sects evolve their own terminology and this terminology cannot be expected to be there in the same form in Saiva Siddhanta.
The Yoga pada however seems to be a scantiest or ‘minor’ part in the agamas. Only the Suprabheda, the Kirana and the Mrgendra texts are available on this pada.
Patanjali’s raja yoga takes one through eight steps and these are known as the Ashtanga Yoga. These eight steps –Yama,Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. It is only a course of spiritual discipline leading to a higher purpose, only steps leading to an altogether higher goal.The last three steps are said to comprise the true raja yoga. Dharana is concentration; helps to perfect mind control. Dhyana is meditation which helps the uninterrupted flow of thought to the object of devotion. This finally leads to state of Samadhi where the mind initially functions in the contemplation, but finally it ceases to exist. The initial state here confers siddhis or powers on the practiser of yoga but he is not to be lured by them. He ignores these and goes to the higher state of Samadhi which is the mystic union.
Yoga is union, the union of the conscious individual self with the Universal Self. The term yoga is used in common term as a form of personal discipline: this yoga is just a means towards the attainment of higher purpose.In the religious language it is the union of the mind at the feet of the Master.
This eight fold ashtanga yoga is taken as a step to a higher yoga in Saiva Siddhanta which seeks a spiritual union beyond the mental discipline and it is called the Prasaadaa Yoga, one which confers supreme realisation. It is a process of spiritual evolution where the souls goes through a sixteen fold process of inward perception withdrawing the spirit from all outward activities and rising higher and higher in the realisation of the Self inwardly and finally attaining non-dual union with it.
The Praasadaa yoga is a sort of training for the power of the Sushumna Nadi called Kundalini Sakthi, which is like a coiled serpent and for taking it through sixteen stages called kalas, bindu, ardhachandra, nirodhi, nadam, nadantam, sakthi, vyapini, vyomarupai, anantai, anata, anasritai, samanai and unmanai. Beyond unmana is the brahma randra, the dvadasanta centre. The aspirant in his yogic practice, takes the Sakthi to each stage and there, has the corresponding vision. This process is the Shodasakala Praashadaa yoga, this last stage is the merger or union.
The Kriya Part
This pada considers not the individual man alone but considers man in the society. It has a concern and involvement in the community around. The temple is an outward expression of this concern. The Kriya aspect so far as temple parartha worship is concerned is in three divisions – i. Prathisthanam that is from clearing the ground for examining its suitability for temple construction, to consecration; ii. Pratishtha to Utsavantham that is from consecration uo to the conduct of all types of festivals and iii. Prayascitta kriyas – kriya rites combined with other purificatory rituals.
The Kriya part is generally the largest part in all the available agamas.This part is concerned with worship, both individual and temple worship. All the aspects of worship are elaborately described here. The details of temple construction for example; details which are given here are far beyond what an excellent modern architect can dream of.
Other allied subjects dealt with here are sculpture, iconography, construction of temple car or Theer, geology, horticulture, astronomy, town planning, home science, water supply, health and hygiene, food and many others. In short we may say, no area of human activity of the period about 2000 years back has been left out.
Agamas speak of 64 kinds of Siva forms ( Asthasta forms) and in brief 25 Maheswara muhurtam are as per Karana agama for worship.
The Sariyai Part
The seeker after TRUTH, the Siddhantin, has to equip himself intellectually for the philosophy of Jnana Pada. The spiritual effort is augmented and supported by the many kriyas, temple worship and festivals. For these efforts an external aid both in himself and in the environment is essential. This is the code of personal conduct and discipline, the way of behaviour or functioning and this is Sariyai.
The Sariya part is not a difficult one nor it is very complicated either for understanding or for following. It is a sort of rigid preparation, intended to purify and equip the Sadhaka in body, mind and spirit, a personal training or discipline.
The path marked out for him is the Godward path, because as a Sadhaka, he practises the means for attaining oneness with Siva. He has in a limited sense to begin with, to lead others. Society looks up to him and by his personal life, affiliations, behaviour and progress and attainments, he sets the model.
The Sariya part deals with daily observance and the personal discipline of the worshippers. The Suprabhedagama deals elaborately with this. The purificatory ceremonies for the individual from the time of his birth, the deekshas ( initiation ), the ultimate funeral rites and similar other ceremonies are described here.
6. Agamas quoted by Samayacharyars and Sekkilar in Periyapuranam
The Thevaram hyms of Saint Sambanthar, Appar and Sundarar make several references to the Agamas.
Saint Sambanthar says “ Lord Siva revealed the Veda, the Vedanta and the Agama” – 3;23;6
Saint Appar says “ Daksha no doubt performed his Yajna as laid down by the Vedas; but he should have done it in the manner laid down in the Agamas ( which automatically will give importance to Lord Siva) and that implied as the reason for the destruction of the Yajna by Lord Siva through Veerabatra.” – 4;65;6
Saint Manikkavasagar says “ Lord Siva disclosed the agamas from the Mahendra Hill out of his five faces” 2;20
Saint Sekkilar makes many references to the agama in Periyapuranam:
“The agamas were revealed by Lord Siva, temples are built according to the rules laid down in the agamas. Siva puja is performed according to the agamas and he is please with such worship”
In Saint Kannappar’s story, the Sivagochariyar, the saintly priest arrives at the temple, bringing flowers and water as laid down in the agama -784
The traitor Muthanathan, bent upon killing the saintly ruler Meyporul, says to teh Queen, “ I have brought here a rare agama revealed by your Master, not to be found anywhere on earth” – 478
Saint Pusalar built the temple mentally and laid the foundation according to the agamic rules – 4181
Narrating the greatness of the city of Kanchipuram, Sekkilar says that Umadevi worshipped Siva in this place; in this context he specifically mentions several times that Umadevi performed Sivapuja as laid down in the agamas. – 1132, 1133, 1134, 1136, 1141, 1142
7. Relevance of the Agamas
Rules were laid down for the building of the temples and for the installation of images therein. Temples had been growing in importance since the days of the Saiva Samayacharyas. It is well known that most temples follow the Kamika or the Karana agama for practices of day to day worship, while the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram follows Makutagama; the Thiruvengadu temple follows three agamas, Kamika, Makuta and Karana agamas, Thirueengoimalai follows Vatulagama; Thirunallam temple follows Karana agama and Sukshuma agama; Thirunallar temple follows Makudagama.
The Makutagama seem to occupy a unique place among the agamas. It is quoted as the authority in temples where Lord Nadaraja is said to perform one of His Cosmic dances, In such shrines His Ardha Darisanam ( Thiruvathirai ) festival is considered to be of special significance. They have special dance halls called Pancha sabha which is Kanakasabha ( Gold-Chidambaram ); Rajata sabha ( Silver – Madurai ); Tambira sabha ( Copper- Thirunelveli); Ratna sabha ( Ruby- Thiruvalangadu) and Chitra sabha ( Art –Thirukkutralam)