Many devoted pilgrims are coming lately. One who came was focused entirely on the worship of Lord Murugan and doesn't worship Siva. Apparently some Saivites only worship Murugan. Why is that? How is Murugan worship different from Siva worship? Saiva Siddhanta only works when the focus is on Siva, as with Siva worship there is both theism and monism, we worship Siva in the temple and we are Siva within ourselves. Through the progressive padas, or margas, we get closer to Siva as we experience him first as a servant to master in the dasa marga, son to father in the satputra marga, friend to friend in the sakha marga and finally oneness, Self, in the jnana marga.
A number of very fine, devoted Hindu pilgrims visited us the last few days and I have been talking to them. One of them comes from a very traditional Saivite family. His father was a very strict Saiva Siddhantin from Jaffna, who moved to Malaysia and Australia. He focused on the worship of Murugan and focused his children on it too, very explicitly like an Ishta Devata, focusing on Murugan. This man was talking to me and asking about the difference between Murugan and Siva worship, Saivites worshipping Murugan so exclusively and how common that is in Malaysia where he spent many years.
So, I was thinking about that. What is the essential difference between the worship of Murugan and the worship of Siva?
The worship of Muruga of course is very important in our tradition and it is one of the factors that distinguishes the South Indian Saiva Siddhanta form of Saivism. It is not just Siva, Murugan is there too and is very important. But of course Siva is the Supreme Being.
I came up with one major difference and that is the worship of all Deities who are not Siva, is always dualistic. In our tradition, we just have Ganesha and Murugan. It is like, "There is the Deity. Here I am. I am worshipping, I am getting blessed."
This is good and it is something we all need to master. But our tradition isn't dualism or theism, it is monistic theism. So there is a monistic side there that is missing when it comes to the worship of Murugan, which is not missing in the worship of Siva. In other words, we start worshiping Siva as we worship any Deity and there is a dualism, there is a separation. We are there beseeching the Deity to bless us. But when we get to a certain point, when those blessings get intense enough we cross over the line into monism. So we are not getting blessed, we are Siva who is blessing. That only happens with the worship of Siva. The Siva worship leads you from separation into unity, from dualism into monism.
Therefore, in Saiva Siddhanta particularly we need to worship Siva. Saiva Siddhanta only works when the focus is on Siva. Some examples of that are how the padas and the margas are described. Of course, we all know them by heart.
The charya pada or the dasa marga, we are quite a distance from Siva. Siva is like the master and we are the servant. We are just getting to know Him. We don't feel very close in that relationship.
When we go deeper to the kriya pada, temple worship, puja we are closer, we are in the satputra marga, as a son is to a father. So we are a lot closer. The relationship between a son and a father is a lot closer than a servant and a master. We have come that much closer to Siva in understanding, feeling and loving Him.
Next is yoga. Yoga pada is the sakha marga where we are friends. Being friends may seem strange, it seems a little too informal to consider God a friend. Certainly that kind of approach is in many of the traditional Tamil scriptures. Gurudeva himself, would often joke about the Deities and talk about them as His best friends. So it is quite well established in the tradition and it shows the closeness, a real closeness. If someone is a friend, you are very close to them, you share a lot. They are much closer to you than other people.
Of course, in the jnana pada or the San Marga, we are identical, we are Siva. That is our monism in the jnana pada, San Marga. There is no difference between us and Siva in that stage of Siva worship.
There is a beautiful verse, I was hoping someone who can read Tamil in the dark, can read this verse. Any of the stapathis or silpis, can you read it?
uyirrukkuyirai nittral onngnana pujai
uyirrukkoliyai nokkal mahayoga pujai
uyirperum aavaaganam purappujai
There, that explained it. It is a famous verse. We have used it often. It is in 'Dancing with Siva'. It talks about each of the padas and what we experience in them. The language is so beautiful, the English just doesn't catch it. To go along with what we have been talking about, I am going to explain the verse from the end of the verse to the beginning because the verse starts with jnana and then yoga, kriya and charya. We are talking charya, kriya, yoga and jnana. It fits in better when we explain it backwards.
"Expressing adoration is charya." Attending a puja, expressing adoration is charya.
"Giving life by invocation is external worship of kriya." This means actually doing the puja. It is like invocation. We are invoking the presence of the Deity in the Murthi. That is giving life. Keep using the word life, it is something you give to the murthi.
"Beholding the Light of life is great yoga worship." So, we are seeing the inner light just like we were talking about in our Shum meditation. 'eef tyay', we call it in the Shum language, seeing the light at the top of the head. It was interesting that Thondunatha translated it as 'olhi'. This is using the same word 'uyirukkolhi', the Light of life is what we behold.
"Being the Life of life is splendorous jnana worship." That is the Life of life. "God Siva is the Life of your life," Gurudeva's phrase. So, there is a separate word in Tamil, with that one meaning, 'uyirrukkuyir'. God is the Life of your life.
This of course is talking about monism. We are not beholding something. We are not seeing something that is separate from us. "Beholding the light" implies it is separate from us, we are seeing it. We are the awareness seeing the light. We are beholding the light. But here, in "Being the Life of life is splendorous jnana worship", we are not separate from it. We are just being Siva as the Life of life.
It is a very beautiful verse which shows the whole idea of how our consciousness changes, how our relationship to Siva changes as we progress through charya, kriya, yoga and jnana just in this one verse and it is very beautiful poetry as well.