Kachiyappa Munivar: A Tribute
Today, being the Guru Puja of Sri Kachiyappa Munivar, we present here the English translation of his Stotra-Ashtakam.
Kachiyappa Munivar was a venerable Saivaite saint and a great scholar of Tamil and Sanskrit. His very important work is the Tamil rendering of Vinayaga Puranam. Apart from this great work he had also written a lot of Sthala Puranas. Among them Thiruthanigai Puranam, Kanchi Puranam, Thiruvanaika Puranam are a few of the important ones.
Born in a traditional Saivaite family more than 250 years ago, his vidhya-guru was Madhava Sadasiva Gnani, a genius ; he was a great master of Saiva Siddhanta and his bhashya for Meikandar’s Sutras are hailed as a great peak in the spiritual history of India.
Unfortunately, over the last 150 years, the wonderful pure non-dualist Siddhanta school got eclipsed because of various reasons.
In his rendering of the Purana of Ganesa there are two parts: Upasana Kanda and Lila Kanda.
In the Upasana Kanda there is an interesting Puranic event: At the end of a pralaya, Brahma generated through his mind seven children.
Among the seven, the best was Kashyapa. Brahma gave him the Ekakshara-Mantra and asked him do tapas meditating on it. Kashyapa did tapas for 1000 deva years and in the end Ganesha appeared.
Kashyapa worshipped Ganesha. In this Puranic context, Kachiyappa Munivar composed a wonderful hymn for Ganesha called Stotra-Ashtakam.
It contains eight verses. It has deep spiritual insight, philosophical grandeur and is filled with bhakti.
One of the greatest achievements of Tamil, unparalleled anywhere else, is its harmonious blending of Siddhanta and Bhakti. Stotra-Ashtakam exemplifies this Tamil tradition that comes to us right from Nayanmars and Aazhwars.
Today, being the Guru Puja of Sri Kachiyappa Munivar, we present here the English translation of these eight verses:
He from whom emanates this plane of existence with its infinite modalities, so that the lives can be liberated from their bondage; He in whom any and every world has its genesis, sustenance and dissolution; He from whom arises the Vedas of melodious meters, Agamas and other Kalais(1) arise; in that Godhead that is Ganapathi with love we take refuge. (i)
He who stands unremoved (2) with all existence; and yet He who stands unaffected by all changes of the dynamics of existence; He who directs the Karmic fruits arising out of the dynamics to all existence; He who is the first cause of the very Existence; in that Godhead Ganapathi with happiness we take refuge. (ii)
He by whose Arul all obstacles become the cotton sponges fallen into fire; He by whose Arul the life forms in cycles of birth and death advance into higher existence; He by whom even the Gods get the obstacles removed for their deeds; in that Godhead of good attributes and tusk, Ganapathi, at His golden feet, we take refuge. (iii)
He who is the sacredness of the sacred form (Murti); He who is the sacredness of the very sacred temple and Kshetra; He who is the sacredness of the sacred waters right from the Ganga; He who, through this embedded sacredness imparts to all life-forms auspiciousness and removes ignorance, whether they are aware or unaware; in that compassion filled Ganapathi, singing His glories, we take refuge. (iv)
He who is the first cause of deeds we do; He who is the very deed we do; He who is also the fruit of Karma that definitely follows the deed that has been done; He who feeds all life-forms the Karmic fruits and ultimately liberates them as they attain spiritual maturity; in that Godhead Ganapathi who is free of all falsehood, with understanding, we take refuge. (v)
He whose greatness cannot be defined or measured by the Vedas; He who being eternally free from all impurities and who dances at the end of the Vedas; He who is the Master at the end of the Nada(3); He who is of eight autopoietic sacred Gunas(4); in that Godhead Ganapathi who is the cause of Awareness, praising Him, we take refuge.(vi)
He who abides in the soil as its five qualities; He who in water is seated as four qualities; He who in fire is present as three qualities; He who is in wind harmonizes as two qualities; (5) He who in space is as its only quality; in that Godhead of greatness Ganapathi with all love we take refuge. (vii)
He who is transcendental and beyond the grasp of the knowing of bound life forms and the knowing of bondage; He who harmonises the knowledges emanating from bound life forms as well as bondage; He who frees life forms (when they reach the stage) of knowledges of bound as well as bondages; in that Godhead who Himself is the shining embodiment of the Knowledge Absolute(6), with all our love for Him manifest we take refuge. (viii)
1. Kalais: It can be directly translated as kalas or art forms. It can also mean the different phases of moon. But here kalais can refer to five components of Vyashti Pranava namely: Akara, Ukara, Makara, Nada, Bindhu.
When all these components are united, it is in Samashti Pranava as Omkara.
At another level these five ‘kalais’ of Pranava map to expression of consciousness as word: Akara and Ukara map to Vaikari as they are manifest. Makara too being manifest it maps to Mathyama. Bindu is suukshma and it maps to Pachyanti and Nadam is even more suukshma and hence maps to Para. As Ganapathi is God of Pranava-form, kalais may refer to these.
2. ‘Unremoved’: Unlike certain world-views where the single entity becomes everything, in Siddhanta the Godhead stands undivided with the Universe and also exists as separate and also exists as non-dual.
3. ‘end of the Nada’: As already seen Nadam is the hyper-subtle component of Pranava. Beyond that is the Consciousness as Divine Feminine according to Thirumoolar.
Nada`s End is Goddess auspicious
Nada`s End is auspicious Yoga
Nada`s End is towards what all strive
Nada`s End is where sits the Lord who drank the Poison (Thirumanthiram: 3:8:11)
Here Ganapathi is meditated at the end of Nadam.
4. : Though Siva is pure and without anthropomorphic qualities, His emanation can be perceived through human cognition as eight qualities which are innate and self-emanating – autopoietic.
These are: a) Absolute-Independence; b) Purity untainted by any corporeality; c) Absolute Knowledge Form; d) Omniscience; e) Naturally free from primal impurities- Ego, Karma, Maya; f) All-encompassing Benevolence that knows no bounds; g) Omnipotence, and h) unbound and unending Bliss.
5. The qualities in the five elements: With each element five qualities are associated and these are qualities derived by consciousness through its interaction with that element. With soil these are seeing, hearing, eating, regeneration and knowing. With water they are seeing, hearing, eating and knowing. With fire they are seeing, hearing and knowing. With wind, it is hearing and knowing and with space it is only knowing.
Thus, these are not qualities of the five elements themselves but what the consciousness derives from them and with these qualities being associated with consciousness they become emanations of the Divine.
6. Knowledge forms and Pasu, Pathi, Pasam: According to Saiva Siddhanta there is Pasu – the bound beings and Pathi who is Siva who can liberate the Pasu; and Pasam the bondage that binds Pasu.
Pathi removes the Pasam to liberate Pasu.
Pasa knowledge is obtained by the tools of Maya. Pasu knowledge is obtained by the tools of little self.
There is knowledge that is available to Pasu about itself and all the strands that tie it – the physical, psychological, emotional etc. All the cognitions emanating from this and the knowledge cannot liberate the Pasu and cannot be used to understand Pathi.
Pathi is Knowledge Absolute and from that knowledge the other lesser knowledges are derived. Through Arul, the Pasu and Pathi knowledges harmonise, reveal their inadequacies and pave way for Pathi Knowledge. This three Pasu-Pasa Arivu and Pathi Arivu find a resonance with three kinds of knowledge of Spinoza.
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