Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Shiva - Vishnu at Chidambaram – a cosmic scene unveiled.

The film Dasavathram by Kamal seems to have caught up

the attention of devotees of Vishnu and Shiva

with debates ranging on depiction of Ramanuja and

incidents connected with Thillai Govindarajar.



On my part, I think this is right time to talk about

some cosmic secrets encapsuled

in certain issues,

such as Nataraja’s dance,

his co-existence with Govindaraja at Chidambaram,

the dance at Kailash and

the creation of worlds and man!

Nataraja’s cosmic dance and Vishnu’s posture on the snake bed –

both co-existing as at Chidambaram

depicts a scene that happened before the worlds evolved.

The scene is that of matter (prakruthi) evolving from

unmanifest to manifest forms

and the purusha remaining unmanifest – waiting for the worlds to get manifested.

The dancing Shiva symbolizes the creation of worlds

that get delimited by destruction

so that further worlds can be created.

Vishnu on snake bed symbolizes the unmanifest or

waiting to be manifest entities

such as

the 3 gunas ( indicated by the 3 tire coil of the snake)

and the 5 elements (indicated by the 5 hoods of the snake,)

while the snake itself stands for sesha, - the jivas

(Sesha is that which is other than Seshi, the Lord.)

The sesha is one of the two birds told in Upanishads,

that eats the fruit of Karma.

The other bird is Lord Himself who shines –

for having no karma attached to it or binding it.

Though both are (sesha and seshi / Jivatma and Paramatma)

similar in all respects,

the jivas have to come out of the cycle of birth and death

to attain oneness or identity with Paramatma.

This part of what it attains is up to interpretation and

different schools of thought have come up

with differing views on this part only.

But until this part, what has happened with the cosmos,

and the way the cosmos evolved to house the jivas

have been depicted beautifully without much variance

by puranas and sages.

One such depiction is that of the world springing

from unmanifest to manifest

as depicted by Shiva's dance.

The world as it exists in between manifest to unmanifest

is depicted by Vishnu taking care of the universe by means of 10 avatars.

Brahma (the four-faced one) finds his place at the point of manifest / creation –

at the umbilical cord!

An important hidden factor to be noted here is that

the presence of umbilical cord denotes the existence of a Mother!!

That mother is the father Narayana – who by the very meaning of this term

is one who resides in everything

and also the one in whom everything resides.

Anyone venturing into Hindu philosophy must recognize these 4 factors

(four faced Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Narayana, the progenitor of everything)

and the significations attached to them.

With this basic information on Gods,

let us venture out to know what the co-existence of Vishnu and Shiva conveys.

There may exist umpteen number of stories on Chidambaram gods.

The purpose on this post is to

concentrate on the philosophical and cosmic import of these Gods.

In Vedic parlance, there are only 2 scenes,

worlds being manifest and /or unmanifest.

The cyclical happening of these two are described in

Nasadiya verses of Rig Vedas (Hymn on Creation).

Only one fourth of all that exists, gets manifested at any time.

The Gayathri mantra and Purusha sookhtam

are the pramana, indicating this 1/4th existence

in manifest forms.

This manifest universe alternating with ¾ th unmanifest

goes on and on, in a cyclical precision,

for a length of 100 years of Brahma.

This must be cyclical

because only then it fulfills the information told in Vedas.

Only if it cyclical, can there be no beginning or end to the universes.

Only if it cyclical, can there be no need for interference

for any probable course correction –

(a notion told by Einstein that there is no need for a creator is vedantically true

because once the button of creation is pressed,

things will automatically proceed.

We need a creator only to answer the question

why the creation must happen.)

It is indicated by Krishna in his Gita

that with his creation of Brahma with yajnas,

things started rolling and keeps going.

(browse my blog for details on this issue)

His interference is needed only to establish dharma (parithranaya sadhUnaam..)

Rest of the issues –

which are nothing but issues

pertaining to creation of physical universe

with attendant factors to aid or disrupt the goings-on

are all programmed.

This model of universe will have a pivot at the centre

and con-cyclic rounds around it

in vertical and linear dimensions.

Each circle will have ¼ of it manifest and the rest unmanifest.

Each cycle will have longevity of 100 years of its own Brahma.

Such a model only fulfils the Vedantic notion

that that there are many parallel universes to us,

both above us (uttar) and below us (dakshin)

and also beyond us and before us.

This model has no limits and the universes are infinite in number.

In this scenario, though everything is programmed,

god does not rest.

He need not do anything as everything has been programmed

but He has to keep doing his karma – sans bondage

in establishing Dharma.

¾ th of each cycle is unmanifest

and as the cycle itself keeps moving,

the unmaifest also moves and enters the zone of manifest.

The point of manifest is Brahma’s abode.

The duration from this point to the point of end of this ¼ th part of the cycle

is Vishnu’s abode.

The point of end of this ¼ th is Shiva’s abode,

Anywhere on this point, stretching infinitely up an down,

it will be Shiva in act of dissolution of the manifest into unmanifest.

At this location, both Brahma and Vishnu can not find his feet (adi)

nor his crown(mudi).

This is depicted as a story for remembrance of this cosmic nature at that juncture.

Nataraja’s dance is depiction of this sequence of manifest into unmanifest

and vice versa.

Similarly at the point of manifest (creation)

it will be Brahma everywhere vertically up and down.

The icon of Nataraja symbolises the division of all the worlds in a particular round

into manifest areas of 1/4 th extent and

unmanifest area of 3/4th.

If we draw lines from the two hands (one with udukkai or damaru and the other with agni)

through the navel of Shiva,

they will intersect at right angles.

The extent from right to left hand covers 1/4th of the circle.

The top of Nataraja is where we are now, at parardha -

just having crossed the half of Brahma's life.

The two hands hold Damaru and agni.

Damaru (udukkai) in his right hand is associated with creation.

The Vedic model of creation happens with / through / by

the sound of Damaru which is nothing but OM-kaar!

Shiva’s presence can be seen just before the point of creation

because there happens the end of unmanifest worlds.

The agni on the left hand indicates dissolution.

This indicates the beginning of unmanifest worlds.

The two ends of his hands thus indicate the end and beginning of dissolution.

It covers a distance of ¼ th of the circle in which Nataraja is inscribed.

Dancers and sculptors depict Nataraja in these dimensions only.

It can also be seen that the Sudharshana charka is also

inscribed in this circle.

The 2 triangles inversely placed one on the other

can be perfectly inscribed inside a circle

And Narasimha (jiva with guna combination) is also depicted

in this scheme of cyclical cosmos.

The interesting feature is that when Nataraja is in cosmic dance,

indicating universe still under evolution,

Vishnu goes into snake bed!!

The jivas wait with their coiled up 3 gunas

and 5 hooded elements with which

they attain their physical bodies when born in manifest world.

Vishnu waiting and witnessing this cosmic dance along with all devas

is what is depicted by Lord Govindaraja in Chidambaram.

The Lord here is Govinda raja.

Govinda is who is connected with bringing out the cave

from darkness before Varaha lifted up the land mass!

( see my blog on Varaha in Pithru tarpan posts).

Govinda denotes the state prior to creation of man –

but later to creation of the world – in the process of getting ready

for evolution of life on earth.

Govindaraja is accompanied with Pundareeka valli thaayar,

his consort in the form of Lotus.

This means at the state as Govindaraja with Shiva dancing,

His consort is not yet manifest!

Herein lies the secret about the Lotus,

which is the form and name of Lakshmi or Sri

who is none but the Will or Sankalpa of Brahman.

It is on the Will of Brahman, everything sprang up,

continued and recoiled back.

The Will can not be separate from the one who has willed.

The Will of the Lord projected first and initiated this Universe.

Since It is the major link between created Universe and Brahman,

and since It is the Will of Brahman,

It or She or Sri is the purushakaari,

through whom everything of this creation is routed.

Can any one do anything without will or mind telling one to do it?

It is here comes the relevance and reasoning of why

the wife always 'leads' as the will or

mind of purusha, the husband.

When she lights the lamp at the beginning of any occasion or

when she places the agni to begin any homa or

places the darbhai on her man’s shoulder before

and throughout the sankalpa for any kriya,

she is doing so as the Will of Purusha!

A man without wife is like one without mind.

But Narayana was without outward manifestation of Lakshmi

in Vaikuntha (kausheetaki upansihad).

Because there was no creation happening there,

no need for manifestation of will.

His Will or Lakshmi was within Himself.

When he is on the snake bed, she remains at his feet –

ready to take up orders.

Any moment creation would begin and she has to be born on the lotus.

This state is depicted in Govindaraja in Chidambaram.

The verses sung by Azhwars give a number of clues on

This kind of state on

the co-existence seen in Chithra koodam.

Chidambaram is noted as Chithra kootam by devotees of Vishnu.

It is in Chithra kootam Shiva dances.

A similar kind of performance that Vishnu does

– not as a dance , but as a drama is at Sri rangam!

Rangam is derived from rang, colours or colourfulness.

Sri rangama is Arangam- a stage where Lord enacts his colourful drama.

The other place he enacts – nay, he lies as though to remind people

that he is going to enact is at Chithra kootam.

Chithra kootam also means a colourful stage depicting a number of scenes.

The difference here is that scenes remain trapped in pictures -

of what happened in past or what is going to happen in future.

That is why Azhwars see avatars in Lord Govindaraja.

While Kulasekhara azhwar sees the enactment of the entire Ramayana

(uttara ramayan including),

Thirmangai azwar sees all the avatars including Narasimha avatar

in this Lord.

Of interest is the mention of

“perum puL” – Garuda. (Peria Thirumozhi - 3-4-6)

Azhwar sees Govindaraja coming on Garuda.

Garuda always signifies beginnings or intiations.

Garuda is spotted once Kumbhabisheka is done

and the temple is ready for worship.

Garuda seva on Vaikunta ekadasi day signifies initiation

of Creation

(read more on my post on secrets in Thirppavai – vaikunta ekadasi).

By mentioning that Govindaraja of Chithra kootam

comes on garuda,

it is indicated that it is count-down time for the Lord

witnessing the cosmic dance of Shiva

to begin his enactments in the manifest world.

That is why azhwars’ songs on Chithra koodattaan are all about avatars!

Another information deduced is that

this kind of lying on the snake bed also happens

in the course of manifest world.

In between manvanthra prayas and kalpa praylas,

when the world sinks into unmanifest nature,

the Lord waits with the Jivas and their gunas and 5 elements.

In the course of this wait too,

Shiva signifies dissolution with his dances,

and those dances are themes of puranas.

One popular dance happened when the Himalayas rose up.

The story of Kailash / the rise of Himalayas is associated with Shiva’s dance

with damaru being beaten continuously.

Note that whenever damaru is beaten,

it is indication of creation in progress.

Shiva’s mighty dance saw the destruction of seas

(Tithys seas and collision of land forms)

but since it was associated with damuru,

it signified

fresh lease of creation in the form of Himalayas

and the formation of Arya vartha, in the south of Himalayas.

The Puranic allusion of Shakthi, controlling Shiva in this incident is about

bringing down the intensity of growth of Himalayas by an anti-force.

That this happened 7 crores of years ago tells us that

this aryavartha had existed from then onwards

and avatars had taken place here.

The unitariness of all sects of India, from Tamils to Kashmiris

had been there throughout for the last 7 crore years.

But the depiction at Chithra kootam is about cosmic beginning,

- proven so by 2 factors,

One is that Lakshmi exists as Lotus

and another is that Kaali had lost the dance.

Kali / Shakthi’s victory over Shiva happens in the middle course,

as and when Shiva had to be restrained

- as happened during the formation of Himalayas.



The Hymn of Creation (Rig Veda)

There was neither non-existence nor existence then.

There was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond.

What stirred?


In whose protection?

Was there water, bottlemlessly deep?

There was neither death nor immortality then.

There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day.

That One breathed, windless, by its own impulse.

Other than that there was nothing beyond.

Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning,
with no distinguishing sign, all this was water.

The life force that was covered with emptiness,
that One arose through the power of heat.

Desire came upon that One in the beginning,
that was the first seed of mind.

Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom
found the bond of existence and non-existence.

Their cord was extended across.

Was there below?

Was there above?

There were seed-placers, there were powers.

There was impulse beneath, there was giving forth above.

Who really knows?

Who will here proclaim it?

Whence was it produced?

Whence is this creation?

The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.

Who then knows whence it has arisen?

Whence this creation has arisen
– perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –

the One who looks down on it,

in the highest heaven, only He knows

or perhaps He does not know.


Kannabiran, Ravi Shankar (KRS) said...

Simply awesome Jayashree!

I read this post 2-3 times to grasp the significance from a mathematical perspective on the nodes.

//world springing from unmanifest to manifest as depicted by Shiva's dance. The world as it exists in between manifest to unmanifest is depicted by Vishnu taking care of the universe by means of 10 avatars//

From a seeker or researcher's perspective you have fit in synchronously every role and spect of Nataraja Peruman and Govindaraja Perumal in the process!

Let me mark this post as a special mention in my blog and fwd to my friends too!
Again, Excellent work! :-)

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Thank you for the compliments Krs:-)

Let all the praises be unto Him, who is the YogEshawar- Krishna in my body that is being kept in preparedness of the kind of a Dhanur-dhaari Arjuna.
(yathra Yogeshwara KrsihnO yathra PAarthO dhardharah, thatra Sri ViajayO bHoothir druvaaneethir mathirmama).

Where he rules the mind, and you subject yourself as the instrument in His hand ('nimittha mathram bhava' -BG), there will be prosperity, success and dharma.

Praise be unto Him!

I will continue to elaborate on this cosmic model in the up-coming posts while addressing the question of aliens and life on other parts of the Universe.

Meanwhile I suggest you read my other posts too, particularly on Gods in Hinduism.



Venkatesh said...

Smt Jayasree,

I am not as knowledged as KRS to grasp this even in 2 or 3 posts. However I can say that I had been enlightened at least by 1/4th regarding the confluence of Vishnu and Siva at Chidambaram. While I do understand some, repeat some, Sanskrit words, I see that you have used the English parallels which I am not able to grasp. Have you written this in Tamizh.

I definitely want to understand this much better. I can see that there is a wealth of information, but locked with some words that I dont understand, like manifest and unmanifest etc.

Request you to kindly enlighten me on this. I dont want to miss the treasure due to the missing key.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Dear Venkatesh,

The vedas do not say that there was nothing in the beginning.This universe could had not sprung up from nothing.
There was something which could not be identified as existent or non-existent.

The Creation hymn of Rig veda starts with a proclamation that there was neither existence nor non-existence in the beginning.

This indicates that there was something in the beginning that was unrecognizable in terms of existence.
That is the unmanifest state of the Universe.

With creation happening at the point of entry with Brahma's birth (Brah means that which grows and that which is big),the until-then- unmanifest universe springs into manifest universe.
Vedic concept of creation is 'springing up' from one level to another.
The universe springs up from unmanifest to manifest state.

In the manifest state, the jivas also get manifest and do karma with the aid of 3 gunas and 5 elements that are now in manifest forms.

To explain with an example, when a person lives, he is in the state of manifest.
When he dies it is unmanifest state? why?

Though the jiva has left the body,
all the guna-combinations and 5 elements that the person was made up of in the manifest existence, along with other tattwas that enabled him to think, speak, laugh and scold will continue to be there after his death - but in unmnifest forms.

All these so-called 24 tattwas do not die when a person dies. They continue to exist - but in unmanifest forms.The person also continues to exist as un-manifest jiva.

In the cosmic model,
such un-manifest condition prevails for 3/4th of the duration of the cycle.
When the cycle enters the 1/4 th duration, it is busy time of manifestation.

Kindly read my posts labeled as pithru tarpan.

The basis of tarpaN is how we have to take care of the once-manifest forms that become unmanifest with death of a person.

About co-existence of Govindaraja and Nataraja in Chidhambaram,
there may be many local legends and true stories about installation of those deities.

But as far as Vaishnavite divya desams are concerned, these kshethras have been associated with some leelas or there had been instances of 'prathyaksham' of God or God appearing in front of some people had been reported.

The meaning of divya in divya desa indicates the association with some div (light) and devas.
In Thiruchithrakootam, Govindaraja had appeared before rishi KaNva.
Therefore that place has got the sanctity as a divya desa.

Any other incident associated with this place must have been an development that happened after it attained the tag of divya desa.

The explanation I have given in the post is about the rationale behind the forms and leelas of Gods.
I have been covering these rationale in my posts labeled as Gods in Hinduism.

Venkatesh said...

Smt Jayasree,

Thank you very for the lucid clarification. I could understand that so easily. I will re-read your main post and I am sure I will be able to enjoy it now.

Thanks a lot once again. I will go through all your blogs and get back to you.

Geetha Sambasivam said...

It is here comes the relevance and reasoning of why
the wife always 'leads' as the will or
mind of purusha, the husband.

//When she lights the lamp at the beginning of any occasion or
when she places the agni to begin any homa or
places the darbhai on her man’s shoulder before
and throughout the sankalpa for any kriya,
she is doing so as the Will of Purusha!
A man without wife is like one without mind.//

no words to tell Jeyasri, simply superb, I will keep coming to your blog regularly. Thank You for all.

Ganesh said...

Wonderful post Mrs. Jayashree
I have linked this post in my blog along with KRS.

V. Dhivakar said...

wonderful post.


jeevagv said...

Thanks for the plenty of Knowledge overload in your post. KRS mentioned me about your this post, and since then i have read it a few times!
Will need to read previous posts of yours as well. Thanks again.
You may find some of these posts touching similar points:
யாரிந்த நடராஜன்?
சீதை விளக்கும் இராமனின் உண்மை வடிவம்

Jayasree Saranathan said...

My sincere thanks to Geetha, Ganesh, Dhivakar and Jeeva.
I feel encouraged to write more.

Krishna said...

always visit the holy place of Lord Shiva.

Shiva Photo, Lord Shiva Picture, Shiva Wallpaper

Ganesan R said...

Dear Madam,

Excellent post.

In Madurai alone Lord Nataraja is found to have lifted his right leg in Tandava.

Does this signify something?

R. Ganesan

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Dear Mr Ganesan,
At Chidambaram the posture is cosmic. At other places, connected with legends.