Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor K. Sivaraman
The thesis is a philosophical and thematic study based on a Sanskrit commentary to the Śivajñānabodham, one of the basic texts of Śaiva Siddhānta, an important though relatively unnoticed religio-philosophical school of Indian thought. The text has the remarkable feature--apart from inspiring several voluminous commentaries on it--of containing only twelve verses, of two lines each. My thesis is based on one such commentary in Sanskrit called Śivāgrabhāsya by Śivāgrayogin (sixteenth century).
I began the thesis by arguing that, contrary to a prima facie acquaintance with Indian thought, there is a philosophical anthropology implicit in several schools of Indian philosophy, although it may not be clearly discerned by that name. I have tried to show in any case that the Śivāgrabhāsya, in terms of its own thematic focus, has a claim to being a philosophical anthropology--a claim borne but by the fact that the author of the text himself asks: "Who are the beings for whom ... this world is produced?" It is clear that man is the focus of his attention in answering the question and, from his insightful and elaborate deliberations, one can see a philosophical anthropology emerging. I have located the problem of man within this text and have attempted to elicit from it, by a careful and selective analysis, adequate material toward a plausible reconstruction of the philosophical anthropology I see contained in it.
Śivāgrayogin deals with the theme concerning man on at least two basic premises, viz., that of man as a being who possesses limited knowledge about the nature of ultimate reality, in which context the idea of fallible man emerges, and that of man as a being involved in the world. Both these postulates imply that man is a fettered being, endowed with the possibility of a condition of unfettered existence, i.e., with the possibility of an existence which can claim freedom from fettered life. Gnosis is said to be the only means for liberation--a means that, by its own inherent logic, is efficacious ultimately through divine grace. Life in the world is itself made possible through a "veiled" grace which, when "manifest", effects a due unleashing of man's powers of consciousness. The impact of Śivāgrayogin's point that man is to be defined essentially in terms of consciousness, has a special and striking significance in the light of his discussion on what constitutes freedom and liberation. Indeed, the condition of the possibility of the latter serves as the basis for the former.
What I have found unique to the Śaiva Siddhānta understanding of man is its attempt not only to analyze man's essential nature as radically different from that the world--and, indeed, a world in which a scope for liberation is afforded--but, also, its attempt to account for the nature of man's so-called bound existence in the world itself. I have attempted to approach Śaiva Siddhānta philosophical anthropology from the latter standpoint, i.e., by expounding and analyzing the Śaiva Siddhānta description of man in the world, I have sought to bring out the impact of its view that the intrinsic nature of man be defined essentially by consciousness.
The Śivāgrabhāsya has never been translated, nor is it anymore available in print. My thesis makes a contribution to knowledge because it is based almost entirely on this text and because it contains translations of several portions related to the topic of the thesis. From my own carefully selected and specific perspective, my thesis is an encyclopaedic view of Śaiva Siddhānta and gives a glimpse into the wealth of untapped source material in a relatively ignored area of research.
Soni, Jayandra, "Toward an Understanding of Man in Śaiva Siddhānta: A Study in Philosophical Anthropology" (1987). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2077.