R Venkataramanan

R Venkataramanan

R Venkat's Blog

R Venkat's Blog
"To be an Inspiring Teacher,one should be a Disciplined Student throughout Life" - Venkataramanan Ramasethu



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Veda Poorthi Pariksha Certificates distributed 24 Oct. 2012

The Annual Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust Poorthi Pariksha Certificates were distributed by Their Holinesses Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji and Pujyasri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji at Srimatam, Kanchipuram on Vijayadashami day.

The awards instituted for various levels in the different vedic branches were given to meritorious students and outstanding Adhyapaks and scholars. His Holiness Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji blessed the gathering with Anugraha Bhashanam. Every year, the certificates are distributed on the Vijayadashami and Sankara Jayanthi days.

A unique feature this year is that 15 students who have completed the Veda Bhashya Pariksha received the certificates and titles of Veda Bhashya Ratna, Veda Bhashya Mani and Veda Bhasyagnya were conferred on them by His Holiness. The Veda Adhyapkas were also honoured on the occasion.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kannoli Kappom Thittam

Kannoli Kappom Thittam

Scientific Writing Workshop 24, 25 & 26th November, 2012

It gives us immense pleasure in inviting you to register for the three days scientific writing workshop organized by Elite School of Optometry. We have eminent speakers teaching and training the nuances of scientific writing. Any Optometrist or Allied health science professionals, who want to improve their scientific writing skills can participate in the workshop.

Target audience: Optometry/Ophthalmologist and Allied health Science Professionals

Pre-requisites: Knowledge on Basic Epidemiology & Basic Bio-statistics, Interest in writing scientific papers

Deadline for Registration: 5th November, 2012 (Registration is restricted to 25 participants on first come first basis)

Registration fee: 3000 INR (Includes lunch, Refreshment and Course hand-outs)- Demand draft should be drawn in favour of Medical Research Foundation.

Workshop Contents

1. Capsule: Study designs
2. Capsule: Bio-statistics
3. Critical review of literature
4. IMRAD – An overview
5. Components of Scientific writing
6. Publication ethics
7. Impact factor
8. CONSORT/ STROBE Statements
9. Writing thesis/ Dissertation
10. Hands-on/ Group work on different aspects of scientific writing

Candidates are requested to bring their own laptops for group discussions and group work.

For any queries, please contact Ms Jameel Rizwana (email rizwana@snmail.org) or Ms. Uma Paramesh (email eso@snmail.org). Phone No – 044 - 22349269

Looking forward for your enthusiastic participation

Sankara Nethralaya L&T Ocular Pathology Department gets advanced Diagnostic/Teaching equipment

The Nikon Eclipse Trinocular Microscope, a State of the Art diagnostic equipment was inaugurated by Ms K.Vanitha, Executive, Histopathology Department at the L&T Ocular Pathology Department, Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology on Tuesday 16th October 2012. This highly advanced equipment would be used in conducting diagnostic histopathology and also as a key teaching aid. The simple inaugural function was attended by Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr HN.Madhavan, President, Vision Research Foundation, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr Ananth Badrinath, Reader, Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology and members of the Histopathology and Nanobiotechnology departments, Kamalnayan Bajaj Institute for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Sankara Nethralaya.

"Kannum Karuthum"

"Kannum Karuthum" a short public educative program on eye care with duration of 5 minutes, created by the Sankara Nethralaya team is being telecast in Jaya TV on a daily basis since the 15th of Oct 2012. The scheduled program is being telecast everyday from Monday - Friday between 7.45am to 7.55am. We request you to communicate to all our employees, friends and relatives and encourage them to watch this highly interesting and informative program and benefit.

Amudhasurabi Sri Tiruppur Krishnan about Sankara Nethralaya

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Khado Bangali Khado....Sunil Gangopadhyay aar nei....aar nei bhalobasha

I first read about this man whom everyone referred to as the man who “carried the modern consciousness of Bengal” say around twelve years ago. For someone who had made Kolkata his home for the past nine years and as someone with an eye for art, culture, literature and creativity, it’s natural to get drawn towards anything and everything connected to it. In that context staying at north kolkata suburbs it’s almost impossible to miss out on the innumerable sensitivities and beautiful instances of binding emotions that cements your attachment to the inner self.

“An memorable anecdote about Sunil Gangopadhyay that was doing the rounds was that he had gifted his first novel to an associate, saying that if the book was not readable it could at least come of use when pushed under a wobbly desk. His books instead landed up in best-seller lists. Two generations of Bengalis have grown up reading the poetry and prose of the prolific Sunil Gangopadhyay — his works “a perfect statement” of the experiences one encounters between adolescence and adulthood.”

“In the world of the unfettered imagination of his creation — both the fantasies and the realities that he wrote of — resonated with the youth. When he wrote about a mythical woman, he could recreate the fantasies that one dreams of and the rather prosaic realities of the actual experience, believes Arunava Sinha, who has translated a collection of his poems, For Nira, Suddenly and the recently published Wonder World and Other Stories. “His best writing has a lot to do with the language itself. The words or turn of phrase he used would itself have an emotional impact. As a translator, one had to be very sensitive to these,” Mr. Sinha said.”

Born in Faridpur in present-day Bangladesh in 1934, Sunil Gangopadhyay went on to become one of the most popular Bengali writers on both sides of the border. With his death on Tuesday, most mourned “the end of an era in Bengali literature.”

Said filmmaker Goutam Ghose, whose critically acclaimed film Moner Manush was based on a novel by the author: “Sunil Gangopadhyay carried the modern consciousness of Bengal.”

Recounting how the novel — a biography of Lalan Fakir — was conceptualized; Mr. Ghose said he had often had long discussions with the writer on the philosophy of the Baul singer.

“As developments such as the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the spread of a culture of intolerance occurred, I would often tell him to write about Lalan Fakir. He would say that he would do so when the time came. And one day I found that he had indeed written it. I read it in one breath and immediately knew I would make a film on it,” Mr. Ghose said.

Starting off his six-decade literary career as a bohemian poet and editor of Kritibas, a monthly poetry magazine, Sunil Gangopadhyay wrote his first novel, Athmo Prakash (Self-Revelation), at the behest of the editor of the hugely popular periodical Desh for its special Durga Puja edition.

He wrote many other novels, short stories, travelogues, children’s book — more than 200 of them — but poetry remained his “first love.”

From the mid 1980s, his poetry was no longer the same. It wasn’t the same voice and he himself candidly said “Kabita ar ashe na” (the poems no longer come to me).Convinced that Sunil Gangopadhyay would have received much more acclaim across the country had his works been translated into English when he was at the peak of his abilities, Mr. Sinha pointed out that the early translations of his works were actually through films.

Two of the most critically acclaimed films of legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray — Pratidwandi and Aranyer Din Ratri — were based on novels written by him. “They were primarily known as the works of the director, but a small subset of the viewers would have been aware who the writer was,” he said.

“We two were the last two living authors whose novels were used by the maestro [Satyajit Ray],” said Mani Shankar Mukherjee, a contemporary of Sunil Gangopadhyay.


As readers of Bengali literature eagerly awaited the special editions during the Durga Puja festival, wanting to know what Sunil Gangopadhyay had on offer for that season, his three epics — Shei Shomay (Those Days), Pratham Alo (First Light) and Purba Pachim (East and West) that were first published in a serialized form — captured the imagination of readers for about 15 years, Mr. Sinha said.

Shei Shomay won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1985. More than two decades later, in 2008, Sunil Gangopadhyay was elected the president of the Akademi.

A work of historical fiction, in Shei Shomay he took considerable liberties with real life characters, some of whom were revered figures. But it was his skill of weaving in the details of the period with the plot of a thoroughly enjoyable novel, said Mr. Ghose.


At the time of his death, the writer was in the midst of writing a serialized version of Chotoder Mahabharat (Mahabharat for children), a project he was very keen on. The children’s version of the epic, which had appeared in a leading magazine for over a year, remains incomplete.

“For India, the death of Sunil Gangopadhyay is the loss of a great writer. At a personal level, I have lost a great friend,” said poet Shankha Ghosh, who knew the writer for over 60 years.

Indeed, it was a deep sense of personal loss that was expressed by several well known personalities though the day. Recalling the addas (discussions) with Sunil Gangopadhyay, Mr. Ghose said that often he would decide to end them with a song.

“We would say, ‘Oh! It is time for Sunil giti (songs of Sunil) as opposed to Rabindra sangeet (songs of Tagore) or Nazrul giti (songs of Nazrul).’ And he would then dig out a song by Tagore or a Baul song and we would end the adda with it,” he said.”

Ironically there was this ad in which Sunil Gangopadhyay,had recently said with his remarkable humorous look in his eyes “Khado Bangali Khado”, ofcourse that was to endorse a cooking oil brand, to cook the favourite Elish maach,but who knew it would have been a coincidence that he would leave the Bengali Literature fraternity exactly on the penultimate day of Durga Maa’s immersion, as the sound of Dhak keeps lingering one could feel that Sunil Gangopadhyay,might have left, but he would continue to influence many more generations of aspiring writers and poets.

Khado Bangali Khado....Sunil Gangopadhyay aar nei....aar nei bhalobasha

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reaching the unreached

The operation theatre inside the bus is self-sufficient, designed for real time monitoring and surgeries are done under local anaesthesia.

Afflicted with polio from an early age, 74-year-old Mariamma (name changed on request) of Peranambut, a sleepy, far-flung village panchayat in Tamil Nadu’s Vellore district, can hardly walk. And her vision was fading too with old age due to what doctors’ term a “white cataract” – cataract growth in its utmost severity that made one of her yes virtually opaque.

So frail was Mariamma that “we had to lift her from the operation table after a cataract surgery,” recalls Dr Rashmin Gandhi, ophthalmologist who turned around her vision with a high-precision cataract surgery in that remote area where she could not even go to a hospital some 50 km away.

A small trader’s plight at Peranambut, suffering from diabetes and hyper-tension, was only a shade different. He was finding it difficult to manage his shop as a cataract was closing in on his vision until he walked to the operation table in the IIT-Madras Mobile Eye Surgical Unit (MESU) that came calling on the village.

This was part of a new pilot project of the Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC), a Bio-Technology Department-funded initiative formally inaugurated at the IIT-Madras, recently as a “platform to take relevant biotech and medical innovations for the country’s social transformation”.

These patients, who happily got back their vision, are but two of the 486 cataract surgeries “successfully done” by MESU in two villages of Vellore District – Peranambut and Jolarpettai-- early this year as a part of HTIC’s first bold foray in collaboration with the Chennai-based Sankara Nethralaya , after the Health Ministry gave its nod for the pilot project. Why envision a new mobile eye surgical unit? Of an estimated 12 million blind people in India, “cataract accounts for over half the blindness” and this is a major reason to trigger this project conceptualisation, Dr Rashmin Gandhi, an ICO Fellow from John Hopkins University, USA, who led the 8-member medical team, including para-medics from Sankara Netralaya for this project, told Deccan Herald.

With a substantial number of the visually disabled persons living in remote rural and tribal areas, the challenge was to make “high quality cataract surgery” accessible to them. As Sankara Netralya, under renowned eye surgeon Dr S S Badrinath’s leadership, had already made significant strides in cataract surgeries and implanting artificial intraocular lens in place of the affected natural lens, IIT-Madras saw synergy to team up with it for this project, said Dr Gandhi.

A “twin-bus” (two buses conjoined by a side vestibule), a “first of its kind in the country” was designed and built for this project, according to Dr Mohanasankar Sivaprakasam of IIT-Madras.

Instead of one wide-bodied bus which may be unsuitable for narrow, kutcha-roads in rural areas, two slightly narrow-bodied buses were designed, one following the other until they reached the spot and converted into a MESU with a vestibule connecting both the units.

Thanks to a team of engineers from IIT-M’s Department of Electrical Engineering, including Mohanasankar, Dr Jagadeesh Kumar, Dr Jayashankar and Dr Jayaraj, burning the midnight oil, the basic design of the twin-bus was done by them after Dr Badrinath first mooted the idea of having a specially designed vehicle. The sturdy buses for narrow, dusty, village roads were then specially custom-built at a reputed automobile unit near Pudukottai.

“At every stage of the body-building, the IIT-M engineers visited the factory to ensure all the specifications,” said Gandhi. The vehicles’ designing took care that all requirements during a medico-surgical procedure like “water sterility”, “air sterility”, constant power supply provided by a 20 kva diesel genset, all to ensure “zero-infection” for patients during surgery and after were met, he said.

A “reverse osmosis plant” is fixed in one of the buses to ensure water quality, besides being fitted with air filters for air purity. People in any village who come for treatment are first prepared for the cataract surgery in the first unit and then led through the vestibule to the second bus where a full-fledged, modern operation theatre has been set up.

“The walls of the operation theatre are made of fine, food-grade steel so that bacteria will not stick,” said Gandhi. Both the buses are provided with hydraulic jacks to help them stand firm sans any jerks. MESU is parked in the village school premises for easy access by the locals.

In the past, “mass eye camps” had been held in rural areas, like in “kalyana mandaps” to perform cataract surgeries. But they caused lots of complications as the immediate environment and surgical tools were not sufficiently sterilised and surgeries done even without a microscope. Hence the Union Government did not allow cataract surgeries to be performed outside a “fixed operation theatre”.

To break this logjam, the idea of a special vehicle functioning as MESU was born, as a majority of visually disabled people live in rural and remote tribal areas, said Gandhi.

“We had to think of a new way to reach the unreached, as a study showed that 26 per cent of those suffering from blindness do not attend the eye camps; worse, 36 per cent of patients screened in rural areas for cataract do not later turn up to the base hospital,” said Gandhi on the rationale behind.

The operation theatre inside the bus is self-sufficient, designed for real time monitoring and surgeries done under local anaesthesia under cardiac monitoring. The age distribution of patients in this pilot project ranged from 31 to 90 years, even as 58 per cent of the 486 cataract surgeries done in the two villages were on women. “In one village, we had a 91-year-old patient,” said Gandhi. “After the surgery, we went to each of their places for post-operative checks and again revisited them after a month to both the villages to check their glasses for use,” he added.

The project study results “were as good or better than the ones done in a base hospital.” The Health Ministry, which has now, in principle, cleared this eye-care delivery model for being scaled up and taken to other states, said Gandhi. “One of our dreams has turned into reality, by making a twin-bus and taking it to the villages to do cataract surgeries free at the doorsteps of the poor rural people,” summed up a visibly pleased Dr Badrinath, adding, it could “revolutionise” ophthalmology screening in India.

Prayer it is said dispels the darkness of ignorance and despair and brings in the light of happiness and clarity

Prayer it is said dispels the darkness of ignorance and despair and brings in the light of happiness and clarity. The Elite School of Optometry as a continuation of this belief conducts its eye screening camps bringing vision and light in places of worship. Encouraged by the response and success of the eye screening camp conducted at the Ashok Nagar Anjaneya Temple on World optometry day and installation of the vision chart at the premises and a similar vision chart at the Jeeva Park at Theagaraya Nagar, the ESO recently conducted an eye screening camp at Nanganallur. The eye camp was conducted in collaboration with the Sankara Nethralaya and the Maruthi Bhaktha Sangam Trust on the 14th of October at the famous Nangallur Anjaneya Temple. A total of 54 local residents were screened after which 23 pairs of glasses were distributed to those found needing the same and 10 were referred to the base hospital for further examination.

The highlight of the camp was the inauguration of the Tamil LogMar chart at the Raghavendra Sannadhi inside the temple premises by Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus and Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya. The chart has simple guidelines which would enable visitors to the temple to check their eye sight by themselves and being in the local language it would be a blessing to those who may not be conversant with English.

Elite School of Optometry has carved a special name for itself for the quality, speed and reach of its screening camps

The Elite School of Optometry has carved a special name for itself for the quality, speed and reach of its screening camps, especially targeting the school children, with its impressive record of screening 12,448 children in 51 schools in 2010 in Chennai, followed by 3451 from 10 schools in Tirupati in 2012 and 2622 children from the tribal belt of Salem and Vellore again in 2012. The ESO added yet another glorious feather to its cap by conducting a massive eye screening camp for school children in the city on 8th October, 2012. A total of 125 members including optometrists, social workers, optometry students and volunteers under the able leadership of Dr.K.Krishna Kumar, Principal, Elite School of Optometry and the spirited guidance of Ms N.Anuradha, Vision Screening Co-ordinator, ESO, conducted the eye camp under the aegis of the Chennai District Blindness Control Society’s ‘Kannoli Kappom Thittam’. The camp supported by the Lion’s Club of Shenoy Nagar, Padi screened 8469 students from across 38 schools falling under Zones 5 and 13 of the Chennai Corporation. While 359 students were provided with spectacles, 187 were referred for other ailments to the base hospital.

An interesting aspect of the camp was that special care was taken to provide unbreakable glasses to the children, taking into account their vulnerability to drop them while at play.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Molecular Biology and Genetics to shed light on the complex interactions between the eyes and brain

VISIONARIES: Jeremy Nathans (left) and King-Wai Yau are the first U.S. scientists to receive the Champalimaud Foundation's Vision Award, given to scientists dedicated to combating blindness.

Over the past three decades, scientists have looked to molecular biology and genetics to shed light on the complex interactions between the eyes and brain that give humans the ability to see and make sense of our surroundings. According to Johns Hopkins University researchers, genes, proteins and photoreceptors in the eyes hold the key to new ways of preventing and treating of potentially blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (damage to the blood vessels in the retina—the light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye) and age-related macular degeneration (progressive damage to the central and most vital area of the retina, resulting in gradual loss of vision).

The pair—neuroscientist King-Wai Yau and microbiologist Jeremy Nathans—were recently awarded a $1.36-million (1-million-euro) prize by Portugal's philanthropic Champalimaud Foundation to continue their research in this field.

"For a long time, it wasn't clear the role that proteins played in the eye," says Yau, 59. The retina's receptors absorb light and trigger an electric signal that goes through the retina and on to the brain, providing it with the information needed for us to see images. Yau and his team are trying to determine the steps that take place between the absorption of light and the creation of that electric signal and how mutated or defective proteins may interfere with that process.

Yau also studies hereditary blinding diseases that affect the eye's rod and cone photoreceptor cells: specifically, why some blind people who do not have functioning rods and cones can still sense light and remain synchronized to day–night cycles.

"Our work has been to study how light triggers vision," he says. "The brain uses electrical signals to interpret light signals. Our lab is interested in the events that take place after the pigment has absorbed light."

Although they generally work independently, Yau and Nathans have collaborated to research mutated proteins found in the eyes of patients with early onset retinal degenerative disease that causes progressive vision loss.

Nathans, 50, has spent the past 25 years studying the retina, in particular trying to better understand the function of visual pigments—which are located in the retina's rods and cones —and how mutations in pigment genes can affect proteins in the eyes and lead to certain retinal diseases. "Our approach has been that of a molecular geneticist," he says "We're interested in analyzing the genes that encode the eye's proteins. It's very much a reductionist approach."

In 2006 Nathans and Gerald Jacobs, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reported in Science that they had successfully trained mice, genetically altered to have a full complement of photoreceptors (cells with a light-sensing protein pigment), to distinguish differences in shades of color that normal mice would not detect. When Nathans began researching color blindness in 1981, it was already clear that color-vision anomalies were passed down from parents to children and that there were different kinds of color blindness. His contribution was to attribute variations in color vision to the genes that encode the eye's light-sensing proteins. "Variation in those genes is," he says, "responsible for differences in color vision."

Nathans says the Champalimaud award will help fund research into the effect of different drugs on eye movement and vision, including those used to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders. "This knowledge could, in turn, lead to a better understanding of the central nervous system and how different drugs affect it," he says. "It's using the visual system in the service of pharmacology."

Champalimaud in January opened its Center for Translation Eye Research (C-TRACER). The center is known for using eye stem cells from living adults to grow new cells that are then implanted into damaged eyes to restore normal function. Champalimaud funded C-TRACER in an effort to prevent and treat vision-related disease and illness in Portugal and throughout the developing world.

The four-year-old foundation earlier this week broke ground on the construction of its the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown, a 645,800-square-foot (60,000-square-meter) Lisbon research center slated to open in October 2010 and focus on neuroscience and cancer research.

Optical prosthesis that restores at least partial vision

Retina Implant's subretinal device is a three- by three-millimeter micro-electronic chip (0.1 millimeter thick), containing about 1,500 light-sensitive photodiodes, amplifiers and electrodes. The chip is implanted directly under the retina to generate artificial vision by stimulating inner retina nerve cells.
Emerging technologies successfully stimulate retinas ravaged by retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration and other diseases to give sufferers a new lease on light.

Scientists have been working for decades to create an optical prosthesis that restores at least partial vision to those suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and other retina-damaging diseases. Some retinal implants have begun to deliver on that promise, but the challenge remains for researchers to develop a technology that, in addition to providing clear images, can be worn comfortably over the long term.

Germany's Retina Implant, AG, thinks it has made great strides in both areas, an assertion that will be put to the test later this year when the company launches its second clinical trial, placing subretinal (under retina) implants in about 50 patients over the next few years. Meanwhile, Sylmar, Calif.–based Second Sight Medical Products plans to make its epiretinal (over retina) implants commercially available in Europe later this year. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions and medical technology companies are likewise developing retinal implants—the retina lines the eye's inner surface and records images in patterns of light and color—but are not as far along as Retina Implant or Second Sight.

Retinal reawakening
Retina Implant's initial human clinical trial, started in 2005, improved the eyesight of 11 patients to the point where they were able to recognize objects as well as see shapes so clearly they could combine individual letters to form words or, essentially, read at a basic level at normal reading distance and in regular light conditions, says Eberhart Zrenner, the company's co-founder and director and chairman of the University of Tübingen's Institute for Ophthalmic Research in Germany. Zrenner presented the trial's results in May at the 2010 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Retina Implant's second clinical trial seeks to implant the latest version of the company's technology in a larger pool of patients. The new implant no longer has external parts—its power supply is positioned under the skin behind the ear, connected with a thin cable that leads to the eyeball so that the chip does not move once implanted. (This could damage the chip.)

Retinitis pigmentosa kills the retina's photoreceptors, which are the rod and cone cells that convert light into electrical signals for the brain, leading to vision loss. This disease, one of the most common forms of inherited retinal degeneration, affects about one in 4,000 people in the U.S. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. among people 60 years and older, gradually destroys sharp, central vision. The macula (the light-sensitive retinal tissue at the back of the eye) degenerates in two ways: In "dry" AMD the macula's light-sensitive cells slowly break down; in the "wet" form abnormal blood vessels behind the retina start to grow under the macula, thereby displacing it.

Retina Implant's device is a three- by three-millimeter microelectronic chip (0.1 millimeter thick), containing about 1,500 light-sensitive photodiodes, amplifiers and electrodes that is implanted directly under the retina to generate artificial vision by stimulating inner retina nerve cells. The chip, which is placed in the retina's macular region, absorbs light entering the eye and converts it into electricity that stimulates any still-functioning retinal nerves. This stimulation is relayed to the brain through the optical nerve.

It takes the brain one or two days to adapt to chip-assisted vision, according to Zrenner. "Lines are typically all that can be expected to be seen initially by people with retinal implants," he says. "However, scientists are finding that the human brain can quickly retrain itself to interpret the lines and shapes of different gray levels into meaningful images." With the aid of a chip one Retina Implant patient reported seeing images and words slightly flickering as though they were viewed through small waves at the bottom of a pool, Zrenner adds.

Power (im)plant
"The major advance of the subretinal approach is that the implant itself is light sensitive," says Robert MacLaren, a consultant vitreoretinal surgeon and professor of ophthalmology at University of Oxford's Merton College. MacLaren, who specializes in treating patients with AMD, retinitis pigmentosa, choroideremia and Stargardt disease, is the lead surgeon for Retina Implant's second clinical trial in the U.K. The trials will also be conducted in Germany, Hungary and Italy.

MacLaren likes the idea of placing the implant beneath the retina, where it can stimulate the retina's bipolar cells, which transmit signals from photoreceptors to ganglion cells. "Another advantage is that the implant is placed in the preferred location for stimulating the eye's photoreceptors," he says. "The fact that it's light sensitive simplifies the arrangement, although the actual surgery is still very complicated."

One of the difficulties designing a subretinal implant has been powering the device. Some researchers were hoping to tap light coming into the retina but they found the amount of energy inadequate, according to MacLaren. "This idea of a subretinal implant has been around since the 1970s," he adds. "But it hasn't been proved functional in a trial until Retina Implant did it."

Light, camera, action
Whereas the subretinal approach places the implant under the surface of the retina to stimulate bipolar cells, an epiretinal implant directly stimulates ganglia using signals sent from a camera and power sent from an external transmitter, both mounted on a pair of glasses. In the case of Second Sight technology, a receiver is implanted under the eyeball's clear mucus membrane, called the conjunctiva. A small camera on a pair of sunglasses captures an image and sends the information to a video processor, worn on the belt along with a wireless microprocessor and battery pack.* After the video processor converts the images to an electronic signal, a transmitter on the glasses sends that information wirelessly to the receiver, which in turn conveys the signals through a tiny cable to an electrode array, stimulating it to emit electrical pulses. The pulses induce responses in the retina that travel via the optic nerve to the brain, which perceives patterns of light and dark spots corresponding to the electrodes stimulated. Patients learn to interpret the visual patterns produced into meaningful images.

With the epiretinal approach, "you could potentially stimulate more of the retina than with a subretinal implant, and it would be easier to adjust for contrast and light," MacLaren says. A drawback to epiretinal implants is that they require a camera mounted on a pair of glasses, which is cumbersome and requires the patient to move his entire head (rather than simply the eyeball) to take in his surroundings, he adds.

Epiretinal implants have met with some success: For example, last year a 73-year-old man receiving a Second Sight Argus II implant at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London was able to see again for the first time in 30 years. All together, 30 people are testing Argus II implants and some of these devices have been in place for more than three years, according to the company, which anticipates a commercial launch of the Argus II in Europe later this year.

Promising treatments for those blinded by retinitis pigmentosa

CHIPPING AWAY AT BLINDNESS: There is no effective treatment for retinitis pigmentosa, but researchers such as those at Retina Implant, AG, are making great strides to remedy this through implants that stimulate still-active nerves in the retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye.
Several technologies to restore sight to retina-damaged eyes are making headway--one seeks to begin human trials in the U.S. and another has already hit the market in Europe.

Promising treatments for those blinded by an often-hereditary, retina-damaging disease are expanding throughout Europe and making their way across the pond, offering a ray of hope for the hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. left in the dark by retinitis pigmentosa. The disease—which affects about one in 4,000 people in the U.S. and about 1.5 million people worldwide—kills the retina's photoreceptors, the rod and cone cells that convert light into electrical signals, which are transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain's visual cortex for processing.

There is no effective treatment for the condition, but researchers are making great strides to remedy this through implants that stimulate still-active nerves in the retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. In mid-November Retina Implant, AG, got approval to extend the yearlong phase II human clinical trial of its retinal implant outside its native Tübingen, Germany, to five new sites—Oxford, London and Budapest, along with two additional locations in Germany.

The company's implant is a three- by three-millimeter microelectronic chip (0.1-millimeter thick), containing about 1,500 light-sensitive photodiodes, amplifiers and electrodes surgically inserted beneath the fovea (which contains the cone cells) in the retina's macula region. The fovea enables the clarity of vision that people rely on to read, watch TV and drive. The chip helps generate at least partial vision by stimulating intact nerve cells in the retina. The nervous impulses from these cells are then led via the optic nerve to the visual cortex where they finally lead to impressions of sight.

Thus far, some patients report having a narrow field of vision partially restored, providing them with enough acuity to locate light sources such as windows and lamps as well as detect lighted objects against dark backgrounds. The chip's power source is positioned under the skin behind the ear and connected via a thin cable.

Window on the world

For those suffering with retinitis pigmentosa, Retina Implant's technology creates a small black-and-white window on the world, says Eberhart Zrenner, the company's co-founder and director and chairman of the University of Tübingen's Institute for Ophthalmic Research in Germany. Retina Implant has successfully placed chips beneath the retina of nine patients since May 2010. A 10th patient experienced a problem when their optic nerve did not forward the information on the chip to the brain.

Looking ahead, Zrenner hopes to widen patients' field of vision further. "Because our chip has independent miniature photodiodes, we could arrange three of them in a row beneath the retina," he says. The ability to produce accurate colors via retinal implants, however, is very complicated and may not be possible for years, he adds. Retina Implant has also developed an outpatient treatment for early-stage retinitis pigmentosa called Okuvision, which uses electric stimulation to help preserve retinal cells.

Sights set on the U.S.
The phase II extension expands Retina Implant's trial to an additional 25 patients beginning early next year and follows a partnership the company struck in March with the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia. Wills is looking to become the lead U.S. clinical trial investigator site for Retina Implant's technology and to help the company through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) review process.

Cutting-edge technologies such as sub-retinal implants are typically at a disadvantage when seeking FDA approval due to the lack of a track record, but Retina Implant's work in Europe provides a precedent for the FDA to consider, says Julia Haller, Wills's ophthalmologist in chief. "There's information available to U.S. regulators about how patients have responded so far," she adds.

'Artificial Retina' to restore sight of people blinded by retinal diseases

In an effort to speed the design and development of an artificial retina that could potentially help millions of people blinded by retinal diseases, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced last week that five Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories, a private company, and three universities--including UCSC--have signed agreements to form a research partnership.

The goal of the agreements signed in Chicago on October 14 2004, is to advance the science, technology, and clinical success of the field of artificial sight using the facilities and resources of DOE's national laboratories.

Wentai Liu, professor of electrical engineering, leads UCSC's participation in this project. He traveled to Chicago last week to take part in the signing ceremony.

Liu, who came to UCSC in 2003, has been working for more than a decade on the artificial retina in collaboration with researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) and other institutions. Liu is also campus director of the Center for Biomimetic MicroElectronic Systems (BMES), a national Engineering Research Center based at USC. The artificial retina is one of the test-bed projects for BMES.

At the announcement in Chicago, the first patient to receive a prototype implant in 2002 described what it was like being able to "see" large letters and to differentiate between a cup, a plate, and a knife after being blind for over 50 years. To date, six volunteers have received implants of a microelectronic device that rests on the surface of the retina to perform the function of normal photoreceptive cells. The artificial retina technology was featured at DOE's "What's Next Expo," an event designed to showcase the newest, most innovative, cutting-edge scientific and technological advances to interest young people in pursuing careers in math and science.

"The Department of Energy has led the way to many scientific breakthroughs, especially when several scientific disciplines combined to make a whole greater than the sum of the parts," Secretary Abraham said. "This project is one such example where biology, physics, and engineering have joined forces to deliver a capability that will enable blind people to see. This agreement between the DOE laboratories and the private sector will facilitate transfer of many aspects of DOE technology to a clinical device that has the potential of restoring sight to millions of blind individuals."

The agreements allow Second Sight Medical Products Inc. based in Sylmar, Calif., to obtain a limited exclusive license for inventions developed during the artificial retina project. Under the research agreements, the institutions will jointly share intellectual property rights and royalties from their research. This will speed progress by freeing the researchers to share details of their work with their collaborators.

The artificial retina could help those blinded by age-related macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa, diseases in which neural wiring from the eye to brain is intact, but the eyes lack photoreceptor activity.

The artificial retina is a device that captures visual signals and sends them to the brain in the form of electrical impulses. The device is a miniature disc that contains an electrode array that can be implanted in the back of the eye to replace a damaged retina. Visual signals are captured by a small video camera in the eyeglasses of the blind person and processed through a microcomputer worn on a belt. The signals are transmitted to the electrode array in the eye. The array stimulates optical nerves, which then carry a signal to the brain. The first prototype implants contain 16 electrodes. The next prototype, with 50 to 100 electrodes, is in preclinical trials. The project's "next-generation" device would have 1,000 electrodes, and researchers hope it would allow the user to see images.

The DOE-supported project is a collaboration of national laboratories, universities, and the private sector. Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Southern California Doheny Eye Institute are leading the multilaboratory effort. Liu's work at UCSC includes wireless communication technology to provide the link between the camera and the implant.

Other partners in the collaboration are Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, North Carolina State University, and Second Sight.

The project's goal is to construct the device, capable of restoring vision, with materials that will last for the lifetime of a blind person. Although images will initially be captured by a camera housed in an eyeglass frame, researchers hope eventually to develop a completely implanted system for this purpose.

The Energy Department's Office of Science plans to fund the artificial retina project at $20 million over the next three years. The department funds the project as part of its medical applications technology program. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation are also supporting the project.

No two people look at the world in the same way literally

No two people look at the world in the same way — literally. When looking at a picture, different people will move their eyes among points of interest in different sequences, researchers have found.

Even if two people trace the same paths, the exact way they move their eyes differs. That's why Oleg Komogortsev, a computer scientist at Texas State University-San Marco, is looking to create a system that can identify people by the way they flicker their eyes while looking at a computer screen.

"We are seeing there are enough differences so we can talk about this as a biometric," Komogortsev told TechNewsDaily.

A biometric is a measurement of something on the body — fingerprints, for instance — used to identify people.

Computer scientists all over the world are studying biometrics for crime solving, for border security, and just as a high-tech way to sign into smartphones, tablets and other devices.

Komogortsev's research is in its earliest stages and needs years of work before it might show up at airports, high-security workplaces or even home computers.

Next generation of biometric

However, he thinks eye movements could be part of the next generation of a more established biometric, iris scans, which are already used in some airports and private companies, and in a countrywide ID effort in India.
Previously, researchers showed that crooks can fool an iris scanner with printed contacts, or by holding up a high-quality printout of the correct person's eye in front of the scanner.

Komogortsev hopes adding an eye-movement sensor could prevent this type of counterfeiting. "The strength of our method is it can work together with iris [scanning]," he said.

"They appear to be making progress in refining and perfecting the idea," Kevin Bowyer, an iris-scanning researcher at the University of Notre Dame, wrote to TechNewsDaily in an email. Bowyer reviewed papers for a recent conference in which Komogortsev presented his research, but was not involved in Komogortsev's work.
If the Texas State University research goes well, Komogortsev's team could field test an eye-movement security machine in "the next year or two or three," Bowyer said.

Komogortsev's system records eye movements and analyzes two features. In one, the system measures "fixations," the times when people linger their gaze over a point on screen.

In another, it measures "saccades," the swift movements the eye makes when it flies between points. Komogortsev’s system considers both the exact path that people's gazes take and the fixations and saccades they make along the way.

From those movements, the system calculates unique properties about people's eyes, including the force their eye muscles use and other properties about the fat and flesh around the eye and the eyeball itself, Komogortsev explained.

In research they recently presented, Komogortsev and his team recorded people's eyes as the subjects read part of a poem ("The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll), looked at Rorschach inkblots and watched a black screen on which white dots suddenly appeared. All three images worked well. "If you collect enough eye-movement information, no matter the type of stimulus, it's pretty reliable," Komogortsev said.

Eye movements

Eye movements alone have an "equal error rate" of about 34 percent, he and his colleagues found. The equal error rate is a standard measure in security research that takes into account both false positives, letting someone through who doesn't belong, and false negatives, locking someone out who does belong. Smaller rates mean the system works more effectively, and rates for market-ready technologies are generally in the single digits.

The equal error rate of eye movements combined with low-cost iris scans is much better, at about 5 percent, Komogortsev found. The low-cost iris scans alone have an equal error rate of about 6 percent.

Further in the future, eye-movement scans could also help security officials determine if someone is ill or emotionally distressed, conditions that can affect eye movements according to some research, Komogortsev said.
"Do we want to accept people into, let's say, some secure facility, if they are emotionally unstable?" Komogortsev asked rhetorically. If future iris scanners incorporate movement sensors, he said, "you are able not only to identify the person, but also to talk about his emotional state."

However, there's still plenty to do before people will check in with an eye-movement scanner at work or an airport. Komogortsev still needs to answer some basic questions, such as whether people's eye-movement patterns stay the same over time, or if they'll need to update their ID systems as they age.

And like every other biometrics researcher, he'll eventually need to prove eye-movement analyses are cheaper, faster and more accurate than competing technology, Bowyer said.

Komogortsev and his colleagues presented their work in September at a biometrics conference hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Peripheral vision

Peripheral vision is a part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze.

There is in actuality a very broad set of non-central points in the field of view that is included in the notion of peripheral vision.

Peripheral vision is weaker in humans, compared with other animals, especially at distinguishing color and shape.

This is because the density of receptor cells on the retina is greatest at the center and lowest at the edges.

Peripheral vision is good at detecting motion.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

True epitome of Seva and Sacrifice....

Tuesday 9th of October 2012 was a golden letter day for the Sankara Nethralaya family, His Holiness the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Sharadha Peetam had given his divine consent to give darshan at the main premises and bless the staff members and the institution in response to the requests made by the senior management.

The Seer and his entourage were received reverentially at the entrance of the Kamalnayan Research Building with Purna Kumbham to the accompaniment of mangala geetham by Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services, and Dr.S.Bhaskaran, Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya. The swamiji was escorted to the 5th floor of the building where he inaugurated the newly named Shri R.S Mehta Jain Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology after which he gave darshan to the gathering from the dais of the Sri VD.Swami Auditorium

Dr S.Meenakshi, Director, Academics got the proceedings started with a soul stirring invocation song and extended her reverential welcome to the Sage on behalf of the entire Sankara Nethralaya family after which the entire gathering stood in respectful obeisance to the chanting of the Veda Goshams. A visibly moved Dr SS.Badrinath expressed his deep gratitude to the Swamiji for placing his golden feet at the Sankara Nethralaya premises and blessing its members and the institution. He explained in an emotion filled voice that it was the grace, blessings and seed capital received from His Holiness Abhinava Theertha Swamigal of the Sharadha Peetham that saw the inception of Sankara Nethralaya. He humbly traced the growth of the institution to a 1,300 strong eye care centre with a high reputation for service, Medicare, Research and Teaching &Training and sought the Swami’s blessing for all round progress in every one of these branches.

Dr. SS.Badrinath announced the renaming of the Cell biology and Bio-chemistry department after Shri R.S Mehta in deference to the wishes of Shri Ashok Mehta a long time friend, well-wisher, donor, board member of the Medical Research Foundation and the Chairman of Jain Housing, who had made a large contribution to the department. He presented a set of photographs of the Puri Jagannath Temple taken by Professor Maiji to the Sankaracharya. Dr SS.Badrinath explained the proposed Sri A.Sivsailam block and had the plans of the same blessed by the Seer. This was followed by Shri Ashok Mehta and Shrimathi Ashok Mehta paying their respect to the Seer and presenting him with a cheque for Sankara Nethralaya and receiving his blessings.

The Swamiji delivered a very simple but in depth Anugraha Bhashanam for the benefit of the gathering, he recalled that Sankara Nethralaya was started with the blessings of Adi Sankara and he was very touched by Dr SS.Badrinath’s recollection of the help and grace that he received from the 35th Pontiff of the Sharadha Peetham Shri Abhinava teertha Swamigal. He exhorted that everyone should do some form of paropakaram within his capacity during his life time and those who do not have the capacity to do so on their own could join service oriented organizations like Sankara Nethralaya to do so. He reminded that such paropakaram should be done selflessly and without expecting anything in return and with the firm realization that it is Easwara who has blessed us to do such paropakara. On the other hand he explained that the simple way of refraining from doing pavam or sin is by not causing or meaning any harm to fellow human beings. The Seer observed that becoming a ‘Mahan’ is not the reserve of a select few and anyone who followed the above tenets could be called a ‘Mahan’

The Pontiff of the Shringeri Madam closed his speech with the observation that Dr SS.Badrinath is a true epitome of Seva and Sacrifice and he would pray to God to bless him to do even more service, he concluded that Sankara Nethralaya is a result of the labour of many hands and would grow to great heights

The momentous function came to an end with the distribution of Prasadam to the gathering.

Most thoughtful gesture....

As an institution with a sense of history, a rich tradition and a strong affinity to its roots Sankara Nethralaya has always made it a point to keep its date with the past, it has done so in many ways; like acknowledging those who had stood by it during its early days and honouring those who had contributed to its growth and played a role in its success. This time around it had decided to honour the memory of an old edifice whose history was interwoven with its own, a building which had a special place in the hearts of early members of the Sankara Nethralaya family. The Lady Willingdon Hospital building whose memory was being honoured was not only a part of its legacy but also a favourite Madras land mark, started by the British primarily as a hospital to treat the soldiers wounded in the battle fields, the hospital over the years had acquired the status of an excellent Medicare centre with a distinct British flavor in the manner it was run.

The Jaslok Community Ophthalmology Services (JCOC) the community ophthalmology initiative of Sankara Nethralaya and the Jagadguru Kanchi Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Nethra Nilayam (JKCN) had been functioning from the Lady Willingdon Hospitals premises since it was acquired by Sankara Nethralaya from the Willingdon Trust in year 1999. As part of its ongoing expansion and modernization plans Sankara Nethralaya moved JCOC its community services wing from the old block of the Lady Willingdon hospital premises to a more spacious premises in early 2012, as it planned to pull down the old structure to make way for a multi-storied, high tech, state of the art ophthalmic centre.

Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Sankara Nethralaya who has a deep attachment to the building was only too aware that there would be many like him who would be sharing similar sentiments, he decided that it would only be fair to let them catch a final glimpse of the building and take a ‘down the memory lane’ stroll around its compound, wards, stairway and every place that brought them old memories. An invite in the dailies to this effect drew many ecstatic families including a doctor who had served here. While most people living away from their home towns make it a point to visit the place of their birth, to many of the boys and girls accompanying their parents it was an exciting experience to be in the ‘actual’ place of their birth. It was very touching to see the women visitors trying to locate the wards they had stayed and show their children the labour room where they were born, while the husbands recalled the waiting room where they anxiously waited for news on the new arrival or the pantry where they sipped some great coffee or the patch of greenery in the centre where they rested. Visitors had a high word of praise for everything from the high quality of Medicare, the equipment which was considered state of the art in those days, the quality of the doctors to the excellent continental and Indian food served in the pantries, but what took the highest honours was the ‘Nursing’ department and the quality of the nurses.

The visitors were warmly welcomed at the entrance by Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services and Dr S.Bhaskaran, Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya; two senior staff members Shri V.Suresh, Administrator, JKCN and Shri V.Sivakumar, Administrator, JCOC who had been associated with the building since it was taken over by Sankara Nethralaya made sure that the walk down memory lane was truly a memorable experience. While Shri Sivakumar escorted the emotionally charged visitors and their excited children as they went around the place like old alumni on a visit to their school, helping them with useful tit bits of information on the nooks and corners and events to help them refresh their memory and locate what they were anxiously looking for and engaging the multimedia team in shooting the photographs for the benefit of the visitors. Shri V.Suresh played an equally important task of sharing the glorious past of Sankara Nethralaya by recounting memorable events, illustrious visitors, medical excellence and the ethos of the hospital and the great personal example set by the founder in which he was joined by another senior staff member Ms Revathi, who had been serving as a staff nurse for many years. This certainly helped to boost the morale and pride of the junior employees by giving them a glimpse of the greatness of the people and place and that they were part of.

The departing visitors had a profuse word of thanks to Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Sankara Nethralaya for his most thoughtful gesture of letting them know through the dailies that the Lady Willingdon building would soon cease to exist and giving them an opportunity for a last visit of their cherished spot. They were delighted to learn from the Sankara Nethralaya team that they could actually take home a few bricks of the old building as a memorabilia and the price they pay for the same would go towards meeting the cost of treating poor patients and enthusiastically placed their orders for the same to be delivered to their homes after the demolition, most visitors also picked up a copy of ‘Insight’ the story of Sankara Nethralaya’s passion for compassion.

Sunday the 7th of October 2012 was truly an emotion filled walk down memory lane for the visitors and staff members of Sankara Nethralaya

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Graduating students and a sapling that would soon bear fruit and provide shade and shelter - A wonderful analogy

Every once a while the ever so quiet , lobby, corridors and the lifts of the Kamalnayan Bajaj Research building come live to the laughter, chatter and bonhomie of jubilant students and their parents, a reflection of Sankara Nethralaya’s involvement in the field of education and its key initiative ‘knowledge dissemination’.

The 24th graduation ceremony of the Elite School of Optometry (ESO) and the Vidyasagar Institute of Bio-Medical Sciences (VIBS), on the 5th of October 2012 was a typical example of this. The day’s proceedings started on a colourful note at the Sri V.D.Swami Auditorium with the Chief Guest Lion P.Haridas, Senior Advocate and Secretary, D.G Vaishnav College, Dr SS.Badrinath, Chairman Emeritus, Dr.TS. Surendran, Vice-Chairman, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr HN.Madhavan, President, Vision Research Foundation, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr Vasanthi Badrinath, Director, Clinical Services, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr Lily Therese, Professor and HOD of Microbiology, L & T Microbiology Research Centre, Vision Research Foundation, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr S.Meenakshi, Director, Academics, Sankara Nethralaya, Dr K.Krishna Kumar, Principal, ESO, Sankara Nethralaya and Dr Bharathi, BITS coordinator going on a procession in their ceremonial gowns and convocation caps and taking their place on the dais.

Dr S.Meenakshi extended a hearty welcome to the Chief Guest, the proud parents, esteemed faculty members of the BITS,VIBS and ESO, individuals and representatives of companies who have initiated the awards and last but not the least the stars of the day the graduating students. The Chief Guest was introduced by Dr TS.Surendran with a highlight on his legal acumen, significant contributions to social and educational causes, his critical role in faculty exchange between the MOP Vaishnav College and the VIBS and ESO, familiarizing students of the Sankara Nethralaya Academy to computers and the role of Mrs. Haridas in the founding of SWAN. The Chief Guest was honoured with a memento by Dr TS.Surendran soon after the introduction

The Chief Guest began his address on an emotional note that he felt very much like a member of the Sankara Nethralaya family; he cited the Paramacharya’s grace and Dr SS.Badrinath’s compassion as the reason for his presence on the momentous occasion. Quoting from a more than 500 year old Sanskrit couplet he congratulated every member of the Sankara Nethralaya family for being a part of a great movement of compassion. Shri Haridas recalled the small role he was fortunate to play in the formation of the Elite School of Optometry and the history of the institution with a reference to the visit of the legendary Dr JM.Enoch and the thoughtful benevolence of the Appukuttys in making available the land for the institution. The Chief Guest made a wonderful analogy between the graduating students and a sapling that would soon bear fruit and provide shade and shelter to the needy to drive home his point.

Dr R.Krishna Kumar, Principal, ESO spoke on the developments at ESO including the institution of new awards, , awards for ‘Best Optometric research’ and the good work being done by Shri Jothi Balaji, Manager E-Learning including the screening of jail inmates, he also announced the winners of the institutional awards and establishment of the Professor S.Venkateswaran Endowment Fund.

The award distribution was followed by an interesting report on VIBS, ESO, contributions by Prof S.Ramaswami, Dr L.Vijaya, the ESO’s role in creating awareness on eye donation, integrated model of teaching, video conferencing, eye camps for schools, tribal children and orphanages by Dr HN.Madhavan, President, VRF.

The graduation ceremony came to an end with a Vote of thanks by Ms Anuradha, Lecturer, Vision Screening Coordinator, Elite School of Optometry, congratulating the new graduates, parents and the Alma Mater.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A great temple for Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamiji, 68th Shankaracharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam

A great temple for Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamiji, 68th Shankaracharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, built at Orikkai, a suburb of Kanchi about five km from Kanchi is unique in many ways that embodies the age old tradition combined with modern aspirations. The temple falls under the category of suddha variety, meaning entirely built of one material, namely stone. There are other temples built of mixed materials like stone, bricks, wood, metal and mortar, that are called misra vimanas but when built of one material alone, as in the case of the Great Temple of Thanjavur, it comes to be called Shuddha Vimana, generally built by Emperors.

Secondly, the main temple is about one hundred feet in height, symbolizing the life span of His Holiness who lived amidst us for nearly one hundred years. All ancient temples were built, reflecting certain basic philosophies and this follows those traditional concepts. The superstructure called the Sikhara is about 56 feet and the height is one and three fourth, the width that is 1: 1.3/4 proportions bears a particular name indicating happiness (Ananda vimana), according to the sthapati.

This was built by Ganapathi Sthapati, one of the foremost traditional Sthapatis of Tamilnadu, who comes in the family of the builders of the Thanjavur temple. He was ably assisted by his son and brothers. His other cousin brother also named Ganapathi is the famous one who designed the Valluvar Statue and the Valluvar Kottam. Both the Ganapathis belonged to the village Pillaiyar patti near Karaikkudi in Tamilnadu and bear the name of Ganesa of that place. Both are distinguished masters of architecture and sculpture.

The white granite stones for this temple have come from a village named Pattimalai kuppam about 50 miles from Kanchipuram. The temple consists of two parts, the main vimana with sikhara and second the front mandapa with one hundred pillars.

The main sikhara is built on a high upapitha and with the traditional with several musings. The sikhara is built in five storeys topped by the stupika also made of stone. The sikhara is beautified with rows of corner kutas, intermediate shalas, and the central Projections (bhadras) provided with windows (jalas) for lighting and ventilation.

The inner sanctum is not the usual garbhagraha type but is a mandapa with raised pithika with four pillars at the corner. There is passage to go around and another concentric passage which is spacious to go around. Thus, there are two concentric passages around with mandapa in the centre where a Portrait of His Holiness will be enshrined. In front of His portrait is to be consecrated His Padukas (sandals) made of sandal wood and covered with gold plate. Essentially, it is a Mandapa and hence called Paduka Mani mandapa. The Architectural treatises call this type of structures as Mandapika Prasadas.

Such structures are known from early times. A typical example comes from Srinagar , in Kashmir where the famous Sankaracharya temple is built as Mandapika prasada. Originally, the Sankaracharya temple had circular garbha graham and is a very ancient temple. Around 1644, a Hindu King named Gopadeva added the central Vedika of the sanctum supported by four pillars. There are many such pillared sanctums built in the time of the Gupta kings in the fourth and fifth centuries. For example, such pillars temples are in Vidisa in Madhya Pradesh. Also, there is a fine temple in northern Karnataka near Badami (the ancient Vatapi). Such temples were not only built in India but also in ancient Cambodia. One of the most ancient temples at Sambhor Prai Kuk, in North Eastern Cambodia, assigned to 4th cent is also built in this form. In fact, most other temples in Cambodia are built in the mandapika style with a mandapa in the centre of the sanctum to enshrine the deity. Mahaswamiji was a great admirer and keen lover of the history of Cambodia and it really seems to be a divine coincidence that this mandap dedicated to him recalls this tradition.

Another significant feature of this temple is two significant sculptures introduced for the first time portraying two well known dhyana slokas in Sanskrit. The sculpture on the south wall of the main temple portrays the Guru Parampara - Narayana, Brahma, Vasishta, Sakti, Parasara, Vyasa, Sukha followed by Gaudapada, Govinda yogindra, and (Adi) Sankaracharya and His disciples. This is an illustrious sculpture that would enable the visitor to correlate the dhyana sloka recited by all with the sculpture and is certainly a fine way of introducing art of sculpture to the devotees.

Similar is the sculpture on the northern wall that depicts the Pradosha Tandava of Siva based on a sculpture from Badami 6th cent. Visitors to the temple who know this verse of Sandhya tandava would welcome the portrayal.

There is another sculpture on the southern wall of the temple representing a Ganesa. It is a beautiful sculpture that would attract the attention of art lovers. The entrance to the sanctum also has some interesting sculptures. Sculptures of both Ganga and Yamuna are portrayed at both the door jambs of the entrances. In addition, the creeper designs here portray 16 forms of the Guru at the outer door jambs while the inner entrance depicts the twelve Jyotir lingas.

The front mandapa built of one hundred pillars is conceived in the form of a cosmic chariot drawn by horse (under carving). Built in five bays, the central ceiling carries a mandala of the 12 rasis symbolically indicated by Mesha, Rishabha, Mithuna etc. The mandapa has a very well laid out stepped entrances on three sides. The steps are decorated with caparisoned elephants. The porch in the front has wheel with spokes symbolically depicting the twelve rasis – the twelve months. Once the horse sculptures are ready and fitted, it would resemble celestial horses drawing the chariot of cosmic time and space in which the devotees are likely to move through the cosmic presence. The huge nandi in front is a huge monolith and after finishing touches are given, it would be one of the great nandis in Tamilnadu.

The temple it must be understood is the tallest and traditionally well laid out physical space in Tamilnadu that has been undertaken in this century

A Maternity home established by A Hindu Queen of 13th Century

A Maternity Home
A healthy and clean maternity home for the birth of babies is a necessity in rural areas, was felt by a Hindu Queen, in the mid 13th cent. for which purpose, she gifted a land. She also patronised the building of a hospital and a hostel for feeding teachers and students in the same village. It is recorded in an inscription in Sanskrit language written in Telugu script. The interesting part of the record is that Queen ruled as an independent King of Andhra desa, showing that even women had the right to rule Kingdoms, though in most cases it was men who were crowned.

Queen Rudrambha
The name of the queen is Rudramba, also known as Rudra Devi, the daughter of the King Ganapati of the Kakatiya dynasty, ruling with Warangal as the Capital. The said grant issued in 1261 consisted of a village was gifted in the hand of great Saiva saint, named Visvesvara Siva. The record praises the Queen’s prowess and states that many opponent kings fell at her feet, and that she was ruling the country by herself.
“Sarva urvisa kireta kuttimatadi vinyasta Padambuja
sasti yesha cateerambu rasi rasanam sri rudra devi bhuvam”

Saivacharya Visvesvara Sambhu
She was the ruler of Andhra desa, and gifted a village, Velanga pundi with an istand in the middle of the Krishna river gifted to one Saivacharya – Visvesvara sambhu by her father, King Kakatiya Ganapati. The gifted village Mandara was situated at the place where the river Krishna turns to wards the north in the Velivadi veshiya , in the territorial division of Kandravadi. Ganapati gifted this village to the same Visvesvara siva who was his Rajaguru, and whom the record calls him Diksha guru one who iniated him into Siva puja.

Gauda Rajaguru
Visvesvara Siva was a Gauda (Bangali) hailing from Purvagrama in Dakshina Rada. Visvesvara Sambhu was a great scholar performing severe austerities (ugratapasvi), a great exponent of all vidyas (learnings), Mahasantah, Dantah and wearing matted locks of hairs; and was an ocean of Saivagamas (Saiva agama he is also called Saiva agama (ambonidhih) and so he was saluted by the King Ganapati, as diksha guru; what is more important was that this Acharya was so famous that he served as Rajaguru for the Chola King, Malava King, and also the Kalacuri rulers. It is interesting to see one Rajaguru for four great dynasties. He belonged to the “Golaki Matha santana”, and so established the “Golaki Matha” in the village Mandara on the banks of Krishan, gifted by Ganapati.

Prasuti Sala, Aarogya Sala and Vedic College
Where the Queen Rudramabha gifted another village in the same region, (in 1261), the guru, settled Sixty Dravida Brahmanas in the village and named it Golaki village. He obviously built a Siva temple there named Visvesvara temple for which he apportioned one share. One share was allotted for students (Vidyarties) and one share for a Saiva matha (the Golaki Matha) which was called Suddha Saiva Matha. It is in this village, a Maternity home (Prasuti Sala) and a hospital (Aarogya sala) were established. These were apportioned by the Acharya, who also provided for three teachers of Vedas (one for each) Rik, Yajus and Samavedas; The vedic teachers were called very good teachers (Samyak adhyapakas). Also were appointed in the college, exponents of Pada, Vakya Pramana, Sahitya and Agama. One expert physician (Vaidya) and one expert Kayasthas (serve) were also appointed.

Artists and Artisans
The Achrya appointed ten dancing girls (Nartakyah) for performing dance during Puja in the Visvesrava deva temple, two players of Mukhari and 8 players of Maddalams. One from Kashmir and fourteen women singers (Gayanyas), six players of Karada, etc. two Brahmin cooks and four Paricarakas, six Brahmanas, hailing from Chola desa were attached to the Matha and Sattra. There were the soldiers belonging to all four Castes to protect ten village. These solders were called Virabhadras, “who were terrific solders, who could cut off Heads cut off abdomen and testedes of evil doers. (Sierac ceda, Kukshicidan Bijacheda). There were other craftsmen - like workers in gold (goldsmith), copper (coppersmith), stone worker, ayas iron smith, kumbha karas (potters) and there were also Sthapati, Carpenters, Barbers, and Silpins, altogether twenty in number and also soldiers, a total of 73, each given on puttika of land. The Acharya also settled some Samaveda Brahmanas from Purvagrama his native place in Dakshina Rada of Gauda desa to whom he allotted 300 putti land. He also set apart so puttika towards collecting taxes, and look after expenses of the village.
Each one of these allottee, should do the works allotted to them and enjoy the land and gardens. The property will pass on from father to son (heriditarily) and in the event of no male issues, the girls of the family will inherit the property. An interesting stipulation was that all these service temures, and ownership, inheritance etc., should be well documented in writing.
This is a sterling example of how a new Agrahara village was formed in ancient times with all services.

Constitution of an Agrahara
The village consisted of learned Brahmanas, a Siva temple, Maternity home, a Hospital, a Vedic college to teach the three Vedas, exponents of Pada Vakya, Pramana, Sahitya, Agamas, a doctor, a Registrar (Kayastha) Dancers, Musicians, Instrument players, Cooks and Servants for feeding teachers and students (hospitals). Different metal works (Goldsmith, Copper smith, Stone masons, Iron smith, Carpenter, Sthapati , Silpins, Barber, Solders to execute Judicial punishments, Guards of the village etc., and village Accountants for collecting taxes and overseeing expenses etc.) All these categories settled were gifted each with a cultivable land and also a garden, with powers to enjoy the produce, which passed on a hereditary basis from father to son and in the case where there was no male descendant the daughters, were given the right to inherit the same. Further, the emphasis on well written documents for (samyak lekhana purvakam) each, shows, it was an intelligent society settled and each was expected to do their service prescribed, that the village was gifted by a woman who ruled the Andhra desa, deserve special notice. This was the time when the Islamic rule was established in Delhi, but had not shattered the Hindu tradition yet. The Hindu Kings have bestowed attention to Education, Public health, Judiciary, documentation, music and dance, art and architecture, crafts, policing, (law & order), and village accounts, in a comprehensively is borne our more variedly and this has been done by a religious head, Acharya shows religious work did not confine to worship alone. Another interesting factor is that the same acharya served as Rajaguru to four powerful ruling dynasties suggest that he could have brought in a greater unity among the rulers and also the society as a whole.
The Matha established by him was to feed all people. The Saiva system did not exclude the so called low caste, from the society. It must be remembered that these great Saivacharyas, who were Rajagurus, were great Vedic scholars, which did not consider Vedic tradition as outside Agamic Saivam, as is being suggested by some modern writers.
The inscription is found on a stone pillar at Malkapuram, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh and published by J. Ramayya, in the Journal of Andhra Historical Research Society, IV earlier, and by D.C. Sarcar in select Inscriptions.

Performance of over 15 Vedic Yajnas, 2000 Years ago under the patronage of a Hindu Queen

Queen Nagannika, the patron for performance of Vedic Sacrifices

Nagannika, was a daughter of Maharathi of Angiba, and Queen of the Satavahana King Sri Satakarni, who ruled in the First cent. BCE., that is 2000 years ago. Satakarni was a great conqueror and very powerful ruler of Dakshinapada. The Satavahana rulers ruled over Maharashtra, Madhyapradesh, Andhradesa, and Karnataka regions, and patronised Buddhism greatly by building Stupas, Cave temples, and Caityas. Some of the most famous Buddhist monuments came into existence by their support, and yet they were the staunch followers of Vedic system.

The Queen

Nagannika had two sons – Vedi Sri and Saktisri. She is described as a noble lady observing all religious vows – Vratas properly and full of compassion and grace, given to liberally make gifts etc. She was one of the most distinguished women of India. In a long inscription, written in Brahmi script and Prakrit language, the record details the several Vedic Yajnas, she performed with her husband, which are listed below.

The List of Vedic Sacrifices
1. Agni – adheya yajna
2. Anvaraamtaniya yajna
3. Rajasuya
4. Asvameedha
5. Sapta dasa ratra yajna
6. Bagala dasa ratra yajna
7. Garga – atiratra yajna
8. Gargamayana yajna
9. Aptoryama – yajna
10. Angirasoma yajna
11. Sat – atiratra yajna
12. Angirasa – atiratra
13. Chandoga – pavamana Atratra
14. Angirasa – amayana yajna
15. Trayodasatiratra yajna. etc
Most of these sacrifices are called specifically as Yajnas and she has performed many more, the names of which are either only partially available or only the word yajna is available, the other names withered due to loss or weathering on the rock. She also performed in several instances the same yajnas several times, which are seen repeated, and at every time she performed she has made gifts as dakshina which are recounted. Unfortunately the long inscription is worn off and withered so much so details of many other of her yajnas are lost to posterity. However, what remains do show her abiding faith in the Vaidika sacrifices. Besides mentioning a number of Yajnas, it gives the number of cows, or other gifts like animals, chariots, horses, and land, which exhibits a great sense of documentation and responsibility.
Speaking about her greatness the inscription calls her Maasopavasini (observing regularly upavasa every month), grahatapasvi (performing Tapas at home), “Carita Brahmacarya” (observing Brahmacarya), Dikshavrata saunda Yajnah Kritah” – performed Yanjas.
It is important to state at this juncture that her inscription begins as “Siddham, Prajapataye, Dharmaya namah”. Usually wherever a king records his gift, he invokes the blessings of Vishnu, Siva, Sakti, Buddha or Jaina, which was his favourite deity or in the alternative to which ever faith he gifts, salutes that Supreme God of that religion, as for example if a gift is made to a Buddhist monastery, the grant will begin with a salutation to Buddha. In this case of Nagannika, she invokes Prajapataye – Dharma. We may see Nagannika is invocating the following in the invocatory part of the inscription.

“The invocation
Prajapataye Dharmaya namah Indraya namah. Samkarshana Vasudevabhyam Candra Suryabhyam Mahimavadbhyam, Chaturbhyasca Lokapalebhyasca, Yama Varuna, Kubera Vasavebhyo namah”.

As mentioned earlier, the salutations to Prajapati at the beginning of this inscription is significant in the context of over 15 Vedic Yajnas in the record. One has to look for the importance of Prajapati in Vedic Yajnas. This particular aspect has escaped the attention of all scholars so far.
Pavamana and Prajapatya hymns
In all the Vedic Yajnas, there are some preliminary rituals called Punyaham, Agnimukham, Pavamana suktam, Prajapatya homam, Prayasitta homan etc., which are essential before the special Yajna is started. It is an amazing sequence in which all these rites are organised by the ancient Vedic rishis. The Paramana hymns which are recited for purifying the sakta (hymns) themselves. It is interesting to see that the list of Vedic Yajnas, performed by the Queen Nagannika, one is called “Chandoma-Pavamana-Atiratra”.
But more important is the “Prajapatya homa” which is addressed to Prajapati as the lord of both two footed and four footed beings (Dvipad Catushpad); Dvipad stands for human beings, and Catushpad will include animals, birds and reptiles. We find the Prajapatya homa, Indra, Yama, Varuna, Vasava (Indra), and Agni Yama, Varuna, Kubera, and Vaseva are the lokapalas (also called Dikpalas) where Dharma, Surya and Chandra are called Agnis of the celestial region. Indra is specially addressed separately. Evidently the invocation in the Nagannika inscription is reflective of the beginning of all Vedic Yajnas. This is the significant aspect of this record.

Balarama and Krishna –Vedic Sastras
There is another importance too. Prajapati, Indra, Dharma, Chandra and Surya (who are very powerful – Mahimavantah) and the four lokapalas are all Vedic Devatas. This inscription includes two more deities. Sankarshna Vasudeva – Sankarshava is Balarama and Vasudeva is Krishna. In ancient times, the word Vasudeva referred to here is Krishna. These two are deities of Itihasa – Mahabharata, who are also raised to the level of Vedic deities. Rama and Krishna’s life and teaching were considered the essence of Vedas. Mahabharata is called a Veda – “Bharatam pancamo Vedah” is an ancient saying. Balarama and Vasudeva were in ancient times worshipped as dual deities. The Sangam Paripadal poem praises Balarama and Vasudeva, as ever praised by Vedic Rishis. That Balarama and Krishna were considered as Vedic deities by Hindu tradition is attested by this inscription of Nagannika, the Queen of Satakarni King, who ruled in the first century before the current era.

The Source
The inscription written in Brahmi script and in Prakrit language is found in a cave at the top of Nanaghat, a pass leading from Konkan to Junnar in Poona district of Maharashtra. Many scholars have written about this inscription, considered a landmark inscription of India.

The Inner Meaning of the Siva Linga

What is Linga. It means "a Symbol." The Vyakaranis (grammarians) and the Mimamsakas have profusely used this word in this sense. The lexicographers have other words to denote the male organ, and the Namalinganusasana of Amarasimha, especially in the Nanartha Varga employs the word in the sense of any human organ. Why then of the so many other symbols prevailing in this country, this symbol alone should be termed pre-eminently as the "Symbol." Because this alone has been regarded pre-eminently as emblem of the "Great unknown."

We may at the outset say that the Linga stands for the sacred fire of the old "Yagna Salas," while the temple itself stands for the sacrificial grounds - be the said temple built as the Hridaya prastharas such as the temple of Chidambaram, or Sariraprasthara as in other places. The old Yupastamba of the Yagnasala is the Dwajas tamba of the Siva Alaya. The Altar is the Balipitam and the ashes are the Bhasma, while the Pasu (victim) of the old sacrifice is the bull or nandi. While one bull near the dwajastamba is the Pasu, another bull on the other side of the Balipitam stands for the freed one and hence called Nandi or God.* [* அனாதிசிவரூபமாகிய ஆன்மா தனாதிமலத்தாற் தடைப்பட்டு நின்றது தனாதிமலமும் தடையற்றபோதே, அனாதிசிவரூபமாகிய வாறே.]

We are enjoined in the Sastras that we should on no account cross between the 2nd Nandi and Sivalingam. The penalty for transgressing this injunction is great. The first Nandi near the dwajastamba corresponds to the soul bound by the 3 pasas, Anava, Karma, and Maya, and the 2nd Nandi on the other side of the Balipitam (the altar where the victim is sacrificed) represents the soul freed from the pasas. The 2nd nandi has offered itself as an oblation into the sacred fire of Brahman. No one can separate the offering from the fire into which it has been offered. The priest who officiates in this sacrifice of the Atma is alike called the Dikshita. The Ritwicks here are the Sadhaka-Acharyas. The mantra 'Vonshat' plays an important part in this Yaga as in the old sacrifices. In the old yagas such as Garudachayana etc., certain mounds were erected while there was also other minor kundas and mandalas and Vedis. This is Howthri. In all acts done in the Sivalaya from Karshna to Prathishta and from Prathishta to Ootsava and from Ootsava to Prayaschitta, some of the same processes are repated a number of times. The construction of kundas, mantapas, and the performance of ceremonies thereto, homas, rearing of palikas are all repeated several times. During the Balastapana, Pavitrotsava, Yagas, Linga-stapana, Nrutta Saba, Vimana stapana, Soola stapana Prasada and Gopura-stapana during car-stapana etc., are repeated. The Acharya, who has had Acharya-abhisheka done to him, is the fit man to establish both the sthira linga and Chara linga. The Sthira linga (immoveable emblem) is the linga in the temple and chara linga is the Acharya. Both of them become objects of worship and both of them become god's emblem by the same kind of processes. Hence the Agama says:

"Sthavaram Jangamam chaiva Lingam Dvividham Ishyathe-Sthavaram Sthapitham Lingam Jangamam Dikshitam Viduhu Jangamasyavamavena Sthavaram nishphalam Bhavet."

"Stavara (immoveable) and Jangama are two kinds of lingas. The stavara linga is the one established in the temple and the dikshita is the Jangama linga. The stavara linga worship will be of no avail if you have no regard for the Jangama linga." The Agamas mention 7 kinds of lingas. They are the Gopuras, Sikhara, portals Prakaras (Walls), Balipitam, the Archaka, and the linga in the inner sanctuary.

"Gopuram Sikharam Dvaram Prakaram Balipeetakam, Archakam Moolalingamcha Sapta Lingamthu Darsayeth."

The Balipeetam is called the Bhadra-lingam. It is on the Balipitam that the deovtee is converted into Sivam. Hence it is called the Bhadra linga. The Sikhara is identically the Moola linga as we shall hereafter show. The portals and the prakaras are Siva linga as they remind us of the Eternal Lord. In all these and in the thousand and one references, the word "Linga" is used in the sense of 'Symbol". Thus Sivalingam is that Symbol which reminds us of the "Unknown Deity" residing over all the universe. We said that the temple is the old yagasala. What is the most important thing in the yagas? Certainly the sacred Fire. If the pasu is Nandi and the Balipitam is the place where the victim is sacrificed, where is the sacred fire in this yaga sala in which the Aham-homa is performed? Certainly that is the linga. Thus the linga shooting upwards is the pillar of fire climbing upwards. Those who are acquainted with the eternal as the Pasupathi - "Imam Pasum Pasupathe the Adya Badnami," "I now tie this pasu for thee, oh Pasupathi," says the Veda. 'Avorajanam Adhvarasya Rudram," (Rudra who is the king of sacrifices). "Ghathapathim Medhapathim Rudram" (Rudra the lord of the slain and the marrow). "Ayam Somaha Kapardine kritham" (This soma is performed for the one with braided hair) "Rowdri Vai Gowha" (This cow belongs to Rudra) are the Srutis. The 21 yagnas, 7 paka yagas, 7 haviryagnas and 7 somayagnas are all propitiated to Rudra. The Karmakanda says: 'Eka eva Rudro nadvitiyaya tasthe," "Esham Isaha Pasupathihi Pasoonam chathushpadam," Ethavantho vai Pasavaha Dwipadachathushpadascha," "Thasmath Rudraha Pasoonam Adhi pathihi," Rudra alone stands without a second"- and the Gnanakanda (Upanishads) reproduces the same in a higher sense - "Ekohi Rudro nadwithiyaya thastheehu - ya Iman Lokan Adhi Srithaha - ya Ise asya Dvipadaha chathushpadaha kasmai Devaya Havisha Videma" "Rudra is the Pasupathi and the pasus are these two legged and four legged beings." "Pasoogumsthagumschakre Vayavyan - Aranyan - Gramyascha ye - Tham Yagnam Barhishi Prowksham - Purusham Jatham Agrathaha - Thema Deva Ayajantha - Yagnena yagnam Ayantha Devaha." 'The birds, the beasts and men became pasus. The devas sacrificed the first born purusha." The Upanishads too borrow the same language. 'Vrathamethath Pasupatham Pasupasa Vimokshaya", 'Gnatva Devam Muchyathe sarva Pasaihi", "Gnatva Devam sarva Pasapahanihi", "Visvaroopaikapasam", "Dhyananirmathanabhyasath Pasam Dahathi Pandithaha."

Indeed in all the Atyasramopanishads such as the Svetesvatara this Pasupathi is praised. Thus if there is truth in the fact that the Alayas are only sacrifical grounds in a higher sense, then the sacred fire must be the sivalinga. If the sivalinga does not stand for the 'Sacred fire" what else could it represent, especially when there is a Balipitam, a Pasu and a Yupastamba before it. The old Iranian have perpetuated the Eternal One in the form of "fire"; and the Aryans too might have had the very same emblem of fire in their public places of worship. Why had they represented the fire in the form of a stone pillar? The answer is plain enough. They had not only to represent the sacrificial fire, but also the sacrificial mound, the sacrificial post and the victim to be sacrificed. All this they represented in the same kind of material. Their idea was not only to represent the "Unknown Principle" in the resplendent form of fire, but also to perpetuate the working of Pasupathi in His manifold ways, without altering His form as a pillar of fire. In one and the same place, they had perpetuated the nature of the Pathi, the Pasu and the Pasas, of the 36 tatwas resolving into the 3 kinds of Maya viz., the Moolaprakriti, the Asuddha maya and the Kutila (Suddha maya) controlled by the Ichcha, Gnana, and Kriya Saktis of the Lord, of the 5 kinds of pranava, indeed of the workings of the Divine Lord and of the end and aim of all creation. Hence it is, they have established the temples from the Himalayas to the Cape Comorin in the same granite rocks. This lingam of fire is made to rest on a pitam. In some cases the pitam can be removed. This Pitam too is in some places circular (Vrithakara) and at other places square (Chaturasra). But the most common one is the circular pitam. Imagine a lotus supported on its long stalk while its petals are open. There are whorls of petals rising one over the other. In the midst of this flower you see a small ovary of yellow colour with small yellow coloured stamens round it and with pollen sticking to them in the centre. Here you see a lingam. It is only in reference to this the Agama says "Pattika kanja kantabja pattika dyapratharika." This abja (lotus) contains a pattika, a neck etc.

The following stanza from the works of Sri Ulagudya nayanar will clearly show the nature of the Sivalinga.

"மலமெனுந்தடத்திற் கருமசேதகத்தின் மாயையாங்கிழங்கிலங்குறித்து மன்னுமூவெட்டாந் தத்துவநாள மலரிதழலித்தை யேழ்வித்தை நலமிருமீசன் சதாசிவமிரண்டும் நண்ணுகேசரங்களாகுஞ் சத்திநற்பொருட்டாகு நாதமேவிந்து நயந்தகண்ணாமென விரவி யிலகுமென்னுடலபதும பீடிகை நீயிருந்தருளாசனமென."

The tank is Anava. The soil is karma. The root is Maya. The 24 tatwas from prithivi to Prakriti, the stalk. The 8 petals are the 7 vidya tatvas and suddhavidya. The kesaras (stamens) are the Isvara tatvas and Sadakya tatva. The pistil of the flower is the Sakti tatva. The Nadha and bindu form the ovary." Here, apart from the Atma Vidya tatvas and suddhavidya, the linga proper is made up of Isvara and Sadakya, Bindu and Nadu tatwas. The Agama acharyas prescribe internal as well as external poojas and Homas. The heart is the place of pooja and the Nabhi (abdomen) is the place for homa. Corresponding to the heart there is a place of worship outside, and corresponding to the Nabhi there is the Sivagnihotra kundam. A true saivite is enjoined to do both the pooja and homa, both internally and externally. He alone who has done the pooja in the heart is qualified to do the pooja outside. Indeed without Siva poojah in the heart, there cannot be poojah outsied. Similarly, without the homa in the Nabhi, there cannot be agnihotra in the fire pot outside. The heart is a lotus, the nabhi kunda is another lotus. Similarly the linga outside is described to be seated in a lotus, and the fire-pot outside is lotus. After the completion of the pooja and the homa internally and externally, there is the place for Samadhi (deep contemplation). The seat for that in the inner side is the Brain; and outside, he is required to select a lonely place for doing this Samadhi. The brain too is a lotus. The lotus of the heart is considered to possess 8 petals and the lotus of the brain thousand petals. Of course, in all these various flowers there are lingas. The lingas are all jyothies or colloquially pillars of fire. Sreemat Aghora Sivacharya in his Nityanushtana rules observes thus regarding the contemplation of the Lord in the Brain.

"Vowshadantha Moolena Sikhantharasthadadho mukha padmasravadamrutha dharabhibi Sakala Nadimukham pravishtabhihi Sabahyabhyantaram sarva saruramaplavya, Hridaye Nala Patra karnika roopam Padmam Akaradi Matratraya yukthena Pranavena Suddha Vidyatmakam Asanam, Thatkarnikayam puryashtakam chathushkalena Pranavena Avatharnam Bhuvayiha thasmin Dwadasanthastham Bindu Roopam Sivamayam Atmanam Panchakaleva Poorakena Srishya samaneeya - Jyothirupam samasthapya Vowshadantha sakthi mantrocharavena kshubda sakthi Parisrutha Bahulamrutha Pravahena Abhishimchayeth."

'Wetting his body all over with the discharges of the honey (nectar) exuding from the lotus whose petals are blown downwards, and thinking that the heart is a lotus possessing a stalk, petals, karnika (bud) and making it the seat of Suddha Vidya and seating on it, the Atma of the nature of Siva, of the form of Bindu, on taking him down from his seat in the Brain (Dwadasanta) and establishing the Lord of the form of Jyothis, this Atma must make abhishekams to the Lord with the waters of Sakti made to flow all round."

"Thadami Poorva va danganyasam Vidhya Hrinnabhi Bindu Sthanani Pooja Homa samadhinam sthanani sankalpya Vakshya mana kramena Bhavopanitha Pushpadyaihi Anthar Hridpadme sivam sarvopacharaihi Manasa sampoojya", "Nabhi kunde swatassiddhagnow Gnananalm Nyaseth, Thathaha sooryayutha, samaprabam Hrid pundarika Mandhyaththu sushumnena Yathanalam Dvadasanthe Pade Yojyam Thejaha Punja Pinjaram, Thena Vinyastha Margena Guananalam sivam sampoojya Poorakakrishtena Bindu prasrutha, Amrutha roopena Ajyena Homam Krithva, Authaha Poojitham Devaya samrpiya, Poojam samarpya Bindow sarvathomukham sphurath Tharakakaram Isvaram Dhyatva, Bahibipoojayamithi Prarthya Labdha, anugnaya - sthana suddhim samachareth."

"Then making the anganyasa as before (conversion of one's body into that one in which it will be fit for god take his seat), thinking in his mind, the heart, the navel, and the Brain as places respectively for making poojah, homa and Samadhi, and worshipping Sivam in the lotus of the heart with all respect due to Him with the flowers of Ahimsa etc., in the manner hereunder to be described blow up into flame (kunda) the fire of Gnana in the fire pot of Navel. Then we should pour Siva, the fire of wisdom, the thick cluster of Tejas, of the sheen of a thousand suns, the ghee nectar flowing from the Bindu. The Jvala or flame is said to rise from the navel and reach the Dwadasanta through the heart as through the Nadi of Sushumna. The long blazing flame is here the linga. In the heart lotus god is Jyothirupa and in the navel, god is Gnananala, Tejahpunja pinara. The water to be poured over the linga in the heart lotus is Sakthi Kshubda sakti prasruthabahulamrutha pravaham and the ghee to be poured over the flame of fire rising from the navel is Bindu prasantha Amrutha roopena ajya Bindu. The water and the ghee are the same - Sakti. He should then offer all the fruits of pooja to the Lord and contemplating Isvara in the Bindu stana (Brain) as a shining star (spurath tharakakara with faces on all sides sarvatho (mukha) take (anugna) his commands and request him that he may be allowed to do pooja outside and with the permission so obtained, he must select a place outside for doing the pooja and must wash the place etc. After making the Sthana suddhies and Mantra Suddhies, the devotee must do poojah outside." Thus the Paddhathikara continues

"Mownam Asthaya Mantran Hrasva Deergha Plutha kramena Omkaradi Namonthan Ucharya Mantra suddhim kuryath."... Thadanu poorvarchitam poojam Gayathriya sampoojya, Asthrena Linga Pindike Praksholya, samanya Arghya Jalena abhishichya chala linga Ashta pushpekaya Asana moorthy Moolairva Abhishichya, yavadi choornena Virookshya.. Moolena Panchavaram Brahmabhi rangaischa swahanthaihi Vyoma vyapyadiva Va-- sahasra dharayacha sugandha sithala Jalena Namake chamaka Purusha sooktha Manthrena yatheshtamabhi shichya, Gandhodakena sthapitha sivakalasenapi samsnapya, Paschat Hridayena Arghyajalena Abhishichya, suddha Vasthrena sommrujya Peete samaropayeth."

Then after making pooja with the Gayatri mantra, washing the linga pindika (peeta) with the Asthra mantra, pouring ordinary water on the linga, adoring the same with the 8 kinds of flowers, then pouring the consecrated waters over the linga with the Pancha-brahma and shadnga mantras or Vyopa voyapin mantram all along reciting the Namaka, chamaka and Purusha sooktha mantras and rubbing it with a pure cloth, place it on a seat. "Evam Kritha Atma sthana Dravya Mantra Linga suddhim Vidhya Sivam poojayeth." Thus finishing the 5 Suddhies (purificatory ceremonies) to Atma (the worshipper), sthana (place of worship), Dravya (materials for worship), Mantras (prayers) and linga (Symbol of god intended for worship), one should adore Siva. After making poojas then to the Avarana Devatas, Ganapathy and Lakshmi in the north-west and in the north-east corners, worshipping the seven gurus (Sadasivam Ananthamcha Srikantam Punarambikam Guham Vishnumcha Dhatharam guroon Sapthan Smaran Yjeth) Sadasiva, Anantha Srikantha, Ambika, Guha, Vishnu and Brahma, taking their approval with the prayer. Allow me to do poojah to the lord" (Devam Sampoojayamithi labdanugnaya sivam yajeth) one should do pooja to the Lord.

Behind this pita there is the Kriya Sakthi of the Lord who is pervading all the tatvas from the earth to Kutila. In that space there is the seat of Anantesa, supported by 4 lions resting in the 4 corners, north-east, south-east, south-west and north-west, the lions themselves representing the Dharma, Gnana, Vairagya and Aisvarya, of different colours and supported also by 4 legs in the North, East, South, and West corners representing the Adharma, Agnana, Avairagya and Anaisvarya. Above that is the linga of two divisions the Adhachadana and Oordhva Chadana, the middle portion being called the Mekhala portion. Here the earth is the root and the other tatvas up to kala, form the Nala (stalk) (Prithvi kandam Kalatatvantaika nalam - Kshubda Maya Mahapadmam Anekadala Sankulam). The Oordhvachandana are the blown petals. Here is the description of the lotus.

"Mannika sadrusam Kandam Nalam Neela Sama prabham. Ankuramthu pravalabham, Dalamrajatha Suprabham - Kesaram Hema varnabham Agre mukthavaliyutham" Kandaya namaha. Ankuraya namaha, Nalaya namaha, Mukulaya namaha Dalaya namaha, upadalaya Nalaya namaha, Vidyesvarashtaka roopani Dalani samchinthya Abhyarchya, Than moola peetopari Kesarebhyo namaha, Peetonnatha Bhagamadhye, "Tapta chamikara chayam Panchasat bheeja garbhitham - Kesaranam chathushashtya Karnikam poojayeth thathaha." Karnikayai namaha, Bijebhyo namaha - Ithyevam Samnditha roopam Padmam Vibhavya Padmaya namaha ithi poojayeth. Thathaha Poorvadisantha Kesareshu Vidheyasvaradhishtathrun Siva Sakthimeva Vamadin Dayatva, Dalagravrithe Soorya mandalaya namaha, Sorrya mandaladhi pathaye Brahmane Namaha - Kesaragra Vrithe Soma mandalaya namaha Soma Mandaladhi pathaye Vishnave namaha, Karnikagra vrithe agni mandalaya namaha, Agni mandaladhi pathaye rudraya namaha, Karnika madhye Kutilatmikam Kshirodanibham Sakthi mandalam sanchintya, Sakthi mandalaya namaha, thadadhishtayakam Isvaramcha Dhyatva, Sakthi Mandaladhi pathaye Isvaraya namaha, Ithi Sampoojaya - Thadupari Kshityadi Kutilantha Vyapakamasanam Vibhavya Sivasanaya namaha, Siva-moorthaye namaha, Ithi Moorthim Thejoroopam Dandakaram Avibhakthavayavam, Siva tatvamaka Parabindu Vyapthikam Vibhavya Linga Veshtane Nivesayeth."

In the midst think of a sprout of an emerald colour and small stalk of the colour of sapphire the bud-like-coral and the petals (small ones) of the colour of silver, the Kesara (pollen) of the colour of gold, worship the root, sprout, stalk, the bud, the petals and the small petals and think of the Astavidyesvaras as the 8 petals. Above these petals (i.e) above the peeta (Pindika) rises the linga. There is the Karnika of the colour of molten gold, big with the 51 seeds (51 Aksharas) and with kesaras (pollen) 64 in number; worship that karnika and the seeds. Thus conceive of a lotus formed of the various parts hitherto described.

Then think of the Kesaras as the 8 Sakthis Vama, Jyesta, Rowdri, Kali, Kalavikarani, Balavikarani Balapramathini and Sarvabhathadamani - who are so many aspects of one Siva's sakthi - and who control and rule the 8 Vidyesvaras and think of Manonmani to rest in the Karnika and worship them all severally by their names. In the circumference of the petals, think of the sun's Mandala to exist with its presiding deity as Brahma, and in the circumference of the Kesara think of the Moon's Mandala presided by Vishnu as its deity, and in the circumference of the Karnika think of Agnimandala with Rudra as its presiding deity and in the middle of the Karnika think of the sakthimandala of the colour of milk with its presiding deity Mahesvara, and considering such a form as one formed of all tatvas from Prithvi to Kutila and as the seat of the Lord, and with the mantras Siva Asanaya namaha-Siva moorthaye namaha, think of a Thejoroopam in the form of a pillar having no hands, feet, head etc, (Thejoroopam Dandakaramavibhakthavayavam) and thinking it to permeate through the Siva-tatva (Nadatatvam) place the Lord's symbol in the place called the Linga Veshtana.

In this pillar of fire we must suppose that there is a Form with Isana mantra as the head, the tatpurusha mantra as the face, the Aghora mantra as the heart, the Vamadeva mantra as the abdomen and the Sadyojatha mantra as the leg. Then we must consider this body as one formed of the 38 Kalas, Sasini etc. Sakthena Anena Sakalo Vigneye nishkala Sivaha - Kshithydai Kutila prantha Mantra Simhasana Sthithaha. Drik Kriyecha Visalaksham Gnana chandra Kalanvitham - Samjinthya Moortherupari Sakthimathra Vijrumbanam." Sarvakartharam Nishkalam Vibhum Gnananandamayam Svaparaprakasam Samchinthya "Swami Sarvajaganmatha Yavat poojavasanakam. Thavath Tvam Prithi Bhavena Lingesmin Sannidhirbhava" ithi Vijnapya avahana, Sthapana, Sannidana, Sannirodhana padaya, Achamana, Arghya pushpa Dananthairashtabhissamskaraisamskrithya Poojayeth.

Arghyam Datva Isanadina brahmana Dhenu, Padma, Trisoola Makra Srigakya mudram Namaskara mudramcha, Darasayithva Sarvesham Sivena Sadharmya Aikyam Bhavayeth."

Then we must think of the Lord as possessing a body formed of 38 Kalas - such as Sasini etc. Thus we should think of Him as possessing a body formed of Sakthis. By this Sakthi the Lord, who is Nishkala should be contemplated to have become Sakala. His seat is the 36 tatvas from earth to Kutila. His Icha , Gnana and Kriya Sakthis are his 3 broad eyes. The wisdom is in the form of the crescent Moon. Then think of God in the Brahma randhra (Brain) as possessing Vidya-Deha thinking that this Vidya-deha is of the Linga form and must make nyasa to that effect. Then we must pronounce the Moola mantra (Pranava) with all its Kalas such as medha, etc., and thinking of the same as equal to the fierce sun (Prachandamarthandopamam) and leaving the 5 Karanesvaras Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Isvara, Sadasiva while pronuncing that Pranava, in their respective places of A,U,M, bindu and Nada. Contemplating the Nishkala Lord, the Creator of all, the Omnipresent, Sat-chit-Ananda, the Vivifier of all and the Self-luminous Sivam and with deep reverence praying to Him "Oh Lord, ruler of all worlds. Be thou pleased to be present in this Linga till I finish my pooja," thus making the 8 samskaras Avahana, stapana, Sannidhana, Sannirodana, Padya and Achhamana giving, Arghya and flower - we must do poojah. Then we must present to Him the several Mudras (Geometrical figures with spiritual meanings) such as Dhenu (cow), Padma (lotus) Trisoola (Trident) Makara (Turtlefish) and offering the namaskara mudras i.e., the joining of the palm of hands. We must thank all to have attained His nature and become one with Him. (Sarvesham Sivena sadharmya Aikyam Bhavayeth). Then waing incense and showing the luminous form of the light, and presenting all offerings (nivedyas), the devotee should 108 times make japa of the Moola mantra (Pranava) and finishing thempraise Him in loud and enchanting strains.

Guhyadi Guhya gopta twam -Grihanasmath kritham japam Siddhir Bhavathu me Deva Twatprasadath Thvayi Sthitham "Sivodata Sivo Bhoktha Sivas sarvam idam jagat Sivoyajathi Sarvathra yassivaha Soham Evathi."

"Thou art the preserver of all secrets. Therefore receive my japas and let me attain my aim. Whatever I did, good or bad, take that as my offering. Siva is the giver, Siva is the enjoyer, all is Siva, Eveeywhere Siva does the pooja. That Siva is I myself." By reciting these slokas, one should resign his mental prayer, ceremonial acts, and himself in the Varada hadn of the Lord... We have here described the mode of Sivapoojah in a shortest way possible. Then begins agni karya, and Aghoras siva says:

"Thatogni Hridpadme Sivam abhyarchya" Naivedya Samaye Thiladibhihihi yatha Sakthi Moolena Brahmagaihi Hutva Naivedyaya charum Hutva parangmukha Arghyam datva Sivam Nerapeksham Visrujya Vahnim namaskrithya."

Then in the Agnikunda (of the form of a lotus) one should do homa with Panch Brahma and shadanga mantras and prostrate before him. He who does so daily will never be tainted with sin just as there will be no darkness when the sun has risen." Evam yo Prathyaham Bhakthya Sampoojayathi Sankaramna thasya Jayathe Papam Yathadithyodayaththamaha."

Regarding this Antarpooja, Bahya pooja and Agnihotra, the great Trilichana Sivacharya in his siddhanta saravali observes thus:-

Regarding the Antar pooja (Inner pooja) he says thus "Hridpadme Manasa Vibhavitha Maha mayoparisthasane Dhyeyo Dipa Sikhakrutheessu kusumam Bhava Kshamarghyam jalam leporavasayini Parasivaha Prananalo manase pathrehamkrithiresha Eva paramo Doopayamanatmakaha.

In the heart-lotus there is a seat (for the Lord) above the Mahamaya. In that seat the Lord parasiva should be contemplated in the form of the flame of a lamp. To him, Bhava (good intention) is a good flower:- Patience is Arghya and Abhisheka waters. Knowledge of Siva is Dhyana and lepa (smeating materials such as sandal-wood). The waving of incense is the Ahankaran (consiousness) etc. The meaning is that the 36 tatvas from the earth to the Mahamaya, constitute the lotus and the seat above it is sakthi and the lord is in the form of the flame of a lamp. Regarding the outer poojah the saintly Acharya says:-

Sesanahatha Dharikoparidharadya grantnayaha Pankajam Vidyordhya stha sivantha padma Khachitham pitam Sivasyasanam Sarvadhvadi bhaga Samyutha sivagnanakhya Lingatmakam sarvadhvadhika bhaganala sahitham peetam kriyasakthikam.

The meaning is that the whole linga consists of a peetam and linga. The Peetam is that part of the lotus (up to Suddhavidya) as far as the petals and linga is the other part of the lotus. Thus the lotus is the linga. In the Poojastava, a work from which saint Umapathy Sivacharya and others have copiously quoted, the following Stanzas occur and they will also explain as to what the linga means. "Hridpadmakhya Sivalaye Manasije thath Karnikakhye Kriya Peeta gnanamayam Visuddha manasa Samasthapya nadatmana Lingam thathcha Suddha Mayena Payasa Sansnapya Samyak Punaha Vyragyenacha chahandanena Vasubhihi Pushpairahmisadibhihi."

Pranayama Bhavena Dhoopavidhinachitdeepa Danenayaha Pratyaharamayena Somahavisha Sowshumna Japenacha - Tatchintha bahudharanabhi vamalaihi Dhyanothbhavair Chooshanaihi Thath Samyanunivedanena yajane dhanyassaevamalaha." The heart lotus is the Sivalaya. In it Karnika, the peetam is Kriya and gnana is linga (Nada). The Abhisheka-water is the nectar. Vairagya is the sandal. Ahimsa and others are the flowers. The restraining of breath is the waving of incense. The consciousness is showing the light (Deepa). Pratyahara is Havis. Sushumna-Yoga is Japa. The ornaments (Jewels) are those blessed sensation arising from a constant contemplation of Him - giving up on one's self is the Offering (Neivedya). He who does this Pooja has indeed obtained what ought to be obtained.

"Dharikadhara Sakthi bijam Anantha Pankaja Kudmalam - Punya bodhat Viraga Bhoothi padam Viloma chathustayam. Gathraka chadana Chadam Kamalam sa Kesara Karnikam Sakthi mandalaSangha yuktham Aham namami Sivasanam."

"Prithvi kandam kalah tathvahutaika nalam granthi granthim suddha vidya sarojam Vamadi sakthigatha kesara karanikadyam."

Tath kandam sathakoti yojanamidam Nahlam paradhantakam grandhihi koti parardha Paschima sahasram chathurlakshakam - Moorthisthasyacha kotirisvara mayee Thasyarbuda syarbudam Ambojam Mantramayam Sadasiva Vapuhu Dhyananumeya Sivaha."

The above quotations convey the very same idea. In fact it is clearly asserted in the last verse Sadasiva's body is a huge 'Lotus" whose root (கிழங்கு) extends over 100 crores of yojanas etc. He who is to be contemplated within is to be worshipped outside in Sivalinga - "Jneyassivas - Sarvaghatassarire Dhyeyassa poojyassivalinga madhye." A summary of the Sivalinga pooja is given in chapter 20 of the Vayusamhita, uttara bhaga.

"Asyordhva Chadanam Padmanm Asanam Vimalam Sitham, Astapathrani Thasyahuranimadi gunashtakam, kesara incha Vamadya Rudra Vamadi sakthibhibi Beejanyapicha Thaeva Saktha youthar manonmani karnikapara Vairagyam Nablam gnanam Sivatmakam Kandascha Sivadharmatma karnikanthe Thrimandali etc."

The above verses convey the same idea as is expressed in our quotation from the padohathi of Srimat Aghora Sivacharya.

We said that certain Mandalas and Vedis are erected during importatnt celebrations of religious festivals, such as Brahmotsava, Linga pratishta or Dikshas. Sages like Aghora Siva, Thriloghana Siva, and Anantha Siva in their treatises on Dikshas and treatises like the Vayusamhita in its second part give lucid explanations as to how mandalas should be contructed. The Mandalas are pictorial representations made on the floor with the powders of precious stones or flour of rice etc. Here is the description of a mandala.

"Pithenojvala karnikamcha rajasah swethena Rakthena vai, Peethanapicha kesarani suklena Pathranicha, Syamenatha dalahntharam sitha Vathi rakthena, koneshvadho suklasruk kapilah sithabha kalithah, keelasu pushpavahihi."

A lotus should be drawn on the floor forming the Karnika with bright yellow powder, the Kesaras with white, blood-red and yellow powders, the petals with white powders as spreading in 4 directions, drawing the middle portion of the petals with green powders. A mandala called Latalingaka is hereunder described.

"Bakthe Vimsathidha Bahisasipadabth Veethee Sithah Dikshujair Dwaraneesa Mukha dhutheenynbhayatho Lingani Pandu drugaihi, Koneshavabdipadair Latah Harithabhah Veehtee Chatushshashtibhihi, Padmam Santhi Kaladibhanicha Lath lingodbhaave mandale."

"A street of black colour should be drawn up on four sides in the form of a square. In the middle of each of the 4 sides of this square, a doorway measuring 4X2 padas (feet) should be drawn up. In the inner side, on each side of such doorway a linga should be drawn up. Thus 8 lingas will be formed at the rate of 2 lingas for each doorway. In each of the corners (angles) of this square a creeper measuring 4 padas should be drawn up. Within this square, above the lingas another street one pada in breadth in green colour should be made to run of 4 sides. In the midst of this square a full blown lotus measuring 64 padas should be drawn up. This lotus must contain a karnika measuring 4 padas, pollen round this karnika, measuring one pada should be made to stick up to. Then 8 petals each petal measuring 2 padas, spreading towards the eight directions should be drawn up." Here the square represents a wide tank, the green line representing the waters. The black line represents the tank's bank with stairs thereon. A lotus with creepers here and there is said to rise above the surface of the water.

Another mode of representing the lata-linga mandala is here under given:-

"Ashta Vimsathi bhajithe Vasupadair madhye amnujam Bhagathaha, Pattam syath sithah Veetheekah sasipadath kone hatha sapthabhhi, Dwaram Dikshu Munidwayairubhayathe Lingameha Shatsapthabhir Veethee Prahk Bahyapadena Mandalamidam cha Anyam Lathalingakam."

First draw a lotus of 8 padas. Around it draw a pattah (a circular line) measuring one pada. Draw with white powders a square street measuring one pada in which round the circle. The corners of this square should contain creepers each measuring 7 padas. In the 4 quarters door-ways each measuring 7X2 padas should be drawn. Then on each side of such a doorway up a linga."

The Matanga Agama prescribes the Navanabha Mandala during diksha.

"Kshetraissapta padeekrithe sasipadath Veethee samanthath padair Dikshvashtasucha Pankajahni Paritho Veetheendubhagenacha, Dwabranyashta Janthara Sthithi padair authasthitbair jathrakam Padmam Syahth navanabha mandalamidam sreeman mathangoditham."

Select a square each side of which should measure 7 padas. Within this, at a distance of one pada from the centre these should be a street a side of which should measure 4 padas. In the eight quarters of this street 8 padmas (lotuses) should be drawn up. Enclose this square street by means of another square. On each side of this latter square construct two doorways, each doorway being formed midway between the two lotuses of the inner square. The other portions of this outer square should be peetahs (raised plots). The following is a description of mandala called Gowrilata mandalam.

"Soothraissaptha dasahthmakairabhayathe gowree batham Ahwayam Madhye Veda padair Vidikshu ghapadur Bhootha Ambujani nyaseth, Lingam Patta saroja kanta kamalam peetam kramath Dik padair Vashtabhoori Vishaischa kona kalithair bhoothaibi padaihi syullathahm."

Enclose a square spot measuring 17X17 padas by means of cotton strings. In the angles form 4 lotuses, each lotus containing linga patta, saroja, kanta, kamala, and peeta, the linga measuring 4 padas, patta measuring 6 padas, saroja 4 padas, kanta 2 padas, kamala 4 padas and peeta 6 padas. On each side of the said corner construct a creeper measuring 5 padas attached to the said Lotus. Another mandala by name Bhadra mandala, is described below.

"Kshetre Rudra padeekruthee grahapadair madhye sitham panbajam, kuryath konachathushtayeshtapadakai swarna prabhan swasthekahu Dikshvahdithya padeshvadholaya layair Lingani peetani thath, Sesham Bhinna Vilomya mathulam Bhadram Supushpam param."

Enclose a square space of 11X11 padas; construct a linga of 9 padas within it. In the 4 angles construct Swathikas of the colour of gold. On the 4 sides lingas with peetahs should be constructed. The linga should contain of course, linga, patttah, saroja, kanta and kamala and peetah.

Here is the description of another mandala called Umakantakam.

"Dwahtrimsathpada Bhajitheshu Nalinam Madhye chattushshashtibhibi, thathbabye Thripadaischa peetakamatha Thraikena Veethee Harith, dikshu dwabra Rishi dwayairubhayatho Vachah Varairvarsha yuth Lingam bahyapadena Vidheerithaschitram hi Umakanthakam."

Enclose a sqaure space of 32X32 padas. Form within it a lotus of 64 padas. Round it a ghatra with peeta of 3 padas should be constructed. Near it a green Veethi of 3 padas should be formed. On each side of this Veethi doorwasys of 7X2 padas should be made. On each side of the doorway lingas containing linga, patta, saroja, kanta, kamala and peetah respectively measuring, 4, 6, 6, 2, 4 and 6 padas should be constructed." "vacha varairvarsha yuth" means "containing va, cha, va, ra, va and sha."

In all these we see that the creepers contain a lotus; this lotus containing petals, stalk, stamens, ovary, etc., known in Sanskrit as kanda, nahla, dala, upadala, karnika, kesara, and linga. The whole linga represents a Grand Lotus and we cannot conceive of a linga without the corresponding petals etc. Those who have the propensity to pull asunder the petals and the stalls etc from the flower can only be pitied and these maniacs are more fit for lunatic asylum than for civilized society, even though such maniacs passed and still pass for great Acharyas and the words or rather the ravings of such fools can have no value.

Let us now see what the Upanishads have to say about this Linga. If we turn to the Hamsopanishad we see the following:-

"Yesho sow Paramahamso Bhanukoti pratheekahao yenedam Vyaptham. Thasya Ashtadha Vrithir Bhavathi. Poorvadale punye mathihi, Agneye Nidralasyadayo Bhavanthi, yamye krowoye mathihi, Nairuthe pape maneesha, Varunyam Krudayaham, vayavye gamanadow Buddhihi, Sowinye Rathipreethihi Aisane dravayahdanam padme vairagyam, kesare jagradavastha, karni kayam Swapnam, Linge sushupthihi, padama thyage Thuriyamyade hamso Nade vilino Bhavathi thath Thureeyahtheetham."

This Paramahamsa is shining like crores of suns. His prpensity is eight fold. The Paramahamsa's heart is compared to a lotus. The various component parts of the Lotus are desccribed. The petals of this paramahamsa's heart spread towards the eight directions, east, south-east, south, south-west, west, north-west, north and north-east. The east petal is desire to practice virtue. The south-east is desire for sleep and laziness. The south petal is hankering after cruel actions. The south-west is desire to commit sin. The west petal is desire to play. The north-west petal is desire for walking etc. The north petal is desire for amorous acts and the north-east is desire to amass wealth. The padma (lotus apart from the petals) is Vairagya. The kesaras are the waking state - the Karnika (ovary) the dreaming state, the Linga the dead- sleep state and the leaving of the lotus, padma tyaga is Thuriya and when the Hamsa merges in Nada, that state is Thureeyahtheetham. Here the heart of this Paramahamsa is likened to a great lotus. Indeed all upanishads, all agamas, all puranas and other works great and small have likened the heart to the Lotus. Why is this so? We cannot attempt to answer this. Suffice it to say that such is the case - Here we are tempted to quote passages which go to describe the heart as a lotus. In all these we request our readers to bear in mind the quotation from the Hamsopanishad.

The Taithiriya Mahopanishad in the Anuvaka wherein it describes the glory of the yathies has the following description of the yathies' heart - (the upasana sthana).

"Daharam Vipahpam Paravesmabhootham, yath Pundareekam Puramadhya Saggustham, Thathrahpi Dahram Gaganam Visokaha thamin yadanthaha thath Upahsithavyam."

First the yathies, those who have renounced the world, are praised. They are the Upasakas. Then the Upasana Sthanu is described. That is their heart which is a Pundareeka, i.e., a lotus. The Upasya is said to dwell in it and the Supreme Lord is named Mahesvara in the very next Mantra which begins with "yo veda dow" and ends with "yaha paraha saha Mahesvaraha."

The same upanishad in the Narayana anuvaka praises Narayana with all the encomiums due and describes a heart within him of the form of a Lotus, and dwells upon the Lord in that heart with the Mantra "Rutam Satyam .... Krishnapingaka." Here is summary of it. The upasaka (worshipper) Narayana is described by the Mantras "Sahasra Seersham Devam" and a heart within Narayana, (the upasanasthana) is described by the Mantras "Padmakosa PratheeKahsam Hridayam chapi Adhomukham." This heart lotus has its cone turned downwards. Within it there is a cavity. (Thasyanthe Sushiragum sookshmam). There is within it a fire (Thasya madhye Mahan Agnihi). Within it is the flame. (Thasya madhye Vahni Sikha). Within the flame is Paramatma, (the upasya). This Paramatma is devoted by the Mantra.

"Rutam satyam Param Brahma Purusham KrishnaPingalam Oordhva retam Viroopaksham Visvaroopaya Vai Namaha."

The Kaivalya upanishad says:-

"Athyasramasthaha Sakalendriyani Nirudhya Bhakthya Swagurum Pranamya, Hrid Pundareekam Virajam Visuddham Vichintya Madhye Visadam Visakarm, Achinthyam Avyaktham Anantharoopam sivam prasahntham Amrutham Brahmayonim Thadadi Madhyantha Viheenam Ekam Vibhum chidanandam Aroopam Adbhutham, Umasahayam Paramesvaram prabhum."

Here too the heart is described as a Lotus and the Aroopa Lord within it is the umasabaya of 3 eyes, "corresponding to the Viroopaksham and Krishnapingalam of Narayanuvaka (Krishnapingala means umasahaya. "Ardhapullakshanam Vande Purusham Krishnapingalam" - (Half-male-half-female form is Krishnapingala.)

The chandogya describes as well the heart as a lotus:- "Atha Yadidamasmin Brahmapure Daharan Pundareekam Vesma Daharosmin Antharakasaha. Thasmin yadanthasthathanveshtavyam"... Within this Brahmpura there is a lotus seat. That which is within it is to be sought after.

The Maitrayan upanishad:

"Atha ya Esho Anthare Hridpushkara evahsrithonnamathi sa Eshnognir Divi Srithassouraha kahlahkyo Drushya."

In these upanishads mention is made of Hridaya Pundarika the heart lotus, and the Hamsopanishad alone gives the various component parts of this lotus such as the petals, linga, Karnika etc. The upabrahmanas explain the Narayana Anuvaka as regards the various component parts of this lotus:- Says the Sootha Samhitha.

"Athavaham Harissakshahth sarvajnaha Purushothamaha, sahasra seershah purushaha sahasrahkshassahasrapath, Visvo narayano Devo Hyaksharaha Paramaha Prabhuhu Ithi Dhyathva Punasthasya Hridayamboja Madhyame prahnahyahmair Vikhasithe Paramesvara Mandire, Ashtaishvarya Dalopethe Vidya Kesara Samynthe, Jnana Nahle Mahahkande Pranavena Prabodhithe, Visvae Mahavahnim Jvalantham hisham visvathomukham, Vaisvahnaram Jagathyonim Sikhahthanvinam Isvaram, Thahpayantham Svakam Deham apahdathala masthakam, Nivahthadeepavath thasmin Deepitham Havyavahanam, Neelathoyadamadhyastham Vidyullekheva Bhasvaram, Neevara sookaVadroopam Peethahbhasam Vichinthayeth Thasya Vahneesikhsyasthu Madhye Parama kahranam, Paramatmanamanandanu Paramakasam Isvaram, Rutham Sathyam Param Brahma Param Samsara Bheshajam, Oordhva retham Viroopaksham Visvaroopam Mahesvaram, Neelagrivam Svamathmanam Pasyantham Papanasanam, Brahma Vishnu Mahesanairdhyeyam Dhyeya Vivarjitham, Sohamithyahdarenaiva Dhyahyeth Yogi Mahesvaram."

First one should convert himself into Vishnu the 25th principle, the pristine and natural condition of the Kshetragna. In the middle of the heart lotus of that Vishnu, - a lotus which has for its petals the 8 aishvaryas, the Jnana for its stalk and the Mahath for its root, and which was blown by the restraining of breaths - in that temple of the Lord kindled by Pranava, there is the flame of fire. Within the fire lies Mahesvara, the Truth, the Sathya, Parambrahman, the blue throated, the causeless cause of everything. He whom Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra contemplate." We need not point out here that the great Vidyaranya commented upon the Soothasamhita, and he himself says that Sankara wrote his Bhashya on the Brama Sootras after having gone through it eighteen times.

In the Isvara gita of the Koorma Purana, it is described, "Chinthayithva thu poorvoktham Hridaye padmam uthamam, atmanam atha kartharam Thathra anala samaprabham, Madhye Vanni sikhakahram purusham panchavimasakam Chinthyeth paramatmanam Than madhye gaganam param, Omkara bodhitham tathvam sasvatham sivamachyutham avyaktham prakrithowlinam param Jyothiranuthamam, Thamasaha paramam thathvam atmadaram Nirajanam, Dhyayitha Thanmayo Nithyam Ekaroopam Mahesvaram."

Think of a beautiful lotus flower in the heart and within it the Atma the 25th principle, and within this a Chit Akas and within it the Lord, the Paranjyothi the great lustre. Ever think on that one Mahesvaram by being of this form.

We see a linga in the lotus flower, and in the heart, which is described as a lotus (of course not an actual lotus it could be); there is a linga, as the hamsopanishad assures us. What then is the linga in the heart lotus? In the above quotations we see that this heart lotus contains a Vannisikha, a flame of fire. This flame of fire then is the linga. That linga or flame of fire is the form of the Lord Sikhahtanvinam Isvaram). If the petals of this lotus be blown by means of Pranayama, there is seen the linga of flame kindled by Pranava. So say Trilochana Siva "Hridpadma Vibhehvitha Mahamayoparisthasane Dhyeyo Deepa Sikhakruthi." In the heart-lotus the Lord is of the form of the flame of a lamp. Srimad Aghora Siva says:-

"Hridaye Nahla patra karnikaroopam padmam akarahdi sahtrahtraya yukthena pranavena asanam vinyasya - Jyothiroopam Samsthapya."

Within the heart there is a lotus composed of stalk, petals, ovary and stamens and by means of Pranava of three matras A, U, M, a form of flame should be established. Of course even in our Linga pratishta in the temple, we see that a "Thejoroopam Dandakaram Avibhakthavayavam," a form of Thejas, flame, like a pillar, had been established. Thus the Thejas is the linga of this heart-lotus.

The Upanishad says that this heart-lotus has its cone turned downwards. "Padmakosa Pratheekahsam Hridayamchapi Adhomukham." How are its petals blown? This heart-lotus is by an effort made to turn upwards and there the petals spread towards the eight directions. Says the great Aghora Sivam. "Idapingalabhyam samyuktham Adho mukha padma mukhula yuktham Sushiraroopam sushumnam sanchinthya." The Sushumna Nadi near the cavity of the heart with the Ida and Pingala nadis on its sides are in the form of a lotus having its cone turned downwards. Instead of allowing the breath to escape outwards through the nostrils, by a sustained effort the breath must be directed to reach the dwadasantha. Then the cone is turned upwards.

"Pooraka kumbhakamcha krithva Humkara chitham Nivesya Vayum Oordhvam Virechayeth. Hum phat ithi Santhathocharanena padma mukulam Oordhvamukhat Bhinna grandhim Vidhaya." By constant repetition of the syllables Hum and Phat and by means of Pooraka (filling in of breath) and Kumbhaka (holding it for a while), the rechaka (leaving) must be made upwards, then the upturned cone of the lotus is blown and the petals begin to spread and thence begins the linga prathistha of Jyothiroopam. For a full explanation vide the Bhootha suddhi of Sreemat Aghora Sivacharya. The Soothasamhita laconically dwells upon this in the words "Pranayamair Vikhasithe" blown by means of pranayama. The Vayu Samhita says:

"Samprekshya Nasikagram Swam Disaschanava lokayan, Samboutha pranasamcharo pahashana iva nischalahas, swadehayathana syanthaha vichinthya sivam ambaya, Hrid padma peetikah madhye Dhyana yagnena poojayeth, Angushta mathram Amalam Deepyamanam Samanthathaha Suddhadeepa sikhakahram swa sakhthyah poorna manditham, Indurekha samahkahram Thahrahroopamathapiva, Neevara sooka Sadrusam bisa soothrabha mevava."

Looking at the tip of the nose and not noticing the quarters, restraining the breaths and sitting motionsless like a rock, the Yogi should contemplate on Siva with this Amba in the temple of his heart. In the midst of the heart-lotus he should adore the Lord by means of Dhyana yajna. Him who is Thumb-sized void of malas, shining everywhere, who is of the form of the flame of a lamp (Deepasikhakahram). Thus it is clear that the linga is the pillar of fire supposed to rise from the heart lotus similar to the lingas which we see situated in the actual lotus flowers. The word "Angustamahtra roopam" in the above quotation from the Vayu samhita reminds us of the "Sabdadeva Pramithaha" Soothra in the Brahma Soothras. (1st Adhyaya).

Bhagavan Badarayana after dilating upon the Daharopasana in the Daharadhikarana introduces the Sutras "Sabdadeva Pramithatha" and Hridyapekshaya thu manushyadhikarathvath." The blessed Bhashyakara Srikantha Yogi thus eexplains these Sutras.

"Katavalyam asya vishaya srooyathe 'angushta mahthraha purusho madhya atmani Thishtathi Isano bhootha bhavyasya. Thatho navijugupsathe...............Paramesvara eva angushta mahthra Ithi yuktham ......... katham paramesvare parichinnathvam abhyasyamahnam upapadyatha ithiyatha ah ha soothram Hridyapekshayathu Manushyadhikahrathvath aparichinnasyahpi paramesvarasya angushtamathrathvam upahsaka Hridayapekshaya. Manushyadhikarath vahth upahsanah sastra vidhihi manushyanahm Hridyam yahvath pramahnam Tadavichinnam roopam paramesvaraha paramakarunikaha parigruhnathi Tadupahsanah siddhaye thathaha Paramesvaraha Jyothirmayo Linga roopathayo pahsakahnam Hridaya madhye thishtathi ithi nischayahn."

We will briefly summarise this. The subject matter of this Sutra is a text of the Katavalli upanishad wherein the Lord is denoted by the word Isana and is said to be "Thumb-sized". The prima facie view that Jiva is here meant by the term "Angushta mahtra" is refuted and it is concluded that Paramesvara is denoted by the term "Angushta mahtra." The Lord Isana is unlimited. How can He be termed Angushta mahthra (Thumb-sized)? He is not limited. The heart of man is of the size of a thumb. Paramesvara, the merciful Lord is pervading it; for the purpose of accepting the worship of the worshiper, He is present in that Thumb-sized heart. Therefore it is concluded that Paramesvara as Jyothirmaya is in the form of a Linga within the heart of the worshippers (upahsuka)" Mark well that the Lord is Jyothirmaya and is in the shape of a Linga. Thus it is clearly seen that the Jyothi, the form of the flame of a lamp, is the Linga in the heart lotus. We will substantiate this by a quotation from the Vayusamhita.

'Tathra padmahsanam Ramyan krithva Lakshana samyutham vibhave sathi Hemahdyairathna dyairva swa sakthithaha Madhye kesarajahlasya sthahpya lingam Kaniyasam, Angushta prathimam Ramyan Sarva gandha mayam subham'

Engrave a lovely shape of a lotus in gold or with precious stones according to one's circumstances and amidst the kesaras establish a small Lingam of the size of a thumb. Why should it be conceived as thumb sized? The word Dahara itself means small. Says the Katavalli 'Thasyacha Oordhvam Pranamunnayathi Apahnam prathyagasyathi Madhye Vahmanamahsinam Visvedevah Upasathe." The Prana goes upwards, the Apahna goes downwards and within the narrow space rests the small being worshipped by all Devas. The Mahopanishad too has the following.

"Angushta mahthraha purusho angushtam cha Samahsrithaha Isa sarvasya Jagathaha prabhuhu preenahthi visvabhuk."

Isa is thumb sized and He resides in the thumb-sized heart and being Jyothi devours all. This mantra is but a continuation of the mantras. "Prahnahnahm grandhirasi Rudro ma Visanthaga - Thennannena Apyahyasva" Oh Rudra, thou art the knot of all pranas showing here that the form of the Lord is very small. This mantra too is a continuation of the mantras.

"Pranenivishto amritham Juhomi sivo ma visa apradahaya pranaya swaha, apahene nivishto amrutham Juhomi sivo ma visa apradahaya apahmaya swaha, vyane nivisho amrutham Juhomi sivo ma visa apradahaya vyahnaya swaha, udahne nivishto amrutham Juhomi sivo ma visa apradahaya udanaya swaha, samahne nivishto amrutham Juhomi sivo ma visa apradahaya samanaya swaha, Brahmani Ma Atma amruthathvaya."

Thus the Lord, the thumb-sized, is denoted by the names SIva, Rudra, Brahma, Isa and Isana. By the Thumb-size we mean this Linga form which is of the form of the flame of a lamp (Deepa sikha krithi). Of course Sankara, Ramanuja and others take the above Katavalli Sruthi as the subject matter of the Sutra "Sabdadeva pramithaha." They similarly describe in the Daharadhikaranam the heart as a lotus by quoting the chandogya text. If Ramanuja accepts the heart as a lotus, should he not think that lotus must contain a linga as well as we find lingas in actual lotuses and should not the thumb-size refer to the Jyothirmaya linga of that heart lotus? We do not wish to question further.

To resume our subject, Srimad Appayya Dikshita observes in the Pancharatna Sthava thus:

"Hridayabja kosa antharavakasa labdha angushta parimana swa Lingakaratvam asthi ithi Thasya Lingaroopathva Siddhihi, spashtamcha Thasya Linga roopathvamamnatham Hamsopanishad."

His own Lingakara (the shape of linga obtained in the temples) is ibtained in the Hridayabja (heart-lotus) which being bound in a small space (Arbhaka okaha as the Suthra asserts) has the size of a thumb. Here the Deekshita yogi quotes the Hamsopanishad to prove the expicit existence of a linga in the lotus:- and continues thus.

"Vayu samhithayamapi Mahalinga pradurbhavadhyaye samamnayathe "Thathra kara srutho Bhage Jwala lingasya Dakshine Ukaraschothare Bhage Makarasthasya. Madhyathaha Ardhamatratmako madaha srooyathe Linga Moordhani .................... Thasmath Hamsopanishad Ekarthahpanna Katavalli mantrahlochanaya Visvatma Nahdasiraska linga roopathvamapi Brahmaikanthikan Thallingamithi thathopi Lingasya Parabrahmatva siddhiraprathyooha."

"In the Vayusamhita in the chapter in which it dwells upon the rising of Mahalinga, it is thus said. To the right side if this flaming Linga (jvala-linga) rests A and to the left side rests U and M rests in the midst and in the top of the Linga, it is heard that Nada rests:- Therefore from a consideration of the Katavalli Sruthi whose import is the same as that described in the Hamsopanishad, the Linga roopathvam, having the Nada for its top which nada is the source of the World, stands for the Parabrahmam which it represents. This theory is unassailable" and elsewhere the Revered Deekshita points out.

"Sivahbhidana sruthyavadharana soochita sathbhavena Linga roopathva lingenacha Angushta matram Purusham Nischinvan Sootrakaaraha sivam Parambrahmethi Vyakthi chakara"

The soothrakara (Vyasa) explicitly shows that Siva is parambrahma both by means of the appellation "Isana" and the Lingaroopa (Shape of Linga) which depicts the Thmubsize in the heart-lotus." Here we will point out that the Soothrakara in considering the subject matter of the Soothra 'Sabdahdeva - pramithaha" takes Sabda to mean "Isana Sabda" and does not take other words such as Purasha. By "Sabda" he means only the "Isana Sabda." The subject matter as we pointed out is 'Angushta mahtraha Purusho madhya Atmani thistathi:- Isano Bhootha Bhavyasya." Here the term Isana is both yoga and Roodhi." If the word be taken as yoga alone as meaning a "Ruler of past and present," then there will be nothing peculiar in the word "Isana as the word by which the Supreme Lord is denoted will be frustrated. Hence the word "Isana" is not a simple yoga word but is "roodhi" as well:- After all, the heart-lotus must explicitly contain a Linga and if not where is the warrant to think that the heart-lotus alone is devoid of a linga? This Linga, as was already described, is the jyothi, or jwala ot Thejas or the Deepa Sikhakruthi. As followers of Vedas we should admit that this "jyothi" is to be sought after as existing in Atma:- The Chandogya says "Yadidamasmin Anthaha Purushe jyothihi" and in the jyothiradhikarana, Sankara, the champion of the Nirvisesha theory, observes that by jyothi in Man jataragni cannot be meant. Observes he "sarvagathasyapi Brahmanaha upasanartham Pradesa Viseshadinam upadhi sambdandhath Praikalpane Virodhabhavenacha jyothischa Sruthihi Brahma paraiva ithi Siddhanthaha." Though the Brahman is everywhere, still for the purpose of being worshipped, He takes after the form wherein He is present. And here there is no contradiction. Therefore the jyothi sruthi means only Brahma. Again sruthi says.

"Vime karnah Pathathopi chakashur vadim Jyothir Jridaye ahitahm yath" Satyam gnanam anantham Brahmo yo Veda nihithau, Guhahyam" Hridayakasa mayam kosam anandam paramalayam Hiranmayapare kose Virajam Brahma Nishkalam"

These srtuhis declare that the jyothi is to be found in the Hridaya pundarika, and this jyothi must be the linga of the heart-lotus.

When we speak of God as Light, we mean that He is chaitanya and we have shown that this light is the linga of the heart lotus; and the Linga Sooktha texts in the Vedas clearly explain this. Here are the texts.

"Nidhana pathaye namaha - Nidhanapathanthikaya namaha,

Oordhvaya namaha - Oordhava Lingaya namaha,

Hiranyaya namaha - Hiranya Lingaya namaha,

Suvarnaya namaha - Suvarna Lingaya namaha,

Divyaya namaha - Divya Lingaya namaha,

Sarvaya namaha - Sarva Lingaya namaha,

Sivaya namaha - Siva Lingaya namaha,

Jwalaya namaha - Jwala Lingaya namaha,

Atmaya namaha - Atma Lingaya namaha,

Paramaya namaha - Parama Lingaya namaha,

Ethath Somasya Sooryasya Sarvalingagaum sthahpayathe Pahinimantram Pavithram."

Here the Linga is called Oordhva-linga, because as a pillar of fire it climbs upwards. It is Hiranya, because it has the appearance of molten gold. It is Suvarna because of its shining appearance. It id Divya Linga because it stands as the Emblem of Divinity. It is Siva linga because it represents Siva. It is called jwala Linga because of its sparkling nature. It is called Atma linga because it rests as the linga of the heart lotus of man. It is called Parama linga because it symbolises "Infinity and Eternity." Maharshi Bodhayana in his Mahanyasa etc., uses these Mantras as the Anga of Sri Rudram." There are also khila riks to describe the nature of Linga. The khila Riks are as authoritative as the riks themselves if we give credit to Manu who says

"Swadyayam Srahvayeth Pithre Dharma Sastram Chaivahi, Akhayahna neethi hasahmscha Puranani Khilanicho."

One should recite the Vedas, the dharmas, the Akhyanas, the Ithihasas, the Puranas and khilas during Sraddhas. The riks are:

"Satyam Param Paramam Nithyam Tath Sthanuroopam, Thadeva Lingakaram"

"Brahma Vishnoorajasabaddha Vyrah Madhye Thayor Drisyatha Jahtha Vedah."

True, Great, Eternal. This unchanging form. This alone is the shape Linga. Brahma and Vishnu were quarrelling and there arose in their midst a great fire.

The Upabrahmanas thus describe the Linga. The vidyesvara Samhita.

"Adow Brahmatva Budhyartham Nishkalam Lingam uthitham yadidum Nishkalam Sthambham Mama Brahmatva Bodhakam Linga Lakshana yukthathvath namalingam Bhavoth idam."

In the beginning for a conception of the Absolute Brahmam the Nishkala Linga arose. Let this Nishkala (void of parts being a huge pillar) pillar, which proclaims "My Brahmatva stand as my mark or sign or symbol because it possesses the characteristics necessary for symbolising eternal Brahm."

"Mahanalasthamba Vibhishanah kruthirbabhoova Than madhya thale sa nishkalaha kimethath Abduthahkaram ithyoochuscha Parasparam Atheendriyam idam Sthambham Agniroopam kimuthitham. Asyordhvamapichadhuscha Avayorlakshya mevahi," "Yath panasthambha roopena swahvirasam Aham pura." Anadhyan thamidum sthambam Anumathram Bhavishyathi Darsanartham hijugatham Poojanartham hi puthrekew" "Purasthath sthambha roopena Paschath Roopena charbhakow."

He the Nishkala, became a dreadful huge pillar of fire in the midst of Brahma and Vishnu. "What is this wonderful form? Why arose this huge pillar of fire which is inconceivable to all our senses? Let us try to find out its top and bottom." So spoke the two among themselves. The Lord says "Did I not appear formerly in the form of a pillar?" (Note here that the author says that the Lord Himself became a pillar or took the form of a pillar, not that his generative organ was found there. "Aham stambha roopena Avirasam." I appeared in the form of a stambha). This Beginningless and Endless Sthamba Pillar will dwindle into an atom so that the world may gaze at it and worship it. "First as a pillar and then as a figure (roopa) did I appear." Another Samhita Says:

"Maha Jvala mayam ghoram sthambha bhootham Jagathraye yasyantham No madyamcha No Moolamiha drisyahte Nopamanam pramanam Va Thejaso Vasthularyasa, Brahma Vishnoo Prakupithou Lingam paramapasyatham, Jvalalingam Samudranthe Jvalantham swena thejasa." Idam Jvahlah mayam lingam kasyas yath ithichinthya thou." ....."Linga moorthim Maha Jvalahmalah Samvrutha. mavyayam, Lingasya madhye Ruchiram chandrasekhara Vigraham, Madhye Lingam Mahagborum Mahabdherambhasi Sthitham."

In the three worlds this terrible form of a huge flame settled as a pillar whose top, middle and bottom are unknown. It has no similitude. It is immeasurable. "Let us see the Grand Lingam of flame which is of itself shining amidst the Ocean." Thus said Brahma and Vishnu. This endless Linga form studded with streams of flaming beams. Within that Linga is the figure adorned with the crescent moon. In the midst of the vast Ocean this High terrible Linga"- These are upabrahmanas of the text in the Ambasyapare portion of the Mahopanishad.

"Ambasyapare Nahkasya Prishte Mahathomaheeyan Sukrena Jyothigumahi samanupravishtaha, Nainam oordhavam Nathiryauncha Na madhye parijagrabhath Na thasyesekaschana Thasya nama Mahath yasas" Na sandrase Thistathi roopamasya na Chakshusha Pasyathikascha nainam Hrida maneesha Manasah bhiklupthaha yacnam Viduramruthasthe Bhavanthi."

His top, middle and bottom are not known. His form is not cognizable to our eyes. No man has seen it with his eyes. He is grasped by the Mind. His name is the "Great Glory."

The Agama says "Jyothisthambha krithismrutham" Tadroopam sookshma roopena Jyothiroopamithi smrutham" and the Vayu Samhita says "Jvalalingasya Deekshine ukaraschothare bhage makarasthasya madhyathaha." The Jyothi is represented in the form of a pillar. That form being subtle is called jyothi roopa. "This flaming Linga is formed of Pranava. A rests to its right side, U in the left and M in the middle.

This jyothi is the Eternal Brahmam "jyothirjvalathi Brahma hamasmi" "Aham Visvam Bhuvanamapyabhavahm Suvarna jyptheehi" "jyothi sparkles. I am therefore Brahm." I have become the entire world. I am the shining jyothi."

It is the jyothi that Yogis in their Samadhi states and Videha Mukthi Avasthas realises and become one with it. It is on realising this jyothi that the soul never returns.

"Asmath Sareerahth Samuthaya Puram Jyothirupa sampadyathe Na Sa punaravarthathe, Na Sa Punarahvarthathe"

So says the chandogya. "By ascending from this body and attaining the Grand jyothi. He never returns, He never returns."

The Brahma Soothra Krith in his final sootra "Anavruthis sabdath Anavruthissabdath" refers to this jyothi. By jyothi we must only take the thick cluster of the fiery beams; at least we must so imagine it. As so many other things of the world this jyothi is a word of the physical world. Only this is symbolically used for Brahmam. The common jyothi or Light removes darkness. The Paramjyothi or God removes Agnana, the root of evil. the Brihadaranyaka gives out this prayer. "Asathoma Sathgamaya Thamso ma jyothirgamaya Mruthorma Amrutham Gamaya." From Asat lead us to Sat. From darkness (ignorance) lead us to Light (God) and from death lead us to Immortality." The Siddhanta Saravali in the very first address to God says 'Sivakhyam Akalam jyothihi Prapadye Dhiyah"- I contemplate on that formless jyothi which is denoted by the name Siva. this jyothi form is not the form of a man or a woman. It is of the form of "Fire." It is Deepasikhakruthi or of the shape of the flame of a lamp (Vannisikhakahram). The jyothiroopam does not stand for the lustrous figure of a man or a woman. We also think that Siva-Sakthi is in the heart. But we dare say that this figure is imbedded within that linga form. The linga form is called Sakalanishkala. The Sakala forms are only products of this Nishkala form. Lingasya Madhye Ruchiram chandrasekhara Vigraham. The figure of the Lord as possessing the crescent moon on the head is within the Linga. Therefore the Linga form alone is denoted by the term jyothiroopam and not the figure of a man or awoman. In our ordinary Siva-deekashas, any one who has the Samaya deeksha performed to him or any one who is intiated with the Sripanchakshara mantra can know how the disciple is required when performing karanyasa to hold both the palms of his hands in the form of a lotus bud which is formed by the joining of the palms of the hands with a hollow inside so that the fingers of the one hand join with the fingers of the other hand; how the palms are then separated as if to show the blowing of the petals and how the Sivah-sana is pointed by the thumb in the place near the heart i.e. the chest, how Sivamoorthy is there contemplated. These are all too many plain things. Again those who have had the curiosity to look at the "Lingadharana ceremony of the Veera Saivas, whether they are done according to the Panditha achara or the Basavachara, can see that the Linga is tied round the neck and is made to hang touching the heart. Aradhya Acharyas like the Somanatha Aradhya and Panditha aradhya have written treatises regarding the suspending of the Linga. The mantras and tantras used on the occasion all describe the linga a part of the lotus. Even the great Yagnavalkya when intiating Gargi into the secret of yoga says

"Athava paramathmanam Paramananda Vigraham, Guroopadesath Vigneyam Purusham Krishna Pingalam Brahma Brahmapura Gargi Daharabjekha madhyame Abbyahsath samprapasyanthi Yoginasthvamcha thatha kuru"

The Brahma pura is the heart. The heart lotus is the place of the Brahmam. Having thus established the jyothiroopam as the Linga of the heart-lotus, it is our purpose now to show what this jyothi is. In our quotation from the Vayu Samhita we said that to the right side of the flaming linga rests in the top of the Linga. Now we all know that the combination of A, U, M, and Nanda constitutes Pranava. In the Hamsopanishad we learnt that when the Hamsa merges himself in Nada that state is called Thuriyatheetham. Yadah Hamso Nade Vileenobhavathi Thath Thuriyatheetham. In the Sootha samhita "Gnana nahle Maha kande Pranavena prabodhithe and in the Isvara gira we learn "(Omkara bodhitham tatvam)" and Aghora Siva himself says "(Akaradi mahthrah thraya Yukthena Pranavena-jyothiroopam samsthapya)" and in our quotation from poojastava we said "Hridpadmakhya Sivahlaye ....... Visuddha manasah, samsthapya Nahdathmana Lingam thatcha etc." What connection then is there between the jyothi the Pranava or the Nada and the linga. All upanishads, the Taithriya, the Chandogya, the Mandookya, the Prasna, the Swetasvatara, the Atharva sikha, the Atharvasiras and the kaivalya upanishad are unanimous in describing the efficacy of the Pranava Dhyana. "The body and soul are like the understicks of the sacrificial Arani while the Pranava is the upperstick and the fire that is ignited consumes all pasas. "Atmanam Aranim krithva-Swadeham Aranim krithva-Pranavam chotharahranim Dhyana nirmathanah bhyasahth Pahsam Dahathi Pandithaha." The Atharva sikha, which forms the essence of all the Vedas as the Sootha Samhita and the Vayu Samhita assert, thus says

"Prahnam manasi saha karanair Nahdahnthe Paramathmani samprathishtapya Dhyayitha Isanam" and it begins with describing the mathras of Pranava A, U, M and Ardhamatra. This Ardhamathra is the final mahtra. (Yahvasane asya chathurthyardha matrah sa Omkara." The Vayu Samhita thus describes the import of this portion of the Atharvasikha Upanishad.

"Ardha matrahthmako nahdaha srooyathe Linga Moordhani." This ardhamathra is formed of Bindu and Nada. What is Nada and what is Bindu? The Svayambhu Agama says

"Srishti kahlethu kutilaha kundalyahkahraye sthithaha. Tan madhye Jnanamuth. pannam Thadroopam Nahdamuchayathe." In the beginning of creation the kutila (Pranava) stands in the form of kundali, a sleeping serpent with its coils folded. In it sprang a sound (Nahda) and Bindu is kundalini itself.

"Sa Bindurith manthavyasaiva kundalinee mathah." The word kutila itself means "curved". The Agamas assert that the two primary modes of pranava are Bindu and Nada. Of these Bindu has the form of a cypher and the Nanda the form of a stick pr pillar. "Prathanam Bindu Samyuktham Dwitheeyam Dandam Uchyathe." The Vayu Samhita asserts that Bindu is of crescent form and Nada has the shape of the flame of a lamp.

"Ardha Chandrahkrithir Bindu Nahdo deepasikhahkrithihi." The form of the Bindu is and of the Nahda is -------- or again the Bindu is ○ a cypher or dot . while the shape of Nahda is a long line. Sometimes the serpent is viewed as sleeping. Then its coils will be folded. At that time it is in the form of a circle, or when it is distributed a little, its coils are a little unfloded; then the shape is a semi-circle or ardhachandrahkruthi. The conjunction of Bindu and Nahda is formed like உ or like or like . The two joining together is called Ardha mahtra. While A, U, and M have distinct sounds, the Ardha mahtra has a subtle sound. Hence it is called Anahatha. Hence this ardhamatra is called Mownaksharam or the Silent Letter or as it is called by Saint Thirumoolar ஊமை எழுத்து. Saint Pattanathar characterises it as பேசாத மந்திரம் and வெட்டாத சக்கரம்.

Now we all know tha the symbol உ is called Pillayar-shuli and is written at the beginning of any Tamil or Grantha work. All of us (Tamils) have been in the habit of writing such a symbol at the commencement of any letter, but alas even here the western influence has made itself felt. We are gradually losing our Pranava. People ignorant of the meaning of this symbol have come to view it with disfavour to designate it as a sectarian symbol and in its place to substitute ஸ்ரீ for which we have no warrant. We have authorities requiring us to sound the Pranava or to contemplate on the Pranava at the commencement of any holy act but we have yet to find authority for the use of the novel ஸ்ரீ. This simply shows that these people have lost the Pranava and that they are far-removed from the Pranava. We will be very glad if these people can cite authorities for the use of ஸ்ரீ or for the pranava being void of Ardhamatra or for the ardhmahtra not being like உ. Such is the perverseness of man! If the Pillaya-shuli is augmented with the A, U, and M, then the whole figure is the shape of Ekadanta Ganesa - the head of an Elephant with one tusk. This also determines the correctness of the South Indian Alphabets. For instance consider the vowels and consonants of the Tamil language. We place dots over the consonant, but we do not do so in the case of vowels. Why is this? We know that the vowesl are called உயிரெழுத்து or life letters and that the consonants are called மெய்யெழுத்து or உடலெழுத்து body letters. We also know that without the help of the vowel or உயிர் the consonants or உடல் cannot sound. The relation between the vowels and consonants is like the relation which subsists between Atma and Deha. One is not derivable from the other. The consonants are not products of the vowels even as the Deha (body) is not a product of Atma (soul). Still the consonants depend upon the vowels for their sound. There will be no consonant without the help of the vowels. The vowels partake of the nature of Nada. The consonants partake of the nature of Bindu. Nada is one which has its own sound; this Nada does not depend upon any other for its sound. But what is Bindu? The Bindu, though it has its own Mahtra or Sound, depends upon the Nada for the very existence. The Nada is life and the Bindu is body. It is to show that the Bindu is body or உடல் that we place dots over the consonants. The dots represent the Bindu. The vowels need no such signs. Hence we do not use them in the case of vowels. In the Sivalinga itself the peeta is called Bindu while the pillar is Nada. Hence the Vathula Agama says 'Linga peeta prakahrena karmasadahkhya Lakshanam Nahdam Lingamithi jneyam Binduh Peetam udahrutham Nahda Binduyutham roopam karma sadakaym uchyathe," The karma sadakhya is siva-linga. The peetam is Bindu and the Linga is Nadam. The combination of Nada and Bindu is karmaroopam. The Vidyesvara Samhita says "Bindu Nadatmakam Sarvam jagatha sthavara jangamam. Bindu sakthi Sivo Nahda Sivasakthyahthmakam jagath. Nadahdharam idam Bindu Bindvahdharam idam jagath jagadadharabhoothouhi BinduNadow Vyavasthithou." The Gnana Siddhi says Gnanenathu kriyothpannam Thadroopam Bindu ruchyathe. The entire world is formed of Bindu and Nada. Bindu is Sakthi and Nada is Siva. The whole world is Sivasakthi mayam. The Bindu is dependant upon Nada. The world is dependant upon Bindu. Therefore Nada and Bindu are the Adhara, (Substratum) of the wordl mobile and immobile things.

Thus the Linga being Nada partakes of the nature of உயிர் and the Peeta being Bindu partakes of the nature of மெய். The relation betwen linga and peeta is exactly the same as that between உயிர் எழுத்து and மெய்யெழுத்து? What is the realtion between the உயிர் எழுத்து and மெய்யெழுத்து. Tholkappiar, that sage who flourished 7000 years before Panini describes this in the Sutras மெய்யினியக்கம் அகரமொடு சிவனும் and மெய்யின் வழியதுயிர்தோன்று நிலையே and Nachinarkiniyar, the commentator, likens this to the undifferentiated condition of salt and water, and of finger and finger. Observes he " முன்னின்ற சூத்திரத்தான் மெய்முன்னர் நிற்ப உயிர் பின் வந்தேறுமென்றார் அம்முறையே யோசையும் பிறக்குமென்றார் இதனால் மாத்திரைக்கொள்ளுங்கால் உப்பு நீரும் போல வொன்றேயாய் நிற்றலும், வேறுபடுத்துங்கால் விரலும் விரலுஞ்சேர நின்றாற்போல வேறாய் நிற்றலும் பெற்றாம்."

The vowel has 1 matra and the consonant has half matra. The vowel and the consonant both combined should have 1+½or 1½matras. But the matra actually obtained is only one ---- not 'one and a half'. Hence the commentator says 'மாத்திரைக்கொன்றாங்கால் ஒன்றேயாய் நிற்றலும்.'

The matra for அ is one and matra for க is also one, though க் (the consonant) has half mahtra. But has the vowel become the consonant? Yes in a sense it has become the consonant and yet remains distinct as the அ in க remains distinct from க். This is the relation of God and Soul in mukthi. This is the view of the author of the Vedantha Sutras when he says that God alone has the power of creation and not the soul, who can only enjoy Divine Bliss. "Bhoga matra Samya Lingath" (the 4th pada) உம்பர்பிரான் உற்பத்தியாதிகளுக்குரியன் உயிர்தானும் சிவானுபவம் ஒன்றினுக்கே யுரித்து (Siddhiar).

This is the view of the Upanishads when they proclaim "that a person intent on the dulcet sounds of a vina hears nothing but the sound of Vina" etc. This is also the view of the Gitacharya when he says "such a man never dies in me." Such an advaitic* [* Saint Arulnandisivam defines Advaitam as " ஒன்றாய் நின்றவன்னிலையில் ஒன்றாகாமலிரண்டாகாமல் ஒன்றுமிரண்டு மின்றாகாமல்"(இருபாஇருபஃது)] union is proclaimed by the union of Linga and peeta or of Nada and Bindu or of உயிர் and மெய். We said that Nada has its sound and Bindu produces shape. 'Nada (sound) produces Bindu (shape)' is a scientifically demonstrable truth. So every sound is represented in a shape. The first distinct sound is only அ or Akahra. The next sound is only இ ikahram and the next sound is only உ ukahram. Of course we leave the long vowels out of consideration. The அ + இ is எ and அ + உ is ஒ. The sequence or order is in the formation of sounds. But where is the order in the pronunciation of the characters A, B, C, D, or in Aliph, Be, Se, The? In pronouncing our Hindu letters, we give them certain shapes. These shapes are formed as we pronounce them. Thus the shape of அ or A is what is formed in the pronunciation of the sound அ. So is இ and so is உ. Of course the characters of the present day alphabet are not what Tholkappiar gives in his immortal Grammar. The Sivagamas assert that from the bottom of the evolving Bindu tatva Ambika Sakthi is produced, from her issue three sakthies Vama, Jyeshta and Rowdri. Vamah is of the form of a slumbering serpent. Jyeshta is dandakara or a line. Rowdri has the shape of two horns (or brackets) - (கொம்பு). A combination of these Sakthies produces the letter Akahara or the primary sound. In Akahra Rowdri Sakthi is the head. Vamah the face, Ambika the hands, Jyeshta the long body, Of course the Bindu and Nada are the tatvas, out of which these 3 kalas of Pranava are formed. Thus according to the Agamas, every alphabet, vowel or consonant, is formed out of one or more of the Nava Sakthis, Vama, Jyesta etc., that evolve out of Bindu and Nada, the Bindu being a dot or a star or zero and the Nada being a line. The Pranava which comprises within itself the entire alphabets of 51 letters is the only letter in which the entire 9 sakthis conjointly play their part in producing its shape. Kalidasa thus describes the truth "Vyomethi Bindurithi Nadaithi Indurekha roopethi Vakbhava thanoorithi Mathuruketh Nishyandamahna sukhabodha Sudhaswaroopam Vidyothase Manasi Bhagyavatham Jananam." The Vyoma is the sky or Akas. The Bindu is the Star, the Nada is the form of linear lightning: the Indurekha is the various shapes of the waxing and waning moon, the Vakbhava thanu is the body produced out of the Vaks (speech) Vaikari Madhyama, Pasyanthi, Sookshma and Su-Sookshma which are but products of Kutila or Kundalini which is a compound of A,U,M, Bindu and Nada. Of these 5 Vaks the Susookshama is Gnanaroopa and the Sookshma is the originator of the 3 Vaks Pasyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikari. The pasyanthi is Nirvikalpa (changeless) and Madhyama is Savikalpa (changing) and Vaikari is Srothra Vishaya or the audible sound.

Vaikari is the grossest and it is caused by the udana Vayu and Prana Vayu. The Madhyama Vak is not audible. It rests in the throat but still the Will cognizes it. It is generated by the Prana Vayu and not by the Udana. The Pasyanthi Vak is an undifferentiated condition of the various sounds or rather their substratum. These 5 kalahs (subtle) guide the 5 sthoola kalah Nivruthi, Prathishta Vidya, Santhi and Santhiatheetha. There is thus here an attempt, to connect the heavenly regions with inner organisms of the human body. A link is forged between astronomy and physiology both of them finally merging in the Divine Philosophy of Oneness. The Agama says "Siva Sthithassarvajanthoonam Aksharanam Akahravath". Just as the letter (sound) அ (A) stands among the letters (sounds), so Siva stands with reference to all the souls. In the Devara hymn the immanence of the Lord is described as இழைக்குமெழுத்துக்குயிரேயொத்தியால், just as the vowel induces the consonant; and sage Thiruvalluvar says அகரமுதலவெழுத்தெல்லாமாதி பகவன்முதற்றேயுலகு and says the sage Thayumanavar அவ்வுயிர்போலெவ்வுயிருமாகி.

The above explanations are necessary in view of the fact that the Pranava is the chief or Tharaka Mantra the efficacy of whose dhyana is so gloriously described in all the upanishads and Agamas. We alluded to the Tamil alphabets in as much as the vowels and consonants therein are characterised உயிர் and மெய் and as the phonetic order is complete there, for instance there are short எ and ஒ but in Sanskrit we have only long ஏ and ஓ and we cannot conceive of long ஏ and long ஓ without the short எ and short ஒ, just as we cannot have a long ஆ without the short அ. In other respects the rules mentioned in the Panini's grammar may equally apply. Thus it is clear that all the shapes of the sounds have their origin from the Divine Kutila whose Kalahs are the nine Sakthis that they are derived only from the Nada and Bindu which constitute the Ardha mahtra of the Pranava. This Ardha matra is the entire Siva linga, the peeta representing the Bindu and the Linga the Nada. In the succeeding pages we will describe how the Sivalinga is the shape or Yanthra of the sound Pranava. Only when we understand the realtion between the Linga and Peeta or the உயிர் and உடல் or the vowels and consonants, we can have a conception of the Pranava Linga being characterised as the symbol of the Divinity. Else mere assertion that the Pranava is all and that the Linga is all will be a conundrum.

The same sacred books current in the South and in the North describe the Prabha or திருவாசி of the divine forms and the shapes of Ganesa and Linga as pranava. We see no actual difference in the shapes of Ganesa and Linga as sculptured in the North and South. The long story of Ganesa as the offspring of two pranava kunjaras (elephant) Siva and Sakthi (Nada and Bindu) is found in the Skandapurana. Of course any northern edition of the same may be compared with that in the south. The Agamas give lucid explanations of the shapes of Alphabets from A to Ha. The 51 Aksharas are the forms of Rudras. These Aksharas are the seeds of the Lotus of Kutila. 'Panchasath rudra roopasthu- Panchasath Bija garbhitham," so say the Agama and the Vayu Samhita. We are told in the Santhana Agama that these Agamas were taught in the mutts that were once situated on the banks of the Ganges. These mutts were known by the names of Mandahnakahlisa in the middle and Ahmardakee, Golaki, Ranabhadra and Pushpagiri on the 4 sides. This shows that the alpabet as it prevailed in the South was also extent in the north for a long time and that the men in the North lost them with the influx of time and subject to the influence of various marauding nations such as the Greeks, the Scythians, the Huns, the Mughals and Afghans etc, as at the present day they are fast losing the pronunciation and nay the very language itself.

Anyhow we see that the Nada and Bindu form part and parcel of the Holy Pranava. These two constitute Ardhamatra. The Siva Dharmottara says "Athavahnya Prajahrena Brahma Vishnu Mahesvara kramath Mahthra Samuddhistah Tathparaschahrdhamahtrayah" and the Vayu Samhita says "Evam Thisrubhire vaithath Mahthrabhirakhilam Tridha Abhidaya Sivathmahnam Bhodhayathyardha mahthraya". Thus the Ardhamatra is above the three matras A, U, and M. The Atharva Sikha explicitly speaks of Ardhamatra and its connection with Nada. The 27th chapter of the second part of Vayu Samhitha treats of this Atharva sikha and the rising of the Mahalinga.

The Chapter begins thus.

"Evameva vivadobhooth Brahma Vishnoparasparam

Thasyordarpahpaharahya prabodhayacha Devayoh

Madhye samahbhirabhavath Lingam Aisvaram Adbhutham

Jvahlah mahla Sahasrahdyam Apregneyam Anoupamam

Kshaya Vriddhi Vinirmuktham Adi Madyanta Varjitham

Thasya Jvahla Sahasrene Brahma Vishnoo Vimohithou."

Brahma and Vishnu began to fight. To put down their pride and to enlighten them, a grand lingam arose amidst them, a wonderful lingam symbolising Isvara, shining with thousands of fiery beams, an immeasurable, and unrivalled form void of decay and growth, as well as beginning, middle and end. Brahma and Vishnu were quite stunned with the multitudes of fiery-beams.

"Pranipathya Kimathmedam ithyaohinthayatham Tada

Athabhirabhavath thathra Sa nahdam Sabda lakshanam

Omithyekaksharam Brahma Brahmanaea prathipahdakam

Tadapyavidithamabhavath Chathurdheikam Thadaksharam

A-u-m ethi thrimathrabhihi parasthachchardha mahtraya

Thathrahkahro Sritho bhage thada lingasya Dakshine

Ukahraschothare Tadvan Makahrasthasya Madhyathaha

Ardhamahtrahthmako Nahdaha Srooyathe Linga Moordhani

Vibhakthepi thatha Thasmin Pranave Paramakshare

Vibhagarthamcha Thou Devow nakimchith avajagmathuhu

Vedathmana thadavyaktho Pranavo Vikruthim gathaha

Thathrakaro Rik abhavath Ukahro yajuravyayaha

Makahrassahma sanjahtho Nahdasthvatharvanee Sruthihi."

Then they prostrated before it and began to muse about its nature. But they could not. Then the Mantra, the one Akshara, Omkara, which depicts the Supreme Brahm, with Nada, the primary essence of sound, took shape. That too was not understood by Brahma and Vishnu, their minds being overpowered by Rajas and Tamas. Then that word divided itself into 4 divisions, viz., A, U, M, and the Ardhamatra beyond them. Then the Matra leant towards the right side of the Linga, U leant towards the left side, while M leant towards the middle. The Nada which is called Ardhamatra, went to the top of the Linga. Even when this Great Word Pranava thus divided itself, still they could not understand. Then the Pranava changed itself into Veda. A became Rik, U became Yajus, and M became Sama, the Nada became the Atharvana:

"Rik upathapayamasa Samasathvartham Atmanaha

Rajo Gunesha Brahmahnam Moorthishvahdyam Kriyasvapi

Srishtim lokeshu Prithvim Tathveshvahthmanam Avyayam

Kalahdavani nivruthimcha sadyam Brahmasupanchasu

Linga bhageshvado bhagam Beejakhyamkahrana Thraye

Chathush shashti Gunaisvaryam Bowdhdham yathanimhdishu

Taditham Arthair Dasabhir Vyaptham Visvam Richa jagath."

Then Rik stood up and began to dwell upon its import in brief. Of the gunas Rajas; among moorthis Brahma; of actions creation; of worlds earth; of tatvas Atma tatva; of Kalahdvas Nivruthi; of 5 mantras sadyojatha mantra; of the portions of Linga the bottom; of the 3 causes the seed; of the Anima and other prosperities 64 prosperties which pertain to Buddhi; in this manner by means of these ten kinds, the Rik pervades the universe."

"Athopasthapayahmasa Swartham Dasa Vidham Yajuhu

Satvam guneshu Vishnumcha Moorthishvadyam Kriyasvapi

Sthithim lokeshvanthariksham Vidyam thathveshucha thrishu

Kalahdhvasucha Pratishtamcha Vahmam Brahmasu Panchasu

Madhyanthu Linga Bhageshu yonimcha Thrishu Hethushu

Prahkruthamcha thathaisvaryam Thasmath Visvam yajurmayam."

Then the Yajus established its own ten kinds. Of Gunas Satva; of Moorthis Vishnu, of action Sthithi or Protection; of worlds the Anthariksha; of tatvas Vidya tatva; of kaladhvas Pratishta; of the 5 mantras Vamadeva mantra; of the Linga portions the middle part of the three causes the yoni (uterus); of the prosperities the prosperities which pertain to Prakruthi; in this way the universe is Yajurmaya."

"Thathopasthapayahmasa Samahrtham Dasadhathmanaha

Tamo guneshvatho Rudram Moorthim Adyam kriyasucha

Samhruthim Thrishu lokeshu Swargam Tatveshvatha Sivaha

Vidya kalahsvaghoramcha Brahma Brahmasu panchasu

Lingabhageshu Peetordhvam Beejinam kahranatharaye

Powrushamcha thathaisvaryam itham Sahmuah thatham jagath."

Then stood up the Sama-veda and dwelt upon its own ten divisions. Of gunas Thamas; of Moorthis Rudra; of actions Samhara (dissolution); of worlds Swarga; of tatvas Siva tatva; of kalahs Vidya kala; of 5 mantras the Aghora mantra; of the portions of Linga the upper part of the Peeta; of the three causes the Beeji (the man); of the prosperities the prosperities of Purusha tatva; Thus the Sama Veda pervades this universe.

"Atharvaha nairgunyam artham paramam Atmanaha

Thatho Mahesvaram Sakshan Moorthishvapi Sadasivam

Kriyasu Nishkriyasyapi Sivasya paramahthmanaha

Bhoothanugrahanamchaiva muchyanthe yena janthavaha

Lokeshvapi yatho Vacho nivruth manasah saha

Tadhoordhvam unmana lokahth Soma lokamalowkikam

Somas sahomayah yathra Nithyam nivasatheisvaraha

Tadhoordhavam unmanalokath yampraptho na nivarthatha

Santhimcha Santhyatheethamcha Vyapikam Vaikalasvapi

Tathpurusham thathesanam Brahma Brahmasu panchasu

Yathravahya samahradhyaha Kevalo Nishkalas sivaha

Tathveshvapi Thada Bindor nadath Sakthesthathahapara

Thathvath Apiparam Tathvam Athathvam paramarthathaha

Karaneshu thrayatheethahth Mahyah Viskshobha kabranahth

Ananthath Suddha Vidyayan parasthathcha Mahesvarahth

Sarva vidyesvarahdeesath saparasthathcha Sudasivath

Sarva Mantra Thanor Devath Sakthitraya samanvithath

Pancha vakthrahddasabujahth Sahkshath sakala nishkelath

Tasmath Apiparahth Bindor Ardhendoscha Tathaha parahth

Tathparath Nirodheesath Nahdahkhyathcha thatha parahth

Tathahaparath sushumnesahth Brahma randresvaradapi

Tathaparasyahssakthescha parasthath siva thathvathaha

Paraman kahranam Sahkshath Swayam Nishkahranam sivam

Kahranabnahmcha Dhathram Dhyahtharam Dhyeyam avyayam

Paramahkahsa madhyastham Paramathmoparisthitham

Sarvaisvaryena sampannam Sarvesvaram Aneesvaram

Aisvaryaschapi Mahyeyath Asuddhath manushadikhath

Tath parahth suddha vidyadyah unmanahuthath Parathparath

Paramam paramaisvaryam unmanadya manadicha

Apahramaparahdinam nissahmyahthisayam sthiram

Itham Arthairdasa vidhairiyamahtharvanee sruthihi

Yasmath Gareeyasee thasmath visvam vyaptham Atharvanah."

Then the Atharva Veda dwelt upon its own import. Nirguna (of gunas); of Moorthis Mahesvara and Sadasiva; of actions of the Paramatma, Siva who is void of any action (nishkriyah) the Anugraha (Blessing) function by which all souls ae liberated, among Lokas (worlds) the Somaloka where the Lord with Uma ever rests, the abode without reaching which the speech along with the Mind has returned, which is (therefore) beyond the Unmana loka, reaching which one will never return; of Kalas the Santhi, Santhi Atheetha and Vyapika, of the 5 mantras the tathpurusha and Isana Mantras; of the portions in the Linga the top of the Linga which is the portion for Nada where the Lord Siva who is simply Nishkalah is to be contemplated; of the tatvas, that Tatva which transcends the Bindu, Nada and kutila and beyond that tatvam which is really no tatva; of the causes, itself transcending the three causes being simply the agitator of Maya, transcending Anantha and the Suddhavidya, transcending the Mahesvara, the Lord of all Vidyesvaras, transcending even Sadasiva, whose body is formed simply of Mantras, in whom rests the three Sakthis Icha, Gnana and Kriya, who has five heads and ten hands who is the Sakala-nishkala transcending Bindu, Ardhachandra, nirodi, Nada and Nadantha, transcending sushumnesa and Brahmarandresa, transcending even the Sakthi tatva and Siva tatva, He is himself the causeles cause, Sivam, the grand cause, the resort of all causes, the unifier of all causes and the one to be contemplated upon, the Lord in the midst of chidakasa, the Lord transcending all Atmas; (of prosperities) possessing all aishvaryas (omniscience and other 7 qualities) being Sarvesvara and having no Isvara for Him, transcending the prosperities of Asuddha Maya the prosperities of men, transcending the lower prosperities and all the higher prosperities of Suddhadhavas, transcending the prosperities of Suddhavidya and anmana, which possess the beginningless Aishvaryas which are limitless, the like of which cannot be found anywhere, the transcendental aishvaryas which "are ever existent". Thus the Atharva demonstrated its ten divisions by which it pervades the universe."

"Rig Vedaha punarahedam jahgrath roopam mayochyathe

Yenahamatmathathvasya nithyamasmyabhidhayakaha

Yajur Vodovadath thathvath Svapuahvastha mayochyathe

Bhogyahthmana parinathah Vidyah Vidyah yatho mayi

Sahmachaha sushupthyakhyam evam sarvam mayochyathe

Mamahrthena sivenedam Thahmasena bhideeyathe

Atharvahaha Thureeyahkhyam Thureeyatheetha mevacha

Mayahbhideeyathe thasmath Adhvahtheetha padosmyaham

Adhvathmakamtha Thrimalam Siva Vidyahthma Samjuitham

Thathraigunyam Thrayeesahdyam samsodhyameha padaishinabam

Adhvatheetham Thureeyahkhyam Nirvahnam paramam padam

Tadatheethamcha Nairgunyath Adhvanosya Visodhakam

Dvayo Pramapako nado Nahdahnthaseha madahthmakaha

Thasmahn mamahrthas swahthanthryath Pradhana Paramesvaraha

Yadasthi Vasthu Thath sarvam guna Prahdhanya yogathaha

Samastham Vyasthamapicha Pranavahrtham prachakshathe

Sarvartha Vachakam Thasmath Ekam Brahmaitha daksharam

Sivo va Pranavohiesha Pranavo va siva smruthaha

Vahchya Vachakayorbhedo nahthvantham Vidyathe kvachith"

Again Rig Veda says: "By me is denoted the waking state. I am therefore the appellation for ever of Atma tatva. Similarly the Yajur Veda says "By me is denoted the Swapna avastha (dreaming state), as teh Vidya tatva which transforms itself into Bhogya (things consumable) rests in me; The Sama says "By me is announced the state of Sushupthi and this is explained by the Siva tatva." The Atharva Veda says. "I announce the state of Turiya and Turiyathita. Therefore I am the condition that transcends all adhvas. The three bold divisions of Atma, Vidya and Siva tatvas, which are the regions of the three malas (Anava, Karma and Maya), comprise all Adhvas in them. They are of Three Gunas, capable of being accomplished by (a knowledge of) the Trayee (Rik, Yajus and Sama) and capable of being tested or purified by the persons desirous of padas (berths). The state of Turiya which transcends the Adhvas is the blissful great condition (of the mukta). Being void of Thrigunas it is further beyond and is the purifier of adhvas. The Nada is the link that connects both i.e. the adhva and the state beyond and Nadantha is my own sphere. Therefore my state which is independent is preeminently supreme. Whatever substance there is in the world, that substance by the conjunction of gunas proclaims the meaning of Pranava either in its entirety or separateness. Therefore the Akshara (character) and one Mantra OM is designatory or explanatory of all things. Therefore the Lord Siva creates the entire world by uttering the word "Om". Siva is Pranava and Pranava is Siva. There is not much difference between a definition and a thing defined.

"Arthametham Avijnhya rajasubhaddha Vyrayo

Yuvayo Prathibodhaya Madhye Lingam Upasthitham

Evam Omithi Mahm Prahuryadihokthamutharvanah

Rucho yajoomshi samani sakhaschanyassahasra saha

Vedeshvevam Svayam Vakthraivyakthamithya Vadathsvapi

Swapnanubhoothamivathath thabhyahm nadhyava seeyatha

Thayosthathra Prabodhaya Thamopanayanayacha

Lingepi Mudritham Sarvam yatha Vedairudabhrutham

Thaddhrustva Mudritham Linge Prasadath Linginasthada

Prasantha manasow Devow prabuddhow sambabhoovathu

Thatho lingasya Lingathavam Linginopicha Lingitham

Linge Visvasya jagathaha Viseshuth Swahthmanorapi

Uthpaththim Vilayamchaiva yahthathmyamcha Shadadhvanahm

Thathaha paratharam Dhama Dhahmavanthamcha Poorusham

Nirutharatharam Brahma Nishkalam Sivam Isvaram

Pasu pasa mayasyasya prapanchasya sada pathim."

Not knowing this meaning both of you are fighting with each other. For enlightenment of you both this Linga arose in your midst. Therefore the wise denote me by the syllable Om, as Atharvana Veda just now explained to you.

Though the Riks, the Yajus, Samas along with their multitudes of branches spoke with their own mouths still they did not last for a long time in their minds. All seemed to them like phantoms in dream. Then for their enlightenment and the dispelling of their internal darkness, all the truth proclaimed by the Vedas were engraved or imprinted in the Linga. Seeing the above truth marked in the Linga, by the Grace of the Lord, whose symbol is Linga, the two were enlightened. Hence the Lingathvam, state of being a linga, for the Linga - which means symbols or Mark (அடையாளம்). As the Linga i.e. as all the truths are marked or symbolised by this symbol, this is called symbol or Linga. As the Lord is the resort of all the truths symbolized by the form of the Linga, He is called Lingi - literally one denoted by Linga. This Linga depicts or inculcates the projection or creation of the entire universe composed of pasa (non-material soul) and pasa (material) as well as their dissolution and of the true condition of the Shaladvahs. Beyond that is the Nishkala of the Lord.

Thus it is clear that the Siva linga is Pranava engraved or sculptured. Siva linga is the yanthra or the shape for Pranava. The Vidyesvara Samhita says:

"Linganamcha kramam Vakshye yathavath Sruntha Dwijaha, Thadeva lingam prathmam Pranaavam Sarva kahmikam, Sookshmam Pranava roopamhi Sookshma roopamthu Nishkalam..........Svahusthallikhithum Lingam Suddhapranava manthrakam yanthru lingam samahlikhya Pratishtavahanamchureth, Bindu nadamayam Lingam Sthavaram jangamchayath."

I will now describe the order of the Linga. Listen to it. That alone is the Prime Linga which is Pranava, the fulfiller of all desires. The Pranava form is subtle and this subtle form is Nishkala. The linga written by one's hand is the pure Pranava Mantra. By imprinting the yantra Linga one should perform pratishta etc. This linga of Bindu and Nada is all the mobile and immobile things.

The same Samhita aserts.

"Pranavam Dhvani lingamthu Nada lingam Svayambhuvaha Bindu lingamthu yanthram syahth" and it defines Pranava thus:-

"Akahrascha ukarascha Makahrascha thathahaparam

Bindu nadayutham Taddhi subdakahla kalahddh yutham

Pranava (sound) is the Nada Linga of the self existent Lord. The Bindu Linga is yanthra or shape of the Pranava and Pranava is formed of A, U, M, and beyond these is the one formed of Bindu and Nada."

"Srethumichani yogindra Lingavirbhava lakshanam Pura kalpe Mahakahle Prasanne Loka Visruthe Ayudhyatham Mahahthmahnow Brahma Vishnu parasparam Thayormahnam Nirakartham Than madhye Paramesvaraha. Nishkala sthambha roopena svaroopam Samadarasayath, Thatha sva linga chinnhathvahth Sthambhatho nishkalam Sivaha Svalingam Darasayahmasa Jagatham Hitha Kahmyayah Tadaprabhruthi lokeshu Nishkalam lingam Aisvaram."

Again it says:

"Yadidam Nishkalam stambham Mama brahmatva bodhakam Linga Lakshna yukthathvath Mama Lingam Bhaveth idam Lingam Omkara mantrena Beram Panchaksharenatha Svayamevahi Saddravyair Prathish tahpyam Porairapi."

Oh Yogindra, I now desire to hear of the appearance of linga. He says: When Brahma and Vishnu were fighting in former times, for dispelling their delusion the Lord himself appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar, void of parts. As it was marked with His mark it became Linga. For the purpose of doing good to the world, He exhibited his own mark. Thence forward the Nishkala forms the Divine symbol.

The entire Kailasa Samhita is a treatise on Pranava:

"Akahraschapyukahrotha Makahrascha trayam kramahth. Thisro Mahtras samahkyatha Ardhamahtra thathapram Ardhamahtrah Mahesani Bidnu Nada Swaroopinee."

A, then U and M - these three in their order are called the three Mahtras. Beyond these is the Ardhamahtra - oh Mahesani (Parvati) the Bindu and Nada constitute Ardhamahtra.

"Akahrasthu Mahathbeejam rajassrashta chathurmukha ukahra Prakruthir yonihi Satvam palayitha Hari Makahra purusho Bijee Tamassamharako Hara Bindur Mahesvaro Devasthirobhava udahrutha Nadassadasiva Proktho Sarvanu grahaka Prabhu Nada moordhani Samchinthya Parahth paratharassivaha."

The letters A is Mahat (mind), Bija (Semen Virile), Rajas Brahma, the creator, the four faced. The letter U is Prakruthi, Yoni (matrix) Satvam, Hari, the sustainer. The letter A is Purusha, Beejee (the agent or Man) Thamas and Hara the destroyer. The Bindu is Mahesvara, Deva, the Thirobhava. The Nada is Sadasiva is the Anugraha-doer. In the Summit of Nada Lord Siva is to be contemplated.

The Samhita gives six interpretations or rather modes of viewing or understanding Pranava. "Manthro yanthram Devatacha Prapancho Gururevacha Sishyascha Shat padarthanam Esham Artham Srunu priye." The six modes are Mantra, Yantra, Devata, Prapancha, Guru and Sishya -Listen to their meanings.

"Pancha varna Samashtisyahth Mantra poorvam udahbruthaha Sa eva yanthratham praptho Vakshye than mandala kramam yanthramthu Devatha roopam Devata visvaroopinee Visvaroopo guru proktho Sishyo guru Vapusmruthaha."

The combination of 5 letters is called Mantra. The same obtains a shape or yanthra. I will describe them. The Yanthra or shape is the form of Devata. The Devata is in the world. The Guru is Visvaroopi. The disciple is the body of Guru.

"Hridpundareekam Virajam Visokam Visadam Param Astapathram kesaradyam karnikopari Sobhitham. Adhara sakthi mahrabhya Thrithathvantamayam padam Vichinthya Madhyasthasthasya Daharam Vyoma Bhavayeth Omithyekhaksharam Brahma Vyahharan Mahm Tvayah Saha."

Within the Heart lotus of eight petals shining with Kesaras and Karnika and upon a seat formed of Adharasakti to the end of Atma Vidya and Sivatatvas - the Lord with His Sakthi is to be contemplated by uttering the mantra Om.

Lord Subramanya thus initiates the great Sivadvaithin Vamadeva, who is mentioned in the Aithareya upanishad and in the Brahma soothra "Sastra, Dhrushtyathoopadeso Vamadevadivath.

The Lord says:

"Pranavartha Parignanaroopam thath Vistharadaham Vadami Shad Vidharthaikyaparijnanena Suvratha Prathamo mantra roopasyath. Dwitheeye yanthra Bhahvithaha Deva tharthaha Thru theeyartha Prapanchartho thatha param chathurtha Panchamorthasyath Gururoopa Pradiasakaha sashto sishyatma rooportho shadartha Pari keethi thaha."

"I will in detail describe the meaning of Pranava in six ways of modes of interpretation. The 1st interpretation is Mantra; the 2nd interpretation is yanthra; the 3rd interpretation is Devatah; the 4th interpretation is prapancha; the 5 th is Guru (teacher) and the 6th is Sishya (disciple). These are the six interpretations for the Pranava.

"Thathra mantra Swaroopam the Vadami muni saththama - "Ahdyaswaro panchamascha Pavarganthasthathapara Bindu mahdowcha pancharnah Proktha Vedairnachanyath Ethath samashtiroopohi Vedadissamudahruthaha Nadassarva samashti syath Bindvadyam yachathushtayam Vyashtiroopena samsiddham Pranave Siva Vachake."

Oh great Rishi, I will describe the nature of the Mantra. The primary sound A, the 5th sound U, then the last sound in the pavarga (labials) i.e. M and the bindu and Nada - these are denoted by the Vedas as constituents of Pranava. A combined form of these 5 sounds is called the source of Vedas. The Nada is called Samashtipranava of all the various component parts, while Bindu, M, U and A, are called Vyashtipranava of the Pranava which designates Siva."

"Yanthra roopam srunu prahjna Siva Lingam Thadevahi Sarvadhasthath Likheth Peetam thadoordvam prathamam svaram uvarnamcha thadoordhvasitham Pavargantham thadoordhvagam. Thanmastha kustham Bindumeha thadoordhvam Nadamahlikheth. Evam yanthram samah likhya Pranavenaiva Veshtayeth. Taduth thenaiva Nahdena Bhindyahanadavasahuakam."

Oh wise one! listen to the form of the yanthra. That is only Siva linga. At the bottom of all, the peeta must be written, above it should be written the first sound A, the letter U should be written above it. Then M should go above that; on the top of that the Bindu and above it should be written the Nada. Thus writing the yanthra it must be encompassed also with Pranava and must cleave it asunder by means of the previously described Nada. The figure thus formed will give Siva linga.