In simple words, Aaseevagam means Science. The literary works of second Sangam period [1500 BCE] in Tamilakam reveals that Tamils do not follow any religion or caste. Still they follow a scientific religion like system in which people are involved individually in a permanent body of association to develop a social and political security. This theology under which Tamil society function is called Aaseevagam.
Lord Shiva was the first theorist of Aaseevagam who bind the human life with nature. I repeat, Aaseevagam is not a religion, it is the science of living. How do I say that?
Let us consider the three important ideologies of Aaseevagam.
1. Anukolkaiyal : All living things including animals, birds, trees, plants are created by nature as a result of large evolution process. Everything in the nature was composed of atoms, qualities emerged from aggregates of atoms, but the aggregation and nature of these atoms was predetermined by cosmic forces.
2. Tharkkaviyal : Application of spiritual logical techniques to real world problems. You must combine the science searching outside of you, away from you with the spirituality searching with in you at the centre of your existence to find truth or solution.
3. Oozhiiyal : All beings, all that have breath, all that are born, all that have life, are without power, or strength, or virtue, but are the result of destiny, chance and nature, and they experience joy and sorrow. You can control your mind and hence your life by focusing on your own conscious presence.
The above mentioned details were the observations of A L Basham (Australian Indologist) who done a research on ” History and Doctrines of Ajivikas (aaseevagam)” and justified that Aaseevagam clearly explain concepts of astronomy, life science, metallurgy, psycho therapy, sidha vaidhya, atomism, mathematics about 20000 years ago.
But sadly all the primary texts of Aaseevagam was burned and destroyed during bakthi movement of medieval era and also lost by the ransack of Nalanda university. So A L Basham and other prominent scholars in religious studies research through the secondary materials in Buddhism, Jainism and Sangam literature.
Aaseevagam has been mentioned in Tripithaka text (Pali) and Mahayana suthras (Tibeten) of Buddhidm, Agam sutras of Jainism, Neelakesi, Manimeghalai, Sivanjana Sidhiyar, Ettuthokai, Pathupattu and Thirukkural of Sangam literature. You may think like why Aaseevagam is mentioned in Buddhism and Jainism?
According to research done by Dr. T V Mahalingam (Indian Historian), he proved that Aaseevagam is the mother for Buddhism and Jainism which get separated in 5th century BCE by Gautama Buddha and Mahavira Vardhamana respectively. Since Buddhism and Jainism is growing parallelly, there is a need for aaseevagars to resist them by constructing their philosophy in the form of religion. Hence Markali Gosala reconstruct Aasevagam theology into a religion.
According to the paper published by Fred W Clothy in Journal of Ritual Studies, Markali Gosala is a Sanskritized name of Tamil sithar. His authentic name is mentioned in third sangam as Saththan. He is a expert in marpor (wrestling), hence he also renowned as Markaliyan. Since he born in the ayar kudi of Tamils, addition of gosala (cow shed) in joined to his name while Sanskritisation. He was contemporary of Buddha and an intimate friend of Mahavira. After he reconstruct the Aaseevagam into a religion, people respectfully designate him as Ayyanar and worshiped him in the later period.
So after Ayyanar, Aaseevagam become a religion and is came to be known as Samanam. That is by 5th century BCE, three new religions derived to this soil from aaseevagam. Both Samanam and Jainism believed to have 24 thirtankara (theervu thantha karar – savior of dharma) for each cosmic half cycles, only difference is their 24th thirtankara. Jainism has Mahavira as their 24th thirtankara while Samanam has Markali Gosala. So people confuse themselves by thinking that Samanam and Jainism are same and unfortunately don’t even know about the existence of Aaseevagam.
One set of Ancestral worship is the vital part of Aasevagam. This type of ancestral worship is still followed by Tamils called as Kula Deiva Vazhipadu meaning clan deity worship. Dr K Nedumchezhiyan published his research works about Kuladaiva Vazhipadu in “Aasevagamum Ayyanar Varalarum”. According to him, there is no deities; they’re sithars (scientists) who attained wisdom through years of meditation, penance and observation. There were thousands of sithars in which few of them completely revolutionised Tamil society with their unimaginable celibacy.
- Adinathar [Shiva]
Adinathar was the first sithar of aaseevagam who attained enlightment through years of yogic practices. He is a hunter gatherer (vedan) of submerged Kumarikandam who discovered yoga and hence called Adiyogi.
Adinathar was an important astrologist who studied the constellations of stars. He identified that star is made of fire and claimed that sun is a star. He nearly explained the Big Bang process of universe creation through explosion of fire and sound and thus depicted as holding fire and drum in the Nataraja form. His Nataraja dance is a yogic dance form that demonstrate the movement celestial objects in space.
The half-male half-female ardhanareeshwarar form well explain the duel nature of material nature. This concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Sudalaimadan (Digger of graves), he dug out corpses to analyse human anatomy and hence he is usually adored with human skull and skeletons.
2. Karuppan [Murugan]
Murugan was the first farmer of neolithic age who developed the agricultural techniques through strict observation of nature.
He abstracted Adinathar’s duality concept with shivalingam and six faced star, hence named Arumugam. He was an embryologist studies embryo formation through ovum-sperm fertilisation and development of fetuses. His weapon Vel representing male semen and hence named as Velen and Karuppan (Karu means embryo and uruppu means organ)
He developed metal smithy and metalworking for making farming tools and devices to aid in activities like clearing soil, tilling, harvesting, etc. and also martial arts weapons. He is the first warrior to initiate the martial arts tradition among Tamils.
He established the building science which help Tamils to settle down near their farmland and hence create villages. So he is regarded as the first architect by Tamils.
He is a excellent mathematician who invented a tropical calendar comprising solstices, equinox and four seasons to suit farming.
3. Parsuvanathan [Vishnu]
The Parsuvanathan was the 23rd thirtankara for both Samanam and Jainism who lived in 1000 BC. He is a aasevagam sithar who specialised in astronomy and astrology, designed 12 constellations to make Zodiac Wheel and create Panjaangam. Parsuvanathan was adorned by a five headed snake which denotes the five aspects of the Tamil almonac of panjaangam. The Tamil word for planets is Veedu. So Parsuvanathan is also known as Veetinan meaning possesser of planets.
Veetinan -> Vettunu -> Vishnu
Vishnu is mentioned in vedas with Aananthasayanam, laying down with sky gazing eyes. But this was actually the position proposed by Aasevagam to observe celestial bodies. Every aasevaga palli has a nilakal at the top of near by hill up on which the students practice planetary science.
As admiration for his knowledge, his followers adorned him with a charkram representing cosmos spinning around his for finger. Similarly they adorned conch which produce cosmic sound.
4. Ayyanar [Ayyappan]
Ayyanar is a warrior who revered for his ascetic devotion to the ethical and right way of living. He deploy his military genius and daring yogic war abilities to protect peoples and trade routes from external threats.
He holds a whip or a scepter, as a show of authority and justice. He usually manifests in a squat position (Yogapattasana) with a meditation band known as Yogapattam around his knees and waist which depict his greatness in Yoga.
The other major sithars aaseevagam include Krishnan, Ravanan, Indran, Agathiyar etc
The gurukula education system was the vital part of Aaseevagam which is introduced by Lord Shiva 20000 years ago in Merumalai of Kumarikandam. Tamils consider education as fundamental, it is given to all, it is given free. Most important feature of gurukula system is that it is skill centered unlike the age based system of modern day. A student can pass to next stage of education only if he or she has full understanding of the concept. That is, a smart student can complete his education sooner than others. The age doesn’t matter, only skill is mattered. A child join gurukulam at the age of six, go through eighteen stages (six major stages with three sub stages each) of education to learn sixty four arts.
- First stage is ‘Dark’ where student is given black uniform. Black represent darkness of ignorance or absence of knowledge. Kali is the godess of dark stage.
- Second stage is ‘Cosmos’ where student is given blue uniform. Blue represent blue clouds before the sunrise of knowledge. Nilambikai is the godess of cosmos stage.
- Third stage is ‘Household’ where student is given with red uniform. Red represent the sunrise of knowledge. Lacchmi is the godess of household stage.
- Forth stage is ‘Agriculure’ where student is given green uniform. Green represent the presence of knowledge. Patchai ammal is the godess of agriculture stage.
- Fifth stage is ‘Prosperity’ where student is given gold uniform. Gold represent growing light of knowledde. Mathangi was the godess of prosperity stage.
- Sixth stage is ‘White’ where student is given white uniform. White represent light of supreme wisdom. Vellai ammal is the godess of white stage.
- There is a final stage in aaseevagam which can only achieved through years of excessive meditation called ‘Nirvanam’. Nirvanam means colour of water (neer vannam) or transparent which represent ultimate wisdom. In this stage, the person looses all his human thoughts and liberate to god like state.
The one who completed six stages of education can add a title ‘asari’ to their name and awarded with a garland (poomalai) around their neck. The poomalai is a token of respect that signifies their responsibility to the society and it is considered to be so sacred. But many times, garland hinders during the work of asari, so the style of wearing garland is changed to wear across their arms. In course of time, the flowers in the poomalai is replaced by a simple white thread called poonool. Thus emerged the custom of wearing poonool among Tamil technocrats. Many people of viswakarma community still wear poonool as a token of respect for their esteemed profession.
The guidelines followed by this asari is termed as ‘asaaram’. Acharam is the corrupted version asaaram which is mainly misused by ‘pazhamakkar’ to win cheap arguments.
The preachers in gurukulam (Sithar) are not permanent peoples. They travel from place to place in search of them and to give spiritual lessons to people. The people and rulers are always welcomed this Samanar and do the needful, other wise they find their food through begging. Even today south Indian peoples refer beggar person as dharmakaran, which means person belong to dharmam (righteousness). The place choose by Samanar to give his lessons to people are named as palli. The samanar palli can be identified by a thirunilai silpam. Two elephants showering water on a girl sitting on a lotus flower. The other symbols of Aaseevagam includes elephant, horse, cow, dog, crow, lotus, Muruga star, mango tree, vagai tree etc. Today, the word palli denote ‘school’ in Tamil. The word aasiriyar means teacher is also derived from asari title.
The present town of Thiruchirappalli (thiru chirar palli – lesson giving place for children) is a place renowned for Samanar gurukulam.
The Bodhidharman (Bodhi sithar) was one of the best known example for a Samanar who travel from Thiruchirappali to China in 5th century AD. Thus Samanam is followed as Zen Buddhism in China.
Bodhidharman is expert in planetary science and Sidha vaidyam. He specialized in martial art called Silambam. In China he is worshiped as a creator of kungfu in Shaolin monastery. While closely observing the belt system of kungfu and karate, we can see the colour code of Aaseevagam in the reverse order from white to black. Since it is a martial art, black colour in karate black represent supreme bravery. That is, the service of Aaseevaga sithar is not limited to Tamils, they even traveled outside continent.
At the peak of Aasevagam, many native rulers initiated setting up Institutional idea in order to give education to every people. This highly formalised scholarship methods of Aaseevagam also helped to inspire the establishment of world’s first university in the later period. Nalanda university is actually a Buddhist monastery which is served as renowned learning centre for all set up by Magadha kingdom in 5th century CE.
- The Anthropological survey of India confirms that the potteries excavated in Adhichanallor (Tirunelveli) which is of 5000 years old has name of the pottery man engraved in it.
- Excavations undertaken at Urayur, Azhagankulam, Andipatti, Keezhadi and Kodumanal sites have yielded a growing number of pottery inscription written in Tamili language dated 3rd century BCE.
- Sri Lanka : Potteries with Tamili letters dated around 200 BCE have been found from Jaffna region on north coast and Tissamaharama on southeastern coast of Sri Lanka by German scholars.
- Berenike, Egypt : The excavations of a Ptolemaic-Roman settlement at the ancient coast of Red Sea have yielded an Tamili inscribed amphora precisely dated to 60-70CE.
- Thailand : A Thai-French team of archeologists discovered Tamili inscribed pottery during Phu Khao Thong excavation which dated 200BCE
That is, even a Tamil pottery man lived in the countryside was well literate enough to write down his name and the purpose for which pot is used long before 3000 BCE. Thanks to the Tamil tradition of inscribing the names of craftsman in their work. This widespread and early literacy shows how advanced was the Tamil society under gurukulam and Aaseevagam.
Western scholars in the colonial period concentrated almost wholly on Sanskrit based history studies. It is only from the mid-20th century, when Burrow and Emeneau published the Dravidian Etymological Dictionary, that interest in the Dravidian languages, especially Tamil, gained momentum. Those scholars who initially reluctant to admit that there could be early literacy in Tamil society now accept the reality in the light of sheer numbers of archaeologically established antiquity of Tamili pottery inscriptions. The pottery may be fragile, but evidence is firm.
The name of this ancient language is coined as “Tamili” in many stone inscriptions India starting from Buddhist inscriptions of 600 BCE. Major portion of stone inscriptions in India are Tamili inscriptions. Tamili is widespread in the world in form of stone inscriptions, coins, potteries etc.
However Europeans of 17th century used the word “Brahmi” or “Tamil Brahmi” to describe this Tamili script. The reference of Brahmi has no base. Since Sanskrit is celebrated like a cultural language of India at that time and it is used by elite group, with no shame, Brahmi replaced Tamili!
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