OtuvArs and Zaiva Agamas

Dominic Goodall dominic.goodall at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 14 05:03:35 UTC 2010

Dear Palaniappan,

I don't think that scriptures of the Śaivasiddhānta say anything about this, just as they don't typically comment on which particular caste-groups can penetrate into which bit of the temple.  Statements of such a kind tend to be given only in relatively late works that claim to be based on or quoting from Āgamas.  So, for instance, on p. 313 of the Kriyāsāra (the same passage is also to be found in another sixteenth-century work which often either copies the Kriyāsāra or has been copied from it : Appayadīkṣita’s Śivārcanacandrikā, on p.110) we find the positions in the temple in which different groups should place themselves :

tatrācāryasyaiva garbhagṛhaṃ praviśya sevā | 
itareṣāṃ brāhmaṇānām ardhamaṇḍapaṃ praviśya | 
kṣatriyāṇām ardhamaṇḍapadvāramukhe ’vasthāya | 
vaiśyānāṃ vṛṣāgre | 
śūdrāṇāṃ vṛṣapṛṣṭhe | 

Immediately before that we find the following instruction:

…devaṃ namaskṛtya mastake hṛdaye vāñjaliṃ baddhvā yathādhikāraṃ vaidikāgamikalaukikapaurāṇikadrāviḍādistotraiḥ stuvīta | 

“…having worshipped the Lord while clasping the hands to the head or the heart, one should praise him with Vedic, Āgamic, worldly, Purāṇic, Dravidian or other hymns in accordance with one’s entitlement.”

One of the earliest mentions in scripture of the singing of Dravidian-language hymns as part of regular worship, may be that in the Pūrva-Kāmika 6.438, where it follows immediately upon the singing of hymns in Bengali and other languages (gauḍabhāṣādyair gānam, 6.437).  There is no mention of varṇa or jāti in this context.  As for the date of the Pūrva-Kāmika, there is reason to believe it may belong to the twelfth century, before which it is apparently not quoted.

The most specific statement I can find of the type you are looking for is in verse 35 of a work attributed to Rāmakaṇṭha called the Jātinirṇayapūrvakālayapraveśavidhi, published by Pierre-Sylvain Filliozat in Journal Asiatique 263 (1975) 103–117.  The claim there is that avāntara-sacchūdras may sing Śaiva hymns in Tamil in the mahāmaṇḍapa up to the bull.

maṇṭape mahatpūrve nandiparyantam antataḥ
drāvidaiḥ stotrapaṭalaiḥ sacchūdrāvāntarāḥ| iti

The claim seems to be attributed to the Svāyambhuva and is followed by a supporting quotation attributed to the Kiraṇa, but like all the quotations in that small work about caste, they have not been traced, and a natural conclusion seems to me that they are fabrications of the author.  (The use of the word Nandi here to refer to the bull suggests, quite apart from other factors, that this verse is not scriptural.) The ascription of a work about South Indian castes and temple life to a tenth-century Kashmirian theologian is, by the way, also not remotely credible to me.

There may of course be other passages that I am not aware of, but it is clear to me in any case that the subject is not one commonly dealt with in Śaiva scriptures.

Yours, with best wishes,

Dominic Goodall

On 30-Sep-2010, at 9:52 AM, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan wrote:

> Dear Indologists,
> Tamil uvaccars are known as a non-brahmin caste in modern times. But medieval inscriptions show that uvaccar represented merely an occupational category and both brahmins and non-brahmins have received uvaccakkANi. I have a question in connection with a similar group involved in Zaiva temples. What do the zaiva Agamas say about the caste of those who sing the tEvAram hymns in the Zaiva temples? What are the dates of these Agamas?
> Thanks in advance
> Regards,
> Palaniappan

Dominic Goodall
École française d'Extrême-Orient,

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