Saturday, 18 February 2017

Theory of Evolution - Insights from Thiruvasagam

How species originate and evolve in this world is one of the fundamental knowledge quest that has been haunting the humankind ever since his inception on earth.

Charles Robert Darwin in 1859 after a great effort published his work on principles of evolution - The Origin of Species. His theory of evolution is based on the principle that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor, the birds and the animals, the fishes and the flowers are all related. Darwin's general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) "descent with modification". That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism's genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival - a process known as "natural selection." These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature). This is indeed a magnificent discovery.

But, not many would know that this principle of evolution has been already touched upon by the great Saivite Saint Manickavasagar in his monumental work - Thiruvasagam. He lived in 9th century AD, approximately 1000 years prior to Darwin publishing his theory of evolution. The first chapter of Thiruvasagam is known as Sivapuranam and in that, the verses 26-31 sings about the theory of evolution as follows.

புல்லாகிப் பூடாய்ப் புழுவாய் மரமாகிப்
பல் விருகமாகிப் பறவையாய்ப் பாம்பாகிக்
கல்லாய் மனிதராய்ப் பேயாய்க் கணங்களாய்
வல் அசுரர் ஆகி முனிவராய்த் தேவராய்ச்
செல்லாஅ நின்ற இத் தாவர சங்கமத்துள்

English translation (by GU Pope) is given below

Grass was I, shrub was I, worm, tree,
Full many a kind of beast, bird, snake,
Stone, man, and demon. 'Midst Thy hosts I served.
The form of mighty Asuras, ascetics, gods I bore.
Within these immobile and mobile forms of life,
In every species born, weary I've grown, great Lord !

In this verse, Saint Manickavasagar by describing his own path of evolution from mineral kingdom, plant kingdom, animal kingdom, human kingdom, demonic beings and Devas throws light on the theory of evolution in a subtle way. It is evident that he has attained the highest state of realisation with Lord Siva and he could visualize his own path of evolution through this grand scheme and also ascertain it is the same Lord who is the life force in all these forms.

Chopuranathar Shiva Temple – Thiruchopuram, Cuddalore

This temple praised by Saint Thirugnanasambandar in Thevaram is located at Thiruchopuram near Cuddalore. On the Cuddalore to Chidambaram after about 18 kms, there is a diversion on the left at Alapakkam and after crossing Alapakkam railway crossing we can the reach the temple in 1.5 kms. It is said that in olden days, this temple has been completely covered by sand due to surging from the nearby ocean. This has been later discovered by a devotee when he noticed the tip of the gopuram emerging from the sand and he took the help of the nearby villagers to unearth the temple and restore it to the current form. Shiva lingam in this temple has been created by the great sage Agathiyar.

Lord Siva: Chopuranathar, Mangalapureeswarar
Ambal (Goddess): Chopuranayaki, Thiagavalliammai

This temple is open from 8.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. and from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m