The various paths and stages on spiritual development and the respective stages of Mukti as revealed in the SHIVA GNANA SIDDHIYAR is translated by G. Vanmikanathan in his PATHWAY TO GOD TROD BY SAINT RAMALINGAR (G.Vanmikanathan, Pathway to God Trod by Saint Ramalingar),
“Sanmaargam, Sagamaargam, Sarputramaargam Taatamaargam, to gain Sankaran (Shiva), good paths four are these; Jnanam, Yogam, Kriyai, Sariyai, thus also these are called.”
I have tabulated the four paths and the type of Mukthi gained as below.
|Path||Also known as||Meaning||Description||Type of Mukthi gained
|Sariyai||Taatamaargam.||The path of a servant.||Were I to define Taatamaargam, it is sweeping the floor of Sankaran’s temple, scrubbing it with cow-dung water, plucking flowers and preparing many garlands and chaplets for the Lord, singing his praises, lighting lamps in the temple, maintaining a flower garden (for supplying flowers for the Lord's worship), and when coming across a person in the holy garb of a devotee of Civan, enquiring of him, “What is the service I can do for you, please command me”, and doing such services.
||Salokyam which means gaining a Darshan of God, having a vision of him for a certain period or being in the same world as God, just as a servant lives in a king's palace.
|Kriyai||Sarputramaargam||The path of the good son.||New fragrant flowers, incense, lamp, materials for the bath, offerings, with these in hand go to a suitable place, clean the place by the five processes, place a seat (for the God), install the image of God thereon, meditate on the form of God and the light that is God, invoke him to descend and occupy the image, worship him with great devotion with flower offerings and songs and obeisance, perform with ardour the religious acts associated with the sacrificial fire. Those who do these acts daily will abide by the side of the Lord.
||Saameepam means that the devotee gains the privilege of being close to God in his audience chamber for a period.
|Yogam.||Sagamaargam.||The path of companionship||Being engaged in the contemplation of the whole effulgence by the process of controlling the (five) senses, obstructing the flow of the two breaths and bringing it to a state of non-motion, gaining knowledge of the six centers (plexus) (in the body) and understanding their deep significance, passing through them to the top, partaking of the ambrosia from the region of the moon (within the human body) and storing it up to the fullest extent in the body, and other acts; in short, going through all the eight phases of Yoga.
||Saarupam, which means a pada-mukthi, or a graded Mukthi where the devotee gains for a period a similarity of form with God.|
|Jnanam.||Sanmaargam.||The best or true path.||Learning all the arts, the Puranas, the Vedas, the Sastras, the philosophies, creeds, etcetera, learning the contents of several religions from top to bottom, knowing what is God, what are creatures, what the Malams, seeking the good path which discloses the transcendent Shivam, and gaining the privilege of becoming one with Civan without any trace of the sense of separateness of gnosis (knowledge), the thing to be known (i.e. The Godhead) and the knower.||Saayutchyam, which means union with the Godhead.|
Ramalinga Adigal too has spoken of the various stages of spiritual experiences. I have tabulated these stages below. (Source: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF RAMALINGA SWAMI by Dr C Srinivasan, published by Ilakkia Nilayam, Tiruchi, 1968 (Srinivasan).
|Various states of the soul.||The 16 stages and above of spiritual experiences.||Experiences (Nilai).||Stages.||Paths.|
|Human beings leading a mundane life without even a thought of its transient nature.||1. Jeeva Sakiram.|
|2. Jeeva Sorpanam.|
|3. Jeeva Suluthi. |
|Spiritualist aware of momentary nature of life; conscious of the world and external objects; enjoys gross things.||4. Sutha Sakiram.|
1st state of the soul.
|Seeking to see the Lord and feels inseparable; untiring search for God; enjoys subtle things.||5. Sutha Sorpanam.|
2nd state of the soul.
|Only God; neither dreams nor desires; soul temporarily one with Brahman enjoys bliss.||6. Sudha Suluthi.|
Perfect ignorance or sound sleep or dreamless state.
3rd state of the soul.
|Lust & veil covering the soul for generations are shed one after the other; soul cleanse by Arutperunjhoti; spontaneous impulse of love for God; absolute union with Brahman.||7. Sudha Turiyam.|
4th stage of the soul.
|4th stage.||Shiva Jnana Nilai.|
|8. Para Sakiram.|
|Enjoys grace of Lord and ecstasy.||9. Para Sorpanam.|
Supra mental dream.
|Shackles removed by Arutperunjhoti; heavenly experiences. Above this stage, God is un-manifested.||10. Para Suluthi. |
Supra mental unknowing.
|1st stage.||1st divine path.|
|Tasting God; glory of Arutperunjhoti; self-realization on the soul as an atom brilliant as the sun; soul charged with divine grace; aspirant realizes the greatness of God grace and his smallness; self-realization or Atma Tarisanam.||11. Para Turiyam.|
|Ananda Nilai.||2nd stage.|
2nd divine path.
|Perceive God in the form of light; soul is saturated with compassion & love; experience of divine life (Uyir Anubhavam); attains purified body or golden body (Sutha Degam); the extent of achievement is dependent on the grace of Arutperunjhoti; sees divinity in all creatures; sees God in the form the aspirant is ready to receive; enjoys supreme grace (Arul Anubhavam); higher stages are heavenly stages and beyond human perception where the mind fails to conceive and all senses cease to function; Uyir Anubavam in Sudha Degam; transformation to pure body; love incarnate; universality of love in all fellow beings; oneness in life; sees the divine in all life forms; sees smallness of one and greatness of God; spontaneous flow of God in him.||12. Guru Sakiram or Shiva Sakiram.||3rd stage.||3rd divine path.|
|Descent of divinity in the individual.||13. Guru Sorpanam or Shiva Sorpanam.|
|4th stage.||4th divine path.|
|Supreme grace flows and prepares aspirant for the next stage.||14. Guru Suluthi or Shiva Suzhuthi.|
|5th stage.||5th divine path.|
|Body transforms into Pranava Deham or body of grace; merges with Arutperunjhoti; deathlessness or conquest of death.|
Ramalinga Adigal mentions Muthuthandavar & Tathuvarayar as had attained this state.
|15. Guru Turiyam or ShivaTuriyam.||Anandha Nilai. |
Periya Shiva Anubhavam.
|6th stage.||6th divine path.|
Samarasa Sutha Sanmaarga.
|There are still higher stages that Ramalinga Adigal hesitates to express.||16. Sudha Shiva Sakiram.|
Absolute supreme consciousness.
|Sudha Shiva Sorpanam.|
|Sudha Shiva Suluthi.|
|Sudha Shiva Turiyam.|
|Sudha Shiva Turiyateetam.|