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Siddhar Charithiram : Thirumoolar

This is an ongo­ing series on the Sid­dhar Parambarai of India. Sid­dha refers to per­fect­ed mas­ters who have achieved a high degree of phys­i­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion or enlight­en­ment. We look at var­i­ous Sid­dhas who have graced upon this earth with their Pres­ence — their life and the wis­dom they shared in the form of poems, cou­plets that are referred to as Sid­dhar Padal­gal. To begin with, we are look­ing at Sid­dhas from the tra­di­tion of “Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal”. In the pre­vi­ous issues, we saw about Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar, Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar, Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar, Sun­daraanan­dar Sid­dhar, Karu­voorar Sid­dhar, Gorak­natha Sid­dhar, Mat­syen­dranatha Sid­dhar, Ramade­var Sid­dhar, Dhan­van­tari Sid­dhar and Patan­jali Sid­dhar. In the Guru Poorn­i­ma spe­cial edi­tion of series we were blessed to also write about the great Sid­dha Avvai.We also saw how the Sid­dhar­gal poet­ry is pre­sent­ed in Sand­hya Bhasha. In this arti­cle, we will see the glo­ry of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar.

Thiru­moolar Sid­dhar

Sekkizhar’s Periya Puranam is a revered Tamil lit­er­a­ture that doc­u­ments the charithi­ram (life-account) of six­ty three Nayan­mars (loose­ly mean­ing saints) of Shaivism (the tra­di­tion devot­ed to Lord Shi­va). Sid­dha Thirumular’s life-account is doc­u­ment­ed in Periya Puranam, as he is also revered as one among the six­ty three Nayan­mars. Oth­er sources that also share the his­to­ry of this great Sid­dha are Thiruththon­dar Thiru­vand­had­hi, Thiruththon­dar Purana Saaram and a few more texts.

In the book “The Guru Chron­i­cles” by the monks of Kauai Adheenam, the com­plex­i­ty of ascer­tain­ing the exact time of Thiru­moolar Siddhar’s life span is well cap­tured. To quote from the book: “Ask six his­to­ri­ans when Tiru­mu­lar lived, and you may well get six answers. This biog­ra­phy, based on state­ments in Tirumular’s Tiru­man­ti­ram, makes him a con­tem­po­rary of Yogi Patan­jali, author of the Yoga Sutras, who lived around 200 bce. In anoth­er analy­sis, Sun­dara­mur­ti Naya­nar men­tions Tiru­mu­lar in his list of Naya­nars. The com­mon view that Sun­dara­mur­ti Naya­nar lived in the peri­od between 840 to 864 ce would mean that Tiru­mu­lar lived before that peri­od.

Then there is a ref­er­ence by Tiru­mu­lar him­self in the Tiru­man­ti­ram to the Gold­en Hall of Chi­dambaram. Since the roof was first thatched in gold for the first time by the Palla­va king Simhavar­man, who lived in the fifth cen­tu­ry ce, many his­to­ri­ans con­clude that Tiru­mu­lar must have lived in the lat­er fifth or ear­ly sixth cen­tu­ry ce. But this ignores the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Tiru­mu­lar was, in Tiru­man­ti­ram, describ­ing Chi­dambaram from his mys­tic vision rather than from the sight of his phys­i­cal eyes. Still oth­ers place him in the 10th cen­tu­ry ce, not­ing that a sage by the name of Kalan­gi (the not uncom­mon name of one of Tirumular’s dis­ci­ples) was the guru of Bhog­ar Rishi, who lived dur­ing that peri­od and was con­nect­ed to Rajara­ja Chola. Oth­ers point to his lin­guis­tic style and sug­gest he lived as late as the 11th or 12th cen­tu­ry. India’s his­to­ry is noto­ri­ous­ly debat­able, and the peri­od in which these great gurus lived may for­ev­er defy cer­tain­ty.”

Thiru­moolar Siddhar’s Thiru­man­thi­ram

Both the life and works of Thiru­moolar Sid­dhar are extreme­ly impor­tant for the Tamil Shaivism and Sid­dha tra­di­tion. It is our absolute bless­ing that we have access to these texts. Sid­dha Thirumoolar’s Thiru­man­thi­ram unfolds the most pro­found and sub­tle real­iza­tions of a phe­nom­e­nal Sid­dha. It is revered as Sid­dhan­tha — “the end of ends”.

Leg­end has it that Thiru­moolar was immersed for years in deep samad­hi. Some accounts say the Sid­dha was in a cave and oth­ers say the Sid­dha sat under an Arasa Maram (Peepal Tree). At the end of each year of his con­tin­u­ous and great samad­hi, he would come out to scribe a sin­gle verse with a sty­lus on a palm leaf, cap­tur­ing in that verse the sum of one year’s med­i­ta­tions. Since he wrote over 3000 vers­es, this would mean he lived over 3000 years. There are oth­er accounts that say Thiru­moolar Sid­dhar wrote a sin­gle verse each day for 3000 days. What­ev­er actu­al­ly hap­pened, we believe that even a year’s med­i­ta­tion would be insuf­fi­cient to com­pre­hend the sub­tle and com­plete jnana (real­ized knowl­edge) con­tained in the four-line stan­za of each verse in Thiru­man­thi­ram.

With our namaskaram to our great Gurus and namaskaram to the entire Shi­va Kudum­bam (fam­i­ly), we begin our mea­gre effort. To even present a few vers­es from this deep work demands mul­ti­ple arti­cles. So we are going to bring you the life-account of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar and a few pro­found gems through a mul­ti-part series.

Thiru­mu­rai is a com­pi­la­tion of works by great Shai­va saints in Tamil lit­er­a­ture and con­tains 12 texts and Thiru­man­thi­ram is one among the col­lect­ed 12 works. And Thiru­mu­rai col­lec­tion is the very life breath of the spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tion alive for mil­lenias in Tamil­nadu. Such is the impor­tance and impact of Sid­dhar Thirumoolar’s great mis­sion.

The structure of Thirumanthiram is such that it comprises nine tantras (books) and a preface. The preface commences with an invocation to Lord Vinayaka. It is a highly upheld tradition in Shaiva works to pay salutations to Lord Vinayaka before the commencement of any work, as per the very directive of Lord Shiva Himself.

Many from Tamil Nadu know the invo­ca­tion of our Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar to Lord Vinaya­ka and many among them still don’t know that it is from Thiru­man­thi­ram. We still sing this song in schools and tem­ples.

ஐந்து கரத்தனை யானைமுகத்தனை இந்தின் இளம்பிறை போலும் எயிற்றனை நந்திமகன் தனை ஞானக் கொழுந்தினை புந்தியில் வைத்தடி போற்றுகின்றேனே

Ado­ra­tion to the Holy Feet enshrined in my Con­scious­ness Whose arms are five, Whose face has the Elephant’s majesty, Whose sin­gle tusk rivals cres­cent moon, Who is the dar­ling child of Lord Nan­di (Shi­va), And who is wis­dom pure and over­flow­ing.

Anoth­er phrase that is well known among us is: யான் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெறுக இவ்வையகம், which lit­er­al­ly trans­lates to: May all in this world get the Bliss that I got! We use this sen­tence in our every­day life, but it was said by Thiru­moolar and it gives us a glimpse into how eager our Sid­dhar was to share his trea­sure with us.

யான் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெறுக இவ்வையகம் வான்பற்றி நின்ற மறை பொருள் சொல்லிடின் ஊன் பற்றி நின்ற உணர்வுறு மந்திரம் தான் பற்றப் பற்றத் தலைப்படும் தானே

May all in this world get the Bliss that I got! He who is omnipresent Will shine forth with­in us too, When we hold to our Guru Mantra with Devo­tion

Thiru­man­thi­ram con­sists of Nine Tantras. The First Tantra begins with a syn­op­sis of all that is to fol­low in this great mys­ti­cal work of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar. The top­ics it cov­ers include: “Tran­si­tori­ness of Body also of wealth, youth and life-Not Killing, Pover­ty, Dhar­ma of Rulers, Glo­ry of Giv­ing, In Praise of the Char­i­ta­ble, Siva Knows Those Who Love Him, Learn­ing, Non-learn­ing, Rec­ti­tude and oth­ers.” The First Tantra begins with Syn­op­sis (பாயிரம்/Payiram), a beau­ti­ful recital about Lord Shi­va based on the sequence of num­bers.

ஒன்றவன் தானே இரண்டவன் இன்னருள் நின்றனன் மூன்றினுள் நான்குணர்ந் தான்ஐந்து வென்றனன் ஆறு விரிந்தனன் ஏழும்பர்ச் சென்றனன் தானிருந் தான்உணர்ந் தெட்டே

One is He, Two His Sweet Grace Three He stood, all the Four He Wit­nesssed Five He con­quered, Six He filled Sev­en Worlds He per­vades, He man­i­fests in Eight and so he Remains

This song is also high­ly mys­ti­cal in nature, and fol­lows Sand­hya Bhasha (refresh what is Sand­hya Bhasha) to explain the Shi­va tatt­va. Like this, the Payi­ram expounds on Lord Shi­va and his attrib­ut­es which is filled with devo­tion and love.

We men­tioned that First Tantra cov­ers lots of top­ic such as In Praise of the Char­i­ta­ble, Siva Knows Those Who Love Him, Learn­ing, Non-learn­ing, etc., Let us see a stan­za from this Tantra which prais­es the Learned peo­ple.

கற்றறி வாளர் கருதிய காலத்துக் கற்றறி வாளர் கருத்திலோர் கண்ணுண்டு கற்றறி வாளர் கருதி உரைசெய்யுங் கற்றறி காட்டக் கயலுள வாக்குமே

When the Learned-wise sat in deep med­i­ta­tion, In their deep illu­mined soul there is an Inner Eye, What they saw and spoke in con­tem­pla­tion, In turn opened other’s to Wis­dom

The elixirs offered by Sid­dha Thiru­moolar are so many. We wish to con­tin­ue bring­ing gems from Thiru­man­thi­ram in a series of mul­ti­ple parts. We invite you to con­tem­plate more on these lines and share with us your insights. We also invite you to share with us lines from Sid­dhar Padal­gal that have deeply touched you. You could write to us at

In absorb­ing this, may our abhyasa con­tin­ue, may our shrad­dha in the Sid­dha Parampara strength­en and may rev­e­la­tions awak­en as we grow with­in!

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