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Siddhar Charithiram : Thirumoolar (Part 2)

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

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”. 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 Thirumoolar’s life-account is doc­u­ment­ed in Periya Puranam, as he is also revered as one among the six­ty three Nayan­mars.

Hav­ing been ini­ti­at­ed by Nan­d­i­nathar and by His instruc­tions, a himalayan sid­dha from Mount Kailas trav­elled south. In his pil­grim­age, the sid­dhar is blessed to have the dar­shan at Kedar­nath, Pashu­pati­nath, Kasi, Vin­d­hya and Par­va­ta sacred spaces. He then fur­ther pro­ceed­ed to Sri Kala­hasthi, Tiru­valan­gadu, Kanchipu­ram, Thiru­vadi­gai and then to Chi­dambaram. After being blessed with the “kan-kol­la-katchi” (a vision that is over­whelm­ing for the eyes to behold) of Lord Nataraja’s anan­da-tan­da­va dance at Chi­dambaram, the great sid­dhar he crossed the Kaveri Riv­er and reached Tiru­vavaduthu­rai, head­ing south­wards to Pod­hi­gai hills.

Walk­ing one day on the banks of the Kaveri, he hap­pened to wit­ness a herd of cows moo­ing in dis­tress near the dead body of their cowherd — Moolan. The sid­dha was over­whelmed with com­pas­sion, at this sight. His soul reached out to bring solace to the cows. Being a great adept of sid­dha yoga, the sid­dha per­formed trans­mi­gra­tion (one among the renowned ash­ta sid­dhis or eight sid­dhis). The sid­dha now entered herds­man Moolan’s body. He hid his orig­i­nal body in a hol­low tree trunk. See­ing the herds­man Moolan come alive, the cows were over­joyed, shed tears of joy and licked him with love. And soon the cows went back to graz­ing.

In the evening, the herd of cows auto­mat­i­cal­ly start­ed and led the new Moolan behind them. The herdsman’s wife met Moolan and just could not relate with him. Shocked by Moolan’s odd demeanor, Moolan’s wife sought help from the vil­lage elders. The vil­lage elders saw a trans­formed, glow­ing Moolan and ascribed to him as a great Sai­va Yogi whose great­ness they could not fath­om. The vil­lagers began to call the cowherd Thiru­moolar, mean­ing “holy Moolar.”

Thiru­moolar went back to the graz­ing field in search of his pre­cious body. He searched exten­sive­ly every­where, but it was nowhere to be found. Sit­ting down in deep med­i­ta­tion, the great Sid­dhar real­ized that it was Lord Shiva’s will and his Master’s bless­ings that these events had hap­pened and the sid­dha had now a new body with the abil­i­ty to speak flu­ent Tamil. The great Sid­dhar who came to be called Thiru­moolar, real­ized that he could effec­tive­ly give out to the Tamil-speak­ing world the truths of the Sai­va Aga­mas and the pre­cious Vedas, unit­ing Sid­dhan­ta with Vedan­ta for all time.

Thiru­moolar Siddhar’s Thiru­man­thi­ram In the pre­vi­ous edi­tion we saw an overview of Thiru­man­thi­ram and some poems from the First Thanthi­ram (first part or chap­ter) which begins with a syn­op­sis of all that is to fol­low in this great mys­ti­cal work of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar. In this edi­tion we will see some poems from the Sec­ond, Third and the Fourth Thanthi­ram.

Sec­ond Thand­hi­ram deals with the mythol­o­gy of the Deities, with the cos­mol­o­gy of Hin­duism, how the world was cre­at­ed, is sus­tained and will be destroyed, and of the cat­e­gories of soul. The poems con­tain alle­gor­i­cal mean­ings to some of the impor­tant Dharmic Ithi­hasas, giv­ing us some hint to some of sub­tler mys­ti­cal con­cepts such as the five pow­ers of Shi­va and the three clas­si­fi­ca­tions of souls. One such alle­gor­i­cal sto­ry from the Hin­du Puranas state that Sage Agastya was ordered by Lord Shi­va to pro­ceed to the South to rec­ti­fy the bal­ance of the Earth as it tilt­ed down in the south because of the con­gre­ga­tion of Devas and peo­ple of the earth in the North, Himalayas to attend His (Shiva’s) mar­riage with Par­vati. Accord­ing­ly Sage Agasthya trav­eled down from the North to the South and had the Earth’s bal­ance restored. This is also men­tioned in the Sec­ond Thand­hi­ram of Thiru­mand­hi­ram, under the title Agath­yi­am:

நடுவு நில்லாது இவ் உலகம் சரிந்து கெடு கின்றது எம் பெருமான் என்ன ஈசன் நடு உள அங்கி அகத்திய நீ போய் முடுகிய வையத்து முன்னிர் என்றானே.

அங்கி உதயம் வளர்க்கும் அகத்தியன் அங்கி உதயம் செய் மேல் பால் அவனொடு மங்கி உதயம் செய் வடபால் தவமுனி எங்கும் வளம் கொள் இலங்கு ஒளிதானே.

Hail! Our Lord Supreme This earth­ly orb from its epi­cen­ter sways, And dan­ger­ous on its side swerves Thus they bewailed the Celes­tial Beings And the Lord spoke; Agastya! You that sit in tapas hard Amidst the blaz­ing sac­ri­fi­cial fire Has­ten to the globe’s swerv­ing side And be seat­ed there, to redress its bal­ance

Unfail­ing at dawn with the sun that doth in high heav­ens Agastya lights the Fire divine; He is the holy Muni of North Whence the pri­mal Fire was born; And the radi­ant light per­va­sive-all

With the Sand­hya Bhasha, and our Sid­dha Thirumoolar’s mys­ti­cal insights and the nature of lit­er­a­ture from our Puranas, we can only guess that the mean­ing to these vers­es are deep­er than they appear to be. For exam­ple, it is inter­est­ing to note that in our ancient tra­di­tion of Astron­o­my called Jyoth­isha the star named Agastya can be seen towards the south pole where­as the Sap­ta Rishi man­dala is seen towards the north. More­over the tilt of earth is an impor­tant fac­tor for the chang­ing sea­sons that is expe­ri­enced in the earth.

The Third tantra explores the mys­ti­cal sci­ence of yoga, yama, niya­ma, pranaya­ma, asana, etc., which is sim­i­lar to what Sage Patan­jali expound­ed in his Yoga Sutra’s. And Thiru­mand­hi­ram includes some mys­tic insights into each aspect of this ancient sys­tem drawn from his own expe­ri­ences. It is thus an expo­si­tion of yoga that our Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar con­ceived and lived by. It is inter­est­ing to note that these two sages were con­tem­po­raries and are said to have lived at Chi­dambaram at the same time. It is not sur­pris­ing then, that they have sim­i­lar approach to yoga. In one of the stan­zas from the Third Tan­thi­ram, our Sid­dhar advis­es us on how to do Dhyana (med­i­ta­tion) after gain­ing mas­tery over the pre­vi­ous steps

மனத்து விளக்கினை மாண்பட ஏற்றிச் சினத்து விளக்கினைச் செல்ல நெருக்கி அனைத்து விளக்கும் திரி ஒக்கத் தூண்ட மனத்து விளக்கது மாயா விளக்கே.

Light the Lamp of Mind And dis­pel the Dark­ness of Egoity; Extin­guish the Fire of Wrath And bright­en all lamps with­in The Mind’s Lamp is an undy­ing Lamp indeed

And our Sid­dhar empha­sis on the impor­tance of mas­ter­ing the eight steps of Yoga which ends in the attain­ment of Samad­hi.

சமாதி யமாதியில் தான் செல்லக் கூடும் சமாதி யமாதியில் தான் எட்டுச் சித்தி சமாதி யமாதியில் தங்கினோர்க்கு அன்றே சமாதி யமாதி தலைப்படும் தானே.

Samad­hi is end of Yama and the rest Samad­hi is con­sum­ma­tion of Sid­dhis eight Who pre­serve in the path from yama to the end Will alone attain the end, Samad­hi

Thus con­tin­ues the Thiru­man­thi­ram of Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar with detailed expo­si­tion of var­i­ous aspects of Uni­verse as well as our Self. 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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