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Thirumoolar’s Thirumanthiram

In a series of arti­cles titled Sid­dhar Charithi­ram, pub­lished in our Parni­ka mag­a­zine, we have had the good for­tune of expound­ing the life his­to­ry of Sid­dhas from the Tamil tra­di­tion of “Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal”. The 18 great Sid­dhas that we stud­ied dur­ing this jour­ney are- Nan­dide­var, Agastya Muni, Thiru­mu­lar, Bog­ar, Kon­ga­nar, Machamu­ni, Gorakkar, Cat­ta­mu­ni, Sun­daranathar, Ramade­var, Kud­ham­bai, Karu­vu­rar, Idaikkadar, Kamala­mu­ni, Valmi­ki, Patan­jali, Dan­vantri and Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar. In the Guru Poorn­i­ma spe­cial edi­tion of series, we were blessed to also write about the great Sid­dha Avvai. Sid­dha refers to per­fect­ed mas­ters who have achieved a high degree of phys­i­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion or enlight­en­ment. We looked 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. The jour­ney of Sid­dhar Charithi­ram gave us the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a glimpse of the life and works of the Sid­dhas. The encour­age­ment and response from you, the read­ers, gave us enthu­si­asm and ener­gy to do the nec­es­sary work and com­plete the series suc­cess­ful­ly.

Thiru­moolar’s Thiru­mand­hi­ram- Sid­dhar Charithi­ram Sid­dhar Charithi­ram is just a begin­ning and pre­lim­i­nary step for us! Sid­dhas work are vast in num­ber, deep in their mean­ing and pur­port, and sharp in its appeal to the intel­lect of the sad­hakas. A pre­lim­i­nary study of their life and work may give us the nec­es­sary intro­duc­tion to these spir­i­tu­al giants but are nev­er enough. We now hope to con­tin­ue deep­er study( Abhyasam) about the Sid­dhas and share more pearls of wis­dom about them to you all. We hope you too will take this as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to know about the Sid­dhas and have their Grace in your lives. With that intro­duc­tion let us begin this series!

For this series, we will present to you a detailed study on the work of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar- Thiru­mand­hi­ram. Thiru­mand­hi­ram’s lit­er­al mean­ing is “Holy incan­ta­tion”. It is a Tamil poet­ic work by Thiru­mu­lar. It is a mas­ter­piece work of Sid­dha Thiru­moolar and has many dimen­sions to it. The Many Dimen­sions of Thiru­mand­hi­ram As a poet­ic work, Thiru­mand­hi­ram is the tenth of the twelve vol­umes of the Thiru­mu­rai. Thiru­mu­rai is a com­pendi­um of songs or hymns in praise of Shi­va in the Tamil lan­guage com­posed by var­i­ous poets in South India. Thiru­mu­rai con­tains soul-stir­ring Tamil poet­ic com­po­si­tions sung by Sai­va Nayya­nars who by their Bhak­ti hymns cap­tured the hearts of the peo­ple. Hence Thiru­mand­hi­ram can be seen as a work of Bhak­ti tra­di­tion.

As a work of Phi­los­o­phy, Thiru­mand­hi­ram describes an orig­i­nal philo­soph­i­cal sys­tem, and the south­ern school of Sai­va Sid­dhan­ta draws its author­i­ty from Tiru­mandi­ram. Thiru­mand­hi­ram is the ear­li­est book to have used the word Sai­va Sid­dhan­ta. Through its philo­soph­i­cal sys­tem, Tiru­mandi­ram unfolds Sid­dhan­tha (attain­ment) as a four­fold path — vir­tu­ous and moral liv­ing, tem­ple wor­ship, inter­nal wor­ship and union with Siva. Shai­va Sid­dhan­ta pro­vides the nor­ma­tive rites, cos­mol­o­gy and the­o­log­i­cal cat­e­gories of Agam­ic and Vedic Shaivam com­bined. It is one of the rare works in which the close­ness of Agam­ic and Vedic Shaivism is described. The goal of Shai­va Sid­dhan­ta is to become an enlight­ened soul through Lord Shiv­a’s Grace.

As a yog­ic text, Thiru­mand­hi­ram pro­vides instruc­tions to Yoga prac­tices accord­ing to the eight-angled sim­i­lar to that of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. It is inter­est­ing that the yog­ic prac­tices are also called as Vaasi Yoga accord­ing to Thiru­mand­hi­ram. Vaasi when repeat­ed in quick suc­ces­sion becomes Siva! Kannadasan’s poet­ic verse about this Vaa Si- Si va can be seen below:

‘வாசி வாசி என்று வாசித்த தமிழ் இன்று சிவா சிவா என சிந்தை தனில் நின்று அவாவினால் இந்த ஒளவைத் தமிழ் கொண்டு கவிபாடினான் உன்னைக் கண் குளிரக் கண்டு!’ By call­ing Vaa Si Vaa Si in Tamil Siva Siva- is held in my mind Through Desire, This Ouvai, using Tamil Lan­guage Sang a song, after See­ing you to my Heart’s con­tent

The sec­tion on Yoga, called “Shi­va yoga”, offers details not found in the San­skrit text of Patan­jali. The Tiru­man­ti­ram describes means of attain­ing an immor­tal body (kaya sid­dhi), advo­cat­ing a the­o­ry of pre­serv­ing the body so that the soul would con­tin­ue its exis­tence.

As a text describ­ing on Veda- Vedan­tic con­cepts, Thiru­mand­hi­ram expounds on the Upan­ishadic Tat tvam asi and oth­er Vedan­tic con­cepts, the tran­scen­den­tal real­i­ty as empti­ness (Sun­ya) devoid of any attribute and Tantrasas­tra (Shak­ti wor­ship), chakras, mag­ic spells and their acces­sories. Thiru­moolar also gives the Vedan­ta and Sid­dhan­ta inter­pre­ta­tion of the Mahavakyas in His work Thiru­mand­hi­ram.

As a book on reli­gious con­duct and moral­i­ty, Thiru­mand­hi­ram teach­es the ethics of non-vio­lence (ahim­sa), absti­nence from slaugh­ter­ing, meat and alco­hol. He con­demns cov­et­ing anoth­er man’s wife. He declares that “love is God” (அன்பே சிவம்), pro­claims the uni­ty of mankind and God and stress­es the acqui­si­tion of knowl­edge.

As a Sid­dha text it is full of metaphor­i­cal say­ings com­mu­ni­cat­ing mys­ti­cal thoughts. The final sec­tion of the Tiru­man­ti­ram, named Sun­ya Samb­hashana (“Col­lo­quy on the Void”) gives poet­ic expres­sion to many of the mys­ti­cal expe­ri­ences of Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar. The work also stress­es the fun­da­men­tals of Sid­dha med­i­cine and its heal­ing pow­ers. It deals with a wide array of sub­jects, unique only to the Sid­dhas, includ­ing astron­o­my and phys­i­cal nature of human body (Kaya Kalpa).

The great­ness of Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar

Thiru­mu­lar is not only one of the 63 Nayan­mars (Naya­nars) but also a sig­nif­i­cant one among the 18 Sid­dhars. Tiru­mu­lar has been referred to as “Nam­pi­ran” (mean­ing: nam-Our, piran-God, thus thiru­mu­lar has been called as a leader or god to all the remain­ing naya­nars) by Sun­darar in his thiru thon­dar thogai (the ear­li­est song which men­tions the names of 63 naya­nars).

It is with rev­er­ence could we look at this great­est of work of Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar packed with dif­fer­ent sub­tle dimen­sions, all-pow­er­ful in its own way, into one sin­gle work. No won­der it is said that Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar med­i­tat­ed for over 3000 years. And every year, when he comes out of his med­i­ta­tion dur­ing Maha Shiv­arathri, he wrote one verse pack­ing the wis­dom of his one year’s med­i­ta­tion into it. (We will see more about this lat­er into the series)

Giv­en the immen­si­ty of work at hand, we pray to Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar to gives us the strength and courage to study this great work and present to you read­ers the knowl­edge we will gain through the study. From the next edi­tion, we will learn more about Thiru­mand­hi­ram and its author Sid­dhar Thiru­moolar.

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