thirumoolar

Monday, 12 November 2012

thirumanthiram









Thirumoolar was  one of the 18 Siddhars of Tamilnadu.. His main work, the thirumanthiram which consists of over 3000 verses. The Tirumandiram has been reckoned as the tenth of the 12 Tirumurais of Saivism. It has been divided into nine sections called Tantras, containing the quintessence of the Saiva Agamas. Sekkizhar, the author of Periyapuranam, designated this Tamil classic as "Tamizh Moovaayiram" since it possesses 3000 poems each of which has unique metrical structure, each line consisting of 11 or 12 syllables, depending upon the initial syllable. It is the earliest exposition of Saiva Agamas in Tamil, discussing in detail the four related steps of spiritual progress viz., Carya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana.



Tirumoolar, the author of the text, has been hailed as one of the 63 Nayanmars. He was a great mystic and Yogi. For a very long period he was absorbed in meditation and contemplation beneath the shade of a Bodhi tree at Tiruvavaduthurai and delivered the poems which are collectively called the Tirumandiram i.e. the divine incantations. Historically, the author belonged to 500 A.D., long before the period of the Thevaram trio.

In the Tirumandiram, various layers of philosophical thoughts and religious doctrines are embedded. It has been considered to be the earliest text on Saiva Siddhanta. The concept of Pati, Pasu and Pasa and fourfold sadhanas, peculiar to Saiva Siddhanta are adumbrated in the text.
Equally the author has given importance to Vedanta, since in many poems the esoteric substance of the Upanishadic Mahavakya, "Tat tvam asi" has been interestingly interpreted through the grammatical technique of "Lakshanatraya". Further, he refers to the Vedantic concept of sevenfold adjuncts (Upadhi) of Jiva and the same number of Upadhis of Isvara and describes the absolute and transcendental Reality as Sunya, devoid of any attribute. There are portions in his treatise, to be identified as Tantrasastra, since they provide rich materials on the basic principles of Shakti worship, diagrams, Chakras, magic spells and their accessories.

The third section of the text is an elaborate exposition of the eight-limbed Yoga. Since Tirumoolar claims in the prefatory portion that Patanjali, the devotee of Nataraja, was his colleague, it is quite reasonable to suggest that he has been inspired by his Yogasutra. The ethical preparations, embodying the avoidance of vices and adoption of virtues, technically known as "Yama" and "Niyama" are presented with additional details, not found in the Sanskrit text of Patanjali.

Similarly particulars of "Asanas", the physical postures and "Pranayama" i.e., the breathing exercises, "Pratyahara" i.e., withdrawal of senses from going astray, "Dharana" i.e., fixing the mind on the point, "Dhyana," meditation and "Samadhi", or absorption are adequately expounded. He has also delineated the attainment of supernatural powers, as a result of practising Yoga. It is his firm conviction that the practice of Yoga should culminate in the realisation of the oneness of Atman and Brahman. He calls this method as Sivayoga.

Tirumoolar has also been considered to be the founder of the Tamil Siddha system. He describes the ways and means of attaining immortal body, called "Kayasiddhi". Unlike the homogeneous and heterogeneous systems of Indian philosophy which emphasised the ephemerality of the physical body, the Siddha system of Tirumoolar advocated a fresh theory of preserving the body so that the soul would continue its existence (Udambai valarthen uyir valarthenae).

Tirumoolar was a moral philosopher. In a separate section, he teaches the ethics of ahimsa, abstinence from slaughtering, meat- eating and drinking. He condemns coveting another man's wife. Like the crow inviting its group to partake the food, people should be liberal in exercising charity, without any discrimination.
He declares that "love is God". He proclaims the unity of mankind and God. He stresses on the acquisition of knowledge through learning and listening. The final section of the Tirumandiram is named "Sunya Sambhashana", meaning esoteric dialogue. The poems are full of metaphorical sayings communicating mystical and speculative thoughts. One illustration is enough: "There are five cows (Indriyas) in the house of Paarppaan (Paar-to see; seer i.e. body of man) which wander everywhere without a cowherd (preceptor). If they were controlled by him and their thirst quenched, then they would spill out all milk (bliss)."
In this blog I would like to share some of his versus with pictorial presentation which I have visualised.


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