About the Book:
Tirumantiram is the seminal text of Saiva Siddhanta which has produced a galaxy of saints and has powerfully influenced the day-to-day life of millions in South India, generation after generation. Its author Tirumular was, according to legend, a yogi who took compassion on a herd of cattle that had lost their shepherd and entering the body of the shepherd by his yogic power, continued to look after the flock. So when we find in this great classic such splendid gems as 'anbe Sivam' God is Love we realize that the Ultimate Reality is One and all of us belong to the same family has special relevance to us moderns, who have lost our moorings of faith and are 'wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born.'
Apart from its literary merits, Tirumantiram blazes a number of spiritual trails any of which the aspirant can follow with the full confidence that the Goal Supreme is within his reach.
We have great pleasure in presenting before our readers this edition of Tirumular's scriptural classic Tirumantiram with Tamil text, English translation and notes.
Very little is known of the legendary Tirumular who is traditionally considered to be a Siva Yogi hailing from the North and settled down in the south at Thiruvavaduthurai. We do not know how and when the 3000 verses were recorded but it is acknowledged that they form the nucleus for the Saiva Siddhanta that developed in Tamil Nadu. Besides the tenets found in Saiva Siddhanta, we find in Tirumantiram doctrines common to Tantras. On the whole, the vision of Tirumantiram is liberal and is as relevant today as when the work was first composed. It equated Love with Godhead in the famous Mantra 'Anbe Sivam'. It preaches that God is one and so is mankind too. This is a splendid echo of the Rig Vedic dictum Ekam sat vipra bahudha Vadanti- Reality is one, though the sages speak of it variously. This non-sectarian approach to the Ultimate Reality I happily the tradition f the South as much as the North.
The English translation and part o the notes are by the late Dr. B. Natarajan who was not only a profound Tamil Scholar, but also a noted economist. Sri M. Sudararaj IRAS has furnished a running commentary on the verses which we have incorporated in the Introduction he has also supplied critical notes in addition to those written by Dr. Natarajan.
We are very thankful to Dr. N. Mahalingam, the generous industrialist and Tamil-lover, who has not only functioned a the General editor of this book but has also substantially subsidized the publication.
We hope that this great scriptural text well enable the readers to feel the touch of the One in the play of the many.
Sri Ramakrishna Math
The author of this treatise, Tirumular, was originaly a Yogi called Sundarar residing in the Mount Kailas. Once he undertook a journey to the south to meet his friend and fellow-disciple Agastyar, who was living in Pothiya mountains. One evening he found himself in the outskirts of the Sathanur village. He was deeply moved to notice a herd of cows lowing miserably round the dead body of their cowherd, Mulan. The Yogi who gave us the famous dictum 'Anbe Sivam', 'God is love,' thought it his duty to do something to help the dumb creatures. By virtue of his Yogic Power he abandoned his body and entered the body of the dead cowherd. The cows were overjoyed to see their master coming alive. The asecetic in the cowherd's body led the cattle to the village, and leaving them there, returned to the spot where he had left his own body. He was surprised to find that the body had disappeared. It was an act of grace of Lord Siva, who had a mission to fulfil through His devotee. So, the Yogi had to continue to remain in the cowherd's body. He was immersed in Tapas under a peepul tree in Thiruvavaduthurai, a neighbouring Saivite centre. He came to be known as Thirumu1ar. Soon disciples flocked to him. He was usually in Samadhi. But now and then he uttered a verse which was recorded. Thus 3000 verses came to be recorded. and these now form the text of the Tirumandiram.
The religious and spiritual path blazed by Tirumular broadened later into the highway of devotion known as Saiva Siddhantam. Nurtured by the Nayanmars, it has played an important role in the development of Tamil culture. Before we go into the contribution of Tirumular, it would be useful to have a bird's eye view of the Saiva Siddhanta doctrines.
Central- to the Saiva Siddhanta system is the Pati-Pasu-Pasa triangle. Pati or the Master stands for God. Pasu is the individual soul in ignorance. And Pasa is the bondage of Maya that ties down the individual soul. All these three entities are real and hence Saiva Siddhanta looks like pluralistic realism. But it calls itself Suddhadvaita. 'Suddha' here means 'unqualified' and 'Advaita' is 'dvaita devoid of duality.' The difference between the three entities is real in existerice, but they are inseparably united with Him who is the Supreme Reality. Here we notice the influence of Sri Ramanuja's Aprtak Siddhi. But while for Ramanuja, the .Jivas and the Jagat are attributes of God, in the Siddhanta, they have a substantive existence as in Madhva's philosophy.
Siva, the Pati, is also called Hara, Isa, Natha, Nandi, etc. He is the First Cause even as the potter who fashions the pot. Just as the staff and the wheel are the instrumental causes in the case of the pot, Sakti is the instrumental cause in creation. Just as clay is the material cause for the pot, Maya or Prakriti is the material cause for the world. Siva and Sakti have Tadatmya or identity represented by the form of Ardhanareeswara. Sakti is conscious, unchanging, eternal energy, the Svarupa Sakti of the Lord. As in Ramanuja's system, a distinction is made between pure matter (Suddha or Sattvika jagat) and defiled matter (Asuddha or Prakrita Jagat]. The material cause of pure creation is Mahamaya (Bindu or Vidya) while that of defiled creation is Maya or Asuddha Bindu. Both Mahamaya and Maya are Jada (inert) and different from the Svarupa Sakti which is the essence of the Lord. The Lord Himself is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Siva is not just one of the Trimurtis of the Puranas. He is the source from which the Trimurtis emanate. He is both immanent and transcendent. He is called Visvarupa and Visvadhika - universal in form and beyond the universe. Again, He is Sarupa and Arupa, with form and without form. This is symbolized by the Linga which is a formless form. He is said to be Ashtamurti - embodied as the five elements, the sun, the moon and man. He has eight qualities - innocence, purity, self-knowledge, omniscience, freedom from Malas or stains, benevolence, omnipotence and bliss. He is said to be Nirguna, not in the sense of having no quality, but in the sense that he is not tainted by the Gunas of Prakriti. He has five functions - Pancha kritya - creation (Srishti), preservation (Sthiti), destruction (Samhara), obscuration (Tirodhana), and liberation (Anugraha). Unlike Maha Vishnu, Siva does not take Avataras. But how can He keep away when. devotees need Him? So, He assumes ad hoc embodiments, 'plays' with the devotees for a while, and then vanishes.
The individual soul in the Siddhanta is called Pasu, because like cattle he is bound to the world by the rope of Avidya. The soul is all-pervading, eternal and a conscious agent capable of enjoyment [iccha- jnana-kriya yuktah). He is distinct from the gross and subtle bodies. he inhabits. Bound souls suffer because they mistake themselves to be finite, limited in thought, will and action; but when liberated they get restored to their original nature.
The Pasas or fetters that bind the Pasu, are of three types. They are called Malas or stains - Anava Mala, Karma Mala and Maya Mala. The Anava Mala corresponds to the original sin or Mula-avidya. It is the same in all. and is beginningless. Anava means of the nature of Anu or atom. The reference is not to size but to finiteness. The soul feels confined and limited to the body and the sense organs. The Anava Mala makes the Jiva ignorant of his real glory and power. Under the influence of Anava, the Mala makes the Jiva ignorant of his real glory and power. Under the influence of Anava, the soul indulges in all manner of actions, acquires merits and demerits and becomes subject to birth and death. This is Karma Mala. It causes the union of the conscious and unconscious. The third Mala is due to Maya, the material cause. It gives the soul the means and objects of enjoyment. Through spiritual disciplines and love of God the Maya Mala, and Karma Mala can be effaced. But Anava mala can be removed only by the grace of God. According to the Malas lingering, the souls are divided into three kinds. The Sakalas have all the three Malas. The Pralayakalas have got rid of Maya Mala, but are subject to Karma and Anava; while the Vijnanakalas, who are the highest evolved, have only Anava Mala, from which they can get free only through total surrender to the Lord and His grace. The wind of God's grace, as Sri Ramakrishna observes, is always blowing, only we have to be sensitive and avail ourselves of it.
When all the Malas are removed, the Jiva becomes one with Siva. He becomes co-pervasive with Siva and shares all His glory and greatness. He has not lost his individuality, but because of the overwhelming bliss, he is not aware of it. Meikantar compares this to salt dissoved in water. But the Pancha Kritya belongs only to the Lord, the Mukta Jiva is not empowered for it. What is stressed is that when the Jiva identifies itself with matter, it becomes bound, and when it identifies itself with Siva it becomes Mukta. Four approaches to the Ultimate are blue-printed in the Siddhanta. The first is Charya which involves doing service in the shrines like cleaning the premises, gathering flowers for worship etc. This is Dasa Marga, the path of the servitor. It leads to Salokya Mukti, i.e., the devotee abides in the sphere of the Lord. The second path is called Kriya. It consists of ritualistic worship. It is termed Satputra Marga, the path of the Lord's child. It leads to Samipya mukti - the devotee is close to the Lord. The third approach is that of Yoga, calling for contemplation. This is called Sakha marga, the path of the Lord's friend. It leads to Sarupya Mukti. The devotee attains the form and the various insignia of the Lord. These three approaches are considered preliminary. They are the rungs in the ladder which lead to Jnana or direct realization. It is called Sanmarga and culminates in Sayujya Mukti, -complete union with the Lord. But, as we have already mentioned, the individuality is not lost. The Siddhanta does not say "There are not two", but it asserts "They are not two".
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