Excerpted from the Hindu article titled
Exposition of Saiva Agamas by S. N. Kandasamy
அன்பும் சிவமும் இரண்டென்பர் அறிவிலார்
அன்பேசிவமாவது யாரும் அறிகிலார்
அன்பே சிவமாவது யாரும் அறிந்தபின்
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
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
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.
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."