(excerpt from The Yoga of Tirumular: Essays on the Tirumandiram,
by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy, Ph.D)
“The Tirumandiram is known as the refined Tamil Agama (centamil Agamam). According to the Saiva Tradition of Tamil Nadu, there are twelve Tirumurais,i.e., sacred Tamil Saiva scriptures. They are:
1. Tiru-jnana-cambandar - Tevaram – constituting the first three Tirumurais
2. Tiru-navukkaracar - Tevaram – constitutinig the 4rth, 5th and 6th Tirumurais.
3. Cundara-murti - Tevaram – constituting the 7th Tirumurai
4. Manikka-vacagar – Tiru-vacagam – constituting the 8th Tirumurai.
5. Nine Saiva Saints - Tiru-v-icai=p-pa and Tiru-p-pallandu (a collection of poems) – constituting the 9th Tirumurai.
6. Tirumular - Tirumandiram – constituting the 10th Tirumurai.
7. Twelve Saiva Saints - A collection of works – constituting the 11th Tirumurai.
8. Cekkilar - Periya-puranam – constituting the 12th Tirumurai.
All the above Tirumurais are called tottirams (stotras – devotional literature), which constitute the bhakt literature of Tamil Saivism. The philosophical literature of Tamil Saivism is called cattirams (sastras – philosophical treatises). The Tirumandiram is the only Tirumurai, which is both a cattiram and a tottiram in Tamil Saiva tradition. The Tirumandiram is a work with a little more than three thousand stanzas written in the kali-viruttam metre. It conssts of nine sections called tantirams of different length with varying subject matter. Calling the different sections of a work as tantiram is not to be found in any other classical Tamil work except in the Tirumandiram….” “According to Tirumular the best form of worship is not flower worship, but it is non-killing even an atom of life and the best place of worship is the heart where the soul resides (verse 197). He does not seem to hae sung poems in praise of gods and goddesses of local temples as done by the Nayanmars and the Alvars. This is a significant feature that distinguishes Tirumular from the other Saiva saints. This feature is one of the characteistic features of a Siddha. A Siddha believes in a Supreme Being but not a God of this or that religion. Tirumular feels that rigid theism has been responsible for a good deal of unnecessary controversy and hostility among the followers of different religions (verses 1568 and 1533). Even though Tirumular speaks of the religious aspect of God, he believed in a Supreme abstraction “Sivam” without any limitation or attributes. Sivam is grammatically and philosophically an impersonal conception. As the Siddhas say, the ideal name for Sivam is “It” or “Adu” or “Thatness” or “Suchness” or Paraparam.” …”the Siddhas were not devotees in the sense of idol worshippers… They believed in a Supreme Abstraction. The recurrent use by the Siddhas of the word civam (an abstract noun meaning ‘goodness,’ ‘auspiciousness’ and The highest state of God, in which He exists as pure intelligence) in preference to the common term civan (meaning Siva), makes this point very clear. In other words, they believed in an abstract idea of Godhead rather than a personal God,” ). …” “Tirumular refers to Sivam as love. His basic philosophy is love – an unadulterated, pure, spiritual love – that expects no bargain nor results. His burden of the song is love, which is reflecterd in many of his verses (270,272-274, 276, 279, 280-282, 286, 287, 416, 1005, 1456, and 2980). The three great statements of Tirumular are: (i) Love is God (anbe civam,verse 270);(ii) Let the whole world attain the bliss that I have received (yan perra inbam peruga i-v-vaiyam, verse 85), and (iii) Mankind is one family and God is one (onre kulamum oruvane tevanum, veerse 2104). All these maha-vakyas of the Tirumandiram are the different ways of expressing that the Supreme Thing is love and love only. Love is bliss which can be attained by anyone and hence mankind, nay the world, is one family with love (God) as the basis. To prevent the eruption of egoism, which is the anti-thesis of love, Tirumular has bestowed to the world the sastra (treatise) on the Tirumandiram (verse 87). The basis of Yoga or union is love. Only through love one is merged with Sivam. Siva- aikya or Yoga is possible only through love. Tirumular says,
Like the sweet-love in sex-act experienced,
So in the Great love, let yourself to Him succumb. (verse 283)
Tirumular calls Yoga as Siva-Yoga (verse 122). It is the method by which the jiva (soul) identifies itself with Siva. He calls Siva-Yoga as the new type of Yoga (nava-yoga). By calling it as nava-yoga Tirumular indicated that this new type of Yoga was not in vogue before him in the Tamil country. It is for the first time that this Yoga is explicitly explained and discussed in the Tirumandiram. Though Tirumular does not use the expression Kundalini-Yoga in any place in the Tirumandiram, what is discussed as Siva-Yoga by him is Kundalini-Yoga, since he speaks of cakras, pranayama, Pariyanga-yoga, twilight language, etc. Tirumular develops Astanga-Yoga as Siva-Yoga. But its message is wider than Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Therefore, we may safely say that the Tirumandiram is a seminal work in Tamil, and is the first treatise which deals with the different aspects of the Kundalini-Yoga, under the name Siva-Yoga. Thus this great work began a new tradition in Tamil…. “
“…To sum up, in short, the Tirumandiram is a work, whch deals with how one may live a divine life in the midst of the worldly one. It fulfills the meaning of the word “Tantra” a “web” which joins the spiritual and the material dimensions of life. It expresses the thread of unity, which exists behind the many differences of time, country, language, caste, religion, higher and lower, happiness and misery, wealth and poverty. It deals with all the aspects of life, which makes life worth-living by dealing with dharma, artha, kama, moksa, tapas, Yoga, jnana, siddhi, buddhi, mukti, planets, days, the art of breathing, mantra, tantra, yantra, cakras, meditation, medicine, et. In short, it is a Tamil encyclopedia of philosophical and spiritual wisdom rendered in verse form.”
This book which is named as The Yoga of Siddha Tirumular does not purport to cover all the ideas, concepts and topics discussed in the Tirumandiram. The aim of the work is toprovide a critical understanding of the basic ideas in the Tirumandiram so that it may stimulate readers to make a detailed study of the work.” … “a curtain raiser” to the forthcoming translation of the poems of the Tirumandiram by a team of scholars.”..