WHY WE PUBLISHED THIS NEW EDITION OF THE THIRUMANDIRAM?
This monumental publication and all of the research conducted by the Yoga Siddha Research Center’s team of scholars and yogins since the year 2000 has been sponsored by Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, a registered educational charity in Canada and the USA, with sister organizations registered in Bangalore India and Sri Lanka. In concert with Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publications, Inc. of Canada, the Order is pleased to make this new translation and commentary available to the English speaking world.
There is some history behind this publication. The Tirumandiram is one of the first texts to emerge in the West from the gold mine of ancient Tamil literature, which until recently has been bypassed by scholars outside of south India. While the Sanskrit literature has been mined and studied by Western scholars for more than 200 years, the ancient Tamil language literature has been largely ignored. Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publications, Inc. published the first English translation of the Tirumandiram in a three volume international edition in 1992 as the Thirumandiram: A Classic of Yoga and Tantra. While it contained no verse by verse commentary, it did include special introductory chapters, index and glossary. Only the first of the nine tantras was published by the Saiva Siddhantha Church, prior to the death of the translator, Dr. B. Natarajan, in1982. Having received from Dr. Natarajan in person a copy of this first tantra in 1980, the founder of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publication, repeatedly urged Dr. Natarajan’s heirs, from 1986 to 1991, to complete the publication of the entire manuscript. He finally received permission to do in September 1992, and published it in early 1993. Since then, this publication has gone through five printings, and as a result, the Tirumandiram has become known to lovers of Yoga all over the world.
However, the need for a more accurate translation became apparent as Tamil speaking specialists pointed out that Dr. Natarajan had too often sacrificed precision for poetic grace. Furthermore, he neglected to translate many of the technical terms, and consequently, the average reader, with little or no background in the philosophical and rich cultural, esoteric and religious tapestry of the Tirumandiram, was often unable to grasp the significance of many of the verses. Finally, it became apparent that the non-specialist would need a running commentary along with translation, in order to easily understand the meaning and significance of most of the verses.
This present work fulfills this need and several others, which the previous translation did not. It has the advantage of being based on the Tiruppanandal Kaci-t-tirumadam edition. We have followed the numbering of verses of this edition only. It also has the advantage of making use of the annotated and critical edition of the Tirumandiram written by Dr. S. Annamalai in 1999 for many critical points. To produce that critical edition, Dr. Annamalai examined thirteen different manuscripts of the Tirumandiram in their original Tamil language. From this examination, he was able to identify interpolations and other errors in several of the manuscripts.
This present edition also benefits from the experience and knowledge gained by the Yoga Siddha Research project’s team of scholars, lead by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy. Since 2000, they have produced six volumes of translation and commentary on the works of the eighteen Yoga Siddhas. Tirumular, the author of the Tirumandiram, is one of these eighteen Siddhas, or supreme masters of Yoga, and like them, uses their twilight language, or sandhya bhasa, extensively to deliberately obscure the meaning of his verses, as well as many other of their literary forms and references. These scholars’ unique experience and knowledge has enabled them to produce what has never been done before: a precise English translation with verse by verse commentary of the entire Tirumandiram in nine volumes, plus a tenth volume, which serves as an index.
As a final step in preparing for the present publication, two years ago, we published The Yoga of Tirumular: Essays on the Tirumandiram, by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy and Dr. KR Arumugam. It develops many important themes of the Tirumandiram and serves as both an excellent introduction and companion resource for both the specialist and the non-specialist reader.
This edition of the Tirumandiram, because of its size, in well over 3,000 pages, has been a great challenge to publish. We felt that with the exception of a research libraries, few individuals would want or afford such a mammoth work. Thankfully just before printing, we received an offer to co-publish the works from an Indian, philantropist Dr. N. Mahalingam. We are very grateful for with his generosity we were able to bring out this beautiful hardback edition at a very attractive price.
It has frankly been a challenge to produce a translation that would not take sides in the important philosophical debate between Saiva Siddhantins or realistic pluralists, and those who see the Tirumandiram as an expression of the highest mystical states of consciousness accessible to the Yogin, or monistic theism. The views of the two sides are reproduced in the special introductory chapter. The translation and commentary itself has been kept neutral, with an aim of making the original terminology as clear and accessible as possible.
As the world wide interest in authentic Yoga grows, the importance and reputation of the Tirumandiram is bound to excel. May all lovers of truth and the Sanatana Dharma, in particular, find their path illuminated by the poetry and wisdom of Tirumular.
Publisher and President,
Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas
Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publications
St. Etienne de Bolton, Quebec, Canada
By Siddha Tirumular
The Tirumandiram, by Siddha Tirumular is a sacred, monumental work of philosophical and spiritual wisdom rendered in verse form. Encyclopedic in its vast scope, and written perhaps as early s 200 B.C., it is one of India’s greatest texts, a spiritual treasure-trove, a Sastra containing astonishing insight. It is a seminal work and is the first treatise in Tamil that deals with different aspects of Yoga, Tantra and Saiva Siddhantha.
“The poems of Tirumular abound in technical terms conveying mystical experience. The symbolic, twilight language of the Siddhas has the advantage of precision, concentration, secrecy, mystery, and esoteric significance in that the symbols, at the hands of the Siddhas become a form of artistic expression of the inexpressible. In short, the twilight language of the Siddhas is, in essence, profoundly mystical in nature and contains a “numinous aura” and existential revelations for the man who deciphers their message. The essential difficulty is that to understand the twilight language requires a total hermeneutic of reading, an awareness, in fact, of the total religious and philosophical structures that infuse it. It also requires one to enter deep states of meditation wherein the verse serves as a key that reveals a higher meaning to the initiate.” (- General Editor, Dr. T.N. Ganapathy, Ph. D) To enable the reader to fulfill this requirement has indeed been the objective of this new translation and commentary.
It took five years and a team of scholars to translate each of the 3,000 verses and to write extensive commentaries about them, in nine volumes, known as tandirams. Each verse includes the original the Tamil language script, its transliteration in Roman characters, its English translation and a commentary. In addition, there is a tenth volume containing a glossary, a select bibliography and index. The first volume contains a forty five page preface by the General Editor, Dr. T.N. Ganapathy, Ph. D. The tenth volume contains chapters from the two sides of the debate within Saiva Siddhanta, Tirumular’s monistic theism versus Meykandar’s pluralistic realism.
Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas USA, Canada and Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Trust of Bangalore has funded this work. The ten volume, hard bound edition has been co-published by them and with Arutchulvar Dr. N. Mahalingam and Varthamanam Publications. 3,700 + pages. ISBN 978-1-895383-61-4,
The following eminent scholars have translated the nine tandirams.
Tandirams 1, 2 and 3 - Translated by Sri. T.V. VenkataramanTandiram 4 - Translated by Dr. T.N. RamachandranTandiram 5 - Translated by Dr. KR. ArumugamTandiram 7 - Translated by Dr. P.S. SomasundaramTandiram 8 - Translated by Dr. S.N. KandasamyTandirams 6 & 9 - Translated by Dr. T.N. Ganapathy
5. Index by Dr. Ramesh Babu