The Religion and Philosophy of Tevaram (Thevaram)

by M. A. Dorai Rangaswamy | 1958 | 410,072 words

This page describes “nayanar 30: tirumular (thirumoolar) or tirumula” from the religion of the Thevaram: a comparative study of the Shaivite saints the Thiruthondathogai. The 7th-century Thevaram (or Tevaram) contains devotional poems sung in praise of Shiva. These hymns form an important part of the Tamil tradition of Shaivism

The 30th saint is Tirumula Nayanar [Tirumular or Thirumoolar]. The words of Arurar are, “Nampiran Tirumulanatiyarkkuin atiyen”—“I am the servant of the servants of our patron and Lord Tirumulan”. Whilst Arurar describes Campantar as Empiran, the patron and Lord of his line of school, he describes Tirumular as Nampiran, ‘the Lord of us all’. The great work of this saint, the quintessence of Agamas and YogaTirumantiram— is available. Nampiyantar Nampi states that Tirumular entered the body of a cowherd of Cattanur and praised Shiva according to the Vedas.

Cekkilar gives a more detailed story. One of the Vedic and Yogic disciples of Nandi of Kailas after achieving siddhis started on a southern tour to meet his friend Agastya at Potiyam mountain. Worshipping on the way at Thiruketharam, Nepalam, Avimuktam, Sri Parvatam, Kalahasti, Alankatu, Ekamparam (Kanci), Thiruvathigai and Tillai, he reached Avatuturai. Suddenly an idea struck him. He met a herd of cows in a sorry plight almost in tears standing round the dead body of a cow-herd, Mulan by name, of Cattanur village.

The yogi taking pity on the cows, left his body in a safe place and entered the corpse. The cows were happy at what they thought as the return of their cow-herd. When he returned to the house of Mulan, he refused to cohabit with the wife and when she complained to the people of the village, they advised her not to think of her husband any more as he had become a yogi. When he searched for his old body it had disappeared. He realized that this was God’s will and that God had meant that he should sing Tamil. He went to Thiruvavaduthurai to remain in a yogic contemplation under a Bodhi tree giving expression to his spiritual experiences at the rate of one verse a year for 3,000 years whereafter he returned to Kailas. His work is called Tzrumantiramalai or the Tamil Muvayiram. This Tirumantiram was added on as the 10th Tirumurai.

This Tirumantiram, divided into nine tantras, is said to summarize Agamas, Tantra being another name for the Agama.

1) The first Tantra brings out the fact that Shaivism is an ethical religion.

2) The second Tantra explains certain puranic stories bringing out their mystic significance and describes the five-fold function of Shiva and the three classes of jivas.

3) The third Tantra gives us the yogasastra based on the author’s own experience.

4) The fourth is the Mantra sastra explaining ‘Ajapa’ mantra and other cakras.

5) The fifth describes the different forms of Shaivism, Suddha Saivam, Asuddha Saivam, Marga Saivam, and Kadum Suddha Saivam. Asuddha Saivam consists in following certain practices; Suddha Saivam consists in the realization of the true knowledge; Marga Saivam is the Saivam of realization; Kadum Suddha Saivam does not care for external characteristics but goes straight to Shiva perhaps like many of the saints of Periyapuranam. It also explains four sddhanas and the Sat, Sakha, Satputra and Dasa Margas.

6) The sixth describes Shiva as Guru and the necessity for His Grace.

7) The seventh describes the esoteric sddhanas through the six adharas (cakras), lingas and yogamudras.

8) The eighth refers to the avasthas and explains the dawn of divine knowledge and brings out the glory of Siddhanta in relation to the other schools of thought.

9) The ninth Tantra is an exposition of samadhi, or the final realization, the attainment of Akasa and the significance of divine dance.

Tirumular mentions his nine Agamas as Karanam, Kamikam, Vzram, Cintam, Vatulam, Vyamalam, Kalottaram, Supram and Makutam. Tivakaram and Pinkalantai, the Tamil Lexicons, give the names of some more Agamas. It will be seen that more and more Agamas were becoming popular in the Tamil country and from the story of Meypporul Nayanar, we learn that Shaivites were anxious to discover more and more Agamas. Dr. V. V. Ramana Sastri of Vedaranyam sees in the Tirumantiram, the Pratyabhijna Darsana of Kashmir, perhaps because of the story of Tirumular coming from Kailas, though he admits Tirumular must be anterior to Somanatha and Abhinavagupta, the great expounders of Pratyabhijna in Kashmir.

As Tirumular speaks of the six darsanas (v. 1530 etc.), he must be posterior to the authors (the rsis) of these, and also to Lingapuranam (vv. 347-352) and Viravatula, held in great reverence by the Viramahesvaras, whose cardinal tenets of Sad Sthala Vivecana, are explained in the seventh Tantra.

Tirumular was the first to write these truths in Tamil:

“Mulanurai ceyta muvayiram Tamil” (V. 99);

Ennai nanrdka iraivan pataittanan tannai nanrakat tamil ceyyumare” (V. 81);

Malankane inku yan vanta karanam Nzlanka meniyal nerilaiydlotu mulankamaka molinta tirukkuttin czlanka vetattaic ceppa vantene” (77);

Nanti inaiyati nantalai merkontu puntiyin ulle pukappeytu porriceytu anti mati-punai aranati natorum cintai ceytu akamam ceppalurrene” (73).

Tirumular refers to the patni cult (532) and, therefore, must have come after the Kannaki cult had become popular. In describing the temples, he speaks of brick and not of stone (1719, 1720) and, therefore, he must have lived before Mahendravarman I. Verse 1721 refers to crystal linga and Bana linga but these are natural ones as distinct from the chiselled ones. Preservation of temples is according to Tirumular the duty of the king (515-519). Therefore, he must have lived in an age when kings like Koccenkanan had started building temples and endowing them. He also refers to the great sin of speaking ill of Jnanis and atiyars (537, 538) probably after ‘Usana Samhita’ and such other books were written to condemn the Pasu-patas and heretics, unfit for commensality, perhaps somewhere about the 4th century A.D.

In another place Tirumular speaks of five Tamil Mandalas (1646), probably referring to Cola, Pandya, Cera, Tonda and Konkumandalas. Dr. V. V. Ramana Sastry mentioned above fixes the age of Tirumular as the Sixth century. To prove that Tirumantiram is very old, Mr. V. S. Chengalvaraya Pillai has pointed out that Tirukkunal, Nalati and Tevaram of Appar, Campantar, and Cuntar ar, and Tiruvacakam contain echoes from Tirumantiram, though we do not find any specific reference to Tirumular in these works except in Thiruthondathogai.

The Sanskrit and Kannada traditions will make him a Vaishnavite of Northern India entering into the corpse of a cow-herd when he wandered through South India. His Vaishnavite wife was surprised at his incessant utterance of the word Shiva and thought that he had become insane. Having turned out a Shaivite he is said to have attained the abode of Shiva at the close of his life,

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