21 June 2013

Tirumular Nayanar

“The Supreme Reality is called Siva. He is infinite consciousness. He is eternal, changeless, formless, independent, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, one without a second, beginningless, causeless, taintless, self-existent, ever free, ever pure, and perfect. He is not limited by time. He is infinite bliss and infinite intelligence. He is free from defects, the all-doer, the all-knower.

Lord Siva is the God of Love. His grace is infinite. His love is infinite. He is the saviour and Guru. He is engaged in freeing the souls from the thraldom of matter. He assumes the form of a Guru out of His intense love for mankind. He wishes that all should know Him and attain the blissful Siva-Padam (the state of Siva). He watches the activities of the individual souls, and helps them in their onward march. He liberates the individual souls from their fetters or bonds.” 

[Swami Sri Sivananda] 

Lord Siva

The stories of the Periapuranam (the lives of the sixty-three Saivite Saints) illustrate that a true devotee is ever ready to renounce all in favour of devotion to Lord Siva. Below is the story of Tirumular Nayanar, the saint who composed the oldest and most important text of Yoga from South India entitled Tirumandiram. The Tirumandiram comprises; yoga, tantra, mysticism, mantra, kundalini and monistic theism 

Life of Tirumular Nayanar 

Tirumular Nayanar (or Thirumoolar) was a Saiva Siddha and great yogi. He was called Tirumular because he entered into the mortal frame of Mulan (the cowherd in this narrative). The Nayanar was one of the eight students of Tirunandi Devar. Tirumular Nayanar desiring to see Agastya Rishi in the Pothia Hills, left Kailasa and journeyed southwards. On his way, he visited many Saivite shrines. When he came to Tiruvavaduthurai, he took a bath in the Kaveri River then went to the Temple. Upon leaving the Temple and walking along the banks of the Kaveri, he saw a herd of cows shedding tears. He found out the cause: their cow-herd lay dead. Wanting to pacify the grief stricken cows, the Nayanar entered the body of the cowherd after safely depositing his own body in the trunk of a tree. The cows rejoiced. 

The cowherd known as Mulan, resident of Sattanur drove the cows back into the village in the evening. Mulan’s wife was eagerly expecting the return of her husband. But, when she approached him, he would not allow her to touch him, but said: ‘Oh lady, I am not your husband. Adore Lord Siva and attain Liberation.’ He left and went away to a near-by Math. 

Tirumular finding the cowherder

The lady complained to the village elders about her husband’s conduct. They examined him and after they came to the conclusion that he was a great Yogi who had attained spiritual eminence, instructed the lady to have no further contact with him. The next day, Tirumular followed the cows, but could not find his body in the trunk of the tree, where he had left it. It was the Lord’s Leela. Lord Siva wanted Tirumular Nayanar to write a book in Tamil on Saiva Philosophy, containing the essence of all Siva Agamas. Tirumular understood the Lord’s wish and returned to Tiruvavaduthurai. 

There he worshipped the Lord and sat under a Peepul tree in deep meditation. He was in Samadhi for three thousand years. But, every year, he would come out of samadhi and compose a stanza: thus, in three thousand years he wrote three thousand stanzas, and the stanzas were compiled into a book named Tirumandiram. 

Once the Lord’s mission had thus been fulfilled, Tirumular Nayanar went back to Kailasa. 


The 3,000 verse Tirumandiram was written probably between the 4th and 6th centuries A.D., and is the oldest and most important text of Yoga from South India. The work comprises; yoga, tantra, mysticism, mantra, kundalini and monistic theism. The 12th century philosophical school of Saiva Siddhantha trace its origins to it. The Tirumandiram is considered the final authority on subtle matters of philosophy and theology in Saiva Siddhanta and the 12th century school of Saiva Siddhanta traces its origins to it. 

“Saint Tirumular is a theologian of our faith, but not merely a theologian. He is also a siddhar, an accomplished yogi. Our Hindu scriptures come from such great men, men who have attained to the deepest realizations through their sadhana and their devotion. When their awareness dwells in the superconscious states resident in all men but penetrated intentionally by only a few, and when they speak out from that state . . . ” to read more on Tirumular Nayanar and to download an English translation of the Tirumandiram, go to this link here

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