A book does not necessarily need an introduction, for it speaks of itself and the author. But the writer has the necessity to say something about the book, beyond what it contains. The aim, the background, the materials that have gone into the book, its place among the on the subject etc. are some of the things which the writer would like to share with the readers. He would like to use this as a chance to express his gratitude to his friends and others who helped him in realising his long-cherished dream. Hence this preface. Thirumular – The greatest siddha

Thirumular is the greatest siddha of the Tamil Nadu. His greatest siddhi [achievement] is his realisation of the oneness, call it by what another name you like. He came into the world a perfect being. but his perfection was marred by an incident in his life which happened by the very reason of his being perfect man. But he outlived it reasserting his perfection. A perfect man is a perfect fruit of the Tree of life- full ripe and ripening, is ready to fall from the tree, not separating itself from the tree thereby but holding it all within its own perfect self which is the seed within. That perfect seed within man is in the midst of the Lotus blossom commonly described as the Heart or the centre, which is the seat of emotions. It is the emotional Nature of man which enslaves him, as it is the same emotional nature which enfranchises him. Emotion when freed from the taint of attachment lifts up the Soul and leads to the enlargement of self-experience which enlarges the soul until it merges in Infinity and emerge again from it with Infinite powers of the soul which make it easy for it to be in-tune with the Infinite. When the soul merges in infinity and emerges from it, not lost in the Infinite, but attuned thereto, it is full possession of the Infinite potentialities of the soul, which tend to make of man ‘a Potential God’ which he ever is but never knows until he realizes his own Self. This then is the One responsibility which each and every person has in this world – and if the full force and meaning of self-realisation is grasped and understood, it will be found to be the only responsibility which every person owes to himself, his God, and the universe. The life of Saint Thirumular is an object lesson intended to drive home this truth unto men’s mind. Thirumular – his origin

A Brahmana yogi set out from the Kailasa mountain to pay a visit to his friend and Gru bhai, the dwarfish sage, Agasthiya, in the Pothiya mountain range in the south. He is also called Isvara koti – a realized soul, a soul which had gained integration with the God-head. Of his own choice filled with great compassion for erring humanity, he came down from the presence of God where he had been enjoying bliss of union with God-head. In the south on his way to the Pothiya malai, he reached one day, at dusk the outskirts of a village called Saaththanoor. There he found a herd of cows lowing miserably round the dead body of their cowherd. Ascetic as he was, wise chief characteristics is according to Thiruvalluvar, compassion to each and every creature on earth, he abandoned his body by virtue of yogic powers and entered the body of the dead cowherd, and, forthwith that corpse became alive to the delight of the miserable cows. The ascetic is cowherd’s skin took them back to the villagers who were beginning to get worried about their cattle. He returned to the spot where he had left his own body and found that it had disappeared. This was an act of Grace of Lord Shiva. So, he continued to remain in the cowherd’s body, and was soon immersed in tapas [contemplation of God] under a sacred Peepal tree in Thiruvaduthurai, a neighbouring Saivaite centre. Thirumandhiram – a magnum opus of the great Saint

According to the traditional lore, which Sekkizar unquestionably repeats in his chronicle. Thirumular is said to have lived for over three thousand years being engaged all the time in yogic contemplation and coming out of the trance once a year to compose one verse of his magnum opus,

The Thirumandhiram (Tamil: திருமந்திரம்) or Thirumandhiram is a Tamil poetic work, written either in the 6th century CE or post 10th century CE by Thirumular. It is the tenth of the twelve volumes of the Tirumurai, the key texts of Shaiva Siddhanta and the first known Tamil work to use the term. The Thirumandhiram is considered to be the earliest known exposition of the Shaiva Agamas in Tamil. It consists of over three thousand verses dealing with various aspects of spirituality, ethics and praise of Shiva. But it is more spiritual than religious and one can see the difference between Vedanta and Siddhanta from Thirumular’s interpretation of the Mahavakyas in general and Tat Tvam Asi in particular.

Synopsis of the Nine Thandhirams [chapters] of Thirumandhiram

The first thanthiram is called ‘upadesam’ or initiatory precepts. This has got 24 sub-sections with 224 verses and lays stress on the indispensable necessity of the aspirant for gnosis making himself fit externally and internally to receive such gnosis; and describes in a series of do-s and don’t-s the means of so making oneself fit for the gnosis. Several of the subject headings will remind the reader of chapter with similar headings in the Thirukkural and give the impression that the chapters are paraphrases of the terse terms of the Kural even in the stanzas of the Naladiyar. The second thandhiram [kanika agamam, 25 chapters with 213 verses], It describes through the means of puranic stories the benefits gained by those who have observed the disciplines, and the harm which come to those who have not done so. commencing with 2 stanzas in praise of Sage Agastya, Thirumular then goes on to explain the mystical import of Lord Shiva’s eight heroic exploits and other deeds, as described in various Puranas, He also offers verses on the three categories of individuated being (Sanskrit: jivas), on worthy and unworthy folk, as well as on the desecration of temples. Thirumular concludes with a unique teaching about Shiva’s “downward face” (Sanskrit: adhomukha) by which he showers grace upon devotees. The third thandhiram [veera agamam, 21 chapters with 335 verses] This section also deals with the eight processes of yoga, the benefits therefrom, the eight powers gained thereby and the rule for the preservations and cherishing of the body which is the ground on which all these yogic practices take place. Besides these this section deals with various types of yoga conducive to the wellbeing of the body. it also deals with various tantric practices. It strongly champions the siddha tradition. The fourth thandhiram [veera agamam, 13 chapters with 535 verses] deals with what are the chakras and the power of kundalini Shakti. Here the saint discusses in detail the various cakras (i.e., mandalas)—their construction and ritual use, and he dedicates 100 quatrains to describing the kundalinī-shakti. The fifth thandhiram [vathula agamam – 15 chapters with 154 verses] is said to contain the principles of Saiva siddhanta. This section offers a description of the four ways to God realization—through the charya, kriya, yoga, and jnana method—and the four stages of liberation to which they lead: saloka [going to the ‘loka’ of the deity worshipped], samipya [being in the proximity of the deity worshipped], sarupya [taking on the form that looks alike the deity worshipped], and sayujya [getting the body of the deity worshipped]. Thirumular also defines the three realities of Shaivism: Pati (lord), Pasu (soul), and Pasa (bondage). He also speaks of the four degrees of the descent of divine power (Tamil: catti-nipādam), known in Sanskrit as shakti-pāta. The sixth thandhiram [vijayamala agamam 15 chapters with 131 verses] This short section talks about the guru, subject, object, and knowledge; renunciation, austerity; the attainment of knowledge through divine grace; hypocrisy; sacred ashes; the apparel of a penitent, a knower, and a Shiva devotee, which leads over into a discussion about who is fit or unfit for the spiritual process. It also gives a narration as to how Lord Shiva Himself comes as a guru gives initiation [diksha] by look, or touch or word or pose or scriptures or yogic method, or fragrance emanating from Him. It also describes how the Lord frees the soul from the taint of anavam and confers mukti. The seventh thandhiram [kaaloththara agamam – 37 chapters with 418 verses] deals with the six adharam, centres of plexuses in the body beginning with the muladhara between the anus and the scrotum and ending with ajna chakram, a point between the eye-brows. The kundalini or the serpent power is said to rise from the muladhara to the ajna; and thence to the sahasrara dala or thousand petalled lotus I the verses. This section also describes the several types of Ligams, amorphous representation of Lord Shiva, usually hew I granite stone. This section contains Thirumular’s animadversion on burning the corpse. The eighth thandhiram [subhra agamam – 43 chapters with 527 verses] is the longest of the nine thandhirams. Here the states of experience on the spiritual path are explained at great length. In verse 2370, Tirumūlar states that the end of the Vedas, the end of the Āgamas, the end of the subtle sound (nāda), the end of illumination, the end of the eight-limbed Yoga, and the end of the five subtle aspects (kalā) are all essentially the same, but only a pure individual can comprehend this. As verse 2381 states, these six endings occur in ecstasy (samādhi) where jīva becomes Shiva. The ninth thandhiram [makuta agamam – 22 chapters with 399 verses] is the final book of the Thirumandhiram. It describes in mostly esoteric language the ultimate realization of Shiva (shiva-bhoga) and the state of liberated souls. It also gives a description of the seven kinds of dances executed by Lord Shiva and the characteristics of those who have apprehended the Godhead.


Thirumandhiram will live forever in the memory of the Tamil people for his great compassion which inspired him to enter the corpse of Moolan, the cowherd and for the same compassion which bade him create his monumental work. Thirumandhiram, it is true, is not a book which anyone who runs may read. It cannot be taken in the stride. Nevertheless, for the hundreds of verses couched in cryptic terms there are scores which are cast in simple language, but all the same, express profound truths. Within the compass of four lines Thirumular has encompassed man’s duty to God, beast, bird and man, and has shown how simple it is to fulfil it. This feature of brevity and breadth of coverage is an important characteristic of Thirumular’ s verses. The translation of the original verses in Tamil into English was begun immediately after my retirement from service in 1996 and I had taken some one year to complete the job. It was only after 25 years in 2021, I resolved to write a detailed commentary of Thirumular’s Thirumandhiram, a task which once looked impossible, was made possible by the grace of Lord; by the blessings of my Guru Swami Paramarthananda and the co-operation of my family members and the encouragement of my friends. While dedicating this book to my Guru, I must also salute the Self of all as well. I offer my salutations to Lord Shiva in all His forms who animates and enlivens me. Finally, I adore and worship Lord Shiva that lives in every one of you, my readers, as your own awareness. Please remember, dear ones, Lord Shiva lives in every thought and feeling, in every breath, in every object in every person. Do not dishonour Him by dishonouring yourself. The Highest, most truly worthy expression of our common humanity is the search for the Self within. If something in these pages is useful to you in that search, my work is immensely compensated. Now the commentary on Thirumandhiram is in your hands, my beloved readers. May the Supreme Being Lord Shiva, the inexhaustible Fountain Source of Truth, Wisdom, and Bliss [Sat Cit Ananda], the profound Inspirer and Illuminator of the sages of the vedas, agamas and the upanisads vouchsafe unto us also the abundance of His in-dwelling Glory, a personal communion with His immanent spirit, as implicit trust in His all-regulating Providence, a whole hearted devotion, to His all-controlling Purpose, a participation in His all saving goodness in rapturous delight in His all-entrancing Beauty!