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A Shiva saint Sundaranathan, a vedha scholar from Kailash, wanted to visit and stay with sage Agasthyar at the podhikai mountains in Tamiz land. He started on his journey southwards, praying at holy temples - Kedar, Shirshailam, Thirukkalththi, Alavanam, Kanychi, taking holy bath in sacred river Ganga and reached river Cavery. After taking bath in the holy river and praying at the temple Avaduthurai, continued his journey southwards to his destination Podhikai Hills.
Hagiography: Nearing the outskirts of the village Chaththanur of Cholanadu, he saw a herd of cows in great distress. Their herdsman (idayan) Moolan by name has died on the banks of the river and the cows were in grief. The Yogi realizing that the cows would be consoled only if Mulan (Moolan) comes alive, through yogic powers transmigrated his Atman (spirit) to the body of Mulan, and hid his own body nearby and the cowherd Moolan rose as Thirumoolar having acquired the spirit of Sundaranathan. The relieved cows grazed happily on the riverbanks and went back to the village in the evening cared by Thirumoolar.
Thirumoolar waited till all the cows entered their respective houses. Wife of the herdsman Moolan's grieved to see Mooln going to a mut (a place where bhakthas live) instead of their house. To her laments, the learned elderly people of the town told the girl that Moolar has entered the shivayoga.
This sage Thirumoola nayanar returned the same way he came with the cows, to reclaim and enter into his original body, but could not locate the original body. He realized, through his spiritual wisdom, that it was God's will that he give in Tamil, the supreme Agamas. He explained these to the relatives who followed him, and proceed to Thiruvavaduthuai. There sitting under the shade of an arachu tree (ficus religiosa) he gave out his holy Tirumandiram, a marvelous medicine for the illness called incarnation. Starting from 'Onravan thane' he completed the Tamiz garland of 3047 flowers. It is said he lived over 3000 years giving out one song every year.
The teachings of Thirumoolar is known as Tirumandiram and is reckoned as the tenth of the 12 Tirumurais of Saivism. In Tirumantiram all yogas - Hada Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Tantra Yoga, Mantra Yoga and Daya Yoga are explained. His Saiva devotional works are based on devotion or bakthy while the philosophical works are based on knowledge or gnanam. The first category is called Thothiram, and the second category is called Sathiram. The Thirumanthiram is considered as thothiram book and classified as the tenth thirumurai volume. However, because of the philosophical views in it, it is also seen as a sathiram book.
Thirumanthiram book contains many Saiva Siddhantha views. It is the first Tamil work to carry the phrase Saiva Siddhantham. It begins with innovation to God, as its preface or Payiram, which speaks of vethas, agamas etc. The first verse beginning as 'Onravan thane' speaks of the nature of the divine.
Thirumanthiram contains three thousand verses, divided into nine chapters called Thanthirams.
The First thanthiram called the upathesam part expresses Shiva Philosophical views and divine experience. It also has verses speaking about impermanency of the physical body, love, education etc.
The Second thanthiram contains verses relating to Siva's glory, His divine acts, classification of souls etc.
Yoga practices and applications find place in the Third thanthiram.
Details dealing with manthiram, thanthiram, etc., are given in the Fourth thanthiram.
Various branches of Saiva cult and the four paths of chariyai etc., are given in the Fifth thanthiram.
The Sixth thanthiram gives details such as Siva coming as Guru and bestowing His grace, the required practices to receive His grace etc.
Various images of Sivalingam, Siva poosai, control of the five of senses etc., are expressed in the Seventh thanthiram.
The Eighth thanthiram deals with the experience stages of soul.
The Ninth thanthiram gives details relating to Panchadsara manthiram, Siva's dance, state of samadhi, etc.
Sekkizhar, the author of Periyapuranam, designated this Tamil classic as "Tamizh Moovaayiram" since it possesses 3000 poems. These poems have a unique metrical structure, with each line consisting of 11 or 12 syllables, depending upon the initial syllable. This is the earliest exposition of Saiva Agamas in Tamil. He discusses on the four steps of spiritual progress viz., Karya, Kriya, Yoga and Gnana, concept of Pati, Pasu and Pasa and fourfold sadhanas, Vedanta, interprets the Upanishadic Mahavakya, "Tat tvam asi" (Thatthuvamasi) through grammatical technique of "Lakshanatraya". the Vedantic concept of sevenfold adjuncts (Upaadhi) of Jiva and the same number of Upadhis of Isvara, the absolute and transcendental Reality as Sunya devoid of any attribute.
There are portions in his treatise, identifiable as Tantrasastra, as they are rich in materials on basic principles of Shakti worship, diagrams, Chakras, magic spells and their accessories.
The third section of the text is on Yoga. The ethical aspects of avoidance of vices and adoption of virtues, known as "Yama" and "Niyama" are presented with details, not found in the Sanskrit text of his contemporary, Patanjali.
Similarly particulars of "Asanas", the physical postures and "Pranayama" (the breathing exercises), "Pratyahara" (withdrawal of senses from going astray), "Dharana" (fixing the mind on the point), "Dhyana," (meditation) and "Samadhi" (absorption) are also expounded. He had firm conviction that the practice of Yoga would culminate in the realisation of the oneness of Atman and Brahman. He calls this method "Sivayoga".
He describes the ways and means of attaining immortal body, called "Kayasiddhi". Tirumoolar advocated a theory of preserving the body so that the soul would continue its existence (Udambai valarthen uyir valarthenae).
Tirumoolar was a moral philosopher. He teaches the ethics of ahimsa, abstinence from slaughtering, meat eating and drinking. He condemns coveting another man's wife. He declares that "love is God". He proclaims the unity of mankind and God. He stresses on the acquisition of knowledge through learning and listening.
The final section of the Tirumandiram named "Sunya Sambhashana" (esoteric dialogue) is full of metaphorical sayings communicating mystical and speculative thoughts, for example he illustrates "There are five cows (Indriyas) in the house of Paarppaan (Paar- to see; seer i.e. body of man) which without a cowherd (preceptor) wanders everywhere. If they were controlled and their thirst quenched, then they would give out milk (bliss)".
His first song: Onravan thane. His songs comes under 10th Thirumurai.
Article in 'The Hindu' titled "Expositions of Siva Agamas" by Sri S. N. Kandasamy