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The Maha Siddha Whose Heart Melted Seeing Cows Cry

Yaam Petra Inbam Periga Ivvaiyagam

May The World Also Be Blessed With The Bliss I Enjoy

This verse, one of the first in his Magnum Opus, The Thirumanthiram, from the enlighted Siddha Purusha , hints at the supreme compassion he felt for the rest of the world.

Originally called Sundaranathar, and having learnt the mysteries of Yoga and Saiva Siddhanta from Nandi Thevar at Kailash itself, he came to be popularly known later on in the land of tamils as Thirumoolar.

According to legend, Sundaranathar was once traversing the tamil lands when he ran into a herd of cows near a village. They were crying and refused to move. Looking closer, he found the dead body of the Young Cowherd laying there.

Moved by compassion for the cows, he placed his body under a tree and moved his atma into the body of the young cowherd. Upon seeing the cowherd alive, the cows became happy, and Sundaranathar was able to bring the cows back to the village.

Trouble started when the cowherd’s wife tried to hug whom she thought was her husband upon his return with Sundaranathar trying to explain the situation to her.

The villages did not believe his story so Sundaranathar offered to show them his own body which was hidden under a tree.

Shockingly when he brought the villagers there, the tree had been struck by lightning and his old body gone. It was then a voice from the skies , of Shiva himself spoke.

Shiva told Sundaranathar that this was his divine play as his old body had reached it’s limit and he wanted Sundarar to take on this younger body, so as to be able to explain the intricacies of spirituality he had learnt in Kailasha from Nandi Deva in a simpler format, through the faculties of the cowherd’s body.

As an ode to the cowherd Moolan , Sundaranathar would henceforth be known as Thirumoolar. Thirumoolar has been recognized both, as one of the 18 Eminent Siddhas, as well as one of the 63 Nayanmars, Tamil Saiva Saints in the Periya Puranam.

His work, originally known as Tamil Moovaayiram ( Tamil 3000 ) due to his 3000 poems, came to be known later on as Thirumanthiram.

It is an extensive work that contains the elements of Saiva Siddhanta Philosophy, Mantra Sadhana , Ashtanga Yoga written in metaphorical language.

In one of his famous verses where he goes against extreme austerities type practices, he says

அஞ்சும் அடக்கு அடக்கு என்பர் அறிவு இலார்

அஞ்சும் அடக்கும் அமரரும் அங்கு இலை

அஞ்சும் அடக்கில் அசேதனம் ஆம் என்று இட்டு

அஞ்சும் அடக்கா அறிவு அறிந்தேனே

`Control, control the senses Five,

Thus say those who know not;

None, not even the Devas

Have their senses in control;

When you deny the senses

Verily are you an inert mass;

Sublimate them toward Shiva

That Is Wisdom’s Way, I learnt.

Here Thirumoolar mentions of extreme austerities where the senses are denied and destroyed are for fools as even in Devaloka there aren’t Devas who can do that.

He says a better way is to allow them to pursue God and to manage them in healthy ways.

In a related story, there was once a boy who found a mound of ash in front of his home. This boy took the ash and made it into a human figure and brought it to his father and asked him to give life to it.

His father did. The boy was Ganapati. The father Shiva. The figure given life , Bhasmasura.

The ash was the ashes of Manmatha, the symbol of desire that Shiva had burnt. And his ashes came back in the form of Bhasmasura who got the boon of turning into ash anyone who he touched and wanted to touch Shiva’s very head.

This was a metaphor to explain how desire if fully denied, would come up in a totally unexpected way and became the very source that would seek to destroy the person.

We see this in the many abuses the Church has been accused of, where the clergy’s forceful restrain of desire in the form of celibacy leads to the perverted way, that desire would transform into and destroy the very person.

If someone has anger in him, rather than forcefully keep it in, it would be much better to release it in a healthy way through a strenuous gym session or via releasing it in a controlled boxing practice environment.

Thirumoolar’s many teachings went against the more extreme ascetism present in his day and taught a healthy mature path to reaching Shiva. Hence why it is a core text of tamil Saiva Siddhanta philosophy.

Siddha Thirumoolar’s jeeva Samadhi is in Thiruvaduthurai Gometeeswarar Temple. While Chidambaram Nadaraja temple is where Siddha Thirumoolar is said to have merged with Shiva.

Sarvam Shivarpanam , Karuppar Thunai

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