Body, Self and Consciousness according to Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram: A comparative study with Kashmir Śaivism
Anand and Menon International Journal of Dharma Studies
Body, Self and Consciousness according to Tirumūlar's Tirumandiram: A comparative study with Kashmir Śaivism
Geetha Anand 0 2
Sangeetha Menon 0 1
Correspondence: 0 2
A freelance researcher 0
India Full list of author information is available at the end of the article 0
0 Keywords: Tamil , Siddha, Tirumular, Tirumandiram, Tirumanṭiram, Consciousness, Body, Self, Kashmir Śaivism, Pratyabhijna
1 National Institute of Advanced Studies , Bangalore , India
2 A freelance researcher , Bangalore , India
Tirumular's Tirumandiram is the earliest known Tamil treatise on yoga. This text is considered to be both, a devotional work as well as a tantric text. Unlike other major Siddha compositions, Tirumandiram does not contain any section on medicinal preparations or alchemy. It is the only Tamil text where the sections are named tanṭiram. In contrast to the popular pluralistic Śaiva Siddhānta, Tirumandiram, one of the twelve Saiva cannons (tirumurai), is monistic in its philosophy. This study, while elaborating on the metaphysics of the text Tirumandiram, also examines the shared philosophical thoughts between the monistic Kashmir Śaivism and Tamil Siddha mystics.
The Tamil Siddha tradition, an off-shoot of the pan-Indian tantric system, uses the
body and the mind as a tool to go beyond the limitations of time, space, and causation.
Kamil Zvelebil’s book, Poets of Power, gives details on Tamil Siddha tradition with its
distinct characteristics (Zvelebil 1973: 76). Unlike the philosophical schools that
dismiss the body as an impediment, the Tamil Siddhas place great emphasis on the role
of body and mind to reach supreme states of consciousness. While both Vedanta and
Āgama are considered as the basis of this school of philosophy, Āgamas are
considered to be more specific and pragmatic than the Vedanta.
Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram, a flagship Tamil Siddha work, is unique in that it blends
philosophical exposition with practical techniques such as ashtanga yoga and mantra
yoga. Unlike other major Tamil Siddha compositions such as Agatthiyar vāda
saumyam, Bogar 7000 and Konkanavar kāviyam, Tirumandiram does not discuss
medicinal preparations or alchemy. While the date of Tirumūlar cannot be
established unequivocally, as is common with the Tamil Siddhas, T.N.Ganapathy feels
that Tirumūlar must have lived between the fifth and sixth century (Ganapathy
Among the several versions of Tirumandiram, Tiruppanandhāl mata’s version
translated into English by Ganapathy et al.1 contains 3047 verses classified into nine
tantiram. The work begins with code of ethics in the first tantiram. In tantiram 2
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Saiva puranic episodes and the five acts, creation, sustenance, dissolution of both the
macrocosm and the microcosm concealment and bestowing of grace are described.
Ashtanga yoga and special yoga such as paryanga yoga and kechari yoga are the
themes of tantiram 3. Tantiram 4 is about various chakras. The fifth tantiram
discusses the four main themes of an Agama, the charya, kriya, yoga and jnana,
supporting Tirumular’s claim that his work is an Āgama. In the sixth tantiram the three
concepts, knower, known and object of knowledge are discussed along with the behavior
of a true saiva. Tantiram 7 elaborates on the characteristics of a saiva recluse, rituals such
as his death ritual, worship, food and receiving alms. This tantiram contains five sections
that describe five types of Aditya, a term used to indicate emergence of knowledge. Types
of bodies, states of consciousness and the experiences of the soul in these states form the
central theme of tantiram 8. In the concluding tantiram 9 Tirumandiram discusses the
five types of panchakshara indicating their correspondence with the five types of bodies.
Five koothu or dances are described here along with the ultimate state, the mona samadhi
or state of silence. Tirumandiram is the only Tamil Siddha text that discusses
consciousness in an elaborate fashion.
There is a conjecture that Tirumandiram shares its philosophical views with the
monistic Kashmir Śaivism. In his study on the roots of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South
India, Douglas Renfrew Brooks points out that Tirumandiram has “much in common
with certain strands of Tantrism- especially Trika Śaivism” (Brooks 2002: 63). Cēkkiļār,
the author of Peria Puranam, a biography of the sixtythree Nayanmars, mentions that
Tirumūlar came to South India from the north. Sisir Kumar Das (Sisir Kumar Das
2005: 148) mentions a belief that Tirumūlar belonged to Kashmir and that he came
to the South carrying with him the doctrines of Pratyabhijna philosophy. However,
there is no proof in Tirumandiram for this opinion other than the expression
“kayilai vazhi vanden” (v 91) “I came in the path of Kailaya”. The path of Kailaya is
interpreted as from Himalayas or North India. However, Agatthiyar meijnana
kāviyam 2 mentions a kailaya varga, a lineage that originated with Siva, as opposed
to mula varga originating from Tirumular and the malai varga or hill lineage
which considers Sakti as the primary deity.
This paper aims to presents Tirumandiram’s description of types of souls, the bodies
they adorn, states of consciousness and the soul’s experiences in these states.
Tirumandiram uses the terms aṛivu, bodham, nandi and sivam to indicate
consciousness Tantiram 8 section 14 discusses the nature of aṛivu (verses 2355–69).
aṛivu is consciousness about one’s Self (tannai ariyum arivu). The form of the soul
is aṛivu. Aṛivu occurs due to Divine grace (arul). Such an aṛivu is neither created
nor destroyed and has only itself as its substratum. It is not static but dynamic as
it is aware of its own nature (aṛive aṛivai aṛikinṛathu). It does not need any
external agent to facilitate its own identification. No one can see the boundary of aṛivu
(v130). It is the expansive effulgence (akanda oḷi) (v2808). Aṛivu realizes its nature
as the eternal light within.
Tirumandiram states that individual self is none other than Śiva who has forgotten
his real nature (v 2017). When jiva cognizes “itself” as Śiva then jiva remains as Śiva.
This is similar to Navjivan Rastogi’s description of the experience of the self as not a
simple act of knowing but as a complex act of re-knowing (Rastogi 1979:48). When
recognition of self occurs, the limited consciousness merges with the supreme
consciousness as “there is no other place for ciṭ to merge other than ciṭ” (v 135). Tirumūlar
compares this to space merging with space and light merging with light. Śiva is the
grace that helps jiva in this effort (v 202). When this realization occurs, the soul has
nothing else to know, no other state to reach except to remain with this awareness
(aṛive vadivenṛu aṛinthu irunthén). Tirumūlar says that the eight mystical
accomplishments such as anima, mahima are agents through which aṛivu knows itself. When the
knowledge about self occurs, the Divine tells the soul that it the “big one” (nee periyāi)
Tirumandiram calls the state of existence with knowledge as nandi (v 2361) and
meijnana jyoti. By the grace of this awareness (nandiyin arul) the soul becomes
allpervasive supreme consciousness (v2363). Tirumular calls this awareness as the mantra
that remains holding the body (ūn paṛṛi ninṛa uṇṛvuṛu mantiram). When this state is
repeatedly contemplated upon, then realization occurs (v24).
Tirumandiram calls the cit or supreme awareness as bodham. The beginning and
end-less Supreme Being distinguishes itself first into parāparam and parāparai.
Parāparai is bodham (bodhamadāga puṇaṛum parāparai) (v381). Bodham brings to end
the three distinct states, knower, known and knowledge, when the Samadhi of “self
becoming Him” is achieved (thān avan ākum samādhi) (v2381). The supreme
consciousness is also called sivabodham which destroys the state of limited self and the
factors that cause the limitation (v2539).
Tirumandiram describes nenju, a concept similar to that of hrdaya of Kashmir
Śaivism. It says that nenju of those who have aṛivu is supreme space, supreme
austerity and the locus of the supreme state (v2364). Vetta veļi is another Tamil Siddha
term which indicates the supreme state (v2591) similar to the hrdaya that
MullerOrtega and Paul Eduardo (Eduardo Muller-Ortega 1989: 100) explain as “the sky of
consciousness which is also the embodiment of cosmos”.
Innate impurities or mala bring about limitation to consciousness. Tirumandiram
says that the impurities cover the soul like verdigris (kalimbu) (v2213). When the soul’s
eye of grace is opened by the Lord then the verdigris is cut away (v114). When aṛivu is
covered by innate impurities it associates with senses (pulan) and loses itself in
mundane knowledge as if it is immersed in deep waters (v119). A guru will reveal this state
and help the soul transcend the innate impurities. When the innate impurities and the
influence of senses are removed then aṛivu regains its original status. Tirumūlar calls
the process of limited soul becoming universal soul as sivayogam and souls that attain
this state of awareness as śivaciṭṭar, those who remain in the light of self (v122). They
remain as aṛivu, as bodhan (v2019).
The Lord, the beast and the attachment
Tirumandiram establishes itself as a Saiva Siddhanta by discussing the three entities
pasu, pati and pāsa. It calls the pasu as arivu, pati as the arivu of arivu and pasa as
that which limits the arivu and says that all the three are eternal. However, when the
original state as arivu is realized these distinctions disappear (v 2405, 115).
Transcending the innate impurities makes this possible.
According to Tirumandiram there are five innate impurities, ānava or egoity, maya
or delusion, kāmiya or karma, mayeya or product of maya and tirodāyi or the
concealing power. Tirodāyi, the power which conceals the true nature of soul to it, transforms
into grace and confers the soul the supreme knowledge of the Self. The first three
impurities are considered to be the primary causes for distinctions. Hence, Tirumandiram
discusses only these three in the context of types of souls.
Tirumandiram goes further and says that even the popular deities are under the
influence of the innate impurities (v2183). Brahma is under the influence of the five
mala, Vishnu is under the influence of four, Hara is under the influence of three, Isa is
under the influence of two and Sadāsiva is under the influence of ānava mala.
Thus, the mala-free states begin only from Sakthi. Tirumūlar describes the ānava,
kanmam and maya as the inner covering, husk and awn that encase a paddy grain.
Thus, the mala do not change the soul but cover it like a shell (v2192). Paul
Murphy (1986: 27) quotes verse 57 from Abhnivagupta’s Paramartasara which uses
an identical imagery of a husk, awn and chaff and says that without these coating
the seed will be “freed” from growth.
The impurities impart causal attributes (kāraṇa upādi) and the resultant attributes
(kāriya upādi) to souls. The causal attributes are jiva upādi or characteristics of a jiva
and para upādi or attributes of param. These attributes define the states of existence,
the kāriya, with specific characteristics, upādi. The param causes manifestation with
suddha maya. It creates the tattva or principles that cause the jiva state and hence it
becomes the kāraṇa for the kāriya, the jiva state. The jiva upādi ends when the soul
leaves all the limitations and reaches the state of suddha maya. This process involves
transcending the void, maya pāzh which is the termination of the resultant state.
Transcending the param state is crossing the bodha pāzh, the void created by
awareness. The soul then remains in the state of tranquility or upasantha. Crossing even this
state, the upasantha pāzh, the soul reaches the ultimate state of paramparam (v2496).
Tirumandiram makes a distinction about the supreme state and calls it a rare land
while clarifying that it is not a void (v2498).
Types of souls
The states due to attributes or upādi are experienced as states of existence or avatthai.
The jiva upādi causes souls to exist in three causal states, the kevala, sakala and
suddha, based on their association with senses and consciousness (v2227).
Tannai aṛi suttan tat kevalan tānum
Pinnam uṛa ninṛa peta sakalanum
Manniya sattusatthu satasatuṭan
Tunnuvar tattam tozhiṛku aļavākave
Souls initially remain in the kevala state. They are unconscious, immersed in ānava.
The suddha kevala or those who remain in the pure kevala state do not have a body
as they are not associated with maya which brings other concepts that result in a
body. When they become conscious due to maya, karma and products of maya
(mayeya) are added to them. The mayeya are the vidya tattva or principles that grant
knowledge. The souls then become sakala in suddha state who have self-awareness
(v2236). Tirumular says that the kevala remain associated with asat (lack of
consciousness), sakala are associated with sat-asat (conscious sometimes and
unconscious otherwise) and the suddha are associated with sat (fully conscious).
Based on the number of innate impurities functioning in them, souls are classified
into vijnanakala, pralayakala and sakala. The vijnanakala have āṇava, pralayakala
have maya along with āṇava and the sakala have karma along with the other two.
Tirumandiram differs from sivajnana siddhiyar, a seminal Saiva Siddhanta text which
states that the pralayakala are under the influence of karma and not maya. The
vijnanakala are called so because their association with maya and karma were removed by
intellect. The kevala among the vijnanakala are unconscious of everything. They are
the kevala-kevala. The tanjňāna are those who have the sense of self. They are the
suddha-kevala. The ashta vidyeswara belong to this category. The enjňāna are the
mantra nāyaka or lords of seven crore mantra. They are the sakala-kevala. The
meijňāna are vijnanakala who are free of ānava due to divine grace. They remain in the
state of śivam.
Among the sakala the apakva are those who do not attempt to remove the mala, the
sādaka are those who are attempting to remove the mala and the jivan mukṭa are
those who remain with their ciṭṭam in tune with supreme Ciṭ. The jivan mukṭa are
souls that possess both, the limited consciousness that causes worldly experiences as
well as mukti cit or the consciousness of the liberated. Both these states of
consciousness are in balance in them. Hence, they are not affected by the three innate impurities.
The sakala are classified into kevala in sakala, sakala in sakala and suddha in
sakala. The kevala in sakala are those who exist in jagrit turyathita. The sakala in
sakala exist in jagrit-jargrit state. The suddha in sakala are the pralayakala. The
ānava is more dominant in them while traces of maya continue to exist. As they are
suddha by nature, they exist in the state of tatparam or divine grace (2251). The
hundred and eight Rudras belong to this group.
The meijnana of the vijnanakala are the suddha souls. By divine grace they leave
their attachment with the innate impurities, reach the state of omkara and remain as
nirmala or suddha (v2233).
The kevala, sakala and suddha are kārana avatthai. These causal states are
experienced through the resultant states of consciousness, the kārya avatthai, which are the
five states, wakeful (jāgrit), dream (svapna), deep sleep (suṣupti), turiya and the
turyātita. A soul remains in one of the causal states depending on the fruits of its previous
action. When it realizes the truth about its nature, the kevala and sakala states are
burnt and it attains the suddha state (v2409). The five states of consciousness that the
soul experiences are created by the number of tattva or principles functioning in them.
The number of tattva or limiting factors in Tamil Siddha philosophy
The specific state of consciousness experienced by a soul is in accordance with the
fruits of its previous action. The states of consciousness have varying number of
principles functioning in them. According to Tamil Siddhas there are totally 96 principles
that constitute a lifeform3. Their emergence is traced from parāparam.
The Supreme parāparam distinguished itself into two entities, parāparam and
parāparai. From these two emerge the paranada and parabindu or the parai and
param. They are also called parasivam and parasakti. The parabindu and paranada
give rise to Śiva and Śakthi through suddha maya. Siva and sakti states are called
apara bindu and apara nada. Jnāna emerges from siva and kriya from sakthi. These
two lead to iccha that causes the appearance of the manifested world beginning with
sadasiva or the sadhakya principle. Thus, the manifested world is not different from
the Supreme Being who is not a silent witness but one who appears as many. Tirumular
defines param or parasivam as the unarvu or consciousness that animates the body from
The five siva tattva, siva (apara bindu), sakti (apara nada), sadasiva, maheswara
and suddha vidya emerge from suddha maya. They give rise to the seven vidya tattva,
kalā, kāla, niyati, raga, avidya, purusha and maya, which are the products of asuddha
maya. The twenty four atma tattva- five karmendriya (senses of action), five
jnanendriya (senses of knowledge), five elements (sky, air, fire, water and earth), five subtle
qualities (sound, touch, form, taste and smell), four modifications of the mind (mind,
intellect, ahamkara and chittham) are products of prakriti maya. The atma tattva
manifest as sixty secondary principles or sārpu tattuvam or pura karuvigal (external
instruments). They are listed below:
From Earth: hair, bone, skin, nerves, flesh
From Water: saliva/urine/chile, blood, semen, brain, marrow
Fire: hunger, sleep, sexual desire, fear, laziness
Air: walking, running, standing, sitting and lying
Sky: anger, greed, miserliness, malice and obstinacy
Earth: ten nadi or energy channels idai, pingalai, sulumunai, gandhari, atthi, asvani,
aalam, purusha, sootham, singuvai
Fire and air: five primary vital breaths, prana, apana, udhana, samana, vyana
All the five elements: the five secondary vital breaths, nagan, koorman, kirikaran,
Sky: the three attachments (etanai) wealth, world and offspring
Vak or speech- talking, memorizing, singing, weeping and exulting
Prakriti: the three qualities- rajas, tamas and satva
Bindu: four stages of sound, paishanthi, madhyama, vaikari, sukshma
Among the 36 internal instruments, the karmendriya and jnanendriya are called the
pulan or senses. The five subtle qualities and the three modifications of the mind
without the chittham are called puriashtakam or eight senses.
Five States of consciousness
Tamil Siddhas call the wakeful state as nanavu (jāgrit), the dream state as kanavu
(svapna), the deep sleep state as cuļinai or āļurakkam (suṣupti), the turiya state as
appāl (beyond) and the turiyāṭīṭa state or aṭīṭam as appālukkappāl (beyond the
According to Tirumandiram among the three qualities, the satva guna is responsible
for wakeful state, the rajo guna for the dream state and the tamo guna for deep sleep.
The turiya is beyond the three guna and is hence, nirguna (v2296).
Tirumandiram states that most of the states of consciousness are experienced in the
sakala state. The kevala in sakala, sakala in sakala and suddha in sakala experience
five states of consciousness each. The states of consciousness experienced during yoga
also occur in the sakala state. Thus, the total states of consciousness experienced in the
sakala state are twenty. Besides these, the true kevala experience five states and the
suddha experience five states. Thus, the total number of states of consciousness is thirty.
States of consciousness of kevala in sakala
The kevala-kevala are unconscious until maya stirs them. Then they experience the
descending states of consciousness or kezhāl avatthai and ascending states of
consciousness or melāl avatthai. These states are called so as they descend from the brow
middle to the navel and ascend back. Tirumūlar calls a soul emerging from its inactive
state as a student who is woken up by the teacher with the help of a stick. The soul is
unconscious, in the state of eternal sleep, immersed in ānava. The Lord wakes it up
with the help of maya and makes it experience all the five states (v2162).
The descending states of consciousness are experienced in different parts of the body.
aiyaintu matthimaiyānatu sākkiram
kaikanṭa pannānkil kaṇṭam kanāvenpar
poikaṇṭilāta puruṭan idhayam suzhunai
meikaṇṭavan untiyākum turiyamē (verse 2142)
Among the five śiva tattva all of them function in the wakeful state, four in the
dream state (suddha vidya is nonfunctional), three in deep sleep (maheswara is also
nonfunctional), two in turya (śiva and sakti) and only śivam in the turyāṭīṭa (v2143).
As the number of siva tattva functioning differ in the different states, the
corresponding vidya tattva and the atma tattva also differ. These principles depend on the siva
tattva to turn them on. Thus, the states of consciousness differ in the number of
instruments functioning in them.
The participants of the wakeful state are ten senses, five elements, five subtle
qualities, ten vital airs, four modifications of the mind and the purusha. It is experienced in
the middle of the brow. The soul remains with objective experience of the world
In the dream state the soul settles in the throat with the ten vital airs and four
modifications of the mind. The ten senses are discarded in this state. All the experiences are
due to the modifications of the mind (v2154). The experiences in the dream state are
created by maya.
In deep sleep, the soul descends to the heart and remains with prāna and ciṭṭam. The
other modifications of the mind do not work in this state. The prāna is operated by
ahamkara but it does not confer the sense of “I-ness”. As intellect is not functioning,
the purusha is unable to remember the experiences in this state. Tirumandiram calls
this state as avyakta or unclear (v2155).
In the turya state, the soul is with prāna only. It remains at the navel. Tirumūlar says
that it remains as the speechless one who has left the ignorance caused by the body.
The soul remains with the sense of Self. Tirumandiram says that the turiya state
remains within all other states and that there is no state which is free of it (v2156).
Tirumandiram describes the turyātīta state as “we do not know”(v2158).
States of consciousness of sakala-sakala
The sakala-sakala experience madhyāl avatthai or middle states. They are experienced
at the brow middle. All the five states of consciousness are experienced in the jagrit
state. Hence, they are given as combinations of the jagrit state. The jagrit in these souls
differ from the jagrit of the descending states in that all instruments are functioning
here and the soul experiences the world fully. Sakala are souls that possess all the five
innate impurities. Tirumandiram explains the relationship between the innate
impurities and the states of consciousness. Maya operates in jāgrit-turya. Kāmiya
mala functions in jāgrit-suṣupti. Mayeya mala functions in jāgrit-svapna and
tirodāyi mala functions in jāgrit jāgrit. This leads to the inference that the āṇava
functions in jāgrit-turyatita.
sākkira sākkiram tannil tirõdāyi
sākkira soppanam tannidai māyeyam
sākkiram tannil suzhutthitanil kāmiyam
sākkiram tannil turiyatthu māyaiye (v2167)
As all the instruments function in jagrit-jagrit, the soul experiences the world
through its external and internal senses. In jāgrit-svapna only the modifications of the
mind are functioning and so the soul does not see the world. Its experiences are
as thoughts and impressions. The action of perception stops with the jāgrit-suṣupti
as the karma functions only up to this state. The soul experiences happiness and
sorrow only up to this state. In the jāgrit-turya only the vidya tattva function and
the soul experiences only the I-sense. In the jāgrit-turyatita the siva tattva start to
activate the vidya tattva.
Tirumūlar compares the experiences of the middle state of consciousness to the
experiences of a blind man (v2169). Turiya is where the man remains without any sight. Suṣupti
is when he feels the ground in the front of him. Dream state is when he gets a stick and
with its help starts moving about. Wakeful state is when he suddenly gets his vision.
States of consciousness in the suddha in sakala state
The suddha in sakala experience suddha avatthai. This category includes the states
experienced during yoga. The suddha are souls that have voluntarily forsaken their
dependence on the senses. Hence, unlike the sakala in sakala who experience all the five
states of consciousness as combinations of jagrit, the suddha-sakala experience other
states such jagrit in svapna and svapna in svapna that do not need the senses for
The jagrit states of the suddha are the subtle component of the gross states
experienced in the sakala-sakala state. The kevala-suddha and kevala-sakala experience
these states. The soul remains in the suddha maya and experiences these states as if
they are a dream. The jagrit-jagrit state of suddha souls possesses the vidya and siva
tattva. The atma tattva do not function. Jagrit-svapna is leaving the vidya tattva and
possessing only the siva tattva. The jagrit-sushupti is leaving the siva tattva and
remaining in suddha maya. The state of purusha created by maya ends in turiya and
the souls are not associated with a body anymore (v2197–98).
The jagrit-atīta state is when the soul leaves the ānava and tastes the para state.
However, the para state is not permanent (v2254). When these souls transition to the
pure suddha state or the meijnana state then they experience the param as a
permanent state. Jāgrit in svapna is seeing the dream as if it is real. Svapna in svapna is seeing
the dream and forgetting it. Suṣupti in svapna is “not seeing” but only remembering
some ideas or scenes from the dream. Turya in svapna is lack of even the feeling of
having seen something (v2202).
Tirumūlar explains jāgrit in suṣupti as that where nothing occurs. This is the state
from which a person emerges into wakeful state knowing that he came from
somewhere but does not know the “where”. Svapna in suṣupti is the emergence of a feeling.
Suṣupti in suṣupti is objective awareness getting destroyed by awareness or being aware
of subjective awareness. Turiya in suṣupti is indescribable void (v2203).
The four states of consciousness are present in the turya also. Jagrit in turya is the
knowledge of idam. Svapna in turya is the knowledge of aham. Sushupti in turiya is
vyoma and turiya in turiya is the state when the self realizes that it is param. The
vyoma is the state of sadāsiva where the soul experiences oneness with the “Universal
Transcendental Being”. Vyoma or space according to Tamil Siddhas is a form of the
Supreme Being which emerges from its effulgence. Param state is the effulgence of the
Tirumandiram explains turiyātīta states of consciousness in terms of arivu. The
jāgrit in turyatīta is awareness or aṛivu becoming conscious of itself. Svapna is arivu
becoming unaware. Suṣupti is not being aware of aṛivu knowing itself. Turya is arivu
becoming arivu (v2206).
Turiyāṭīṭa in turiyāṭīṭa is a state of absolute fullness of consciousness. It is the state
where the soul is immersed completely in sivananda.
The niramala and para states of consciousness of the meijnana
The meijnana of the vijnanakala are the pure suddha who experience states of
consciousness different from the suddha states mentioned as a combination of sakala.
These souls experience nirmala avatthai and reach the state of param with the help of
nandi or consciousness of the self (v2278). The suddha maya, instead of bringing about
limitation, serves as the light. The soul goes to the state that is free of even the trace of
mala. It reaches the param state in its turiya (v2278). This param state is permanent.
The param state also enjoys para avatthai to reach the supreme state. In the para
jagrit and svapna states the soul loses its association with the world and enjoys
tranquility. In the sushpti it has the form of omkara. In the para turiya the soul reaches
sivam state (v2283). The sivam state is that of supreme consciousness. The soul is freed
of its causal and resultant limitations or upādi. It enjoys the bliss of awareness or
sivananda. It then reaches the supreme state of paramam and ultimately the paramparam
Paramsivan melām paramam parattil
Paramparan melām parananavāka
Virindha kanāidar vīttim suzhunai
Uramtaru mānandi yāmunṇmai thane.
Thus, the soul gets knowledge about the five states in sakala, attains awareness or
nandi in the suddha avatthai and with the help of nandi attains the state of param.
Then it moves through the para avatthai, attains the state of effulgence or body of light
and loses all the innate impurities (v2293).
Tirumūlar explains the reason for these suddha souls still undergoing transformation
with the example of an iron piece that is red hot even after taking it out of the fire.
Even though these souls are devoid of mala, the impression of faults or vāsana still
lingers in them (v2309). When nandi grants the grace, the impressions also leave the soul
and they become param (v2310).
In para jāgrit, nada, the cause of sound occurs. In para-svapna the nada abides and
becomes subtle. In para suṣupti, bodham occurs and in the para turya the paramam
becomes visible. However, the process does not stop here. The para turyathitha state
which is “becoming” the paramam has to occur. When the soul realizes its nature as
sivam, the para upādi leaves it (v2314).
Tirumandiram says when the darkness and light, the soul and parai, are crossed the
soul experiences sivananda (v2325). In this state all the principles will become siva cit,
sivam or supreme consciousness (v2328).
Tirumandiram calls the ultimate state as Hamsa or annam. It is reached by when the
soul merges with the Divine in such a way that there are no distinctions (kuṛi aṛiyā
vagai kūdumin) (v2353). It is the state of “becoming” where not even the consciousness
of being conscious remains. This is the parāparam state. It is attained by divine
grace or arul. In this state the soul merges with the power of grace or arul sakti
and becomes all pervading (8.13.23) Souls in the supreme state of sivam have the
sign of jnana (jnana kuṛi). Such souls are the mauni or the silent ones. They enjoy
the jnana ananda or bliss of realization. They perform the five acts of siva,
creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowing of grace, adorning the
form of tatparam. The body of this state is jnana, its parts are kriya and its soul
is iccha (v2332).
Tirumandiram sums up the role of arivu through the statement, when sivam or
supreme consciousness pervades the param, it becomes the paramparam and arivu
grants it the ensuing sivananadam (v2449).
Types of bodies
Tirumandiram tantiram 8 section 1 describes the body that each type of soul takes. A
meijnana has the body of sivam, the body of light. A yogin takes the body of bindu and
nada. A mauni or a supreme soul in the state of silence takes a body of mukti which is
beyond all the three voids. The vijnanakala’s body is made up of ānava, that of
enjnana’s is maya and ajnana or sakala’s body is karma. Thus, it becomes clear that by the
term body, Tirumandiram refers to the plane in which a soul operates.
Tat tvam asi and states of consciousness
Tirumandiram assigns the turiya the role of being a transition state. In jiva turya the
soul moves from jiva state to para. In para turiya it moves from para to sivam state.
The siva turiya or penultimate state is the “ariya turiyam” or the rare turiya beyond
which is the ultimate state of siva turiyatita.
The mahavakhya or great statement “Tat tvam asi” or “thou are that” is explained in
terms of three types of turiya. Tvam is the jiva turiya experienced by the meijnana. The
para turiyatita is tat. The siva turiya is asi (Mudhaliar 1972:26-29).
Nine states of consciousness
Tirumandiram names the soul in the wakeful, dream and deep sleep states of jiva, para
and siva states of consciousness as visvan, thaijasan, prāgnan for jiva, virāttan,
ponkarppan (hiranya garbha) and avyākirtan for param and idhayan, prajāpatyan and
sānthan for siva states. The soul crosses these states and reaches the turiya state to
become sivam. Tirumandiram mentions that the turiya state exists in other states. Thus
the total number of states where turiya exists are ten, four as jiva, four as para and two
as siva. In the siva state only the turiya and turiyatita exist. At the end of the ten states
the soul merges with the supreme state (v2469).
Iraintu avatthai isai mutturiyattuļ
Nerantam āka neṛivazhiye senṛu
Pārantham āna parāparatthu aikkiyatu
Órantha mām iru pātiyai serntiṭe
Tirumandiram also describes three types of mukti or liberation. Mukti indicates the
end of a state. The jiva mukti is turiyātīta, para mukti is upasantham and siva mukti
is ānandam or bliss (v2474). Crossing this state, the soul reaches the “appāl” or
beyond, a state that is beyond verbal description.
Kashmir Saiva concept of souls and states of consciousness
The Trika system’s descriptions of states of consciousness are similar to those in
Tirumandiram. The Trika system focuses on the soul’s self-awareness in these states. Swami
Lakshman Jee says that the jňāni and yogins have different names for these states4. The
yogins call wakeful state as pindasṭa as the soul is one with the objective world. The
jnāni call this svatobadra or seeing Śiva as everything, everywhere. The dream state is
defined by the yogins as padasṭam or being in one own state. Jnāni call this vyāpṭi or
pervasion. Yogins call the deep sleep state as rūpasṭa or established in one’s own self.
Jnāni call this state mahavyapti or great pervasion as “there is absolutely no limitation
of objectivity.” The turiya state is rūpāṭīṭa as it is being in one’s self. The jnāni call it
pracyaya or an undifferentiated state or state of totality. The yogins do not have a name
for turyāṭīṭa as yoga is not possible in this state as there is “nowhere to go”. This is
similar to Tirumūlar saying that he does not know this state. The jňāni call this state
mahapracaya or “unlimited and unexplainable supreme totality”.
Similar to Tirumandiram the Trika system also explains that each of the state of
consciousness includes all the four states within.
Trika system explains the wakeful states similar to Tirumandiram’s description. Jāgrit
jāgrit is awareness. Jāgrit-svapna is living in the state of impressions of objectivity. This is
the state of buddhāvastha where there is some consciousness. Jāgrit- suṣupti is the state
of prabuddha where the soul remains without experiencing the external world or internal
impressions. Jāgrit-turya is suprabuddha where the soul remains with the consciousness
In Kashmir Śaivism, jāgrit in svapna is seeing something in a dream and not being
conscious of seeing. This is the state of gaṭāgaṭam. Svapna in svapna is seeing different
things but forgetting that they were seen. This is the state of suvikṣiptam. Suṣupti in
svapna is developing some awareness while seeing something and forgetting it. It is the
state of saṁgatam or “being touched” by consciousness. Turya in suṣupti is the state of
susamāhitam. However, this is not a permanent state. The soul dreams, realizes that it
is dreaming and enters into samadhi but then again it goes into dreaming. Tirumūlar
may be referring to this when he says turya is inferring.
Kashmir Saivism explains jāgrit in suṣupti as remaining in absolute void but not
being aware of it, not enjoying it. This is the state of uditam or full of rising towards Śiva.
Svapna in suṣupti is vipulam. Suṣupti in suṣupti is explained as being uninterruptedly
aware of remaining in the world of subjective consciousness. It is the state of sāntam.
Turya in suṣupti is being fully blissful yet not being fully aware of that bliss.
According to Kashmir Śaivism transcending the states above vijňānakala does not
need any effort on the part of the soul as it has crossed maya. These are states of
pramiti, purely subjective states without any agitation due to objectivity. The turya
states described by Tirumūlar are similar in that they are beyond maya and hence
free of objectivity. The suddha vidya state of Kashmir Śaivism is similar to the jāgrit
turya described in Tirumandiram as experiencing the bodham or knowledge of idam.
Kashmir Śaivism describes this state as experiencing both the reality of the self
(aham aham) and the unreality of the universe (idam idam). Tirumandiram
describes svapna in turya as the bodham of aham. This is similar to the state of īśvara
pramātri in Kashmir Śaivism which describes it as a state with more permanent
knowledge of aham or reality of Self. Suṣupti in turya is vyoma or space. This is
similar to the state of sadāsiva where the soul experiences oneness with the “Universal
Transcendental Being”. Vyoma or space according to Tamil Siddhas is a form of the
Supreme Being which emerges from its effulgence. Turya in turya is the state of
param, the effulgence of the Supreme Being, parāparam. Trika system describes only
three states, up to suṣupti in turya. They are manonmanam, anantham and
sarvārtham respectively. There is no turya in turya state.
The turiyāṭīṭa is the state of absolute fullness of consciousness in both the systems.
Tirumandiram is the earliest and probably the only Tamil Siddha text that describes
the nature of the soul, its states of consciousness and the experiences in those states so
elaborately. To fit with its claim to be an Agama it describes the four parts, charya,
kriya, yoga and jnana and equates them to dasa marga, satputra marga, sakhā marga
and san marga. The effects of going through these steps are salokya, sameepya,
sarupya and sayujya respectively. It elaborates on ashtanga yoga as the path for Samadhi
whose ultimate aim is to become one with sivam. Without prescribing a particular path
for liberation it lists various rituals and chakra as paths for attaining supreme
knowledge. The preliminary work on SriVidya concepts in Tirumandiram needs to be
explored further. In this context, it will be interesting to compare Tirumular’s
explanations with that of Agatthiyar in the work Devi Chakaram which is available as
a palm leaf manuscript.
The controversy, whether Tirumandiram subscribes to monistic or pluralistic view
needs careful exploration. Tirumandiram’s inclusion in the tirumurai that are mostly
pluralistic in nature may have been a way to protect it and point it out as an important
Saiva text. Verses that say Siva is not different from jiva and that self becomes “him” in
the end indicate that Tirumandiram is a text which aligns with monism. Preliminary
work presented in this area (Ganapathy et al. 2006) needs a thorough study.
The states of consciousness are mentioned in Tirumandiram as paths for jiva
merging or attaining samavesa with Siva. The soul attains the supreme state by recognizing
its original nature as sivam. Sivam’s form is explained as the supreme light within the
state of turiya. This light is perceived through sakti. These concepts and others such as
the nature of pati, pasu, pasa, vimarsa and vikalpa need further exploration to see if
the philosophy presented in Tirumandiram has similarity with other saiva schools such
as the Pratyabijna school of Kashmir Saivism and the VeeraSaiva school.
according to this book.
GA conceived the project and studied the states of consicousness in Tirumandiram and other sources. SM supervised
the project and provided suggestions on the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
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