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Murti of Tirumular Thirumoolar Nayanar.jpg
Murti of Tirumular
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Om symbol in Tamil Tamil Om.svg
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The twelve volumes of Tamil Śaiva hymns of the sixty-three Nayanars
1,2,3Thirukadaikkappu Sambandar
4,5,6 Thevaram Thirunavukkarasar
7Thirupaatu Sundarar
8 Thiruvasakam &
9 Thiruvisaippa &
10 Thirumandhiram Thirumular
12 Periya Puranam Sekkizhar
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Paadal Petra Sthalam
Rajaraja I
Nambiyandar Nambi

Tirumular (Tamil: திருமூலர், romanized: Tirumūlar), also known as Suntaranāthar, was a Tamil Shaivite mystic and writer, considered one of the sixty-three poet-saints called the Nayanars, and is listed among a group of 18 sages called the Siddhars. His magnum opus, the Tirumantiram , consisting of over 3000 verses, forms a part of the key text of the Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta compilation called the Tirumurai .



The dates of Tirumular's life are controversial, and because his work makes reference to so many currents of religious thought, the dates that different scholars assign are often appealed to for anchoring the relative chronology of other literature in Tamil and Sanskrit. Verse 74 of the Tirumantiram makes the claim that Tirumular lived for 7 yuga s (ages) before composing the Tirumantiram. [1]

Some are therefore inclined to place his composition well before the Common Era. The scholar and lexicographer S. Vaiyapuripillai, however, suggested that he probably belonged to the beginning of the eighth-century CE, pointing out that Tirumular could not very well be placed earlier given that he appears to refer to the Tevaram hymns of Sambandar, Appar, and Sundarar, that he used "very late words" and that he made mention of the weekdays. [2]

Others wish to push the date still later: Dominic Goodall, for instance, appears to suggest, on the grounds of religious notions that appear in the work with Tamil labels for which a certain historical development can be traced in other datable works, that the Tirumantiram cannot be placed before the 11th- or 12th-century CED. [3] Yet another view, alluded to for instance by Vaiyapuripillai (ibid.), is that the text may contain an ancient core, but with "a good number of interpolated stanzas" of later date. Whatever the case, allusions to works and ideas in the Tirumantiram cannot, at least for the moment, be used as useful indicators of their chronology.[ citation needed ]


Suntaranāthar, [4] as the saint was known, was a yogi originally from then Madurai. According to legend, he is believed to have travelled to Mount Kailash, where he was initiated by the deity Shiva. After spending 5 years at Mount Kailash, he undertook a journey under the order of Shiva to Tamilakam to meet his contemporary, the sage Agastya in Pothigai Hills. After meeting Agastya, he went to Chidambaram, and after worshiping Shiva at the Nataraja Temple, he was about to return to Mount Kailash. During his journey, near Sathanur village (a village near Aaduthurai), he saw a group of cows crying. He discovered that their cowherd, Mulan, was dead, having been bitten by a snake. Touched by the sight of the cows, he decided to use his yogic powers and move his soul from his body to that of the dead cowherd's, leaving his own body inside a log. On waking up in the body of the cowherd, the cows became happy; he then motioned them towards the village. When the saint wished to return to his own body, he was surprised to find that it was nowhere to be found. At this moment, he heard a divine voice from the sky, that of Shiva, who told him that he had been behind the disappearance of the body. The deity told him that he wished the saint to spread his teachings through the body of Mulan, allowing him to preach to the common folk in the vernacular Tamil spoken by the cowherd, as opposed to the literary Tamil in which the saint was well-versed. Suntaranāthar was henceforth called Tirumular, tiru meaning an epithet indicating respect. The saint is regarded to have engaged in meditation under a peepal tree in Thiruvavaduthurai, receiving holy hymns in Tamil. These three thousand holy hymns were compiled to become the book called the Tirumantiram.

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  1. Tirumantiram A Tamil scriptural Classic. By Tirumular. Tamil Text with English Translation and Notes, B. Natarajan. Madras, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1991, p.12.
  2. Vaiyapuripillai's History of Tamil Language and Literature (From the Beginning to 1000 A.D.), Madras, New Century Book House, 1988 (after the first edition of 1956), particularly footnote 1 on p.78.
  3. See pp.xxix-xxx in a Preface (entitled Explanatory remarks about the Śaiva Siddhānta and its treatment in modern secondary literature) to The Parākhyatantra. A Scripture of the Śaiva Siddhānta, Dominic Goodall, Pondicherry, French Institute of Pondicherry and Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient, 2004.
  4. Tirumular (19 October 2016). Tirumantiram - A Tamil Scriptural Classic. ISBN   9781365471681.