Ganapathy, T. N. and K. R. Arumugam. The Yoga of Siddha Tirumular: Essays on the Tirumandiram. St. Etienne de Bolton, Canada: Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and Publications, 2006. Paperback, xxvi + 533 pp.
The Yoga of Siddha Tirumular, which is the sixth volume in the Yoga Siddha Research Center Publication Series, is a comprehensive introduction to the most important work on Yoga in the Tamil language—Saint Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram (in Sanskrit: Shrī Mantra). The coauthors of this work are well qualified to tackle this difficult Tamil scripture, which is fairly extensive (over 3,000 stanzas) and replete with esoteric symbolism and subtle metaphysical teachings, and their combined efforts have produced a singularly useful book.
After a general introduction, which conveniently maps out the textual and historical aspects of the Tirumandiram, the coauthors present (Chapters 2 and 3) the basic doctrines of the philosophy of Shaivism, which underlies Tirumūlar’s superb work, before going on to outline this adept’s yogic teachings (Chapters 4 and 5). In Chapter 6, we learn about Tirumūlar’s “twilight” (symbolic) language, which in many ways corresponds to that of other Tantric schools. The important concept of the body in both its physical and subtle aspects is dealt with in Chapter 7, while the figure of the guru is treated in Chapter 8. The concluding chapter inquires into the social concerns reflected in the Tirumandiram.
Basically, Tirumūlar teaches what he calls Shiva-Yoga—an early form of Kundalinī-Yoga, the esoteric discipline of the psychospiritual or “serpent” power by whose graceful agency the yogin’s inner being is utterly transformed to the point of literal enlightenment. It appears that it was he who introduced this “new” Yoga into Tamilnadu.
Yoga aims at the transubstantiation of the body into a radiant, “divine body” ( divya-deha), and the discussion of this phenomenon in Chapter 7 is among the most fascinating in this publication.
The Yoga of Siddha Tirumular is a path-breaking contribution to the study of Tamilnadu’s tradition of Siddha-Yoga, which has hitherto been much neglected. The work done by Drs. Ganapathy and Arumugam at the Yoga Siddha Research Center is an example not only of knowledgeable but also of sensitive scholarship, which goes a long way toward unraveling some of the secrets of the Siddhas. In the final analysis, of course, only personal practice can give us a deeper glimpse of the unbelievably rich inner world that is the home of great masters like Tirumūlar.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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