canon of "Saiva Siddhaanta

Wed Apr 22 00:15:52 UTC 1998

In his latest book, K. Zvelebil dates Tirumuular as
belonging to late 6th century to early 7th century AD.

> From KZ, Lexicon of Tamil literature, E. J. Brill, 1995
"As such, Tirumantiram has become the cornerstone of
all Tamil Siddha wrtings. In his religious outlook, the
author is a rather Catholic "Saivaite, his philosophy is
basically "saiva siddhaanta with traces of advaita. In
his practice, he is Tantric; the easiest way to approach
the Absolute is in and through human body. In his ridicule
of the externals of religion, he is one of the great Siddhas;
he is also great yogin who unites the approach of yoga
(which he expounds in great detail) with Tantric approach.
In using sex, the practitioner is encouraged to make an
uninhibited response to bodily demands in order to
sublimate them into spiritual joy. Many st. have more
than one layer of meaning. His is a lineage which goes parallel
to the line of bhakti poets, through Hindu and Muslim
siddhas upto Ramalinga Svaami. One may be in doubt
whether Tirumantiram is work of one author or rather
an entire group of  tantric yogin-philosophers, some of
them more interested in medicine, alchemy, magic,
others rather in ritual and iconography (worship of
Nataraja), yet others in ideology. There is though common
tendency of protest against empty ritualism; common tone
of rugged coarseness; finality of statement with explosive
power behind it. This gives the work unity and authenticity
of possibly single authorship. But the versatility coupled with adroitness
and double-entendre is suspicious. Much more study of
original text and its dating is needed."

N. Ganesan

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