The monks continue working on “THE SEVEN MYSTIC GURUS,” the biographical stories of the Kailasa Paramparai. Today we share the story of how Tirumular walked out of the Himalayas as decreed by his guru, Maharishi Nandinatha. He went by foot to the deep south. Our story continues;
Entering the South of India
Once released by inner orders to depart, he proceeded on to Tiruvalankadu, from where he set out to Kanchipuram, in what is now Tamil Nadu, the land of the Tamil Dravidian people, one of the oldest Caucasian races on the planet. The first temple to be visited was a Siva sanctuary in Kanchipuram representing the earth element, where the healing powers of Lord Siva are pronounced, profound and famous. It was at the earth temple that he realized that it was among the Tamil people his mission was to take place. Yet, he was troubled by the fact that his physical body was of lighter complexion, taller than the Tamils, and that he was considered to be an outsider by all, and an intruder by some. Rishi Sundaranatha was dismayed and asked Lord Siva, at the temple of the earth element, how to find his way among the people that he was sent to bring his message to--the great Vedic-Agamic truths, the synthesis of Vedanta and Siddhanta, which was later to become the treatise of all times, loved and cherished by the Tamil people from then to now, in the twenty-first century, written in cryptic poetic outpourings.
Lord Siva said, “Wait. The solution shall be revealed.” Without a definite answer to his prayers, Sundaranatha trekked off to Chidambaram deeper in the South. At Chidambaram he stayed longer, having the darshans of God Siva’s anandatandavan dance. Here the young sannyasi’s heart and soul melted in love, and here, too, he moved daily with two other of his gurubhais, brother monks of Maharishi Nandinatha--sages Patanjali and Vyaghrapada. Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras, ultimate monist, and Vyaghrapada, foremost devotee and Siva bhaktar, deeply impressed Sundaranatha, who embraced his fellow disciples who had been sent South by Nandinatha several years before. Thereafter, Sundaranatha was to become the foremost spokesman of monistic theism, the Saiva path which radiates both Patanjali’s yogic attainment and Vyaghrapada’s yogic devotion of total theistic surrender.
His brother sannyasins soon availed him of the ins and outs of the local area and community. One day, walking about as he was wont to do, he entered a dense forest. There he stumbled upon an ancient Sivalinga and immediately fell to the ground in spontaneous surrender. It was a potent Linga, but small, about 50 centimeters high in its black granite bana. Sundaranatha’s worship, so perfectly unself-conscious, so oblivious of anything but the object of his homage which was inclusive of himself in some inexplicably joyous way, empowered that once-neglected Siva icon. He continued the worship, and today this Sivalinga is enshrined in a small shrine within the 35-acre Chidambaram Temple compound.
Sundaranatha Is Given a Cowherd’s Body
Leaving his brother monks in the sleepy village of Chidambaram, he crossed the Kaveri River and reached Tiruvavaduthurai, a Saiva center which has the honor of holding the samadhi shrine of this great Natha siddhar, though present-day managers of the sacred monastery say the disposition of his actual remains is not known. Lord Siva captured him here, and he was reluctant to leave.
Walking one day on the banks of the Kaveri, he came upon a herd of cows bellowing in distress, mourning the death of their cowherd, whose body lay lifeless nearby. Sundaranatha’s compassion proved overwhelming as he felt the pain of these berieved creatures. His soul reached out to assuage their distress. Rishi Sundaranatha wanted to bring solace to the cows. Being a great adept of siddha yoga, an accomplished raja yogi, he conceived a strategy to assume the herder’s body. He first looked for a place to hide his physical body and found a hollow log. Then crawling into the log, where his body would be safe, he entered a mesmeristic, cataleptic trance, stepped out in his astral body, walked over to the dead cowherd, whose name was Mular, lay down on top of the corpse, entered it and slowly brought it back to life. The first thing he saw upon reanimating Mular’s body was one of the most favored and intelligent cows, crying big tears from both eyes. These were tears of joy. All the cows now gathered round their beloved Mular, licking his face and body with their abrasive tongues and bellowing in bovine joy. After a time, being satisfied their cowherd was alive, they began to graze as usual, and the sight gladdened the heart of our Rishi. As evening fell, the cattle began walking back to the village, leading a newly embodied Mular behind them. Mular’s wife was waiting at the village gate for her husband, who was late. The woman was alone, with neither children nor relatives. She felt a strangeness in her husband and began to weep. Sundaranatha told her he had no connection with her whatsoever, and instead of entering the home, he went back to a monastery that he had passed on the way. Mular’s wife informed the villagers of her husband’s strange behavior, soliciting their aid. They approached the monastery, speaking with her supposed husband, whose deep knowledge and presence baffled them.
Returning to Mular’s wife, they told her that far from being in a state of mental instability, as she had described, he appeared to be a Siva yogi, whose greatness they could not fathom. Mular’s wife was sorely troubled, but she was also a chaste and modest woman and reconciled herself to the fact that her husband was somehow no longer the same person, and she prayed to Lord Ganesha for help. Soon the villagers began to call the transformed cowherd Tirumular, or “holy Mular.”
Eager now to be free of this unforeseen entanglement, Rishi Sundaranatha sought out the body he had left near the pasture. Returning to the hollow log, he looked inside and found that his body was not there. He searched for days and days, looking in every hollow log he could find, and even some logs that proved not to be hollow. Finally, in desperation, he sat in padmasana upon the hollow log where he had left his North Indian body. Entering deep yoga samadhi, he contacted his guru, Maharishi Nandinatha. They mentally communicated, and the explanation was that Lord Siva Himself, through His great power of dissolution, had dissolved the atomic structure of the North Indian body after he was well settled and adjusted to his Tamilian cowherder’s body, with the boon that he could now speak fluent Tamil. Tirumular then realized that this was the answer to the prayers he offered at Kanchipuram. He saw that now he could effectively give out to the world in the Tamil language the great truths of the Saiva Agamas and the precious Vedas, uniting Siddhanta with Vedanta for all time.
The letter "Ya" in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya, stands for the soul. Bodhinatha uses the Panchakshara Mantra to show how the soul is initially drawn by Siva's veiling grace, which leads the soul to maturity through experience in the world. Then comes Siva's revealing grace. When we've had enough of the world, Siva's grace pulls us toward God. The mantra also has the simple, two-syllable form. Si- Reflecting on God the Transcendent Absolute, Va-God as the All Pervading Consciousness