- 1-5 Tirumular : Upatesam 1-5


Dear Friends,

For several years  I have been  conducting  classes on Thriumanthiram and have completed upto the Sixth Tantra. Soon I am about to start classes on the remaining three. I am venturing now to provide my own interpretations to the first part of the First Tantra, the Upatesam , that which in a way summarises the whole metaphysics of Thirumular, certainly one of the most profound metaphysicians of the world.

Here we have Hermeneutic Science at the deepest and hence something universal. He describes many of the essentila sof Agamism that outl;ines a metaphysics of individuals freedom and certainly something that does not condone Varnasrama Dharma at all and hence entirely different from Vedism.

I am following here the same numbering system as that of Dr B. Nadarajan but I will  follow a style of rendering it into English keeping in mind the numerous individuals  who are keen to understand these verses but do not have the necessary knowledge of Tamil. I am also providing elucidatory notes to explain the matter a bit further.

I hope you will find them interesting and philosophically stimulating


1. :   Advise on Metaphysics


Ţ Ƣ Ţ츢
ɢ 측
츢¡ ġ
Ǣ 򾡧

VinninRu izintu vinaikkiidaay meykoNdu
thanninRu taaLaik talaikkaaval munvaittu
uNNinRu urukkiyor oppilaa aanantak
kaN inRu kaaddik kaLaimbu aRuttaanee

çġ ¡ âЦ, Ţ¢    á Ģ   ĸ ¢ , ɢ  ġ . 򧾡    ɡ θ 츢 Ƣ 츢 츢,  ġ ﺢ Ǣ .

When I emerged from the metaphysical realms of mantras
Assuming a physical body consistent with the prapta karma I have acquired
He remained throughout the saviour by establishing HIS Dancing Feet to guide me along
And standing within as radiant flame, melted away all the hard impurities  and
Enabled me to experience Bliss Supreme that is incomparable and undying and today
Disclosing Himself in his most authentic form
purified me further of all misunderstandings

vinninRu izintu: emerging from the metaphysical realms of mantras (which is abode of the souls after death)

vinaikkiiday mey koNdu: assuming a physical body consistent with the (prapta ) karma I have acquired

tanninRu taaLaik talaik kaaval munvaittu: He remained the saviour by establishing His Dancing Feet to guide me along

uNNinRu urukki: standing within as the radiant flame, melted away all the hard impurities

oor oppila aananta: Bliss Supreme that is incomparable

kaN inRu kaadi: disclosing Himself in His most authentic Form

kaLimbu arUttaanee: purified me further of all the misunderstandings.


The central point here is Tarisanam, seeing for oneself the most authentic form of BEING, something that however is possible only as a GIFT from BEING. It is empasized here that everything happens only as His Grace, including  the rebirth that is determined by the Prapta karma one has acquired. Even here His Guidance is there and without which the assumption of a physical body and acquiring an existential  world consistent with that,  is impossible.

But one should not just be happy with EXISTING and BEING simply will not allow that. He remains the FIRE within melting away  hardened sediments of inflexibilty and resistance, and   making the mind  fluid and  flexible  makes the heart soft and gentle, full of AruL . But this  same fire as the Inner Radiance provides the metaphysical illuminations that further dispell all  taRpootam, the ego-thoughts and at which point occurs the Divine Disclosure, BEING disclosing Himself in his most authentic Form,  that which in its turn generates the Consciousness of Supreme Clarity and indubitability.



Ǣ ϸ áǢ

kaLimbu aRuttaan kaNNutal Nanti
kaLimbu aRuttaan kaN vizippittu
kaLimbu aNukaata katiroLi kaaddip
paLingkil pavaLam patittaan patiyee

ѾŢƢ     ɧ 츢 ǡ Ǣ 츢ɡ.  ѾŢƢ ŢƢ Ҹ . šȢ Ǣ ϸ Żø , ¡ Ǣ 츢 .

Nanti, the BEING-as-Virile Bull and with the Third  Eye
Opening up my capacity for transductive perceptions
Dislodged  the inner impurity that obscures and blocks off visions and
Dislosing the Light of Pure Radiance that is unattainable with these impuritie still lodged
Implanted in my crystal clear mind the REDNESS of Sivattuvam

KaNNutal nanti: BEING-as-VIRILE BULL and with the Third Eye

kaLimbu aRuttaan: dislodged the inner impurities that obscure and block off visions

kaN vizippittu: Opening up my capacity for transductive perceptions

kaLimbu aNukaata katiroLi kaaddi: dislosing the Light of Pure Radiance that is unattainable with the impurites still lodged

paLingkil pavaLam patittaan patiyee: implanted in my crystal clear mind the REDNESS of Sivattuvam


In this verse Tirumular attends  again to possiblities of transductive perceptions i.e Darsanas , metaphorically described as the visions of the Third ye. We can understand this notion by noting that it is akin to the common dream experience where visions are had while one is asasleep i.e. where the ordinary perceptual senses are inactive. All human beings possess this capacity for transductive perceptions but become available only for those who are PURE by being FREE of inner constraints that obscure, distort, disfigure and even block off such deep visions that disclose for direct experiencing the contents of metaphysical realms.

By KaLimbu is meant here the ANAVA MALAM, that which introduces metaphysical blindness and through that IGNORANCE.  It is akin to the verdigrees in copper the removal of which is said to transform the copper into gold. As long as this stuff is present with the soul, the higher visions will be  blocked off and if at all  something become available for seeing,  it will not perceived in the true light. It is that distorts disfigures destroys and so forth and therby introduces MISUNDERSTANDINGS.

The "KaN vizipittal" is actually opening up this Third Eye, the capacity for transductive perceptions which is another and higher level of dream experience. Since in such visions the hidden and concealed truths  as well as what holds for oneself in the future become available, only the PURE in heart are blessed with this capacity. And with this we have the ARUTKAN, seeing that is constituted by ARUL itself and hence a kind of seeing where falsities are impossible to perceive and whatever is seen is seen in the true light. As truths after truths are seen in this way and accumulated the anma, the soul,   becomes purified further and in the end attains Sivatuvam, a PURITY from  a kind of oneness with BEING itself.



¢ ɡ
¢ ϸ
ϸ ġ

patipacu paacam enappakar muunRil
patiyainaip pool pacupaacam anaati
patiyinaic cenRaNuKaap pacu paacam
patiyaNukidil pacupaacam nillaavee

¡á Ţ ¡ Ƣ¡ Ȣ, ¢ ǡ . Ȣ 򧾡 , ¢ ϸ   ġЧ.  ¢ š ϸŢ,   ġ

Among the metaphysical entities that constitute Fundamental Ontology and
That consists of BEING, the innumerable anmas and the enchaining fetters,
The innumerable anmas and the fetters are unoriginary just as BEING and in this
If the anma does not move unto BEING, it will continue to be engulfed by the fetters but
If it does,  then and only then, the fetters will not stand with the anmas

patipacu paacam enappakar muunRil: Among the metaphysical entities that constitute Fundamental Ontology and that consists of BEING, the innumerable souls and the enchaining fetters

patiyainaip pool pacupaacam anaati : the enchaining fetters and the enchained souls are just as unoriginary as BEING

patiyinaic enRaNuKaap pacu paacam: In this if the anma does not move unto BEING, it will remain engulfed by the fetters;

patiyaNukidil pacupaacam nillaavee: But if it does then the fetters will not stand with it.


This verse is certainly the watershed in the long History of Tamilian metaphysical thinking and which also gave the distinctive metaphysical illumination that sustains Saivism and will continue to sustain it in times to come. For here we have the Fundamental Ontology worked out most clearly for the first time in Human History. It is quite common in world religions and metaphysics to learn that BEING is unoriginary , indestructible and hence the Absolute. But  it remains to this day the central insight of Saiva Siddhanta that along with BEING as unoriginary we have also the anmas and fetters that enchain the anmas and make them struggle with cudduNarvu, the the-tic consciousness of this and that and temporality along with it.

This verse also outlines very criptically but most beautifully the meaning of not only of all religious struggles but also existence itself, that FOR WHICH existence is. The anma,  in itself and right from the beginning of phenomenal history is ALREADY FALLEN, the fallenness is NOT something that has happened on the way because tempted into the evil by the snake. The FALLENESS is what anma IS right from the beginning and what causes this are the fetters, aNavam Kanmam and Mayai that enchain the soul into physicality by forcing it to acquire a physical frame and hence historicity, presence  as a phenomenal entity with an appropriate puvanam, or existential  world. This is the REASON why we are here with a certain identity that is historically constituted.

Thus the very purpose of existence is for FREEING ourselves from this FALLENNESS, we have to redeem ourselves from this fallen state. But how? Thirumular explains it most clearly: by moving unto BEING, the Absolutely PURE and Free of all these fetters. Only by reaching fire, we can  dispel the cold, only by moving towards Light that can we escape the Darkness. Only if we MOVE close to BEING that we can redeem ourselves from the enchaining fetters and if we fail in this by the neglect of metaphysical journeys then we also will fail to redeem ourselves. The possiblity of redemption is in our hands, it is always hanging there infront of us as something we can attain provided we set our mind  towards it. The Paradise is NOT SOMETHING WE HAVE LOST for we never had it at all, but rather something that remains there as something we can ATTAIN provided we struggle towards it. The Paradise lies at the end of metaphysical journey and only the truly valiant in the metaphysical sense, can access it.

Upatesam 4

¢ Ģ ʦ
¢ Ȣ ¡

veeyin ezungkanal poolee immeyyenum
kooyi liruntu kudikoNda koonnanti
taayinum mummalam maaRRit tayaa enun
tooyamataay ezunj cuuriyanaamee

  ǢЦ    ú ú ݼ츢      Цا Ǣθ , Ģ ظ 󾢦 ɢ ¢ġ ڸȡ.     ɢ  ¢   ը¢ ýž. š  âɡ ġЧ츢  츨   ¡ ը Ģ ţž.


 Like fire that indwells the bamboo and emerges  at the approriate moments
BEING  as KING-BULL also  indwells this physcial body making it
veritably a temple when  HE chooses to disclose Himself and
With LOVE that exceeds even that of  MOTHER dispells all the dark stuff within
Infusing by that act LOVE and CARE as the dominant feelings by arising
As the sun that immerses the soul in Pure Light.

veeyin ezungkanal poolee :  Like fire that indwells bamboo and emerges at the appropriate moments

immeyyenum kooyi liruntu :  making this physical body  veritably a temple

kudikoNda koonnanti:  when  BEING as KING-BULL  chooses to disclose Himself in the body as He who dwells there

taayinum mummalam maaRit: dispelling the dark stuffs with  LOVE and CARE greater than even that of MOTHER

tayaa enun tooyamataay ezunj cuuriyanaamee: arises within as the sun of Pure Light infusing LOVE and CARE as the dominant feelings.


So many people in the world lament at the absence of KINDNESS but the presence of CRUELTY in the bosom of man. Being philosphically naive they immediately jump to the conclusions that metaphysical reflections , that appear so distant from the daily practical concerns, the economic and political struggles,  are rather irrelevant and a glorious waste of time. Such people are like those who take pills that give immediate relief but do not cure the disease by building up the immunity so that such diseases do not assail one again.

Thirumular outlines here the remedy that cures the soul of all evils and transforms it into one incapable of anything but LOVE and CARE and which is the solution for the hatred and envy that mars social and economic existence. The mummalam, aaNavam Kanmam and Mayai are the root causes of  EVIL in man, that which make man despise and hate others and hence create dissensions in social existence.  Where there are these  factors lodged very firmly in the soul there CANNOT be any kind of progress including that in economic and political life. The beastiality , unless removed, will NOT allow any progress.

And this beastiality can be removed only through attaining metaphysical illuminations and immersing in the Pure LIGHT that purifies the soul of all the dirts just like a good bath in clean waters. And we need not go very far in search of that for this physical body is potentaiallly a TEMPLE provided BEING who indwells MANIFESTS Himself  and takes control of all processes both the cognitive and biological. The body is compared to the bamboo shoots where the FIRE that indwells is NOT SEEN under ordinary circumstances. However when it is dry and heated then and only then, the FIRE within bursts out and rages consuming the bamboo itself. Such is the case even with our physical body. When it is dried and heated by Tapas, the Radiance within will burst forth consuming the mummalam , effecting what the Saivites call tiikkai and purify the soul of all evil inducing elements.

Only such people, pure at heart and beyond any kind hatred, will be honest trustworthy reliable and full of CARE for the society as a whole  and as such would become the anchor for social progress both politically and economically.

Upatesam 5

â ħ
â 墨 ʼ
â 󿢾 ¢ ڧ

cuuriya kaantamunj cuuzpanjcum poolavee
cuuriya kaantanj cuuzpanjcaic cuddidaa
cuuriyan canni tiyiRcudu maaRupool
aariyan thooRRamun aRRa malangkaLee

â Ǣ Ȣ â    , â ý ġ ﺢ â ¡. Ţ θ. ɡ    ġ â ġЧ ¡.

At the absence of the Sun, even if the convex lens wraps up dry cotton
it will not singe it but will do so when the sun is around; so is the case even with the soul
It can burn off the dirt within and become pure only
In the Radiant Presence of the Great Warrior

cuuriya kaantamunj cuuzpanjcum poolavee: Just like convex lens and cotton wool  that  it wraps up

cuuriya kaantanj cuuzpanjcaic cuddidaa: it will NOT  singe the cotton if the Sun is absent

cuuriyan canni tiyiRcudu maaRupool:  but will do so when the Sun is present

aariyan thooRRamun aRRa malangkaLee : So is the case with the soul -- it can burn off the dirt within only at the Radiant Presence of the Great Warrior


In this very apt analogy Thirumular brings out that the anmas , no matter what they do, are ineffectual in becoming PURE unless thay install the presence of BEING in their bosom first.

The convex crystal can wrap around itself the cotton that can easily  burn off.  However at the absence of the rays of the sun or something like that it remains ineffectual to singe the cotton and make it burst out in flames. But  when the sun is around it can get the  rays, bring them to a focus onto the cotton and through that make it burst out in flames.

Thirumular is hitting at the elaborate prayers and tapas but which are NOT genuine but only a mere grandiose SHOW to impress the public and oneself. Any such ritualistic practices done without installing BEING in the heart are supremely INEFFICIENT in burning off  the filth of evil within and make one PURE and hence more developed.

The rituals no matter how elaborate, are USELESS unless they are done with genuine Bakthi, a loving devotion to BEING and because of which HE is present within, disclosing Himself from the Depths. BEING cannot be cheated into blessing by a mere empty show of religiosity-- He is not a FOOL at all to be cheatedd thus.

It is also being pointed out  that genuine Tiikkai, that which burns off the dirt within is NOT to be equated with the so many rituals done in the name of Tiikkai by the religious monks and by such people. The Tikkai that gains genuine PURITY and through that  affords the enjoyment of Deep Metaphysical Insights can be effected only if BEING wills it and that is entirely a matter of GRACE and hence not something that can be demanded and forced out from BEING in lieu of mere rituals or even by soul-melting pleadings and cries.

The genuine Tiikkais are EXISTENTIAL, something that happens in LIFE, in the course of social praxis where our real nature becomes manifest. Each time we are seized  with guilt for having done something wrong, there we are thrown into genuine Tiikkai and when we emerge out of it through genuine repentance, then and only then there is this cleansing, burning off the evil within.