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Body, Self and Consciousness according to Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram: A comparative study with Kashmir Śaivism


Tirumular’s Tirumandiram is the earliest known Tamil treatise on yoga. This text is considered to be both, a devotional work as well as a tantric text. Unlike other major Siddha compositions, Tirumandiram does not contain any section on medicinal preparations or alchemy. It is the only Tamil text where the sections are named tanṭiram. In contrast to the popular pluralistic Śaiva Siddhānta, Tirumandiram, one of the twelve Saiva cannons (tirumurai), is monistic in its philosophy. This study, while elaborating on the metaphysics of the text Tirumandiram, also examines the shared philosophical thoughts between the monistic Kashmir Śaivism and Tamil Siddha mystics.


The Tamil Siddha tradition, an off-shoot of the pan-Indian tantric system, uses the body and the mind as a tool to go beyond the limitations of time, space, and causation. Kamil Zvelebil’s book, Poets of Power, gives details on Tamil Siddha tradition with its distinct characteristics (Zvelebil 1973: 76). Unlike the philosophical schools that dismiss the body as an impediment, the Tamil Siddhas place great emphasis on the role of body and mind to reach supreme states of consciousness. While both Vedanta and Āgama are considered as the basis of this school of philosophy, Āgamas are considered to be more specific and pragmatic than the Vedanta.

Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram, a flagship Tamil Siddha work, is unique in that it blends philosophical exposition with practical techniques such as ashtanga yoga and mantra yoga. Unlike other major Tamil Siddha compositions such as Agatthiyar vāda saumyam, Bogar 7000 and Konkanavar kāviyam, Tirumandiram does not discuss medicinal preparations or alchemy. While the date of Tirumūlar cannot be established unequivocally, as is common with the Tamil Siddhas, T.N.Ganapathy feels that Tirumūlar must have lived between the fifth and sixth century (Ganapathy 2006 :27–32).

Among the several versions of Tirumandiram, Tiruppanandhāl mata’s version translated into English by Ganapathy et al.1 contains 3047 verses classified into nine tantiram. The work begins with code of ethics in the first tantiram. In tantiram 2 Saiva puranic episodes and the five acts, creation, sustenance, dissolution of both the macrocosm and the microcosm concealment and bestowing of grace are described. Ashtanga yoga and special yoga such as paryanga yoga and kechari yoga are the themes of tantiram 3. Tantiram 4 is about various chakras. The fifth tantiram discusses the four main themes of an Agama, the charya, kriya, yoga and jnana, supporting Tirumular’s claim that his work is an Āgama. In the sixth tantiram the three concepts, knower, known and object of knowledge are discussed along with the behavior of a true saiva. Tantiram 7 elaborates on the characteristics of a saiva recluse, rituals such as his death ritual, worship, food and receiving alms. This tantiram contains five sections that describe five types of Aditya, a term used to indicate emergence of knowledge. Types of bodies, states of consciousness and the experiences of the soul in these states form the central theme of tantiram 8. In the concluding tantiram 9 Tirumandiram discusses the five types of panchakshara indicating their correspondence with the five types of bodies. Five koothu or dances are described here along with the ultimate state, the mona samadhi or state of silence. Tirumandiram is the only Tamil Siddha text that discusses consciousness in an elaborate fashion.

There is a conjecture that Tirumandiram shares its philosophical views with the monistic Kashmir Śaivism. In his study on the roots of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India, Douglas Renfrew Brooks points out that Tirumandiram has “much in common with certain strands of Tantrism- especially Trika Śaivism” (Brooks 2002: 63). Cēkkiļār, the author of Peria Puranam, a biography of the sixtythree Nayanmars, mentions that Tirumūlar came to South India from the north. Sisir Kumar Das (Sisir Kumar Das 2005: 148) mentions a belief that Tirumūlar belonged to Kashmir and that he came to the South carrying with him the doctrines of Pratyabhijna philosophy. However, there is no proof in Tirumandiram for this opinion other than the expression “kayilai vazhi vanden” (v 91) “I came in the path of Kailaya”. The path of Kailaya is interpreted as from Himalayas or North India. However, Agatthiyar meijnana kāviyam 2 mentions a kailaya varga, a lineage that originated with Siva, as opposed to mula varga originating from Tirumular and the malai varga or hill lineage which considers Sakti as the primary deity.

This paper aims to presents Tirumandiram’s description of types of souls, the bodies they adorn, states of consciousness and the soul’s experiences in these states.


Tirumandiram uses the terms aṛivu, bodham, nandi and sivam to indicate consciousness Tantiram 8 section 14 discusses the nature of aṛivu (verses 2355–69). aṛivu is consciousness about one’s Self (tannai ariyum arivu). The form of the soul is aṛivu. Aṛivu occurs due to Divine grace (arul). Such an aṛivu is neither created nor destroyed and has only itself as its substratum. It is not static but dynamic as it is aware of its own nature (aṛive aṛivai aṛikinṛathu). It does not need any external agent to facilitate its own identification. No one can see the boundary of aṛivu (v130). It is the expansive effulgence (akanda oḷi) (v2808). Aṛivu realizes its nature as the eternal light within.

Tirumandiram states that individual self is none other than Śiva who has forgotten his real nature (v 2017). When jiva cognizes “itself” as Śiva then jiva remains as Śiva. This is similar to Navjivan Rastogi’s description of the experience of the self as not a simple act of knowing but as a complex act of re-knowing (Rastogi 1979:48). When recognition of self occurs, the limited consciousness merges with the supreme consciousness as “there is no other place for ciṭ to merge other than ciṭ” (v 135). Tirumūlar compares this to space merging with space and light merging with light. Śiva is the grace that helps jiva in this effort (v 202). When this realization occurs, the soul has nothing else to know, no other state to reach except to remain with this awareness (aṛive vadivenṛu aṛinthu irunthén). Tirumūlar says that the eight mystical accomplishments such as anima, mahima are agents through which aṛivu knows itself. When the knowledge about self occurs, the Divine tells the soul that it the “big one” (nee periyāi) (v2360).

Tirumandiram calls the state of existence with knowledge as nandi (v 2361) and meijnana jyoti. By the grace of this awareness (nandiyin arul) the soul becomes all-pervasive supreme consciousness (v2363). Tirumular calls this awareness as the mantra that remains holding the body (ūn paṛṛi ninṛa uṇṛvuṛu mantiram). When this state is repeatedly contemplated upon, then realization occurs (v24).

Tirumandiram calls the cit or supreme awareness as bodham. The beginning and end-less Supreme Being distinguishes itself first into parāparam and parāparai. Parāparai is bodham (bodhamadāga puṇaṛum parāparai) (v381). Bodham brings to end the three distinct states, knower, known and knowledge, when the Samadhi of “self becoming Him” is achieved (thān avan ākum samādhi) (v2381). The supreme consciousness is also called sivabodham which destroys the state of limited self and the factors that cause the limitation (v2539).

Tirumandiram describes nenju, a concept similar to that of hrdaya of Kashmir Śaivism. It says that nenju of those who have aṛivu is supreme space, supreme austerity and the locus of the supreme state (v2364). Vetta veļi is another Tamil Siddha term which indicates the supreme state (v2591) similar to the hrdaya that Muller-Ortega and Paul Eduardo (Eduardo Muller-Ortega 1989: 100) explain as “the sky of consciousness which is also the embodiment of cosmos”.

Innate impurities or mala bring about limitation to consciousness. Tirumandiram says that the impurities cover the soul like verdigris (kalimbu) (v2213). When the soul’s eye of grace is opened by the Lord then the verdigris is cut away (v114). When aṛivu is covered by innate impurities it associates with senses (pulan) and loses itself in mundane knowledge as if it is immersed in deep waters (v119). A guru will reveal this state and help the soul transcend the innate impurities. When the innate impurities and the influence of senses are removed then aṛivu regains its original status. Tirumūlar calls the process of limited soul becoming universal soul as sivayogam and souls that attain this state of awareness as śivaciṭṭar, those who remain in the light of self (v122). They remain as aṛivu, as bodhan (v2019).

The Lord, the beast and the attachment

Tirumandiram establishes itself as a Saiva Siddhanta by discussing the three entities pasu, pati and pāsa. It calls the pasu as arivu, pati as the arivu of arivu and pasa as that which limits the arivu and says that all the three are eternal. However, when the original state as arivu is realized these distinctions disappear (v 2405, 115). Transcending the innate impurities makes this possible.

According to Tirumandiram there are five innate impurities, ānava or egoity, maya or delusion, kāmiya or karma, mayeya or product of maya and tirodāyi or the concealing power. Tirodāyi, the power which conceals the true nature of soul to it, transforms into grace and confers the soul the supreme knowledge of the Self. The first three impurities are considered to be the primary causes for distinctions. Hence, Tirumandiram discusses only these three in the context of types of souls.

Tirumandiram goes further and says that even the popular deities are under the influence of the innate impurities (v2183). Brahma is under the influence of the five mala, Vishnu is under the influence of four, Hara is under the influence of three, Isa is under the influence of two and Sadāsiva is under the influence of ānava mala. Thus, the mala-free states begin only from Sakthi. Tirumūlar describes the ānava, kanmam and maya as the inner covering, husk and awn that encase a paddy grain. Thus, the mala do not change the soul but cover it like a shell (v2192). Paul Murphy (1986: 27) quotes verse 57 from Abhnivagupta’s Paramartasara which uses an identical imagery of a husk, awn and chaff and says that without these coating the seed will be “freed” from growth.

The impurities impart causal attributes (kāraṇa upādi) and the resultant attributes (kāriya upādi) to souls. The causal attributes are jiva upādi or characteristics of a jiva and para upādi or attributes of param. These attributes define the states of existence, the kāriya, with specific characteristics, upādi. The param causes manifestation with suddha maya. It creates the tattva or principles that cause the jiva state and hence it becomes the kāraṇa for the kāriya, the jiva state. The jiva upādi ends when the soul leaves all the limitations and reaches the state of suddha maya. This process involves transcending the void, maya pāzh which is the termination of the resultant state. Transcending the param state is crossing the bodha pāzh, the void created by awareness. The soul then remains in the state of tranquility or upasantha. Crossing even this state, the upasantha pāzh, the soul reaches the ultimate state of paramparam (v2496). Tirumandiram makes a distinction about the supreme state and calls it a rare land while clarifying that it is not a void (v2498).

Types of souls

The states due to attributes or upādi are experienced as states of existence or avatthai. The jiva upādi causes souls to exist in three causal states, the kevala, sakala and suddha, based on their association with senses and consciousness (v2227).

Tannai aṛi suttan tat kevalan tānum

Pinnam uṛa ninṛa peta sakalanum

Manniya sattusatthu satasatuṭan

Tunnuvar tattam tozhiṛku aļavākave

Souls initially remain in the kevala state. They are unconscious, immersed in ānava. The suddha kevala or those who remain in the pure kevala state do not have a body as they are not associated with maya which brings other concepts that result in a body. When they become conscious due to maya, karma and products of maya (mayeya) are added to them. The mayeya are the vidya tattva or principles that grant knowledge. The souls then become sakala in suddha state who have self-awareness (v2236). Tirumular says that the kevala remain associated with asat (lack of consciousness), sakala are associated with sat-asat (conscious sometimes and unconscious otherwise) and the suddha are associated with sat (fully conscious).

Based on the number of innate impurities functioning in them, souls are classified into vijnanakala, pralayakala and sakala. The vijnanakala have āṇava, pralayakala have maya along with āṇava and the sakala have karma along with the other two. Tirumandiram differs from sivajnana siddhiyar, a seminal Saiva Siddhanta text which states that the pralayakala are under the influence of karma and not maya. The vijnanakala are called so because their association with maya and karma were removed by intellect. The kevala among the vijnanakala are unconscious of everything. They are the kevala-kevala. The tanjňāna are those who have the sense of self. They are the suddha-kevala. The ashta vidyeswara belong to this category. The enjňāna are the mantra nāyaka or lords of seven crore mantra. They are the sakala-kevala. The meijňāna are vijnanakala who are free of ānava due to divine grace. They remain in the state of śivam.

Among the sakala the apakva are those who do not attempt to remove the mala, the sādaka are those who are attempting to remove the mala and the jivan mukṭa are those who remain with their ciṭṭam in tune with supreme Ciṭ. The jivan mukṭa are souls that possess both, the limited consciousness that causes worldly experiences as well as mukti cit or the consciousness of the liberated. Both these states of consciousness are in balance in them. Hence, they are not affected by the three innate impurities.

The sakala are classified into kevala in sakala, sakala in sakala and suddha in sakala. The kevala in sakala are those who exist in jagrit turyathita. The sakala in sakala exist in jagrit-jargrit state. The suddha in sakala are the pralayakala. The ānava is more dominant in them while traces of maya continue to exist. As they are suddha by nature, they exist in the state of tatparam or divine grace (2251). The hundred and eight Rudras belong to this group.

The meijnana of the vijnanakala are the suddha souls. By divine grace they leave their attachment with the innate impurities, reach the state of omkara and remain as nirmala or suddha (v2233).

The kevala, sakala and suddha are kārana avatthai. These causal states are experienced through the resultant states of consciousness, the kārya avatthai, which are the five states, wakeful (jāgrit), dream (svapna), deep sleep (suṣupti), turiya and the turyātita. A soul remains in one of the causal states depending on the fruits of its previous action. When it realizes the truth about its nature, the kevala and sakala states are burnt and it attains the suddha state (v2409). The five states of consciousness that the soul experiences are created by the number of tattva or principles functioning in them.

The number of tattva or limiting factors in Tamil Siddha philosophy

The specific state of consciousness experienced by a soul is in accordance with the fruits of its previous action. The states of consciousness have varying number of principles functioning in them. According to Tamil Siddhas there are totally 96 principles that constitute a lifeform3. Their emergence is traced from parāparam.

The Supreme parāparam distinguished itself into two entities, parāparam and parāparai. From these two emerge the paranada and parabindu or the parai and param. They are also called parasivam and parasakti. The parabindu and paranada give rise to Śiva and Śakthi through suddha maya. Siva and sakti states are called apara bindu and apara nada. Jnāna emerges from siva and kriya from sakthi. These two lead to iccha that causes the appearance of the manifested world beginning with sadasiva or the sadhakya principle. Thus, the manifested world is not different from the Supreme Being who is not a silent witness but one who appears as many. Tirumular defines param or parasivam as the unarvu or consciousness that animates the body from within (v418).

The five siva tattva, siva (apara bindu), sakti (apara nada), sadasiva, maheswara and suddha vidya emerge from suddha maya. They give rise to the seven vidya tattva, kalā, kāla, niyati, raga, avidya, purusha and maya, which are the products of asuddha maya. The twenty four atma tattva- five karmendriya (senses of action), five jnanendriya (senses of knowledge), five elements (sky, air, fire, water and earth), five subtle qualities (sound, touch, form, taste and smell), four modifications of the mind (mind, intellect, ahamkara and chittham) are products of prakriti maya. The atma tattva manifest as sixty secondary principles or sārpu tattuvam or pura karuvigal (external instruments). They are listed below:

From Earth: hair, bone, skin, nerves, flesh

From Water: saliva/urine/chile, blood, semen, brain, marrow

Fire: hunger, sleep, sexual desire, fear, laziness

Air: walking, running, standing, sitting and lying

Sky: anger, greed, miserliness, malice and obstinacy

Earth: ten nadi or energy channels idai, pingalai, sulumunai, gandhari, atthi, asvani, aalam, purusha, sootham, singuvai

Fire and air: five primary vital breaths, prana, apana, udhana, samana, vyana

All the five elements: the five secondary vital breaths, nagan, koorman, kirikaran, devadatthan, dhananjayan

Sky: the three attachments (etanai) wealth, world and offspring

Vak or speech- talking, memorizing, singing, weeping and exulting

Prakriti: the three qualities- rajas, tamas and satva

Bindu: four stages of sound, paishanthi, madhyama, vaikari, sukshma

Among the 36 internal instruments, the karmendriya and jnanendriya are called the pulan or senses. The five subtle qualities and the three modifications of the mind without the chittham are called puriashtakam or eight senses.

Five States of consciousness

Tamil Siddhas call the wakeful state as nanavu (jāgrit), the dream state as kanavu (svapna), the deep sleep state as cuļinai or āļurakkam (suṣupti), the turiya state as appāl (beyond) and the turiyāṭīṭa state or aṭīṭam as appālukkappāl (beyond the beyond).

According to Tirumandiram among the three qualities, the satva guna is responsible for wakeful state, the rajo guna for the dream state and the tamo guna for deep sleep. The turiya is beyond the three guna and is hence, nirguna (v2296).

Tirumandiram states that  most of the states of consciousness are experienced in the sakala state. The kevala in sakala, sakala in sakala and suddha in sakala experience five states of consciousness each. The states of consciousness experienced during yoga also occur in the sakala state. Thus, the total states of consciousness experienced in the sakala state are twenty. Besides these, the true kevala experience five states and the suddha experience five states. Thus, the total number of states of consciousness is thirty.

States of consciousness of kevala in sakala

The kevala-kevala are unconscious until maya stirs them. Then they experience the descending states of consciousness or kezhāl avatthai and ascending states of consciousness or melāl avatthai. These states are called so as they descend from the brow middle to the navel and ascend back. Tirumūlar calls a soul emerging from its inactive state as a student who is woken up by the teacher with the help of a stick. The soul is unconscious, in the state of eternal sleep, immersed in ānava. The Lord wakes it up with the help of maya and makes it experience all the five states (v2162).

The descending states of consciousness are experienced in different parts of the body.

aiyaintu matthimaiyānatu sākkiram

kaikanṭa pannānkil kaṇṭam kanāvenpar

poikaṇṭilāta puruṭan idhayam suzhunai

meikaṇṭavan untiyākum turiyamē (verse 2142)

Among the five śiva tattva all of them function in the wakeful state, four in the dream state (suddha vidya is nonfunctional), three in deep sleep (maheswara is also nonfunctional), two in turya (śiva and sakti) and only śivam in the turyāṭīṭa (v2143). As the number of siva tattva functioning differ in the different states, the corresponding vidya tattva and the atma tattva also differ. These principles depend on the siva tattva to turn them on. Thus, the states of consciousness differ in the number of instruments functioning in them.

The participants of the wakeful state are ten senses, five elements, five subtle qualities, ten vital airs, four modifications of the mind and the purusha. It is experienced in the middle of the brow. The soul remains with objective experience of the world (v2144).

In the dream state the soul settles in the throat with the ten vital airs and four modifications of the mind. The ten senses are discarded in this state. All the experiences are due to the modifications of the mind (v2154). The experiences in the dream state are created by maya.

In deep sleep, the soul descends to the heart and remains with prāna and ciṭṭam. The other modifications of the mind do not work in this state. The prāna is operated by ahamkara but it does not confer the sense of “I-ness”. As intellect is not functioning, the purusha is unable to remember the experiences in this state. Tirumandiram calls this state as avyakta or unclear (v2155).

In the turya state, the soul is with prāna only. It remains at the navel. Tirumūlar says that it remains as the speechless one who has left the ignorance caused by the body. The soul remains with the sense of Self. Tirumandiram says that the turiya state remains within all other states and that there is no state which is free of it (v2156).

Tirumandiram describes the turyātīta state as “we do not know”(v2158).

States of consciousness of sakala-sakala

The sakala-sakala experience madhyāl avatthai or middle states. They are experienced at the brow middle. All the five states of consciousness are experienced in the jagrit state. Hence, they are given as combinations of the jagrit state. The jagrit in these souls differ from the jagrit of the descending states in that all instruments are functioning here and the soul experiences the world fully. Sakala are souls that possess all the five innate impurities. Tirumandiram explains the relationship between the innate impurities and the states of consciousness. Maya operates in jāgrit-turya. Kāmiya mala functions in jāgrit-suṣupti. Mayeya mala functions in jāgrit-svapna and tirodāyi mala functions in jāgrit jāgrit. This leads to the inference that the āṇava functions in jāgrit-turyatita.

sākkira sākkiram tannil tirõdāyi

sākkira soppanam tannidai māyeyam

sākkiram tannil suzhutthitanil kāmiyam

sākkiram tannil turiyatthu māyaiye (v2167)

As all the instruments function in jagrit-jagrit, the soul experiences the world through its external and internal senses. In jāgrit-svapna only the modifications of the mind are functioning and so the soul does not see the world. Its experiences are as thoughts and impressions. The action of perception stops with the jāgrit-suṣupti as the karma functions only up to this state. The soul experiences happiness and sorrow only up to this state. In the jāgrit-turya only the vidya tattva function and the soul experiences only the I-sense. In the jāgrit-turyatita the siva tattva start to activate the vidya tattva.

Tirumūlar compares the experiences of the middle state of consciousness to the experiences of a blind man (v2169). Turiya is where the man remains without any sight. Suṣupti is when he feels the ground in the front of him. Dream state is when he gets a stick and with its help starts moving about. Wakeful state is when he suddenly gets his vision.

States of consciousness in the suddha in sakala state

The suddha in sakala experience suddha avatthai. This category includes the states experienced during yoga. The suddha are souls that have voluntarily forsaken their dependence on the senses. Hence, unlike the sakala in sakala who experience all the five states of consciousness as combinations of jagrit, the suddha-sakala experience other states such jagrit in svapna and svapna in svapna that do not need the senses for perception.

The jagrit states of the suddha are the subtle component of the gross states experienced in the sakala-sakala state. The kevala-suddha and kevala-sakala experience these states. The soul remains in the suddha maya and experiences these states as if they are a dream. The jagrit-jagrit state of suddha souls possesses the vidya and siva tattva. The atma tattva do not function. Jagrit-svapna is leaving the vidya tattva and possessing only the siva tattva. The jagrit-sushupti is leaving the siva tattva and remaining in suddha maya. The state of purusha created by maya ends in turiya and the souls are not associated with a body anymore (v2197–98).

The jagrit-atīta state is when the soul leaves the ānava and tastes the para state. However, the para state is not permanent (v2254). When these souls transition to the pure suddha state or the meijnana state then they experience the param as a permanent state. Jāgrit in svapna is seeing the dream as if it is real. Svapna in svapna is seeing the dream and forgetting it. Suṣupti in svapna is “not seeing” but only remembering some ideas or scenes from the dream. Turya in svapna is lack of even the feeling of having seen something (v2202).

Tirumūlar explains jāgrit in suṣupti as that where nothing occurs. This is the state from which a person emerges into wakeful state knowing that he came from somewhere but does not know the “where”. Svapna in suṣupti is the emergence of a feeling. Suṣupti in suṣupti is objective awareness getting destroyed by awareness or being aware of subjective awareness. Turiya in suṣupti is indescribable void (v2203).

The four states of consciousness are present in the turya also. Jagrit in turya is the knowledge of idam. Svapna in turya is the knowledge of aham. Sushupti in turiya is vyoma and turiya in turiya is the state when the self realizes that it is param. The vyoma is the state of sadāsiva where the soul experiences oneness with the “Universal Transcendental Being”. Vyoma or space according to Tamil Siddhas is a form of the Supreme Being which emerges from its effulgence. Param state is the effulgence of the parāparam (v2205).

Tirumandiram explains turiyātīta states of consciousness in terms of arivu. The jāgrit in turyatīta is awareness or aṛivu becoming conscious of itself. Svapna is arivu becoming unaware. Suṣupti is not being aware of aṛivu knowing itself. Turya is arivu becoming arivu (v2206).

Turiyāṭīṭa in turiyāṭīṭa is a state of absolute fullness of consciousness. It is the state where the soul is immersed completely in sivananda.

The niramala and para states of consciousness of the meijnana

The meijnana of the vijnanakala are the pure suddha who experience states of consciousness different from the suddha states mentioned as a combination of sakala. These souls experience nirmala avatthai and reach the state of param with the help of nandi or consciousness of the self (v2278). The suddha maya, instead of bringing about limitation, serves as the light. The soul goes to the state that is free of even the trace of mala. It reaches the param state in its turiya (v2278). This param state is permanent.

The param state also enjoys para avatthai to reach the supreme state. In the para jagrit and svapna states the soul loses its association with the world and enjoys tranquility. In the sushpti it has the form of omkara. In the para turiya the soul reaches sivam state (v2283). The sivam state is that of supreme consciousness. The soul is freed of its causal and resultant limitations or upādi. It enjoys the bliss of awareness or sivananda. It then reaches the supreme state of paramam and ultimately the paramparam state (v2285).

Paramsivan melām paramam parattil

Paramparan melām parananavāka

Virindha kanāidar vīttim suzhunai

Uramtaru mānandi yāmunṇmai thane.

Thus, the soul gets knowledge about the five states in sakala, attains awareness or nandi in the suddha avatthai and with the help of nandi attains the state of param. Then it moves through the para avatthai, attains the state of effulgence or body of light and loses all the innate impurities (v2293).

Tirumūlar explains the reason for these suddha souls still undergoing transformation with the example of an iron piece that is red hot even after taking it out of the fire. Even though these souls are devoid of mala, the impression of faults or vāsana still lingers in them (v2309). When nandi grants the grace, the impressions also leave the soul and they become param (v2310).

In para jāgrit, nada, the cause of sound occurs. In para-svapna the nada abides and becomes subtle. In para suṣupti, bodham occurs and in the para turya the paramam becomes visible. However, the process does not stop here. The para turyathitha state which is “becoming” the paramam has to occur. When the soul realizes its nature as sivam, the para upādi leaves it (v2314).

Tirumandiram says when the darkness and light, the soul and parai, are crossed the soul experiences sivananda (v2325). In this state all the principles will become siva cit, sivam or supreme consciousness (v2328).

Tirumandiram calls the ultimate state as Hamsa or annam. It is reached by when the soul merges with the Divine in such a way that there are no distinctions (kuṛi aṛiyā vagai kūdumin) (v2353). It is the state of “becoming” where not even the consciousness of being conscious remains. This is the parāparam state. It is attained by divine grace or arul. In this state the soul merges with the power of grace or arul sakti and becomes all pervading (8.13.23) Souls in the supreme state of sivam have the sign of jnana (jnana kuṛi). Such souls are the mauni or the silent ones. They enjoy the jnana ananda or bliss of realization. They perform the five acts of siva, creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and bestowing of grace, adorning the form of tatparam. The body of this state is jnana, its parts are kriya and its soul is iccha (v2332).

Tirumandiram sums up the role of arivu through the statement, when sivam or supreme consciousness pervades the param, it becomes the paramparam and arivu grants it the ensuing sivananadam (v2449).

Types of bodies

Tirumandiram tantiram 8 section 1 describes the body that each type of soul takes. A meijnana has the body of sivam, the body of light. A yogin takes the body of bindu and nada. A mauni or a supreme soul in the state of silence takes a body of mukti which is beyond all the three voids. The vijnanakala’s body is made up of ānava, that of enjnana’s is maya and ajnana or sakala’s body is karma. Thus, it becomes clear that by the term body, Tirumandiram refers to the plane in which a soul operates.

Tat tvam asi and states of consciousness

Tirumandiram assigns the turiya the role of being a transition state. In jiva turya the soul moves from jiva state to para. In para turiya it moves from para to sivam state. The siva turiya or penultimate state is the “ariya turiyam” or the rare turiya beyond which is the ultimate state of siva turiyatita.

The mahavakhya or great statement “Tat tvam asi” or “thou are that” is explained in terms of three types of turiya. Tvam is the jiva turiya experienced by the meijnana. The para turiyatita is tat. The siva turiya is asi (Mudhaliar 1972:26-29).

Nine states of consciousness

Tirumandiram names the soul in the wakeful, dream and deep sleep states of jiva, para and siva states of consciousness as visvan, thaijasan, prāgnan for jiva, virāttan, ponkarppan (hiranya garbha) and avyākirtan for param and idhayan, prajāpatyan and sānthan for siva states. The soul crosses these states and reaches the turiya state to become sivam. Tirumandiram mentions that the turiya state exists in other states. Thus the total number of states where turiya exists are ten, four as jiva, four as para and two as siva. In the siva state only the turiya and turiyatita exist. At the end of the ten states the soul merges with the supreme state (v2469).

Iraintu avatthai isai mutturiyattuļ

Nerantam āka neṛivazhiye senṛu

Pārantham āna parāparatthu aikkiyatu

Órantha mām iru pātiyai serntiṭe

Tirumandiram also describes three types of mukti or liberation. Mukti indicates the end of a state. The jiva mukti is turiyātīta, para mukti is upasantham and siva mukti is ānandam or bliss (v2474). Crossing this state, the soul reaches the “appāl” or beyond, a state that is beyond verbal description.

Kashmir Saiva concept of souls and states of consciousness

The Trika system’s descriptions of states of consciousness are similar to those in Tirumandiram. The Trika system focuses on the soul’s self-awareness in these states. Swami Lakshman Jee says that the jňāni and yogins have different names for these states4. The yogins call wakeful state as pindasṭa as the soul is one with the objective world. The jnāni call this svatobadra or seeing Śiva as everything, everywhere. The dream state is defined by the yogins as padasṭam or being in one own state. Jnāni call this vyāpṭi or pervasion. Yogins call the deep sleep state as rūpasṭa or established in one’s own self. Jnāni call this state mahavyapti or great pervasion as “there is absolutely no limitation of objectivity.” The turiya state is rūpāṭīṭa as it is being in one’s self. The jnāni call it pracyaya or an undifferentiated state or state of totality. The yogins do not have a name for turyāṭīṭa as yoga is not possible in this state as there is “nowhere to go”. This is similar to Tirumūlar saying that he does not know this state. The jňāni call this state mahapracaya or “unlimited and unexplainable supreme totality”.

Similar to Tirumandiram the Trika system also explains that each of the state of consciousness includes all the four states within.

Trika system explains the wakeful states similar to Tirumandiram’s description. Jāgrit - jāgrit is awareness. Jāgrit-svapna is living in the state of impressions of objectivity. This is the state of buddhāvastha where there is some consciousness. Jāgrit- suṣupti is the state of prabuddha where the soul remains without experiencing the external world or internal impressions. Jāgrit-turya is suprabuddha where the soul remains with the consciousness of Self.

In Kashmir Śaivism, jāgrit in svapna is seeing something in a dream and not being conscious of seeing. This is the state of gaṭāgaṭam. Svapna in svapna is seeing different things but forgetting that they were seen. This is the state of suvikṣiptam. Suṣupti in svapna is developing some awareness while seeing something and forgetting it. It is the state of saṁgatam or “being touched” by consciousness. Turya in suṣupti is the state of susamāhitam. However, this is not a permanent state. The soul dreams, realizes that it is dreaming and enters into samadhi but then again it goes into dreaming. Tirumūlar may be referring to this when he says turya is inferring.

Kashmir Saivism explains jāgrit in suṣupti as remaining in absolute void but not being aware of it, not enjoying it. This is the state of uditam or full of rising towards Śiva. Svapna in suṣupti is vipulam. Suṣupti in suṣupti is explained as being uninterruptedly aware of remaining in the world of subjective consciousness. It is the state of sāntam. Turya in suṣupti is being fully blissful yet not being fully aware of that bliss.

According to Kashmir Śaivism transcending the states above vijňānakala does not need any effort on the part of the soul as it has crossed maya. These are states of pramiti, purely subjective states without any agitation due to objectivity. The turya states described by Tirumūlar are similar in that they are beyond maya and hence free of objectivity. The suddha vidya state of Kashmir Śaivism is similar to the jāgrit turya described in Tirumandiram as experiencing the bodham or knowledge of idam. Kashmir Śaivism describes this state as experiencing both the reality of the self (aham aham) and the unreality of the universe (idam idam). Tirumandiram describes svapna in turya as the bodham of aham. This is similar to the state of īśvara pramātri in Kashmir Śaivism which describes it as a state with more permanent knowledge of aham or reality of Self. Suṣupti in turya is vyoma or space. This is similar to the state of sadāsiva where the soul experiences oneness with the “Universal Transcendental Being”. Vyoma or space according to Tamil Siddhas is a form of the Supreme Being which emerges from its effulgence. Turya in turya is the state of param, the effulgence of the Supreme Being, parāparam. Trika system describes only three states, up to suṣupti in turya. They are manonmanam, anantham and sarvārtham respectively. There is no turya in turya state.

The turiyāṭīṭa is the state of absolute fullness of consciousness in both the systems.


Tirumandiram is the earliest and probably the only Tamil Siddha text that describes the nature of the soul, its states of consciousness and the experiences in those states so elaborately. To fit with its claim to be an Agama it describes the four parts, charya, kriya, yoga and jnana and equates them to dasa marga, satputra marga, sakhā marga and san marga. The effects of going through these steps are salokya, sameepya, sarupya and sayujya respectively. It elaborates on ashtanga yoga as the path for Samadhi whose ultimate aim is to become one with sivam. Without prescribing a particular path for liberation it lists various rituals and chakra as paths for attaining supreme knowledge. The preliminary work on SriVidya concepts in Tirumandiram needs to be explored further. In this context, it will be interesting to compare Tirumular’s explanations with that of Agatthiyar in the work Devi Chakaram which is available as a palm leaf manuscript.

The controversy, whether Tirumandiram subscribes to monistic or pluralistic view needs careful exploration. Tirumandiram’s inclusion in the tirumurai that are mostly pluralistic in nature may have been a way to protect it and point it out as an important Saiva text. Verses that say Siva is not different from jiva and that self becomes “him” in the end indicate that Tirumandiram is a text which aligns with monism. Preliminary work presented in this area (Ganapathy et al. 2006) needs a thorough study.

The states of consciousness are mentioned in Tirumandiram as paths for jiva merging or attaining samavesa with Siva. The soul attains the supreme state by recognizing its original nature as sivam. Sivam’s form is explained as the supreme light within the state of turiya. This light is perceived through sakti. These concepts and others such as the nature of pati, pasu, pasa, vimarsa and vikalpa need further exploration to see if the philosophy presented in Tirumandiram has similarity with other saiva schools such as the Pratyabijna school of Kashmir Saivism and the VeeraSaiva school.


1English translation of Tirumandiram published by Babaji’s Kriya Yoga order of Acharyas (ed.Ganapathy 2010), Canada. The numbering of verses in this paper is according to this book.

2Agatthiyar meijnana kāviyam (Tamil) Manuscript no. R 1852, T.T.1022, CD no. 3, p 4 Adyar oriental library, Chennai. (author’s translation) verses 67, 68.

3Agatthiyar saumya sagaram (1993). Thamarai Noolagam, Chennai, (Translation not available, author’s translation) verse 26–49.

4Swami Lakshmi Jee’s book Kashmir Shaivism The Secret Supreme (Swami Lakshman Jee 1998) was used as the reference material.


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Authors’ contributions

GA conceived the project and studied the states of consicousness in Tirumandiram and other sources. SM supervised the project and provided suggestions on the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Anand, G., Menon, S. Body, Self and Consciousness according to Tirumūlar’s Tirumandiram: A comparative study with Kashmir Śaivism. Int. J. Dharma Studies 5, 3 (2017).

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