I discovered a new text recently. Love it. From the Tamil, Southern India, The Thirumandiram has a slightly different vibe from the northern, Kashmiri literature that I am a little more used to. These teachings of Siddhar Thirumoolar are said to be the seed that later blossomed into Saiva Siddhanta, a very heartfelt and devotional approach to the worship of Shiva and the understanding of the universe.
The book is three separate volumes, and contains nine Tantras within. I’ve perused up to Tantra five, at which point it was clear to me that I need to spend some more time with the first four. Which is fine, because they are plenty remarkable.
I want to share with you the first verse of the first Tantra. It is delightful, full of Bhakti, and much like the first sutra of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, seems to sum up the whole deal. If you think I’m wrong, I’m happy to hear your argument. I am new to this text, after all.
He came down from heaven, clothed in body,
Karma to match, stretched forth His cool Feet of Grace, from time immemorial
And lo! inside me He stood, melting my yielding heart;
And filled my eyes with peerless bliss, past all compare,
All impurity dispelled.
This one verb, it really does it for me, it’s a verb that shows up in other verses, and also, in the intro. It’s all about the melting. The goal, is to melt the heart into the universal love of Shiva, and to melt the mind and ego into His universal consciousness. It is similar to the melting that happens to salt when it is placed into water.
To make this practical, one can visualize their body as if it were made of a solid block of salt. Perhaps that lovely pink Himalayan mountain salt. Then one can meditate on the body melting and dissolving into a vast ocean. One realizes that the individual self is not extinguished or negated by this melting. Instead, there is the experience of expanding into and merging with this vastness. We find that while the small self still exists, the wondrous bliss of Shiva’s reality supersedes petty individual concerns.
I highly recommend this book, and wil be posting more about it in the coming weeks. The practices in the book, along with the devotional reminders can powerfully orient the mind toward the ultimate and support our soul’s illumination.