Friday, May 02, 2008

The eight masters - mantra 67

Sri gurubhyo namaha

From this mantra we begin the fourth subdivision in the first tantra of the Thirumandiram. This section is called 'guru pArampariyam' or the hierarchy of the gurus (in the lineage of Thirumular). Please note that the mantras are now numbered in three segments (eg. 1.4.67) where the first number is the position of the mantra in the section in question. The second number is the number for the section in which the mantra occurs and the final number is the position of the mantra when counted from the very first sloka in the Thirumandiram.

After a description of Siva there followed the description of the methods through which this Siva is realised - the vedas and the agamas. Now in the fourth section the sage reveals the lineage of the gurus and their hierarchy with a view to show that the supreme Siva yoga (of which the Thirumandiram is the authority) that will be revealed in the following tantras (chapters) is something that comes directly from Siva through a successive and unbroken lineage of gurus down to Thirumular.

நந்தி அருள்பெற்ற நாதரை நாடிடின்
நந்திகள் நால்வர் சிவயோக மாமுனி
மன்று தொழுத பதஞ்சலி வியாக்ரமர்
என்றிவர் என்னோ டெண்மரு மாமே. 1.4.67
Eight Masters
Seekest thou the Masters who Nandi's grace received
First the Nandis Four, Sivayoga the Holy next;
Patanjali, then, who in Sabha's holy precincts worshipt,
Vyaghra and I complete the number Eight.1.4. 67

ComSeekest thou the Masters who Nandi's grace received When one seeks to know of the great Gurus (Masters) who have received the grace of and initiation from Nandi (Siva), (it is found that they were eight in number.) First the Nandis Four They are the four Nandis, namely Sanakar, Sanandhanar, Sanatanar and Sanatkumarar. Sivayoga the Holy next Then come the great, Sivayoga Maamunivar Patanjali, then, who in Sabha's holy precincts worshipt and the yogi Patanjali, who was graced with the vision of the Cosmic Dance of Siva in the grand temple at Chidambaram. Vyaghra Then there is the master Vyaghrapadar. and I complete the number Eight. The above mentioned seven together with me (i.e. Thirumoolar) make up the eight masters.

* The above mantra traces the lines of the (eight) masters who have received initiation from Siva Himself and clearly states the names of the eight masters. It is worthy of note that the author always uses the name Nandi to describe both Siva and the masters who received initiation from Siva. That is to say that the masters who received initiations from Siva are equal to Siva Himself. Here the core view that there is no difference between the guru and the disciple is touched on by the use of the word Nandi to refer both.

It is also worthy to note a few more things here. The four nandis - sanakar, sanandhar, sanatanar and sanatkumarar - are the mind born sons of the creator Brahma. These are the four sages that are depicted at the feet of Siva as Dakshinamurthy (the guru of all gurus). The verses to follow will elaborate this in detail.

The yogi patanjali spoken of here is the same as the author of the Yoga sutras. That Patanjali and Thirumular were contemporaries who studied under the same master is revealed here. Patanjali after the vision at Chidambaram compiled the yoga sutras and Thirumular authored the Thirumandiram conveying the same essence (of yoga/union) through a different process.

A few words here to describe the master Vyagrapadhar for those who do not know this great yogi. There was once a rishi named Madyandina whose son was a devotee of the lord Siva and worshipped Him in the form a linga in the forests (in Thillai kshetra). He was in the habit of collecting the flowers and fruits for his daily worship from the forest before daybreak each day. One day however, he found that it was too dark and as a result the flowers that were collected were impure (as there were bees polluting the flowers). This made him very sad and Siva understanding the reason for his grief gave him a boon. He gave him the eyes and limbs of a tiger to enable him to see in the dark and also to climb trees to collect the flowers and fruits!! Hence he was known as vyagrapadar (vyagra - tiger, padar - feet/limbs) and continued to live in the forest worshipping Siva.

It is said that adishesha (the thousand headed serpent upon whom Vishnu remains in yoga nidra), was very keen on seeing the supreme Thandava (dance) of Siva. He then expressed his desire to Siva who then adviced adishesha to go down to the earth and to a place known as vyagrapuram (the place where the above mentioned vyagrapadar lived) where He (siva) would be dancing His thandava sometime soon. Adishesha then went to the earth and was born as Patanjali. He then approached vyagrapadar and told him his desire to see the thandava of Siva. In due course, the supreme being Siva appeared there and bestowed His grace on the two and performed His Thandava. This story leads on to more and is also connected to the sthala purana of the chidambaram temple (where the thillai kali resides), but I do not want to digress from the verse at hand. The above story I mention only so we might know vyagrapadar and patanjali who figure at later stages.


vp said...

Dear Divine friend
I have visited your web site quite a few times and have found the contents quite interesting.

Could you please let me know the address of any web site where I can find a short/complete treatise on Thirumanthiram and all its verses, be it in tamil or english ?