A rishi’s rhapsody on the yogic path of complete union in God
The following text is from Rishi Tirumular’s Tirumantiram chapter 14, “The Wheel of Time,” freely translated by Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar, verses 755-758, 760-767 and 769, edited for clarity.
Having followed the directions revealed by lord Nataraja through their guru, yogis now blessed with the qualities of Siva may experience the blissful states described in scriptures. By remaining in concentrated contemplation, repeatedly experiencing the results of such experiences, they become one with Lord Siva, existing forever as incomparable yogis.
O, eternal sadhaka! Listen to my instruction on the levels of perfection found in this unique process of prasada yoga (the practice of raising the breath through the central energy current in the spine while reciting a specific mantra). Each day an average human goes along with their natural experiences of 30 common states of being (avasthas)—some experiences of a base nature, others more refined, and some occurring at the contemplative center between the two eyebrows. If you practice Sivayoga in such a way as to maintain only harmonious daily states of being—with ten at the center between the two eyebrows, ten at the center of the heart as well as the ten pure (nirmala) avasthas—you will attain oneness with the Lord of Dance, who is eternally present in the Golden Hall and who shines forth with the brilliance of pure gold.
Having realized the synchronized presence of Lord Nataraja in all souls, all worlds and all objects—from the minutest atom to the greatest mountain—the Sivayogis continually practice the yoga of prasada pranava in which they experience, within their own body, the entire range of worlds over all the eight directions. While seeing the entire universe within themselves and experiencing a multitude of blissful visions, if they can fix their mind on the form of Nataraja seated inside the lotus of their heart, they will be blessed a hundredfold with such blissful experiences.
In this world, there are normal people who are exalted for leading a worldly life of material gains, while giving no effort to knowing the true nature of their soul, the world and God. Many people take actions that do not benefit themselves or others. Without perfecting their minds to experience the grace of the Lord, they fail to see how the grace-giving shakti of Siva—whose vision is in and through all things—is continuously working for the evolution of all souls.
Those who cannot realize the ephemeral nature of life and possessions will leave their body without having realized the true purpose of human birth. Feeling no regret over their deep involvement in worldly enjoyments and having no sense of shame for immoral actions, these people speak elaborately on the immense benefits of worldly living, neglecting the path of virtue. Ephemeral, worldly possessions are renounced by the saints, who see nothing but the presence of Siva everywhere; whereas worldly-minded people are unable to realize the true nature of these possessions and instead waste their precious human life without realizing its basic purpose!
Those who remain detached from worldly objects of short-lived, ephemeral pleasure will, in due course, find and be elevated by a guru who is in oneness with the Lord, having himself renounced these delusions. If they endeavor to realize the presence of the Lord within their heart—from which all vices will disappear—they will soon see, face to face, the Perfect Being who has transcended the realm of tattvas (the evolutes of creation).
As the guiding Master of all souls, Lord Siva sees within and through them all. He is without beginning. He is present in each embodied soul, yet He is the one and only Lord. He remains in solitary oneness at the time of universal dissolution, but it is also He that pervades all eight directions. He is steadfast in His aim to free souls from their state of bondage. Thus, it is He Himself that becomes the eminent path leading to the highest state. He is the ultimate refuge for all who are willed to attain oneness with Him.
For those of such resolve, Yama, God of Death, does not approach; there is no destruction or obstruction to their blissful state. They then turn their attention toward the welfare of all humans, and may become their guiding and protecting masters. This is the final and eternal truth realized by all those who are capable of seeing the presence of Siva in each soul. Is it possible to convey this eternal Truth to those who are not inclined to attain such a state?
The essential truth that I instruct to you is that all of this is the eternal path, which begins with the utterance of “a,” “u,” and “m.” The utterance of other sounds which follow “m” should be done while contemplating the various levels of prasada yoga. Through this mantra repetition, one may attain oneness with God.
Nobody truly knows the eternal and transcendental abode of the Absolute Lord. He enshrines Himself within the heart of all who are able to identify His supreme plane of existence. He is ever present there, without losing His all-pervasive nature. If the sadhaka is able to realize the Lord’s vibrant presence in the minute space of his own heart, He can become Siva Himself at once.
Very rare are those who have realized the state of absolute oneness with Siva. Here, listen to the process of attaining such state of absolute oneness: practice the incantation of prasada mantra in which you observe the unified existence of Siva and the soul in the inaudible sound and realizable light associated with that mantra. In that state, Lord Siva lends Himself to be visible through the contemplation of the sadhaka.
If you practice in this way, you can realize the presence of Brahma and Vishnu within your self; realize the presence of Rudra and Maheshvara in your own frame; see the presence of Shakti and Sadasiva. Even more, you can realize the inseparable merging of Siva and your soul—for such a merged state has already been established for you.
Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar, of the Adisaiva priest lineage, is an expert in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit, specializing in the Vedas, Agamas and Silpa Shastras. This excerpt is from his translation of Rishi Tirumular’s Tirumantiram.