A Rishi’s Reflections about One of History’s Oldest Forms of Worship 

The following is a selection of verses from Rishi Tirumular’s Tirumantiram, translated by Dr. S. P. Sabharathnam Sivacharyar. 

Having systematically done the fire rituals, the performer should contemplate the primal source of the Fire, which expands and proliferates throughout the world. In the flames of the fire blazing forth from the havan (fire pit), one should deeply think of their oneness with that Primal Fire. Such contemplation leads to the state of liberation. 1034

Lord Siva, who is in the form of all-encompassing Light which manifests without any causal source, takes His shrine in the heart of those who have realized the efficacy of both the external fire ritual and internal fire ritual and who have detached themselves from the dual notions of like and dislike and from worldly ties. The aspirants should make all possible efforts to detach themselves from worldly bonds; rising up through the beam of the source-light (the sushumna current in the spine) and having conquered the six vices, they should remain in this world dispassionately. Only such persons are considered as saints who have entered the abode of Siva. 1035

The foremost Lord is seated in the fire which is blazing forth in the well-designed and fully developed havan. The Siva fire has a form associated with hands, nose, face, eyes, forehead and head. The two pieces of firewood on the left and right side are the hands. The smoke is the nose. The mouth of the havan is the well-defined face. Small flames are the eyes. Ashes constitute the forehead. Embers constitute the head. Identify these parts and offer the oblations only in the flames which are blazing up highly, since they are the tongues. 1038

The havan which is constructed in the northwest, and in which the fire taken from the main havan is deposited, is in the form of a hexagon. Its bottom tier is is the same shape as the smaller, upper part. The fire kindled in this havan is related to the Primal Fire which has spread throughout the seven worlds. Those who nourish this fire with various kinds of oblations and keep it alive and vibrant are considered to have done the necessary rituals for the delighted state of the world. 1040

The fire kindled in the havan flourishes due to various kinds of oblations. It blazes forth to yield many benefits to the world such as the timely showers of seasonal rains, abundant growth of crops, fruit trees and plants, increase of wealth and so on. The guru raises this fire and uses it for the performance of initiation, sacred installations and other such deeds. Fire, which regulates and controls the worlds, being raised in the havan, takes care of the world compassionately, results in the unfoldment of knowledge through instructions from the Guru, and in the abundant growth of essential things needed for the world. 1041

The Siva fire is not confined to the limited space of the havan and the sacrificial hall. It spreads in and through all places visible to us. It pervades everywhere. Few are competent to realize this fire’s essential nature and power with the firm conviction that it is the most essential divine source available to them. Those who realize the existence of such Siva fire within their own subtle body and perform the fire ritual internally without interruption will witness the passage of millions and millions of yugas (aeons). They may be considered as old in view of time; but are young forever in view of their enlightenment. 1042

A perfect yogi who has understood the nature and efficacy of his subtle body and soul and the significance of various havans, could design within himself the havans in the likeness of the nine havans which are constructed externally and with which all the worlds are linked. The Siva fire in the havan is born of Vagisvari (Goddess of words/alphabet) and Vagisvara (Siva). The great congregation of yogis and devotees have identified and recognized such a sacred fire to be the best means for the attainment of oneness with Siva. 1043

The havan in the form of square is for the attainment of one’s desired fruits. The havan in the form of triangle is for the warding off of miseries and for a peaceful life. The havan in the form of a bow is for success and the removal of enmity and obstructions. The havan in the form of circle is for protection, for a downpour of seasonal rains and strength. The havan of hexagonal form is for the growth of crops and removal of diseases. The havan in the form of eight-petaled lotus is for the blessedness of longevity. The havan in the form of an octagon is for the attainment of rich knowledge and wealth. The havan in the form of peepal leaf or yoni is for blessedness with good children and ruling power. The main havan in the form of circle is for the accomplishment of the desired benefits of liberation. All these nine havans are capable of leading devotees to the feet of the Lord. 1044

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.