There was a Shiva Yogi named Sundharanaathar in the elite Disciples of the Chief Protector of Lord Shiva’s abode in the Kailash known as Shri Nandhi, who has mastered all the eight different Great Sitthis (Yogic Powers). He is a part of the Kailash Generation. He’s respected as the next one to the first of Siddahs (Enlightened Yogis) known as Agathiyar. He studied under the tutelage of Shri Nandhi. He had 16 Disciples of his own, out of them, some of the key ones are, Kaalangi Siddha and Kanjamalai Siddha.
He wanted to visit and stay for few days with his close friend and the first of Siddhas, Agathiyar and started on a journey from the Kailash towards the Podhigai Hills in southern India where he believed Agathiyar was staying at that time. It was 8000 years ago (6000 B.C.) when he first came down to the southern India under the name Sundharanaathar and watched the blissful dance of Lord Shiva in the Nataraj Temple of Thillai in Chithambaram along with great saints such as Pathanjali and Viyaakkiramar. This time period is considered to be equivalent to the period of the Raamaayaanam. He visited many places during his epic journey such as Shri Kedhaarnaath Temple, Pasupathi Temple, Avimuttham (Kaashi), Vindha Hills, Thirupparuppantham, Thirukkaalatthi and Thiruvaalangaadu before reaching the great Kaanchi (Kaanchipuram) of southern India where he visited the Temple of Lord Shiva and then heartily chatted with the Yogis and Siddhas in that area. Later, he visited the Temple of Lord Shiva in Thiruvathigai and then reached the Temple of Lord Nataraj in Thillai (Chithambaram) where he stayed for some time.
After watching the private dance of Lord Shiva in the Temple of Nataraj of Thillai, he started on his journey and reached the Kaaviri river where he bathed and reached the Temple of Lord Shiva in Thiruvaavaduthurai near Kumbakonam. He stayed there for some time captivated by the beautify of the Temple where Goddess Paarvathi prayed to Lord Shiva in the form of a Cow and was restored back to her original form when Lord Shiva, delighted by her prayers, came down and hugged her while raising together with her in the form of their ceremonial attire of Marriage. After some time, when he finally decided to leave the place and started on his journey back via Kaaviri river, he came across a herd of Cows who were mooing under distress due to some unfortunate event. They were crying because of their cowherd Moolan of Saatthanoor laid on the ground dead. They circled his body licking him in various places trying to wake him and crying because they couldn’t. The Shiva Yogi who saw this sad scene got touched by the Love of the Cows towards their cowherd and decided to help them out of pity as he was very kind hearted. He knew the only way to make the Cows happy again would be to make Moolan alive again. So, he did one of the great Siddhis known as Paragaayap Piravaesham (The art of exchanging souls between two bodies) and exchanged his soul with the body of Moolan. Moolan suddenly woke up from dead as his body now contained the soul of the Shiva Yogi who kept his own body in a safe place for protection.
The Shiva Yogi who’s soul went into the body of Moolan woke up as Thirumoolar (Respected Moolan as he’s a Shiva Yogi) and the Cows were very happy seeing their beloved cowherd wake up again and rejoiced with him. He was elated seeing the happiness of the Cows and believed he did the right thing. He also rejoiced with them by patting lovingly on their backs and dancing along with their wild movements. When the evening eventually came, all the Cows started their daily journey back to their village and Thirumoolar followed them carefully protecting them and making sure all the Cows reached their own homes safely. Finally, after all the Cows were returned, he went and sat in the common place of the village in deep thought as to what to do next since he knew from his divine intuition that the Moolan is a married person. The wife of Moolan who was patiently waiting for his usual return time in their home got worried when he didn’t return even after his usual time and started searching for him in the village. She came across the Shiva Yogi Thirumoolar sitting in the common place of the village in deep thought and enquired him in surprise as to why he didn’t return to their home as usual. Having pity on the woman, Thirumoolar kept silent without breaking the dreadful news about the death of her husband. She couldn’t fathom the silence of her Husband who usually is very chatty and started asking many questions as to his well being. Seeing that he still didn’t reply to her, she reached and grabbed the arm of Thirumoolar to bring him out of his stupor and drag him to their home. Thirumoolar who is a strict follower of the code of Siddhas got startled and retrieved his hand back from her in a sudden movement. She was surprised by his sudden action and became very sad that her own husband didn’t want to be touched by her. She started crying and asking him what happened and why he wouldn’t come with her. Finally, Thirumoolar who’s kind heart couldn’t bear to see the despair of the woman, spoke to her kindly, saying that there will be no more relationship between them and she should find peace at the feet of Lord Shiva. Seeing her dumbstruck face, he started to walk away from her in search of the rest place of Yogis in the Temple of that village. The Wife of Moolan who couldn’t fathom her husbands actions and words, returned back to their home in despair.
She cried the entire night and the next morning she decided that something might have suddenly happened to the mind of her husband and started gathering the village elders to help her in restoring the troubled mind of her husband and reached the place where Thirumoolar has stayed. The crowed gathered in front of Thirumoolar was surprised and amazed to see him in a deep meditation state. Realizing something is wrong with Moolan, they’ve asked him to rejoin with his Wife explaining the relationship vows and so many kind words. Thirumoolar kept silent but his appearance and the divine glow radiating from his body made them realize that this is not their original Moolan and some Yogi is in his place. They started telling the Wife of Moolan that her husband is long gone and who’s sitting there in his body seems to be a Yogi with great powers. She couldn’t still understand how that happened, but eventually bowed to touch the feet of Thirumoolar to get his blessings and walked away thinking her husband has become mad. Finally, Thirumoolar came out of his deep meditation and started searching for his body in the safe place where he kept it. He couldn’t find it anywhere! Even though surprised at first, he surmised that something must have happened and started doing meditation again to find the reason behind the disappearance of his body. With the help of his Yogic powers, he saw that Lord Shiva has indeed blessed him by making his body disappear in order to engage him on the holy path of writing the Vedas, Scriptures and their true meaning who is Lord Shiva himself in Thamizh Language for the benefit of the People of southern India. He decided to take upon the task Lord Shiva has kindly bestowed on him.
Thirumoolar started from Saatthanoor and reached the Thiruvaavaduthurai Temple and after getting the blessings from Lord Shiva, sat himself under the Arasu Tree outside the Temple and started deep meditation. Years went by while he was deep in his Yoga and merged himself with Lord Shiva to realize the many different ways of attaining True Knowledge and gaining Moksha in order to get away from the eternal cycle of births in this wretched world. He created, defined and explained in detail the four different Vedas of Sariyai (Destruction), Kiriyai (Creation), Yoagam (Meditation), Gnaanam (True Knowledge) and the various attributes of Lord Shiva with the numerous way to realize Lord Shiva within ourselves and attain Moksha by merging with Lord Shiva. He wrote the Thirumanthiram (Respected Mantras) by writing one Song per Year for 3000 years hence writing three thousand Songs. Thirumanthiram is a great blessing from Thirumoolar to the humankind which explains various things that helps us attain true Moksha by breaking the eternal cycle of births in this world and joining with our supreme Lord Shiva, hence the name Thirumanthiram was given to his songs as whole even though he originally named them Thamizh Moovaayiram (3000 Tamil Songs).
The first song of Thirumanthiram in it’s modern form is a hymn to Lord Ganesha starting with the words, “Ainthu Karatthanai”. This song was not part of the original Thirumanthiram and was later added as the practice of getting the blessings of Lord Ganesha before starting any activity has spread in India at later years. In his time (around 6000 B.C.) there was only one God named Lord Shiva in Shaiva traditions and no other God was worshipped before starting any activity. History tells us that the idol of Lord Ganesha was originally brought to the southern India by the great conqueror King Paranjyothi from south India who went on a Military expedition to the north India till Vaadhaabi and attained victory against all the Kingdoms in his path. He found the idol of Lord Ganesha in Vaadhaabi where the locals worshipped it as their God and brought the idol to south India. This original idol of Lord Ganesh does not have a bulky stomach as it is in the modern form. The proof of this Historical event exists till today in both the Temple of Thiyaagesar in Thiruvaaroor and the Museum of Arts in London, United Kingdom where we can see the original idols of Lord Ganesha without the bulky stomach. Thirumoolar originally named his book as Thamizh Moovaayiram (3000 Tamil Songs). It was later renamed as Thirumanthiram (Respected Mantras) in respect to the great content of the Songs that explained everything and much more than what was originally given in the secret passages of Vedas that no one really understood.
The Thirumanthiram given by Thirumoolar is an elixir of great Knowledge and the pure essence of Vedas and Scriptures. It has Nine Thantras (9 Secrets) and one Paayiram (Introduction of God). Thirumanthiram is the 10th Thiru Murai (Respected Ways) of the great Naayanaar Saints (Yogis known as the representatives of Lord Shiva). This is the first and foremost book of any in the Shaiva traditions. There is no other Thiru Murai that can be said equal to the Thirumanthiram in its expanse and content. Thirumoolar himself has blessed us by saying that, the one who wakes up early morning and recites the songs of Thirumanthiram with the full understanding of their meaning will reach Lord Shiva himself. After writing the Thirumanthiram Songs, Thirumoolar started back on his journey and went back to the Temple of Nataraj in Thillai (Chithambaram) and delightedly saw the divine dance of Lord Shiva in between the horns of his Guru, Shri Nandhi and merged with Lord Shiva himself in the divine form of Light.
Even though the time period of Thirumoolar is about 7000 years ago (5000 B.C.), many scholars believe that he lived somewhere around the 7th century A.D. There’s a reason behind this belief. After finishing the Thirumanthiram Songs, Thirumoolar did not release them to the public as he felt that the world was not yet ready to receive it in it’s true self. So, he buried the palm leaves upon which he wrote the Thirumanthiram Songs under earth near the Flag Pillar in front of the Thiruvaavaduthurai Temple and went to Chithambaram to merge with Lord Shiva. After 4000 years (Thirumoolar took 3000 years to write the Thirumanthiram Songs), in the 7th century A.D., a highly respected Naayanmaar who is considered as part of the great Four of Naayanmaars named Thirugnaanasambanthar (Respected True Knowledge Scholar) was born in southern India. He went on an epic pilgrimage of Shaiva Temples, singing various hymns on Lord Shiva on each of the Temples. When he arrived at the Thiruvaavaduthurai Temple, the scent of divine Thamizh reached his nostrils by the grace of Lord Shiva. He was attracted to the divine scent of Thamizh hymns and and enquired his followers as to the source of it. They started digging the earth near the place where he felt the scent most and found the palm leaves on which Thirumanthiram Songs were written. He read, understood and marveled at the sheer genius and amazing beauty of its contents and wanted to spread the joy he felt in discovering the great Mantras with the everyone in the world. He started reciting the Songs to the Public and hence came the general knowledge of Thirumanthiram Songs.
The great poet named Sekkizhaar who came at later time period around 9th century A.D., included Thirumoolar as 46th Naayanmaar in his great epic about the life stories of the 63 Naayanmaars called Periya Puraanam (The Big Puraanaa/History). Another great poet named Nambiyaandaar Nambi who came after his period, blessed the humankind by combining the various Songs given by the great 63 Naayanmaars into 12 books called the Thiru Murai (Respected Ways of Shaiva Traditions) and included Thirumanthiram as the 10th book.