The mythology of tirumUlar

It is clear from tirumantiram verses 337 onwards that tirumUlar was an extreme sectarian shaiva. He cites several elements of shaiva mythology, where the aim is plainly to show the supremacy of shiva over other gods. He also sees a sadashiva higher than rudra in his world view, which is typical of this stream of thought and the sectarian shAktas further go on to subsume the five brahma, viShNu, rudra, mahesha and sadAshiva as the 5 pretas forming the cot of the transfunctional shaktI.

The sectarian elements apart, it is useful to compare the shiva purANa with tirumUlar’s mythology to identify the pan-Indian elements of shaiva mythology. The deeds of shiva are:
1) shiva sends agastya to correct the “balance” of the earth (the ancient astronomical myth of axial precession, is uniquely incorporated here into shaiva mythology)
2) The killing of Andhaka*
3) The beheading of dakSha and his head replacement.*
4) Cutting of brahma’s head and drinking of viShNu’s blood.*
5) Killing jalandhara with the chakra made from his toe*
6) Destruction of the tripura-s*
7) Killing of gajAsura*
8) The burning of yama (this is described as the yogic kuNDalini fire arising from the mUlAdhAra and shooting out through the sahasrAra to burn yama) (?)
9) Killing of kAma*
10) The winning of pArvatI from himavAn*
11) destruction of tripura-s again (mentioned further too)*
12) The pillar of fire and the quest of its ends by brahmA and viShNu and the giving of the chakra and sword to viShNu and brahmA respectively*
13) rAvaNa being granted boons*
14) chanDeshvara raised to gaNa status for cutting his father’s leg for having performed shiva-ninda*
15) routing the other gods during the destruction of the sacrifice of dakSha*
16) He split the chakra of viShNu into 3 parts and gave one part back to viShNu, one to his wife and one he wore a cresent ornament
17) He suppressed the sea as the equine fire*

The majority of these myths are seen in the main sanskrit mythological traditions of shiva namely the shiva purANa and the skAnda purAna. A few tales of rudra find mention in the veda like the destruction of the tripura-s, the killing of Andhaka, the killing of prajApati/brahma, the destruction of the sacrifice. This suggests that rudra had a rich mythology right from the ancient past, like indra. The presence of most major elements in both the northern and southern traditions suggests that there was core pan-Indian shiva purANa with several major tales (marked *) that had spread widely. The core shiva purANa seems to have been shared by both the mantra mArga and lAkulIsha pAshupatas, but the extant version of the shiva purANa seems to have been mainly preserved by the lAkulIshas rather than the mantra marga shaivas. The core shiva purANa set in stone in the “Elephanta caves” around 550-600 CE, which is approximately contemporaneous with tirumular, suggesting that the core shiva purANa text encompassing the tales of shiva were in place well before this period.

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