By Swami Harshananda
Śaivism, centred round the worship of Śiva, is a very ancient religious cult. Śaivasiddhānta, also known as Tamil Śaivism, is an important contribution to the Śaiva lore of South India. Its basic canonical works were composed by four Ācāryas :
- Arulnandi (also spelt as Aruṇandi)
- Jñāna Sambandhar
All of them lived during the period of 13th-14th centuries. These four have been designated as ‘Sanātana Ācāryas’ or ancient teachers.
Arulnandi was the family preceptor of the young Meykaṇdār. The story goes that puffed up with vanity, he once asked his pupil Meykaṇdār about the nature of ignorance. Meykaṇdār, the young saint simply looked at the proud questioner himself as if in reply. The teacher immediately realized that he himself had been pointed out as a specimen of ignorance, and, overcome by shame, became a disciple of the young saint, assuming the name Arulnandi Śivācāriār.
He has written a commentary called Sivajñānasiddhi on Meykaṇḍār’s basic work Śivajñānabodha which itself is in twelve sutras or aphorisms. This work is in two parts
- ‘Parapakkam’ - It refutes other schools of philosophy
- ‘Supakkam’ - It expounds the fundamentals of his own school
‘Supakkam’ is in verse and is considered to be a commentary on Meykaṇdār’s work. Another work, Irupāvirupabtu is also attributed to Arulnandi.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore