MEYKAṆṬĀR (thirteenth century ce), Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta author and theologian. Meykaṇṭār ("he who saw the truth") was the first of the four santāna ācāryas ("hereditary teachers," here referring to four successive theologians) of the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta school of philosophy-theology. Originally called Svētaraṉam, Meykaṇṭār, who lived in Tiruveṇṇainallūr, received the name by which posterity recognizes him from his guru Parañcōti Muṉivar. Meykaṇṭār's prominence rests almost entirely on his composition of a single work, the Civañāṉapōtam (Skt., Śivajñānabodha, The understanding of the knowledge of Śiva). The Civañāṉapōtam, written in the early thirteen century, is held to be the mutaṉūl ("primary treatise") of the fourteen theological texts that have canonical status in Tamil Śaivism. These fourteen texts are collectively called the Meykaṇṭaśāstra, although Meykaṇṭār is the author of only one of the fourteen, but the fundamental one, the Civañāṉapōtam.
The Civañāṉapōtam consists of twelve Tamil sūtras along with two sets of glosses, the cūttirakkaṇṇaḻivu (the words of the sūtra divided into sentences) and the cūrṇikai (a brief gloss on the sentences setting forth their meaning in simple prose), as well as a commentary composed of articles (atikaraṇam ), each consisting of a thesis (mēṟkōḷ), reason (ētu ), and illustrative verses (utāraṇam ). The twelve sūtras of the Civañāṉapōtam are also found in the Rauravāgama, one of the Sanskrit Āgamas also held sacred by Tamil Śaivas. Whether Meykaṇṭār translated the sūtras from Sanskrit into Tamil or the author of the Rauravāgama borrowed from the Civañāṉapōtam is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain and is a subject about which there is no scholarly consensus. Suffice it to note here that possession of a Sanskrit Agamic prototype for the authoritative text is hardly surprising when one considers the concern of medieval Hindu sectarian schools to establish their legitimacy.
The Civañāṉapōtam is a highly systematic and logical presentation of basic Śaiva Siddhānta ideology. The first six sūtras establish the existence, attributes, and interrelations of the three fundamental components of Śaiva Siddhānta ontology: pati (the Lord, i.e., God, Śiva), pacu (the soul), and pācam (the bondage that enslaves souls and separates them from knowledge of God). Meykaṇṭār cites the fact that the world evidences intelligible processes of creation, maintenance, and dissolution to establish God's existence. God is claimed to be both immanent in souls and yet different from them. The soul's knowledge of reality, however, is clouded by its being conjoined with an innate impurity (cakajamalam, i.e., āṇavamalam, the basic component of pācam ). But the soul can be illuminated by the Lord's grace and overcome its bondage. The soul is thus an entity that is defined by its relations—either to "bondage" (pācam ), "impurity" (malam, i.e., the structure of finite, phenomenal existence), or to the Lord (pati), who bestows divine knowledge and bliss. Specific aspects of the soul's realization of its advaita relation with pati are the subject of the final six sūtras of the Civañāṉapōtam. Here in germ are the basics of a Śaiva Siddhānta path of spiritual realization: the necessity of a guru who is free of bondage and hence manifests the Lord, the use of the five-syllabled mantra ("nama śivāya "), and above all the centrality of devotional love (bhakti ; Tam., aṉpu ) for God, and the value of associating with other bhaktas (devotees).
The Civañāṉapōtam has been translated into English several times. Of these, the most complete, accurate, and accessible is Śiva-ñāna-bōdham: A Manual of Śaiva Religious Doctrine, translated and interpreted by Gordon Matthews (Oxford, 1948). Closely following the Civañāṉapōtam in its summary of the Śaiva Siddhānta is John H. Piet's A Logical Presentation of the Śaiva Siddhānta Philosophy (Madras, 1952). A valuable study of the entire canonical corpus of Śaiva Siddhānta theological texts, which also contains in appendices both the Tamil and Sanskrit sūtras of the Civañāṉapōtam and the Rauravāgama along with English translations, is Mariasusai Dhavamony's Love of God according to Śaiva Siddhānta (Oxford, 1971). A large volume on Śaiva Siddhānta thought, occasionally marred by a Protestant Christian bias but nonetheless still useful for its thoroughness and occasional insight, is H. W. Schomerus's Der Çaiva-Siddhanta: Eine Mystik Indiens (Leipzig, 1912).
Muthupackiam, J. X. Mysticism and Metaphysics in Saiva Siddhanta: A Study of the Concept of Self in the Sivajnanabodham of Meykantar Deva in Relation to the Mystical Experience of Appar. New Delhi, 2001.
Glenn E. Yocum (1987)