Umāpati Śivācārya

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UMĀPATI ŚIVĀCĀRYA (fourteenth century ce) was a Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta teacher, author, and theologian. Umāpati Śivācārya, who flourished in the South Indian temple city of Chidambaram during the early fourteenth century, was the last of the four santāna ācārya s ("hereditary teachers," a term here referring to four theologians in teacher-disciple succession) of the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta school of philosophy-theology. (The other three ācārya s were Meykaār, Aruanti, and Maaiñāa Campantar, all of whom lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.) According to tradition, Umāpati was a Vaiava brahman from Koavakui, near Chidambaram. One day, coming from the temple, he encountered the Śaiva ācārya Maaiñāa Campantar. This meeting resulted in Umāpati's conversion to Śaivism. Under the tutelage of Maaiñāa Campantar, who became Umāpati's guru, Umāpati studied Śaiva religious texts and himself became a prolific contributor to the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta literature.

Fourteen theological texts are considered canonical in the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta school and are collectively referred to as the Meykaaśāstra. Umāpati wrote eight of these treatises, the most important of which is the Civapirakācam (The Light of Śiva). The Civapirakācam is a hundred-stanza "supplementary treatise" (cārpunūl ) related both to Meykaar's "root treatise" (mutaūl ) the Civañāapōtam, the basic sutra of the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta, and to Aruanti's secondary treatise-commentary (vaiūl ) on the Civañāapōtam, the Civañāacittiyār. This clearly situates Umāpati's work and thought within a typical medieval Hindu sectarian lineage, scholastic in style and substance. Umāpati shares with the other Tamil Siddhāntins a threefold ontologypati ("the lord," i.e., Śiva), pacu ("the creature," i.e., souls), and pācam/malam ("bondage"/"dirt," i.e., phenomenal reality and consciousness). In the Civapirakācam he displays considerable psychological acumen in delineating the various levels of knowledge-experience that the soul passes through on its journey from an original benighted state of intimate connection with malam to an ultimate illumination with the light of Śiva.

Other works by Umāpati in the Meykaaśāstra are briefly described as follows. The Tiruvarupaya contains ten sets of ten couplets in the style of the renowned Tamil ethical work known as the Tirukkua. Since the Tirukkua 's maxims treat only right conduct (dharma ), wealth and power (artha ), and eros (kāma ), Umāpati offers the Tiruvarupaya to supply a section on moka, the fourth Hindu "aim of life" (puruārtha ). The thirteen-quatrain Viāvenpa records a dialogue between the author and his guru concerning details of Siddhānta ontology and epistemology. The Poippaoai, a ninety-five-stanza composition in the form of a hymn of praise, describes the soul's transformation thanks to Śiva's grace. The Koikkavi, a mere four quatrains, plays upon an analogy between the ascent of the soul to Śiva and the raising of a flag at a temple festival. The 125-stanza Neñcuviutūtu casts the author's heart as a messenger to her beloved (Śiva), who is described as a king, and expounds the soul's transformation by him. The Umaineiviakkam contains six quatrains treating the soul's development and enlightenment. The Cakapanirākaraam consists of twenty stanzas refuting other sectarian views, especially those of Advaita Vedānta.

Besides the works in the Meykaaśāstra, Umāpati is also the traditionally ascribed author of a number of Tamil Puranic works: a condensation of Cēkkiār's great hagiography on the lives of the Tamil Śaiva devotional saints; a sacred biography of Cēkkiār himself; the sthalapurāa ("sacred history of a place") of Chidambaram; and a purāa on the origins of the Tamil Śaiva collection of sacred hymns the Tirumuai. Umāpati also wrote a Sanskrit commentary on the Paukarāgama and compiled an anthology of the ŚaivĀgamas, the Śataratnasagraha.

See Also

Meykaār; Śaivism, article on Śaiva Siddhānta; Tamil Religions.


Two of Umāpati's Tamil works have been more or less adequately translated into English: the Civapirakācam in Henry R. Hoisington's Tattuva-kaaei, Siva-gnāna-pōtham, and Siva-pirakāsam (New Haven, Conn., 1854); and the Tiruvarupaya translated by G. U. Pope in the introductory "appendix" of Pope's The Tiruvāçagam (1900; reprint, Madras, 1970), pp. xxxixlxxxvii. There is a translation with commentary on the anthology of the Āgamas: Periyaperumal Thirugnanasambandhan's Śataratnasagraha of Śrī Umāpati Śivācārya (Madras, 1973). For an extended summary and discussion of Umāpati's contributions to the Meykaaśastra, see Mariasusai Dhavamony's Love of God according to Śaiva Siddhānta (Oxford, 1971), pp. 260324. On Umāpati's Puranic works, see Kamil V. Zvelebil's Tamil Literature (Leiden, 1975), pp. 200201, 221.

Glenn E. Yocum (1987)