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 Meykaṇṭār, Aruṇanti, and Maṟaiñāṉa Campantar, all of whom lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.) According to tradition, Umāpati was a Vaiṣṇava brahman from Koṟṟavaṉkuṭi, near Chidambaram. One day, coming from the temple, he encountered the Śaiva ācārya Maṟaiñāṉa Campantar. This meeting resulted in Umāpati's conversion to Śaivism. Under the tutelage of Maṟaiñāṉa 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 Meykaṇṭaśāstra. 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 Meykaṇṭar's "root treatise" (mutaṉūl ) the Civañāṉapōtam, the basic sutra of the Tamil Śaiva Siddhānta, and to Aruṇanti's secondary treatise-commentary (vaḻiṉūl ) on the Civañāṉapōtam, the Civañāṉacittiyār. 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 ontology—pati ("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 Meykaṇṭaśāstra are briefly described as follows. The Tiruvaruṭpayaṉ contains ten sets of ten couplets in the style of the renowned Tamil ethical work known as the Tirukkuṟaḷ. Since the Tirukkuṟaḷ 's maxims treat only right conduct (dharma ), wealth and power (artha ), and eros (kāma ), Umāpati offers the Tiruvaruṭpayaṉ to supply a section on mokṣa, the fourth Hindu "aim of life" (puruṣārtha ). The thirteen-quatrain Viṉāvenpa records a dialogue between the author and his guru concerning details of Siddhānta ontology and epistemology. The Poṟṟippaḵṟoṭai, a ninety-five-stanza composition in the form of a hymn of praise, describes the soul's transformation thanks to Śiva's grace. The Koṭikkavi, 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 Neñcuviṭutūtu 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 Uṇmaineṟiviḷakkam contains six quatrains treating the soul's development and enlightenment. The Caṅkaṟpanirākaraṇam consists of twenty stanzas refuting other sectarian views, especially those of Advaita Vedānta.
Besides the works in the Meykaṇṭaśāstra, Umāpati is also the traditionally ascribed author of a number of Tamil Puranic works: a condensation of Cēkkiḻār's great hagiography on the lives of the Tamil Śaiva devotional saints; a sacred biography of Cēkkiḻār himself; the sthalapurāṇa ("sacred history of a place") of Chidambaram; and a purāṇa on the origins of the Tamil Śaiva collection of sacred hymns the Tirumuṟai. Umāpati also wrote a Sanskrit commentary on the Pauṣkarāgama and compiled an anthology of the ŚaivĀgamas, the Śataratnasaṃgraha.
Two of Umāpati's Tamil works have been more or less adequately translated into English: the Civapirakācam in Henry R. Hoisington's Tattuva-kaṭṭaḷei, Siva-gnāna-pōtham, and Siva-pirakāsam (New Haven, Conn., 1854); and the Tiruvaruṭpayaṉ translated by G. U. Pope in the introductory "appendix" of Pope's The Tiruvāçagam (1900; reprint, Madras, 1970), pp. xxxix–lxxxvii. There is a translation with commentary on the anthology of the Āgamas: Periyaperumal Thirugnanasambandhan's Śataratnasaṅgraha of Śrī Umāpati Śivācārya (Madras, 1973). For an extended summary and discussion of Umāpati's contributions to the Meykaṇṭaśastra, see Mariasusai Dhavamony's Love of God according to Śaiva Siddhānta (Oxford, 1971), pp. 260–324. On Umāpati's Puranic works, see Kamil V. Zvelebil's Tamil Literature (Leiden, 1975), pp. 200–201, 221.
Glenn E. Yocum (1987)