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Tirumantiram Quotes and Teachings

A collection of quotes and teachings from Tirumantiram.

Mistakenly I believed the body to be imperfect
But within it I realized the Ultimate Reality.
Tirumalar Tirumantiram 725

I sought Him in terms of I and you.
But He who knows not I from you taught me the truth that I indeed is you.
And now I talk not of I and you.

Dust Into Dust-That is Body's Way
The Vessel's clay was one, but of two Karmas made,
Firm-set, until Fate its grim summons gave;
Then the rains poured and back to clay the vessel turned;
Thus countless hordes perish and pass to the grave.

How Soon the Dead are Forgotten
The neighbors gathered wailing loud and long,
Denied him now a name, called him corpse,
And bore him to the burning ghat and the body burnt,
Then a ceremonial dip--and memory dies as the hours lapse.

Explanation to above verses:
The verse beginning with Mistakenly.... is from Tirumantiram, a revered Tamil scripture composed by the sage Tirumular. Here's an expansion and explanation of the verse:

"Mistakenly I believed the body to be imperfect" suggests that the speaker previously held the misconception that the physical body was flawed or imperfect in some way. This could refer to the common belief in many spiritual traditions that the material body is limited, transient, and subject to decay and suffering. The notion of imperfection might also stem from societal standards or personal insecurities regarding physical appearance or health.

"But within it I realized the Ultimate Reality" signifies a profound shift in perspective. Despite previously seeing the body as imperfect, the speaker now recognizes that within the physical form lies the manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. This realization indicates a deep spiritual insight wherein the individual perceives the body not merely as a flawed vessel, but as a sacred expression of divine essence or consciousness.

The verse encapsulates a fundamental principle of many spiritual teachings: the recognition of the divine within oneself and all creation. It suggests that true understanding transcends superficial appearances and embraces the inherent divinity present in every aspect of existence, including the physical body.


The excerpt, titled "How Soon the Dead are Forgotten," delves into the swift erosion of memory and significance following death. The poem vividly portrays a scene where neighbors mourn the passing of an individual, yet their grief quickly dissipates, reducing the deceased to an anonymous "corpse." The phrase "bore him to the burning ghat" suggests the Hindu funeral tradition of cremating the body on a funeral pyre, followed by a ceremonial cleansing ritual in the river.

The poem highlights the fleeting nature of remembrance, emphasizing how swiftly the deceased is relegated to obscurity as time passes. Despite the initial outpouring of sorrow, the memory of the departed fades rapidly with the passage of hours. This evokes a sense of transience and the fragility of human existence, emphasizing the inevitability of being forgotten in the flow of time.