There are many ancient sages connected with the Tradition of Shiva. Of those, one is Sage Tandi. Almost nothing is known about the historical Sage Tandi. The name Tandi suggests a connection with Tandya branch of the Samaveda, of which he may have been the originator. One of the oldest and most important Vedic upanishads called the Chhandogya (a.k.a. Tandya Rahasya Upanishad; ca. 900 BCE) originates from this branch.
The Mahabharata epic (200 BCE-200 CE) mentions the illustrious Sage Tandi as a great Shiva devotee from remote antiquity, and credits him with authorship of the Thousand Names of Shiva (see Shiva Saharanama). In the Anushasana Parva (Book XIII) of the Mahabharata, Vasudeva (Krsna) teaches a prayer to Yudhishthira as taught to him by Sage Upamanyu. This prayer hymn is said to have been recited originally by Sage Tandi himself upon having a mystical vision of Shiva.
Sage Tandi’s Prayer glorifies Shiva in the most beautiful and exalted terms. It is a prayer based entirely on theological and philosophical principles found in the Vedanta, Yoga and theistic Sankhya systems. Note that unlike later hymns which heavily inject Puranic mythology into philosophy and theology, Tandi’s Prayer is free from Shiva's Puranic exploits (Shiva Charita).---0---
Sage Tandi's Prayer
The Rishi Tandi, desirous of beholding Him who making Himself endued with life-breaths, resides in what results from it (the jiva), in the form of that effulgence which is called the mind, passed many years in the practice of the severest austerities, and having succeeded in beholding Him as the reward of those penances, he praised the great God (Mahadeva) in the following terms.
Thou art the fiercest energy of all kinds of energy.
Thou art the austerest penance of all penances.
Thou, O puissant One, art the liberal Giver of blessings.
Thou art the supreme Truth.
Salutations to Thee, O Thou of a thousand rays, and O Refuge of all felicity.
Thou art the Giver of that Nirvana which, O puissant One, Yatis, standing in fear of birth and death, strive for so hard.
The Grandsire Brahmā, He of a hundred sacrifices (Indra), Vishnu, the Vishvadevas, the great Rishis, are incapable of comprehending Thee and Thy real nature.
How then can persons like us hope to comprehend Thee?
From Thee flows everything.
Upon Thee rests everything.
Thou art called Kāla, Thou art called Purusha, Thou art called Brahma.
Celestial Rishis conversant with the Puranas, say that Thou hast three bodies -- those pertaining to Kalas, those pertaining to Purusha and those pertaining to Brahma or the three forms namely Brahmā, Vishnu and Rudra.
Men of wisdom, when they succeed in knowing Thee that residest in themselves and that art incapable of being known by the very Gods, become freed from all bonds and enter to a state of existence that transcends all sorrow.
They that do not wish to know Thee, O Thou of great puissance, have to undergo innumerable births and deaths.
Thou art the door of heaven and of Emancipation.
Thou art He that projectest all beings into existence and withdrawest them again into Thyself.
Thou art the great Giver.
Thou art heaven, Thou art emancipation, Thou art desire (the seed of action).
Thou art wrath that inspires creatures.
Thou art Sattva, Thou art Rajas, Thou art Tamas,
Thou art the nether regions, and Thou art the upper regions.
Thou art the Grandsire Brahmā, Thou art Bhava, Thou art Vishnu, Thou art Skanda, Thou art Indra, Thou art Savitri, Thou art Yama, Thou art Varuna, Thou art Soma, Thou art Dhatri, Thou art Manu, Thou art Vidhatri, and Thou art Kuvera, the Lord of treasures.
Thou art Earth, Thou art Wind, Thou art Water, Thou art Agni, Thou art Space, Thou art Speech, Thou art the Understanding, Thou art Steadiness, Thou art Intelligence, Thou art the acts that creatures do, Thou art Truth, Thou art Falsehood, Thou art existent and Thou art non-existent.
Thou art the senses, Thou art that which transcends Prakriti, Thou art immutable. Thou art superior to the universe of existent objects, Thou art superior to the universe of non-existent objects, Thou art capable of being conceived, Thou art incapable of being conceived.
That which is supreme Brahman; that which is the highest entity; that which is the end of both the Sankhyas and the Yogins, is without doubt, identical with Thee.
Verily, rewarded have I been today by Thee in consequence of Thy granting me a sight of Thy form.
I have attained the end which the righteous alone attain to.
I have been rewarded with that end which is solicited by persons whose understandings have been cleansed by knowledge.
Alas, so long I was steeped in ignorance; for this long period I was a senseless fool, since I had no knowledge of Thee that art the Supreme Deity, Thee that art the only eternal Entity as can be only known by all persons endued with wisdom.
In course of innumerable lives have I at last succeeded in acquiring that devotion towards Thee in consequence of which Thou hast shown Thyself to me.
O Thou that art ever inclined to extend Thy grace to those that are devoted to Thee.
He that succeeds in knowing Thee is enabled to enjoy immortality.
Thou art that which is ever a mystery with the Gods, the Asuras, and the ascetics, the Brahman is concealed in the cave of the heart.
Thou art that puissant Deity who is the Doer of everything and whose face is turned towards every direction.
Thou art the Soul of all things, Thou seest all things, Thou pervadest all things, and Thou knowest all things.
Thou makest a body for Thyself, and bearest that body.
Thou art an embodied Being.
Thou enjoyest a body, and Thou art the Refuge of all embodied creatures.
Thou art the Creator of the life-breaths, Thou possessest the life-breaths, Thou art one that is endued with life-breaths, Thou art the Giver of the life-breaths, and Thou art the Refuge of all beings endued with life-breaths.
Thou art that Adhyatma which is the Refuge of all righteous persons that are devoted to Yoga-meditation and conversant with the Soul and that are solicitous of avoiding rebirth.
Verily, Thou art that Supreme Lord who is identical with that Refuge.
Thou art the Giver unto all creatures of whatever ends become theirs, fraught with happiness or misery.
Thou art He that ordains all created beings to birth and death.
Thou art the puissant Lord who grants success to Rishis crowned with success in respect of the fruition of their wishes.
Having created all the worlds beginning with Bhu, together with all the denizens of heaven, that upholdest and cherishest them all, distributing Thyself into Thy well-known forms numbering Eight (Ashtamurtis).
From Thee flows everything.
Upon Thee rests all things.
All things, again, disappear in Thee.
Thou art the sole object that is Eternal.
Thou art that region of Truth which is sought by the righteous and regarded by them as the highest.
Thou art that cessation of individual existence which Yogins seek.
Thou art that Oneness which is sought by persons conversant with the soul.
Although Thou residest in the heart, yet Thou art concealed.
Hence, stupefied by Thee, Devas and Asuras and human beings are all unable to understand Thee, O Bhava, truly and in all Thy details.
By knowing Thee one can avoid both death and rebirth.
Thou art the highest object of knowledge.
By knowing Thee no higher object remains for one to know.
Thou art the greatest object of acquisition.
The person that is truly wise, by acquiring Thee, thinks that there is no higher object to acquire.
By attaining to Thee that art exceedingly subtle and that art the highest object of acquisition, the man of wisdom becomes immortal and immutable.
The followers of the Sankhya system, well conversant with their own philosophy and possessing a knowledge of the attributes (gunas) and of those called the topics of enquiry, those learned men who transcend the destructible by attaining to a knowledge of the subtle or indestructible, succeed, by knowing Thee, in freeing themselves from all bonds.
Persons conversant with the Vedas regard Thee as the one object of knowledge, which has been expounded in the Vedantas.
These men, devoted to the regulation of the breaths, always meditate on Thee and at last enter into Thee as their highest end.
Riding on the car made of
Of that which is called the Devayana (the path of the Devas), Thou art the door called Aditya.
Thou art Kashtha, Thou art the points of the horizon, Thou art the year, and Thou art the Yugas.
Thine is the sovereignty of the heavens, Thine is the sovereignty of the Earth, Thou art the Northern and the Southern declensions.
The Grandsire Brahmā in days of yore uttered Thy praises, O Thou that art called Nilarohita (blue and red), by reciting diverse hymns and urged Thee to create living creatures.
Brahmanas conversant with Riks praise Thee by uttering Riks, regarding Thee as unattached to all things and as divested of all forms.
Persons of cleansed understandings, that are conversant with Samans, sing Thee with the aid of Samans.
Those regenerate persons, again, that are conversant with the Atharvans, hymn Thee as Rta, as Truth, as the Highest, and as Brahma.
Thou art the highest Cause, whence Sacrifice has flowed.
Thou art the Lord, and Thou art Supreme.
The night and day are Thy sense of hearing and sense of sight.
The fortnights and months are Thy head and arms.
The seasons are Thy energy, penances are Thy patience, and the year is Thy lower end, thighs and feet.
Thou art Mrityu, Thou art Yama, Thou art Hutasana, Thou art Kāla, Thou art endued with speed in respect of destruction, Thou art the original cause of Time, and Thou art eternal Time.
Thou art Chandramas and Aditya with all the stars and planets and the atmosphere that fills space.
Thou art the pole-star, Thou art constellation called the seven Rishis, Thou art the seven regions beginning with Bhu.
Thou art Pradhana and Mahat, Thou art Unmanifest, and Thou art this world.
Thou art the universe beginning with Brahmā and ending with the lowest forms of vegetation.
Thou art the beginning or original cause of all creatures.
Thou art, again, above the eight Prakritis.
Everything that exists, represents a portion of thy divine Self.
Thou art that supreme Felicity which is also Eternal.
Thou art the end which is attained to by all things.
Thou art that highest existence which is sought for by the Righteous.
Thou art that state which is freed from every anxiety.
Thou art eternal Brahman!
Thou art that highest state which constitutes the meditation of persons learned in the scriptures and the Vedangas.
Thou art the highest Kashtha, Thou art the highest Kāla.
Thou art the highest Success, and Thou art the highest Refuge.
Thou art the highest Tranquillity.
Thou art the highest cessation of Existence.
By attaining to thee, Yogins think that they attain to the highest success that is open to them.
Thou art Contentment, Thou art Success, Thou art the Sruti, and Thou art the Smriti.
Thou art that Refuge of the Soul after which Yogins strive, and Thou art that indestructible Prapti which men of knowledge pursue.
Thou art, without doubt, that End which those persons have in view that are habituated to sacrifices and that pour sacrificial libations, impelled by specific desires, and that make large presents on such occasions.
Thou art that high End which is sought for by persons that waste and scorch their bodies with severe penances with ceaseless recitations, with those rigid vows and fasts that appertain to their tranquil lives, and with other means of self-affliction.
O Eternal one, Thou art that End which is theirs that are unattached to all things and that have relinquished all acts.
Thou, O Eternal one, art that End which is theirs that are desirous of achieving Emancipation from rebirth, that live in dissociation from all enjoyments, and that desire the annihilation of the Prakriti elements.
Thou art that high End, O illustrious One, which is indescribable, which is stainless, which is the immutable one, and which is theirs that are devoted to knowledge and science.
These are the live Ends that have been declared in the Vedas and the Scriptures and the Puranas.
It is through Thy grace alone that persons attain to those ends, or, if they fail to attain to them, it is through thy grace being denied to them.
It was thus Tandi, who was a vast heap of penances, praised Isana. And he sang also that high Brahman which in ancient days was sung by the Creator Himself (in honour of Mahadeva).
Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva (Book XIII): Chapter XVI: 13-66
Translated by Kisari Mohan Ganguli
(Edited for clarity and capitalization)
Aum Namah Shivaya ~ Shivaya Namah Aum.