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  1. #11
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    Siddhas. Who were they? What did they practice and teach? --II

    I was talking about Siddhis (powers) and Siddhars. But we do not call all people with Siddhis as Siddhars. Only people who we feel have achieved some Spiritual attainment are considered Siddhars.

    Siddhis are more common than most people know. They are mostly achieved through Mantra Yoga. We are all aware of people who do sooth saying (குறி சொல்லுதல்). Devi Upasana does give this ability especially to women. But then this becomes a way of earning money. What people do not realize is that this siddhi gives one the ability to predict the future on many occasions. But it does NOT give one the ability to suggest Pariharams. For this they fall back upon trusted methods like Prasna and Astrology.

    Again it is not difficult to attain the ability to find out a person's past. This power is achieved by the control and use of certain forces. But this does not guarantee prediction of the future.

    These powers or Siddhis are used for controlling forces which are made use of for achieving certain purposes. This is Mantra Vadam.

    Here we will not talk about such Siddhis or such people. These are called சித்து வேலைகள்.

    Such Siddhis which are achieved automatically with the progress in Upasana are generally considered to be an impediment in Spiritual Advancement. Sri Ramakrishna and most of Gurus warn their followers about this.

    I will post a story about Siddhi which would show how useless many of them are.

    Our Rishis and Acharyas did have many Siddhis. I do not think it would have been humanly possible for Adi Sankara to have traveled all over India in such a short span of time. He used his powers. We have heard stories about his Para Kaya Pravesam during the debate with Mandana Mishra.

    Para Kaya Pravesam is called கூடு விட்டு கூடு பாய்தல் in Tamil.

    Now the story about Siddhis.

    There was a Guru who had a number of Shishyas. One of them felt that he has learnt all he could from the Guru and sought the Guru's permission to continue his search independently. The Guru agreed and the Shishya left.

    After some years the Shishya came back and advised the Guru that he has attained many Siddhis. He wanted to show them to his Guru. He took the Guru to the nearby river. Once they reached the banks of the river, the Shishya walked across the river over water and then came back walking.

    On his return he asked his Guru his opinion. The Guru looked at him for some time and then asked one of his other Shishyas to give him four annas (25 paise). The Shishya was shocked and asked for an explanation.

    The Guru said "Look. I pay the boatman Two annas for carrying me across the river. Since you have crossed twice the feat is worth two boat trips. Four Annas. You have wasted years for acquiring this siddhi."

    Many of us wonder and praise such powers which are of no practical use.

    The Siddhars used their Siddhis for spiritual advancement. Some of them who started on the way lost track when they got enamored of their Siddhis. They spent their life time acting as show men.
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
  2. #12
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    hi nachi sir,
    nice to see u again.........after a long silence...may be due to siddha yoga......after koodu vittu koodu paythal...acoording to siddha

    purushas.....................

    regards
    tbs
    asato maa sadh gamayaa, tamaso maa jyotir
    gamayaa, mrityor maa amritham gamayaaa..
    om shanti, om shanti, om shanti...upanishad
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  4. #13
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    Thank you,tbs. It is good to be back again.
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  6. #14
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    List of the Eighteen Siddhars

    Though there have been many Siddhars in Tamil Nadu, the following are classified as the most important under the name பதினெண் சித்தர்கள்.

    Sri Pathanjali Siddhar
    Sri Agasthiar Siddhar
    Sri Kamalamuni Siddhar
    Sri Thirumoolar Siddhar
    Sri Kuthambai Siddhar
    Sri Korakkar Siddhar
    Sri Thanvandri Siddhar
    Sri Sundaranandar Siddhar
    Sri Konganar Siddhar
    Sri Sattamuni Siddhar
    Sri Vanmeegar Siddhar
    Sri Ramadevar Siddhar
    Sri Nandeeswarar Siddhar
    Sri Edaikkadar Siddhar
    Sri Machamuni Siddhar
    Sri Karuvoorar Siddhar
    Sri Bogar Siddhar
    Sri Pambatti Siddhar

    There are some small variations in the names from different sources.

    Some of the books talk about Navanatha Siddhars.

    The NavaNathas are

    Sathya Natha
    Vaguli Natha
    Adi Natha
    Anadi Natha
    Mathanga Natha
    Matsyendra Natha
    Gajendra Natha
    Gorakka Natha.

    It is clear that the term Natha was used as a title for Siddhars in Tamil Nadu.

    The nine Nathas are mentioned in the Siva Siddhanta tradition.

    Here is the Wikipedia article on Saiva Siddhanta which shows its origin in Kashmir and subsequent development. This article is based mainly on the the writings of Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami one of the greatest Gurus of modern times. He was not only a Saiva Siddhanta Guru but also an authority on Hinduism.

    Shaiva Siddhanta - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    When I said small variations in the list, it was an understatement. The list varies between different sources. No two books agree. This is one of the major problems.

    The list I had given contains names which are otherwise also well known like Pathanjali, Agasthyar, Thirumoolar, Dhanvantari and others.

    With a large number of Siddhars having lived in Tamil Nadu over a period of time, it is possible that many lists could be prepared.

    And also these could include Siddhars who never lived in Tamil Nadu, but who were the original Gurus of the tradition.

    Like Pathanjali is the author of Yoga Sutras. He did not live in Tamil Nadu. Because Siddhas were followers of Yoga, Pathanjali's name has been included. Agasthya's name is included because of his connection with Tamil language. Dhanvantari is the God of Medicine.

    Siddha research was prompted more by commercial considerations than a quest for knowledge. The research was done to promote Siddha Vaidya and Medicines. They had to show it as exclusive to Tamil Nadu. Of course then Tamil chauvinism took over. Of course the Nadi Josyas of Tamil Nadu had their own axe to grind with Agasthyar and Kaka Bujundar.

    But the inclusion of certain names enables us to trace the origin of the Siddhar Tradition.

    About the names of the Siddhars.

    It is generally accepted that the Siddhars were all Yogis. They practiced Yoga. Kundalini Yoga.

    Now there are some groups who would like to claim the Siddhars as their own.

    1. Saiva Siddhanta: Thriumandiram is a text which lays great emphasis on Yoga. But portions of that also deals with Mantras. Some of the chapters emphasize Saktha worship. So the claim that Thirumandiram is pure Siva Siddhanta is not substantiated. The claim that all Siddhars were Saiva Siddhanta followers also does not bear out.

    2. Yoga: Recently there has been a claim from the followers of Kriya yoga (Babaji) that all the Siddhars were Kriya yogis. Though Thirumandiram mentions Kriya Yoga often, the interpretation of Kriya Yoga is not the same as Babaji's followers. And the claimants of Kriya Yoga are not only Babaji's followers. There are other claimants who are much closer to the Siddhars.

    3. Sri Vidya: As I said earlier Saktha worship is detailed in Thiru Mandiram. Sri Vidya also emphasizes on Kundalini yoga. But there is no confirmation that all the Siddhars were followers of Sri Vidya especially the modified Brahminical form.

    The list would vary depending upon the point of view. The Saiva Siddhanta list, The Yoga list and the Sri Vidya list.

    But Saiva Siddhanta, Yoga and Sri Vidya are closely inter connected. That is the reason for this confusion. More about the inter-connection later.

    _________________________
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  8. #15
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    Now we come to the questions asked at the beginning.

    Let us examine some of the current projections about Siddhars

    1. Pure Tamil.

    2. Anti-Brahmin.

    3. Anti Sanskrit.

    4. Anti-Hindu and even Atheist.

    5. Secular.

    6. They lived before the advent of Sanskrit Hinduism into Tamil Nadu.

    1. Pure Tamil.

    Though most of the Siddhars were Tamil, not all of them were. Some major ones like Thirumoolar and Bogar were not Tamil. Thirumoolar was from North India. From Kailasam as it is claimed. Bogar was from China.

    You can not call Thirumoolar a Tamil unless you believe in the fantastic and ridiculous theory that the whole of India was populated by Tamils and they were driven from North India (Kailasam ) by the invading Aryans.

    Bogar being Chinese does tie with some of my theories. More about it later.

    But this is not to say that all the Tamil Nadu Siddhars were from North India. The siddhars who were included in the list because of the Sampradhaya like Pathanjali, Gorakkar, Macchamuni were from outside Tamil Nadu.

    3. Anti Sanskrit.

    Thirumandiram was originally known as mantra mala. It contains a number of Sanskrit words Like Nakkan (For Shiva) (Nagnan or Nude in Sanskrit), Navakkari (Navakshari in Sanskrit). The Navakkari consists of None Beeja mantras. All these Beeja mantras are from Sanskrit. All the mantras are in Sanskrit. I can go on.

    Again I will be tracing the Sampradhaya to sources outside Tamil Nadu.

    2. Anti-Brahmin.

    The Siddhars like the Nayanmars and most of the Bhakthi movement were against the Caste system. Caste system is rooted in the Purva Mimansa philosophy. All other systems of Hindu philosophy like Sankhya, Yoga and Advaita Vedanta were against it.

    But these were philosophical systems and the followers of these systems did not attempt to reform the caste system. And writing against the caste system does not make one Anti_Brahmin. The fact is that many of the Upanishads which were authored by Brahmin Rishis were also against the caste system.

    All these people accepted the caste system and never attempted to reform or abolish it.

    Anti Vedic

    Thirumandiram provides explanation to the MahaVakyas from the Vedas Like Tat-Tvam-Asi. in Verses 2568 to 2586.

    In verse 2057 of Thirumandiram it is said

    He is Guru Holy
    Who entranced in Bliss
    The Vedas and Agamas speaks of
    Enters into Siva Yoga
    And all thoughts stilled
    Removes the bondage of Pasa
    And leads you to Lord.

    4. Anti-Hindu and even Atheist.

    5. Secular.

    The religion of the Siddhars is rooted in Hinduism. There is absolutely no evidence that the Siddhars were inclined to Buddhism and Jainism which were the only other religions in India at that time. There are many ideas which are common to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Thirumandiram talks about the Vedas and Agamas.

    The Sankhya and Yoga philosophies have been termed as atheist by some modern philosophers because they do not believe in a Supreme God. This is generally not accepted. But even here the reference to God as Sadhasiva is numerous in Thirumandiram. Other Gods are also referred to.

    They are secular in the sense that they did accept all the other religions.

    6. They lived before the advent of Sanskrit Hinduism into Tamil Nadu.

    The earliest period of the Siddhars is 700 A.D. It is likely that Tamil Nadu which had initiated a revolution in religion with The Saivite Bhakthi movement of the Nayanmars, attracted the followers of all sets of Saivism. But Saiva Siddhanta which is based on the Siva Agamas is older than this period. It originated in Kashmir.

    Saiva Siddhanta is Sanskrit Hinduism as it is based on Saiva Agamas which are in Sanskrit. It existed before Thirumandiram was written around 1200A.D. Just adaption of Thirumandiram which is in Tamil does not make Saiva Siddhanta which originated in Kashmir a Tamil religion.

    We can see from the above how much of propaganda and falsehood have gone into the so called Siddhar history.

    Any Doubts?
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  10. #16
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    Siddhas -Their tradition/Sampradhaya and Philosophy

    The Siddhas are famous for their folk songs. Other than this we do not have any book about their beliefs, Sampradhaya. The only text available is Thirumandiram by Thirumoolar.

    A lot of research has been done on the Siddhar Songs or Siddhar Padalkal. A number of philosophical interpretations have been given. The beliefs of the Siddhas have examined. Esoteric meaning for common words have been ascribed. A new language called Maruvu Kriietu Mozhi has been discovered. A large number of doctorates have been given and continued to be given.

    But in spite of all this the Philosophy and Sampradhaya of the Siddhas continue to baffle people. A common Sampradhaya or Philosophy has not been discovered. Basically due to the absence of adequate material.

    But is it such a Chidambara Rahasyam?

    No it is not. The material is availble to us from many sources.

    But these sources have not been explored because we have restricted our study to Tamil Nadu and Tamil.

    This reminds of the story about a person who was found searching for a lost object under the streetlight. The dialogue goes as under

    Stranger: What are you searching for?

    Searcher: I have lost a valuable object.

    Stranger: Where did you lose It?

    Searcher: Somewhere over there?

    Indicates the surrounding area which is in the dark.

    Stranger: If you have lost it there why are you searching here?

    Searcher: There is light here.

    (To be continued)
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  12. #17
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    Sampradhya/tradition of the Siddhars

    Now about the Sampradhya/tradition of the Siddhars.

    The basic problem in the research about Tamil Siddhars is illustrated by the above story/fable.

    By confining our search to Tamil Nadu and Tamil we have lost sight of the whole picture.

    Very simple. We know that the names used

    Nath, Siddha and later Avadhuta.

    Now let us do a Google search for Nath Siddha

    nath siddhas - Google Search

    186,000 hits.

    Let us the topmost hit.

    Nath - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Sanskrit word nāthá or नाथ, is the proper name of a siddha initiatory tradition and the word itself literally means "lord, protector, refuge". The related Sanskrit term Adi Natha means first or original Lord, and is therefore a synonym for Shiva, Mahadeva, or Maheshvara, and beyond these supramental concepts, the Supreme Absolute Reality as the basis supporting all aspects and manifestations of consciousness.

    The Nath tradition is a heterodox siddha tradition containing many sub-sects. It was founded by Matsyendranath and further developed by Gorakshanath.

    These two individuals are also revered in Tibetan Buddhism as Mahasiddhas (great adepts) and are credited with great powers and perfected spiritual attainment.

    Is this The Siddhar Sampradhaya? Yes. We have always heard of Gorakkar and Maccha Muni among the eighteen Siddhars.

    Gorakkar - Gorakshanath

    Gorakshanath - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Gorakshanath (also known as Gorakhnath) was an 11th to 12th century Nath yogi, connected to Shaivism as one of the two most important disciples of Matsyendranath, the other being Caurangi. There are varying records of the spiritual descent of Gorakshanath. All name Adinath and Matsyendranath as two teachers preceding him in the succession. Though one account lists five gurus preceding Adinath and another lists six teachers between Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath, current tradition has Adinath identified with Lord Shiva as the direct teacher of Matsyendranath, who was himself the direct teacher of Gorakshanath.

    Maccha Muni - Matsyendranath

    Matsyendranatha (Sanskrit: मत्स्येन्द्रनाथ) or Machindranath (9th-10th century) was one of the eighty-four Mahasiddhas. He was the guru of Gorakshanath, with whom he founded the school of Hatha yoga. He is considered as the author of the Kaulajńānanirṇaya ("Discussion of the Knowledge Pertaining to the Kaula Tradition"), one of the earliest texts on Hatha Yoga in Sanskrit. He is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. Machindranath is believed to be the founder of the Natha Pantha. Machindranath is called "Vishwayogi" because his teachings are universal.
    Coming back to

    Nath - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Navanatha Sampradhaya was developed in Maharashtra. This include not only the original Nath/Siddha Sampradhya but also the Avadhuta Sampradhya. Guru Dattatreya came into the picture. This Sampradhaya got entwined with the Vaishnavite Bhakthi movement and worship of Vishnu made its appearance.

    Another proof of the origin of the Siddhar Sampradhaya is the Nandinatha_Sampradaya

    Nandinatha Sampradaya - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This is part of the Tamil Saiva Siddhanta.

    Thus we find the Tamil Nadu Siddhars are related to the Nath/Siddha Sampradhaya which had Matsyentranatha and Goraknatha as its greatest Gurus.

    A question which could be asked at this stage is

    When it is so obvious how come it is not found earlier?

    It is like the story I related earlier. You can not find something which has been lost in the dark by searching in a place where there is light.

    There are many Tamil scholars who have rightly deduced that Macchamuni refers to Matsyendranath and Gorakkar to Gorakshaknath. But after the identification they have not gone further.

    The Siddhar Sampradhaya and Philosophy is based on the Nath tradition. It is an adaptation.

    I will provide further linkages to show more proofs about the relationship between the Nath/Siddha Sampradhya and the Siddhars of Tamil Nadu in my next post.

    I have the advantage in this search that both my Deeksha guru and Jnana Guru were of the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta Sampradhaya. You could say that I belong to that Sampradhaya. Again both my Gurus were Tamil Brahmins by birth.

    Please do understand that there are hundreds of variations in the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta Sampradhaya. Many of them have died out. Some of them survive.

    Though my research is based on texts in Sanskrit/Hindi/Marathi and Tamil and not on Wikipedia articles, I will be giving linkages to Wikipedia articles because they are immediately available.
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  14. #18
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    Dear Nacchinarkiniyan Sir,

    Thankyou for this fascinating topic.

    I searched but could not find an english translation of the Thirumandiram anywhere online. I will hopefully get myself a hardcopy of Thirumandiram soon.

    I have a few doubts wrt to the Upanishads. I would like views and information on them.

    Adi Shankara is said to have referred to just 15 upanishads, which may mean that most upanishads were produced after the 8th century. Can that be considered true?

    Generally the upanishads are considered Shaiva texts, that depended on a guru-shishya relationship and that which originally did not have a written tradition. Many upanishads supposedly did not find it necessary to offer vedic fire sacrifices for moksham. Some consider them to be non-vedic (not anti-vedic, but of non-vedic origin).

    Also, authors of the Upanishads are fairly unknown (while some are known like Narada). But some beleive them to be texts penned by the warrior classes, or those that had no use for vedism, or those that were buddhist-influenced but wanted to carry over their concepts into vedism after converting to hindus. This is one interesting link: Vedas and Upanishads by Sanderson Beck

    Please share your views and shed some light on the above - are they true?

    Can we consider the Siddhars to be from the Upanishadic traditions? Or did they belong to an independent stream?

    Also sir, if you wud know some details of Mahaavtar Babji, please could you share them online? Is the Kriya sampradaya very different from the Siddha sampradayas?

    Regards.
    Last edited by happyhindu; 26-02-2011 at 05:10 PM.
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  16. #19
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    Thank you, H.H,


    There is a problem when writing about religious practices. It is especially true of the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta Sampradhaya.

    It is strictly a Guru/Shishya Parampara. The Deity, Mantra and the rituals are chosen by the Guru after assessing the Shishya. These are kept secret.

    The disciples do not know what the Guru practices. The Guru knows and instructs the Shishya. Even other shishyas do not know about the practice of a shishya.


    This is how the Sampradhya/Tradition functions and will continue to function.

    So while writing about Siddhars we can only make generalizations. Though I have been regularly posting about the Upasana of different Deities in other forums, it is always of a general nature because these can not be learnt from books or others.

    Agamas and Tantras are synonyms and represent the same scriptures. Sir. John Woodroofe (Arthur Avlon) was a Justice in the High Court In Kolkata. His books on Tantra are based on Tantras available in Bengal. Taking a lead from him all those who have followed have categorized only the Tantras from Bengal as Tantras. And also Tibetan tantras. These people were not exposed to the Agamas and other Tantrik literature of South India.

    For example in Thirumandiram, the different chapters are called Tantras. Again in Thirumandiram, the seventh Tantra deals with Saktha worship. Verses 1923 to 1974 deals with what is called by some people as Vamachara. There are books in Tamil in the Connemara Library which represent research work about Sakthism in Thirumandiram. One of the Books raises a question whether Thirumandirm is Sakthism.

    For my discussions I will be treating Agamas as Tantras. The difference between these are not a part of these discussions about Siddhars.

    Please do remember that the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta tradition has hundreds of branches now. It had always been so. Ever so many variations depending on the regional and other factors.

    You will be hard put to find anything in common between the KanPhata (torn ears) Nath Yogi tending the Dhuni (Homa) in the Jwalamukhi temple, The Avadhuta followers in Girnar, Gujarat and the Brahmin Sri Vidya followers of Tamil Nadu. But if you trace the roots you will find the common origin and ideas.

    We are tracing the roots of the Siddhar tradition. The regional variances are many. But the root and basic philosophy remain the same.

    This would help us understand the philosophy and belief system of the Tamil Siddhars. And also answer many of the questions asked at the beginning of this discussion.
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
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  18. #20
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    Now about the linkages and proof of the common thoughts between the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta tradition and Tamil Siddhars.

    1. Non belief or non-adherence to the caste system. Most of the well known Naths as well as Tamil Siddhars were not Brahmins. Of course there were many Brahmins especially in the later Avadhuta tradition.

    2. Yoga was the basis of both. Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga.

    3. Both of them laid great stress on Ashtama Siddhi and Samadhi.

    4. The basic concept of the Nath/Siddha/Avadhuta tradition as well as the Tamil Siddhars is non-adherence to the rules of the society. This trait is exhibited by almost all the Nath/Siddhas and the Tamil Siddhars.

    We can not forget how many of our Avadhutas were stoned by the people for going around nude. How they got them arrested by the British police. The Tamil Siddhars were called mad Men.

    Do as it please you is the golden rule. The individual and his spiritual attainment is the most important thing. Of course some of the gurus did preach and write books.

    We can see this even today in Pune where you find a Nath guru sitting in a cowshed attached to a Siva temple with his Dhuni (Homa) and a number of Shishyas.

    5. The Nath/Siddhas were always associated and closely linked to temples. Many temples in the north and east like Vaishno Devi, Jwalamukhi, Kalighat to mention a few are associated with Naths. Even today the temple in Jwalamukhi is under their control. They also control the Thryambhakeswar temple near Nasik.

    This is similar to the history of the Tamil Siddhars many of whom were associated and founded temples.

    6. The time period is the same. The earliest being about 700 A.D.

    Now we will take the questions one by one.

    1. When did they live?

    It is now generally agreed that the earliest period is around 700 A.D. There have been a continuous stream of Siddhars after that date.

    2. Why did they want to live for ever?

    It a a very long time to attain Siddhis. The idea is that you spent almost one life time in the practice of Yoga and attaining Siddhis. Then you seek Spirituality. The Siddhars search for Kayakalpa and para kaya pravesa were all based on this concept. Attain perfect control over your body as it is the instrument for seeking Spiritual attainments.

    Again this has a lot of relevance to their philosophy. We will discus that later.

    3.What was the propose of their research into Siddha Vaidya?

    Siddhars went through esoteric religious practices like Kundalini Yoga which put a lot of strain on the physical body. Mantra yoga in general and Kundalini Yoga in particular puts a tremendous strain on the body. And the Siddhars wandered alone mostly in uninhabited regions. They got diseases like every human being. So they had to know how to survive in forests and also keep their body healthy. Their main motivation for herbs was to stay healthy and strengthen the body.

    There are books in Hindi and Marathi written by Nath/Siddhas about herbs and Vaidya. But in those regions they have formed part of Ayur Veda.

    Many people talk about Mantra Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Many people have problems with Mantras. I have seen people coming to my Guru asking to be relieved of the problems and in fact asking for de-initiation of Mantras. Raising of Kundalini has so many problems that there are support groups. Gopi Krishna's books detail some of the problems.

    You can go into a Samadhi state and never come back. You have permanent headaches, lose the ability to sleep, have hallucinations, and go mad in general. Sadhus do travel in groups of two or three members so that one can watch over the other.

    Any questions?
    யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்.

    நச்சினார்க்கினியன்.
  19. All views expressed by the Members and Moderators here are that of the individuals only and do not reflect the official policy or view of the TamilBrahmins.com Website.
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