This is a common line in many of the prayers, sahasranamas, and soulful Carnatic music songs. However, neither the meaning of “Anima”, nor the details of the eight Siddihs get mentioned. Let us see what these are.First, what is a Siddih?
Animadi Ashta Siddih
(Eight Siddihs like Anima … )
(Eight Siddihs like Anima … )
There are two types of achievement. One is called Prabhavam (natural), and the other is Siddih (super-natural). It is natural for a man to walk long distances, or run or climb, or a bird to fly or in specific species, over long distances without stopping, or for a fish to swim constantly in water or for a whale to be in deep waters without getting nitrogen narcosis. These are normal (prabhavam) for a man, or a bird, or fish, respectively. But if a man, by virtue of his meditation or other means, attains the quality of a bird, to fly or of a fish, to remain constantly under water, these are uncommon for the man and are super natural (Siddih).
There are 8 such siddihs, described (and hence the words – Animadi Ashta Siddih), and their references are found in Kashmiri Shaivism (according to Mahabharata Manjari and Paratrimshika – Vivarana).These eight siddihs are :
1) Anima (becoming small) – the capacity of awareness of your own presence in objects.
2) Mahima (becoming large) – The capacity of consciousness to permeate all things.
3) Laghima (Becoming light) – The capacity to go above the gross world of multitude.
4) Garima (becoming heavy) – The capacity of getting gross forms from own individual consciousness.
5) Prapti (Achieving) – The capacity to follow your own true nature.
6) Prakamya (Fulfilling of desires ) – The capacity to realize the multitude of the existence.
7) Vashitva (Control) – The capacity to do your will.
8) Ishitva (ownership) – The perfect freedom.
We now understand a little better when one talks about his own ‘Prabhavam’ (boasts of one’s own achievements, or talks about the ‘Mahima’ of a particular God or Goddess in a temple or of a saint or a preacher or a lecturer to keep his audience spell-bound, or of ‘Prapti’ (What to do? ‘Avanukku Koduttuvechchadu Avvalavu dan’ – that is all that is ordained for him), or ‘Vashitvam’ when a girl or a boy is irretrievably attached to the other or when somebody knowledgeable in ‘black magic’ makes a person dance to his / her tunes, etc.
There are ten secondary Siddihs which are described by lord Krishna in Srimad Bhagavatam. They are as follows :
1) Anurmi maltvam : Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst and other bodily disturbances.
2) Dura sravana – Hearing things far away
3) Dura darsanam – Seeing things far away.
4) Manah-javah – Moving the body wherever the thought process goes (Manojavam)
5) Kama rupam – Assuming any form desired.
6) Para Kaya Pravesanam – Entering the body of others.
7) Sva Chanda Mrityuh – Dying when one desires.
8) Devanam saha krida anudarsanam – Witnessing and participating in the pastimes of the Apsaras.
9) Yatha Sankalpa samsiddih – Perfect accomplishment of one’s determination.
10) Ajna aparatihata gatih – Orders or commands being unimpeded.Examples for some of the above :
P1. Many of the Rishis had these qualities.
2 & 3. Sanjaya, the Charioteer of Dridhrashtra, in the Mahabharata, had these qualities.
4 & 5. Hanuman had these.
6. Adi Sankara exhibited this.
7. Bhishma had this Siddih
There are many other siddihs credited with yoga sastra, which are not being listed here.There have lived many siddhars in all parts of India, and particularly, South Tamil Nadu had quite a few of them. They have been experts in identifying the herbs and the particular herb useful as a remedy for a particular disease. This had evolved into a particular school of medicine, known as ‘Siddha Vaidyam’. For eg., the plant serpentine was used to contain blood pressure and this is now universally used all over the world. The ‘Nava Paashaanam’ of which the famous Subrahmanya Statue at Pazhani is made, has also been made by a famous Siddhar, Bogar.
Even till the early part of the last century, the doctors (more precisely, the wives of the barbers’ community, who were experts in carrying out the deliveries of children in the houses) used to cut a small portion of the umbilical cord and preserve it in an airtight casket (of gold or silver or copper) and tie it around the waist of the new born child. Its purpose or significance has been lost, though. It is now the new stem-cell research, where the stem cells of the same DNA could be used to grow even different parts of the organs of the body, and therefore, preserved in special labs, at huge cost, immediately after confinement. This has now become fashionable with the high-end society. The cell thus preserved, can be used for replacing or growing a deceased part of the body at a later date.
In many temples, Siddhars are believed to come and do pujas in an invisible form to the Gods, in the nights, after the humans had completed their rituals. The holy shrine of Tiruvannamalai is credited with this, and often we get news items of people having spotted a Siddhar, performing some miracle, but disappearing immediately, after they are spotted.18 Siddhars are well known in Tamil Nadu, as having achieved miracles.. Idaikadu Siddhar, Karuvur Thevar, Kapilar, Pambhatti Siddhar, Bogar, are some among them. Seshadri Swamigal, a famous seer, and contemporary of Ramana Maharishi in Tiruvannamalai, has consecrated a ‘Siddhar Peetam’ with a separate Sannidhi for each of the 18 Siddhars, at a place, Madambakkam, near Chennai.