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Siddhas. Who were they? What did they practice and teach? --I

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This is an article I had posted in another forum recently. I am posting it again here for a wider audience.

My article here is based on my unfinished research paper on the Siddha Sampradaya of Tamil Nadu. I do not think it will reach the publishing stage. Too vast a subject with one too many sources.

Every one in Tamil Nadu knows about Siddhas. Hundreds of legends, books, TV serials and what not.

The reason for projecing them is not far to seek. They are projected as

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.

We are so much flooded by these officially sponsored propaganda that hardly anyone has bothered to find our the real truth about them.

How many books have you seen which explain

1. Their Philosophy.

2. Why did they want to live for ever? With all their writings they were not Advaitins.

3. How did they achieve the Siddhis?

4. What is the role of Ashtama Siddhis in spirituality?

5. Why were the Siddhas eccentric to say the least?


6. When did they live?

And then

1. Why were the Siddhas doing a lot of Rasa Vada? You know about Mercury?

2. If they were spiritual why were they obsessed with transforming other elements to Gold?

3. What was the propose of their research into Siddha Vaidya? The real one. Not that which is bandied about now.

I wonder whether any of these questions have been answered.

These questions can be answered only of first clear our minds of the official propaganda I mentioned earlier.

If you know the answers please post.
[SIZE=+4]B[/SIZE][SIZE=+2]hogar[/SIZE] was a South Indian by birth, belonging to the caste of goldsmiths, who became a siddhapurusha under the guidance ofKalanginaathar. In Bhogar's Saptakanda he reveals details ofvarious medicinal preparations to his disciple Pullippani (so named ashe is believed to have wandered in the forests atop a puli or tiger)and at every stage he quotes his guru as the authority. Also Pulippani must have been a young man then, as he is often referred to as abalaka.
It is said that as per the last wishes of his guru, Bhogarproceeded to China to spread the knowledge of siddha sciencesand strangely enough his journey is said to have been made with theaid of an aircraft; he demonstrated to the Chinese the details of theconstruction of the aircraft and later built for them a sea-goingcraft using a steam engine. The details of these and other experi-ments demonstrated by Bhogar in China are clearly documented in theSaptakanda.
Bogar's guru, Kālāngi Nāthar, is believed to be a Chinese whoattained siddhi in South India and thus became included among theEighteen Siddhars.
Lao Tse - the founder of Taoism (5th century B.C.) was the firstChinese to propound the theory of duality of matter -- the male Yang andfemale Yin -- which conforms to the Siddha concept of Shiva -Shakti or positive-negative forces. This very same concept wasfirst revealed by the adi-siddhar Agasthya Rishi, whose period isas old as the Vedas, which have been conservatively dated at3500 B.C. Also alchemy as a science was practised in China onlyafter B.C. 135 and was practiced as an art until B.C. 175 when a royaldecree was enacted banning alchemical preparation of preciousmetals by the Celestial Empire; these details are recounted in the twoexisting Chinese books of alchemy Shih Chi and Treatise ofElixir Refined in Nine Couldrons, both dated to the first century B.C.
The emergence of Lao Tse with his theory of duality of matter and thejourney of Bhogar to China seem to have taken place about the sametime and it is even possible that Bhogar himself went under the name ofLao Tse in China, like another Siddharishi Sriramadevar, who wasknown as Yacob in Arabia.
If a correct assessment of Arunagirinatha's personality in his early years is made from his own compositions and from contemporary literature of other writers, the following facts emerge:
[SIZE=+2]Arunagirinatha[/SIZE] was a traditional type of devout Hindu. [SIZE=+1]Lord Muruga[/SIZE] was the family God whom his ancestors have been worshipping. In his Tiruppugazh, he prays: “Oh, Kanda! The glorious God of the hills! Pray bestow Thine blessings accepting the ardent worship of this humble son to You, my ancestral deity."[1]
His learning, especially of religious and spiritual literature must have been acquired in his early years and it was both vast and deep. In the Tamil language, he excelled in expression and learning. In his compositions, he exhibits familiarity with the Tamil Works such as: Tevaram, Tirukkural, Kaarigai, Ula, Easal, Kalambakam, Kovai, Sindu, Madal and Maalai. He had also cultivated the art of writing eulogies of rich men to obtain presents of money from them.[2] His compositions abound in the use of Sanskrit words and they also show that he was familiar with the Itihasas, Puranas, the Gita, the Upanishads, Agamas, Mantra and Tantra Sastras, Yoga Sutras and Kama Sutra.
His archanaon Lord Muruga in two songs are mostly in Sanskrit.[3] One is therefore entitled to assume that his mastery of Sanskrit language was equal to that of Tamil and that he was quite capable of composing original work in Sanskrit. Unless he was born in a family whose traditions were such that every young male member from his early years received the highest cultural and religious education, prevailing in those days, it would not have been possible for Arunagirinatha to have ac­quired the vast learning that he has exhibited.
That he was leading a debaucherous life in his early years is admitted by him in his prayer to Lord Muruga, thus: “Will I ever get to know how to attain Your holy feet before becoming too old wasting my youth, as I am, by indulgence in sinful sexual pleasures?”[4] Here one must utter a word of warning that all references to a life of lust in many of his poems should not be taken literally -- that is to say, as confessions of his own guilt.[5]
But his life of debauchery could not have lasted very long. Perhaps, it proved to be a costly indulgence and he was soon reduced to a life of penury and became very dejected. In one of his songs, he says:[6]
"…To me, who seeks the company of prostitutes all the time, spending on them whatever little money I earn by bestowing lavish praises on men who lack wisdom, who never pray to Your holy feet, who are dunces, who indulge in devilish activities and who have no sense of gratitude; pray Muruga, grant me Moksha (from all this)".
In another song, he speaks with poignant emotion about his despicable state, thus: [7]
"…Ridiculed and jeered at by my wife, by the people of the town, by the women of the place, my father and my relations being disgusted in their minds by my conduct, everyone scolding me or indulging in loose talks about me and being treated as a despicable person by the very people whom I have loved, my mind became confused and full of gloom. I thought within myself, ‘Is it for this that I strove to obtain this human body which is a treasure, indeed?’…"
[SIZE=-1]Arunagiri worships Lord Murugan who had just rescued him from certain death by suicide. Painting from Tiru Avinankudi Tirukkovil, Palani.[/SIZE]
The first sign of God's grace and compassion came to Aruna­girinatha after a Mahatma sought him and spoke to him in a sweet voice with love and affection. The Mahatma advised him "to meditate on the six-faced God Shanmukha".[8] But Arunagirinatha did not heed the advice for some time and people began to deride him for ignoring the advice of the Mahatma. A change soon came over him. He began to worry very much over his pitiable state. He thought of the advice of the Mahatma and attempted to spend some hours in meditation facing the image of Lord Muruga installed in the Gopuram. But his will, weakened by his immoral life, lacked the strength to persist in that attempt. The crisis in his life started mounting up. He decided to surrender, at the feet of Lord Muruga, the body that had failed to serve Him in any way, He decided upon suicide. At this moment, Lord Muruga appeared standing on a dancing peacock, halted him in the act and took possession of him.[9]
"Oh Gurunatha! You came along on the peacock holding the Vel that broke to pieces the Krauncha Mountain in Your hand and took possession of me in that the people of the world may admire Your grace."
"When I was about to shed life from my body, out of compassion for me and to elevate me to a better and praise-worthy status, You came upon the scene,dancing, accompanied by Yourcelestial devotees and showered grace on me.”
One must assume that after this surrender to Lord Muruga that was accepted by Him, the lure of lust should have left Arunagirinatha. For, if surrender to the Lord does not relieve one instantaneously of all dross, then surrender will have no meaning. One may safely assert that after Arunagirinatha was taken possession of by the Lord, all prayers in his songs there­after seeking to be relieved from the attraction of lust are for the benefit of others and not for himself.
Here, one must pause for a moment. Was Arunagirinatha’s decision to end his life born of mere disgust and frustration, a simple attempt at suicide, in order to put an end to suffering, which can no longer be endured? One must remember that God does not intervene in every instance of attempted suicide to save the person. The manifestation of Lord Muruga standing on his dancing peacock is not an every day occurrence. It is not vouchsafed even to His most sincere devotees. Yet Arunagirinatha the dissolute was rewarded with this supreme act of compassion.
In our sastras, it is said that the state of mind of a person at the last moment when life is about to leave the body, is very important from the point of view of his rebirth. If one were to utter the name of Narayana or Shiva and fix his mind on His form at the time of death, he is assured of moksha and release from rebirth. Arunagirinatha had realised with great poignancy that the body had failed to serve the purpose for which God had intended it. He had misused it for immoral purposes. What was there left for him to do except to surrender the mind and the body to the Lord? He sings thus:[10]
Oh mind of mine!
Trust not the body
That infernal machine
Turning out pleasure and pain.
Brahma who sits on the Lotus
Created it to bind the mind.
Oh mind of mine!
Free thyself from fear.
To seek Him, endeavour
Patiently and steadily.
Let us go to Him
Show our love and surrender.
Oh mind of mine!
It's good you decided to surrender.
See Him on His peacock Vahana
He has now taken charge of you.
Doubt not, there is no Greater State.
Dwell on His holy name
Always, ‘Mainda, Kumara'.
A kshatriya warrior of old, leaving his house, his wife and children and relatives and abandoning all his desires and possessions, goes to the battlefield with the assurance that if he should die there, he will attain Vira Svarga (Valhalla). Similarly, a great bhakta is always prepared to sacrifice a limb or an eye or even his life for the sake of God in the full belief that the Lord will accept the sacrifice and make him one of his possessions. Lord Muruga came to the rescue of His devotee who was preparing to shed his body and saved him not only from death, but accepted him as dear to Him and took possession of him. How beautifully Arunagirinatha has expressed it when Lord Muruga appeared before him!
Kinkini thith thimi, thith thith
The anklets on the dancing feet jingled,
A sound that to other sounds
Closed my hearing.
The Kadamba garland that He wore
Suffused me with its cloying fragrance,
And my breath was held.
His moon-like countenance and tender smile
Caused such cheer and ecstasy
That my mind was lost.
For a moment He looked at me,
A cool liquid light poured out
From His long lotus eyes.
It filled my heart tasting like nectar
And I was lost to Him forever.
Another classic of the 17th century in praise of the of Tiruchendur is Kandar Kalivenba by Kumaraguru Paraswamigal, a Saiva ascetic. The author was horn in 1625 A.D. of a Saiva Vellala family at Srivaikuntam on the northern hank of the Tambaraparani, nineteen miles from Tiruchendur. His parents Shanmukha Sikhamani Kavirayar and Sivakami Ammaiyar were blessed with this child after a long penance to Muruga of Tiruchendur. The boy grew of age and until his fifth year showed no signs of speech. The parents were pained at this and resorted to Tiruchendur penance again. Weary of waiting for months and seeing signs of approaching speech, the parents determined to drown themselves in the sea along with the child if he would not speak by a particular day.
The day dawned, and yet there were no signs. At last, both the parents and the child entered the foamy waves. Deeper and deeper they went from knee to neck and, as they were about to sink with the waves over their heads a human form appeared with a flower in his hand and asked the child what it was; when lo! the child broke out in praise of the Lord with the words of the lines.
"Pûmêvu cenkamalap puttêLuntêRRiya
Pâmêvu teyvap pazhamaRaiyum…." This poem, the Kantarakalivempâ of 244 lines is a delightful piece of the Lord's praise and the truths of Saiva Siddhanta. And it is considered even now with great propriety that its recitation with warmth and fervour wards off many an evil attending on man.
Having studied Tamil at the feet of his father Sanmukacikâmani Kavirayar, and attained in it great proficiency by divine grace, he grew up to manhood, took to an austere way of life, left home, and wandered throughout the Tamil country visiting famous places of pilgrimage and composing poems on the presiding deities. When he was at Dharmapuram, he was drawn to the monastery's head Mâcilâmani Tecikar, and begged him to be admitted as his disciple and initiated into the sannyâsa âsrama. Mâcilâmani asked the young poet to visit important pilgrim centers including Benares, and return to him then. Kumarakuruparar felt incapable of such undertaking, arduous and dangerous in those days. He was directed to stay at least in Chidambaram for some time and then apply. He complied with this condition and afterwards took the holy orders. While he was a court-poet of Tirumalai Nâyaka at Madurai, one day as he was inaugurating his devotional poem in praise of goddess Mînâtci at the royal court, the goddess appeared herself as a young maiden and sat on the lap of the Nâyaka king, and taking a necklace of pearls, put it on the neck of the poet and vanished.
Finally, Kumarakuruparar left for Benares. His fame reached even the Mughal court at Delhi. Emperor Aurangzib expressed a desire to see him, and the poet-saint (who had in the meantime mastered Urdu) rode to the Mughal court on the back of a lion, the symbol of courage and pride. The emperor was so much impressed by the poet's holiness and learning that he bestowed on him a plot of land in Benares near the Kedar Ghat, and there Kumarakuruparar built the Kumârasvâmi monastery which became soon the heart of religious activities. He lived in Benares till the end of his days except for a short visit to the South to pay his respects to his guru. The tradition also says that Kumarakuruparar who was very fond of Kampau's Tamil Râmâyana lectured on it in Benares and that Tulsîdâs, the great Hindi poet of Râmcaritmânas, heard these talks and became indebted to Kanpan through the lectures of Kumarakuruparar.
Amongst Kumarakuruparar's other literary works, Meenakshi Pillai-Tamil, Meenakshi-kurram, Neethineri-Vilakkami Madhuraikkalampakam and others are ever popular and widely read.
[SIZE=+1]Bhakti is not different from mukti. Bhakti is as being Self (svarupa). One is always That. He realises it by the means he adopts. What is bhakti? To think of God. That means only one thought prevails to the exclusion of all other thoughts. That is of God which is the Self or it is the self-surrender unto God; When He has taken you up, nothing will assail you. The absence of thoughts is bhakti. It is also mukti." [/SIZE][SIZE=+1]"The Saguna merges in the Nirguna in the long run. The saguna purifies the mind and takes one to the final goal. The afflicted one, the seeker of knowledge and the seeker of gains are all dear to God." [/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]"To know God is to love God. Therefore the path of bhakti and of jnana are same. "[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]"The thought of God is divine favour, is by nature prasad or arul. It is by God's grace that you think of God." [/SIZE]
[SIZE=+1]"Take the case of bhakti. I approach Isvara and pray to be absorbed in Him. I then surrender myself in faithand by concentration. What remains afterwards? In the place of the original 'I' perfect self-surrender leaves a residium of God in which the 'I'is lost. This is the highest form of parabhakti (supreme bhakti), prapti (surrender) or the height of vairagya." [/SIZE]
The siddhar teach spritual way of divine
the way how to get near to god
how to achieve divine
Siddhas. Who were they? What did they practice and teach? --II

Now Who is a Siddha?

Siddhi is a very common term in Hinduism. It means power. Generally Siddhis are achieved through rigorous religious practices. Mostly involving Mantra and Tapas.

A person who has attained any Siddhi could be called a Siddha or Siddha Purusha. Such people have been known throughput the history of India. History has recorded the feats of the Wandering Naked Sadhus of India. There were millions of them at one time. But their number is very much restricted now because of lack of popular support and also because of the presence of many Fake Sadhus who duped the gullible public.

Siddhas are mostly associated with Yoga. The other common name is Yogi. Again they are mostly associated with Saivism and Sakthism. The practices are Yogic/Tantrik. Tantras are also termed as Agamas.

This is an all India phenomenon and not restricted to Tamil Nadu. Benares or Varanasi was the centre where such people used to congregate once a year. But it is no longer a popular place because of adverse publicity. Khamakya (Gowhati) still continues to draw them especially during the Ambubachi Mela.

Ambubachi Mela - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

If we look at them we would most likely believe that they belong to widely different sects. But that is not true. There are underlying common principles which bind them.

The Siddhas, Yogis or Nathas as they are called did not go in for extensive literature. The written material is very limited.

The reason is that all of them belong to the Guru/Shishya Sampradhaya. You can not attain Siddhi without a Guru. The procedures are laid down by Gurus. There are hundreds if not thousands of Sampradhaya or traditions. Many have disappeared and most will disappear in another 50 years.

(To be continued)
There are many Myths and Legends about the Tamil Nadu Siddhars. These are available in the form of tonnes of books and many web sites.

My article is an attempt to go beyond the Myths and legends and find out our Real Facts about the Siddhars of Tamil Nadu.
There are many Myths and Legends about the Tamil Nadu Siddhars. These are available in the form of tonnes of books and many web sites.

My article is an attempt to go beyond the Myths and legends and find out our Real Facts about the Siddhars of Tamil Nadu.


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.
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


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.

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?
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)
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 Kaulajñānanirṇaya ("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.
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?

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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.
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?
I bought recently a biography of a Siddhar who lived in the modern times. Chuttukol Mayandi Swamigal (1858 -1930). His Jeevasamadhi is in Kattikulam near Manamadurai. I had heard about him for a long time.

Once Mayandi Swamigal was travelling by train from Madurai to Manamadurai. The English TTE thought that he was a beggar and asked him to get out of the train since he refused to produce the ticket. Swamiji jumped out of the train which stopped immediately.

Swamigal went and sat in front of a cactus bush.

But the train would not start. Technical help was brought. But they could not start the engine. People told the TTE that the engine would not start without Mayandi swamigal.

The TTE went and stood in front of Swamigal. Swamigal said "என்ன அப்பு இரயில் மானாமதுரை போகணுமா? என்னை எதிர்பார்த்து ரொம்ப நேரமா மேளதாளத்தோடு நிக்கறாங்க, பாவம், சரி போவோம் வாங்க " and sat in the train. The train started.

He is credited with many such miracles.

Mayandi Swamigal's disciples are still there. He has a large following in India and Burma.

But please note that no one knew what Mayandi Swamigal practiced.

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 it is not surprising that we do not know what the Siddhars practiced and how they got their Siddhis.

We can only make assumptions based on their Sampradhaya and writings.
Fake Sadhus and Siddhars

A question usually asked is about the Fake Sadhus and Siddhars.

The genuine Siddhars avoid public contact. Some of them have been known to drive away people. They have contempt for money and worldly belongings. Their miracles are more of a Leela than anything else.

There was a Siddha in Srinagar in Uttaranchal state. There is a big heap of stones near his Samadhi. The story is that he used to collect stones and throw them at people who went near him.

But some of them do come out of seclusion to teach and propagate the ideas. Otherwise many of the old ideas and ways to salvation would be lost for ever.

There is also another genuine problem. A Guru may have many Shishyas. But not all of them would achieve what the Guru has achieved. Sometimes a Shishya may even do better than the Guru.

Getting a good Guru and Mantra Deeksha does not guarantee spiritual attainment. 99% will fail. Less than one percent will succeed. Thus we will have a number of failed aspirants.

Some of these would have achieved some Siddhis. Then they fall prey to the temptation of the Samsara. They proclaim themselves as Siddhas/Sadhus and impress people with their Siddhis. After some time many of them even lose their powers. But they continue to earn money.

Everyone in this world wants quick solutions. Get rich quickly without putting in any effort. This general nature of humanity is the fertile breeding ground for fake Sadhus and Siddhars.

There are Siddhars even now in Thiruvannamalai and other hills. But then prefer solitude and avoid coming into contact with humanity. I can not imagine any Siddhar putting up with the gross commercialization of the Giri Valam in Thiruvannamali.

I was once asked whether I had met any living Siddha. When I answered Yes, the next question where and how can we meet them.

I am giving my answer: Siddhars are not God Men. They are pursuing their Spiritual goals. Interacting with the society is an impediment to their goals. They could be walking amongst us. Many of them are classified as Mad by the society.

But please do remember that all Mad men are not Siddhars. Sometime back every mad man in Tamil Nadu was being chased by people as Siddhars.

Leave the Siddhas alone. Some of them who are interested in teaching the society do make themselves known. But even here they are only teachers. Not God men. Their Siddhis are not for fulfilling the desires of the common man.

a person that live all the unconditional need money anger meat
everthing away from they mind
Why were the Siddhas doing a lot of Rasa Vada? You know about Mercury?

I quote from The Raseśvara-darśana or Mercurial System --from the The Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha by Madavacharya.

Other Máheśvaras there are who, while they hold the identity of self with God, insist upon the tenet that the liberation in this life taught in all the systems depends upon the stability of the bodily frame, and therefore celebrate the virtues of mercury or quicksilver as a means of strengthening the system.

Mercury is called párada, because it is a means of conveyance beyond the series of transmigratory states. Thus it has been said—

"It gives the farther shore of metempsychosis: it is called párada."

And again in the Rasárṇava—

"It is styled párada because it is employed for the highest end by the best votaries.

"Since this in sleep identical with me, goddess, arises from my members, and is the exudation of my body, it is called rasa."

"Liberation is declared in the six systems to follow the death of the body.

"Such liberation is not cognised in perception like an emblic myrobalan fruit in the hand.

"Therefore a man should preserve that body by means of mercury and of medicaments."

Govinda-bhagavat also says—

"Holding that the enjoyments of wealth and of the body are not permanent, one should strive

"After emancipation; but emancipation results from knowledge, knowledge from study, and study is only possible in a healthy body."

The body, some one may say, is seen to be perishable, how can its permanency be effected? Think not so, it is replied, for though the body, as a complexus of six sheaths or wrappers of the soul, is dissoluble, yet the body, as created by Hara and Gaurí under the names of mercury and mica, may be perdurable. Thus it is said in the Rasahṛidaya—

"They who, without quitting the body, have attained to a new body, the creation of Hara and Gaurí,

"They are to be lauded, perfected by mercury, at whose service is the aggregate of magic texts."

The ascetic, therefore, who aspires to liberation in this life should first make to himself a glorified body. And inasmuch as mercury is produced by the creative conjunction of Hara and Gaurí, and mica is produced from Gaurí, mercury and mica are severally identified with Hara and Gaurí in the verse—

"Mica is thy seed, and mercury is my seed;

"The combination of the two, O goddess, is destructive of death and poverty."

Thus it is said in the Rasasiddhánta—

"The liberation of the personal soul is declared in the mercurial system, O subtile thinker.

"In the tenets of other schools which repose on a diversity of argument,

"Know that this knowledge and knowable is allowed in all sacred texts;

"One not living cannot know the knowable, and therefore there is and must be life."

This again shows the importance placed by the Siddhars on the Human body and reasons for their search for Kayakalpa and other methods of prolonging life.

If they were spiritual why were they obsessed with transforming other elements to Gold?

The system of medicine Siddha Vaidya used metals like Gold,lead etc. Gold was considered the most noble of elements. It was used in preparations of medicines to prolong life. Siddhars used transmutation because that was the only way they could obtain these metals.

We transferred our obsession with Gold to the Siddhars who attached no material value to Gold.

I have seen an old text where the procedure for attaining Ashtama Siddhi starts with making a hut out of gold bricks.

Some of the Siddhars worshiped Deities like Swarna Akarshana Bhairava and Swarna Akarshana Ganapathi. Swarna Akarshna Bhairava and his worship is from Rudra Yamala. Yamalas are ancient Tantrik texts in Sanskrit. Many of the prayers we recite and the procedure for worship today are from the Yamalas.
....The system of medicine Siddha Vaidya used metals like Gold,lead etc. Gold was considered the most noble of elements. It was used in preparations of medicines to prolong life. Siddhars used transmutation because that was the only way they could obtain these metals.
Why is gold precious and not lead or mercury? There is a scientific reason for this and Sanat Kumar explains why here.

To summarize Kumar's reasoning, for an element to be valuable, it must be chemically stable (everything that is combustible is out), it must be solid (all the gases are out). It cannot be easily combustible, or corrosive, or radioactive, i.e. deadly.

So, for an element to be precious, it has to be not a gas, doesn’t corrode or burst into flames, and doesn’t kill you, and be rare as well.

Kumar points out that, all this leaves us with just five elements: rhodium, palladium, silver, platinum and gold, and all of them, as it happens, are considered precious metals.

We can further whittle this list, Silver tarnishes easily, rodium or palladium were not discovered until the modern time. That leaves only platinum and gold. For an ancient Gold smith, platinum, with much higher melting temperature relative to gold, would have been much harder to work with.

So, it was no accident that gold became a kind of lingua franca of commerce.

There is no scientific evidence to show that gold has any kind of life extending properties whatsoever. Siddhars may have believed as such, but such thinking is nothing but pure superstition.

If siddhars were obsessed with converting mercury to gold, the motivation must be nothing more esoteric than that of the alchemists of Europe. Also, if Siddhars are supposed to be interested in spiritual life and all that jazz, why were they interested in extending mere material life in the first place anyway?

What Siddhars believed can be anything that we want to imagine, but they cannot be anything definitively beyond what can be observed and verified. Anything beyond that is nothing deserving of more respect than mere surreptitious faith.

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