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Ancient Siddhars

The Incredible Powers of the Ancient Siddhars

Siddhars are a type of saint in India who are said to have had many powers and achieved a ‘god-like’ state through specific secret practices that were known only to them. These powers spanned from controlling time and space, to transforming the body, manipulating matter at the molecular level and achieving immortality.

The Siddhars were followers of the God Shiva and according to different texts there were 18 of them. Their teachings and findings were written in the form of poems in the Tamil language , a language spoken mainly by people in South India and parts of Sri Lanka. The poems were very difficult to interpret and were written in an encoded way so that only a few could understand them.

There is a debate as to who was the first Siddhar. Some legends talk about Sri Pathanjali , who was considered to be an incarnation of Adiseshan, the celestial five-headed snake associated with God Vishnu. But the prevailing tradition refers to Agasthya (or Agasthyar) as the first Siddhar, one of the seven sages (or Saptarshis) as mentioned in the Vedic texts, and he was the son of the god Brahma of the Hindu creation story. Agathiyar is considered to be the author of a lot of the first Siddhar literature and he was supposed to have lived in the 7 th century BC. About 96 books are attributed to him and that includes writings in alchemy, medicine and spirituality. Apart from the legends that exist, the beginnings of the Siddhars’ are lost in time.

The powers that the Siddhars possessed were separated in categories. The main category included 8 powers called ashta siddhis:

1. To become tiny as the atom within the atom (Anima)
2. To become big in unshakeable proportions (Mahima)
3. To become as light as vapour in levitation (Laghima)
4. To become as heavy as the mountain (Garima)
5. To enter into other bodies in transmigration (Prapti)
6. To be in all things, omni-pervasive (Prakamya))
7. To be lord of all creation in omnipotence (Isatvam)
8. To be everywhere in omnipresence (Vasitvam)
Thirumandiram 1780

But if this is not enough, there are ten secondary siddhis as described in Bhagavata Purana that include the following:

1. Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other bodily appetites
2. Hearing things far away
3. Seeing things far away
4. Moving the body wherever thought goes (teleportation/astral projection)
5. Assuming any form desired
6. Entering the bodies of others
7. Dying when one desires
8. Witnessing and participating in the past times of the gods
9. Perfect accomplishment of one's determination
10. Orders or commands being unimpeded

Siddhar StatuesAmazing as they sound, these abilities could allegedly be achieved with the help of simple tools like controlling breath, concentrating the mind and raising the power of the ‘Kundalini’, which is related to the sexual energy.

Furthermore, the system of healing that the Siddhars possessed was allegedly given to them by the god Murugan , son of the Hindu god Shiva.

Another famous Siddhar was Tirumular, who was a Tamil mystic and writer of 6 th century AD and was also one of the 18 Siddhars according to the Tamil Siddha tradition. His main work is named “Tirumantiram”, a 3,000 verse text, which is the foundation of the Southern Shaiva Siddharta School of philosophy.

Another Siddhar, Bhogar (Bhoganathar), who lived between the 3 rd and 5 th century AD is said to have discovered the elixir of immortality – one his main works is the Pharmacognosy.

Palm Leaf ManuscriptsMany of the oldest Siddhar texts are palm leaf manuscripts and not all of them are translated in English. From generation to generation, copying from one text to another, many of the original texts have probably been altered and their meaning changed. Therefore what today we know as Siddhar texts may have nothing to do with the original texts, which may account for why the Tamil tradition does not accept the Siddha poems in its body of traditions.

Of course in the last few centuries, especially after the 15 th century, more and more “Siddhars” have appeared, composing poems, performing ‘acts’ to entertain people with interesting stories, acting as ‘Masters’ and gathering followers around them, all of which has nothing to do with the original tradition of the Siddhars. Unfortunately, the original Siddhar tradition today is ‘polluted’ by many interpretations, by modern Siddhars, and the imagination of people.  Some old Siddhar writings are preserved in Museums and private families in Tamil Nadhu.

Due to the closely-guarded nature of the Siddhar records, the original knowledge of this enigmatic group of saints has remained shrouded in secrecy. The question remains whether their powers were real and, if so, how they managed to attain them. Manipulating space, time and matter would require knowledge far beyond what we have today.

By John Black

Related Links

Sri Pathanjali

Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: sasay to zorgot, edited by Mohan Lal

Agastya

About the Siddhar Sages

Siddhar poems in English translation

Comments

Anything go do with the unknown 9 ?

Fascinating, I have done some of my own personal research into the SIddhars and it can;t be denied that they were more connected with the universe than most, they hap powers or some kind, or more mental prowess, whatever they want to call it. There is so much more to this world, and the powers of the human mind.

love your work

Siddhars are still a mystery unknown to the modern world. They have to be studied. Will the Tamil people write more about them? Bring out the details of the manuscripts still untraced? If they are traced out great information for the modern living conitions also can be excavated. 

Firstly, it is advised by Sithars that people do not try to probe into their works, since certain beliefs, works and ideologies vary from person to person and it is best preserved and not discussed with all. What is good to mankind and to the common man is to be shared with others and then it is up to others to take it or not. These have been practised by Jeeva Samathi Sithars who have kept certain important beliefs and powers a secret and passed it on to only good noble men who practise it for the welfare of people/mankind and have not confided the same to those who try to make money/ who are commercial. Sithars have all along mixed with people and have tried to show the path / way to reach God. Firstly, we should try to understand the differences in Kadavul, Theivam, Bhagawan, Devars, Rishis, Munivars and Siddhars. I think understanding this will take a long time and practising what Rishis, Munivars and Sithars did will take years to understand/emulate for which god's blessings and purity of soul is a must. That is for now. Balance is next post.

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