Nizha Periaswamy

In learning about Tamil culture and history, one should never ignore the existence of Siddhars.

Siddhars are saints who have obtained some incredible powers, and achieved a "God-like" state through meditation and other practices only known to them.

They possess immense knowledge and experience in fields such as Vaithiyam (Medicine), Vatham (Alchemy), Jothidam (Astrology), Manthirigam (Tantric practices), Yogam (Meditation and Yogic exercises), as well as Gnanam (Knowledge about the Almighty).

So, just how many Siddhars are there?

Though there are many in our culture, these are the 18 who are considered the most powerful and most important.

1. Agathiyar

He is considered the Father of Tamil Literature, who came up with the first Tamil grammar compilation - Agathiyam. He is a direct disciple of Lord Siva, and was well versed in language, alchemy, medicine, meditation, and spirituality. He is the principal figure and Guru in the ancient Javanese language text Agastyaparva, the 11th century version of which, still survives.

2. Thirumoolar

Also called the Prince of Mystics, Thirumoolar's masterpiece Thirumanthiram deals with the body and soul, and is considered the Bible of Tantrik Yoga. Thirumoolar is one of the 63 Nayanmargal (saintly poets of Lord Shiva), and the prime author of Saiva Siddhantam. His hypothesis on Atomic theory is considered to have been reinstated as Nanotechnology in recent times.

3. Bogar

A descendant of Thirumoolar, Bogar travelled to, and propagated his spiritual philosophy in China. He created the Lord Muruga statue in Palani that contains the Navapasana (nine poisonous minerals). His contributions in the synthesis of mercury, mercurial compounds and arsenical compounds, are noteworthy.

4. Konganar

The son of Bogar, Konganar wrote more than 40 books that deal with alchemy and the elixir of life. He also contributed to philosophy, medicine and spiritual practices. He attained Samadi at Thirupathi.

5. Therayar

Therayar is considered the master in many fields like astrology, mysticism, alchemy, medicine and language. He was also an expert in the field of Siddha surgery.

6. Korakkar

Korakkar's prediction of future events are written in Chandhira Regai Nool. One event predicted by him was the rebirth of Bohar, at a time when people have lost faith in God. Korakkar's jeeva samadhi temple is located at the Vadakku Poiganallur village in the Nagapattinam disctrict, in Tamil Nadu.

7. Karuvurar

Born in a placed called Karuvur, his main work is Thiruvisaippa. Karuvurar was a yogi, alchemist, and a poet. He made significant contribuitions in the construction of the Tanjore temple, where there is a special shrine for him.

8. Edaikkadar

Also known as Edaikkadu siddhar, after his birth place. Edaikkar's samadhi lies in the Thiruvannamalai region. He carved a niche for himself in the fields of astronomy and astrology. He is said to have devised a method to arrange the nine planets to alleviate the sufferings of the people, during a prolonged drought season.

9. Sattamuni

This siddhar is believed to be of Srilankan origin. His contributions are mainly in the fields of alchemy and 96 thathuvas. He attained samadhi in Srirangam.

10. Sundaranar

This siddhar's expertise is in poison treatment and his preparation of universal salt 'muppu' are valuable to the Siddha medicine method. He had used his vast knowledge in the field astrology to give general predictions on the day of birth, day of attaining puberty, and so on.

11. Ramadevar

Also known as Uromarishi, Ramadevar was born in Podhigai hills. His discoveries in all the spheres of Siddha Science is remarkable. He is said to have performed many miracles. He was sermonized as an Arab, given the name Yacub and spent 40 years in Mecca, before returning to Tamil Nadu and attaining samadhi in Alagarmalai.

12. Pambatti

Pambatti siddhar comes from the line of saints who are believed to have possessed siddhis or supernatural powers through rigorous meditation and other spiritual exercises. Eight unique powers (Attama siddhis) of Siddhars are mentioned in his works. He is also believed to have caught snakes and sold them for a living before he ventured into his spiritual quest.

13. Machamuni

Machamuni was born with the blessings of Lord Shiva. He followed vasiyogam and awakened his kundalini energy to understand his inner-self and attain siddhis. His place of Samadhi is Thiruparankundram.

14. Kudambai

His place of birth and samadhi is Mayavaram. Kudambai Siddhar’s works are more towards spiritual bliss and gnana yoga.

15. Kamalamuni

Many people believe that Sri Kalangi Nathar is Kamalamuni siddhar. He is said to have been able to control wild animals with his mantras, and attained samadhi in Madurai.

16. Agapai siddhar

Agapai Siddhar was born in Thiruvalluvar’s lineage, and his contribution is mainly on Gnana siddhi. He personifies the ego of a person as a ghost and advises, reprimands and guides it to the path of enlightenment. In a nutshell, he says that once the mind is totally controlled by pulling himself out of worldly indulgences, then the attainment of mukthi is guaranteed.

17. Nandhidevar

Nandhidevar is also considered to be a direct disciple of Lord Siva, and the "guru of gurus". His place of Samadhi is Sri Sailam at Kalahasti.

18. Pulipaani

Born in China, Sri Pulipani Siddhar is said to have been the disciple of Maha Bogar Swamigal. Bogar accepted Pulipani as his ardent disciple due to his sincerity and reverence to the guru and he wanted Pulipani, unlike other siddhars, to lead a family life by marriage so that he and his successors could edify the people about Sri GnanaDhandapani, ‘yoga’, ‘vadha’, and meditations.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

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