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Avvaiyar Siddhar

This month’s edi­tion (July 2017) is very spe­cial for us in many ways. This month’s edi­tion marks the first lunar year of our ongo­ing series Sid­dhar Charithi­ram on the glo­ri­ous Sid­dhar Parambarai (lin­eage) of India. If that is not enough to call for cel­e­bra­tions, this month’s pourn­i­ma will be cel­e­brat­ed as Guru Pourn­i­ma. Now that is some­thing very very spe­cial for us. So we have decid­ed to offer a Spe­cial Edi­tion of Sid­dhar Charitharam.

As a trib­ute to the spe­cial edi­tion we have decid­ed to expound on the life and work of Sid­dha Avvai­yar. There are sev­er­al rea­sons for choos­ing Sid­dhar Avvai­yar. One is, to empha­sis on how our tra­di­tion glo­ri­fies women Gurus, equal to men. Sid­dhas nev­er iden­ti­fy them­selves with their gen­der. Yet as dis­ci­ples, how we relate to them may change based on that. Avvai­yar is held with Moth­er­ly respect through­out South of India; Many see her as their our own Grand­moth­er. Isn’t it a fact that some­times we cher­ish our Paatti’s (Grandma’s) wis­dom? Espe­cial­ly dur­ing our lat­er part of life. So, let us also gain some wis­dom from our Paat­ti, Sid­dhar Avvai­yar.


Sec­ond­ly, like we always men­tioned sev­er­al times, Pathi­nen Sid­dhas (Eigh­teen Sid­dhas) do not mean that there are only 18 sid­dhas in our tra­di­tion. It is men­tioned just as a cus­tom. So to re-empha­sis on that point, in this spe­cial edi­tion of Sid­dhar Charithi­ram we want­ed to show you about a Sid­dha who is usu­al­ly not con­sid­ered part of the eigh­teen. Third and the most impor­tant point is to reit­er­ate that the Sid­dhas mys­ti­cal dimen­sions are always hid­den as a trea­sure among their seem­ing­ly sim­ple poet­ic works. For exam­ple, Sid­dhar Avvaiyar’s many work are taught at school lev­el, even now. Many of her works are well-known such as Aathichu­va­di, in which she gives one-line advices to chil­dren on dis­ci­pline, hon­esty, etc., Or her very famous say­ing which is even quot­ed in NASA web­site:

கற்றது கைமண்ணளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு

What we have learned Is like a hand­ful of grains; What we have yet to learn Is like the whole world!

Now, they are not just philo­soph­i­cal mus­ings or say­ings on ethics. It is com­ing from a deep wis­dom that Sid­dhar Avvai­yar gained through her Tapasya, and devo­tion to Lord Vinaka­yar, Muru­gar and Shi­va Peru­man. So, in this arti­cle we will see our Avvai Paati as one of the great Sid­dhar of our tra­di­tion; In this arti­cle, we will see the glo­ry of Sid­dha Avvai­yar.

Sid­dha Avvai­yar — Charithi­ram Avvai­yar is a house­hold name in Tamil­nadu where chil­dren at a young age learn the works of the great Yogi­ni and Sid­dha Avvai­yar. Through school­ing chil­dren are com­mon­ly exposed to the eth­i­cal epi­grams of Sid­dha Avvai­yar. The devout Saivites also chant the Vinayakar Agaval, a won­der­ful and pre­cious gem of ele­vat­ing bak­thi and guid­ance offered by Sid­dha Avvai­yar.

Like most Sid­dhas we have seen, the charithi­ram or life his­to­ry of Sid­dha Avvai­yar too is rid­dled with many mys­ter­ies. Based on the lit­er­ary works of Sid­dha Avvai­yar and lit­er­ary ref­er­ences to them, schol­ars have been con­found­ed by three dif­fer­ent time peri­ods emerg­ing through dat­ing by lit­er­ary ref­er­ences and their time peri­ods.

Lit­er­ary ref­er­ences point to the works of Avvai­yar in the Sangam peri­od (100 BC to 100 AD), then to Sid­dha Avvaiyar’s devo­tion­al works on Lord Vinaya­ka Peru­man in 800 AD and then to the devo­tion­al works on Lord Muru­ga Peru­man and more eth­i­cal works to the Chola peri­od of 1125 AD to 1200 AD. Hence many Tamil lit­er­ary schol­ars pos­tu­late that there could have been 3 great poets in the same name over time.

Very inter­est­ing­ly, one can observe the divine invo­ca­tion of Lord Vinaya­ka Peru­man in all works of Sid­dha Avvai­yar. Prac­ti­tion­ers of Yoga and fol­low­ers of the Sid­dha tra­di­tion strong­ly main­tain that Sid­dha Avvai­yar must be the one and same per­son. Through yog­ic prac­tices and Kriya yoga, peo­ple in the know have always been aware of great Sid­dhas with extend­ed life-span. And Sid­dha Avvai­yar pro­pounds her Sid­dhis award­ed by Lord Vinaya­ka Peru­man in the Vinayakar Agaval. Also there is lit­er­ary accounts of the med­i­c­i­nal bear­ing rare fruit pre­sent­ed to Sid­dha Avvai­yar by chief­tain Adiya­maan, that is deemed to extend life span. And so, for these rea­sons and many, prac­ti­tion­ers of yoga and fol­low­ers of Sid­dha tra­di­tion hold the view that Sid­dha Avvai­yar should be the one and same per­son across a wide time span.

Lit­er­ary Works Avvai­yar Sid­dha has com­posed four eth­i­cal works — Aathichu­di, Kondrai Vend­han, Vaakkun­daam (Moodu­rai) and Nal­vazhi. All these four texts have invo­ca­to­ry songs to Lord Vinaya­ka. Avvai Siddha’s devo­tion to Lord Vinaya­ka Peru­man led the Sid­dha to attain many yog­ic states and sid­dhis there­by lead­ing to the com­po­si­tion of Vinayakar Agaval and Avvaikkur­al. One who reads the Vinayakar Agaval can taste the sweet words and feel the devo­tion­al fer­vor with which our Sid­dhar Avvai prais­es our Lord Pil­la­yar. In the begin­ning of the Vinayakar Agaval, our Sid­dhar pat­ti delight­ful­ly describes the divine per­son­al­i­ty of Lord Gane­sha as she envi­sioned through her Yog­ic Dhar­shana.

சீதக் களபச் செந்தா மரைப்பூம் பாதச் சிலம்பு பலவிசை பாடப் பொன்னரை ஞாணும் பூந்துகில் ஆடையும் வன்னமருங்கில் வளர்ந்தழ கெறிப்பப் பேழை வயிறும் பெரும்பாரக் கோடும் வேழ முகமும் விளங்குசிந் தூரமும்

The anklet adorn­ing the red lotus like feet of Lord Vinaya­ga, Cool as san­dal paste and sings many melodies. Gold band and flow­ery cloth, Around the waist emit radi­ance and beau­ty. Box like bell and big weighty tusk Ele­phant face with shin­ing tilak!

குருவடி வாகிக் குவலயந் தன்னில் திருவடி வைத்துத் திறமிது பொருளென வாடா வகைதான் மகிழ்ந்தெனக் கருளிக் கோடா யுதத்தால் கொடுவினை களைந்தே

Placed Your feet to my delight As my Guru on the Earth, gra­cious­ly reveal­ing the real essence Bestowed me gra­cious­ly with unwithering/eternal knowl­edge Removed my karmic bondage with Your Tusk

Like this the devo­tion­al poem writ­ten in Agaval meter, begins with descrip­tion of Lord Vinayakar. Fol­low­ing that, Sid­dha Avvai gets into expound­ing mys­ti­cal­ly on how Lord Vinakaya guid­ed her in cleans­ing her mind- Chid­dha Shud­dhi, and help her estab­lish her­self in the high­est state of Yogis and Sid­dhas, the fourth state of Turiya:

கருவிக ளொடுங்கும் கருத்தினை யறிவித்(து) இருவினை தன்னை அறுத்திருள் கடிந்து தலமொரு நான்கும் தந்தெனக் கருளி மலமொரு மூன்றின் மயக்கம் அறுத்தே ஒன்பது வாயில் ஒருமந் திரத்தால் ஐம்புலக் கதவை அடைப்பதும் காட்டி ஆறா தாரத்(து) அங்குச நிலையும்

You bestowed me with ways of sub­du­ing the instru­ments Dis­pelled dark­ness by remov­ing the two-fold kar­ma Blessed me with the expe­ri­ence of four-fold states Sev­ered the illu­sion of triple impu­ri­ties To shut the doors of five-fold sub­tle ele­ments, Effect­ing the clo­sure of nine-fold gates

Then, the Agaval veers off into the domain of the mys­ti­cal dimen­sions as she invokes Gane­sha as the embod­i­ment of Turiya or “the Sleep­less Sleep”! Even today this devo­tion­al and high­ly mys­ti­cal poem is chant­ed in tem­ples, poo­ja shrines and in dai­ly sad­hana across the Tamil speak­ing dias­po­ra.

The rela­tion­ship she has with Lord Vinayakar is in stark con­trast to the rela­tion­ship she has with his broth­er Lord Muru­gar. The rela­tion­ship between Muru­gar and Avva­iar tru­ly is that of a granny and her grand­son. It is Sid­dha Avvai who appeased Bala Muru­gar when Muru­gar got into a lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion with his Elder Broth­er. She con­vinced the Bala Kumaran (he was lit­er­al­ly a kid then), with her exper­tise in Tamil Lan­guage and Sweet voice. Again, as a kid Lord Muru­gar had unend­ing ques­tions ( much like the eager ques­tions in the book Unend­ing Quest ) to his Sid­dhar Paati. And Avvai­yar answered them with her typ­i­cal wis­dom, sweet­ness and love. Once Muru­gar asked Avvai, as to which was the great­est thing in the world. Avvai best knew how to answer to the Tamil God: in the form of poet­ry:

பெரியது கேட்கின் எரிதவழ் வேலோய் பெரிது பெரிது புவனம் பெரிது புவனமோ நான்முகன் படைப்பு நான்முகன் கரியமால் உதிரத்தில் உதித்தோன் கரிய மாலோ அலைகடல் துயின்றோன் அலைகடல் குறுமுனி கலசத்தில் அடக்கம் கலசமோ புவியிற் சிறுமண் புவியோ அரவினுக்கு ஒருதலைப் பாரம் அரவோ உமையவள் ஒருசிறு மோதிரம் உமையோ இறைவர் பாகத் தொடுக்கம் இறைவரோ தொண்டர் உள்ளத் தொடுக்கம் தொண்டர்தம் பெருமை சொல்லவும் பெரிதே.

Oh Lord with the divine and shin­ing Vel ! If you ask me which is great, my reply is as fol­lows: The uni­verse is great; Since it is the cre­ation of Naan­mu­gan (Bhra­ma), He is greater than the uni­verse; Lord Bhra­ma arose from Lord Vish­nu Lord Vish­nu resides in the vast ocean; Sid­dhar Agastya­mu­ni sacred con­tain­er con­tained the ocean And the con­tain­er made of mud is a grain of earth; The earth is sup­port­ed by the Divine Ser­pent And the Ser­pent is the lit­tle fin­ger ring of Uma Devi Uma Devi is absorbed in Siva Peruman’s (Iraivan) Body And Siva Peru­man resides in the hearts of his devo­tees! To extol the great­ness of devo­tees is the great­est!

Lord Muru­ga Peru­man, then asked what is the rarest thing in this world:

அரியது கேட்கின் வரிவடி வேலோய் அரிதரிது மானிடர் ஆதல் அரிது மானிடர் ஆயினும் கூன்குருடு செவிடு பேடு நீங்கிப் பிறத்தல் அரிது பேடு நீங்கிப் பிறந்த காலையும் ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயத்தல் அரிது ஞானமும் கல்வியும் நயந்த காலையும் தானமும் தவமும் தான்செயல் அரிது தானமும் தவமும் தான்செய்வ ராயின் வானவர் நாடு வழிதிறந் திடுமே.

Oh Lord with the Sharp Vel! If you ask me what is rare, Rare is the human birth; Even rar­er is a birth with­out dis­abil­i­ties, Such as hump, blind­ness or deaf­ness; Even if one has a defect­less birth, Attain­ment of wis­dom is still rar­er; Even if one attains them, Rarest it is to per­form dhana (can be trans­lat­ed as sin­cere char­i­ty) and tapa (penance); If one per­forms sin­cere­ly the two, The Abode of Divine Beings shall open doors!

Like this, Lord Muru­gar asked deep ques­tions to our Sid­dhar Avvai and sure enough, she answers them all with mys­ti­cal insights and poet­ic beau­ty, invok­ing in the Sad­hakas deep devo­tion and a glimpse of the mys­ti­cal dimen­sions..

The elixirs offered by Sid­dha Avvai­yar are so many. In our efforts we could only bring you a select­ed few. We invite you to con­tem­plate more on these lines and share with us your insights. We also invite you to share with us lines from Sid­dhar Padal­gal that have deeply touched you. You could write to us at anaadifoundation@gmail.com.

In absorb­ing this, may our abhyasa con­tin­ue, may our shrad­dha in the Sid­dha Parampara strength­en and may rev­e­la­tions awak­en as we grow with­in!

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