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Siddhar Charithiram


This is an ongo­ing series on the Sid­dhar Param­abarai of India. Sid­dha refers to per­fect­ed mas­ters who have achieved a high degree of phys­i­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion or enlight­en­ment. We look at var­i­ous Sid­dhas who have graced upon this earth with their Pres­ence — their life and the wis­dom they shared in the form of poems, cou­plets that are referred to as Sid­dhar Padal­gal. To begin with, we are look­ing at Sid­dhas from the tra­di­tion of “Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal”. In the pre­vi­ous issues, we saw about Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar and Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar. We also saw how the Sid­dhar­gal poet­ry is pre­sent­ed in Sand­hya Bhasha. In this arti­cle, we will see the glo­ry of Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar.

Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar

Idaikkaadar or Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar was born in the kula of idai­yar or konar, the com­mu­ni­ty of shep­herds. As a dai­ly rou­tine, Idaikkaadar would take his goats to graze at a val­ley near his vil­lage. As his goats grazed, Idaikkaadar would lean on his herd­ing staff and stand with his eyes closed, absorbed in Siva-Yoga Nidra.

Once a great Sid­dha was fly­ing by the sky as he wit­nessed a shep­herd in a great yog­ic trance. The great Sid­dha approached Idaikkaadar and enquired about his attain­ment and expe­ri­ence. Idaikkaadar was over­come with joy and was unable to find the right words to express his expe­ri­ence. He offered the great Sid­dha a seat and goat’s milk. The Sid­dhar was very pleased and in turn offered the Jnana Paal, the milk of wis­dom and ini­ti­at­ed Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar. Many behold the great Sid­dha Bog­ar (one among the revered Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal) as Idaikkaadar’s Guru. It is also said that Sid­dha Bog­ar instruct­ed Idaikkaadar to head to Thiru­van­na­malai.

Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar is known to be a mas­ter astrologer. In one instance, he pre­dict­ed a famine fore­cast many years before the occur­rence and is said to have pre­pared elab­o­rate­ly. Idaikkaadar made his goats adopt con­sump­tion of arka or erukku leaves (Calotro­pis pro­cera). Idaikkaadar also built mud walls mixed with a spe­cif­ic type of kodo mil­let called kuru-varagu. At the time of famine, the goats rubbed their itch­es devel­oped from con­sum­ing erukku leaves, by scratch­ing the wall. Idaikkaadar sur­vived health­ily by con­sum­ing the mil­lets that fell while the goats scratched the walls.

The devas of the gra­has or plan­ets were astound­ed by see­ing a healthy sur­vivor of the famine and came vis­it­ing. Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar host­ed them rev­er­ent­ly and offered them goat milk. The goat milk con­tain­ing the chem­i­cals from erukku leaves caused the devas to swoon to uncon­scious­ness. As the devas lay uncon­scious, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar reordered them dili­gent­ly such that it caused the end of the famine. When the devas woke up, they real­ized what had unfold­ed, appre­ci­at­ed Idaikkaat­tu Siddhar’s work and blessed the great Sid­dhar. The arrange­ment of the Nav­a­gra­has in tem­ples is attrib­uted to Idaikkaadar.

By now, after the three arti­cles, we might have real­ized how prac­ti­cal yet pro­found our Sid­dhas were. They present sub­tler truths in such a sim­ple way so that even unini­ti­at­ed can under­stand. This is the secret for the deep impact they have made among us, espe­cial­ly among the rur­al peo­ple of South India. If you have trav­elled in South India, espe­cial­ly around the vil­lages of Tamil Nadu you can find many tem­ples ded­i­cat­ed to Sid­dhas. Such is their love for the Great Souls who helped them. Even the way they com­mu­ni­cat­ed with them was in such a friend­ly way that the mes­sage can’t be missed.

Con­sid­er one exam­ple from the Sid­dhar Padal­gal of our Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar. In some part of his poet­ry he address­es him­self as தாண்டவக்கோனே. “Thaan­davakkone” is very pop­u­lar among folk songs of Tamil Nadu and is used in cheer­ful set­ting of folk songs. If you google up for the word you can find many a gem of folk songs!! But, in its true mean­ing Thaan­davakkone refers to the King who dances, Lord Natara­ja. This way he con­nect­ed mer­ri­er words (and their activ­i­ties) to high­er truth. Let us take one stan­za with this word Thaan­davakkone.பற்றே பிறப்புண்டார்க்கும் தாண்டவக்கோனே — அதைப்

பற்றாது அறுத்துவிடு தாண்டவக்கோனேAttach­ment is the root cause of this cycle of Birth and Death, O Dancer!

Remove that root cause, O Dancer!

Here, Idaikkaadar points out the attach­ment to be the root cause of our end­less prob­lems, the Sam­sara of Birth and Death. We have heard this many times. But often we have doubts on what is meant by this detach­ment that Krish­na, Shankara, Bud­dha and all our Gurus speak about. How can we be detached yet be ful­ly com­mit­ted to the work that we do? This is one point that is worth pon­der­ing. Detach­ment is always to do with our Antahkarana, where­as our com­mit­ment lies in our action in the exter­nal world. Sid­dhas lived among the peo­ple as one among them. Sid­dhas’ lives were ded­i­cat­ed to the uplift­ment of the whole human­i­ty. Yet, their Dar­shana or vision of the world is dif­fer­ent from us. They lived ‘in the World but Not of it.’ Con­sid­er Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar, he was a Shep­herd in his life­time. And true to his pro­fes­sion he would take the goats and cat­tle for graz­ing every­day. But still he used his seem­ing­ly nor­mal pro­fes­sion and the sit­u­a­tion as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­mu­ni­cate sub­tler secrets of Yoga and Sid­dha to the mass­es. Many of his Sid­dhar Padal­gal end as an instruc­tion to dai­ly objects we encounter every­day. He instructs the Sad­ha­ka, us, through his goats, cow, swan, pea­cock and cuck­oo he used to see every­day. He even instructs through his flute. Like oth­er objects, he also instructs his own mind, intel­lect on the path of Sid­dha.

Swa­mi Chin­mayanan­da beau­ti­ful­ly explains this con­cept of detach­ment. He says, ‘Detach­ment is a men­tal atti­tude intel­li­gent­ly main­tained towards objects and beings around. Our reac­tion to the envi­ron­ment will depend upon our men­tal eval­u­a­tion of it and our inner nature at that par­tic­u­lar moment. If our inward nature can be arranged, and con­tin­u­ous­ly held so as to make us react with the world pos­i­tive­ly, then we have dis­cov­ered the secret of liv­ing in peace with the world, inde­pen­dent of its hap­pen­ings and this inner nature is called as detach­ment’

And this is the detach­ment that Idaikkaadar advices us to adopt.

A Joy­ful Dance in this Infi­nite Uni­verse:

Idaikkaadar’s poet­ic works are excep­tion­al­ly beau­ti­ful in its descrip­tion. Com­ing from a per­son who is in direct touch with Nature, his work car­ries that flavour of the wild. In the fol­low­ing stan­za he beau­ti­ful­ly explains what is it like to be Enlight­ened, using an exam­ple of a cute drag­on­fly also called as Thumbi in tamil. If you have ever seen the joy­ful glee of the drag­on­fly flight, you can cer­tain­ly relate it with this stan­za.அல்லல்வலை இல்லையென்றே தும்பீபற — நிறை

ஆணவங்கள் அற்றோம் என்றே தும்பீபற!

தொல்லைவினை நீங்கிற்று என்றே தும்பீபற — பரஞ்

சோதியைக் கண்டோ ம் எனத் தும்பீபற!Say there is no trap for Sor­row and Fly O! Thumbi

And Fly that I am Devoid of Ego, O! Thumbi

Say you are free of Bind­ing Kar­ma, O! Thumbi

See that Eter­nal Light and Fly O! Thumbi

There is very famous say­ing in Tamizh செய்யும் தொழிலே தெய்வம், which rough­ly means Work is Wor­ship. Kar­ma Yoga is only about this. Who can pro­vide a bet­ter exam­ple on this oth­er than our own Sid­dhas. Being a shep­herd and an adept on milk­ing goats and cows, our Idaikkaadar Sid­dhar instructs the Mumuk­shus, or the one who yearns for Lib­er­a­tion, on the way to milk- not to milk goats or cows but the very Life to get Mok­sha as its result.சாவா திருந்திடப் பால்கற — சிரம்

தன்னி லிருந்திடும் பால் கற

வேவா திருந்திடப் பால்கற — வெறும்

வெட்ட வெளிக்குள்ளே பால்கற.Milk to become Death­less

Milk on Sahas­rara on the top

Milk to not become rigid

Milk ver­i­ly with­in the Infi­nite

Behind the rid­dles of the cowherd Idaikkaadar who milks cow for its milk is a great Sid­dha who adopts the act of milk­ing as a sim­i­le to explain the Yog­ic prac­tise that awak­ens the Kun­dali­ni. Idaikkaadar instructs us to do yog­ic prac­tice such that the Kun­dali­ni reach­es the top Sahas­rara chakra which will give us death­less­ness. Here milk­ing means the sad­hana to raise the kun­dali­ni from Moolad­hara to Sahas­rara. Again, with­in the seem­ing­ly sim­pler words are hid­den are the Yog­ic prac­tices as trea­sure. Please con­tem­plate on them to gain bet­ter under­stand­ing of the Siddha’s advice.அந்தக் கரணம் எனச்சொன்னால் ஆட்டையும்

அஞ்ஞானம் என்னும் அடர்ந்தவன் காட்டையும்

சந்தத் தவமென்னும் வாளினால் வெட்டினேன்

சாவாது இருந்திடக் கோட்டையுங் கட்டினேன்The goat that is the antahkarana

And the dense for­est of igno­rance;

I slayed them with the sword of mea­sured tapas

And built a fortress to remain death­less!

In the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of Parni­ka, the Prash­not­tara sec­tion cov­ered in detail the nature of antahkarana and the need for antahkarana-shud­dhi. The antahkarana is gen­er­al­ly looked at with respect to four aspects – man­as, chit­tha, bud­dhi and ahankara. An impure antahkarana con­stant­ly chews on the same cud of imbal­ances. And as igno­rance veils one from the True Self, life seems to be lost direc­tion­less in a dense and dark for­est. From his per­son­al expe­ri­ence, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar offers the solu­tion — Tapas. Through such tapas Idaikkaadar says that he has slain the igno­rance and the cyclic imbal­ances of antahkarana. By uproot­ing igno­rance and achiev­ing antahkarana-shud­dhi, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar says that he has attained the tru­ly for­ti­fy­ing state beyond the life and death cycle.

In this edi­tion, we have pre­sent­ed a few gems from the works of Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar. 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 Paadal­gal that have deeply touched you. You could write to us at

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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