VENKATAPATHY AND SOORYANARAYAN
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In absorbing this, may our abhyasa continue, may our shraddha in the Siddha Parampara strengthen and may revelations awaken as we grow within!