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Kudhambai

Siddhar Charithiram

SIDDHA PARAMPARA OF INDIA

Venkata­pa­thy and Soorya­narayan

Gain­ing exper­tise in any field needs ded­i­ca­tion, sin­cer­i­ty, and pro­longed efforts with dis­ci­pline. There is no short­cut to suc­cess. And the spir­i­tu­al path is no excep­tion. A spir­i­tu­al aspi­rant needs to invest ded­i­cat­ed and dis­ci­plined prac­tice, called as sad­hana, for suc­cess in his spir­i­tu­al life.

All our Rishis and Yogis have done their sad­hana. In fact, many have under­gone immense tapas (dif­fi­cult aus­ter­i­ties) for their sad­hana to gain Spir­i­tu­al Enlight­en­ment. To even hear about their ded­i­ca­tion and hard work will inspire us immense­ly. After achiev­ing their goal of Kaivalya or spir­i­tu­al enlight­en­ment, the Rishis and Yogis of our land shared it with us as sto­ries, poems, teach­ings and in oth­er forms. Doing abhyasa or reg­u­lar read­ing on such work will ben­e­fit us tremen­dous­ly and this space is ded­i­cat­ed to that.

Siddha Parampara

Bow­ing down with rev­er­ence to the great Sid­dha Parampara, we present this series on Sid­dhas and their lit­er­ary works. In San­skrit “Sid­dha” means “ful­filled”. The term Sid­dha refers to per­fect­ed mas­ters who have achieved a high degree of phys­i­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion or enlight­en­ment. In tamil they are also called as “Sid­dhar­gal”. They are beings who have realised the goal of their sad­hana and have become a per­fect­ed being.

The Sid­dhas tru­ly rep­re­sent the high­est pos­si­bil­i­ty for a human being. Sid­dhas’ state of being is the best of what we can all aspire to become. Sid­dhas are great men and women who have attained to the far­thest heights of human poten­tial and have offered a roadmap for many on the path of seek­ing the Divine Truth.

Pathinen Siddhargal

“Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal” is a tra­di­tion referred to in the ancient Tamil lit­er­a­ture, which can be under­stood to stand for “Eigh­teen Sid­dhas”. It refers to the 18 great Sid­dhas — Nan­dide­var, Agastya Muni, Thiru­mu­lar, Bog­ar, Kon­ga­nar, Machamu­ni, Gorakkar, Cat­ta­mu­ni, Sun­daranathar, Ramade­var, Kud­ham­bai, Karu­vu­rar, Idaikkadar, Kamala­mu­ni, Valmi­ki, Patan­jali, Dan­vantri and Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar. The title of Sid­dhas has also been attrib­uted to more than a hun­dred great beings as record­ed in var­i­ous works of Tamil lit­er­a­ture. Many yogis and schol­ars also present the inter­pre­ta­tion that “Eigh­teen” here, refers to the eigh­teen Sid­dhis or spir­i­tu­al attain­ments and the numer­al qual­i­fies those who have attained them.

The Sid­dhas did not iden­ti­fy them­selves to a par­tic­u­lar piece of land, race or cul­ture. They trav­elled all over the world and lived lives as an offer­ing to all beings. They iden­ti­fied them­selves only with the death­less Jivat­ma. Actions per­formed by them from their state of con­scious­ness seemed super-nat­ur­al to those unat­tained. They achieved such states of Divin­i­ty through tremen­dous efforts of self-mas­tery and self-sur­ren­der to their Guru and God.

Literary Works

Sid­dhas are tatt­va-darshis who per­ceive the tattvas as ulti­mate real­i­ty and in their lit­er­ary works, they have shared their dar­shana or divine vision. Sid­dhas’ works are a fer­tile source for know­ing the unknown. Their illu­mi­nat­ing writ­ings pro­found­ly inspire every sin­cere seek­er and guide us from with­in. Their writ­ings can­not be mere­ly qual­i­fied as cryp­tic. But rather mul­ti-lay­ered and mul­ti-dimen­sion­al. They inspire the seek­ers to delve deep with­in them­selves in search of the deep­est mean­ing. The true mean­ings are said to reveal them­selves upon con­tem­pla­tion in a pro­found state of med­i­ta­tion. In their lit­er­ary works, the Sid­dhas have giv­en us keys to hap­py and vir­tu­ous life, alche­my, med­i­cine, sci­ence, yoga, paths and guid­ance to real­iza­tion, details on var­i­ous states of attain­ment and insights on the nature of God and exis­tence.

Their writ­ings are referred to as the Sand­hya Bhasha. The mean­ing “twi­light lan­guage” sug­gests that the expla­na­tion can be offered either in rela­tion to the day or to the night. Sid­dhas’ poems have the capac­i­ty to bring forth mul­ti­va­lence in its mean­ing rel­a­tive to both an ordi­nary state of expe­ri­ence and to a tran­scen­den­tal state of expe­ri­ence. In the first edi­tion of this series we offer our sin­cere prayers to the great Sid­dha Parampara and begin with a few gem from the works of Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar.

Siddha Kudhambai


Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar is one of the Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal. He was born to par­ents belong­ing to the Yad­ha­va Kula. Kud­ham­bai is not his real name but is actu­al­ly a type of ear-ring worn by women dur­ing that peri­od. The Sid­dha was adorned with such earn­ings and so lov­ing­ly called as Kud­ham­bai by his moth­er. At the age of 16, Kud­ham­bai was ini­ti­at­ed into the Sid­dha tra­di­tion after which he con­tin­ued with his sad­hana. He went on to become a great Sid­dhar and came to be called Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar. Many yogis and schol­ars have also pos­tu­lat­ed that kun­dali­ni is coiled like an ear-ring and Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar stands for a kun­dali­ni-yogin. Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar was also an expert in the field of Sid­dha med­i­cine.

The great Sid­dha offered his real­iza­tions in a poet­ic work which is now called as Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar Padal­gal (Poems of Sid­dhar Kud­ham­bai). The poems of Sid­dhar Kud­ham­bai are struc­tural­ly sim­ple and pro­found vers­es. In his poems, the great Sid­dha Kud­ham­bai cov­ers vari­ety of sub­jects includ­ing Para-Brah­man (the omnipresent Divine Prin­ci­ple), Kun­dali­ni, Yama and Niya­ma — dos and don’ts for spir­i­tu­al aspi­rants, Sid­dha Vaid­hya and his divine visions.

In the Sid­dhar’s songs, the word kutham­bai is found in every stan­za. It seems as though he is instruct­ing his kud­ham­bai ear-ring through the poem. There is def­i­nite­ly more that would reveal upon deep con­tem­pla­tion.

எங்கு நிறைந்தே இருக்கின்ற சோதியை

அங்கத்துள் பார்ப்பாயடி குதம்பாய்

அங்கத்துள் பார்ப்பாயடி

That Divine omnipresent light,

See with­in your body, O Kud­ham­bai,

See with­in your body.

Mean­ing: Kud­ham­bai describes the vast­ness and the immen­si­ty of the Absolute as a light that per­vades every­where. The divine light being all-per­va­sive is also vis­i­ble with­in the body. Hence the Sid­dha says the human body is an instru­ment to lib­er­a­tion. So do not look out­ward­ly, but inward­ly.

Now he shows the way to see that Divine.

தவமதை எந்நாளுஞ் சாதிக்க வல்லார்க்குச்

சிவமது கைவசமே குதம்பாய்

சிவமது கைவசமே

For the one who does his spir­i­tu­al aus­ter­i­ties dai­ly,

Sivam, That Divin­i­ty, is with­in reach, O Kud­ham­bai,

Sivam, That Divin­i­ty, is with­in reach!

Mean­ing: Kud­ham­bai empha­sizes on the impor­tance of dai­ly Spir­i­tu­al prac­tices in this verse. He states that only for the Sad­ha­ka (Spir­i­tu­al aspi­rant) who is ever com­mit­ted to ful­fill the required aus­ter­i­ties, the Divine Truth is with­in reach.

Along with deep philo­soph­i­cal and Spir­i­tu­al mean­ing Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar empha­sizes on prop­er con­ducts for day-to-day activ­i­ties. Says Kud­ham­bai,

கோபம் பொறாமை கொடுஞ்சொல் வன்கோளிவை

பாபத்துக்கு ஏதுவடி குதம்பாய்

பாபத்துக்கு ஏதுவடி

Anger Jeal­ousy Harsh Words Crooked­ness

They lead to Sin, O Kud­ham­bai,

They leads to Sin.

Mean­ing: Kud­ham­bai lists Anger, Jeal­ous­ly, harsh words, crooked think­ing as the main rea­son to trans­gress the Sanatana Dhar­ma or Eter­nal laws. Trans­gress­ing here does not exact­ly mean sin in a con­ven­tion­al mean­ing. It is more like the con­se­quences of not respect­ing the Laws of Nature. For exam­ple, if a per­son tries to jump from a build­ing ignor­ing the laws of grav­i­ty, he will sure­ly be hurt. Like­wise the above actions are deemed inap­pro­pri­ate if one is to lead a spir­i­tu­al life.

ஐந்து தொழிற்கும் உரியோன் அநாதியை

மந்திரம் போற்றுமடி குதம்பாய்

மந்திரம் போற்றுமடி

That Begin­ning­less Divin­i­ty with Five pow­ers (check resources for five pow­ers)

Scrip­tures Glo­ri­fy, O Kud­ham­bai,

Scrip­tures Glo­ri­fy. Mean­ing: Anaa­di in San­skrit means “begin­ning­less”. It rep­re­sents pure con­scious­ness which has nei­ther begin­ning nor end. Sai­va Aga­mas, which call this pure con­scious­ness as Sada Siva (The Eter­nal One), say that Lord Siva per­forms five actions in this world. The first three is quite well known- the basic actions of cre­ation, preser­va­tion and destruc­tion. The fourth one is obscu­ra­tion, tirod­hana shak­ti, which is the illu­sion of sep­a­rate­ness the embod­ied beings see. With his fifth action of anu­gra­ha shak­ti, Lord Siva frees us from the illu­sion of sep­a­rate­ness from Him, grant­i­ng us real­iza­tion of our true iden­ti­ty. Kud­ham­bai says, the Scrip­tures extol this Anaa­di who per­forms the five actions in this world.

மாங்காய்ப்பா லுண்டு மலைமே லிருப்போர்க்குத்

தேங்காய்ப்பா லேதுக்கடி குதம்பாய்

தேங்காய்ப்பா லேதுக்கடி

Man­go-milk is there for the Ones who have reached the moun­tain peak

For what use is the coconut-milk, O Kud­ham­bai,

For what use is the coconut-milk! Mean­ing: This verse is a beau­ti­ful exam­ple of Sand­hya Bhasha. Kud­ham­bai com­pares the attain­ment of world­ly desires as climb­ing atop a coconut tree to enjoy the fruits of one’s action. It is pet­ty and use­less rel­a­tive to the pur­suit of attain­ing self-real­iza­tion, which is com­pared to reach­ing the moun­tain peak. Atop the moun­tain peak is the unpar­al­leled nec­tar from the fruit of Jnana, which is referred in this stan­za as the man­go-milk. Yogis have also giv­en the mean­ing that climb­ing the six adha­ras, one reach­es the top — the sahas­rara and receives the ambrosia.

As a begin­ning to this series of arti­cles, we have pre­sent­ed a few gems like the above ones. We pray to bring to you more from the Sid­dhar Padal­gal (Poems of Sid­dhas) com­posed by great Sid­dhas in many vol­umes. The inter­pre­ta­tion for these works comes inspired from var­ied sources of pri­or research, schol­ar­ly work and is based on our own Abhyasa Sad­hana. The sum­ma­rized mean­ings of the great vers­es pre­sent­ed here are only sug­ges­tive and call for a deep­er med­i­ta­tion and sad­hana to unfold their deep­er mean­ings.

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.

With these first steps, may our abhyasa con­tin­ue, may our shrad­dha in the Sid­dha Parampara strength­en and may rev­e­la­tions awak­en as we grow with­in!

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