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Pambatti Siddhar

Siddhar Charithiram

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 last issue, we saw about Sid­dha Kud­ham­bai. We also saw how the Sid­dhar­gal poet­ry is pre­sent­ed in Sand­hya Bhasha. In this arti­cle, we will trav­el with the Kun­dali­ni from Moolad­hara to Sahas­rara, through the works of anoth­er great Sid­dha who is well-known among the peo­ple of Tamil Nadu.

Pambatti Siddhar


In the erst­while Pandiya King­dom, there lived an easy-going yet fear­less young­ster whose pro­fes­sion was catch­ing snake for liveli­hood. One day, while look­ing for a rare kind of Navarat­na snake he hap­pened to encounter the great Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar (one among the revered Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal). This inci­dent became a turn­ing point in the life of this young snake-catch­er.

Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar asked, “What is it that you are seek­ing?” When the young snake-catch­er revealed that he was after a Navarat­na snake, the Sid­dha laughed out loud. “The most glo­ri­ous and splen­did snake resides with­in you! And you are fool­ish­ly search­ing for one out­side!”

As the snake-catch­er implored, the Sid­dha explained fur­ther, “The snake inside every human body is known as Kun­dali­ni. The one who catch­es hold of this and con­trols the snake is a true Pam­bat­ti (snake-charmer)! For this snake car­ries on its head the ulti­mate gem!” The snake-catch­er sur­ren­dered to His Guru Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar and received ini­ti­a­tion. The Guru imme­di­ate­ly left the place imme­di­ate­ly. This great Dis­ci­ple to the great Mas­ter mas­tered the con­trol of Kun­dali­ni and attained great Sid­dhis.

When the Guru returned, he saw the attain­ment of his shishya. He asked his shishya, ‘Son, though I ini­ti­at­ed you into this path of Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty I did not even ask your name. At least tell me now, what is your name?’ The shishya replied, ‘Swa­mi, I was just a snake-charmer who caught snakes for mon­ey. But you showed me the way of Kun­dali­ni and showed me the way to con­trol it and have the Dhar­shan of the Paramporul with­in me. How can I tell you what my name is? Then and now, my life is all about the snake. So call me Pam­bat­ti.’

To this, the Guru laughed and blessed him say­ing, ‘Let it be. From now on you will be called as Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar.’ And so he came to be known as Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar.

After his Enlight­en­ment, Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar attained many sid­dhis, espe­cial­ly becom­ing adept in Sid­dha Med­i­cine and Sid­dha Yoga. He prac­ticed as a Sid­dha Doc­tor in Maruthamalai. There is Guha (cave) present even now beside the Maru­damalai tem­ple where he lived. He also lived at var­i­ous places like Mahalinga­malai in Vathi­raayirup­pu, Kol­li­malai, Madu­rai, Puliyur and Bha­vani. Final­ly, He attained Jee­va Samathi at Sankarankoil in Tirunelveli Dis­trict of Tamil Nadu (India).

Literary Works of Pambatti Siddhar

Some of the Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar poems are addressed to a snake. Not to any snake out­side but to the snake that is coiled with­in us, the Kun­dali­ni. With a yog­ic awak­en­ing with­in, the Kun­dali­ni along with our own con­scious­ness rais­es from untruth to Truth. Stay­ing true to the great Siddha’s work we fol­low the Kundalini’s way in select­ing Pam­bat­ti Siddhar’s work. We have picked cou­plets to trace this way of Kun­dali­ni in the hope that it will help the writ­ers as well as the read­ers to lead from untruth to Truth — Aso­ta­ma Sad­hga­maya. We feel blessed to present you selec­tions from Pam­bat­ti Siddhar’s ஆடு பாம்பே! ஆடு! (Dance Snake! Dance!).

“From with­out to with­in” — Tran­scend­ing lim­i­ta­tions in Moolad­hara and Swad­histhana

One of the major chal­lenges for any begin­ners in the path of Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is their deep attach­ment to the exter­nal objects. Strongest among them is the iden­ti­ty with the body. Observe around you, how undue impor­tance is giv­en to the bod­i­ly plea­sures. Multi­na­tion­al indus­tries and orga­ni­za­tions thrive on glo­ri­fy­ing this thirst for world­ly indul­gence and bod­i­ly plea­sures. There is a proverb, beau­ty is only skin deep. Yet this glob­al­ly resound­ing per­sua­sion is fast entic­ing peo­ple around the world to invest their lives in pur­suit of a made up out­look and exter­nal val­i­da­tion.

Sid­dhas nev­er say reject the body — that will not come from those who devel­oped the whole sys­tem of Yoga for the ben­e­fit of mankind. But they always warn us against giv­ing exag­ger­at­ed impor­tance to this fleet­ing object called the body, which was born and which will even­tu­al­ly die. Rather, they encour­age us to dig deep with­in us, to go beyond this shell called body to find the trea­sure that is deep with­in us. Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar has a whole set of cou­plets on this great truth from which we will share one here:

நீரிலெழும் நீர்க்குமிழி நிலைகெ டல்போல

நில்லாதுடல் நீங்கிவிடும் நிச்சய மென்றே

பாரிற் பல உயிர்களைப் படைத்த வன்றனைப்

பற்றவேநீ பற்றித்தொடர்ந் தாடாய் பாம்பேLike momen­tary bub­bles that form and pop on the sur­face of water

Our mor­tal body too is sure to be gone (in the Flow of Life).

The One who is the Cre­ator of all beings,

Catch hold to catch hold (real­ize) of Him and Dance, O Snake!

“Mak­ing effort to know the Truth”- Churn­ing in Manipu­ra

In a short, crisp and pro­found exam­ple Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar explains the fleet­ing real­i­ty of the body to which we give so much atten­tion and asks us to look for the Cre­ator behind this cre­ation. But what will it be like to be a seek­er who real­izes this? Where will his efforts be here­after? Sid­dhar explains,

கானலைமான் நீரெனவே கண்டு செல்லல்போல்

காசினிவாழ் வினைமூடர் கண்டு களிப்பார்

மேனிலைகண் டார்கள் வீணாய் வீம்பு பேசிடார்

மெய்யன்பதம் நாடுவாரென் றாடாய் பாம்பேLike an igno­rant deer seek­ing water in a mirage

Fool­ish men seek joy in untruth

Those who have real­ized high­er states observe Mouna (silence)

To search That Essence of all Truth, Know this and Dance, O Snake!

“Love for all”- Falling into all Expan­sive Ana­ha­ta

The main goal of Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is know­ing the essence of the Divin­i­ty present with­in us, with­in every­one around us and every­thing of this world and beyond. And the result of it is over­flow­ing com­pas­sion towards every liv­ing things of this world. As Mata Amri­tanan­damayi says, ‘The first step in spir­i­tu­al life is to have com­pas­sion’ or Mas­ter Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, ‘Walk as if you are kiss­ing the Earth with your feet’.

At this stage the Sad­ha­ka, the seek­er trans­forms him­self into a Bhak­ta. What are the qual­i­ties of a Bhak­ta? Sid­dhar Pam­bat­ti says,

எள்ளிலெண்ணெய் போலவுயி ரெங்கு நிறைந்த

ஈசன் பதவாசமலர் எண்ணி யெண்ணியே

உள்ளபடி அன்புபத்தி ஓங்கி நிற்கவே

ஒடுங்கிய டங்கித்தெளிந் தாடு பாம்பேLike oil in a sesame seed, He is all-per­vad­ing

Deeply con­tem­plate on that Isan and His Essence

With a heart filled with Love and Bhak­thi (devo­tion)

Hav­ing still­ness and hum­ble­ness, Dance, O Snake!

“Dis­crim­i­nat­ing Truth from Untruth”- The Pow­er of Vishud­dhi and Ajna

Sid­dhar Pam­bat­ti was also a seek­er once. He has walked the same path that we all are tread­ing now. He explains how a seek­er moves about in the world.

சொல்லும்புளி யம்பழத்தி னோடு போலவே

சுற்றத்திருந் தாலுமவர் தொந்தங் களற்று

நில்லுமன மேநீபர நின்ம லத்திலே

நின்றுணைதான் வெறும்பாழென் றாடாய் பாம்பேLike the seed in the core of a ripe tamarind fruit

Amidst all out­er rela­tions, stay unat­tached to the pulp.

Oh mind, stay root­ed in the pure supreme!

In being so, Real­ize You are That Void and Dance, O Snake!

In the ripe tamarind fruit, one could see how the seed is very smooth and per­fect­ly non-sticky to the flesh around it. In the case of a man­go seed or a date-fruit seed, one could observe how the seed has a lot of pulp attached to it. Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar advis­es one to be like the tamarind seed even amidst all world­ly rela­tions and rel­a­tives. He says in the core is the That Void, the true nature of the Self.

“Sur­ren­der and Ulti­mate Bliss”- Ecsta­t­ic Sahas­rara

This is the jour­ney of a sad­ha­ka. It begins with the real­iza­tion of the tran­sient nature of exter­nal things. Then the out­go­ing mind is turned inward. It con­tin­ues onwards in search­ing for the Truth with­in. Dur­ing this jour­ney, the seek­er cleans­es his inter­nal through Antahkarana Shud­dhi and devel­ops a prop­er inner atti­tude for real­iz­ing the Truth — Antar-Bha­va.

It is a great hon­or and priv­i­lege to walk the path of Truth. But it is a path that can­not be walked alone. A per­son walk­ing this path needs the nur­tur­ing of a moth­er, sup­port of a father and the guid­ance of a teacher all merged in one — a Guru. Lucky is one who has the bless­ing and ini­ti­a­tion of one’s Guru on this dance of the Kun­dali­ni, the Snake. But what is the end result? After all, it is Truth and that which is. We ought to have known our true nature and it is our short­com­ing if we have not real­ized it. But the Guru is always com­pas­sion­ate. He not only helps us in unveil­ing the maya, he also gives us the Ecsta­t­ic Real­iza­tion and the vision to see it all. What remains is the Truth, our Love for the Guru and Ecsta­sy. Who can explain this expe­ri­ence bet­ter than Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar who him­self walked his path with the Grace of His Guru, Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar.

உள்ளங்கையிற் கனிபோல உள்ள பொருளை

உண்மையுடன் காட்டவல்ல உண்மைக் குருவைக்

கள்ளமனந் தன்னைத்தள்ளிக் கண்டு கொண்டன்பாய்க்

சுளித்துக் களித்துநின் றாடாய் பாம்பேLike plac­ing a fruit on an open palm,

The Sat­gu­ru shall bestow the Real­iza­tion of Truth.

Remov­ing all agi­ta­tions of the mind, see That, Love Him

and Dance And Dance for­ev­er, O Snake!

The metaphor of “fruit on the palm” is found in var­i­ous Vedan­tic lit­er­a­ture also. The sto­ry of Hastham­lakacharya, one among the dis­ci­ples of Sri Sankaracharya, is very rel­e­vant and will help us under­stand more. Once a man called Prab­hakara had a son who for most of his life appeared to be dumb. When Sri Sankaracharya had come to the vil­lage where they reside in, the father brought his son to the great Mas­ter and shared his wor­ries about the boy. Sri Sankaracharya looked at the boy and asked him, “Who are you?” Much to the ela­tion of every­body around, the boy respond­ed in 12 poet­ic vers­es which were a gist of the Vedan­ta.

Only then did every­body real­ize what an evolved intel­lect the child had. Sri Sankaracharya named the child Hastham­lakacharya and accept­ed him as his dis­ci­ple. Hastha means palm and amala­ka means a goose­ber­ry fruit. He was named so sig­ni­fy that his knowl­edge of the Self was as clear and easy as a fruit on the palm. Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar uses here this metaphor to extol the Grace of Guru which can bestow atma-vidya vivid­ly.

In this edi­tion, we have pre­sent­ed a few gems from the works of Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar. There are as many as 600 poems writ­ten by Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar and we have bare­ly scared the sur­face of it. 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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