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.
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 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!