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Siddhar Charithiram: Karuvoorar

~ 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, Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar, Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar and Sun­daraanan­dar Sid­dhar. We also saw how the Sid­dhar­gal poet­ry is pre­sent­ed in Sand­hya Bhasha. In this arti­cle, we will see the glo­ry of Karu­voorar Sid­dhar.

Karu­voorar Sid­dhar


Karu­voorar Sid­dhar was born in a place called Karu­voor of the then Chola King­dom, what is now called as Karur. Lit­er­ary research works pose mul­ti­ple the­o­ries about Karu­voorar Siddhar’s birth and ori­gin. Some con­sid­er that, he is also called as Karu­voor Devar. Some pos­tu­late that Karu­voorar Sid­dhar should have been born to a fam­i­ly of Stha­p­athis or idol archi­tects. For this the­o­ry the ref­er­ence pro­vid­ed is from Chap­ter 4 Verse 452 of “Agast­yar 12000” a com­po­si­tion by the great Sage Agastya Muni Sid­dhar.

துணிந்துமே சிலைக்கருவு செய்ய வென்று துப்புரவாய்க் குடிகளிட மார்க்கம் சென்று மணியான மணியுடனே குடவன் தானும் மன்னவனே நவலோகம் ஒன்றாய்ச் சேர்த்து அணியான கருவுதனில் அமைத்துமே தான் அப்பனே பிரதமைகள் உருவு செய்து தணியான கருவுதனை விற்று உண்டு சதா காலம் சீவனங்கள் செய்திட்டாரே இட்டாரே கருவூரார் தந்தை தாய்மார் எழில் பெரிய தேவதாஸ்தானங்கள் தேடி

The gist of the verse is that — the par­ents of Karu­voorar Sid­dhar were ded­i­cat­ed to cre­at­ing tem­ple idols, by vis­it­ing var­i­ous places of puri­ty and divine sig­nif­i­cance, while archi­tect­ing idols by forg­ing the nine met­als, and they honed these skills to make a liveli­hood.

From his child­hood, Karu­voorar Siddhar’s Kula Deivam was Ambal. When Sid­dhar Bog­ar vis­it­ed Thiru­vaduthu­rai, Karu­voorar met with Sid­dhar and request­ed Bog­ar Peru­man to accept him as his dis­ci­ple. Sid­dhar Bog­ar accept­ed Karu­voorar and ini­ti­at­ed him into the wor­ship of Ambal. And with­out doubt, that divine Fem­i­nine Sak­thi, gave Dhar­shan and Graced him for the rise of Kun­dali­ni. Hence we can find many of his Poems address­ing Ambal as Devi, Kun­dali­ni and the Fem­i­nine aspect of this Uni­verse.

Con­tri­bu­tions to Than­javur Bri­hadeeswarar Tem­ple

There are also pop­u­lar accounts of Karu­voorar Siddhar’s sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to the com­ple­tion of the mar­vel­lous Bri­hadeeswarar Tem­ple at Than­javur, India. We high­ly rec­om­mend a vis­it to the tem­ple to gasp and pon­der about the phe­nom­e­nal efforts that have gone into cre­at­ing the icon­ic Bri­hadeeswarar Tem­ple. The vision­ary King Raja Raja Cholan, while build­ing this tem­ple encoun­tered seri­ous mys­ti­cal and method­i­cal chal­lenges. The priests found it impos­si­ble to fix­ate the huge Shi­va Lin­ga on the base for the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum of the tem­ple. Bog­ar Sid­dhar is said to have instruct­ed King Raja Raja Cholan to seek Karu­voorar Siddhar’s hand in mak­ing this hap­pen. Karu­voorar Sid­dhar is said to have achieved the impos­si­ble and to have fix­at­ed the Shi­va Lin­ga on the base. There are also accounts that state that Karu­voorar Sid­dhar also guid­ed in the mount­ing of the 80 tonnes heavy cap­stone atop the 225 feet tall Gop­u­ram. Today vis­i­tors to the tem­ple can also see a shrine ded­i­cat­ed by King Raja Raja Cholan to Karu­voorar Sid­dhar in the tem­ple premis­es. The holy site of Karu­voorar Siddhar’s Samad­hi Stha­la can still be seen in Pasu­patheesvar tem­ple, in the mod­ern day Karur. Now, let us study the works of Karu­voorar Sid­dhar, since our Siddhar’s Kula Deivam was Ambal, we begin with two stan­zas of his which prais­es Ambal in Her var­i­ous forms. His hymns to Devi shows both the devo­tion­al aspect as well as the mys­ti­cal aspects of his Sad­hana. Pur­sue the below song for exam­ple:ஆதியந்தம் வாலையவ ளிருந்த வீடே ஆச்சரியம் மெத்த மெத்த அதுதான் பாரு; சோதியந்த நடுவீடு பீட மாகிச் சொகுசுபெற வீற்றிருந்தாள் துரைப்பெண் ணாத்தாள் வீதியந்த ஆறுதெரு அமர்ந்த வீதி விளையாடி நின்றதிரு மாளி கண்டாய்; பாதிமதி சூடியே யிருந்த சாமி பத்துவய தாகுமிந்த வாமி தானே.Her house is the ves­sel for the begin­ning and the end (of cre­ation) It is a Mir­a­cle, Oh look close every­one! A splen­dorous light becomes the throne in that house, She sat majes­ti­cal­ly and with author­i­ty, our Divine Moth­er The street to her house has six streets (Six Chakras) Oh! Look there She plays She is the half of the One who adorns Moon in His head And yet, Our Vami(Parvathi) is still like a Child to us

How beau­ti­ful­ly Karu­voorar describes Devi as a Uni­ver­sal fem­i­nine form, as Kun­dali­ni Shak­ti resid­ing inside us as well as the con­sort of Lord Siva Peru­man, and all in just one poem! And in anoth­er poem he describes the qual­i­ty of His Kula Deivam, Sivaka­mi.காணப்பா இவளுடைய கற்பு மெத்த கண்டவர்க்குப் பெண்ணரசு நானே யென்பாள்; ஊணப்பா அமிர்தமிவ ளூட்டி வைப்பாள்; உள்வீட்டுக் குள்ளிருந்து மேலே யேறப் பூணப்பா மனமுறைந்து வாவா வென்பாள்; புத்திரனே யென்மகனே யென்று சொல்லி வேணப்பா வேண்தெல்லாந் தருவே னென்பாள்; வேதாந்த சூட்சமெலாம் விளங்குந் தானே.Oh, Look at Her puri­ty! If you are lucky to see, She will take you under Her care. She will feed you the Elixir of Life She will rise from with­in; Adorn! for She will call you with Love She will tell you lov­ing­ly, “My Dear Son, Ask any­thing and I will give you.” You will know the Sub­tle truth of Vedas too!

As Karu­voorar Sid­dhar show­ers prais­es and extols such glo­ry of Devi Ambal, he also shares his pro­found vision of the con­sort of Devi, Siva Peru­man:

பாரேது புனலேது அனலு மேது? பாங்கான காலேது? வெளியு மாகும் நாரேது பூவேது வாசமேது? நல்ல புட்பந்தானேது பூசை யேது? ஊரேது பேரேது சினமு மேது? ஒகோகோ அதிசயந்தா னென்ன சொல்வேன்! ஆறேது குளமேது கோயிலேது? ஆதிவத்தை யறிவதனா லறிய லாமே.What is the world, the flood and the flame? What is a water-feed­ing canal? Exude they claim What is the fibre, the bloom or the scent? What is sacred flower or wor­ship to ascent? What is a place, name or anger dis­may? Wow! What is this won­der! What may I say? What is the riv­er, the pond or the tem­ple? Know Adi Shi­va and all shall be known ample!

In this song, Karu­voorar Sid­dhar puts forth ques­tions of great curios­i­ty exam­in­ing the gross­est to the sub­tlest, the sub­jec­tive to the objec­tive, and the seen to the unseen. He turns these ques­tions into an appeal for a quest — an unend­ing quest to know the ulti­mate!

We men­tioned before that Karu­voorar Sid­dhar is also referred by some as Karu­voor The­var. Some agree to this where­as some say they are two dif­fer­ent per­sons. Nonethe­less, Karu­vur The­var is one among the nine devo­tees who sung the Divine Music Thiru­vichaip­paa, which is the ninth Thiru­mu­rai. His com­po­si­tions form the third set in Thiru­vichaip­paa. Though we do not exact­ly know which claim about the Siddhar’s ori­gin could be true, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn some of the Thiru­marai, and here we present to you one that we find very sweet to read and con­tem­plate on! Is there a rea­son we need to hear and read more about lit­er­ary offer­ings on Lord Siva?! Hence here we dive.

யாதுநீ நினைவ(து)? எவரையாம் உடையது? எவர்களும் யாவையும் தானாய்ப் பாதுகை மழலைச் சிலம்பொடு புகுந்தென் பனிமலர்க் கண்ணுள்நின் றகலான் கேதகை நிழலைக் குருகென மருவிக் கெண்டைகள் வெருவுகீழ்க் கோட்டூர் மாதவன் மணியம் பலத்துள்நின் றாடும் மைந்தன்என் மனம்புகுந் தனனே.Whom to think? Who to reach to? He became All and beyond! With the sweet sound of Child’s Anklet, He cooled my eyes with His Dhar­shan! In Kezhkootoor, where fish­es mis­un­der­stand Keta­ki Flower’s Shad­ow for Swan and get dis­turbed, Mad­ha­van stands in the tem­ple. Like in the tem­ple, He is in my heart too!

Thiru­vichaip­paa lit­er­ary style is quite dif­fer­ent from the lit­er­ary works of the Sid­dhas. How­ev­er with a pletho­ra of lit­er­ary styles avail­able in Tamil poet­ry, there can­not be a con­clu­sive rea­son for claim­ing that Karu­voorar Sid­dhar and Karu­voor Devar to be two dif­fer­ent per­sons. Like his oth­er peer Sid­dhars, Karu­voorar Siddhar’s works is not only lim­it­ed to devo­tion and mys­ti­cal aspects. His dis­cov­er­ies and improve­ments in the prac­tice of alche­my are humon­gous. Sid­dhar Karu­voorar is dis­tin­guished for his work of “Atta­ma Sid­dhi”- the eight major types of sid­dhi attain­ment. In his work Karu­voorar Vatha Kaaviyam — 700, he has giv­en a biog­ra­phy of the Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal and oth­er Sid­dhas. He attained samad­hi in Sri Kalyana Pasu­patheeswarar tem­ple in Karur.

We encour­age the read­ers to take a deep­er look at the var­i­ous stan­zas and their mean­ing from our great Sid­dha — Karu­voorar. In this edi­tion, we have pre­sent­ed a few gems from the works of Karu­voorar 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 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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