~ 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 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 email@example.com.
In absorbing this, may our abhyasa continue, may our shraddha in the Siddha Parampara strengthen and may revelations awaken as we grow within!