From the Jacket
Tamil Siddhas have been know as iconoclastic in their writings and tendencies. Here this misunderstanding is cleared and correct knowledge of the writings is given. For the first time also, the dasa diksa and gymnosophy of the Tamil Siddhas are adumberated here in a new light, which the student of the Tamil Siddhas will appreciate.
The author has attempted, successfully to prove some of the concepts and the yogic practices of the Siddhas by quoting from the Upanisads and explaining them. The modern discoveries and medical science have helped him to assert the scientific and medical qualities of the prescriptions of the Siddhas for perfect health and steady spiritual progress.
It the world of humanity today still carried a semblance of peace and well-being. It is by the Grace and Guidance of these Elders, the Siddha Brotherhood. May their Grace continue to guide humanity is the prayer in this study.
Shuddhananda Sarma is a registered practitioner of Ayurvedic and Unani systems of Indian medicine. Since 1966 he has been living in Australia where he has founded his School of Oriental Studies dedicated to the dissemination of Hindu vidya of its.
Philosophical and socio-cultural traditions and the Hindu Way of Life. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1988 and is now completing his Master of Social Science (Honours) Studies in World Politics and International Relations.
Lest the student of the Tamil Siddhas fails to appreciate the truth of this, it may be pointed out that Australia has rightly claimed the first in many fields such as sport and science. Even so, this work on Tamil Siddhas claims the first to introduce: the analysis and interpretation of Tirumular's versification; the definition and interpretation of Siva and His Dance attended by His chief disciple, Nandi, who happens to be his metronymical name assumed by virtue of his mask of a Bull's Head; to impart a meaning to the funeral rites of Kapilar, the Tamil Siddha; so, too, Pattinattar is being interpreted here in a new fashion, substantiated by the facts of the matter.
Kanjamalai Siddhas are one who are not found in the Tamil versions, but added here as one who counts. Kudambai and Kaduveli Siddhas have received translations of their work in a new light, even as Subramania Bharathiar has in his poems and as a Tamil Siddhas; Siddha Ramalingam is one who has not been understood as a Tamil Siddha, but here he is treated as one whose compositions indicate the fact.
Studies in Tamil Siddhas is undertaken for the following reasons:
Almost all available accounts of the lives and teachings of these venerable
elders of the Tamil lands appear to be marred by profoundly misleading
conceptions, which may briefly be listed thus:
The special characteristics that distinguish these elders from their counterparts
of the northern regions, the Natha school, are invariably ignored and on a
parallel inquiry, a compare and contrast mode is adopted.
Missionaries (Caldwell or Pope) and writers (Barth) from West have seen fit
to observe Christian and Sufi influence in the teachings of these elders, as though
the Tamil-speaking Dravidians never were awere of love. Where the Siddhas
have been somewhat vocal in their tirade against caste or against stifling social
arrangements and practices, they have been branded as anti-Brahminical or
anti-social in their attitudes and therefore, by implication, undesirables. Unless
the earnest student of such studies cares to enquire into the matter closely and
delve into the origins of such customs and prevailing practices and finds out how
and at what juncture such otherwise healthy practices turned out to be stifling,
this aspect of misconception may remin unresolved. It has thus become necessary
for this present undertaking to treat this matter to the extent it merits, discussing
in the course such issues as the origin of caste-systems or the question of who
indeed were the main, if not the original occupants of the Indus Valley civilisations
and who were the Bhrgu. Much has been written about this Indus Valley times
and the people, but since their relationship with the people generally termed as
Dravidians becomes recognised, and since the currently available accounts in
this regard have failed to shed convincingly correct pictures of the situation and
circumstances that gave rise to this civilisation, this matter also is presented here
in a light all its own, drawing on available "facts."
Yet another incorrect representation, if not misconception, is that whereas
"oral" traditions invariably mention "floods" and the three samgamas to the Tamil-
speaking people and maintain that the southern landscape was diffently structured,
claiming great antiquity, such accounts are totally ignored or merely treated as
"legends" and "folklore" not deserving of serious consideration by the soi dissant
scholars. It can well be noticed that such of these arguments were derived from
the old logic of "All swans are white." Now that black swans have been found,
such irrational claims need to be corrected. Floods and sarhgamas receive this
Furthermore, some of the native scholars too, out of a cultural bias and caste-
prejudice, have accused these elders of opium-eating and of having recourse to
a lifestyle that may be likened to the modern day "drop-out." It may here be
pointed out that Idaikkadar and Agappei Siddhas have expressly condemned
such "evil ways" and warned that nemesis unfailingly follows such transgressions.
These Siddhas also have been charged with harming the interests of classical
Tamil language by their compositions and writings couched in colloquial terms;
Ramalingam, for one, to disprove this, composed a chapter entirely based on
the recognised canons of classical Tamil, a chapter that to this day remains beyond
the ability of the scholars to understand and interpret its meaning.
As regards the true identity of the Tamil Siddhas and their respected leader,
Siva, since no definite particulars are available to construct such identities, either
in the iconographically transmitted or written traditions, or in the oral reports,
the present study, adopts the approach of treating such "names" as being
"metonymical" in essence and thus has presented its version of the identities
constructed from what may seem as "circumstantial" evidence. This is not a
problem peculiar to Tamil literature or history; Sanskrit literature, too, faces
this question of establishing correct and proper identity of many of its authors,
but in vain; Kapila for instance, remains unidentified or Bhrgu; Patanjali and
Nandikesvara seem to suffer the same fate. But the student of these studies will
grant that the approach assumed here appears sensible and furnishes the most
trustworthy statement in this regard. But it needs to be remembered that such an
approach in no manner denies the reality or the historicity of such entities of
Tamil history and culture or religion.
The question of "identity" in the Western tradition has been resolved by its
specifically chronology-based historical approach, which claims the advantage of
benefiting by the conclusions of anthropology, archaeology or the earth sciences.
Further, the ''Word was God" has been interpreted in the West consistently as
meaning that, as much as the Word, God too has His history! But it has always
been different in Indian thought: Indian schools of philosophy, history and culture
have always maintained that though the word, vak, may have its history, the arta
or its essence and meaning, its origin as God or Spirit transcends such empirically
valid means,of assessment, while they do recognise the undeniable union of the
two, of the word and its meaning. Meaning is eternal and constitutes what is aptly
termed as Perennial Philosophy. It is immutable, whereas the word, its expression,
invariably changes in accord with the specific temporal and spatial circumstances
warranting such expression, which is history. The present study is mainly concerned
with this Perennial Philosophy as expounded by the elders.
It is this selfsame Perennial Philosophy that finds such eloquent poetic
expression in the Nasadiyasukta and the Hiranyagarbhasukta of the Veda.
Nasadiyasuktam, the "Hymn of Enlightened Agnosticism" occurs in the Rgveda,
book ten, composed around 1200 BC. It derives its title from the word nasadasit
with which the hymn begins. Profound in its questioning not only of the origins
of the world, but also of the materiality itself, not only of the gods, but of the
Being itself, sophisticated in its recognition of the limitations of language and
rationality in dealing with this issue and its tolerance of other possible answers,
the hymn in its unique humility admits that the answer may always elude human
"Who knows the secret? And who can declare it?" asks the Vedic seer, casting
doubt even on the first-created God whether he knows it or not!
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