The Siddhars are the holy men who had attained great mystical powers through their spiritual practices or Sadhana. These mystical or Yogic powers are called Siddhis. Therefore those who acquired these Siddhis are called Siddhars. Their Siddhis allowed them to overcome and also transcend the barriers of space and time.
They were able to achieve immortality, manipulate matter at the molecular level and also transform their body. The practices that they used include meditation, Pranayama (breathing practices) as well as the use of substances called Rasayanas to transform the body. The Siddhars were alchemists, doctors, saints and mystics. The Siddhars were devotees of Lord Shiva.
Who Is A Siddhar?
In Sanskrit, the word Cit refers to the universal intelligence or consciousness. The word Citta is the subconscious mind. Siddh in Sanskrit means perfected and Siddhi is perfection in the attainment of psychic powers. So a Siddhar is a saint who has attained perfection in mystical powers.
The Siddhars’ Knowledge
The knowledge of the Siddhars was recorded on palm leaves in the form of Tamil poetry and are in private ownership as well as in institutions. The poems contain information is a coded form that is very hard to interpret. We remember Siddhars by the legends as well as the texts about them.
There is also much doubt as to the originality of the manuscripts. Combined with the slang as well as the colloquial language used in the manuscripts, they are quite hard to accurately interpret. Many of these works were taken away from the country under Colonial rule.
The works of the Siddhars refer to mantras, tantras and also yantras. They are all said to be the representation of the same matter in the form of sound, two dimensions as well as three dimensions.
The Eighteen Siddhars
There are different lists with varying names of the 18 Siddhars also with varying timelines. There is no definitive list of the 18 Siddhars. The fact that their believers ascribe the power of transcending time as well as mortality to the Siddhars has led to little information about their timelines and chronology. There are the legends and manuscripts of the Siddhars but little other evidence of the Siddhar tradition. The literature mentions that the Siddhars travelled to different countries but there is little supporting evidence otherwise.
Sri Agasthiyar Siddhar
There are two conflicting claims as to who the first Siddhar was. Some legends also describe Sri Patanjali as the first Siddhar. He was an incarnation of Adisheshan, the celestial snake associated with the Lord Vishnu. The popular belief is that Sri Agasthaya (Agasthiyar) was the first Siddhar. He is also one of the Saptarishis and the son of Lord Bramha. The Saptarishis were the original seven sages of the Vedic times. He is a disciple of Lord Shiva. He lived in the 7th Century BC.
Sri Agasthiyar Siddhar is also called Agastya, Kumbamuni and Kurumuni. He was born in the Tamil month of Margazhi and attained Samadhi in Ananthasayana. His birth star is Ayyilyam (Aslesha). The temple for his worship is the Adi Kumbeswarar Temple, Kumbakonam and the Agasthiyar Temple, Kalyana Theertham Waterfalls at Papanasam in Tamil Nadu. His disciples include Turvalluvar, Machamuni, Bogar and also Babaji. His 96 works cover the subjects of medicine, alchemy as well as spirituality.
Sri Nandi Devar Siddhar
Lord Shiva initiated Sri Nandi Devar who is one of the foremost Siddhars. He was a master of Kaya Kalpa, Alchemy and medicine. His disciples were Thirumoolar, Patanjali, Dakshinamoorthy, Kayilay Kambilisattamuni and also Sattaimuni. He attained Samadhi at Banaras (Kashi)
Sri Bogar Siddhar
Sri Bogar Siddhar is called Maha Bogar Siddhar or Bodhi Dharma. He was born in China and crafted the deity of Lord Muruga at Palani with his special powers of alchemy. Sri Bogar Siddhar was born in the Vaikasi month under the Bharani nakshatra. He attained mastery over Mantras when he was very young. His work is the Bogar Vaithiyam. He attained Samadhi at Palani. His gurus were Agastiyar and also Kalanginatha.
Sri Kaga Bujandar Siddhar
The Siddhar Sri Kaga Bujandar was born in Trichy in Tamilnadu. He was born under the Ayyilyam (Aslesha) Nakshatra. He attained Jeeva Samadhi in Thenponparapi village, Villupuram, Tamilnadu. His birth star is Ayilyam. He is said to have seen many cycles of creation and destruction in the form of a crow and had mastered immortality. Kaga refers to crow. His works are the Kaaga Bujanda Gnanam as well as the Kaaga Kaiveeyam.
Sri Pulipani Siddhar
Sri Pulipani Siddhar was also said to have been born in China. He is the person who helped Sri Bogar Siddhar to collect the herbs that were required for the making of the Palani Murugan idol. His famous works are the Putlipani Jaalam as well as the Putlipani Vaidyam.
Sri Sattaimuni Siddhar
Sri Sattaimuni Siddhar was said to have visited Tamilnadu from his birthplace in Srilanka. He saw Maha Bogar Siddhar in a temple and was so captivated by him that he abandoned his family and became his disciple. He is also known as Sri Chattaimuni. His Gurus were Nandidevar and Dakshinamoorthy. He was born in the month of Avani under the Mrigasirisha Nakshatra. He attained Samadhi at Srirangam. His disciples were Sundaranandar as well as Paambatti.
Sri Agapey Siddhar
Sri Agapey Siddhar was a weaver who was not happy with materialistic success. He sat in meditation while visualising Sage Vyasa as his Guru. He advised people to control their negative feelings to realise God. His works include Agappay Siddharpaadal as well as Agappay PoornaGnanam.
Sri Azhugani Siddhar
Sri Azhugani Siddhar gets his name from his use of rare herbs such as Azhugani and Thozugani. He advised people to embrace spiritualism. His works are Azhugani Vaithiam as well as Azhugani Yogam.
Sri Kudumbai Siddhar
Sri Kudumbai Siddhar’s mother used to decorate his ears with the Kudumbai. He got his name from her practice. Sri Kudumbai Siddhar was blessed by a saint at the age of 16 and then withdrew from materialistic life. He wrote in simple language. He attained Samadhi at Mayavaram. His Guru was Alukkani Siddhar (who was a disciple of Idaikadar). His works are the Kudumbai Gnana Soostram as well as Kudumbai Siddhar Paadalgal.
Sri Vallalar Siddhar
Sri Vallalar Siddhar was more interested in worship than studies from his early years. He garlanded his own image in a mirror only to find that it showed an image of the Lord Muruga. Sri Vallalar Siddhar preached that all of mankind is equal. He attained Samadhi by turning into a light that merged with the divine. He attained Samadhi at Vadalur. His works are Maha Deyva Malai as well as Deyva Madni Maalai.
Sri Idaikadar Siddhar
A Siddhar blessed Sri Idaikadar Siddhar with immense powers when he was grazing goats. His Gurus were Bhoganathar and Karuvoorar. Sri Idaikadar Siddhar’s disciples were Kudambai and Alukkani. His famous works are Idaikadar Gnanasoothram as well as Idaikadar Kanida Nool.
Sri Pattinathar Sidhar
Pattinathar Sidhar was a wealthy merchant. He renounced worldly pleasures. He attained Samadhi by turning into a Lingam. His famous works include Thiruvedaimarudur Mumani Kovai as well as Thiru Ekamba Mudayar Thiuvandaadi.
Sri Kaduveli Siddhar
Kaduveli Siddhar gets his name from his birthplace Kaduveli. He was born during the Chola era. His story is not well known. Sri Kaduveli Siddhar’s songs are popular throughout the state. His famous work is Kaduveli Siddhar Paadal.
Sri Kanchamalai Siddhar
Sri Kanchamalai Siddhar as his name indicates was born in the hills. He lived in caves and was fond of birds and was able to travel by air using his mystical powers. His works are the Kanchamalai Siddhar Kalakyaanamas well as the Kanchamalai Siddhar Paadalgal.
Sri Chennimalai Siddhar
Sri Chennimalai Siddhar had the power of curing incurable diseases. He attained Samadhi by uniting with Lord Shiva in a tree. His works are the Padinen Siddhar Kovaias well as the Pinakesar Thattuva Paadalkal.
Sri Kapilar Siddhar
Lord Shiva cursed Sri Kapilar and he was born as a cow in Madambakkam. He attained salvation there. He worshipped Lord Shiva at the Dhanupueeswarar Temple. His works include the KadaichangaIlakiya Noolgal.
Sri Karuvoorar Siddhar
Karuvoorar Siddhar was the sculptor of the dancing Lord Nataraja Statue. He guided the building of the world-famous Brihadeeswarar temple built by Raja Raja Chola at Thanjavur. He wrote a lot about medicine. His works are Karuvoorar Vaidya Kaviyam as well as the Karuvoorar Pala Thirattu. He attained Samadhi at Karuvai. His Guru was Bhogar and his disciple was Idaikadar.
Sri Pampatti Siddhar
Pampatti Siddhar was originally a snake charmer in his early years. His Guru was Sattaimuni Siddhar. He was in the forest hunting snakes when his Guru advised him to conquer the snake within himself. He attained Samadhi at Hari Sankaran Kovil. Pampatti Siddhar wrote the Paampatti Siddhar Gnyana Soosthram as well as the Paampaati Siddhar Paadalgal.