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Virupa (God of Yoga), 16th century
Mahavira's Nirvana from Kalpasutra, 1472

Siddhas were early age wandering adepts that dominated ancient Tamil teaching and philosophy, they were extensively knowledgeable in Science, Technology, Astronomy, Literature, Fine Arts, Music, Drama, Dance, and provided solutions to common people in their illness and advice for their future.[1] Some of their ideologies are believed to have originated more than 10,000 years ago during the First Cankam.[2] Shiva is believed to be the earliest Siddha.[3] According to one South-Indian book, the South Indian Siddha were expelled by the Indo-Aryan invaders leaving many of their traditions lost or distorted.[4]

In the Hindu philosophy (of Kashmir Shaivism), siddha refers to a Siddha Guru who can by way of Shaktipat initiate disciples into Yoga. A Siddha, in Tamil Siddhar or Chitthar (see Chit/Consciousness), means "one who is accomplished" and refers to perfected masters who, according to Hindu belief, have transcended the ahamkara (ego or I-maker), have subdued their minds to be subservient to their Awareness, and have transformed their bodies (composed mainly of dense Rajotama gunas) into a different kind of body dominated by sattva. This is usually accomplished only by persistent meditation.

Siddhas may broadly refer to Siddhars, Naths, Ascetics, Sadhus, or Yogis and vice versa because they all practice the Sādhanā concept.[5] A siddha has also been defined to refer to one who has attained a siddhi. The siddhis as paranormal abilities are considered emergent abilities of an individual that is on the path to siddhahood, and do not define a siddha, who is established in the Pranav or Aum – the spiritual substrate of creation. The siddhi in its pure form means "the attainment of flawless identity with Reality (Brahman); perfection of Spirit."

According to Jain beliefs, Siddhas are liberated souls who have destroyed all the karma bondings. Siddha do not have any kind of body, they are soul at its purest form. They reside in Siddha-shila which is situated at the top of the Universe.

First usage[edit]

The first usage of the term Siddha occurs in the Maitreya Upanishad in chapter Adhya III where the writer of the section declares "I am Siddha."

Sanasiddha is the name of an upasaka.[6]

The Svetasvatara (II.12) presupposes a 'Siddha body.[7]

Siddha or siddhar (Tamil tradition)[edit]

In Tamil Nadu, South India, a siddha (see Siddhar) refers to a being who has achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. The ultimate demonstration of this is that siddhas allegedly attained physical immortality. Thus siddha, like siddhar refers to a person who has realised the goal of a type of sadhana and become a perfected being. In Tamil Nadu, South India, where the siddha tradition is still practiced, special individuals are recognized as and called siddhas (or siddhars or cittars) who are on the path to that assumed perfection after they have taken special secret rasayanas to perfect their bodies, in order to be able to sustain prolonged meditation along with a form of pranayama which considerably reduces the number of breaths they take. The siddha had a special power to fly, which they divided into eight powers called attamasiddhigal.

The well known 18 siddhars are listed below. The head of all siddhars is Sri Kagapujandar

  1. Agasthiyar
  2. Kamalamuni
  3. Thirumoolar
  4. Kuthambai
  5. Korakkar
  6. Thanvandri
  7. Konganar
  8. Sattamuni
  9. Vanmeegar
  10. Ramadevar
  11. Nandeeswarar (Nandidevar)
  12. Edaikkadar
  13. Machamuni
  14. Karuvoorar
  15. Bogar
  16. Pambatti Siddhar
  17. Sundarandandar
  18. Patanjali

Siddha in Jainism[edit]

Siddhas are the liberated souls. They have completely ended the cycle of birth and death. They have reached the ultimate state of salvation. They do not have any karmas and they do not collect any new karmas. This state of true freedom is called Moksha. They are formless and have no passions and therefore are free from all temptations.

According to Jains, Siddhas have eight specific characteristics or qualities (8 guñas). Ancient Tamil Jain Classic 'Choodamani Nigandu' describes the eight characteristics in a beautiful poem, which is given below.[8]

"கடையிலா ஞானத்தோடு காட்சி வீரியமே இன்ப
மிடையுறு நாமமின்மை விதித்த கோத்திரங்களின்மை
அடைவிலா ஆயுஇன்மை அந்தராயங்கள் இன்மை
உடையவன் யாவன் மற்று இவ்வுலகினுக்கு இறைவனாமே"

"The soul that has infinite knowledge (Ananta jnāna, கடையிலா ஞானம்), infinite vision or wisdom (Ananta darshana, கடையிலா காட்சி), infinite power (Ananta labdhi, கடையிலா வீரியம்), infinite bliss (Ananta sukha, கடையிலா இன்பம்), without name (Akshaya sthiti, நாமமின்மை), without association to any caste (Being vitāraga, கோத்திரமின்மை), infinite life span (Being arupa, ஆயுள் இன்மை) and without any change (Aguruladhutaa, அழியா இயல்பு) is God."

Thiruvalluvar in his Tamil book Thirukural refers to the eight qualities of God,[9] in one of his couplet poems.

Siddha Paradise[edit]

The siddhas (liberated souls who will never take birth again, who have gone above the cycle of life and death) go to the top of the universe in a place called Moksha, which is on top of the Siddha-shila after being liberated and stays there till infinity. Siddha is a level of soul above Arihant who possess kevala jñana.

In Hindu cosmology, Siddhaloka is a subtle world (loka) where perfected beings (siddhas) take birth. They are endowed with the eight primary siddhis at birth.

Siddhashila as per the Jain cosmology


In Hindu theology, Siddhashrama is a secret land deep in the Himalayas, where great yogis, sadhus and sages who are siddhas live. The concept is similar to Tibetan mystical land of Shambhala.

Siddhashrama is referred in many Indian epics and Puranas including Ramayana and Mahabharata. In Valmiki's Ramayana it is said that Viswamitra had his hermitage in Siddhashrama, the erstwhile hermitage of Vishnu, when he appeared as the Vamana avatar. He takes Rama and Lakshmana to Siddhashrama to exterminate the rakshasas who are disturbing his religious sacrifices (i.28.1-20).[10][11]

Siddha Sampradaya[edit]

Whenever siddha is mentioned the 84 siddhas and 9 nathas are remembered and it is this tradition of siddha which is known as the Siddha Sampradaya. Siddha is a term used for both mahasiddhas and nathas. So a siddha may mean a siddha, a mahasiddha or a natha. The three words siddha, mahasiddha and natha are used interchangeably.

The eighty-four Siddhas in the Varna(na)ratnakara[edit]

A list of eighty-four siddhas is found in a manuscript (manuscript no 48/34 of the Asiatic Society of Bengal) dated Lakshmana Samvat 388 (1506) of a medieval Maithili work, the Varna(na)ratnākara written by Kaviśekharācārya Jyotirīśvara Ṭhākura, the court poet of King Harisimhadeva of Mithila (reigned 1300–1321). An interesting feature of this list is that the names of the most revered Nathas are incorporated in this list along with the Buddhist Siddhacharyas. The names of the Siddhas found in this list are:[12][13]

  1. Minanātha
  2. Gorakshanātha
  3. Chauranginātha
  4. Chāmarinātha
  5. Tantipā
  6. Hālipā
  7. Kedāripā
  8. Dhongapā
  9. Dāripā
  10. Virupā
  11. Kapāli
  12. Kamāri
  13. Kānha
  14. Kanakhala
  15. Mekhala
  16. Unmana
  17. Kāndali
  18. Dhovi
  19. Jālandhara
  1. Tongi
  2. Mavaha
  3. Nāgārjuna
  4. Dauli
  5. Bhishāla
  6. Achiti
  7. Champaka
  8. Dhentasa
  9. Bhumbhari
  10. Bākali
  11. Tuji
  12. Charpati
  13. Bhāde
  14. Chāndana
  15. Kāmari
  16. Karavat
  17. Dharmapāpatanga
  18. Bhadra
  19. Pātalibhadra
  1. Palihiha
  2. Bhānu
  3. Mina
  4. Nirdaya
  5. Savara
  6. Sānti
  7. Bhartrihari
  8. Bhishana
  9. Bhati
  10. Gaganapā
  11. Gamāra
  12. Menurā
  13. Kumāri
  14. Jivana
  15. Aghosādhava
  16. Girivara
  17. Siyāri
  18. Nāgavāli
  19. Bibhavat
  1. Sāranga
  2. Vivikadhaja
  3. Magaradhaja
  4. Achita
  5. Bichita
  6. Nechaka
  7. Chātala
  8. Nāchana
  9. Bhilo
  10. Pāhila
  11. Pāsala
  12. Kamalakangāri
  13. Chipila
  14. Govinda
  15. Bhima
  16. Bhairava
  17. Bhadra
  18. Bhamari
  19. Bhurukuti

The Siddhas in the Hathayogapradipika[edit]

In the first upadeśa (chapter) of the Haṭhayogapradīpikā, a 15th-century text, a list of yogis is found, who are described as the Mahasiddhas. This list has a number of names common with those found in the list of the Varna(na)ratnākara:[12][14]

  1. Ādinātha
  2. Matsyendra
  3. Śāvara
  4. Ānandabhairava
  5. Chaurangi
  6. Minanātha
  7. Gorakṣanātha
  8. Virupākṣa
  1. Bileśaya
  2. Manthāna
  3. Bhairava
  4. Siddhibuddha
  5. Kanthaḍi
  6. Koraṃṭaka
  7. Surānanda
  8. Siddhapāda
  1. Charpaṭi
  2. Kānerī
  3. Pūjyapāda
  4. Nityanātha
  5. Nirañjana
  6. Kapālī
  7. Bindunātha
  8. Kākachaṇḍīśvarā
  1. Allāma
  2. Prabhudeva
  3. Ghoḍā
  4. Chholī
  5. Ṭiṃṭiṇi
  6. Bhānukī
  7. Nāradeva
  8. Khaṇḍakāpālika

Siddha medicine[edit]

Siddha medicine (" சித்த மருத்துவம் " or " தமிழ் மருத்துவம் " in Tamizh) is one of the oldest medical systems known to mankind.[15] Contemporary Tamizh literature holds that the system of Siddha medicine originated in Southern India, in the state of Tamil Nadu, as part of the trio Indian medicines - ayurveda, siddha and unani. Reported to have surfaced more than 2500 years ago,[16] the Siddha system of medicine is considered one of the most ancient traditional medical systems.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Meditation Revolution: A History and Theology of the Siddha Yoga Lineage. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. 2000. ISBN 9788120816480. 
  2. ^ S. Cunjithapatham, M. Arunachalam (1989). Musical tradition of Tamilnadu. International Society for the Investigation of Ancient Civilizations. p. 11. 
  3. ^ Journal of Indian history, Volume 38. Dept. of History, University of Kerala. 1960. 
  4. ^ Weiss, Richard (2009). Recipes for Immortality : Healing, Religion, and Community in South India: Healing, Religion, and Community in South India. Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 9780199715008. 
  5. ^ Zimmermann, Marion (2003). A short introduction: The Tamil Siddhas and the Siddha medicine of Tamil Nadu. GRIN Verlag. p. 4. ISBN 9783638187411. 
  6. ^ P. 94 Personal and Geographical Names in the Gupta Inscriptions By Tej Ram Sharma
  7. ^ P. 156 Buddhist sects and sectarianism By Bibhuti Baruah
  8. ^ J. Srichandran(1981),ஜைன தத்துவமும் பஞ்ச பரமேஷ்டிகளும், Vardhamanan Padhipakam, Chennai, Page 18
  9. ^ Ashraf, N.V.K. Tirukkural: Getting close to the original In Spirit, Content and Style,, accessed on 22 March 2008
  10. ^ Vyas, R.T. (ed.) (1992). Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Text as Constituted in its Critical Edition. Vadodara: Oriental Institute, Vadodara. p. 40. 
  11. ^ Hanumanta Rao, Desiraju (1998). "Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kanda, Chapter 29". website. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 
  12. ^ a b Dasgupta, Sashibhusan (1995). Obscure Religious Cults, Firma K.L.M., Calcutta, ISBN 81-7102-020-8, pp.203ff, 204
  13. ^ Shastri Haraprasad (ed.) (1916, 3rd edition 2006). Hajar Bacharer Purano Bangala Bhasay Bauddhagan O Doha (in Bengali), Kolkata: Vangiya Sahitya Parishad, pp.xxxv-vi
  14. ^ Sinh, Pancham (tr.) (1914). "Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 1". website. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Team visits Government Siddha Medical College, The Hindu, Saturday, 20 Feb 2010.
  1. - Understanding Varmam Healing
  2. - Therapeutic Siddha Varmam

External links[edit]