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. Some of their ideologies are believed to have originated more than 10,000 years ago during the First Cankam. Shiva is believed to be the earliest Siddha. 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.
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. 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.
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.
The Svetasvatara (II.12) presupposes a 'Siddha body.
Siddha or siddhar (Tamil tradition)
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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
- Nandeeswarar (Nandidevar)
- Pambatti Siddhar
Siddha in Jainism
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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.
"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."
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.
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).
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
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:
The Siddhas in the Hathayogapradipika
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:
Siddha medicine (" சித்த மருத்துவம் " or " தமிழ் மருத்துவம் " in Tamizh) is one of the oldest medical systems known to mankind. 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, the Siddha system of medicine is considered one of the most ancient traditional medical systems.
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- Team visits Government Siddha Medical College, The Hindu, Saturday, 20 Feb 2010.
- http://siddhainstitute.com/articles/varmam-healing - Understanding Varmam Healing
- http://siddhainstitute.com/articles/therapeutic-siddha-varmam - Therapeutic Siddha Varmam
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