In Hinduism, a siddha is "one who is accomplished". It refers to perfected masters who have achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. Siddha may also refer to one who has attained a siddhi, paranormal capabilities.
In Jainism, siddhas are the liberated souls who have destroyed all karmas and have obtained moksha. Siddhas do not have a body; they are soul in its purest form. They reside in the Siddhashila, 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.
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.
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 are liberated souls who are free from the transmigratory cycle of birth and death and are above Arihant who possess kevala jñana. A soul after attaining Siddhahood go to the top of the loka (as per jain cosmology) and stays there till infinity. Siddhas are formless and dwell in Siddhashila with infinite bliss, infinite perception, infinite knowledge and infinite energy.
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 Nath tradition. Siddha is a term used for both mahasiddhas and naths So a siddha may mean a siddha, a mahasiddha or a nath. The three words 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 Jyotirishwar Thakur, 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 naths are incorporated in this list along with Buddhist siddhācāryas. The names of the siddhas found in this list are:
The Siddhas in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika
In the first upadeśa (chapter) of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, 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:
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