Tuesday, December 8, 2015

SIDDHA PHILOSOPHY, ALCHEMY AND SIDDHA SYSTEM OF MEDICINE




Siddha  Philosophy,   Alchemy and   Siddha System of Medicine
(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, December 2015)

Do you know what AYUSH stands for? It stands for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and   Homeopathy.    India recognizes   its heritage of ancient systems of medicine which are a treasure-house of knowledge for both preventive and curative healthcare system. But the industry and practitioners are in a dis-array and 90% still pin hopes on   Allopathy. Government of India has elevated   department of Indian system of medicine and homeopathy (ISM&H) to an independent ministry, AYUSH, in November 2014. People from all across the world come to India for health-restorative cum alternative treatments through a combination of Ayurveda, yoga, acupuncture, herbal massages, nature therapies, and some ancient Indian healthcare methods. It is encouraging that the government is considering setting up a central regulatory regime for yoga, Ayurveda and other traditional systems. Let us wait and see what these new developments will bring to   alleviate human sufferings for some of which we do not have a ready answer and cure in Allopathy. May be it has to accept into its fold the well-researched Allopathic Diagnostic System, in which field there are lots of quackery in other systems. I have talked about Ayurveda and Yoga and also touched upon Siddha which are   contributed by Hindus.  But seeing the developments I thought I should focus my thoughts on Siddha System of medicine and the Philosophy behind it, which remains obscure, sporadic, secretive and confined  to Tamil Nadu In particular and South India in general which was  intimately connected with China In the past. I   do not propose to touch upon Unani which is Arab based and Homeopathy, German based   and both of which are not of Hindu origin, but at the same time seem to have been benefited largely from  Siddha and Ayurveda.

 Robert Arnett in his book India Unveiled has the following to say under the title “India’s Gift to the World”. He talks about the Siddha Trailanga Swami of  Varanasi in this context  thus: “India’s spiritual heritage is legendary.  Through the millenniums, India has been blessed with more masters—persons who during their lives on earth have merged their souls with God—than any other country in the world. There are many well-documented stories of their miracles. The famous Trailanga Swami who lived in Varanasi (Benares) during the late 19th century, weighed over 300 pounds though seldom ate. He displayed miraculous powers that cannot be dismissed as myth. Until recently, there was living witnesses to his amazing feats. Many persons witnessed him drink the most deadly poisons with no ill effects. Thousands of people saw him levitating in a sitting position on the surface of the Ganges River for days at a time. He would even disappear under the waves for long periods. And reappear unharmed. The yogi never wore any clothing, and on several occasions, was arrested and locked in a cell by the police for his nudity. Each time, even with posted guards, he unexplainably escaped with his cell still locked. The police had no clue as to how he did it. For over 2300 years, travelers from the most powerful countries on earth have come to India in search of her priceless spiritual wisdom. When Alexander the Great retuned to Persia after his unsuccessful invasion of India, the most valued treasure he brought back with him was not gold, jewel, silk, or spices—but his Guru (spiritual teacher), the Yogi Kalyana, called Kalanos by Greeks”

To the religiously inclined Tamil the term Chittar (Tamil word for Siddha) applies to 18 divinities and also to Lord Siva who is considered to be the presiding deity  of these 18 divinities. The word Chittar has the same connotation as applied to 84 Siddhas of Vajrayana Buddhism, the Nath Siddhas of North India and medieval alchemists popularly known as Rasa Siddhas. Tamil Nadu Siddha theology is an amalgam of many schools of thought—Vajrayan Buddhism, Saivite Tantrism, Indian Alchemy, magic and sorcery, Hatha Yoga and pranayama disciplines propagated by Goraknath etc. To a common man in Tamil Nadu it remains a sort of unorthodox mysticism or sainthood.  Popular and famous Siddha saints are Tirumular one of the Nayanmars, the female Siddha Avayiyar and Ramalinga Adigal. Although Ramalinga’s hymns praised Lord Siva they were often referred to feminine audience who were addressed as Mother or Sister (Amma or Akka). Thus the hymns pointed to internal feminine force that propelled the invocation along proper channels to Siva’s divine abode Kailasa where Parvati equally dominated.  
 
Siddhas in Tamil Nadu are saints in India who profess and practice a kind of unorthodox spiritual practice,   Saadhana to attain liberation through Kaayasuddhi or bodily purification.  In Kashmir Saivism Siddha refers to a Guru who by way of Sakti-paath initiates disciples to Yoga. In Tamil Nadu and Kashmir they are seen as followers of Siva or Saivites. Typically Siddhas of Tamil Nadu are at once saints, doctors, alchemists and mystics.  Inspiration for this Siddhi seems to have its origin in Svetaasvataara Upanishad as could be seen from the detailed description given in Chapter II of this upanishad on Yoga and meditation. The result of Kaayasuddhi that happens to one engaged in Yoga practice is expounded in this Upanishad. His body will become transformed into Satvik from Rajasic and Tamasic, being formed of the five elements. His body will become capable of burning all kinds of diseases and others. It is formed on account of Yoga of the form of fire. To such a person there will be neither disease nor old age. To Siddhas, Yoga practice indicates the manifestation of Siva-Parvati Union or Siva and Sakti as the manifestation of Brahman that has to emerge out. First it appears as mist and then as smoke, sun and other things. These kinds of flashes are the signs of coming manifestation of Brahman. Here are two mantras from Svetaasvatara Upanishad in this context:
Neehaara  Dhoomaarka anilaanalaanaam khadyota-vidyut-sphatikasasinaam |
Yetaani roopaani purassaraanbrahmanyabhi-vyaktikaraani Yo ge ||
Prithvy-ap-tejonilakhe samutthite panchaatmake yogagune prvrite|
na tasya rogo na jara mrityuh praaptasya yogaagnimayam sareeram ||

In Yoga these forms namely, mist, smoke, the Sun, the wind, the fire, the firefly, lightning, the Sphatika Mani and the moon appear prior as signs of the manifestation of Brahman.
When one is engaged in Yoga Practice , on account of its  efficacy,  his body arises out of five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether that are predominantly Satvik, and to such a one who is with a body which  is of the form of the fire of Yoga, there will be neither disease, nor old age nor death.
Purushasookta mentions about Sadhyas and rishis in its mantra:

Tam yajnam barhishi prokshan purusham jaatamagratah tena devaah ayajanta  sadhyaah rishayscha ye ||  The first-born Purusha was offered as an oblation to the sacred-fire, and by this the Gods, Sadyhyas, Rishis all became victorious. “yatrapoorve saadhyaah santi devaah” -–the heaven where earlier performers of this yajna,  Devas and Siddhas lived.

Here Sadhyas are usually translated as celestials but in the context of Svetasvatara Upsnishad I would conside them as those who have obtained Siddhi (Liberation while living or Jeevanmuktas) and these Siddhas are placed above Rishis or sages and below devas or divines.  They could also be found in heaven. There is a song in Tamil which also talks about “siddhargalum munivargalum” where a distinction is made between Siddhas and Sages.
I
In Jain philosophy Siddhas are liberated souls who are free from the trans-migratory cycle of birth and death. A soul after attaining sainthood goes to the top of the Loka, Siddhasila and stays their infinitely. Siddhas are formless and dwell in Siddhasila with infinite Bliss, infinite perception, infinite knowledge and infinite energy. In Hindu concept this is defined as merging with the Supreme soul or Brahman. According to Jains, Siddhas have eight specific qualities or Gunas. Jain sadhus interacted with Tamil Sadhus in Tamil Nadu in the past. They wrote many books in Tamil as well as Kannada. A Tamil poem in Choodaamani Nighandu describes these characteristics beautifully;

Kadaiyila jnaanatthodu kaatsi veeriyame  inba
midaiyuru naaminmai viditta gottirnagalinmai
Adaivilaa aayuinmaiantaraayangal inmai
Udaiyavan yaavan mattru ivvullahinukku iraivaanaame ||

The soul that has finite knowledge, infinite vision or wisdom, infinite power, infinite Bliss, without name, without association to any caste or creed, infinite life-span and without any change is defined as God or the Protector (called Antaryamin in Upanishads).
Buddhist Siddahas are those who attain Nirvikalpa Samadhi after successfully meditating. Buddhist sadhus are not considered as radical or dangerous by orthodoxy unlike Siddhas in other followings.  All Siddhas seem to share common practices, cosmology and symbols derived from Tantrism. 
In this discourse we will mainly focus on Tamil Siddha saints who contributed much to alchemy, medicine and Ayurveda besides life’s ambition to attain salvation even while living on earth. An intriguing Tamil Siddha Philosophy is that it shares with the orthodox Saiva Siddhanata, though they do not have much faith in Linga Worship and are more inclined towards Kundalini Power.  They are often addressed as Chittar in Tamil as Tamils can’t pronounce Sanskrit properly without learning Sanskrit.
Tamil Siddhas were the pioneers to develop pulse (naadi)-reading to diagnose diseases, which was passed on to Ayurveda and later to various other kinds of medical sciences.  They were known for Naadi Jodidam.  It is believed most of them have lived for ages as Naadi Jodida in a mystic mountain called Sathuragiri, near Thanipparai village in Tamil Nadu.  All Siddhas are Jeevanmuktas (Liberated from Samsaara   even while living in this very life) and are the highest order disciples of Lord Siva and are almost equated with Lord Siva with their powers and devotion. They not only develop high degree of physical fitness but also spiritual perfection or Enlightenment. Thus Siddha training calls for the development of body, mind and spirit to the highest level. After attainment of siddhi their body becomes almost like a diamond and therefore they are known as “Vajrakaayas”. They are equated to divinities like Nandi and Hanuman in strength.    Sant Tulsidas describes Hanuman as having possessed of Ashtasiddhis. Thirumandiram  of Tirumalar describes these eight achievements Siddhas possess as follows:    1) Power to  reduce oneself to an ion or minutest particle (Anima);  2) Power to grow to  giant proportions when needed (Mahima); 3) Power to become as light as wind in levitation (Laghima); 4) Power to become as heavy as the giant mountain (Garima); 5) Power to enter into other bodies in transmigration (Praapti); 6) power to be everywhere in Omnipresence (Vasitvam); 7) power to be in all things , Omni-pervasive ( Prakaamya); and 8) Power of the Lord of all creation with his Omni-potency (Eesatvam). We come across a special power possessed people in Purasnas   endowed with one or more powers described above but with rare few like   Hanuman, Garuda, Nandi etc., who attend on the Lord possess all the eight powers.

Siddha Tradition is still practiced in Tamil Nadu. They all build up physical and mental strength by taking special Rasaayana (liquid preparation) to perfect their bodies, in order to be able to sustain long hours of meditation lasting for several days along with special Pranaayaama technique which considerably reduces normal breathing to keep the body and mind in unison and perfection. They attain ashta-siddhis described above and they have the ability to fly. You may kindly recall here how Madhvacharya with a bare chest flew to Vedavyasa to receive instructions leaving his disciple who accompanied him in the Himalayas braving the cold, wind, rain and storms.

Siddha literally means one who is accomplished. According to Hindu philosophy Siddha is one who has transcended Ego (ahamkara), who has subdued his mind to be subservient to the Supreme consciousness that has exhausted all Karmas and does not collect any further Karma. This state is called Moksha.   Moksha consists of two words   Moha+ Kshaya. That means they are free from all passions.

In Hindu Puranas we have heard about Siddhasrama, a secret land in the Himalayas where great Yogis and sages as Siddhas live. Vedavyasa is one such and probably Hanuman who is   Chiranjeevi (ever-living). Tibetans also think similarly and mention about Shambhala in their scriptures. Siddhasrama is mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata. Viswamitra had his hermitage in Siddhasrama, the erstwhile hermitage of Vamana, an Avatar of Vishnu. He takes Rama and Lakshmana there to exterminate demons. Though the Siddhas have adopted this name I doubt its connection to present day Tamil Siddha system. 

The benefit world got from Siddha philosophy is the Siddha system of medicine. This originated in Tamil Nadu   and is the most primitive and ancient medical system.  Now it is widespread in many lands especially Singapore, Malaysia and Germany where Tamils have settled. Siddha medicines are natural and herbal without any side effects. The treatment brings effective results for almost all diseases. I wonder whether German Homeopathy got its inspiration from Siddha Medicine System? It is a treatment of Mind, Body and Soul to work in unison towards   Liberation. So it needs a proper guidance from a teacher or Guru who at the same time is a good Physician. Along with the body, the mind should be tuned and soul purified from Maayaa or Illusion as often Upanishads mention. It is no surprise Patanjali is considered as a Siddha by Siddha followers.   

Tamil Sidddha literature mentions about 18 famous Siddhas in the past. In 1293 Marco polo, who stopped at the Malabar  Coast got acquainted with the practicing siddhas,   their philosophy and their contribution to medicine.  In the modern era, the acknowledged leader of Tamil Siddhas is Ramalinga Adigal hailing from Chidambaram born in 1823. He is a Tamil scholar and an authority on Saivism.  Ramalinga Adigal often quoted Tirumoolar Siddhar and Bogar Siddhar whom he held in high esteem.  Bogar is internationally famous. He seems to have migrated from China along with his Guru Kalanji Nathar and established a shrine to the Murugan on the top of Palani Hills. It is also interesting to note here during the same period Aanand Nath,   the Abbot of the Monastery and a Nath Siddha Alchemist was regularly supplying treated mercury to the ignoble Mughal King Aurangazeb which promised to confer longevity when regularly consumed.  Aurangazeb seems to have had belief in Siddha System though a favorite of Unani as is evident from his extending protection to an obscure Hindu monastery in the Punjab.  It is reasonable to assume the Arab system of Unani Medicine drew its support from Siddha System of Medicine.

Even though Hindu Tradition recognizes millions of Siddhas, history reports 84 of them. We learn about their achievements from Hindu, Buddhist and Jain literatures. Siddhas by definition are those who have attained Siddhis, miraculous powers like radiant vision, invisibility, unobstructed locomotion on earth, flight in sky, resuscitation of the dead, drawing   away the life, entering another body, omniscience, unfailing utterance, divining buried treasures  and interminable life. These extra-ordinary powers are attained by some by birth, by others by medicine, by still others by austerities (tapas) and by some contemplative devices.
Siddhi is usually achieved by rendering the body immutable with the help of occult and alchemic preparations, called Rasa. This calls for transmutation of the physical body revitalizing and spiritualizing its essence, so that it becomes a veritable Vajra (diamond) which cuts everything else while remaining itself uncut.

South Indian Traditions mentions one Nagarjuna whose name suggests that he is from Andhra Pradesh. He is hailed as a Siddha, an alchemist, a Mahaamudra adept and a Mahaayaana   philosopher. Some historians believe in three Siddhas by the same name endowed with only one of these three attributes.  Siddha cult got a great push from this versatile genius. www.thehansindia.com from India.Divine.Org reports:  Nagarjuna was a tenth century scientist. The main aim of his experiments was to transform base elements into gold, like the alchemists in the Western world. Even though he was not successful in his goal, he succeeded in making an element with gold-like shine. Till date, this technology is used in making imitation jewelry. In his treatise, Rasaratnakara, he has discussed methods for the extraction of metals like gold, silver, tin and copper”. It is obvious the author of IndiaDivine.Org   has not made a deep study of Nagarjuna’s works and contributions based on Tibetan report,   though they recognize some merits in him. According to Tibetan account, he went from   South to Nalanda and studied under Sarahapaada and attained Siddhi and made his body adamantine (vajrakaaya) and produced immense quantities of gold in Pundravardhana, which he gifted away. He learnt Taara Tantra from Haya-ghoshaka, went to Nagaloka and recovered several Dhaaranis (like Praajnapaaramitaa) composed Maadhyamika Kaarikas and works on alchemy like Rasaratnakara. Both his alchemical experiments and spiritual success were said to be on Sri Parvata (Nagarjuna konda in Andhra Pradesh) also known as Vajra Parvata (Diamond Mount). Nagarjuna’s teacher Sarahapada  (Sarouha or Saroja, also Sara-hasta) was a great Siddha. He is said to have hailed from Orissa.

 Indian medicine of Rasa Chikista and Siddha are inspired by Tantrik ideas that guided the  alchemy systems of Indian Medicine. It had also the Chinese influence, the first home of Alchemy around   third century B.C.  Eminent masters of Alchemy are Nagarjuna from Andhra Pradesh and Bogar from Tamil Nadu. Siddha Nagarjuna is supposed to have gone there and the Tamil Siddha Bogar is believed to be a Chinese who migrated to India.  There is a general thinking Indian alchemy was brought from China. It is the other way round. Alchemy in China was developed from Cinnabar (mercuric sulfide) which is a compound of mercury and Sulfur.  It was known to Tantriks first both in its constituents of mineral form of mercury and sulfur and its compounded form as mercuric sulfide. It was called Darada, Yasada or Rasa Sindhura by   Tantriks.

Indian alchemy is mercury compound oriented.  Mercury is male and sulfur is female in Hindu concept contrary to the reverse order of Chinese belief.  Indian alchemy also believes mercury is composed of five elements or Paancha-bhutas.  Sidddha ideology is basic to Rasavaada (alchemy). Siddha traditions date back to remote past. The common objective of these Siddhas was the trans-substantiation of the body, and therefore various methods were used to realize this objective. Rasavidya was a physical process designed to make the body an efficient instrument both for material prosperity (bhoga) and for spiritual elevation (uddhaara). Nagarjuna introduced the subject of alchemy to Siddha philosophy. In fact, Chemistry and iatrochemistry developed out of this interest.

Mercury is an important idea in Hindu alchemy. In Sanskrit it is called Paarada signifying that it helps one to cross the ocean of transmigration. It is also the Rasa (essence), the essence of Siva’s own body, in particular his seminal essence called Mahaarasa. If Mercury represents   Male Siva sulfur represents his consort Gauri, the Female Sakti.  The creative conjunction of male and female is displayed in the idea of Rasa-Sindhura (cinnabar) or Rasa-siddhi. Alchemists all over the world in middle -ages believed all things particularly all metals are ultimately made up of two principles: mercury, the water element representing fusibility and Sulfur, the fire element, representing combustibility. These two were male and female and the whole world   resulted because of their union. This theory draws its strength essentially from Tantric Siva-Sakti concept about which I have talked in detail.

It is worth understanding here preparation of Rasa-Linga, a phallus to represent the male principle of Siva. The details for its preparation can be found in Rasa-samuchchaya and Maatrikaa-bheda-tantra. It symbolizes a kind of esoteric personality involved in the rite known as Rasaarchana (worship of Mercury).  Usually the icon was prepared by a compound of mercury and sulfur for this worship.  It was intimately mixed with an extract of Jhinti (Barberia cristata) and stirred  vigorously until mud-consistency is obtained, and then it is shaped into Linga (phallic) form, covered all over with sulfur powder and heated slightly over the fire of cow dung cake so that it becomes hard.  An alternate procedure is:  gold leaf three nishaks in weight and mercury nine nishaks are rubbed with acids for three hours and the amalgam is shaped into Linga. This Linga is installed in alchemist’s laboratory and worshiped for both material prosperity and immortality.   This worship is considered more sacred than the worship of Linga in Varanasi. In Chinese alchemy this is described as yang and yin (male and female).

It is interesting to note for Astabhandana during Kumbhabhishekam, employed in the installation of icons in Hindu Temples,  cinnabar is one of the constituents. This provides an important clue to the origin of Linga worship in India by Tantric followers which was later accepted by the Vedic tradition. The usual form Linga takes in the current practice is always in conjunction with the Yoni (female procreative organ as the base), and Linga is a symbol not only of Siva but also Siva-Sakti the two being regarded as inseparable. The early Lingas were merely erect pillars or posts in shape called Sthanus symbolizing Urdhwa   retus,   the upward sperm. The Rasa Linga provided the prototype of present day Linga icons.

Hindu alchemists speak of killing of Mercury and swooning of mercury. They also employ the term Karmayoga as to the fixation of Mercury. This yoga is said to work with mercury on the one hand, and with wind on the other; both are to be bound to yield the results. It is usual to list eighteen processes or Samskaras by which mercury is transformed into human system also   and to rejuvenate it. Working with the wind means regulating the breath and suspending it by Pranayama, a yoga technique. The twin technique not only preserves the body but makes it a glorious one, a necessary precondition for salvation. If Yoga worked with troublesome tendencies inherent mind, alchemy dealt with the removal of the natural infirmities of the body. In this context Patanjali is also listed among alchemists.

 It is worth going deep into the study of fusion between Siddha and Tantric Philosophy when one finds time.  Bogar invites the Breath, the Outer Space to come within one’s own house. When they meet Breath and God become one.  I have discussed at length   Kundalinee power in my earlier discourse. Consciousness is seen to ride the vehicle of breath into union with the Absolute in Sahasraara Chakra at the top of the head. The Siddha could, through the intercession of the Goddes Sakti (aspect of Siva) placated by the manipulation of breath, expands Consciousness to the point where it becomes what is called Mahat Chitta or “Great Consciousness” which is Siva alone.

Bogar has left not only his works on alchemy and medicine in Tamil language, but a tradition   known as Suddha Marga (Pure Path) respected both by Siva and Sakta followers. Another Chinese who followed him is known as Pulippari among Tamils.  Besides Tirumular (3000 B.C.) is believed to have d founded the Siddha School. An important Tamil work on which the Siddha physicians rely is called Agattiyar Charakku.  Agastya is an Aryan sage who came down from the Himalayan Region and spent his life in South India.  He is said to have established a center on Siddhakoota Hill in the present day Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.
Numerous medicines rich in mineral content, especially mercurial preparations are in extensive use to-day in Siddhavaidya in the South. However it is difficult to determine the origin and growth of this remarkable system which are found Tamil literature and have not been studied critically or carefully. Many are lost too. Moreover they are also held as guarded secrets. The employment of mercury and arsenic as medicinal agents, extraction from minerals, preparation of essences and the use of animal products with healing properties distinguish Siddha practitioners.  

The role of muppu in Siddha system, though obscure, is considered to be Indian version of Philospher’s Stone. Muppu is of two kinds: one Vaidya muppu and the other Vaada muppu. These two kinds of muppu were psychedelic drugs, effective not only in producing visions, but in stimulating the vital psychic centers. In Tamil we can also find the terms Yoga muppu and Jnaana muppu meant for spiritual aspirants. There are three ingredients that go into the preparation of muppu: mixture of carbonates (Pooneeru), rock-salt (Kal Uppu) and calcium carbonate (andakkal) which is all obtained naturally.   Mercury is described as Guru of these three ingredients as these give mercury its effective property.

Muppu is effective in proportion to the quality of which is fluid whitish and efflorescence from the soil. It is collected from sacred places in Tamil Nadu just for it is the result of the action of full moon on earth, like Namam (China clay) material. It is collected in the early hours of the morning. Tamil alchemy works on male –female principle in common with alchemical thought of the rest of the country.  Pooneeru is said to be the result of the union of male and female; full moon (male) acts on the earth (female) at some places in peculiar way to produce this fluid. This collection and preparation of the liquid is highly ritualistic. The method of preparation  are known by several names –Bhasmam, Chendooram, Chunnam etc. and are held as closely guarded secrets. I believe the newly formed AYUSHA Ministry in India will make careful study followed by research work before siddha system can be properly and fully   understood.

Tirumular relates the human body as the Temple of Sakti.  He links Siddha Philosophy to Kundalini Power and elaborates the basis of Kundalini Yoga.  He explains the same in his Tirumantra verse 801. The breath carrying one  among the five vital airs Praana, flows into Solar and Lunar currents which run from the right and left nostrils down to the base of the spine where  they  are brought to union.  The point of this union is Moolaadhara, the root chakra. This is   the first of the six chakras (nerve plexuses) through which Kundalini power flows. This power is moved by the solar and lunar streams of vital breath that have entered the central current at Moolaadhara and ascends through the six chakras, each corresponding to higher and more expansive state of Consciousness. The individual awareness dissolves into divine consciousness at Sahasraara, the crown of the head. It is a sort of inner journey towards the infinitude of the Divine which begins only after the two streams flow into the central current.

With the popularity of Ganesha worship strongly promoted by Saiva Siddhanta, Ganesha who guarded the Inner World  of Sakti was made the patron of Kundalini Yoga in  Tamil Nadu. One can notice the same in the work of Avaiyar a female Siddha and poetess, Vinayagar Agaval. Here she relates how Gajaanana (The elephant headed God) has reconciled the dualistic nature of the universe as the various manifestations of Siva. Tantrism like Upanishads tried to demonstrate that the human body   the microcosm is within the Macrocosm. They strongly promoted the concept and symbolized the same in their rituals that the universe in its totality is contained within the body of individual. Tantra superimposed universal symbols over the human body to demonstrate this relationship. The spine, along with the Sushumna central channel   became the cosmic axis.   All the Gods were hidden in the lotus centers of the body Chakra. Ganesha, who guarded the gate of the Inner World was pushed to prominence as the presiding deity of Kundalinee Yoga.  

Ganesha who guarded the gate for Parvati in Mythology is hailed as guarding the Gate of   Inner World by Tantriks.  Tirumular in Tirumantram says “He who eats with the hand of worship need not be depleted. The conscious one capable of abandoning sleep need not die they can live forever”. Ganesha’s trunk is called Tutik-kai in Tamil. Tutikkai consists of two words Tuti and Kai. Tuti means worship and Kai means hand. Tirumular draws our attention to this philosophical meaning in his Tirumantiram.  Ganesha, the elephant headed mythological God   is spiritually interpreted as the Guardian-Angel of Gateways for Parasakti living within us. New beginning   is said to reside in the body at the base in the human body at the base of the spine, at the starting point, Moolaadhaara where the two currents Ida and Pingala flow together and enter central current Sushumna as described in my discourse Kundalini Power.  Sushumna is envisioned as the trunk  (also special  hand) of Ganesha by Tantriks, raised aloft and holding the full blown lotus of enlightenment, Sahasraara,  thousand petals at the crown of the head as symbolized by the two elephants  with lifted trunks that attend on Lakshmi.  With this meditation the medicine consumed   in Siddha doctrine becomes Amrita, conceived of as both nectar of Spiritual Ecstasy and the Elixir of Immortality as per Tirumular, who is also considered as Siddha Guru.

Lord Kalabairava is often presented as a folk deity or Grama Devata who safeguards the devotee on all eight directions (ettu thikku) and he is also considered as the guardian of travelers. Those who venture travel especially during night time should pray for the blessings of the Lord and seek his protection during travel. The Tamil Siddhas used to instruct the travelers to offer the garland of cashew nuts and light ghee lamp before commencing the travel. Lord Bhairava is also known as Vairavar in Tamil.


Maha Kala Bhairava Ashtami   falls on 8th waning moon in the Tamil month of Aipaasi (Mid Oct – mid November).  Kalabhairava Mantra is: Hmmm Hram Kala Bhairavaya Namaha…….. Om    is recited as Hmmm.

The Siddhas, or inner scientists of South India were aware that time is organized differently on various planets. While time moves slowly on planet Earth, it moves faster on planets vibrating at a higher frequency. Kala Bhairava is the deity who is known to manage time on all the planets. According to the Siddhas, there is what is known as the Kala Bhairava universe. A divine being called Kala Bhairava rules the universe. In astral travel the Siddhas made visits to the Kala Bhairava universe and gave a description of what the God (Kala Bhairava) looked like. He is dark in complexion, fierce looking, and has a dog as his vehicle. Kala Bhairava has a significant place in all the main temples devoted to Shiva. He is one of the most-feared deities, but actually, he is one of the most rewarding ones. Lord Kala Bhairava is that manifestation of Lord Shiva who manages time (Kala). Time Shakti or Time Energy was created by Kala Bhairava in all of the galaxies. He through Time Shakti created milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years. If one receives instant enlightenment or prosperity or recovery from debt or illness it is the work of Bhairava. Lord Kala Bhairava is worshipped by Yogis and Tantrics to attain Siddhis. Lord Kala Bhairava is regarded as the guardian of Yogis and Tantrics, who attain accomplishment of mantras by doing Sadhana (devotion). Many astrologers and tantrics keep Kala Bhairava with them, to enhance their occult knowledge

Today Siddha System of Medicine besides Tamil Nadu is very popular in Kerala by way of Kayakalpa Chikista. Present day practice of treatment like Kayakalpam or Rejuvenation Therapy in Kerala was well accepted by Royal Kings and dignitaries. There is a famous center for this   natural therapy in Varkala in Kerala. This place is blessed by Great Janardhana Swamy or God of Paapanasam.  Besides Indians many foreigners visit this center to get the benefit of Kayakalpa Chikista.  Varakala is considered to be a holy city and Sivagiri is considered a divine land which is also associated with the famous Narayana Guru who led the Siddha Way of Life.


Are there living and practicing  Siddhas?

PAHARPANI CAVES



Paharpani Caves  are  within the mighty Uttarakhand Himalaya, at the border of Nainital and Almora district. Currently, it is one of Maharishi Gorakh Babaji’s main penance-spot. Nearby is his small  hut and also the  fire sacrificial hall (Yaagasaaala) where he has held yajnas for the villagers. Since Babaji started spending time here at regular intervals and performed different rituals for the nearby villagers, the local people are now aware of the caves(Gufas). In this Mahagufa, there are several caves nearby, which can be used for purposes of intense sadhana (spiritual practice). The chief gufa is deep and the path is narrow and perilous. As is customary, locals do not venture beyond the entrance to the temple from where they offer worship. In the temple there is a dhuna or sacred fire-pit, a small idol of Devi, and symbols of Ganesha, Bhairava Nath and a Shiva Linga from AlaknandaRiver in Badrinath, which have been consecrated and spiritually awakened by Babaji.  An ancient lamp is also at the dhuna.

In the sacred spots of Penance of the great Himalayan yogis, the ancient traditions are maintained and continue to be revealed to those who seek the wisdom of the sages and have vowed to walk the razor’s edge. There are natural obstacles that create barriers for entry to the uninitiated.  It has always been known that the sacred teachings are not causally divulged to the curious.  Spirituality has never been sold, there are no advertisements and billboards to attract people, there is no preaching, there are no grand conferences and podiums for orators. The ancient spiritual traditions continue as they always have, in the subtle realms of the spirit.

Back in ‘civilization’, amidst the glitter and glamour of city lights and the cemented tombs of our modern cities, we often hear the query, are there any ‘real’ sages and saints anymore? We hear the lament that the youth of today is suffering from cultural erosion, bereft of faith and of respect for the ancient knowledge of our Vedic heritage. The truth is that the great saints still walk amidst us, but we cannot recognize them because our vision is of our eyes and our goals are worldly. Truly, we have forgotten our own need for them.

Many of you might have visited Maruthamali Murugan temple.  Marudamali Temple is located 12 km from Coimbatore. Marudamalai Sri Murugan got his name from the Marutha trees on the hill. The story goes this way: A tired Siddha took shelter under the shade of Marutha tree and to quench his thirst he prayed to Lord Murugan for water. The water sprang from the roots of the Marutha tree. The Siddha was overjoyed by the miracle, and thus the name came as Marudamalai  Sree  Murugan Temple. There is a cave referred to as "Paambatti Siddhar Guhai" dedicted to the Siddha who lived here.


Swami Trailanga, who was reputed to be nearly three hundred years old when he died, is so renowned   in India on such a widespread basis, that few Hindus would deny the possibility of truth in any story related to his astounding miracles. If Jesus returned to earth and walked the streets of New York, displaying his divine powers, it would cause the same awe among the people that Trailanga created decades ago as he passed through the crowded lanes of Varanasi.  He was one of the Siddhas (perfected beings) that have cemented India against the erosion of time.

History of Tamil Nadu contains  stories of   many famous   Siddhas and  their religious  and mystic life stories. There are many stories to tell about two mystic Living Siddhas to-day by the local population.

There is a Swamiyar at Poondi who is practicing Siddha Yoga. Many magical stories and wonders have been told about him and reported by IndiaDivine.Org.  A recluse, he had wandered for several years around nearby villages. Seven years ago he settled on the pyal of a house there. He has not stirred from there since.    Poondi is about seven miles from Polur, on the main road to Tiruvannamalai.  This area has been Poondi Swamiyar’s haunt for a number of years.  No one knows his name or place of birth. For over three decades, he was seen roaming about in the neighboring villages. About seven years ago he came to Poondi and sat in a small house permanently. He looks a man of sixty. But those who have seen him 25 years ago say that they do not find any change in his appearance and that he does not seem to be aging at all. You cannot assess a Siddha‘s age from his appearance.   There is a report from a visitor that he has seen him with 12 siddhas sitting with  him.  But later the eleven disappeared and only Poondi Siddhar accepted the food offered by him.  He reports:  “when I went up and knocked at the door, I saw twelve persons sitting inside and I had to return as the time and atmosphere were not conducive then”. Nobody has seen these eleven Siddhas later. However there is a Siddha by name Gopal Baba living in Pithapuram in East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh.  One can have the darshan of Gopal Baba in his ashram on the national highway! All devotees are fed at his ashram  all three times a day.
 
One of my close friends who is a professor in a local University Has sent me his personal experience as follows:

Siddhas are living with us, even today.  I had experience with two Siddhas.

1.  After I finished my doctorate degree at Annamalai University, I was working as a CSIR Senior Research Fellow at Annamalai University in 1962.  I met a Siddha who informed me that I would not be in India after 90 days.  I asked him where would I be?   He did not answer me and went away.  People laughed at me that somebody made fool of me.  Within a few weeks, I received a telegram from Oklahoma State University that I was offered a postdoctoral fellowship with a one-way airline ticket to do research on Thermodynamics.  On the 89th day I was in New York on August 29, 1962, and on the 90th day I joined with the Oklahoma State university at Stillwater, Oklahoma.  

2.   By using me as His instrument, God built an excellent school building with compound walls in my village of Kalyanapuram on the southern bank of Cauvery River in 1975.  A siddha was in the Suryanaar Koil, near Kumbakonam.  I went and invited him to come and open our school building.  He obliged our request.  I was also blessed to run a school for the blind in my village, named Sri Duraiswamy Iyengar Memorial School for the Blind.  Boarding and lodging, clothing, and everything else free.  After the school ceremony, the Siddhar was very happy to visit our blind school, and bless the blind children one by one by giving vibhuthi prasadam.  As a last person, I prostrated before him.  He put the vibhuthi on my forehead and put his hands on my head and blessed me.  I told him as, "Swamiji, am I permitted to ask you two questions?".  He said as, "I know your two questions and I know the answers as well.  The first question in your mind was - how long you will live.  You will have a very long healthy life.  Your second question was - when will you die.  I know the answer but I am not permitted to disclose."  I was very surprised to know his divine qualities that he knows everything.

3.  At Kumbhamela, thousands of naked Siddhas take bath and they live naked in Himalayas.  How could they sustain the cold weather without clothes?  Some smoke to beat the cold.  It is a mystery.



N.B. Please also go through my related subject discourse on Ayurveda:

REFERENCES
1) Ananta Rangacharya, Principal Upanishads, Bengaluru, India
2) Ramachandra Rao S.K., Darsanodaya, Early Indian Thought, Kalpataru Research Academy,    Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Bengaluru, India.
3) Layne Little, Internet, Life and History of Siddhars in India.
4) Siddha Kayakalpa Health Center, Kanvashram, Siddha Philosophy and System of Medicine,
5) Srinivasn N.R., Ayurveda, Life Science of the Hoary Past, Hindu Reflections, Internet.
6)  Vinayakumar Algappan, Kala Bhairava, Internet.
7) Srinivasan N.R., Ayurveda, knowledge of Longevity of Life, Internet.



APPENDIX

MEDICAL SCIENCES IN  ANCIENT INDIA

Posted by The Hans | Sep 24, 2015

Ancient Indians contributed greatly to the knowledge of science. Below let us look at some of the contributions by scientists of ancient India.
Kanada
Kanad was a sixth century scientist of Vaisheshika School, one of the six systems of Indian philosophy. His original name was Aulukya. He got the name Kanad, because even as a child, he was interested in very minute particles called “kana”. His atomic theory can be a match to any modern atomic theory.
According to Kanad, material universe is made up of kanas, (anu/atom) which cannot be seen through any human organ. These cannot be further subdivided. Thus, they are indivisible and indestructible. This is, of course, as you may be knowing, what the modern atomic theory also says.
Varahamihira
Varahamihira was another wellknown scientist of the ancient period in India. He lived in the Gupta period. Varahamihira made great contributions in the fields of hydrology, geology and ecology. He was one of the first scientists to claim that termites and plants could be the indicators of the presence of underground water.
He gave a list of six animals and thirty plants, which could indicate the presence of water. He gave very important information regarding termites (Deemak or insects that destroy wood), that they go very deep to the surface of water level to bring water to keep their houses (bambis) wet.
Another theory, which has attracted the world of science is the earthquake cloud theory given by Varahmihira in his Brhat Samhita. The thirty second chapter of this samhita is devoted to signs of earthquakes. He has tried to relate earthquakes to the influence of planets, undersea activities, underground water, unusual cloud formation and abnormal behaviour of animals. Another field where Varahamihira’s contribution is worth mentioning is Jyotish or Astrology.
Astrology was given a very high place in ancient India and it has continued even today. Jyotish, which means science of light, originated with the Vedas. It was presented scientifically in a systematic form by Aryabhatta and Varahmihira. You have already seen that Aryabhatta devoted two out of the four sections of his work Aryabhattiyam to astronomy, which is the basis for Astrology.
Astrology is the science of predicting the future. Varahamihira was one of the nine gems, who were scholars, in the court of Vikramaditya. Varahamihira’s predictions were so accurate that king Vikramaditya gave him the title of ‘Varaha’.
Nagarjuna
Nagarjuna was a tenth century scientist. The main aim of his experiments was to transform base elements into gold, like the alchemists in the Western world. Even though he was not successful in his goal, he succeeded in making an element with gold-like shine. Till date, this technology is used in making imitation jewelry.  In his treatise, Rasaratnakara, he has discussed methods for the extraction of metals like gold, silver, tin and copper.
Medical Science
In keeping with the times, Medical Science was also highly developed. Ayurveda is the indigenous system of medicine that was developed in Ancient India. The word Ayurveda literally means the science of good health and longevity of life. This ancient Indian system of medicine not only helps in treatment of diseases but also in finding the causes and symptoms of diseases.
It is a guide for the healthy as well as the sick. It defines health as an equilibrium in three doshas, and diseases as disturbance in these three doshas. While treating a disease with the help of herbal medicines, it aims at removing the cause of disease by striking at the roots. The main aim of ayurveda has been health and longevity.
It is the oldest medical system of our planet. A treatise on Ayurveda, Atreya Samhita, is the oldest medical book of the world. Charak is called the father of ayurvedic medicine and Susruta the father of surgery. Susruta, Charak, Madhava, Vagbhatta and Jeevak were noted ayurvedic practitioners. Do you know that Ayurveda has lately become very popular in the western world? This is because of its many advantages over the modern system of medicine called Allopathy, which is of western origin.
Sushruta
Sushruta was a pioneer in the field of surgery. He considered surgery as “the highest division of the healing arts and least liable to fallacy”. He studied human anatomy with the help of a dead body. In Sushruta Samhita, over 1100 diseases are mentioned including fevers of twenty-six kinds, jaundice of eight kinds and urinary complaints of twenty kinds.
Over 760 plants are described. All parts, roots, bark, juice, resin, flowers etc. were used. Cinnamon, sesame, peppers, cardamom, ginger are household remedies even today. In Sushruta Samhita, the method of selecting and preserving a dead body for the purpose of its detailed study has also been described. The dead body of an old man or a person who died of a severe disease was generally not considered for studies.
The body needed to be perfectly cleaned and then preserved in the bark of a tree. It was then kept in a cage and hidden carefully in a spot in the river. There the current of the river softened it. After seven days it was removed from the river. It was then cleaned with a brush made of grass roots, hair and bamboo. When this was done, every inner or outer part of the body could be seen clearly.
Susruta’s greatest contribution was in the fields of Rhinoplasty (plastic surgery) and Ophthalmic surgery (removal of cataracts). In those days, cutting of nose and/or ears was a common punishment. Restoration of these or limbs lost in wars was a great blessing. In Susruta Samhita, there is a very accurate step-by-step description of these operations.
Surprisingly, the steps followed by Sushruta are strikingly similar to those followed by modern surgeons while doing plastic surgery. Sushruta Samhita also gives a description of 101 instruments used in surgery. Some serious operations performed included taking foetus out of the womb, repairing the damaged rectum, removing stone from the bladder, etc.
Charaka
Charaka is considered the father of ancient Indian science of medicine. He was the Raj Vaidya (royal doctor) in the court of Kanishka. His Charaka Samhita is a remarkable book on medicine. It has the description of a large number of diseases and gives methods of identifying their causes as well as the method of their treatment.
He was the first to talk about digestion, metabolism and immunity as important for health and so medical science. In Charaka Samhita, more stress has been laid on removing the cause of disease rather than simply treating the illness. Charaka also knew the fundamentals of Genetics. Don’t you find it fascinating that thousands of years back, medical science was at such an advanced stage in India.
Yoga and Patanjali
The science of Yoga was developed in ancient India as an allied science of Ayurveda for healing without medicine at the physical and mental level. The term Yoga has been derived from the Sanskrit work Yoktra. Its literal meaning is “yoking the mind to the inner self after detaching it from the outer subjects of senses”. Like all other sciences, it has its roots in the Vedas.
It defines chitta i.e. dissolving thoughts, emotions and desires of a person’s consciousness and achieving a state of equilibrium. It sets in to motion the force that purifies and uplifts the consciousness to divine realization. Yoga is physical as well as mental. Physical yoga is called Hathyoga. Generally, it aims at removing a disease and restoring healthy condition to the body.
Rajayoga is mental yoga. Its goal is self -realization and liberation from bondage by achieving physical mental, emotional and spritiual balance. Yoga was passed on by word of mouth from one sage to another. The credit of systematically presenting this great science goes to Patanjali. In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Aum is spoken of as the symbol of God.
He refers to Aum as a cosmic sound, continuously flowing through the ether, fully known only to the illuminated. Besides Yoga Sutras, Patanjali also wrote a work on medicine and worked on Panini’s grammar known as Mahabhasaya.



Chaturagiri: The Abode of Siddhas
By Bala Subramaniam |   IndiaDivine.Org

It was past mid-day when I reached the small temple dedicated to the guardian deity of the hills. He is Karuppusamy sporting a long moustache, his stretched right hand holding a sword and body decked with ornaments. The journey was tiring and I had trekked over five hours from the base camp. A half an hour climb lay ahead to the top of the hill.
Three hours into the trek, I had stopped at a cave dedicated to Goraknath. The cave was naturally cool and its stillness and energy difficult to describe--A perfect place to meditate in nature. The profound hatha yogi Goraknath meditated in the cave.
A natural stream was running adjacent to the Karuppusamy temple and I decided to take a dip in its cool waters. As I stepped in the waters, numerous tiny fishes circled my legs and bit my feet. This was nature’s way to provide a tickling and soothing massage for the tiring feet.
As I immersed myself in the surrounding, I noticed a Sadhu in squatted position on a huge rock in front of me. He was in his forties with matted hair and a healthy physique. The sadhu keenly observed my activities for some time before he got up and walked towards the spring.
He stood beside me pointing his right hand towards the naturally dripping water through the rocks and his left hand pulling the saffron colored cloth wrapped around his waist. With the loincloth intact in his body, he seemed to enjoy the tiny fishes biting his feet in the cool waters.
I attempted to start a conversation with him curious to know about his life. He looked at me and said he will meet me in top of the hill after two hours. At the top of the hill amidst the dense forest is a temple dedicated to the very first yogi and the one who put the first thoughts of yoga in the human mind. The sadhu asked me to visit the yogi who is omnipresent since the beginning of time and not to miss the lunch served adjacent to the temple.
I continued my journey as I started to ascend the hill. It took over forty-five minutes to reach the peak and I sat down to meditate in the powerful space.
As I got up and walked, I was greeted by a bunch of busy monkeys. The monkey tribes provide you constant company from the base camp all along the trek. A shed adjacent to the main complex serves free food throughout the day. I walked into the shed to enjoy the simple food and relaxing atmosphere.
Outside the shed, the sadhu was promptly waiting for me sitting in squatted position puffing a beedi. He greeted me as I sat down next beside him. There was a long pause before I began the conversation.
“Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?”
The Sadhu preferred to converse in broken English.
“I am a Naga Sadhu from Rishikesh. I come down south to visit this hill every two years. I am leaving tomorrow to Ujjain for the Kumbh mela where I will meet my guru”
I continued to enquire: “Why did you become an ascetic?”
“It is a long story”, he said. “I never believed in god nor in spirituality until I was 22 years old. I never visited temples and wasn’t interested in any rituals”.
He continued after a pause.
“I was 22 years old. During a summer, I had come down all alone to these hills for some fun and trekking. I had trekked for eight hours and lost my way. I was tired and exhausted looking for directions. It was getting darker and I was extremely worried”.
“As luck would have it, I saw three men at a distance. I frantically shouted and waved at them. They turned and walked towards me. As they came closer, I could guess they were in the late forties. I explained my situation to them. They said I had a long way to go and asked me to follow them”
“I followed them as they walked. The men were highly energetic and I was struggling to keep the pace”.
“I enquired about their age. I was shocked and could not believe when one of them said he was 90 years old and the others in their eighties. Being one-fourth their age, I was struggling to walk at half their pace”.
“Seeing my plight, they stopped and pointed me to a tree. One of them asked me to walk to the tree and pluck some leaves. I promptly followed their instructions and came back with handful of leaves. I was instructed to pick 4-5 leaves and chew. The leaves were slightly bitter and I chewed”
“As I gulped the pulp down my throat, I could sense a spurt of energy in my body. I felt totally refreshed. To my amazement, the men told me that I will not be able to find the tree again. The tree is visible to those who are in the path”.
“I was very curious and enquired about them. The eldest one said they were disciples of Agastya Muni and I was lucky to have encountered them. This totally baffled me”.
“For the next two hours I walked briskly keeping to their pace as I continued to inquire. I had a number of questions about life, religion and spirituality. I am not going to go through the questions and answers with you. However, I would like to say that their response was enlightening and I felt a sudden transformation”.
“I asked them, where is Agastya Muni?”
“They stopped and pointed me towards a cave. An old woman was standing at the entrance and invited me inside. It was a pitch dark cave. She gave me a lamp and asked me to go inside. I nervously walked inside holding the lamp making my way into the darkness. Within few yards, the cave opened into a larger space”.
“The larger space was lit. I saw a man in sixties with a long white beard and white robes. He was of normal height. I could feel the divine energy around him as I stood in front of him with folded hands”.
“He introduced himself as Agastya. He did not talk much and indicated to me that my journey is about to begin. He asked me to go to the Himalayas for self-transformation. He immediately asked me to leave”.
“I hurriedly came out. The old women and the men outside were not to be seen”.
“This is it, I decided. I took a train to Varanasi the following week and spent time in the city for two months before I reached Rishikesh. I met my guru in Rishikesh who initiated me into the Naga sect in the Giri order. I became an ascetic”.
“I roamed in the Himalayas for the next 15 years. I had numerous encounters with wild animals but they would never harm me. It was a divine experience and very difficult to explain. I come down south every two years to this place I revere where I met Agastya muni”.
I enjoyed the conversation with the Naga Sadhu and his experience. I have grown up listening to stories of Agastya muni. His tales go back to as old as 15,000 years. He accomplished what others would have taken several life times.
I was ready to leave. The Naga sadhu opened his yellow bag and gave me a handful of ladoos. A bunch of monkeys surrounded him and he did not disappoint them. He said the monkeys will keep me company along my way as I started my descent down the hill.
My Journey to Chaturagiri in the western ghats during April 2016.





[This discourse material is a compilation from the reference above   as well as other sources for a prepared lecture for delivering at Vedanta Class of Sri Ganesha Temple which is gratefully acknowledged. I do not claim anything as original though I have included my explanations and comments elaborately suitably editing. Anybody is free to download partly or fully this discourse, modify and redistribute this as well as other  discourses from the blog Hindu Reflections <nrsrini.blogspot.com> for spreading the wisdom of Vedas and scriptures further.  These  lectures are  posted on the blog for the benefit of those who are not able to attend my lectures personally due to personal reasons or due to not living in Nashville or able to go through the various sources as I have done. ]