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18 Rishis/Siddhas of South India
Siddhars/Rishis are saints in India, mostly of the Saivaite denomination in Tamil Nadu, who professed and practiced an unorthodox type of Sadhana, or spiritual practice, to attain liberation. Yogic powers called Siddhis are acquired by constant practice of certain yogic disciplines. Those who acquire these Siddhis are called Siddhas. These sidhars can be compared to Mystics of the western civilization. Siddhars are people who are believed to control and transcend the barriers of time and space by meditation (Yoga), after the use of substances called Rasayanas that transform the body to make it potentially deathless, and a particular breathing-practice, a type of Pranayama. Through their practices they are believed to have reached stages of insight which enabled them to tune into the powers hidden in various material substances and practices, useful for suffering and ignorant mankind. Typically Siddhars were saints, doctors, alchemists and mysticists all at once. They wrote their findings, in the form of poems in Tamil language, on palm leaves which are collected and stored in what are known today as Palm leaf manuscript, today still owned by private families in Tamil Nadu and handed down through the generations, as well as public institutions such as Universities all over the world.
1. SRI SIVAVAKIYAR SIDDHAR
Born with Lord Shiva's name on his lips this great sage said that the constant repetition of the Lords name would even turn one’s body into gold. A great rennuciate he is said to have lived for over 4,000 years. His works include NaadiParikshai and Sivavakiyar 1000.
2. SRI KAYILAY KAMBILISATTAMUNI SIDDHAR
Also known as Roma Rishi this great sage is said to have come from Rome. He is said to have mastered all eight siddhis. His works include Vroma RishiVaithyam 1000 and NaagoRoodam.
3. SRI MAHA BOGAR SIDDHAR
Born in China Sri MahaBogar is said to have mast red all the mantras at a very young age. He is said to have crafted the famous idol of Lord Muruga at Palani. His main works include BogarVaithyam 1000 Bogar 12000.
4. SRI KAGA BUJANDAR SIDDHAR
Born in Truchi in Tamil Nadu Sri KagaBujandara is said to have seen the truth in everything around him. This great saint is said to have witnessed in the form of a crow several cycles of creation and destruction Famous works include KaagaBujandaGnyanam, KaakaKaiveeyam 33.
5. SRI PULIPANI SIDDHAR
Born in China, Sri PulipaniSiddhar is said to have been the disciple of MahaBogarSwamigal. When MahaBogar crafted the idol of Lord Muruga at Palani is Sri pulipaniSiddhar who collected the required herbs. His famous works include putlipaniJaalam 325, putlipaniVaidyam 500.
6. SRI SATTAIMUNI SIDDHAR
Sri SattaimuniSiddhar was bom in Sri Lanka and came to Tamil Nadu. Seeing MahaBogar in a temple and captivated by his radiance he abandons his family and becomes his disciple. His works in simple language appeal greatly to the common man his works include Sri SattaimuniKarpam 100 and Sri SattaimuniNigandu 1200.
7. SRI AGAPEY SIDDHAR
Nayanaar a weaver by birth was displeased with mere materialistic success. Visualing Sage Vyasa as his Guru he sits in meditation in a Jyoti tree. AgapaySiddhar as he came to be known wanted people to control the negative feelings within them and to realize God. His writings include AgappaySiddharpaadal 90 and AgappayPoornaGnyanam 15.
8. SRI AZHUGANI SIDDHAR
Sri AzhuganiSiddhar advised people to shun the materialistic world and to embrace spiritualism. The use of rare herbs like.Azhugani and Thozugani gave him his name. His famous works, include AzhuganiVaithiam and AzhuganiYogam.
9. SRI KUDUMBAI SIDDHAR
Born into the Yadava clan Sir KudumbaiSiddhar was said to have been an attractive child. His mother used to adorn his ears with kudumbai an ornament and hence his name. At the age of 16 a saint is said to have blessed him with the knowledge of the Self. There after he retired from the materialistic world and wrote of God and self in simple language. His works include KudumbaiGnyanaSoostram 18, KudumbaiSiddharPaadalgal.
10. SRI VALLALAR SIDDHAR
Ramalinga Swami also called Vallalar was a sage of infinite realization. From a young age he showed greater interest in the worship of God rather than in studies Once he is said of have placed a mirror on the wall, garlanded it and offered worship only to find not his image but that of Lord Muruga. Sri Vallalar preached the equality of all mankind. His penance was so great that lamps burned with water rather than oil. RamalingaAdigalar attained Mahasammadhi at Vadalur where he transformed his physical body into light to merge with the Divine. His famous works include MahaDeyvaMalai and DeyvaMaDniMaalai.
11. SRI IDAIKADAR SIDDHAR
Sri Idaikadar is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is said that once while out grazing goats he was blessed by a Siddhar with immense divine powers. It is said that he and his goats survived famine when foreseeing the difficult times ahead he built a house with walls of grain and fed his goats plants that survived without water. The planets visit him when feed on grain and goats milk they fall asleep. Changing their positions the siddhar assures that rain commences saving the land from famine. His famous works include Idaikadargnyanasoothram 70 and IdaikadarKanidaNool.
12. SRI PATTINATHAR
Once a wealthy merchant, an observation by his son that having wealth and not distributing it to the needy was like being like a needle with no eye, made him renounce the world. He visits many spiritual places seeking union with the Lord. The Lord gives him sugar cane saying that when the bitter came becomes sweet he would attain mukthi. At Tiruvotriyur the cane becomes sweet and playing with the children on the beach he asks them to burry him in the sand. They do so only to find a lingam in his place. His famous works include ThiruvedaimarudurMumaniKovai, ThiruEkambaMudayarThiuvandaadi.
13. SRI KADUVELI SIDDHAR
Sri KaduveliSiddhar was born in Kaduveli in the Chola era. Though his songs are popular through out the state, his life story remains obscure. His famous works include KaduveliSiddharPaadal.
14. SRI KANCHAMALAI SIDDHAR
Sri KanchamalaiSiddhar is said to have been born in the hills and to have spent his life in the caves. He is said to have used his extensive powers to travel by air. His dress was made from medicinal herbs and he is said to have been fond of birds. His famous works include KanchamalaiSiddharKalakyaanam, KanchamalaiSiddharPaadalgal.
15. SRI CHENNEMALAI SIDDHAR
Sri ChennimalaiSiddhar was capable of curing incurable diseases. He is said to have united with Lord Shiva whom he found living in the same tree as him. The tree where he attained Jeeva Samadhi is even today an object of worship. His writings are found in the PadinenSiddharKovai. He is said to have written the PinakesarThattuvaPaadalkal.
16. SRI KAPILAR SIDDHAR
Sri Kapilar is said to have incurred the curse of Lord Shiva lord is said to have been bom in Madambakkam as a cow where he attains salvation. The temple for Lord Shiva where he worshipped him is said to be the Dhanupueeswarar Temple. His works include KadaichangaIlakiyaNoolgal.
17. SRI KARUVOORAR SIDDHAR
Karuvoorar belonged to a family of Viswakarmas. He is said to have sculpted in gold the dancing Nataraja as seen by the Chola king Hiranayavarman. It was under his guidance that the Brihardeeswarar temple was built by Raja RajaChola at Tanjavur. His famous works are KaruvoorarVaidyaKaviyam700, Karuvoorar Pala Thirattu.
18. SRI PAMPATTI SIDDHAR
His early days were spent chaining snakes. Once while out hunting for snakes he sees before him an enlightened sage who tells him to conquer the snake within. From that moment he accepts Sri SattaimuniSiddhar as his guru and performs yoga for may years. Seeing that people were dis satisfied even after acquiring all materialistic things he started distancing himself from them. His famous works are PaampattiSiddharGnyanaSoosthramPaampaatiSiddharPaadalgal.