Zvelebil outlines the common features of siddhar poetry: "a protest, sometimes expressed in very strong terms, against the formalities of life and religion; rough handling of priests and Brahmins in general ; denial of the religious practices and beliefs of Brahmanism, and not only that: an opposition against the generally accepted pan Indian social doctrine and religious practice; protest against the abuses of temple rule; emphasis on the purity of character; claims made by the authors of these poems that they have achieved certain psychokinetic powers and other capabilities which belong to the sphere of parapsychological phenomena; use of imaginative and ambiguous language, rather puzzling though strongly colloquial; no systemic doctrinal exposition. Finally, all these poems are ascribed to a body of sages known as the siddhars."
The Siddhars present themselves as the greatest masters of yoga, medicine and alchemy. Unlike their western counterparts who emphasized the transmutation of base metal into gold, the Tamil sages stressed the accomplishment of physical immortality or at least extended longevity as the ultimate token of self-realization Parallels exist in the western concept of the "glorified body". Just as in the west, these sages left a vast number of inscrutable texts accessible only to initiates. Their Hermetic emphasis on knowing reality directly by reading "the signatures of Nature", developing contemplative "seeing" as Castanada uses the term or cultivating, "the intelligence of the heart", as described by Schwaller de Lubicz, goes far beyond conventional understandings of Eastern meditation techniques.
Such vision in ancient times served as the basis of a sacred science with bountiful practical applications.
The first and foremost of the siddhars, Agastyar, fits the image of his western counterpart, Toth-Hermes. Considered the founder of Tamil language and grammar, he presided over the first two sangams, ancient literary academies located on the now submerged continent south of Sri Lanka. He also appears as the primordial giver of arts and sciences. Innumerable classic works ascribe themselves to his authorship. Contemporary Tamil scholars assert that at least 26 classic authors wrote under this name. Who were they all aspiring to imitate? Folk tales abound in accounts of Agastyar's constant battles with local demons. He pops into the story line of classic epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, to bestow blessing and guidance. Tradition has it that Agastyar still lives in the Pothigai Hills below the Western Ghats, occasionally appearing to the sincere aspirant.
Thirumoolar, another of the most renowned Tamil
masters, accomplished his magnum opus of yogic reintegration at Chidambaram,
the sacred spot where Shiva
performs his cosmic dance.
The chief contribution of Thirmoolar, the THIRMANDIRAM, an esoteric masterpiece
of 3000 verses explains man's yogic path to immortal divinity, referring
metaphorically to the philosopher's
stone that transmutes base metal into gold. Here is the essential classic
text of siddhar wisdom. Only in the recent past has this work been made
available to the English reading public.
Karuvoorar, an architect as well as a yogin-alchemist, played a major role in the design and construction of the Brihadeshwara Temple at Thanjavur. The feats involved in this task recall not only the emergence of the Gothic cathedrals which occurred at about the same time but also the construction of the pyramids. A popular tour guide describes this as one of India's greatest temples:
superb and fascinating monument is one of only a handful in India with
World Heritage listing and
is worth a couple of visits. On top of the apex of the 63 meter high temple, a dome encloses an enormous
Shiva Lingam. Constructed from a single piece of granite weighing an estimated 81 tonnes, the dome
was hauled into place along a six-km earth work ramp in a manner similar to that used for the Egyptian
- from _Alchemy and the Tamil
Siddhars_ by Joseph Caezza