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In the book “Rivulets of the Absolute: Healing Ground in the Ancient Tamil Siddha Tradition”, my journey into the Tamil Siddha path is a first ever detailed account by a Westerner of these ancient, enigmatic and secretive masters. The word Siddha, while widely used in India, is almost unknown in the West. It is defined as “one who has achieved spiritual realization and supernatural power.” In Tamil, the ancient language of Southeastern India, Siddha is pronounced Chittar, whose root is “chit”, which translates as ‘consciousness’ and means “one who is accomplished.” It refers to perfected masters who have achieved a high degree of physical as well as spiritual perfection or enlightenment. The powers possessed by Siddhas are legendary, such as walking on water, flying, astral projection, alchemical perfection, miraculous healing, and so forth, and are termed as siddhis. Oftentimes one who is capable of performing siddhis is called a Siddha but this is taking liberties. The display of a supernatural power can be attained by determined yogic discipline (sahdana). Of itself it is no indication of the perfected state of a Siddha.
Later traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism also refer to Siddhas within their respective clans and rightfully so. Those masters who have accomplished Themselves in both spiritual and worldly realms, irrespective of tradition, region or era, are indeed Siddhas. In truth, They belong to no religion or culture. Long before Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions there existed the primal masters, the Tamil Siddhas. Stretching back into pre-history these are the most ancient spiritual scientists or yogic masters. It is within this very tradition that I was accepted. The world knows little of the Tamil Siddhas and Their contributions to humanity. The majority of the stories, legends and information that has been passed down through the ages lack authenticity simply due to the fact that they have sprung not from within the tradition but rather from outside sources. Coupled with Their deeply abiding sense of humility and secrecy, the Tamil Siddhas have remained a mystery.
A main reason for the tradition having little renown is the particular manner in which the Tamil Siddhas spread Their wisdom. Never seeking to gain followers, build ashrams (monastic communities), and shunning all forms of praise and fame, They have always had a unique way of interacting with devotees: They set them free. Of course all spiritual communities and paths speak the same. The grand difference is that once a Siddha master shares Their very own qualities with the aspirant, then the time quickly comes for the devotee to leave the master. From there they must rely on the inner Guru. There are not and never have been authentic Siddha schools, workshops, courses, communities or anything of the sort.
Although relying on the guru-disciple relationship and transmitted via the oral tradition, the Tamil Siddhas, from Their enlightened state, have given numerous gifts to humanity. Siddha medicine and Varma healing are notable examples of Their wisdom being shared out of compassion for human suffering. Indeed, when I met my Teacher Siddha Healer Pal Pandian it was the realm of Siddha healing that first drew me to him and constituted the initial path he initiated me into.
I had been traveling to India for years searching for spiritual solutions to a deeply felt inner crisis. Yet upon meeting Pal the first time, it was only the healing of my physical ailments that constituted our relating. Or so it seemed to me at the time. Being new to the mysterious Siddha arts I was unaware of the deeply intertwined manner in which a Siddha master brings healing to the physical body while simultaneously bestowing spiritual progress. This entwining of all aspects of a person and life, both mundane and heavenly, is utterly unique and specific to the Tamil Siddha clan. The beauty of this uncommon approach to the spiritual quest is epitomized in the way Pal has always related with me. The Siddhas term this as the fusion of the Absolute into the temporal.
Pal began by healing my body and mind, initiating me into the art of Siddha healing and further grounding me in my life’s everyday circumstances. His masterful blending of the endless Tamil Siddha arts such as medicine, Varma, astrology, spiritual initiations, and alchemy all combined for powerfully felt results. All this he performed with the most ordinary of appearances. Never prone to use “spiritual” terms, his humility and veil of simplicity meets each seeker on their own individual level. There was never any theory, reason or concepts offered by him when he gave me a practice or initiation. A Siddha master expects the student to dive deeply within the practice and discover such things from their own experience.
The usage of common, everyday language when addressing spiritual truths and lack of conceptualizing such things are both beautifully refreshing and in my experience, unique to Healer Pal Pandian. When he asked me to begin writing of my own journey in the Tamil Siddha tradition I had no idea what would come forth or how it would appear. Looking over “Rivulets of the Absolute,” I was pleased to see that it too expressed itself in a like manner, with uniquely fresh words and phrases describing my journey in the spirit and healing arts of the Tamil Siddha masters. This is due solely to the inspired flow of Healer Pal and I sincerely hope this spirit is detectable to all who read it.