Siddhar Charithiram : Konganar

This is an ongo­ing series on the Sid­dhar Param­abarai of India. Sid­dha refers to per­fect­ed mas­ters who have achieved a high degree of phys­i­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al per­fec­tion or enlight­en­ment. We look at var­i­ous Sid­dhas who have graced upon this earth with their Pres­ence — their life and the wis­dom they shared in the form of poems, cou­plets that are referred to as Sid­dhar Padal­gal. To begin with, we are look­ing at Sid­dhas from the tra­di­tion of “Pathi­nen Sid­dhar­gal”. In the pre­vi­ous issues, we saw about Kud­ham­bai Sid­dhar, Pam­bat­ti Sid­dhar, Idaikkaat­tu Sid­dhar, Sat­taimu­ni Sid­dhar, Sun­daraanan­dar Sid­dhar, Karu­voorar Sid­dhar, Gorak­natha Sid­dhar, Mat­syen­dranatha Sid­dhar, Ramade­var Sid­dhar, Dhan­van­tari Sid­dhar, Patan­jali Sid­dhar and Sid­dha Thiru­moolar. In the Guru Poorn­i­ma spe­cial edi­tion of series we were blessed to also write about the great Sid­dha Avvai.We also saw how the Sid­dhar­gal poet­ry is pre­sent­ed in Sand­hya Bhasha. In this arti­cle, as a con­tin­u­a­tion to our pre­vi­ous two arti­cles, we will con­tin­ue to see the glo­ry of Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar.

Kon­ga­nar Sid­dhar

Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar was said to be born in Kongu Nadu (cur­rent­ly com­pris­ing the west­ern part of the Tamil Nadu). Hence his name Kon­ga­nar, which means ‘from the land of Kongu’. His place of birth is believed to be a small vil­lage called Oothiyur, present­ly in Erode dis­trict of Tamil Nadu. His par­ents were from a poor eco­nom­ic back­ground with their liveli­hood depen­dant on forg­ing and sell­ing ves­sels in front of tem­ples in the vil­lage. Amaz­ing­ly this place is still famous for forg­ing of met­als into idols or any instru­ments. Their eco­nom­ic strug­gle did not stop them from serv­ing Yogis and Saints who crossed their hum­ble house­hold. Sid­dha Agast­yar, in his Biog­ra­phy on Kon­ga­nar, describes Sid­dhar Kon­ga­nar’s par­ents as pious and vir­tu­ous. Sid­dha Bog­ar has men­tioned the birth details about Kon­ga­nar:

வட்டமுடன் சித்தரையாம் திங்களப்பா
வளமான உத்திராடம் முதற்கால் தன்னில்
அட்டதிசைதான் புகழப் பிறந்த பாலன்
அன்பான கொங்கணவர் என்னலாமே
என்னவே அவர் பிறந்த நேர்மையப்பா
எழிலான சங்கர குலத்து உதித்த
பன்னவே கானீனன் பெற்ற பாலன்.

This states that Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar was born in the month of Chi­tra, under the aster­ism Uttradam first Pada in the Sankara Kula. Apart from this not much details is known about Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar’s birth and child­hood except what is detailed in the works of Sid­dhar Agastya called Agasthi­yar 12000.

Kon­ga­nar was one of the dis­ci­ples of Sid­dhar Bog­ar. There was no men­tion when he met his Guru. But he fond­ly and proud­ly calls Sid­dha Bog­ar as his own par­ent: என்னை ஈன்ற போகர். Sid­dhar Bog­ar also describes Kon­ga­nar as the first and best dis­ci­ple among his stu­dents. He learned Sid­dha Med­i­cine Sys­tem under Sid­dhar Bog­ar and became a pow­er­house of knowl­edge. His con­tri­bu­tions include 25 known works in med­i­cine, yoga, phi­los­o­phy, reli­gion etc. He also learned the gospels of Sid­dha from Agathi­yar.

Dur­ing his study peri­od, Kon­ga­nar Sid­dhar excelled in alche­my, Sid­dha Yoga, Sid­dha Gnana philoso­phies, Sid­dha med­i­ta­tion and also as a physi­cian. He com­piled numer­ous trea­tis­es on alche­my and med­i­cine, which is way ahead of the mod­ern dis­cov­er­ies and inno­va­tions in the field of chem­istry and med­i­cine. Though from a hum­ble back­ground, just by his aus­ter­i­ties, strong mind and willpow­er he raised him­self to the lev­el of a great Sid­dha. He was con­ferred the title “Father of Med­i­c­i­nal Chem­istry” in the realm of Tamil Sid­dha Med­i­cine Sys­tem. Lat­er he became a Guru him­self and had 557 dis­ci­ples. He is so com­pas­sion­ate and reach­es out to ful­fill the mate­r­i­al needs of his dis­ci­ples and also those who seek his bless­ings. His com­pas­sion is explained in a sto­ry which also exem­pli­fied the Dharmic nature of the life of Sid­dhas.

Kon­ga­nar had a friend with the name Sivavaki­yar, who was also a great Sid­dha. Kon­ga­nar felt very bad that his friend, who is a Mas­ter Sid­dha, was liv­ing a life of pover­ty. So one day he went to Sivavaki­yar’s home, know­ing that Sivavaki­yar would not be avail­able. He asked Sivavaki­yar’s wife to get some Iron and turned the same into Gold and left after hand­ing over the Gold to her. Sivavaki­yar’s wife nar­rates the inci­dent to Sivavaki­yar after his return. Sivavaki­yar asks his wife on whether she wants the Gold. His wife replies that his love is all that she wants and not the gold. Then he asks his wife to drop the gold in the well and his wife also oblig­ed whole­heart­ed­ly.

There is also anoth­er local leg­end that is said in con­nec­tion with Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar. The sto­ry is also retold in the Mahab­hara­ta by Lord Markandeya to the King Yud­hishthi­ra, with the men­tion of the name of the Muni as Kaushi­ka. It is pos­si­ble that they both refer to the same per­son. The sto­ry is told to rein­force the need for humil­i­ty espe­cial­ly for Sid­dhas who will attain great Sid­dhis in their walk towards enlight­en­ment.

One day, while Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar was doing his Sad­hana, a crane was sit­ting on a branch above his head and its drop­pings fell on his lap. Enraged at being dis­turbed dur­ing his med­i­ta­tion, he looked at the bird, which imme­di­ate­ly was burned into ash­es. This inci­dent made him take pride in the pow­ers he obtained out of his penance.

It was cus­tom­ary for Kon­ga­nar to beg for food. On the day he burnt the crane, he decid­ed to vis­it a house (in Tamil Nadu, it is con­sid­ered as the house of the poet Thiru­val­lu­var, author of Tamil clas­sic Thirukkur­al). In the house­hold, the wife was serv­ing her hus­band when the Sage arrived. On hear­ing Kon­ga­nar call for alms, she called out to him to wait until she had served her hus­band. Kon­ga­nar was annoyed at the delay. He thought to him­self, “If only the poor lady knew that I am a great saint and have the pow­er to burn a bird by mere­ly look­ing at it, she would not keep me wait­ing”.

When she final­ly came out, Kon­ga­nar looked furi­ous­ly at her. Noth­ing hap­pened, Kon­ga­nar looked puz­zled. The woman, on see­ing him puz­zled uttered the fol­low­ing “கொக்கென்று நினைத்தாயோ கொங்கணவா?” mean­ing did you think that I am a stork (so you can burn). Kon­ga­nar was amazed. The inci­dent had occurred deep in the for­est and no one had wit­nessed it. Yet a woman from this house knew about it. He bowed humbly before her and asked her how she knew. She said, “Go to the house of the butch­er, who lives down the road, and he will enlight­en you”. The sage imme­di­ate­ly did so. The butch­er was bathing his old and blind par­ents and hence could not give the saint his imme­di­ate atten­tion. But this time Konganar‘s curios­i­ty was so great that he wait­ed with­out get­ting annoyed.

After serv­ing his par­ents the butch­er brought food for the saint and said, “Oh holy man, please eat my hum­ble food and I shall tell you why the wife of the house­hold you went, asked you to see me”. Nor­mal­ly, Kon­ga­nar would not have had any­thing to do with a butch­er, but now he was will­ing to do any­thing to get at the truth behind the extra­or­di­nary pow­ers of an ordi­nary house­wife and a butch­er. After a good din­ner, Kon­ga­nar asked him, “Please tell me the secret of the pow­ers that you and the wife have”. The man replied, “We have no extra­or­di­nary pow­ers. We say what we feel, and we feel for oth­ers as much as we feel for our­selves. We car­ry out our duties to the best of our abil­i­ties. There is noth­ing more than that”. On hear­ing this, Kon­ga­nar bowed down low in rev­er­ence to the butch­er and said, “Teacher, you have enlight­ened me, I shall always be grate­ful to you”.

Though it is a local leg­end, it still teach­es us many impor­tant lessons that we will need in our spir­i­tu­al jour­ney called Life. He lived for long and per­formed astound­ing mir­a­cles and dis­cov­er­ies in the field of Sid­dha sci­ence for the ben­e­fit of mankind and world. He entered Jee­va samad­hi at Thiru­pathi in Andhra Pradesh.

Now let us study a few vers­es from Kon­ga­nar Siddhar’s Tamil poems from “Mei Jnanam”. Sid­dhar Kon­ga­nar gives direct instruc­tion to specif­i­cal­ly work on 13 lim­i­ta­tions that hin­der the growth of sad­hakas.

தள்ளப்பா மதமொடுமாச் சரியந் தானும்
சாதகமா யீரிளையும் சூசை யப்பா
விள்ளப்பா டம்பமொடு தர்பந்த் தானும்
விதமான ஆங்காரங் கூடத் தள்ளு
கள்ளப்பா கொண்டிருந்த மயக்கம் போலே
கலந்தவிந்தப் பதிமூணுங் கால னாமே
உள்ளப்பா விதையறிந்து யெல்லாந் தள்ளி
ஓகோகோ சாத்திகத்தில் நின்றி டாயே

Reject mal­ice and haugh­ti­ness
The youth’s pride and jeal­ousy shall go with it
Chase away osten­ta­tion, decep­tion
Arro­gance and all ego­is­tic stances
Like the swoon that comes of intox­i­cant
The mix­ture of thir­teen is death
Real­ize this truth and rid them off
Ah! May you reside in the supreme satvic truth

Kon­ga­nar Sid­dhar also bestows on the sad­hakas with guid­ance to use bud­dhi — the sharp sense of dis­crim­i­na­tion to rid the hin­drances on the path to real­iza­tion.

பகுத்தனை ஒவ்வொன்றா யறிந்து தள்ளு
பாங்கான அறிவதிலே தானாய் நின்றால்
வகுத்துவிட்ட கற்பனைகள் மாய்ந்து போகும்
வளமான நாமமெல்லாம் நாமாய்த் தோன்றி
தொடுத்துநின்ற நாட்டமெல்லாம் வெளியாய்த் தொன்றுஞ்
சுத்திவெளி தானுமொரு கடுகாய்க் காணும்
சகத்திலே சகமிருக்கச் சகமில்லாப் போற்
சகத்தோன்றிக் குருவின்பா லறிவைப் பாரே

Exer­cise the sense of dis­crim­i­na­tion and give up one by one
If you reside in gen­uine knowl­edge
Tan­ta­liz­ing imag­i­na­tion gets destroyed
Our many beings would appear as I in one­ness
The strings of our crav­ings as empti­ness
For the infi­nite beyond then is a sesame seed
Become one with the word that appears naught
Seek all the world’s wis­dom from Guru

Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar extols the incred­i­ble state of samad­hi in this verse.

தள்ளப்பா திடமாக வூணி நின்று
தானேதா னாயிருந்து நாமே யென்று
அள்ளப்பா அமுதசுக வமுதந் தானும்
அப்பனே பொசித்துநின்று சமாதி-மூட்டு
விள்ளப்பா தீதுமில்லை பாவ மில்லை
விதியில்லை மதியில்லை விரிந்து யேரு
பள்ளப்பா படிநின்ற ஜெனங்கள் போல
பலகாலந் திரியாதே பரத்தி லூணே

Remain con­vinced and stead­fast that
It is I which is That
Savour the nectare­an joy
My son, strive and enter samad­hi
Announce that there is no evil or sin
No fate, no thought and rise with wings
Do not go around aim­less­ly like those
who wan­der and go nowhere
Remain stead­fast in the beyond

If you were won­der­ing what would the real­ized con­scious­ness of the great Sid­dhas be like, Kon­ga­nar Sid­dhar gives us a glimpse of Siddha’s glo­ri­ous expe­ri­ence.

போச்சப்பா அறிவதுதா னனைத்தும் போச்சு
புகழான நாமமெல்லாம் பொடியாய் போச்சு
ஆச்சப்பா அண்டமெல்லாம் கடுக்காய்ப் போச்சு
அப்பனே பூமியட வாட்டம் போச்சு
வாச்சப்பா அனைத்துலகு மிழந்து போச்சு
மகத்தான வறிவுதா னாகி நின்றால்
பாச்சப்பா மனம்நிறுத்தி தன்னைக் காண
பாங்கான வெட்டவெளி தொந்தங் காண்பாய்

With the dawn of intel­li­gence, all is lost!
The famed names have been crushed to ash­es
All of uni­verse has turned to a sesame seed
Oh Father! All of earth­’s dis­tress has van­ished
And all the worlds are lost!
If you hold onto the supreme intel­li­gence
Tak­ing con­trol of the mind, you can see
And be wit­ness to the great space!

The elixirs offered by Sid­dha Kon­ga­nar are so many. We invite you to con­tem­plate more on these lines and share with us your insights. We also invite you to share with us lines from Sid­dhar Padal­gal that have deeply touched you. You could write to us at anaadifoundation@gmail.com.

In absorb­ing this, may our abhyasa con­tin­ue, may our shrad­dha in the Sid­dha Parampara strength­en and may rev­e­la­tions awak­en as we grow with­in!