Siddhar Charithiram : Konganar

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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!

Anaadi Foundation is a socio-spiritual organization dedicated to self-unfoldment of individuals