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The Siddhar (in Tamil 'cittu' meaning knowledge) are saints in Tamil Nadu, who professed and practised an unorthodox type of sādhanā (spiritual practices) to attain liberation. A siddha obtains yogic powers called siddhi by constant practice of certain yogic disciplines . The siddhars can be compared to mystics in Western culture.

Historically, Siddhar also refers to the people who were early age wandering adepts that dominated ancient Tamil teaching and philosophy. They were knowledgeable in science, technology, astronomy, literature, fine arts, music, drama, dance, and provided solutions to common people in their illness and advice for their future. By following their advices people enjoyed mental and bodily health, respecting nature and living hygienically.

Typically Siddhars were saints, doctors, alchemists and mystics all at once. They wrote their findings in the form of poems in the Tamil language, on palm leaves which are collected and stored in what are known as the "Palm leaf manuscripts". These are still owned by some families in Tamil Nadu and handed down through the generations, as well as being kept in public institutions such as universities in India, Germany, Great Britain and the United States.

In this way Siddhars developed, among other branches of a vast knowledge-system, what is now known as Siddha medicine, practised mainly in Tamil Nadu as a type of traditional native medicine.

There are 18 siddhars in the Tamil Siddha tradition, who lived through various periods. Their works range from Siddha to Varma; Yoga to Philosophy. Of these 18 siddhars, most prominent Siddhar is Thirumoolar


Thirumoolar (also spelt Tirumular, originally known as Cuntaranātar) was a Tamil Shaivite mystic and writer, considered one of the sixty-three Nayanars and one of the 18 Siddhars. For a very long period he was absorbed in meditation and contemplation beneath the shade of a Bodhi tree at Tiruvavaduthurai in Tamilnadu and delivered the poems which are collectively called the Thirumandiram i.e. the divine incantations.

Thirumoolar's seminal yogic text Thirumandiram, consists of 3000 verses, and it forms a part of the key text of the Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. This is considered one of the best and most important scripture in Tamil language .

Thirumandiram is comprised of nine chapters. The nine chapters consist of various aspects of human life. Chapter three explains in great details about Ashtanga Yoga, the eight limbs of yoga path. No other yogic literature or yogis have explained so much detail about the therapeutic effects of the yoga practice.

The ethical preparations, embodying the avoidance of vices and adoption of virtues, technically known as "Yama" and "Niyama" are presented with additional details, not found in any other yogic texts and based on these writings, Thirumoolar is considered to be the Founder of Yoga.

Similarly particulars of Asanas (physical postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises), withdrawal of senses from going astray, fixing the mind on the point, meditation and absorption are adequately expounded. He has also delineated the attainment of supernatural powers, as a result of practising Yoga.

The Thirumandiram describes means of attaining an immortal body (kaya siddhi), advocating a theory of preserving the body so that the soul would continue its existence.

❝ உடம்பார் அழியின் உயிராற் அழிவர்
திடம்பட மெய்ஞானம் சேரவும் மாட்டார்
உடம்பை வளர்க்கும் உபாயம் அறிந்தே
உடம்பை வளர்த்தேன் உயிர் வளர்த்தேனே ❞

This poem can be summarized as, "I preserved the body to preserve soul" (Udambai valarthen uyir valarthenae)

Verses of Thirumoolar are certainly appropriate for this modern, stressful world. It is helpful in combating non-communicable diseases such as myocardial infarction, degenerative diseases and depressive disorders. Regular practice of yoga will undoubtedly improve the over-all health.