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Siddha and the way of Rasa

10JAN

[Dear vasudev-anand , the subject of Siddhas, Rasa, sexual fluids, rejuvenation etc
is rather bizarre. Here, I hesitate to write about it candidly. But, since you
persist, I am posting an outline of it – for whatever it is worth. Trust this helps
your task. ]

Siddha

1.1. A Siddha is one who is said to have attained superhuman powers (Siddhis) or
Jivanmukthi (It could also be perfection? or immortality?). Such a Siddha with a
divine body (divyadeha) is Shiva himself (Maheshvara Siddha). He is the perfect
One, who has transcended the barriers of time, space and human limitations. A
Siddha in his idealized form is freed from all wants (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam), the
one who has attained flawless identity with the Reality.

1.2. For a Siddha, the world is a play-area (Lila kshetra) in which he experiences
the absolute as he does the world. He, therefore, seeks Jivanmukthi, freedom from
human constraints and weaknesses; and, not Moksha the total liberation from
existence. A Siddha is thus, a death-defying, wonder-working wizard. He is in
the world; and yet, he is out of it. For a Siddha, the world has gently slipped
away, even as it still remains.

1.3. Siddha is also described as a Kavi, in the Rig-Vedic sense of an exalted seer,
in the mould of Asura Kavya Usanas (Shukra) who brought together the worlds of the
Indra and Rudra. And, Kavya Usanas alone knew the secret knowledge (guhya vidya) of
life-giving-magic that rejuvenated the old and ailing, and also brought the dead
back to life (Sanjivani vidya). Siddha is also compared to Brihaspathi (the
counterpart of Kavya Usanas – Shukra), the Guru of the light-filled worlds of the
gods and demigods.

2.1. There have been various traditions of Siddhas: Ancient Alchemist Sittars of
South India (18 Sittars starting from Agastiyar and including Kagapujandar, Boghar
and others); the nomadic Buddhist Tantrics of Bengal, adepts in Vajrayana
techniques (Maha-siddhas, Siddhacharyas); the Alchemists and Yogis of medieval
India (Rasa Siddhas); and mainly the North Indian hoard (ganas) of Natha Siddhas,
following the cult founded by Matsyendranatha and developed by Gorakshakanatha.

2.2. In the tradition of the Siddhas (Siddha Sampradaya), 84 *Siddhas and 9 Nathas
are recalled with awe and reverence. Though there are many classifications among
the Siddhas, there is no strict demarcation between the various the Siddha
Sampradayas. The titles, Siddha, Mahasiddha, Natha and Yogi are used by all
interchangeably. Further, the Siddha traditions occur in Hindu, Buddhist ,
Tibetan and also in Jain traditions alike . The Caturasiti-siddha-pravrtti ‘The
Lives of the Eighty-four Siddhas’, a Sanskrit text compiled by Abhayadatta Sri
during 11th or 12th century provides brief sketches of the 84 Mahasiddhas. Four of
the Mahasiddhas were women: Manibhadra, Lakshmincara, Mekhala and Kanakhala. By and
large, typically, the Siddhas were saints, doctors, alchemists and mystics all at
once.

[* The number eighty-four is regarded a ‘whole’ or ‘perfect’ number: (3+4) x


(3×4). The number is matching with the number of Siddhi or occult powers .Thus, the
eighty-four Siddhas can be seen as archetypes representing the thousands of
exemplars and adepts of the tantric way.]

2.3. Despite wide disparities among the diverse Schools of the Siddhas in regard
to their unique techniques and goals of their Sadhana, one of the major aims of
all the Siddhas was to attain a state of deathless-ness. That is, their goal was to
deliver the body free from ravages of age and disease; to attain a sort of
Invincibility. This, they sought to achieve through a sustained and an incredibly
rigorous process of Hata Yoga aided by an Alchemic process (nectar making
– amrtikarana) involving the production and consumption of a concoction (rasayana)
based mainly in purified Mercury.

Mercury

3.1. Mercury is one of the densest possible substances; and, it is in liquid form –
the only liquid metal. And, it always stays in liquid form. It is highly sensitive
to heat; and expands quickly as its temperature rises. That is the reason it is
used in thermometers. Once the Mercury is energized and maintained in proper
conditions, it stays energized for a very long time, without dissipation. In the
olden times, it appears, mercury deposits/ traces were found in the Siddhipur
region of Gujarat; and, in Srisailam hills in AP (?). Mercury in purer form was
imported from Roman regions.

3.2. In India, there is an abundance of traditional literature about alchemical and


clinical mercury; and about the many ways it can be prepared, purified and handled.
Several classical works praise solidified mercury, and talk about the various
processes of its purification and solidification to perfect it into a glorious
Rasa.

3.3. Because of its popular appeal, Mercury is called by various names, such
as: Rasa, Padarasa, Parada, Sukta, Vaikrnta, Vyomadharana, Avithyaja, Rasayana–
shresta, Rasendra and by many other names/epithets. Mercury is also associated with
Moon: as Soma, Indu, and Bindu (drop or mind). It is also related to Amrta Rasa,
the elixir of immortality and to Soma offered to gods.

3.4. Mercury occupies a very important position in the Siddha ways of training and
also in Ayurveda, the science of life. In the Indian traditional literature there
are copious references to Mercury, to its properties, its virtues and its supposed
magical powers. There are elaborate descriptions of various processes of
purification and solidification of Mercury in order to render it perfect, into an
exalted essence.

Mercury in Ayurveda
4.1. The Ayurveda has eight divisions; and, the seventh is titled Rasayana –
(Rasa+Yana), Rasa meaning Mercury, and Yana the clinical procedures involving
Mercury (Rasa Chikitsa).Generally, Rasayana is taken as the way or the procedures
of Mercury. In Ayurveda, Rasayana refers to Mercury as medicine (elixir), as also
to a whole group of medical tinctures based in Mercury , herbs and other minerals
(including processed gold).

4.2. As a method of treatment, Rasayana is a way of cleansing the body (samsodhana


cikitsa; and, a rejuvenation therapy for replenishing the bodily fluids (rasa) and
supplementing other substances (dhatus) of the body. The treatment is also termed
as kshetri-karana, preparation of the body for absorbing the medicines per se.
Here, Rasa or Rasa-bija – the essence in a substance – is used to influence and
enhance the health of vital bodily fluids or its constituents in the body.

4.3. The Rasayana line of treatment aims to arrest physical and mental decay. This
is a part of sets of detailed procedures, regimen, meant to ensure a prolonged
healthy and happy life. Ayurveda claims the clinical use of systematically purified
and treated mercury can stimulate cerebral functions without agitating the mind;
improve concentration, reduce fickle mindedness; and, enhances memory power. And
physically it renders the person vigorous, disease-free, enabling him to enjoy a
long youthful life.

Mercury in Siddha traditions

5.1. The wonderful and exhilarating elixir-like benefits of Mercury-treatment


seemed to have excited the Siddhas, inspiring them to speculate on achieving a sort
of an amazing immortal body. That prompted Siddhas to explore the diverse and
manifold possibilities surrounding the applications of solidified Mercury. Ayurveda
thus, it seems, paved the way for Alchemist Siddhas to speculate on the immortality
of the body and to concoct an enabling elixir. Attaining immortality then became
the life-ambition and the goal of many Siddha traditions.

5.2. According to Siddhas, Mercury is a poison for the uninitiated who partake of
it or its compounds improperly. Mercury, they said, has always been a part of the
nature; and, has not poisoned either the air, the waters or the earth. It is only
its abuse that brings forth its deadly effects. Even the combination of the so-
called poisons – neither too strong, nor too weak- when properly prepared, can act
as nourishing medicine. The medicinal blend of poisons (Visha) in prescribed
proportions can energize the body, invigorate its functions and generally act as a
tonic. And, in some ancient temples (e.g. Palini Hills) the idol of the main deity,
it is said, is crafted out of an alloy of nine types of deadly poisonous minerals,
herbs, chemicals and crystals (nava-pashana).

5.3. The Siddhas asserted that for an initiated alchemist Siddha, Mercury if
properly treated and processed can be transformed into nectar of immortality. It
converts from visha into amrita. They believed that its soft and subtle blue energy
invigorates the vital functions of the body; and ‘through the use of mercury that
is healing and medicinal in nature, one rapidly obtains a body that is un-aging and
immortal; and endowed with concentration of the mind. He who eats treated mercury
(mrtasutaka) truly obtains both transcendent and mundane knowledge, and his mantras
are effective’ (Rasasara, XV, 19-22)

Rasa Siddhas and Natha Siddha

6.1. The Siddhas therefore became engaged in developing a branch of chemistry or


proto-chemistry known as Rasa-shastra (science of Mercury) or generally
the Rasayana-shastra. This whole science of solidifying and energizing mercury is
called Rasa Vidya.
The prominent among such Alchemist Siddhas were the specialist Rasa Siddhas and
Natha Siddha.

6.2. The most important innovation of the Rasa Siddhas and the Natha Siddhas was
the method they crafted for attaining Siddha status and Siddha powers. They claimed
that dedicated humans through practice of Yoga, Tantra and Alchemy can become Semi
Divine Siddhas, provided they rigorously followed the prescribed disciplines.

6.3. Apart from the Semi Divine Siddhas, there is another classification of Siddhas
into three strands (ogha): the divine, the perfect and the human. Among these, the
human-kind Siddhas sought an ageless physical body (svarna deha); the perfect
sought a perfected (siddhadeha) or indestructible (vajradeha) physical body; and
Maheshvara Siddha sought to attain an ethereal divine body (divyadeha) of an
integrated nature. Otherwise, the dividing lines among them are rather unclear.

6.4. The Natha Siddhas along with Rasa Siddhas recount their lineage from Shiva
(Adi Guru) himself and from Dattatreya, Adinatha, Naganatha, Caparti,
Matsyendranatha, Gorkhnatha, and other Gurus of Natha Sampradaya.

7.1. These two groups, in particular, – Rasa and Natha Siddhas- interacted with a
third group that flourished mainly in the Nepal region (though it is likely the
cult was initially based in the western Himalayas). This was the Pashima-
amnaya (the westward), a Shakta cult devoted to a Tantric goddess Kubjika. They too
were engaged in alchemy.

Kubjikā a secret goddess, having immense metaphysical depth, a large varieties of


forms, and varied methods of yoga (especially those linked with the movement of
vital breath), appears in the Bhairava and then the Western Kaula Tantra
(Paschima-amnaya ) Traditions of the Himalayan regions during 7th century. She
is variously addressed in her Tantras as :Kubjinī – the Hunchback Girl; Kubjī,
Kujā, Kujī, Khañjinī – the Lame One; Vakrikā or Vakrā – the Crooked One; Ciñcinī –
the Goddess residing in the Tamarind tree; Kulālikā – the Potteress; Ambā or the
vernacular forms as : Avvā, Anāmā, Laghvikā; and, most common of all as Śrī – the
Royal One who has as her scripture, teaching, school and tradition (anvaya,
āmnāya); and as the Śrīmata. Kubjinī, a very secret goddess is worshiped in her
Tantras along with Bhairava, her consort. As Kundalini, Kubjika is worshipped as
the Goddess who is curled up and sleeping, waiting to be awakened. The sect of Nine
Natahas is believed to have propagated the cult of Kubjika
throughout Nepal and North India.

In the Kaula Tantra (Paschima-amnaya ) Tradition, Devi Kubjika is worshiped with


Shiva with his five faces Sadyojata; Vamadeva, Tatpurusha; Aghora and Ishana.. The
hallowed mother Kubjika has six faces. She is adorned with serpents: Karotaka as a
waist band; Takshaka as a mid-riff ornament; Vasuki as garland; and, the venomous
cobra Kulika as an ear ornament. She holds in her arms as skull, a king-cobra, a
crystal-bead rosary, skull-topped rod, a conch, a book, a trident, a mirror, a
straight sword, a gem necklace, an ankusha (goad) and a bow. She is of fair
complexion like a young jasmine flower.

The mantra of Kubjika is Om Shrim Prim Kubjike Devi Hrim Thah Svaha. The yantra of
her worship is

https://www.scribd.com/document/167318139/Kubjika-Kali-Tripura-and-Trika-Mark-
Dyczkowski

http://www.sunypress.edu/p-76-the-canon-of-the-saivagama-and-.aspx

https://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2006/07/20/kubjika-and-the-panchavaktra-
mahadeva/ ]

7.2. Apart from their traditional goals, the one other interest that Natha Siddhas
and Rasa Siddhas shared with the Pashima-amnaya Siddhas was the mystic doctrine and
practices involving sexual fluids – male and female. Their beliefs in this regard
were rooted in Rasa vada, the theory concerning Rasa.

Rasa

8.2. In the Taittiriya Upanishad (2.7) the expression ‘Raso vai sah’ is meant to
suggest the essence, the very core of ones being; and it is of the nature of pure
bliss (Raso hyevayam labdhva anandi bhavati). But, elsewhere, Rasa is the fluid
element (essence) that Vedic sages identified as the juice of life and of non-death
(a-mruta), which sustains both the gods and the humans. Rasa is also understood
as Dravya – the substance combining in itself the properties of all the five
elements – having sixty three varieties. Rasa, as essential element, in its many
forms is both manifest and dormant.

8.3. In Ayurveda, Rasa stands for vital body fluids. Its treatment (Rasayana),
the Rasa or Rasa-bija – the essence in a substance – is used to influence and
enhance the health of bodily fluids or its constituents in the body.

8.4. According to Tantra ideology, male and female vital fluids, semen and uterine
blood, are power-substances (Shakthi dhathu) because their combination gives rise
to life and vitality. These Rasas are even identified with gods and goddesses whose
boundless energy was often portrayed as sexual in nature. Usually the god invoked
in this context was some form of Shiva and the female was some form of Devi.

8.5. Those ardent followers- the Tantrics , Siddhas and others – who aimed to
attain the status of second – Shiva sought to realize their goal through the
conduit of wild goddesses (who then were identified with their human consorts)
generally known as Yoginis. These ‘bliss-starved’ minor goddesses would converge
into the consciousness of the Sadhaka the ardent practitioner, to transform him
into a sort of god on earth.

8.6. The doctrine of Rasa (Rasa vada) as adopted by the mystique Siddhas is based
on the theory that Rasa – all kinds of fluid elements found in universe , world ,
human beings , plants , rain , waters , and the oblations in the Yajna – is the
fountainhead of life. There are countless manifestations of Rasa including the
vital sexual fluids in male and female, blood, bone marrow, mucus and every other
fluid substance in body and as water , snow , moisture etc in nature.

Alchemist Siddhas

9.1. With the advent of the great scholar and Tantrik Abhinavagupta (ca.10th
century – Kashmir) and his school of Trika Kaula philosophy, the messy parts of the
Tantra practises were cleaned up, ‘sanitized’, refined , and given a sophisticated
look ( at least outwardly).In these “High’ Tantric Schools many of the sordid
looking elements and practices were sublimated . The cult of the Yoginis, ritual
reproductions, offering and consuming sexual fluids etc were refined and re-
defined. However, the old practices did not go away altogether; but, they went
underground and were practiced as ‘secret-learning’ (gupta vidya) by closed circle
of initiates.

9.2. Then came the Siddhas of Natha Pantha, who brought into fore the Hata yoga, a
rather violent method of exertion. Matsyendranatha was the pioneer of this School
of Natha Siddhas. He preached the doctrine of Six Chakras of transformation. But,
the secret part of it was the belief in the transformation of the sexual fluids
into a sort of potent power, the amrita, the nectar of immortality.

9.3. According to this sect, the combination of male and female sexual fluids
brings into existence an explosive power that is truly unique. No other elements or
fluids in the whole of the universe have the power to create life. And, that is
remarkable. For the Natha Siddhas, persuasion of that line of creative power
became the route to attain Siddhis (miraculous powers) and Jivanmukthi (liberation
while in the body).

10.1. They were followed by a third group, the Rasa Siddhas, the alchemists who
coined the phrase: yatha lohe, tatha dehe (as in the metal, so in the body). They,
in principle, adopted the doctrine of Natha Siddhas regarding the power of sexual
fluids. But, they lent it a rather unexpected twist, that of metallurgy.

10.2. The Rasa Siddhas seemed to believe that metals are living-substances; and,
gold was the natural endpoint of their countless years of gestation within the
earth’s womb. Adopting the metaphor of the humans, they said mica (abhraka) and
sulphur (gandhaka – literally meaning that which has aroma) were analogous to the
female reproductive fluids from which the metals arose. Here the male fluids
came to be identified with the eighth metal, the Mercury, Rasendra, the King of
Rasas, the shining liquid amazingly volatile, as if having a life of its own.

[The Alchemist Siddhas equated Mercury with a male, warm substance which controls
the elements Earth and Water. And, symbolically it was called the semen of
Shiva. Mica which is cold was the element of air; and regarded the female
counterpart of Shiva, the Shakthi. Therefore through the union of mercury and
mica, male and female, (Shiva and Shakthi or Yang and Yin), they sought to obtain a
married metal which controls the elements Earth (solids), Water (fluids) and Air
(mental aspects in the body). But, it increases the element Fire, the invigorating
heat in the body. ]

10.3. An important finding that the Rasa Siddhas came upon was that purified
mercury, through a special process, can be made to devour or digest (meaning,
assimilate) an enormous amount of other metals without the swallowing (grasa)
mercury gaining appreciable weight. The assimilation (jarana) of base metals into
mercury became the hub of an entire regimen of an alchemy engaged in transforming
base metals into gold.

[In the Indian alchemy texts, the chemical substances are divided into five main
categories: Maha (primary) Rasa; Uparasa (secondary); Dhatu (minerals), Ratna or Ma
ni (crystal or salts -lavana) and Visha (toxins or poisons). And again within these
, there are eight Maha Rasas ; eight Uparasas; seven Dhatus – Sapta
Dhatu – Suvarna ( gold) , Rajata ( silver) , Tamra (copper ) ,
Trapa (tin) , Ayas or Tikshna (iron ) , Sisha or Naga (lead ) and Vaikrantika .
And, Mercury in a special category is included under metals. The alloys include
alloys: brass (pitala), Bell metal (kamsya), and a mixture of five metals (kamsya).
The Salts are five: Sauvaechala, Saindhava, Vida, Aubhida, and Samudra. The
powdered metals and salts are Bhasmas. Substances derived from animal (horns,
shells, feathers etc) and plant sources are also grinded into it.

Various plant products, minerals, fluids etc having toxic properties are included
under Visha. In Siddha system sixty four types of poisons are mentioned for
therapeutic purpose].

Rasa-karma

11.1. The Siddhas have always been technicians of the concrete; transforming base
metal into gold, ailing into the healthy; and mortals into immortals. They are the
masters of the process, seeking raw and ruthless power over natural processes, say
over aging, death and political, social rulers and leaders.

11.2. The process of transforming Mercury into gold or elixir (Rasa-karma); to


transmute a base metal into the noble one; and to make the perishable body an ever
immortal is very complicated and time-consuming, spread over several months. Indian
alchemy developed a wide variety of chemical processes.

11.3. The Rasashastra texts – such as, Rasarnava of 11th century (perhaps the
oldest Rasa Tantra text available , narrated as series of dialogues between
Bhairava and Devi), Rasarathnakara, Rasendramangala,
Bhutikaprakarana and Rasahrudaya – describe the procedures meticulously and in
great detail. There are hundreds of verses in the Rasashastra texts which deal with
a wide variety of processes. The texts also caution that among all
the Sadhakas only an infinitesimally small number of worthies might achieve their
goal.

11.4. According to Rasa-shastra texts – Rasa-ratha-samucchaya and Rasa-rathnakara –


the Alchemic Siddha (Rasacharya) should be a highly learned person (jnanavan),
respected by all (sarva-manya ), well versed in the science of Mercury (Rasa-
shastra-kovida) ,proficient in processing Mercury ( Rasa-karma-kaushala) , highly
competent in his task (daksha) , free from greed , lust, hatred and other
weaknesses (dhira -vira) , dear to Shiva (Shiva vatsala) and devoted to Devi (Devi
bhaktha) . His intentions for undertaking task should be pure and noble; and,
blessed by his Guru. Else, the entire process would end fruitless (nishphala).

Needless to say, a worthy Rasa Siddha is extremely hard to find.

12.1. The process, which is spread over eighteen stages, and carried out over
several months, involved planting a ‘seed (bija)’ of gold into a mass of mercury
(whose power of absorption has already been increased enormously by series of
treatments of mica, sulphur and other female elements) which then becomes a ‘mouth’
capable of swallowing incredible amounts base metals (usually, 1:6; mercury
absorbing six times its mass of Mica).

[The process of making the Mercury absorb (grasa) in ever increasing quantities of
Mica or Sulphur called Jarana is carried on till the Mercury becomes (baddha) or
killed (mrta).This is done in three stages each consisting six steps. In the first
stage; Mercury is made to take in mouthfuls (grasa) of mica, in six successive
operations. At each step in this process, the mercury becomes physically altered:
in the first step, in which it consumes one sixty-fourth of its mass of mica,
mercury becomes rod like (danda vat). It next takes on the consistency of a leech,
then that of crow droppings, thin liquid, and butter. With its sixth and final
“mouthful,” in which mercury swallows one-half its mass of mica, it becomes a
spherical solid.

This six-step process, by which mercury is bound, is followed by another six-step


process, in which the proportions of mica or sulphur swallowed by mercury greatly
increase. It is this latter process that constitutes jarana proper. Here, mercury
is made to absorb a mass of mica equal to its own.
Next, mercury is made to swallow twice its mass of mica, and so on until the
proportions ultimately reach 1:6, with mercury absorbing six times its mass of
mica. In this final and optimal phase mercury, said to be “six-times killed,” is
possessed of fantastic powers of transmutation. At the conclusion of this process,
mercury takes the shape of a linga. ]

12.2. Mercury is regarded as ’killed’ when it becomes a hard metal or a red-blood


stone. The mercury that is ‘killed’ – mrta or stilled (rendered non-volatile
– baddha and reduced to ashes- bhasma) with the help of powerful herbs, is
transmuted into gold through a mystic process (samskara).That is to say; after
having been killed or fixed, Mercury changes its character, it takes on a nobler,
more exalted form and is reborn.

After the mercury has been completely purified, a process which usually requires
several months, it must be allowed to cool down and solidify. The cooling-
operation is done with the application of concentrated vegetable extracts and
mineral ashes which have cooling properties. These ingredients help the Mercury to
coagulate quickly.

13.1. It was believed that after undergoing seventeen sequential processes, the
mercury would be rendered pure (detoxified) solution and fit for consumption. At
this stage, the Mercury cleansed of its poisons can be handled safely. The Mercury
thus treated and processed over elongated procedures acquires new properties and
becomes beneficial to humans.

[There is a mention of another peculiar property of solidified Mercury: its


psychological effect. Those who swallow it become aware of an aspect of their
consciousness which they did not explicitly know. Solidified mercury thus acts as a
revealing agent, providing the person an opportunity to cleanse himself.]

13.2. At the end of the fantastic series of samskaras, the mercury itself would
have disappeared leaving only the ‘noble and immortal’ metal – the gold. The final
product, if consumed in prescribed quantity would, it was claimed, rejuvenate the
body and make it as resplendent and burnished as gold. ”The Siddha who ingests is
immediately transported to the realms of the gods, Siddhas, and Vidyadharas”.

13.3. The gold here becomes an insignia of immortality. And, by swallowing a


pellet of such created gold the alchemist becomes a second Shiva, a Siddha,
perfected, golden and immortal*. There is also a Vedic myth of Prajapathi turning
into gold (hiranya purusha): ‘he is Prajapathi, he is Agni, he is made of gold, for
gold is light and fire is light, gold is immortality and fire is immortality’
(Shatapatha Brahmana: 4.1.18).

[*This is regarded a re-enactment of the cosmic process. Mercury here symbolizes


Shiva, the all-absorbing supreme ascetic, at the end of time cycle, effortlessly
withdrawing into himself the whole of the Universe; transforming matter into
essence – Rasa. The swallower and the swallowed are immortal.

The process is also described in another manner: metal, the earth element
(muladhara) is absorbed into water element (svadistana); the water element into
fire element (manipura); the fire element is absorbed into element of air (anahata)
; and the air is absorbed into ether – akasha (vishuddhi) . And, at the sixth
stage, all these are telescoped, swallowed back into manas – mind (ajna). Finally,
everything merges into pure Shiva consciousness, prakasha – at the thousand-
petalled sahasra.]
13.4. In a way of speaking, the shodhana (purification) of mercury and
the Sadhana (accomplishment) of the Siddha are analogues; as they both aim for
perfection.

The goal of Siddha alchemy (which essentially is a spiritual technique) is


immortality of body, invincibility and transcendence of human conditions. The
transformation of base metals into gold is largely a symbolic concept than a
concrete objective. At another level, what is of prime importance is liberation
(Moksha or Paramukti) which requires self-purification and separation from baser
earthly bonds, as also from their tendencies. The path of the Siddhas though
alchemic in nature is entwined with Yoga and spiritual traditions.

[In comparison, the Ayurvedic use of mercury (rasa shastra) which by far pre-dates
that of Siddha Alchemists was for medicinal purposes. Rasa Shastra was basically a
medical alchemy. It was a process which attempted to fuse metals, minerals, gem-
stones, animal products, herbal ingredients and other substances to concoct
medicinal compounds aim to cure chronic diseases , to rejuvenate the system and
ultimately achieve indefinitely long-life. Thus, its primary application was
therapeutic (rogavada), to restore health; and not to create a second Shiva or a
Superman.]

Decline of the Siddha traditions

14.1. However, in the later times, the practice of consuming treated mercury and
its allied elixirs in order to attain various Siddhis and longevity sharply
declined. That was, perhaps, mainly because the samskara techniques of purifying
mercury, and transforming it into elixir were lost. Another reason could be that
the standards set by the texts for a qualified Alchemic Siddha (Rasacharya) were
exceedingly high; and in the later periods there were hardly any who measured up
to those lofty standards.

14.2. Because of such imperfections, the Siddha techniques and aspirations became
rather faulted. In recent times, many would- be – Seekers have attempted to bind
Mica, Sulphur and Mercury together, but with little success. And, in a few cases
where they succeeded the mercury could not be entirely detoxified or the resultant
‘gold’ did not gain the requisite physical (specific gravity, colour etc) and
chemical properties of true natural gold. Therefore, the sort of transmutation
power ascribed to mercury in the old texts could not be realized. Some scholars
even wonder whether Mica and Sulphur mentioned in the texts did actually mean the
metals. It is quite likely, they surmise, those terms might have been employed as
symbols or codes to denote something else.

15.1. As regards the Siddha cults, except for a sprinkling of Natha Siddhas in
North India the other Siddha sects have virtually vanished. The sects of the
Siddhas were, mostly, the victims of their own excesses.

15.2. The first, I reckon, was the bad publicity they gained because of their
reckless living and lack of decorum in public. But, to be fair to them, they were
merely living out or putting into practice, in good faith, the traditional beliefs
of their sect. In seeking to be true to the principle of non-difference, being
indifferent to – the good and the bad; sacred and the profane; beauty and ugliness;
pure and the sordid; exalted and the demented; squalor and grandeur; decent and
indecent etc – many aspiring Siddhas, clueless , indulged in what appeared to
common people as anti social, atrocious and totally unacceptable reprehensible
behaviour. The Siddhas were in due time ostracized by the polite society.

15.3. The other was the sanitization or sophistication brought in by Abhinavagupta


and his School. This rendered the Siddha and Tantric ways into refined, mystique,
highly complicated and theorized schools of thought. Such elite and cerebral
teachings were beyond the ken of most initiates who ordinarily came from the lower
rung of the society. The new entrant could neither grasp nor identify himself with
such ethereal discourses. The new teachings were unrelated to a common man’s day-
to-day experiences, entangled in a web of social and family bonds; living, loving,
eking out a living; aging and dying as anyone else did. The thirty-six or thirty-
seven steps of metaphysical levels of existence (tattvas) charted out by
Abhinavagupta were beyond the understanding of common man; and, it held out few
answers to his concerns and aspirations.

The adherents of Natha Siddha cult, therefore, fell back to the older and primitive
beliefs of Pashupathas and Kapalikas, the devotees of terrible forms of Shiva, who
practiced in seclusion and lived away from the puritan and highly discriminating
learned class. Natha Siddhas, away from public gaze, now offered concrete pleasures
and powers that could be experienced in the real world by aspiring men. The Natha
Siddhas, the kanphatas (split ear lobes) thus emerged as a sort of power brokers
for the ordinary men of this world.

[A Note:

A-mruta (non-death) or immortality has been one of the fascinations of the


ancients. It is said; in the Vedic times the gods attain and maintain eternal life
by offering Soma to one another, as oblations among themselves. The message is: It
is not enough to merely possess the Soma drink to gain immortality. The secret lies
in offering it as oblation to another god. It is only then , one gains immortality
that Soma confers. The Asuras were perhaps not aware of this secret; and greedily
drank the soma without offering it to others. And, therefore they gained no
benefit from the Soma drink.

The premise of the Yajna, it is said, is based on this secret. The humans offer
oblations idealized as Soma into Agni who in turn hands them over to Svaha Devi to
pass on to other gods. The oblation offered sustains the gods; and, maintains their
immortality. The humans receive from the gods the benefit of the Soma offered to
them, as god-given gifts of wealth, happiness, full-life span (visvayus) and even
immortality. In order to live a full and a satisfying life, one needs to be ever
engaged in Yajnas, in giving and sharing. ]

Sources and References

The Alchemical Body: Siddha Traditions in Medieval India by David Gordon White

Mysticism and Alchemy through the Ages: The Quest for Transformation by Gary Edson

Alchemical Traditions: From Antiquity to the Avant-Garde by Aaron Cheak

http://ignca.nic.in/ps_04014.htm

Alchemically purified and solidified mercury by Petri Murien


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddha

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16 Comments

Posted by sreenivasaraos on January 10, 2014 in Siddha Rasa, Tantra, Uncategorized

Tags: Bhairava, Kaula Tantra, Kubjika, Kubjika Tantra, Mercury, Paschima-


amnaya, Rasa, Rasa siddha ;Natha Siddha, Rasayana, Siddha

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16 responses to “Siddha and the way of Rasa”

killingsworth exterminators charlotte nc

July 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Whoa! This blo looks just like my old one!It’s on a completely different subject
but iit has pretty much the same layout and design. Excellent choice of
colors!

Reply

sreenivasaraos

July 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Thanks

Reply

sreenivasaraos

March 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Dear Shri Bala, The use of mercury for therapeutic purposes has been in vogue since
the ancient times. For instance, Charaka Samhita (dated before first century), a
treatise on Ayurvedic medicine, prescribes Parada (mercury) – literally meaning
that which protects – as a cure for skin diseases. A later work of about fourth
century AD, Sushruta Samhita (Chikitsa 25/39), recommended mercury as a component
in the preparation of tinctures for external applications. And again, the text of
the sixth-seventh century, the Astanga Samgraha (Uttara 13/36) of Vagbhatta
contains references to internal therapeutic uses of mercury. Following that, the
school of Rasa Siddhas rose into prominence by about eleventh century.

All these were, of course, prior to eleventh century that you referred to

Marco Polo (13th century) refers to the ancient practice of preparing elixirs by
the mendicants of Malabar region.

The use of mercury in the ancient India, for various purposes, is fairly well
documented.

As regards gold Swarna, a noble metal known to Indians since antiquity is mentioned
in Charaka and Sushruta Samhita where it is used in a wide range of applications.
In its elemental form, Gold has been employed for centuries as an anti-pruritic
agent to relieve itching palms. ‘Swarna Bhasma’ is a combination of metallic Gold
(96.76%), silica (1.14%), ferric oxide (0.14%), phosphates (0.78%), potash (0.16%),
salt (0.078%), and traces of copper and magnesium. It is useful as an alleviator,
particularly in chronic debilitating diseases.

[Following Robert Koch’s observations, since 1973 gold and its compounds are used
at different levels to decrease concentrations of rheumatic factors and to
influences the immunological responses. It is also said; that gold suppresses the
anaphylactic release of histamine more effectively than gluco-corticoids.]

Now , I am rather gullible. Pray, tell me what is “scientific”?

Regards

Reply

sreenivasaraos

March 15, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Dear Shri Gopal, Thanks for the visit.

Regarding the Tamil Siddhars, I reckon, they were perhaps the earlier set of
Siddhas. Though most of the other Siddha Schools did not come into their own until
about the 11th -12th century, the Tamil Siddhar School seemed to have in place a
fairly well defined system earlier to the eighth century itself.
Out of the 18 Siddhars celebrated in the Shaiva tradition some (say, like
Agashthyar) seem to be mythological or semi-divine figures. Yet; by the time of
Tirumular (revered as one of the 64 Nayanars), in the eighth century, the Tamil
Siddha tradition had a fully developed Siddha system. Tirumular in his work
“Tirumanthiram” outlining the philosophy of the Shaiva Siddhanta, discusses the
basis of Kundalini Yoga which expands the consciousness of the Siddha beyond all
limitations, leading to an highly idealized state of what is called the Maha Chitta
or “Great Awareness” which is the nature of Shiva himself. The Siddhar way is a
kind of inner journey towards the Absolute Shiva Consciousness.

It is said; Tirumular is among the earlier set of Siddhars; and, is highly


respected for his pioneering works (it is another matter that the orthodoxy could
not accept him without reservations). Tirumular describes the Siddhas as those “who
have experienced divine light (sakti) from within through yogic integration
(Samadhi). The Tamil tradition holds that Tirumular was the disciple of the
alchemist Nandikesvarar. Even prior to Nandi was another renowned alchemist Bogar
(Bogha Siddhar) who is said to have lived , around the Palini Hills region ,
sometime during third to fifth century.

Traditions and legends concerning Bogar talk of him either as a Chinese philosopher
who came to India, along with his guru Kalangi Nathar, for the study of medicine,
travelling first to Patna and Bodhgaya before taking up residence in Palini area.
The other version describes Bogar as a south Indian Siddhar, who travelled to China
and taught alchemy to a ruler named Kong (his disciple Konganar, according to
Siddha tradition) before returning to south India.

All this suggest that even prior to middle periods the Tamil Siddha tradition was
fully developed.

Tamil Siddhars, as you said, generally aimed to attain an expanded consciousness


where he merges with Shiva himself. Yet; there were also among them Rasa Siddhars
and Swarna Siddhars who practiced medicine besides alchemy.

And though the Tamil Siddhars as also the other Indian alchemists sought to develop
the chemical processes of transforming base metals into gold , along with pursuit
of bodily perfection, they viewed their inner processes of Kundalini Yoga
(mirroring the alchemical process which purifies and elevates the base up into the
noble state) as their primary pursuit, the Sadhana.

Pardon me for the length

Cheers and Regards

Reply

sreenivasaraos

March 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Dear Shri Gopal

You mentioned about the Tamil Siddhars being ‘away from Tantric’. I missed that
remark last time .Pardon me.

Well; all such practitioners did have something to do with Tantra. Here, Tantra
does not necessarily mean occult or left-handed practices carried out in secrecy.
Tantra, here, denotes ‘duality’ in approach, where the whole of existence is viewed
as manifestation of Purusha and Prakrti; or, of Shiva and Shakthi. It is the kind
of duality that leads to the union of the two. The Siddhars, of all kinds of
Schools, seemed to share a common cosmology, principles, practices and symbols.

To the Tamil Siddhars, Shiva is the unqualified and ultimate reality beyond form or
comprehension; while Shakthi, the Goddess, is the divine force abiding within the
body itself. Shakthi is accessible; and, She is the way (margi) to Shiva. It is
only her grace and love that can elevate the consciousness of the Siddhar into
union with the Absolute. The Siddhar beseeches the Mother Goddess to intercede on
his behalf and expand his consciousness beyond all limitations, so that he may
become Shiva himself. (Meand God becoming one; like wind becoming breath.)

Even in the comparative recent times, a Tamil Siddhar Ramalingar (around 1840) in
his verses praising Shiva begs the Mother calling her out as “Amma” or “Akka”. He
requests the Mother Goddess to plead for him with Shiva.

Though the Tamil Siddhars, in general, were away from orthodoxy and temple–culture,
their works speak, frequently, in terms of Tantra imagery with references to
Kundalini, the ways to control unruly feminine power through breathing practices
(Yoga) and mindful repetitions (japa) of Goddess’s sacred mantra. (For instance;
Tirumular in his work “Tirumanthiram “.)

The elements of Tantra, its terms and practices, it seems, had already spread
through the south by the time of Tirumular. Tantra, here, represents a profound
refinement of the symbol system of the individual’s religious experience.

Tirumular, views the human body as the temple of the Goddess Shakthi .He says,
using the terms of Kundalini Yoga, such as: prana, solar and lunar vital currents
(naadi),

In Shakthi’s temple if you control the left and the right you can hear a lute in
the center of your face. And Shiva will come out dancing sweetly. I swear upon Sada
Nandi we have spoken the truth

The Siddhars, as in the Tantra, emphasized that the Universe (macrocosm) is


reflected within the individual (microcosm) .The Universe (the Shiva) in all its
totality is contained within the body of the individual.

The smaller than the smallest, The larger that the largest, stands within… like
ripe sugarcane.

Thank you

Cheers and Regards

Reply

sreenivasaraos

March 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Dear Shri Sekhar, Please pardon me . I do not know how I missed your comment
(perhaps due to lack of practice in responding). I am sorry.
Yes; what you said may be a fact. But, there has been a long tradition of
alchemists in India, China and in Europe striving to transform a base metal into a
noble one. I do not know how well they succeeded. Apart from the alchemists, I find
that, nearer home , Yogi Vemana story too mentions about his ‘gold-making’ efforts.

Yes; again, use of mercury, a known poison, for therapeutic purposes is well
recorded since the old times. I reckon, it is still being used in present-day
medicines.

About solidifying mercury, it appears to be quite possible. I find that many


temples in South India proclaim that they enshrine “Rasa Lingam “– Lingam made of
mercury. In fact , the Ashram at Coimbatore run by Jaggi Vasudev , a Swami , is
said to have a ‘Lingam made of solidified and 99.8% purified mercury”.It is said to
be housed under water.

The ‘Mercury Lingam. business appears to be a thriving one. Google search for Rasa
Lingam throws up plenty of vendors marketing mercury-lingam of various sizes.

Thanks for the visit

Regards

Reply

sreenivasaraos

March 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm

Dear Shri Gopal

You mentioned about the Tamil Siddhars being ‘away from Tantric’. I missed that
remark last time .Pardon me.

Well; all such practitioners did have something to do with Tantra. Here, Tantra
does not necessarily mean occult or left-handed practices carried out in secrecy.
Tantra, here, denotes ‘duality’ in approach, where the whole of existence is viewed
as manifestation of Purusha and Prakrti; or, of Shiva and Shakthi. It is the kind
of duality that leads to the union of the two. The Siddhars, of all kinds of
Schools, seemed to share a common cosmology, principles, practices and symbols.

To the Tamil Siddhars, Shiva is the unqualified and ultimate reality beyond form or
comprehension; while Shakthi, the Goddess, is the divine force abiding within the
body itself. Shakthi is accessible; and, She is the way (margi) to Shiva. It is
only her grace and love that can elevate the consciousness of the Siddhar into
union with the Absolute. The Siddhar beseeches the Mother Goddess to intercede on
his behalf and expand his consciousness beyond all limitations, so that he may
become Shiva himself. (Me and God becoming one; like wind becoming breath.)

Even in the comparative recent times, a Tamil Siddhar Ramalingar (around 1840) in
his verses praising Shiva begs the Mother calling her out as “Amma” or “Akka”. He
requests the Mother Goddess to plead for him with Shiva.

Though the Tamil Siddhars, in general, were away from orthodoxy and temple–culture,
their works speak, frequently, in terms of Tantra imagery with references to
Kundalini, the ways to control unruly feminine power through breathing practices
(Yoga) and mindful repetitions (japa) of Goddess’s sacred mantra. (For instance;
Tirumular in his work “Tirumanthiram “.)

The elements of Tantra, its terms and practices, it seems, had already spread
through the south by the time of Tirumular. Tantra, here, represents a profound
refinement of the symbol system of the individual’s religious experience.

Tirumular, views the human body as the temple of the Goddess Shakthi .He says,
using the terms of Kundalini Yoga, such as: prana, solar and lunar vital currents
(naadi),

In Shakthi’s temple if you control the left and the right you can hear a lute in
the center of your face. And Shiva will come out dancing sweetly. I swear upon Sada
Nandi we have spoken the truth

The Siddhars, as in the Tantra, emphasized that the Universe (macrocosm) is


reflected within the individual (microcosm) .The Universe (the Shiva) in all its
totality is contained within the body of the individual.

The smaller than the smallest, The larger that the largest, stands within…like ripe
sugarcane.

Thank you

Cheers and Regards

Reply

punamchand pancharia

May 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm

I want alchemy swarn by mercury processgive andbook of agastiyar alchemy


rasasashtar

Reply

sreenivasaraos

May 10, 2015 at 3:26 am

Dear Punamchand , thank you for the visit.

The question was not quite clear.

Can you please put it more clearly and amplify it?

Regards

Reply

suresh

September 5, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Thanks for sharing knowledge, i found it very very useful

Reply

sreenivasaraos

September 5, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Dear Suresh

You are welcome.


Thanks for reading.
I am glad you found the artice useful.

I am curios.

Pray, let me know


In what way did you find this useful.

Please keep talking.

Cheers

Reply

SimpleHuman

May 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm

One eyed Odin could be one eyed shukra. Odin is called as a poet. Father of Aesir.
The Danava branch of Asura is related to goddess Danu who is an European goddess of
river Danube, Don.

Reply

sreenivasaraos

May 10, 2017 at 12:03 am


Dear SH, OK. I am not so sure

Reply

SimpleHuman

May 9, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Asura Maya (Mayasura) could be Ahura Mazda.

Reply

sreenivasaraos

May 10, 2017 at 12:07 am

Dear SH , Please read my post -: Varuna and his decline – Part Seven- which
discusses about Varuna – Asura and Ahura Mazada a
t https://sreenivasaraos.com/2012/10/05/varuna-and-his-decline-part-seven/

Thanks
Btw- this article was about Rasa-vidya which combines in itself the science of
Alchemy , the medicinal science of Ayurveda , the efforts to rejuvenate and a sort
of spiritual practice (Tantra)

Reply

Angel

June 2, 2017 at 12:13 am

Dear scholar, Thank you for your detailed monograph.


I have to read more of all the immense material you have developed.
I want to respectfully ask you a question.
Do you know anything about the properties of the Sacred Pearl Navapashanam?
What opinion deserves this product according to your knowledge?
Personally I respect that pearl a lot, but your opinion is very important to me.
Thanks in advance, Angel, Argentine

Reply

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