A Critical Study of Siddhas and Sufis in Historical Perspective
K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, B.Sc., M.A., A.M.I.E., C.Eng.(I)., B.L.,
K. V. Ramakrishna Rao is an Independent / private Researcher. Prersented more than 200 papers in national and international conferences and seminars of which 139 have been published in the proceedings, journals, books and websites. Life member of Indian History Congress, South Indian History Congress, Tamilnadu History Congress, Andhrapradesh History Congress, Mythic Society, All India Oriental Conference etc. Associate member of Institution of Engineers (India).
Introduction: About Siddhas and Sufis, so far Mohammed Abdur Rahman (1924), M. Shams (1976), A. M. Parimanam (1976), R. Manickavacagam (1983), C. Nayinar Mohammed (1993), P. Kamalakkannan (1993), M. M. Ajmal Khan & P. M. Uvwais (1997), M. S. Bhasir (1999), Mohammed Ibrahim (1999), have conducted their studies directly and indirectly1. Here, the comparative studies made about Hindu-Islam religions also are considered, as they contain references about Siddhas and Sufis2. Originating in the middle-eastern countries, developing in Iran, coming to India and mixing with the factors of local tradition, culture and heritage, Sufism has evolved into a syncretic system in India. The origin of Siddhas has much more antiquity than that of Sufis. Though, Siddhas and their traditions have been spread throughout India, and even in the entire world, as for as the Siddha literature is concerned, the study has to be restricted to Tamizhagam. The literature of Sufis is also available in many other languages, but it is studied within the limits of Tamil literature, and many interesting details are revealed about them. As here, the Siddhas and Sufis are studied in historical perspective, their original texts are taken as source material. The secondary sources are used for interpretations in the relevant contexts.
The Siddhas: The scholars, those who have made studies on Siddhas, in their works so far have presented much contradicting details. Instead of critically analyzing their literature –
i. in historical perspective,
ii. fixing their dates based on internal evidences with other collateral evidences,
iii. preparing a critical text or edition of their poems by pointing out the interpolations etc.,
they have simply mentioned that – the questions like,
i. who are Siddhas,
ii. what was their period,
iii. who exactly sang which songs,
iv. how many poems sang etc., cannot be answered and so on3. Still some others have confused the issue with racial, linguistic and other sectarian bias to mar the fruitful study4. Therefore, with the available evidences, we have to find plausible and possible answers to the questions with open mind.
In Sangam literature, the word “Siddha” is not found. In Paripadal, in one place (20:47), the word “Siddham” is used to connote “knowledge”. Tirumular in his work Tirumanthiram datable to 4th / 5th / 6th century5, uses many words to denote and expound the concept of Siddhars. He uses Siddhu, Cittam, Siddhasan, Siddhar etc. He denotes Siddhas through the expression “Siddhasan” (83, the number denotes the Sutra of Tirumanthiram). Then, specific word “Sivasiddhar” is used, the “Siddhar” is mentioned specifically. Then, it is used in many places (124, 284, 671, 1907 etc). As he mentions, “Sivasiddhar”, it is evident that there were other Siddhar also. He answers in the next Sutra (125) about the spirituality level of others – Siddhar, Nittar, Nimalar, Muttar etc. Siddhar are those who have crossed the 36 tatvas. By telling that there no other place for Siddhu to reach finally other than Siddhu, he implies that the thinking power of man would be restricted to Cosmic mind. As there are no four “ca” as in Sanskrit, the scholars have not given proper meanings to the words – Siddha, Cittar, Siddhi, Cit, Citta etc. But, Tirumular uses these words properly in the context to convey the meanings exactly as follows:
Cit = the best knowledge or thinking (that is different from “acit”), related to mind
Citta = related to mind, sub-conscious mind and other layers of mind.
Siddhi = the status of attainment of highest powers, a state of perfectness.
Cittu = Mind, the state of mind, the state of attaining satisfaction of mind.
Siddhu = miracles beyond the perceptions of man, the ability to perform such miracles.
Siddham = thinking, finality, the state of mind, the refined thinking process of a perfected mind.
Siddhar = the men who are in such status.
Sufis: The word “sufi” is derived from the Arabic words differently6, and thus “Sufis” are also interpreted accordingly as follows:
1. “safa” = the purity of mind, therefore, the Sufis are those who have purified minds. But, safa -> safa -> safavi to call such persons as “safavi” and not “Sufis” is the counter argument.
2. “saf” = the rank or row i.e, the Sufis are the persons, who are in the front row before the God or ranked above all before the God. But, saf becomes safi and not sufi.
3. Suffa = a chair to sit i.e, there would be chairs outside mosques, where the persons who sit there are Sufis. But, saffa becomes suffi only and not Sufi.
4. Suf = wool and therefore, those who wore wool cloth / dress are called Sufis. Abu Baker al-kalabadhi opines that this interpretation fits to the definition of Sufi to some extent.
5. Sufi might have been derived from the Greek “Sophia” is another argument.
Anyway, Sufis are better understood by themselves, than the interpretation of the word Sufi. According to the research of Imam Queshayri the word Sufi was in vogue before 822 CE / 2nd hijiri. Syyed Sahabbuddhin Suhravarti notes that though the word “sufi” is not found in Quaran, the word used “muharif” connotes the same meaning, as “such people are near to God”7. He also points out that usage of such word was not in vogue even after two hundred years after the death of Prophet i.e, up to 9th century8 (632 + 200 = 832). Ajmalkhan points out that during 7th century only, such group might have been originated. But, it was not known as “sufi”.
Sarraj points out that the word “sufi” was used even during the period of Tabin i.e, the successors of the friends of Prophet, refuting the argument that it was used first by the people of Baghdad. To show that the word sufi was current in the pre-Islamic says, he quotes from the “History of Mecca” by Mohammed bin Ishaq bin Yasar, and from others, that there was a period in the history of Mecca when every body had gone away from Mecca, so that nobody was left there to pay homage to the Ka’bah and to go round it. During these days a Sufi used to come from a distant place in order to go round in the prescribed manner. If this story is true, Sarraj points out, then it is evident that the word “sufi” was current in the pre-Islamic days, and was used for men of excellence and virtue9. This view is supported by abi al-Farab ibn al-Jauzi, Zamakhshari and Firruzabadi based on their works. Al-Qushairi explicitly states that the word tasawwuf had been used before 2nd / 8th century10. According to him, those among the Sunnites who took extreme care in keeping their contact with God alive and saving themselves from the paths of negligence came to be known by the special name of ahlal-tasawwuf. And this name for these leaders of the pious became well known before 200 / 815. Hujwiri traces back the use of the word sufi even to the Prophet11. Therefore, it is evident that the word sufi was prevalent before 6th / 7th centuries, but tasawwuf only in 8th century. Now, how Sufism and Sufis interacted with Tamizhnadu is discussed.
Sufism and Sufis in Tamilnadu: The attack of Malikaffur, on South India and his march up to Rameswaram in 1311, had helped the development of Islam with political patronage in Tamilnadu. The rule of Sultans in Madurai from 1310 to 1358 had an impact on the Tamils culturally. As Muslims had to interact with Hindus, they might have used Sufism as one of such dialogues. Scholars point out12 that penetration of Muslim preachers, poets and Sufis in India had been only after 13th century, therefore, they must have entered only after that period in Tamilnadu. But, scholars have expressed contradicting views about the position of Sufism and Sufis in Tamilnadu:
1. R. Muthukumaraswamy notes13 that Sufi literature in Tamil had been prevalent during the last five centuries (1983 - 500 = 1483) i.e, from 15th century.
2. Ajmalkhan14 records that the principle of Islamic tasawwuf started spreading during 16th and 17th centuries.
3. He notes in another place15 that the coming of Muslims in Tamilnadu itself had been the forerunner for establishment of Sufi principles. There are internal evidences to show that the coming of Muslims had been there since Sangam period.
4. The credit of usage of Sufi principles first in poems goes to Pir Mohammed Appa16.
5. It can be said that the origin of Sufis in Tamilnadu has been there from 17th to 20th centuries17.
6. M. S. Purnalingam Pillai18, though he mentions several Mohammedan Tamil poets including Mastan Sahib, but he never records them as Sufi.
Therefore, why such contradicting views have been expressed is analyzed:
1. Most of the available Islamic Tamil literature belongs to 19th century, 3 belong to 18th, 5 to 17th, 2 to 16th, one to 15th and few to 12th centuries.
2. Sufi mystic literature starts only with 17th century.
3. All poets who composed Islamic literature were not Sufis.
4. Similarly, all Tamil Sufis of the material period were not Tamil poets.
5. Yacob Siddhar has been considered as “Tamil Siddhar” and his poems have been included in the Tamil Siddha literature. But, it is surprising, that he is not considered as Sufi and his poems not included in the “Sufi mystic literature”19.
6. Had Ramadeva gone to Mecca in 7th century itself, laboured there as Yacob, returned to India and attained samadhi at Azhagarmalai, then, attributing his songs to the period of 15th century is subjected to a critical study. Therefore, if Yacob can be mentioned as “Muslim Siddha”, then, Ramadeva be as “Hindu Sufi”.
7. It is surprising and interesting to note that the composers of the so-called “Tamil Sufi mystic literature” as categorized by the Muslim scholars, had not called themselves as Sufis in their poems, but as “Siddhan”. Though, they have used non-Tamil words Peer, mastan, kamil and Tamil words Gnani, yogi, siddhan, arivali, it is surprising to note why they have not used the word Sufi.
8. It is totally wrong to assert that Muslims started to come to Tamizhagam since Sangam period, because before Mohammed Nabi, there was no Islam20.
9. As the word sufi is not used in Quaran, the Tamil Sufis might have had reservation about the usage of it in their literature.
10. Therefore, it is evident that the concepts Sufi, Sufism, Sufi mysticism etc had become popular only in 19th – 20th centuries and started associating with Islamic mysticism only at the end of 20th century.
Siddhas and Hindu Religion: Siddhas have been depicted as Tamils and Dravidians, thus, they are against Vedas, Sanskrit, Aryans, Brahmins etc. It is also accused that the elite, educated and high strata of society do not read Tamil Siddha literature, give importance to it or research in related fields. But, if anybody reads the Tamil Siddha literature at least once, he / she can easily understand how these views are false, unfounded and baseless. Just, some examples are given as follows;
1. The precept, concept and evolution of Siddhas have been only based on Sanskrit literature and developed into present status. Siddhas have been abundantly described in the Sanskrit literature and depicted in the paintings and sculptures of Maurya and Gupta periods21.
2. The Tamil Siddha literature amply shows that Siddhas themselves have names of Itihasa-Puranas and associate their lives with them.
3. They have liberally adapted and adopted the subjects of theology, cosmology, cosmogony, chronology etc., from the Sanskrit literature. There are no works in Tamil dealing with such subjects.
4. They have used / given the exact terminology, details and symbols in the fields of Yoga, Pranayama and related psychosomatic subjects22.
5. They give the same pictures in the usage of mantras, tantras and yantras23.
6. As the concepts of One God, Oneness of humanity, Universal brotherhood, absence of idol worship etc., had been there during Vedic period, propagation of such views by Siddhas could not make them against Vedas.
7. They themselves point out that Siddhas sculptured many idols, built temples, in fact, the temples were built only at or on their tombs and so on. Then, how such acts could be consistent with the concepts of One God, Monism etc.?
8. They gleefully take one poem of Siva Vakkiyar, “Natta kallai deivam enru nalu pushpam sattiye”, but, they coolly forget the other poems of the same poet which declares the efficacy of Rama nama, that God is neither Hari or Hara, the place where both sit tohether, the One who is at Tillai and at Tiruvarangam are the One only.
9. The concept of world, 96 tatvas of body, 9 gates of body, 24 tatvas of atma, 5 butas, 5 gnanendriyas, 5 karmendriyas, 5 tanmatras, 5 andakarnas, 5 kosas, 3 gunas, 3 malas, 6 adharas, 7 cakras, 10 nadis, 10 vayus, 5 avathais, 3 patrugal, 5 rasamangal, 3 mayas, 3 karmas, 5 kanmendriya details, 8 siddhis etc which have been described by the Siddhas have been taken from the Sanskrit mantra-tantra-yantra works. How the cakras drawn in two dimensions evolve into three dimensional figures have been shown.
10. In Siddha medicine, however, differences are pointed out, which have to be analyzed clinically to understand the formulations, their derivatives and their effect on human beings.
In view of the above, to show that Tamil Siddhas are different from Hindus or they are separate race, specie etc., are totally unhistorical. Some references are given to bring out the point:
1. According H. P. Blavatsky23A, Siddhas belong to Fourth root-race datable to 4000 BCE to 4000 BCE.
2. According to Shvetashvatara Upanishad (Ch.I, Verses, 3,5,7), the Siddhas are those who possessed from birth of “superhuman” powers, as also of “knowledge and indifference to the world”.
3. According to occult teachings, however, the Siddhas are Nirmanakayas or the “spirits” – in thr sense of an individual or conscious spirit – of great sages from spheres on a higher plane than our own, who voluntarily incarnate in mortal bodies in oirder to help the human race in its upward progress. Hence, their innate knowledge, wisdom and power23B.
4. Siddhas are holy saints on the Earth as the celestial yogis in the Heaven, because, their commander is Kartikeya, who supposed to control them.
5. Puranas also describe Siddhas grouping them with Devarishis (Vayu Purana, Ch.41:66-73). In other places, they are mentioned with Caranas. They are also grouped with Devas, Demons, Pannagas, Yakshas, powerful Gandharvas, Kinnnaras etc. They are located in Jambu Dwipa on the Jarudhi, Kumudhaprabha, Sitanta mountain peaks and caves.
Sufis and Islam: The orthodox Islam opposes Sufism, Sufis and Sufi principles and symbols. It accuses that Sufism accommodates pantheistic ideas and symbolism, compromises with kafirs / idolaters and thus dilutes sacred Islam. It does not recognize the cult that grows around the tombs of Sufis, their worship and other festivals and activities taking place around them24. Wahabi movement opposed it vehemently. In India Shah Waliyullah Dellavi (1703-1762) started a movement25 to eradicate the tomb / Sufi worship, the continuing beliefs and practices among the converted Hindus and other Muslims, completely. Similarly, Islamic scholars decide that Sufis should act within the ambit of Islam and Sufism within the parameters of Quaran, Hadis and Shariat26. Tayka Shuayb Alim, unlike other Islamic scholars, emphasized that Arwi scholars should follow some fundamentals including the following27:
1. Uncompromising Faith in Monotheism and in Muhammadur Rasaullah being the Final Prophet of Allah. This is the distinguishing feature of Sufism.
2. This earthly life is not eternal but only a passing phase and of momentary instance and the life after death depends on the deeds done in this world.
3. The International Brotherhood of islam, which believes in all humanity being one, totally devoid of all parochial and abominable considerations of caste, originated from one father, Prophet Adam.
4. Sufism or Tasawwuf represents the spiritual aspect of Islam. So long as a person is in the state of consciousness, he, even as a Sufi (Mystic) or a Wali (Saint), continues to be governed by the Laws of the Shariah.
So if these rules are applied, then a Muslim Sufi should be, first an expert in Theology. Then, after becoming a Tamil poet, he should render poems in Tamil. Therefore, it has to be noted as to whether Muslim Tamil poets have rendered Sufi literature as Tamil poets or after becoming Sufi, they rendered such poems. In this context also, the comparison of them with Siddhas fits into the critical study.
The Chronological Setting of Tamil Siidhas: With the available internal evidences, the chronology of Tamil Siddhas is divided into following periods28:
1. Ancient Period up to Tirumular: Tirumanthiram definitely proves the existence of Siddha system, though such nomenclature was not mentioned in the then extant literature. Its relation to tantras, yoga, alchemy, medicine and other scientific fields are clearly noted. The language, syntax, morphology, etc., clearly show that it belonged to earlier period. As the work is evidently different from Tevaram, Tiruvacakam, Nalayira diya prabandam and other Bhakti form of literature, it can be safely placed before them. The Siddhas, who followed the tradition of Tirumanthiram are covered under the period29.
2. Period 7th to 12th Centuries: Till the Muslim domination, the Indian arts and sciences had been at the peak and they were disseminated in other countries. Indian factors of culture, tradition, heritage and civilization could be found in many countries. However, the Indian society was slowly witnessed with the invasion of aliens from the northwest. From the Sindhu invasion of Muslims, Indians started facing with different religious and political sects, all belong to Islam. This impact could be felt in Tamizhagam also. If the sojourn of Ramadeva and Yacob is considered historical, then, the link between Middle East and South India is established. The Saiva Siddhanta philosophy started developed (13th-14th centuries) attracting others. However, certain groups started indulging in the preparation of elixir, conversion of baser elements into gold and other activities30. The movement of Chinese groups increased with trade and other contacts. In those days, mercury had to come from China.
3. Medieval period up to 13th century: This period coincided with the alchemy activities and Chinese contacts and interactions. Indians sojourned from South India to Tibet, China and South East Asian countries through Assam31. The maritime activities of Cola kings in the South East Asian countries also gave a fillip to the activities of Siddhas and their movements. The Siddha medicinal system was distinguished, codified and institutionalized. The Saiva Siddhanta started moulding the philosophy and theology of Saivism in Tamilnadu. Agama sastras were interpreted according to Siddhanta and temples built and rebuilt reviving tradition. Siddhas, who based their interpretation on Vedas wrote in Sanskrit. The Saiva Siddhantists also wrote in Sanskrit and Tamil. But, the Siddhas in question had chosen only Tamil.
4. Modern period up to 20th Century: Most of the Siddha literature was produced only during this period. Christianity and Islam created a great impact on Hindu religion. In fact, the missionaries of both religions worked maximum to exert their pressure on Hindus and social institutions. They started learning Tamil. They also employed Tamil poets32 to write their literature in Tamil. When, some of them were converted, they were encouraged to produce more literature in the respective converted religions33. The literature produced by the respective groups throw much light on the material period. Initially, they followed the Tamil literary tradition totally, and then started introducing changes with the usage of Arabic, Urudu and other languages. Interaction with Islam and Christianity, Hindu religious leaders voluntarily and otherwise started reforming their traditional practices. Siddhas and Siddha like literature had also increased. As explained above, the Siddhars of this period have been creation of these factors.
The Chronology of Tamil Sufis: As already explained, Sufis must have existed even before the advent of Islam. However, the Sufis after Islam were divided into two groups:
1. The Sufis who spread the message composing poems within the ambit of Quaran, Hadis and Shariat and it is referred to as Tasawwuf.
2. The Sufis who composed poems with the influence of pre-Islamic and non-Islamic factors of culture, tradition, and heritage either because they lived in such areas or converted to Islam from those areas.
Thus, even among the Tamils, this type of Sufis could be found. Therefore, taking all such factors, the chronology of Tamil Sufis is divided as follows:
1. The period up to Yacob (7th / 12th / 15th / 17th century): Had Yacob actually gone to Mecca and met Nabi / Nabimar, then that period must have been 7th century, as Prophet Mohammed (PBCH) period is 570-633 CE. After him, there was no Nabi / Prophet, therefore, he could not have met any other Nabi after that period. Therefore, it has to be checked in the Arabic literature about the authenticity of the visit of Ramadeva / Yacob. The other dates 12th / 12th / 17th centuries, as suggested by scholars do not suit the descriptive details as given in the Siddha literature. There are other references to the effect that Bogar also visited Jerusalem and Mecca driving his smoking vehicle and met Nabimar , when they asked about him, he replied that he had come there to see Nabi. Suddenly, he had the words / voice of Prophet (?) and converted himself into “Malucka” (=Muslim) to become a disciple of Nabi / Nabimar (Bogar.3.222 and 3.227). Therefore, again, these details are to be cross-checked with the Persian, Arabic and other sources. As Guru Nanak (1469-1539) had visited Mecca34, the sojourn of Siddhas to Mecca may not be impossible.
2. Up to the Period of Pir Mohammed Appa (1576-1664)35: Definitely, for the first time, the Sufi doctrine has been dealt with in poems by Pir Mohammed Appa. His works – Gnanappugazhcci, Gnanppal, Gnanapputtu, Gnanamanimalai have been composed within the ambit of Islam and also Sufi poems.
3. From Gunangudi Masta (1792-1838) to 20th century: The Sufi / Mystic poems of Gunangudi Mastan has created an impact on the minds of mystic quest of every religious pursuit without any differentiation. In fact, there have been more Hindu disciples to him than Muslims and so also followers even after his departure. His mystic symbols have been widely appreciated, though orthodox Islam opposed.
4. Modern period – After 20th Century: After the establishment of definite idea of Tamil Sufi literature, research studies started with the reprinting of Tamil Sufi literature.
Siidhas - non-Siddhas and Sufis – non-Sufis: Siddhas have clearly recorded the details in their literature like – Who are Siddhas, how they should be, and so on. However, they have not mentioned non-Siddhas or the persons, who were not Siddhas with any specific name. Though they have criticized that the secret language of the Siddhas would be understandable only to learned persons and not to other "simpletons”, “sinners", “half-baked scholars” etc36, they have not used any common word or expression to denigrate them. In fact, there are exclusive claims that “these poems have been composed only for Siddhas”. Such specific exclusive claims are mostly found in the alchemy related works. As alchemy and other elixir making techniques were guarded carefully, such expressions have been used, as otherwise, if such techniques fell into the hands of greedy and wicked, they would be misused. They have also attacked the social stratification based on work etc. But, not only in ordinary Islamic Tamil literature, even in Mystic / Sufi literature, the non-Sufis are specifically mentioned or referred to as “kafir”, “kufru” and other expressions with these adjectives37. In Islamic context, such expressions explicitly denote to non-Muslims with the implication of non-believers. Therefore, it is intriguing for Sufis to choose such terminology to use in their mystic literature. It is hoped that they would not have used them in such a narroe sense, as they have also worked for the unity of humanity. The explanation given by Mohammed Ibrahim alias Karunaiananda Bhupathi in this context is relevant to be noted.
Are the Siddhas’ Mysticism and Indian Mysticism one? The poems of Siddhas, though appear to have been dominated with Saivite philosophy, have attempted to connect other branches of Hindu religion. There are specific poems, which compare Vaishnavite and Saivite branches of Hindu religion. Sivavakkiyar clearly mentions at many places that, “There is neither Hari nor Hara”, “Whether Black or Red, both are equal”, That one who has Cakra and another both live together”, “He is the Lord of Tillai and also that of Tiruvarangam”, “Narayana and Namasivaya are one and the same” and so on. The Siddhass have rendered the poems on the subjects of Yoga and Pranayamam and explain their subtle methods figuratively keeping Sakti in their minds. They have incorporated high philosophical concepts like - God, the manifestations of God, God’s creation, the wonders of geology and cosmology, time, the birth and death of man, and also the useful medicinal system, cheap medicine, protective medicine, the health and hygiene of man, the prolongation of life in their poems in simple language. As they have interpreted and explained with the methods of mantra-tantra-yantra, they have been unison with the Indian mystical thought. Indian mysticism revolves around the concepts like – how to know God, how to reach God, what is the relation between God and man, why man is born and died, what is the purpose of his life on the earth. As the method has been always to go from “known” to “unknown”, “comprehensible” to “incomprehensible”, “manifested” to “unmanifested”, it is found both in science and mysticism in search of truth. As Indian tradition embraces and unifies the concepts of science and mysticism, such trend is noted in the poems of Siddhas.
Are Sufi Mysticism and Islamic Mysticism One? The question is redundant in the true mystical way of quest. However, as the difference is pointed out by the Islamic scholars, it is discussed here. M. Hamidudin, points out that the Sufi researchers uses two words al-tasawwuf and sufi to denote mysticism in the Islamic context38. M. M. Sharif divides Islamic Mystics into three groups and lists as follows39:
1. Sufis: The Sufis are divided into two categories – before al-Hajjaj and after al-Hajjaj, though, the names of the Sufis before al-Hajjaj are Hasan of Basrah, Abu Hashim of Kufah, Ibrahim bin Adham, Shaqiq of Bakh, Harith Muhasibi, Rabi’ah al-Adawiyyah of Basra, Dhu al-Nun Misri, Bayazid Bistami, Junaid of Baghdad. The names mentioned after him are abd al-Khadhir Jilani, Sihab al-din Suhrawardi, ibn-Arabi.
2. Mystic saints / Philosophers: Al-Khindi, Muhammed ibn Zakariya al-Raji, a—Farabi, Miskawaih, Ibn Sina, Ibn Bajjah, Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd, Nasir al-Din Tusi.
3. Middle-Roaders: Al-Ghazali, Fakir al-Din Razi.
The works and modern books specifically mention tasawwuf or Sufism one side and tasawwuf that is within the ambit of Islam at another side.
As Sufism developed around Sufis, their tombs, the rituals and festivals connected with their tombs, their speeches, acts, and poems also developed and published by the followers. Because of the influence of non-Islamic factors, many times, they are considered as un-Islamic. Persian and Indian Sufism has definitely influenced by and incorporated local factors and symbols of tradition, culture and heritage. Similarly, the South Indian and particularly, the Tamil Sufism has such factors. Of late, orthodoxy has tried to bring such groups within the ambit of Islam through Islamization. Similar subjects handled by the Sufis are re-interpreted under Islamic theology, Islamic Cosmology, Islamic philosophy, Islamic Mysticism, Islamic Metaphysics, Islamic Aesthetics and so on.
Muslim Philosophers and Sufis have also been differentiated accordingly. A passage is quoted for this purpose40:
“The true philosophes are those who adhere to the philosophic teaching of the Greeks. But there are those who are not content with this mode of inquiry and have gone far beyond it. These are the Sufis whose religious leaders (murshid) invent various formulas (dhikr) to be repeated by their followers. Besides these mysterious formulas the novices are instructed in the performance of ascetic practices in order that by these two means their hearts may beenlightened by the visions of the unseen world, of prophets, etc. They believe in the existence of numerous worlds, the world of humanity (alam-I-nasut), the invisible world (alam-I-malakut), which is the abode of angels, the higest heaven (alam-I-jabarut), the world of divinity (alam-I-lahut) and the world ofessence (alam-I-dhat). There are according to them many degrees of the knowledge of God and approach to Him; the final stage being that of reality(haqiqat), in which individuality is lost (fani) and the soul becomes absorbed (wasil, muttahid, mustaghraq) in the deity. The main difference between the philosophers and the Sufis in their search for truth is this, that the former confine themselves to reason and argument and have nothing to do with the ascetic practices of the mystics. The beliefs and tenets of both are the same. The philosophers, for example, prove the existence of the above-mentioned worlds by reasoning (istidlal): the Sufis say that they actually behold them (mushahidah) and speak disrespectfullyof mere reasoning as compared with sight. Thus, the author of “Mathnavi”, himself a Sufi says, “The foot of the reasoners (i.e, the philosophers) will be wooden; the wooden foot will be exceedingly feeble”. The following story is told of the Sufi, Abu said-Abul-khaor and the philosopher Abu Ali-Sina.
The Sufi remarked, “I am traversing the worlds”, and he began to describe them.
The philosopher rejoined, “ I too was traversing the”.
To which the Sufi replied, “Quite right; you were doing so. But, I was going along quickly, while you were hobbling along behind me with a stick’
The Sufis practically consider themselves as the religious guides of the age and successors of the prophets. All the philosophers of the present day follow the teaching of Mulla Sadra, whose system, an eclectic one, called the “exalted philosophy (bikmat-I-mutaliya)”, and expounded in a work named “Asfar”, aims at reconciling Greek philosophy, Sufism, the Quaran and the Traditions”.
If the works of Pir Mohammed Appa, Gunangudi Mastan and others are seen in this perspective of higher criticism, then, no difference could be found. In whatever way, the great people are divided and differentiated as mystics, philosophers, Sufis and so on, the nature of truth seeker’s aim is one only. The great sages and mystics appear to differ at higher level, some times, but it is not so. That is why at higher level, both Sidhas and Sufis could be considered or compared together and any religious fetters do not bind them. Hence the possibility of their meetings are considered critically.
Have Siddhas and Sufis Ever Met together? From the poems of Siddhas, about the sojourn oif Ramadeva and Bogar has already been mentioned. Ramadeva went to Mecca, converted himself into Yacob and then returned back to India as Ramadeva. Though, his date is variously mentioned as 7th / 12th / 15th / 17th centuries, when he sojouned there, definitely, he would have met Sufis. The historical documents have well recorded about the movement of people from middle east to India and vice versa41. Historians have established well about the connections between Persia and India since time immemorial42. The influence on the poems of Jalaluddhin Rumi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam has been pointed out by many scholars43. Omar Khayyam belonged to Neshabour / Nishapur, Iran. Ibn Batuta records about the meeting of Shaik Mohammed Majdhubi at the city of Pathan. Moreover, the mentioned details44 are to be noted here,
“I met Shaik Mohammed Majdhubi, who has come from Nishapuri at the city (of Pathan). He belongs to the group of Fakirs, who always would be in the status of ecstasy. His hair was hanging down upto his shoulders. A lion was with him. As it is a pert, it eats with them. Thirty Darveshs are with him. One among the m was rearing a deer. Both deer and lion lived together”.
As the Sultan of the material period might be Giasuddhin Damakhani (1341-1344), the city “Pathan” might be “Kayalpattinam”, Shaik Mohammed Majdhubi could be a Sufi. Indians were there in the Middle east, even before the advent of Islam there. During the Abbasid period many Indian Scholars and Pundits were invited for the translation of Indian works into Arabic and further study. Therefore, the Sufis in Tamizhagam during the period would have met Siddhas and such possibilities had been many.
Particularly, during 18th – 19th – 20th centuries, as such sages, saints and others moved from place to place meeting different people of Tamizhagam, they have met with each other. The possibilities of other meeting with each other are also analyzed:
1. The mystic poems of Gunangudi Mastan (1792-1838) have many Yoga, Pranayama, Mantra, Yantra, Tantra methods and explanations. Hindus have accepted him as guru and followed his methods widely. Therefore, Siddha-Sufi meetings in his context are explicit and must have taken place.
2. The meeting of Pir Mohammed Appa with Muthuswamy Thampiran.
3. There were two Muslim disciples among Sadasiva Brimendrar (17th – 18th Cent.). When they died, two toms were erected and they are still known as “Irattai Mastan” (Two Mastans) in Tanjore45.
4. During the sojourn of Sadasiva Brimendrar, a Muslim cut off of his hand. But, he proceeded as if nothing happened. When the Muslim showed his hand, he simply put it on the cut off portion and it struck back to its portion. Realizing the spiritual power of the Saint, he sought apology. But the saint went away as if nothing happened.
5. The stories of Sadasiva Brimendrar and Gunangudi Mastan resemble much46. As both belonged to the same periuod, they might have met each other.
6. Kumara Gurubarar (1686-1779), Tayumanavar (1608-1662 / 1705-1742), Siva Prakasar (1680-1746) have specifically refuted Christianity. Gunangudi Mastan too attacked Christianity vigoruously. Therefore, in this aspect, whether they or their disciples knew each other or worked together is a point of debate and further research considering the contemproneity and other factors.
7. The Tamil work, “Kaivalya Navanitham” has great impact on all Saints, philosophers and others during the material period. It has refuted all other religious tenets philosophically, logically and met-physically. As Muslim scholars have discussed about “Islamic Advaita” to counter “Advaita” of Hindu religion, definitely, the involved Hindu and Muslim scholars might have met. Mohammed Abdur Rahman in his book, “Muslim Advaita Mozhi” has discussed about such possibilities47.
8. Tayumanavar and Gunangudi Mastan sojourned parts of Tiruchy – Cadhuragiri, Purumalai, Nagamalai, Yanaimalai etc. As Tayumanavar met Siddhas of those areas, Gunangudi Mastan could have also met.
9. Melappalayam Shaikbu Ali Shahmadar Alim had read works like Kaivalya Navanitham, Vicara Sagaram, Gnana Vasittam, Ozhivilozhukkam, Vedapuranam, Pirappa Padalgal, Gunangudi Mastan Padalgal, Manimuttumalai in his younger days. Therefore, he might have met Siddhas, because of his interest in the related subjects, as otherwise, he could not have understood the nuances of the subjects in question.
10. There are references that a Muslim continuously after Ramalinga Adigal to get the Rasavada technique from him. There is a claim that Ramalinga was a third disciple of Arabic Sufi Thanikai Manippiran.
11. Tamil Muslim mystics have composed their poems connecting the Siddha and Sufi mystical aspects. Takkalai Gnani Pirappa and Gunangudi Mastan have used the mystic ideas and expressions of Pattinattar and Tayumanavar and thus acting as bridge between Siddha Mysticism and Islamic Mysticism48.
12. There are many references that Karaikkal Mastan Sahib Valiyullah49 had met many Siddhas. Though such references had been Islamic biased, they clearly prove that the Siddha-Sufi encounters had taken place.
13. Sufi Mystics have had Hindu friends, disciples and followers. They have also obtained “diksha” – initiation from them. They are in the pursuit of Siddhas.
14. About Muslim mystic poets, many Hindu poets have composed “Sattukkavi” i.e, poems of introductory nature. Therefore, they must have known well aware of the poems about which they describe.
There are many Siddha-Sufi dialogues, meetings and encounters. In historical perspectives, if they are facts, they should be cross-checked from each other source and can be used for further search. As the source materials, documents and other references are of recent origin, their authenticity could be verified easily to find out the truth. As there are references about imposters, frauds and cheats among the Siddha-Sufi literature, they are also to be discussed.
Fake Siddhas / Sufis / Gnaniyar / Pirs / Yogis etc: As for as Masqueraded Siddhas are concerned, they were there even during the Tirumular period and hence, he has condemned them like anything. He urged that it is the duty of the ruler to contain such imposters. Those who do not have and follow the Vedic principles, there is no meaning for them to masquerade with saffron dress and other paraphernalia. It is better to cut off their gudimi (the tout) and punul (sacred thread). The ruler has to investigate into such activities. He accursed the destroyers of temples and breakers of idols in clear terms. A consecrated Linga should not be removed from its place for any reason. Not even a brick should fall from the compound of any temple. If anything happens like that, he warns that sufferings would increase, rains stop, the (good) rule disappear and so on50. Therefore, it is evident that the moment, Siddhas deviate from the traditional path / Tirumular tradition, and switched over to the practices of rasavada, the fake Siddhas started increasing. Fake Siddha works also increased accordingly. Moreover, the fake Siddhas started destroying the works of others. The genuine Siddhas also started destroying their own works fearing that their works should fall into the hands of quacks and imposters, so that the time tested methods are misused by them. They have recorded the tearing down the palm leave manuscripts of many works in their poems themselves. That is why the researchers now declare that the original works of Siddhas have already disappeared. The available Siddha works have been composed by some poets and started circulated in their names and they are forged only51. Purnalingam Pillai has gone to the extent of telling that Siddhas have done a great injustice to the Tamil literature because, though their works appear as poems, they contain very ordinary words and expressions just like prose, language, syntax, colloquial vocabulary etc.
Similarly, the Muslim mystics have criticized and condemned the fake mystics / saints as poli gnaniyar. Particularly, Pir Mohammed Appa and Maccaregai Sittan used strong language to condemn them. They are kafirs, as the misinterpret scriptures, they recite scriptures like dogs for money, eulogize falling at the feet of Pirs – thus, Pir Mohammed Appa condemns. Maccaregai Sittan condemns them as the masqueraded Saitans, who came as Shaik, Syed, Fakir, Mastan, Kamil, Ganani, Yogi etc. With facade of Sufis, they misled the common people and exploit them with their spurious messages. Here, the words as Shaik, Syed, Fakir, Mastan, Kamil, etc specifically denote Muslims and Ganani, Yogi etc Muslim and non-Muslims. Therefore, the following facts are evident:
1. The so called fake Shaiks, Syeds, Fakirs, Mastans, Kamils, Gananis, Yogis etc would have been opposed as they had un-Islamic opinion and practiced connected methods with objectionable paraphernalia.
2. The Shaiks, Syeds, Fakirs, Mastans, Kamils, Gananis, Yogis etc would have gone to the extent of appearing as Hindu counterparts or the difference would have been disappeared and thus, the orthodix Sufis would have warned in their poems.
3. Non-Muslims might have been attracted towards Sufism and adapted and adopted such dress, practice etc. As the orthodox Muslims did not want their mixing with Muslims, they would have warned.
Why this type of fake Siddha-Sufi groups should have increased during the 18th – 20th centuries period is to be studied critically. It is evident that these groups indulged in non-spiritual activities, that is why Sivavakkiyar has categorically refuted the communalist Siddhas and Sufis:
“Is there your God and our God thus God existing separately,
Can God exist here and there as two Gods for two believers,
Do not you know that the omnipresent God is one.
Those who differentiate God would die with disease in their mouths”.
How these groups could be divided is discussed now:
1. Fake Saints / imposters existing in their own Religion: As there was respect in the society, the fakes would have imitated through name, dress, behaviour and other external factors, though they were not match with the genuine ones in intellectual and spiritual capacities.
2. Fake Saints / imposters existed to cheat / undermine the Other Religion: As the other religionists wanted to know the theology, philosophy, liturgy, etc, they tried to don the robes so that they could dupe ordinary people with their expertise. Particularly, for conversion activities, such methodology was adapted and adopted.
3. Masquerade as the Religion of the Majority: To get the confidence of Gurus, head of mutts, Siddhas and others, one has to don the robes and mannerism of the religion of the majority and thus, they followed the suit.
4. Masquerade to Grab the Secrets of other Religion: Indian religion was supposed to possess many secrets like elixir, transmutation of metals, flying, levitation, transmigration and so on. Therefore, the other religionists were very much interested in learning such tricks and other magic. Thus, they donned the robes of Siddhas. Most of them were interested in rasavada techniques and those who could not learn successfully roamed to cheat the public.
5. Masquerade for Political Purposes: Many worked as spies for the rulers sending information to them as they could freely move in different parts of the country and move with all people without restriction.
These tendencies were noted in both the categories of Siddhas and Sufis during the material period as has been recorded and reflected through the respective literature as pointed out above. As fake saints / imposters increased, their literature also increased. Therefore, they are studies critically.
Fake / Forged Siddha-Sufi Literature: Except the compilation of Siddha literature available as "Siddhar padalgal", “Periya Gnanakkovai", among the works of name and style, Vaidhyam – 1000, Karukkidai Vaidhyam – 600, Bogar Vaidhyam – 1000, Karpam – 360, Gnanasaramsam – 100 etc., attributed to Tirumular, Agasthiyar etc., most of them are forged only. However, the existence of genuine Siddha literature on medicine is not questioned or doubted and the discussion is restricted here only to the forged works. This fact can be easily understood with the internal evidences. For example in Pulippani Vaidhyam, it has been mentioned under the Chapter “Nalyugangalin varalaru” (The History of Four Yugas) that Boganathar lived during Dwarapayuga (i.e, 5105 YBP = Years Before Present), Pulippani 205 years after the starting of Kaliyuga (i.e, 3102 – 205 = 2897 BCE = Before Common Era) or 4899 YBP52. Similarly, the details found in the works attributed to Agasthiyar contain contradictory and non-verifiable data about the Yugas. Moreover, such details are not supported by any historical evidences. Therefore, the writers / composers of such works have purposely used the half-baked details of Yugas, the names and incidences of Itihasas and Puranas in the most assertive and authorittative tone and tenor to appear as if the works are authentic just to exhilarate, excite and inspire the readers. To take another example of a poem attributed to Tiruvalluvar, which runs as follows53:
“Calling the God Allah, folding their arms, worship saying -
“Illallah” and bending their bodies, and heads touching the ground.
Tell the message of God with the Cross, the Sutas,
Conquer through Spiritual propaganda, the Christians”.
The conveyed meaning is self explanatory, but, during the period of Tiruvalluvar, there was no Christianity or Islam on the earth. Therefore, to what extent the forger could go could be known and understood by these forged, counterfeit and spurious works. In fact, it is a big literary and historical fraud to circulate such poems in the name of Tiruvalluvar or Tirumular.
Among the Rasavada literature also, the forged literature has been plenty. There are works with names - “The Book of the King”, “The Book of Mildness”, “The Book of Weight”, “The Book of Mercury”, “The Book of the 70”, “The Book of the 1200” and so on attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan / Jabar, Jibir / Geber / Jiyaber. These books contain the details about the preparation of elixir, conversion of Iron / Copper into Silver / Gold and so on. Till 1678, these were included in the Medical encyclopedias, reference books etc attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan. The French chemist Marcellin Berthelot (1826-1907), E. J. Holmyard, and Paul Kraus conclusively proved that these works were only Latin Geberian forgeries54. They were written after about 900 CE by the Arab religious sect called “Islamia” took the name of Jabir and wrote these works fro the “unknown” sources! The existing works belong to 13th – 14th centuries. But, the scholars surprisingly, do not mention as to who actually wrote these works, which are the original source works, why they were written, when copied or adapted and adopted from “the originals” or “unknown sources”, why such sources were not acknowledged, why the names of the original writers not mentioned.
It is evident that the western and Arab / Muslim writers perhaps did not know the Siddhas and their works and therefore they could not relate the connection between them with the works. Those who read the existing works of Siddhas and the researchers on Siddhas could easily find out the similarity between the names of Siddhas and these forged works. Not only the names, even the poems, the methods mentioned to compose medicinal preparations, herbs / minerals used etc are very similar. Therefore, taking the accounts of sojourn of Siddhas to the Middle-eastern countries, it can easily be concluded that these works belong to Siddhas only. Such happenings could have taken place in historical settings in historical perspective as follows:
1. As Indian works of Medicine, Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, etc., were translated into Arabic during the Abbasid period even by bringing the Indian Pundits / scholars from India, some Arabs must have written these works from the works of Siddhas.
2. Adapting and adopting from the works of Siddhas, they must have been attributed to an Arabic scholar. Jabir ibn Hayyan is considered as “the first Sufi alchemist”. Therefore, his nae must have been used by them for respect and popularity.
3. The Siddhas who lived in the middle-east and got converted into Islam, might have written such works.
4. As the episodes of conversion of Ramadeva and Bogar into Islam is mentioned, whether they were written by them is subjected to further critical study.
The scholars have mentioned the following details to that effect:
1. They say that the words al-kaya denote Alkalis / salts, segimen vitri to Carbonate of Soda, tutia to Copper Sulphate, al kuhl to finely ground grey Antomony ore etc.
2. “al-iksir” is nothing but Kayakalpam. The western scholars like George Lockmann forcefully try to derive the word from the Greek “gerion”, xerio = desiccative and Arabic “imam” = the leader, they could not give proper and associated concepts and meanings. But, in Indian connotation, it is well known that “Kayakalpam” is used for rejuvenation of the body or keeping the body young without aging.
3. Moreover, the procedure prescribed, course explained and methodology used do not suit or match with their tradition, culture, heritage and civilization and such factors point to India.
Therefore, it is evident that either they would not have known the Siddhas and their works or knowingly, they did not mentioned them with bias. The noting of Ajmalkhan55 can be quoted here –
“The knowledge of chemistry must have gone from India to western countries. Siddhas Bogar and Ramadeva alias Yacob spread their works wherever they went. They visited Arabia, Turkey, China and other countries and had spread the Siddha medicinal practices”.
Thus, these details constitute the first Siddha-Sufi dialogue taken place in the field of medicine.
The Siddha-Sufi Dialogue in Cosmology etc: The differences between the Siddhas and Sufis in the concepts of Cosmology and related subjects are very minimal. They are summarised as follows: The origin of Universe, the regulatory motion of planets and other bodies in the sky, time calculation etc., are governed by natural laws. The creation of objects, their composition, size, shape, or the physical and chemical properties are in consonance with natural laws. When men at different parts of world try to perceive, conceive and visualize to project in objective forms they resemble. The subjective and objective symbolisms have played important role in all religions through the interpretation of theology, theogony, philosophy, ethics, metaphysics and so on. Siddhas have represewnted many concepts in the forms of dot, line, angle, triangle, rectangle, pentagon in two dimensions and solid figures – sphere, cube, rhombohedron, tetrahedron etc., in three dimensions, and they are otherwise known as cakras / mandalas, and vigrahas / idols. Sufis reflected such ideas through calligraphy and then in mandalas themselves56. Though, initially, the places of worship did not have any symbolism like signs, marks, colours, designs etc., later the mosques started to incorporate all such symbolism. As the shapes change, constructional methods also change as they are related to theology and cosmology.
M. Ajmal points out that the mandala figures exhibit the completion of spirituality. Kitab-al-thriyak contains the figures of such mandalas57. Lale Bakthtiar58 has also published some mandala figures. The concept of Sahadhak explains how it is used in the construction technology. Here, the mandala represents ground plan. In three-dimensional representation, a cone is on a cubical vault. The squaring a circle and circling a square method is used in such building technology. The open space in between is the place of Sufi, where he takes birth, dies and again takes spiritual rebirth. These mandalas / cakras are related to geometry and mathematics and thus numbers. Thus, they have significant theological and cosmological meanings. It is well known that the present day numerical system, numbers and their representation started in India and spread to other countries. Some scholars59, surprisingly remark casually that it is not known as to how Indian numerals were introduced in Muslim countries. In fact, the Arabs themselves called the numbers “Hindsa” meaning that the digits / numbers came from India, “Sind-Hind”, the philosophy came from India and so on. Therefore, the similarity found between Siddhas and Sufis is quite natural.
The Siddha-Sufi Dialogue in Medicine: The Siddhas, who adhered to the traditions of Tirumular, not only excelled in the medicinal methods, but also treated common people with the preparations of medicines obtained with natural sources – like herbs, barks and minerals. Such medicinal preparations and formulations had been consistent with nature and could be made easily. This medicinal system only is known as “Siddha medicine”. But, later, calling themselves as Siddhas, some indulged in the preparations of elixir and other related mixtures with the combination of Mercury and Sulfur. They also attempted to convert base metals into silver and gold. As mercuric preparations could convert baser metals into gold, they asserted that with the different mixtures of mercuric formulations, the human life could be extended. Sufis also fostered such methods and tried to learn more from the Siddhas. Actually, the longevity of human life is related to breadth and by controlling breadth only, the life can be extended and by consuming any medicine. That is why Sufis too used such bread control related symbolism in their songs. The attempts of Ramadeva, who tried to study about the living organisms under the desert sands of Arabia and determine as to how they could live under such extreme temperatures. He suggested that if man could also adapt and adopt himself with nature, he could also live like such plants without any difficulties. He taught such methods to his disciples there. The subject of breadth control has been dealt with by Pir Mohammed Appa, Gunangudi Mastan and Maccaregai Sittan.
The Siddha-Sufi Dialogue in Numbers, Astrology, Astronomy etc: The relation of numbers eith other subjects has already been mentioned earlier. Similarly, the importance of numbers could be noted in astrology and astronomy. The tradition of astronomy of Omar Khayyam, Jamshid Al Kashi, Ulkag Baig and others have been bridging the civilizations of India and the middle-east. The astrological connections are also very significant. Numbers are profusely used when astrological predictions are made on human life with reference to planetary motions and their influence. When rasi mandala / Zodiac and Nakshatras / stars are also related, the medicinal aspects are also linked with human life. The details that - how different acts are to done at different appropriate time, whether the child to be born is male or female, when the building of house should be started, what are the results of lizard falling on human beings, good and bird omens due to animals and birds, etc., are found in such books. The books used by Muslims show clearly that they are also believers of such practices and in fact have been using in their day to day lives60. These details are found in the books like “Lanurul Mukhminin”. Moreover, numbers forming different magic squares and predictions based on such squares, which are common both in Siddha and Sufi literature61. Though the orthodox Islam has opposed these practices and condemned them as un-Islamic and even anti-Islamic, sections of Muslims continued to use them. As such books are printed and reprinted continuously in many editions, it is evident that such books have been in good demand among the Muslims.
Some scholars might argue that such practices are only Islamic and not Siddha influenced. But, then how such same practices have been prevalent among the two religionists has to be studied critically - Whether such practices, have been the culmination of interaction of Siddhas and Sufis, or prove the influence of Siddhas on Sufis or they have been derived from the non-Indian Sufis. The paraphernalia of Kandhuri, Urs and other festivals celebrated resembles Hindus counterparts and in fact, many Hindus participate in such festivals along with Muslim brethren. Though Islamic scholars assertively and vigorously claim that in Islam there is no Sufism, but there are Muslims who accept Sufism should note these aspects for the unity of humanity instead of dividing.
The Nayaga-Nayagibhava: Treating God as lover by the Mystic poets is not at all new for any traditional society, as it is found in the Persian literature also, as it is closely associated with the development of Sufism. Omar Khayyam, Hafis and Jalalluddhin Rumi have extensively used this bhava / tend / point of view in their literature and made it Bakthi literature. If the words bakthi and God are substituted in the place of wine and woman, the real meaning is easily revealed in such poems. In such proper reading only, how the Sufis have been deeply immersed in the ocean of Bakthi so that their poems are soaked with Bakthi, making one cry at the time of rendering and heart and soul think only about God, to reach God could be understood62. It is important to note that the Siddhas and Sufis have extensively used such simile and metaphor in their literature. Though, some Muslim scholars try to interpret that Sufis always consider God as “Male”, there are references, where God is considered as “Female” also. In Indian tradition, this one of the paths of Bakthi marga through which a baktha / devotee can approach God. As the Sufi poets of Tamizhagam have been definitely influenced by such Bakti movement, they have used such bhava in their literature exhibited through Gunangudi Mastan, Shaik Bhava Shaik Sulaiman, Pir Mohammed Mastan, Rasul Bivi and others. That in Islam also, this type of Mysticism has been accepted is revealed through many examples. Shadhiya Gawarkhan Kisti and Victor Daner63 point out how Rabiyath al-Adhawwiya (780-801 CE), belonged to Basra was devoted to God through such Mystic love. Therefore considering such tradition and also familiar with Andal and Tulukka Nachiyar, the Tamil Sufis must have adapted and adopted such approach in their poems.
Note: The western / modern scholars used the expressions Bridal Mysticism and Erotic Mysticism for this aspect. The expression Bridal Mysticism may be acceptable, but Erotic Mysticism is not, as it conveys perverted meaning.
Conclusion: In the divine pursuit of Tamil Siddhas and Sufis, many similar aspects are noted in the historical perspective. Though, men appear to be divided on many factors like religion, language, culture, social status, they are in fact united together based on other factors which are the basic instincts of the humanity. Definitely, they have come together in their pursuit of God through Unity in Diversity and Diversity in unity approaches. Mahmud Shabistari64, in his beautiful poetry, Garden of Mystery says, “See One. Say One, Know One”. When Quaran says, “Say: God is One” (112:1), Siddhas proclaim, “Onre Kulam, Oruvane Deivam = Only One Humanity and One God”. After declaring, “La ilaha illa Llah Muhammad rasula Llah = There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is the Only Prophet”, the assertion, “Khul hu vallahu ahad = Only One” clearly brings out the above concept. First the existence of God is asserted in double negative expression, “La ilaha illa Llah” and then, exclusively with “Khul hu vallahu ahad”. Here only, the innate Sufist principle is appreciated.
Thus, the Siddhas and Sufis have been nearer, together and interacted many times, though, they appear to be at distance or differ externally. In Tamizhagam, definitely, they have moved together, interacted and had encounters with each other in historical perspective as discussed above. Based on the above observations, inference and arguments, the following conclusions are drawn:
1. During the 7th century and thereafter, particularly Abbasid period, the meetings and encounters of Siddhas and Sufis would have taken place.
2. The established Indo-Persian connections prove the possibilities of 11th – 12th century meetings.
3. If the details of visits of Ramadeva and Bogar to Mecca, the works attributed to Jasbir ibn Hayyan, Omar Khayyam etc., are critically analyzed cross checking with Persian and Arabic sources, such meetings could be strengthened and more facts could be bropught out in historical perspective.
4. According to scholars of history of sciences, Mercury was not available in India and it was obtained from China. The earlier Indo-China sojourns prove the fact. The Arabs might have tried to obtain the rasavada methods from Indians and the Siddha-Sufi encounters in Arabia prove the point.
5. If these incidences established after critical analysis, the interpolations in the Siddha-Sufi literature can be weeded out and expunged.
6. If the contacts of Nishapur / Iran and South India are studied thoroughly, more facts about the Siddha-Sufi contacts might come out.
7. Instead of making generalizations as “Siddhas” and “Sufis”, they have to be identified as such separating from the poets, scholars and religious sect headers.
8. The chronology of Siddhas is divided into four periods - 1. Up tp Tirumular, 2. 7th to 12th century, 3. Up to 13th century, 4 up to 20th century.
9. The chronology of Tamil Sufis is divided into four periods – 1. Up to Yacob / Ramadeva, 2. Up to Pir Mohammed appa, 3. Up to Gunangudi Mastan, 4. 20th century onwards.
10. Islamization checks, controls and restricts the studies of Sufism.
11. As the meetings / encounters of Siddhas and Sufis had taken place recently, the dates could be determined and fixed accurately from the source materials. Then, more light can be thrown on the social, cultural, religious aspects of history. The significance of such meetings / encounters can also be found out and appreciated.
12. Common traditional factors can combine different religious thinking with the specific internal symbolism to evolve external symbolism.
13. Popular beliefs, traditional prevalent practices and age-old rites, rituals and ceremonies could have made Siddhas and Sufis to come together or the processes of “inculturation” could have necessitated such exigency.
14. Nature influences through symmetrical patterns and thus, such symmetry is found in the conceived symbols, signs, marks, lime-light language etc., and later to be converted into external symbolism. Psychologically, hereditary and environmental factors also influence for the symmetrical patterns to be formed.
15. As Siddha literature / poems have been classified and published, the Tamil Sufi literature / poems should be classified and published as collection. Such compilation should have authentic history of Sufis, contemporary kings and rulers, Sufis and Siddhas, events with dates.
Notes and References
The primary sources used are the literature of Siddhas and Sufis in Tamil published during the last 200 years. Some of the songs have been so popular among the commoners and elite. Besides, these, the following primary and secondary sources have also been used and they are listed as under:
1. Muhammed Abdur Rahman, Muslim Advaita Mulamozhi (Source of Muslim advaita) (Tamil), Haji M. A. Sahul Hamid & Sons, Chennai, 1962.
M. Shams, Sufism and Saivism in Tamilnadu – a Comparative Study, Annamalai University, 1976.
………………, A Comparitive Study of Sufism and Saivism in Facets of Saiva Siddhanta, University of Madras, 2000, pp.200-208.
R. Rajamanickam, Sufikkalum Siddhargalum (Siddhas and Sufis) in Tamizhil Islamiya Meignana Ilakkiyangal (Islamic Mystic literature in Tamil) edited by Manavai Mustafa, Mira Publishers, Chennai, 1983, pp.55-77.
C. Nainar Mohammed, Mastan Sahibum Tayumanavarum (Mastan Sahib and Tayumanavar), Umarup Pathippagam, Tiruchy, 1993.
P. Kamalakkannnan, Gunangudiyarin Gnanavazhi (The Mystic path of Gunandudi), Vanathi Pathippagam, Chennai, 2000, pp.124-125.
M. M. Bashir, Gnana Ilakkiyangal (Mystic Literature), Dishat Publishers, Chennai, 1999.
Mohammed Ibrahim alias Karunaiananda Gnanabhupati, Vedanta Bhaskaran, Tiruvarur, 1999.
…………………………, Gnanayoga ragasiyam, Tiruvarur, 1999.
…………………………, Gnanakalanjiyam, Tiruvarur, 1999.
M. Parimanam, Meignani Peer Mohammed Appa Ilakkiya Ayvukkovai, 1976.
P. M. Ajmal khan and M. M. Vuwais, Islamiya Tamil Ilakkiya Varalaru, Vol.IV Sufi Meignana Ilakkiyangal, Madurai Kamaraj University, 1997.
2. O. B. S. Chobey, Traces of Indian Philosophy in Persian Poetry, Idarah-I-Adabiyat-I-elli, New Delhi, 1985 (Chap.4, Veda, Vedanta and Sufism, pp.131-141; Chap.6. Umar khayyam, the Epicureans and Chavarkas, pp.165-177).
Mohammed Khan Durrany, The Gita & The quran – a Comparitive study, Nag Publications, New Delhi, 1982, pp.269-273.
Bankey Bihari, Sufis, Mystics and Yogis of India, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, Bombay, 1971.
3. K. K. Pillai, Tamizhaga Varalaru – Makkalum, Panpadum (History of Tamils – People and Culture), Tamilnadu Text Book Society, Madtras, 1972, pp.409-410.
Somale, Tamizhnattu Makkalin Marabum Panpadum (Tradition and Culture of Tamil People), National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1981, pp.77-79.
M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, Tamil Literature, The Tamil University, Tanjore University, 1985, p.263.
M. P. somu, Siddhar Ilakkiyam Ayvu Nul, Annamalai University, 1988, Two volumes.
S. P. Ramachandran, Siddhargal Varalaru, Tamarai Nulagam, Madras, 1999.
4. M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, opt.cit, p.263.
N. C. Kandaiyya Pillai, Hindu Samaya Varalaru (History of Hindu Religion), Progressive Press, Chennai, 1960, p.80.
Maraimalai Adigal, Saiva Samayattin Nerukkadiyana Nilaiyum, Sirtitrrutta Kurippugalum (The Critical Poisition of Saivism and Notes for Reformation), Chennai, 1931.
5. The date of Tirumular is mentioned differently as 100 BCE (BCE = Before Current Era), 9th / 6th / 5th / 4th century CE (Current Era) and so on.
6. Mirvali-uddhin & Munshi Fasil, Sufi Kolgaigal in Kizhai Melai Nadugalin Meipporuliyal Varalru, Annamalai University, Part-II, pp.262-263.
M. M. Ajmal Khan and M. M. Vuwais, opt.cit, pp.34-35.
Manavai Mustafa, opt.cit, pp.39-40, 56-57.
7. Mirvali-uddhin & Munshi Fasil, opt.cit, p.263, 267.
8. M. M. Ajmal Khan and M. M. Vuwais, Opt.cit, p.23.
9. M. Hamiduddin’s Early Sufis, pp.310-349 in A History of Muslim Philosophy, Vol.I, edited by M. M. Sharif, Low Price Publications, New Delhi, 1999 (Reprint of 1961 – Pakistan edition).
10. Ibid, p.315.
11. Ibid, p.316.
12. Tara Chand and Kamil Hussain, Indiyavil Islamiya Karuttugalin Valarchi in Kizhai Melai Nadugalin Meipporuliyal Varalru, Vol.I, Annamalai University, p.873.
13. R. Muthukkumaraswamy, Sufi Ilakkiya Pathippugalum Uraigalum in Manavai Mustafa opt.cit, p.237.
14. M. M. Ajmal Khan and M. M. Vuwais, Opt.cit, p.45.
15. Ibid, p.46.
16. Ibid, p.57.
18. M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, opt.cit, pp.323-326.
19. M. M. Ajmal Khan and M. M. Vuwais, Opt.cit, p.115. Mohammed Vuwais mentions Yacob as a “Tamil Siddhar” and the details about the songs of him has been explained and included in the 7th chapter. But, the specific fourth volume of “Sufi Mystic Literature”, neither Ajmal Khan mentions Yacob as a “Sufi” nor he has been included in it.
20. K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, The Presence of Arabs in South India Before and After the Advent of Islam, a paper presented on October 25, 1999 during the 6th Session of Tamilnadu History Congress held at Islamiah College, Vaniyambadi.
S. M. Kamal, Muslimgalum Tamizhagamum, Islamiya Ayvu Panpattu Maiyam, Chennai, 1990, p.22.
21. The facts are known easily, if all the songs of Siddhas other than “Periya Gnana Kovai” or “Siddhar Padalgal” are read.
22. B. D. Basu (Trans.), The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Allahabad, 1912. Tamil Siddhas have freely adapted and adopted the sutras in their songs. They have explained the aphorisms of Patanjali in simple language in the form of songs.
23. S. K. Ramachandra Rao, Tantra Mantra Yantra – The Tantra Psychology, Arnold-Heinmann, New Delhi, pp.53-54.
23A. H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Madras, 1975, Vol.IV, p.208.
24. Meera Lebbaik Myallim, Nagore Kandhuri Mahotsavam, Dahrul Islam, 1925, Chennai, pp.211-13, 256-58, 309-10.
25. Vedaprakash, Sufism in India, Vivekananda Kendra Patrika, Vol.24, Part.1, Feb.1995, pp.119-132.
K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, A Critical Analysis of the Influence of Sufism on the Bhakti Movement, Itihas Darpan, Vol.VI, No.2, 2000, pp.8-15.
Abdul Hamid Siddiq, Renaissance in Indo-Pakistan: Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi in A History of Muslim Philosophy, opt.cit, Vol.2, pp.1557-1579.
26. Tayka Shuyb Alim, Arabic, Arwi and Persian in Sarandib and Tamilnadu, Imamull Arus Trust, Madras, 1993, p.404.
27. Ibid, p.406.
28. K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, A Critical Study of the Chronology of Siddhas, a paper presented at 21nd session of South Indiam Hisstory Congress held at Madurai Kamaraj University from January 18-20, 2001.
29. Siddhas had been there even before Tirumular. In fact, Siddhas were there in traditions of Buddhism and Jainisms.
30. V. Balaramaiah, Sagakkalai (1975), Muppuguru (1981), Amudha Kalasam (1991), Arul Jyoti Publishers, Chennai.
31. K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, Assam – The Gateway to India or Gateway to Greater India? and India – China Encounters, papers presented at the International Conference on Brahmaputra Civilization held at Guwahati from Oct.20-22, 2000.
32. S. Mohammed Hussain Nainar, Sidakkadi Vallal, Sultana Abdullah (Publishers), Chennai, 1953, pp.49-55.
M. S. Purnalingam Pillai, opt.cit, p.319 & 324.
33. S. Mohammed Hussain Nainar, Saidakkadiru Marakkayar Tirumana Vazhttu, Sultana Abdullah (Publishers), Chennai, 1953, p.iii & vi.
34. Surinder Singh Kohli, Guru Nanak’s Travels in the Middle East, in India’s Contribution to World Thought and Culture, Vivekananda Kendra, Madras, 1970, pp.597-600.
……………………………………., Travels of Guru Nanak, Punjab University, Chandigarh, 1997, pp.139-142.
35. Ajmal Khan says that Pir Mohammed’s dates of birth and death are not clearly known. However, as Tayka Shuyb Alim gives these dates in his book, they are taken for reference.
36. Ambiganandar Muppu Suttiram – 24; Ramadevar Patcini – 13, Cattaimuni Karpam – 100, Rasavada Nul – 521, Agasttiyar Vaidhya Paripuranam – 400:6, Nandi Nul – 5. Pulippani Vaidhyam 500-167 etc. These are given only for illustrative purposes and there are hundreds of books and there are more references.
37. Edetra Malai – 1:10; 11:4; 16:2; 18:1-2; 23:1, 4, 6; 25:3; 27:5; 28:2; 28:8; 39:4.
38. M. Hamiduddin, opo.cit, p.313.
39. M. M. Sharif (Ed), opt.cit.
40. Canon Sell, The Islam series – Sufiism, The Christian Literature Society for India, Madras, 1910, Appendix. The paragraph is quoted from Rice’s Crusaders of the Twentieth Century, pp.484-5.
41. K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, Tennindiyavaip Patriya Veli Nattinar Kurippugal, Tamilnadu Text Book Society, Madras, 1976.
42. Feroz Cowsaji Davar, Iran and India – Through the Ages, Asia Publishing House, Bobay, 1962.
43. O. B. S. Choubey, opt.cit.
K. V. Ramakrishna Rao, Decoding and Decipherment of Omarkhayyam’s Rubaiyat, in International Congress in Commemoration of Hakim Omar Khayyam Neyshabouri, Neshabouri, Iran, 2000, pp.49-50.
…………………………………….., All India oriental Conference (Abstract of papers), Chennai, 2000, pp.452-453.
44. S. Mohammed Husayn Nainar, opto.cit, p.24.
45. P. Nagarajan, Sri Sadasiva Brimenral Divya Saritram, Sri Bagawan Nama Publications, Chennai, 1998, p.41.
46. Renunciation of life at young age, abjuration of wedded life, following of mauna vrat (non-speaking penance) as per the direction of Spiritual Guru, composing works at that stage, roaming many places, performing miracles, attaining samadhi at last – these incidences resemble exactly.
47. Mohammed Abdur Rahman, opto.cit, p.3-4 and Appendix. Pp.1-24.
48. M. Abdur Karim, Islamiyat Tamizh Ilakkiyattin Tanittanmai, 5th World Islamic Tamil Literary Conference, Kizhakkarai, Karuttarangak Kovai, 1990, pp.434-435.
49. Karai Irai Adiyan & M. Sayabu Maraikkayar, Karaikkal Mastan Sahib Valiyullah Varalatrup Pezhai, Fatima Pathippagam, Karaikkal, 1981.
50. Tirumantiram – 231, 240, 241, 242, 247, 515-519.
51. P. V. Namasivaya Mudaliyar, The Coronation Dictionary, Chennai, 1911, p.938.
52. S. P. Ramachandran (Pub), Pulippani Vaidhyam, Tamarai Nulagam, Chennai.
53. S. Kalyanaraman, Tiruvalluvar Carittira Maruttuva Araycikkathir (Siddhar Marabu), Chennai, 1972, pp.171-172.
54. George Lockemann, The Story of Chemistry, Philosophical Library, U.S.A, 1959, pp.30-31.
55. M. Mohammed Vuwais ans Ajmal Khan, opt.cit, p.114.
56. Louis Massignon, Time in Islamic Thought, Eranos Year Book, Rhein-Verlag, Zurich, 1951.
57. M. M. Sharif, opt.cit, Vol.II, p.1114, 1120 & 1121.
58. Laleh Bakhtiar, Sufi – Expressions of the Mystic Quest, Thames and Hudson, Singapore, 1979, pp.86-89.
59. Howard Turner, Science in Medieval Islam, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999, p.45.
60. Lanurul Mufminin, M. A. Sahul Hamid & Sons, Chennai, 1982. They have published 12 parts in three volumes.
61. M. P. Somu, opt.cit, the Appendices of Vol.I and II contain many number squares.
62. O. B. S. Choubey, opt.cit, pp.181-190.
R. P. Masani, Persian Mysticism (Abridged version of Farid-ud-din Attar’s Mantiq-ut- Tayr), Award Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981, pp.94, 87-88.
63. Sadhiya Gawar Khan Khisti, The Nature and Origin of Sufism (Chap.12, pp.223-238).
Victor Danner, The Early Development of Sufism (Chap.13, pp.239-264), both articles appearing in the following book:
Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Ed), Islamic Spirituality – Foundations, Routlege & Kegan Paul, London, 1987.
64. Laleh Bakhtiyar, opt.cit, p.9.