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The Journal of Hindu Studies 2015;8:210–232 doi:10.

1093/jhs/hiv015
Advance Access Publication 5 June 2015

Perfected Body, Divine Body and Other Bodies


in the N@tha-Siddha Sanskrit Texts
Lubomı́r OndraJka*
Charles University in Prague
*Corresponding author: ondracka@ff.cuni.cz

Abstract: Habhayogic texts in Sanskrit are full of references and allusions to

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immortality, but the precise character of this immortality is not explicitly
described anywhere. Most of the scholars subscribe to the concept that the
yogin has to achieve at first a perfected physical body (siddhadeha), which has
to be later transformed into the new spiritual and non-material divine body
(divyadeha). This article first discusses different types of bodies in Sanskrit
texts on Habhayoga and demonstrates that no such concept is present in
them. Then it offers an explanation how and when the fallacious idea about
the transformation of the material body into the non-material one has
originated.
Introduction
It is well known that the aim of the N@tha-Siddhas is the attainment of immor-
tality. In India, however, immortality could have several different meanings. For a
Vedic man, immortality means the achievement of the full life span or continuity
of life through the son. Some Indic religious traditions have a particular concept of
an immortal and imperishable soul. We may also hear stories about immortal
yogins living somewhere in the Himalayas.
The question that then arises is what immortality means for the N@tha-
Siddhas. At first sight, it is clear that immortality in the N@tha-Siddha trad-
ition is immortality in a much stronger sense than Vedic longevity or the
usual imperishability of the soul. It is some kind of corporeal immortality.
The key question is: In what body do the N@tha-Siddhas seek immortality?
Is it a physical, material body? Or is it some other, non-material body? As
we shall see, most scholars would subscribe to this second alternative. Not
only do my findings not support this opinion, but they disagree with several
fundamental propositions of previous research. This article does not offer a
definitive answer to these questions: It is merely an initial step attempting
to deconstruct the prevalent ideas about the concept of body in the N@tha-
Siddha tradition.

ß The Author 2015. Oxford University Press and The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. All rights reserved.
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Lubomı´r OndraJka 211

Previous research
Shashibhusan Dasgupta

Let us begin our analysis with the above-mentioned findings of other researches.
The key personality is a Bengali scholar Shashibhusan Dasgupta who devoted a
long chapter in his famous work Obscure Religious Cults to the history, literature
and religion of the N@tha-Siddhas (Das Gupta 1969, pp.191–255). According to this
author:

[T]he final aim of the N@th Siddhas was the attainment of Śivahood in and
through the attainment of immortality. (p.218)
Liberation here [in Habha-yoga of the N@th Siddhas] means immortality first in

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a perfect body (siddha-deha) and then in a divine body (divya-deha), and this is
the Siddhi or the perfection after which the Siddhas aspired. (p.219)

Here we encounter the key terms that concern us: The ‘perfected body’
(siddhadeha) and the ‘divine body’ (divyadeha). Thus, according to Dasgupta’s last
statement, the process of liberation consists of two steps: The first is the
attainment of the perfected body and the second in the accomplishment of
the divine body. Unfortunately, Dasgupta immediately confuses this idea when
he writes:

The final aim of the N@th Siddhas [is] Javan-mukti or liberation while living, and
this state of liberation is what is meant by immortality. While the other schools
of thought regard the final dissolution of the body or its final dissociation from
the spirit indispensable for liberation, the Siddhas seek liberation in a trans-
formed or transmaterialised body, which is the perfect body. What is this per-
fect body or the divine body? It is an indestructible spiritual body, absolutely
free from the principles of defilement. (p.219)

Here Dasgupta seems almost to identify the perfected body with the divine body
and he considers both of them to be non-material and spiritual.1 Later he con-
tinues in a similar vein:

[S]uch yogic practices lead the Siddha to his original ultimate nature as the
immortal Being in his perfect or divine body. (p.229)
K@ya-s@dhana of the N@th Siddhas implies, on the whole, a slow and gradual
process of continual purification, rejuvenation and transubstantiation of the
body through various yogic processes. It has been said that through the fire of
yoga (i.e., the purifying processes of yoga) the ordinary body of change and
decay is burnt away and from the process of purification and rejuvenation
results a new immutable divine body as a transformation of the old. (p.234,
cf. also pp.239, 248, and 253)
212 Perfected Body, Divine Body

At the very end of his chapter, however, when comparing the teachings of the
N@tha and Rasa-Siddhas, Dasgupta surprisingly adds:

[T]he alchemists generally use the two words Siddha-deha and Divya-deha as
synonymous, evidently because both are free from corruption, mortality and
the defects belonging to the ordinary human frame. . . . The N@th Siddhas and
the Rasa Siddhas are known to be closely allied with each other regarding the
ultimate object of their aspiration which consists in making the body a proof
against death and decay . . . [But] the N@ths also in certain places discriminate
between Siddha-deha and Divya-deha as the exponents of the other mystic cults
do. (pp.254–5)

Thus, the position of Dasgupta is not entirely clear. It seems that for him both

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bodies are virtually synonymous, although he is aware of the fact that this does
not need to always be the case.

Kalyani Mallik

The second important author for our discussion is another Bengali scholar Kalyani
Mallik, whose voluminous work N@thsamprad@_yer itih@s, darśan o s@dhanpra>@la
(Mallik 1950) still remains the most detailed study of the N@tha-Siddha tradition.2
She agrees with Dasgupta that the first step in yogic s@dhan@ is the achievement of
the perfected body:

By process of purification . . . and hathayoga [the yogin] acquires an ageless and


immortal body. . . . When this metamorphosis or transformation is completed,
then the body one acquires is the siddhadeha. (p.304)
The main goal of the N@tha yogins is to make a human, natural and unripe body
into the ripe one through yoga. . . . This body, which is made ripe by the fire of
yoga, is the siddhadeha. (p.520)

Once a yogin acquires this perfected body, he is liberated (javanmukta, pp.293,


296, 303, 304) and beyond karmic bondage (p.390). Mallik offers several descrip-
tions of such a body:

This body is not nourished with external foodstuffs. This body and life do not
depend on the mundane world. . . . It cannot be mutilated even by the stroke of
a sword. Although it is opaque to look at, it does not cast a shadow and does not
leave footprints. Also it cannot be touched. (p.304)
The siddhadeha is light, it moves quickly like a thought, it can attain any form
and it can move arbitrarily. It manages to pass through a brick wall, water, fire,
wind or rock. It can become invisible in a moment, but on the other hand it can
simultaneously appear in many forms3. (p.520)
Lubomı´r OndraJka 213

The perfected body has a non-material, spiritual character:

As a salt is mixed in water, so the body of a liberated person acquires the


character of brahma and, in this form, a yogin is the javanmukta. When the
yogin’s body is no different from brahma, it attains spiritualness. All
the sense organs also become spiritual. This is the yogin’s siddhadeha or yoga-
deha. (p.293)

Here we have a new important term: The ‘yogic body’ (yogadeha), which is identical
with the perfected body. This identification is confirmed by several similar state-
ments (e.g. pp.524, 549, 550).
With regard to the relationship between the perfected body and the divine

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body, Kalyani Mallik also speaks about the process of transformation: ‘The siddha-
deha is gradually transformed into the divyadeha’ (p.304). This is discussed in
greater detail later:

Having assumed the siddhadeha, the yogins do good in the world for a very long
time and in this form they are engaged in public welfare. Gradually they
become acquainted with the pervading self-nature (@tmabh@va). Then they
can slowly see themselves in their visible great self-form and then the ‘great
knowledge’ (mah@jñ@na) arises. This is when the siddhadeha is transformed into
the form of the divyadeha. (p.391)

Kalyani Mallik thus makes a clear distinction here between the perfected and
divine body, since the divine body is an outcome of a yogic transformation of the
perfected body. The divine body is not perceptible by our sense organs: It is
entirely invisible (p.304). Unfortunately, the situation is not so simple.
First, Mallik introduces a great number of other bodies into the discussion.
Besides the above-mentioned yogic body, there are several other synonyms for
the perfected body: ‘mantric body’, ‘body of om’, ‘body of bindu’, ‘body of guru’, and
many others.4 The divine body seems to have only one synonym: ‘body of cogni-
tion’ (jñ@natanu, pp.304, 325). Secondly, and this is a greater problem, a supposed
difference between the perfected and divine body is impaired by a number of
contradictory statements, e.g.:

The siddhadeha . . . is called pra>avatanu or mantradeha. And it is precisely this


that is the divyadeha. (p.518)
There is no such distinction in the N@tha-Siddha tradition: when N@tha-Siddhas
mention yogadeha, they mean both: siddhadeha as well as divyadeha. (p.550)

It is obvious that the position of Kalyani Mallik remains ambiguous. What type of
body is the ultimate goal and what is the relationship between all types of differ-
ent bodies is not altogether clear.
214 Perfected Body, Divine Body

David Gordon White

Another scholar whose view is relevant to our discussion of this problem is David
Gordon White and his book The Alchemical Body (White 1996). He adds yet one more
body to those in the N@tha-Siddha tradition: The ‘diamond’ or ‘adamantine body’
(vajradeha). Describing the M@heśvara-Siddhas and comparing them with the
Raseśvara and N@tha-Siddhas, he says:

Rather then a perfected (siddhadeha) or adamantine (vajradeha) physical body,


the M@heśvara Siddhas’ goal was a divine body (divyadeha) of a more ethereal,
even incorporeal nature. (p.102)

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From this proposition we can conclude that the non-material, divine body is a
unique feature of the M@heśvara-Siddhas, whereas the Raseśvara and N@tha-
Siddhas strive for a physical, perfected or diamond body, which is ‘immortal yet
concrete’ and ‘transcends the laws of nature’ (p.72). But then a hundred pages later
we read:

The fruit of this union, of the yogin’s commingled male and female essences, is
nothing less than the new, supernatural, immortal self that will now emerge
from the ‘husk’ of the gross body, as the result of this yogic process. This is the
siddha- or vajra-deha, the yogin’s perfected or diamond body, his innate immor-
tal essence which he has now restored to its pristine perfection by burning
away the gross and refining the subtle elements within himself. (p.202)5

Here the siddhadeha and vajradeha seem to be synonymous, they are definitely not
physical, gross bodies, and thus it is not clear how they differ from the divyadeha of
the M@heśvara-Siddhas. The following interesting quotations concern the different
bodies of the Raseśvara-Siddhas:

In alchemy, the rasa in question is mercury, which substitutes itself for human
bodily fluids and thereby transforms a body of flesh and blood into a golden
(svar>a), adamantine (vajra), or perfected (siddha) body. (p.303)
Even if the body so produced is most often called a golden, adamantine, or
realized body (svar>a-deha, vajra-deha, siddha-deha), it is in fact a mercurial body,
an alchemical body. (p.271)

The specific character of the new, transformed body is not explained and, as in the
case of the previous authors, we are in some doubt as to the precise position of this
scholar not only on this particular question, but also on several other and some-
times very fundamental problems. What we can infer from White’s study is that
the N@tha-Siddhas and Raseśvara-Siddhas have the same goal: They both seek
Lubomı´r OndraJka 215

immortality in a perfected or diamond body although they differ in their means—


the N@tha-Siddhas use a Tantric habhayoga, whereas the Raseśvara-Siddhas employ
alchemical techniques. The new, immortal body is a product of a transformation
(yogic or alchemical) and does not have a gross character. And, what is important
for us, according to David White a divine body does not appear to play a part in the
doctrine of the N@tha-Siddhas.

Other scholars

Other authorities on the religion and philosophy of the N@tha-Siddhas do not add
anything remarkable or fundamentally new. Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj analyses dif-
ferent concepts of body in many of his publications, unfortunately often in a too

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general context of Tantric and yogic teachings which does not allow us to ascribe
these ideas to the N@tha-Siddhas in particular with any certainty.6 Still, many
statements in these passages are very interesting for our discussion, as for
example:

The perfected body is not governed by natural laws. This is its main charac-
teristic. When the body becomes perfected, then it is free from ageing, illness
and similar afflictions and is capable of overcoming death. Sometimes the body
is both non-ageing and immortal. But sometimes immortality and non-ageing
do not coincide. When non-ageing and immortality occur in the body simul-
taneously then this perfected body (siddhadeha) is called a divine body (divya-
deha). (Kabir@j 1995, p.166; very similarly also in Kavir@j 1994, p.268 and 1984a,
pp.89–90)

When describing the concept of body in the N@tha-Siddha tradition, Kaviraj too
speaks of two steps:

The N@tha ideal is first to realise Javanmukti through pi>na siddhi which secures
an Immaculate Body of Light free from influence of Time i.e. a deathless unde-
caying spiritual Body of light and then to realise Par@mukti or the Highest
perfection through the process of mutual integration samarasakara>a. . . . [T]he
complete course of N@tha spiritual culture did not end with the attainment of
siddha deha. (Kaviraj 1990, p.164)

In another exposition of the N@tha teaching, Kaviraj , however, surprisingly


notes:

A body like this is said to be rare even among the gods. It is pure — purer than
?k@śa itself. Siddha-k@ya, Divya-deha, Yoga-deha, etc., are but names of this Body.
(Kaviraj 1987, p.78)
216 Perfected Body, Divine Body

And similarly in another essay:

Call it by the name of mental body, celestial body (divyadeha), ideal body
(bh@vadeha) or by any other name, it is a marvellous acquisition. (Kaviraj
1984b, p.119)

It becomes apparent that it is impossible to draw any definitive conclusions


from these statements of Gopinath Kaviraj.
The writer Hazariprasad Dvivedi does not discuss the problem of different
bodies at all in his lucid outline of the N@tha-Siddha tradition, and only in his
chapter on the doctrine of the Raseśvara-Siddhas does he describe the process of
attaining immortality in the divine body (Dviveda 1996, p.188). And finally, Akshaya

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Kumar Banerjea, an author from within the N@tha-Siddha tradition, explicitly
states that

this old yogic science enabled a spiritual aspirant to dematerialise his material
body and to transform it so to say into a spiritual body. (Banerjea 1961, p.200)
According to the Yogis, man has within himself the power . . . to convert the
physical body into a vital or mental body or to produce from one mental body
one or numerous physical bodies or to spiritualise the physical body. (p.250)

Summary of previous research

When we probe for a prevalent position on the problem of different bodies in the
N@tha-Siddhas’ doctrine in academic circles, we are under the impression that the
most influential theories are those of Shashibhusan Dasgupta. The large diffusion
of his ideas has been further strengthened by the writings of Mircea Eliade, whose
chapters on the N@tha-Siddhas in his famous work on yoga (1977b, pp.299–314)
heavily depend on Dasgupta’s Obscure Religious Cults.7 Consequently, the N@tha-
Siddhas’ theory of the transformation of the physical perfected body into the
non-material divine body is firmly established in all types of academic production
nowadays: In highly specialised studies,8 in general works on Indic religions
(Gonda 1963, p.220) or on Hinduism (Brockington 1992, p.156), in religious diction-
aries (Bowker 1997, p.686; Doniger 1999, p.781), or even in general encyclopedias.9
All the above-mentioned studies by Dasgupta, Mallik, and White seem to have
one key problem in common: Their authors normally illustrate most of their
statements with a number of quotations from original texts, but in the case of
different bodies they fail to do so.10 This is certainly surprising and rather suspect.
When we take into account that the positions of these authors are often ambigu-
ous, and moreover that they are not in full agreement with each other, it becomes
obvious that the answer to our original question about different bodies in the
N@tha-Siddha tradition is not easy to find in previous scholarship and that we have
to go back to the texts of this tradition to begin our search for this answer.
Lubomı´r OndraJka 217

Various bodies in the N@tha-Siddha texts


The literary heritage of the N@tha-Siddhas is enormous and has still not been
researched thoroughly enough. Judging from the catalogues of manuscripts in
various Indian libraries and institutions, the number of extant N@tha-Siddha
texts can be estimated at several tens if not a few hundreds. These texts, written
in Sanskrit as well in almost all North Indian languages, remain largely unedited
(Mallik 1954, p.27), and those published are, with a few exceptions, often poorly
edited.11 Since my research is based entirely on edited texts, the results must be
taken with a degree of caution. The second limitation of my study for the purpose
of this article is its focus on Sanskrit texts only. And finally, it is exclusively a
textual study as I did not research these questions among present-day N@ths.
A difficult and open question is what may be counted as a N@tha-Siddha text.12 It

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is not my intention to solve this problem here. A good many scholars have com-
piled different lists of these texts.13 The usual grounds for including a text in such
a list are that it is ascribed to any N@tha-Siddha, or it pays homage to them, or it is
respected within the tradition. My approach is rather broad: Sometimes I also refer
to non-N@tha habhayogic texts. On the other hand, I have excluded texts admittedly
connected to GorakXan@tha, but visibly belonging to other traditions.14

Immortality

First we should discuss what the texts say about immortality, since the most
important characteristic of different yogic bodies is that they are said to be im-
mortal. Indeed, almost all texts mention a possibility of attaining immortality,
most frequently when describing the technique of khecaramudr@. After the acqui-
sition of this difficult mudr@ or other technique, there is ‘no reason to be in fear of
death’.15 Statements about the yogin who ‘conquers death’,16 ‘does not age and
die’,17 ‘becomes immortal’,18 or ‘whose is immortality’19 are in the same vein.
There are an abundance of similar phrases, but they are all too general and
thus do not help to understand the precise character of the immortal body.
What is perhaps of more interest is the statement that ‘the soul does not leave
a body filled with somakal@’,20 since this verse makes a reference to the prerequis-
ite of bodily immortality: The body must be flooded with the nectar of
immortality.

The perfected body

The most important term discussed in the literature reviewed above seems to be
the perfected body (siddhadeha). Surprisingly, this word does not occur in any of
the N@tha-Siddha texts I have studied, not even in any synonymic form.21 This fact
is extremely difficult to explain and I will return to this problem in a concluding
discussion. At this stage I can offer one, albeit rather forced, explanation. The
218 Perfected Body, Divine Body

scholars have perhaps decided to use the term siddhadeha to describe a body which
has achieved all the perfections (siddhis) and from this point of view it is really
perfected. Unfortunately, no such definition may be found in the literature.
In fact, the term ‘perfected body’ is very rare in the whole of Sanskrit literature.
As a technical term, it is probably only used in the texts of Gaunaya VaiX>avism,
where siddhadeha (or more frequently its synonym siddhar+pa) means the highest
goal of the s@dhaka: The body through which one has access to the ideal
Vrajaloka.22 A similar example of where the word siddhadeha is found is the
Sahajaya VaiX>avism and various Bengali traditions originating from this.23

The diamond body

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The term ‘diamond body’ (vajradeha), frequently mentioned especially by David
White, is also not referred to in our texts, but there are a few isolated occurrences
of its synonym vajrak@ya. The fifth chapter of the Siddhasiddh@ntapaddhati includes
a description of a gradual ascent of the yogin in each year of his s@dhan@. In the
eighth year, he achieves the siddhi of a>im@ and then, in the ninth year, he acquires
a diamond body and he can fly or move through the air.24 The attainment of a
diamond body is not, however, the final stage of the yogin’s endeavour, since in
the 10th year he can reach anywhere he likes faster than the wind, in the 11th
year, he becomes omniscient, and finally, in the 12th year, he becomes equal to
Śiva.25 There is no other information about the character of this diamond body,
but it is clear that it has some of the siddhis26—although not yet all of them—and,
most importantly, that it is not the final goal. The second text in which the
vajrak@ya is referred to is the Khecaravidy@, where the diamond body is the effect
of drinking the nectar of immortality.27
Although the term ‘diamond body’ is not directly used in the Amanaskayoga, in
one verse it is said that in the ninth month ‘the yogin becomes like a diamond’.28 A
similar statement is also found in a commentary to the Amaraughaś@sana.29 Finally,
according to the Śivasa:hit@, a yogin can obtain a body which is ‘harder than
diamond and does not become corrupted even in a thousand years’.30 On the
other hand, this term seems to be relatively frequent in the alchemical texts,31
and, understandably, it is an important term in Tantric Buddhism.

The yogic body

We have seen that according to Kalyani Mallik the synonym of the perfected body
is the yogadeha. This term, however, is equally rare in the texts. In one important
passage of the Yogabaja, to which we will return shortly, it is said that ‘not even the
gods can acquire a very strong yogic body’.32 The Hindi translation of this verse
has an interesting explanation of the yogadeha: It is ‘a perfected body made ripe by
yogic s@dhan@ in the fire of yoga’.33 The second occurrence of the term yogadeha is
in the anthology GorakXasiddh@ntasa:graha: The yogin should give up or destroy his
Lubomı´r OndraJka 219

ordinary mundane body, create a yogic body and protect it.34 I have not found any
possible synonym of this term in the texts.

The divine body

The only relatively frequent term in the N@tha-Siddha texts is the ‘divine body’.35
In a number of treatises we find this verse:

When the rajas is impelled by the motion of śakti through the breath, then it
achieves unity with the bindu, whereupon the body becomes divine.36

It is clear from the context that the divine body is a direct result of the union of

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rajas and bindu through the ku>nalinayoga and thus it is not a product of any
gradual transformation. Moreover, it is obvious that the achievement of the
divine body is not the highest aim, since the yogin’s effort continues with other
techniques.
Several other texts, when describing the four stages of the n@dayoga, mention
the achievement of the divine body, which is full of energy, free of disease, and
having divine fragrance.37 For our discussion, it is important that the yogin attains
this divine body in the first stage called @rambha—beginning. It is clear that this
body is nothing extraordinary. It marks the very outset of the yogin’s effort and it
is definitely not a non-material or spiritual body, but an ordinary physical one,
since it is only in the third stage of this process that the yogin becomes free from
pain, old age, hunger, sleep, etc.
Another important occurrence of the term divyadeha is again in the fifth
chapter of Siddhasiddh@ntapaddhati, which we have already quoted in connection
with the diamond body. Here the progress of the yogin is described year by
year and, in the third year, the yogin ‘acquires a divine body and he is not
harassed by lions and tigers’.38 As we have seen, only six years later, in the
ninth year, he obtains a diamond body. Thus, in this text the divine body is
again near the beginning of the yogic path and certainly does not have a non-
material or spiritual character.
There are several other ways of attaining the divine body (various
habhayogic cleansing techniques, mudr@s, etc.),39 but all these verses confirm
the fact that the divine body cannot be the highest and final aim of the
yogic s@dhan@.

Transformation of the body

The last problem to be discussed here is the transformation of the body. In other
words, do the texts speak of the dematerialisation of the gross body into the non-
material, spiritual body as the scholars do? The answer is: They do not—at least
not explicitly. The only passage which could possibly be understood as referring to
220 Perfected Body, Divine Body

such a process is found in the Yogabaja:

51. The body consisting of seven constituents is slowly burnt by the fire of yoga
and the gross elements gradually enter into [their corresponding] tattvas.
52. Not even the gods can acquire a very strong yogic body, which is free from
deterioration and bondage, possesses various powers and is supreme.
53. The body is like the sky, even brighter than the sky, subtler than the subtle,
grosser than the gross and stiffer than the stiff.
54. The yogin has a form according to his will, is independent, does not age and
does not die. He frolics playfully wherever in the three worlds.40

This passage is very unique in the N@tha-Siddha texts and,41 moreover, its exact

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meaning is not entirely clear. Certainly, it refers to some elements of the bh+ta-
śuddhi ritual, from the full context; however, it is apparent that something more is
involved.42 This is suggested by passage in the Yogabaja where it is said (76cd) that
the wise yogin should ‘burn the body consisting of seven constituents by fire’ to
become free of disease and even immortal.43

Summary

Let us briefly summarise the findings. In the N@tha-Siddha texts, it is not possible to
find any elaborate description of the gradual transformation of the physical, ma-
terial body into the spiritual, non-material one. The texts do not provide any co-
herent concept of different bodies. The term ‘perfected body’ is not used at all. Other
terms (‘yogic body’ and ‘diamond body’) are extremely rare and the only relatively
frequent term is the ‘divine body’, which, however, is certainly not the final goal of
the yogin’s effort, since a yogin attains this body at the very beginning of his path.

Discussion
The results of my research produce more new problems than answers. At the
beginning of this article, I asked a key question: In what body do the N@tha-
Siddhas seek immortality? I cannot offer a definite answer at present, but I believe
that the texts speak for a more concrete and physical body than for some kind of a
spiritual body. In saying this, I am in evident discrepancy with the previous
findings of other scholars and thus I should propose some possible explanations
for this contradiction.
But could I be mistaken? There are a number of reasons for this possibility. This
study is based solely on Sanskrit material.44 I have used only published texts and
no manuscripts. Not even all the printed texts were available to me. Some texts
have different editions and I did not study all of them. Some term or idea may have
Lubomı´r OndraJka 221

escaped my attention, or, I may not have understood it correctly. This possibility
thus remains open.
It is possible that some scholars view the doctrine of N@tha-Siddhas in a wider
context of Tantric teachings in general, or as very close to the theory of nondual
Kashmir Śaivism in particular. Such a view would not be without substance. There
is no space to go into detail here, but it is evident that if we take this position, at
least part of the problem might be seemingly resolved. Especially the idea of the
transformation of the body, the ability of the yogin to create any kind of body, the
process of divinisation of the body etc.—all of these are easily to be found in the
texts of Kashmir Śaivism.45 There are, however, several difficulties with this ex-
planation. First, no author explicitly connects the concept of body in the N@tha-
Siddha tradition with the teachings of Kashmir Śaivism.46 More importantly, the

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divinisation of the body is in fact a prerequisite for an individual Tantric ritual,
since according to Tantric ideas only a god can worship a god. The divine body is
therefore temporarily formed for the purpose of the daily ritual by the technique
of imposing mantras of the deities on the practitioner’s body.47 And this is an
entirely different situation from the concept of the divine body as described by the
scholars.
The last possible explanation of the discrepancy between my results and the
previous research may sound rather bold: I am right while the others are mistaken.
Moreover, I believe that a source of erroneous opinions prevalent among scholars
might quite easily be identified.
In 1937, three volumes of The Cultural Heritage of India were published in
Calcutta (Avinashananda 1937). The best Indian academics at that time contributed
to this prestigious work. One of them was a Tamil scholar V.V. Ramana Sastri
who wrote a short study called ‘The doctrinal culture and tradition of the
Siddhas’.48 This article was one of the first studies of the teaching of the
Siddhas in English and, despite its brevity, it contains a mass of important
information.49
The difficulty with this study is that it does not properly distinguish between
different Siddha traditions. Initially on the first page Sastri makes a distinction
between the teaching of the Raseśvara and the N@tha-Siddhas on the one hand and
the M@heśvara-Siddhas on the other:

‘Can this ugly death be avoided, if not wiped out?’ Only the Siddha reassuringly
answers the question in the affirmative, saying that death may either be put off
ad libitum by a special course of restrengthening and revitalizing the body, so as
to put it permanently en rapport with the world of sense, [note 1: The view of
the Raseśvara Siddha and the N@tha Siddha.] or be finally ended by demater-
ializing and spiritualizing the body, according to prescription, so that it dis-
appears in time in a celestial form from the world of sense and finds its
permanent abode in the transcendental glory of God. [note 2: The view of
M@heśvara Siddha.] (Sastri 1956, p.300)
222 Perfected Body, Divine Body

Yet the rest of his exposition of the doctrine (pp.301–4) seems to be based entirely
on the ideas of the M@heśvara-Siddhas. It is precisely on these pages where we
encounter many ideas prevalent among the later authors: Different types of bodies
and particularly the theory of the transformation of the gross body into the spir-
itual, non-material body. Sastri speaks here of the Siddhas in general, and it is easy
to imagine how these theories could have also been ascribed to the N@tha-Siddhas.
This is the first confusion. The second confusion is that the so-called M@heśvara-
Siddhas in Sastri’s article are in reality the Tamil Siddhas.50 From the modern
literature on this tradition it is obvious that the Tamil Siddhas indeed have an
elaborated concept of different bodies and their gradual transformation and dema-
terialisation.51 The full process of the transformation of the body, as described in
Tamil Siddha texts, can be summarised as follows:

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When a body is hardened by yogic techniques we get what is called the yoga
dOha. . . . When the ku>nalina is aroused and passes through the six @dh@ras, it is
the process of the spiritualization of the body of the s@dhaka. It is the process of
the acquirement of yogic powers, siddhis, leading to a siddha dOha, ‘perfect body’.
It is a ‘perfect body’ because the ‘body’ can do and be anything at the will of the
s@dhaka. The siddha dOha can have free movement in the universe and it does
not have to adhere to the spatio-temporal laws of it. The attainment of siddhis
or the siddha dOha is no end in itself; it is but a means to another level of
existence. After the attainment of the siddhi, the siddha dOha is turned into a
mantra dOha called pra>ava tanu. This pra>ava ta>u is free from all gross matter
and all impurities. It is a body consisting of the sacred formula ‘O:’. This body
is refined, transphysical, incorrutible, transfigured body of glory and power.
The pra>ava ta>u is transfigured into an eternal spiritual body called jñ@na dOha
or the divya ta>u. When a Siddha attains this spiritual body he becomes a para-
mukta; he attains Śivahood. (Ganapathy 1993, pp.124–5)

From this description, it becomes apparent that what the above-mentioned au-
thors say about the doctrine of the N@tha-Siddhas in fact refers for the most part
to the Tamil Siddhas.52

Conclusion
To briefly summarise the findings: (i) the Sanskrit N@tha-Siddha texts do not
confirm the theory of the transformation of the physical, perfected body into
the spiritual, divine body; (ii) these texts do not contain any coherent concept
of different bodies or any explicit description of their transformation; (iii) the
prevalent ideas in the literature about the concept of body in the N@tha-Siddha
tradition are inaccurate; and (iv) these false theories are likely to have been caused
mainly by a double confusion on the part of Ramana Sastri.
I consider these results to be preliminary, since there is still much work to
be done in order to gain a better understanding of the concept of body in the
Lubomı´r OndraJka 223

N@tha-Siddha tradition: (i) more texts, and not only in Sanskrit, must be taken
into account; (ii) the literary heritage of the N@tha-Siddhas is in no case homoge-
neous: An attempt must be made to determine different doctrinal (and probably
also regional) streams; (iii) historical and doctrinal relations between different
Siddha traditions, including the Buddhist Mah@siddhas, should be studied.53
Then, I hope, it will be possible to show that the final goal of the N@tha-Siddhas
(or at least most of them) was the attainment of a physical and gross body which
was ageless (thanks in particular to the technique of khecaramudr@), endowed with
various perfections (siddhis), and not bound by mundane laws of nature (thanks to
the process of bh+tajaya).54

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Notes
1 Dasgupta speaks repeatedly about the non-material character of these bodies:
‘Through the fire of yoga the body becomes supra-material’ (p.220); ‘transubstan-
tiating the material body of change to subtle etherial body’ (p.247).
2 It is unfortunate that this seminal work has so far escaped the attention of most
scholars in the field of N@tha studies.
3 This characteristic is very similar to the description of the qualities of a body in

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Vy@sa’s commentary on YS 3.45.
4 mantradeha (p.518), mantratanu (p.304); pra>avatanu (pp.303–304, 307, 325, 328, 391,
518, 552), omk@radeha (pp.303, 325, 328); baindavadeha (pp.314, 325, 391, 494;
regarding the baindavadeha, however, Mallik says that there is no clear reference
to it in the N@tha-Siddha texts, p.314), baindavaśarara (p.304); gurudeha (p.552).
Other bodies are mentioned by Mallik mostly when making comparisons with dif-
ferent schools (e.g. siddhadeha is identified with a bh@vadeha of the VaiX>avas,
pp.297, 328).
5 White speaks in a similar vein at other points in his book: ‘semen is the raw ma-
terial and fuel of every psychochemical transformation the yogin, alchemist, or
tantric practitioner undergoes, transformations through which a new, superhuman
and immortal body is “conceived” out of the husk of the mortal, conditioned,
biological body’ (1996, p.27); ‘the basic Siddha principle of telescoping the gross
into the subtle as a means to generating a siddha body’ (p.150); ‘the pills . . . cause a
wholly subtle and immortal alchemical body to emerge out of the husk of the gross,
biological body’ (p.287). And in another of his works: ‘What is it, then, that dies? It is
the gross, biologically given body, a husk that is to be cast off like the slough of a
snake’ (White 2003, p.20, adopted from White 1996, p.281).
6 See e.g. Kabir@j (1995, pp.165–80); Kavir@j (1994, pp.213–31, 264–82); Kavir@j (1984a,
pp.72–112) and Kaviraj (1984b, pp.117–25).
7 Eliade follows Dasgupta in his concept of bodily transformation: ‘le siddha-deha des
hathayogins n’est pas sans ressemblance avec le “corps de Gloire” des alchimistes
occidentaux; on réalise la transmutation de la chair, on construit un “corps divin”
(divya-deha), un “corps de la Gnose” (jñâna-deha), digne réceptacle pour celui qui est
un “délivré la vie” (jı̂vanmukta)’ (Eliade 1977b, pp.273–4); ‘qu’il existe deux sortes de
corps, . . . et que l’on obtient ce deuxième corps par la pratique du Yoga (c’est pour
cela qu’il est appelé yoga-deha, le “corps du yoga”’ (p.314, see also pp.281–2). Eliade
also repeats this view in his other books, e.g.: ‘le hatha-yogin et le tantrique visent à
transmuer leur corps en un corps incorruptible, appelé “ corps divin” (divya-deha),
“corps de la gnose” (jñâna-deha), “corps parfait” (siddha-deha)’ (Eliade 1977a, p.109).
8 See e.g.: Muller-Ortega (1989, pp.36–7); Bakker (1990, pp.291–2); Haberman (2003,
p.liii); Feuerstein (1998, pp.39, 507, 517, 542), etc. Owing to Eliade’s influential work,
this concept is widespread even outside Indic studies (Needham 1983, p.276).
228 Perfected Body, Divine Body

9 The online edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica states clearly: ‘Natha, religious
movement of India whose members strive for immortality by transforming the
human body into an imperishable divine body.’
10 With one exception: Two authors quote YB 52 as evidence for the occurrence of
yogadeha (Mallik 1950, p.208; Das Gupta 1969, p.220). When mentioning ‘adamantine
(vajra) body’ (1996, p.303), David White quotes four examples from the Gorakhb@na
(p.507 note 4: Sabada 60, 211; Pad 5.1, 15.1). None of these lines, however, says
anything about a diamond body. I am grateful to Jaroslav Strnad for a detailed
grammatical and semantic analysis of these verses which confirmed my initial
suspicion.
11 The only outstanding example of meticulous editorial work I am aware of is
Mallinson (2007). The texts published by Kaivalyadhama Yoga Research Institute
in Lonavla are normally good critical editions based on a great number of manu-

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scripts, although the accepted reading is sometimes difficult to follow.
12 An even more basic question is whether the use of the term ‘N@tha-Siddhas’ for a
specific religious tradition is duly justified. I have strong doubts about this, but for
the purpose of this article I follow the terminology used by the authors quoted
above.
13 Singh (1937, pp.8–13); Briggs (1938, pp.251–7); Mallik (1950, pp.121–7); Das Gupta
(1969, pp.373–4); Dviveda (1996, pp.98–101); Junej@ (2042, pp.146–81).
14 I have left out the GorakXasa:hit@ edited in two parts by Jan@rdana P@>neya. The
first part (K@diprakara>a, Varanasi: Sampurnanand Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya, 1976)
is a text actually belonging to the Kubjik@mata (for a discussion of this, see
Heilijgers-Seelen 1994, pp.8–12), and the second part (Bh+tiprakara>a, 1977) is an
alchemical work (White 1996, pp.156–8).
15 mPtyubhaya: kuta$ (AP 41d; HP 3.112d; GVS 40b; GŚ 70b; ŚS 4.109a; VM 6.61b; YB 94d;
YK 8.43b, 8.145b, 8.169d, 8.183b; YM 58d; YSGS 1.78b); mPtyorbhaya: kuta$ (GP 1.68b;
GS 1.68b); k@labhaya: kuta$ (GP 1.91d; GŚ 92d; HP 2.40d, 3.88b; YK 3.167b; VM 6.82d).
16 mPtyuñ jayati (e.g. GP 2.44d; GS 2.44d; HP 3.43d, 3.58cd, 3.87b; ŚS 3.83d, 3.87d, 3.89b,
4.48cd, 4.70c, 4.75b; VM 6.135d; YB 121ab), or mPtyu: vimuñcati (GVS 98d).
17 ajar@maram @pnoti (GP 2.45c; GS 2.45c; VM 6.138c), similarly bhaved ajar@mara$ (VM
6.122d; YK 6.16d; YM 120d).
18 amaro bhavet (GVS 96d).
19 tasya sy@d amaratvam (GP 2.48g; GS 2.48g; HP 3.49g; VM 6.140c; YK 8.132g), similarly
tasya sy@d amPtatvam (YM 139c).
20 tath@ somakal@p+r>a: deha: deha na muñcati (GP 2.50cd; GS 2.50cd; VM 6.143cd; YK
8.126cd; YSGS 2.27cd; in slightly different wordings HP 3.45cd; YM 141ab). For the
meaning of kal@, see Mallinson (2007, p.213 note 277), and his other notes on the
second chapter of KhV.
21 There are several different terms referring to body in this literature (k@ya, vapus,
pi>na, śarara, tanu, ghaba, etc.), but no such compound is used. The only occurrences
of the term ‘perfected body’ in a habhayogic text that I am aware of are MS 17.60a
(siddhatanu) and MS 6.6a (siddhastanur yoga). This text is, however, probably a south
Indian compilation from different sources (Kaula, N@tha, Saiddh@ntika). For more
details on Matsyendrasa:hit@, see Mallinson (2007, pp.6 and 169 (note 19)), where he
Lubomı´r OndraJka 229

quotes from the unpublished works of Csaba Kiss, who has prepared a critical
edition of selected chapters of this important text.
22 See e.g. Bhaktiras@mPtasindhu 1.2.295 (explained in Haberman 2003, pp.liii–liv and 96
note 126). The complicated theory of different bodies in Gaunaya VaiX>avism is
expounded in Haberman (1985), and in a wider context in Haberman (1988,
pp.72–73, 86–93, 99–104, 116–23) and passim (see also McDaniel 1989, pp.45–53).
Siddhadeha also occurs in the important Bengali text Caitanyacarit@mPta of
KPX>ad@s Kabir@j (CCA 2.8.47e, 2.22.66c, 3.1.54—here the perfected body is attained
by a dog saying the name ‘KPX>a’, 3.5.96, 3.11.46). It is noteworthy that this term is a
subject of debate between the bhaktas in Brindaban and Western ISKCON devotees:
‘Brindaban residents see themselves as purer, or more advanced than their Western
counterparts. They . . . believe their human bodies are identical with their spiritual
bodies (siddha-deha), making them transcendental lovers of Krishna by birth’

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(Brooks 1990, p.274).
23 Urban (1993, p.49) (quoting the unpublished PhD theses of Glen Hayes); Jha (1995,
p.71); Urban (2001, pp.147, 153); Openshaw (2002, pp.236–7).
24 navame vajrak@ya$ sy@t khecaro dikcaro bhavet (SSP 5.40ab). This verse (actually the
full passage) is quoted in SSS 5.54cd, and in different words also in ŚYD 3.55ab:
gaganacaro digvicaro navame ’bde yas tu vajrak@ya$ sy@t.
25 SSP 5.40cd–41; SSS 5.55–56ab; ŚYD 3.55cd–56.
26 The relation between the siddhis and the diamond character of the body is already
present in Patañjali’s Yogas+tras, where it is said (YS 3.46) that one of the perfec-
tions of body (k@yasampat) is its adamantine hardness (vajrasamhanana) and this
s+tra follows just after the discussion of the siddhis. Vy@sa unfortunately left this
s+tra without any exposition.
27 vajrak@yo mah@yoga varXalakXa: sa javati (KhV 1.71ab ¼ MS 14.73ab with prajavati);
vajrak@yo bhavet satya: tad@pl@vanap@nata$ (KhV 2.25ab ¼ MS 15.26ab with
tad@ptavanap@tata$); prapiban m@sam@tre>a vajrak@yo bhaved dhruvam (KhV
2.116cd ¼ MS 16.35ab).
28 yogandro vajrasa:nibha$ (AY 1.89d). This text describes the progression of the yogin
very differently from the SSP and in much more detail. It begins with the shortest
measure of time (eyewink), continues with longer periods (length of breath, days,
months) and the full process culminates after twenty-four years when the yogin
acquires all powers and mastery over all tattvas. This passage is summarised in
White (1996, pp.316–17), but the author seems to have misunderstood the text,
since he writes ‘He who practices uninterrupted breath retention for twenty-four
years gains dominion over the goddess Śakti’ (p.317), whereas the text reads:
‘Remaining in the absorption continually for twenty-four years, [the yogin] gets
the perfection of the śakti-tattva’ (caturvi:śatibhir varXair layasthasya nirantaram j
śaktitattvasya siddhi$ sy@t, AY 1.94). Laya definitely does not mean ‘uninterrupted
breath retention’, but the absorption of mind, a state akin or equal to sam@dhi (cf.
HP 4.2–3).
29 aXbame vajravad bhavet (AŚ p.5).
30 tasya na kXatir @y@ti svaśararasya śaktita$ j sa:vatsarasahasre ’pi vajr@tikabhinasya vai jj
(ŚS 5.126).
230 Perfected Body, Divine Body

31 For the purpose of this study, I have looked through the alchemical
GorakXasa:hit@, where the diamond body has eight occurrences in the form of
vajradeha(tva) (GSBhP 7.132b, 7.145c, 8.65b, 8.74a, 9.131b) and vajrak@ya (5.260a,
5.297b, 7.149c).
32 devair api na labhyeta yogadeho mah@bala$ (YB 52ab). This verse is quoted in GSS
(p.25) with a different number (51ab).
33 yogas@dhan@ dv@r@ yog@gni mẽ pakva siddhadeha (YB p.11).
34 yogadeha: sPjaty eta: k@labhaty@ tv avaty ayam, hanti vaiXayika: deha: tan n@tha$ ko
haraśvara$ (GSS p.48).
35 It is probably common in alchemical texts as well. I have found twenty occurrences
of divyadeha in a relatively short GSBhP (5.176d, 5.252c, 5.254c, 5.261d, 5.301a, 6.95b,
6.102a, 6.198b, 6.288b, 6.337d, 6.459a, 6.482a, 6.571c, 7.14d, 7.18c, 7.152d, 7.243a,
7.322b, 8.103d, 8.133d).

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36 v@yun@ śaktic@re>a prerita: tu yad@ raja$ j y@ti bindo$ sahaikatva: bhaved divya: vapus
tata$ jj (GP 1.73; GŚ 75; GS 1.73; VM 6.66 with tad@ instead tata$; in slightly different
wordings YSGS 1.83; HP10 5.126). This verse is quoted in YCU 63 (in fact, the full
passage in YCU is taken from GŚ, see Bouy 1994, pp.99–100) and in a different form
in DhBU 89cd–90ab (cf. Bouy 1994, pp.86–92). The same idea of generating a divine
body through the union of bindu and rajas is also expressed in ŚS 4.87: aha: bindu$
raja$ śaktir ubhayor melana: yad@ j yogin@: s@dhanavat@: bhaved divya: vapus tad@ jj,
and again in HP10 5.123: sinduradravasa:k@śa: ravisth@ne sthita: raja$ j y@ti bindo$
sahaikatva: bhaved divya: vapus tad@ jj.
37 divyadehaś ca tejasva divyagandhas tv arogav@n j sa:p+r>ahPdaya$ ś+nya @rambhe
yogav@n bhavet jj (HP 4.71; slightly different versions AP 47; HRA 4.19; HTK 54.18).
This verse is quoted in SLU 2.5cd–6ab (see Bouy 1994, pp.108–10). Interestingly, the
same verse in HP10 does not include divyadeha and reads: divyagandho divyacakXus
tejasva c@rogav@n (8.38cd). This version is also cited in GSS (p.32, quoted as HP 4.71,
cf. editor’s note 1).
38 tPtaye divyadehas tu vy@lair vy@ghrair na b@dhyate (SSP 5.36cd). This siddhi is depicted
in several carvings on the pr@k@ra wall of the temple at Śraśailam (Linrothe 2006,
p.141) and it is also known to modern yogins (Hausner 2006, p.172).
39 These techniques are said to produce the divine body: agnis@ra (dhautim@tre>a yogan-
dro devadeha: prapadyate, YSGS 4.19cd), prakX@lana (kevala: dhautim@tre>a devadeho
bhaved dhruvam, YSGS 4.23cd; YK 4.77ab, 14.18ab), vamanadhauti (eva: kPtena k@lena
devadeha: hi labhyate, YSGS 4.41cd), m+laśodhana (bhaved divyavapus t@vat
k@madevasamobhavet, YSGS 4.44cd), v@ris@ra (s@dhayet tat prayatnena devadeha: pra-
padyate, GhS 1.18cd plus the following verse excluded form the critical edition, see
p.9, note 59), kap@labh@ti (bhaved divyadehapr@pti$ kaphado:o na tasya ca, YSGS
4.57cd), pr@>@y@ma (daiva: deha: ca yat p@pa: sarva: tan naśyati dhruva:, YK
3.25cd), khecaramudr@ (divyadeho bhavet satya: divyav@g divyadarśana$, KhV
2.117ab; na ca rogo jar@mPtyur devadeho bhaved dhruvam, YK 8.113ab quoting GhS
3.24cd; cf. HTK 14.19), japa (uttiXbhen medina: tyaktv@ divyadehas tu j@yate, HTK
18.26cd). See also ŚS 4.87, 5.52 and 5.248.
40 mah@bh+t@ni tatv@ni sambh+t@ni krame>a tu j saptadh@tumayo deho dagdho yog@gnin@
śanai$ jj51jj devair api na labhyeta yogadeho mah@bala$ j chedabandhair vimukto ’sau
n@n@śaktidhara$ para$ jj52jj yath@k@ś@śas tath@ deha @k@ś@d api nirmala$ j s+kXm@t
Lubomı´r OndraJka 231

s+kXmataro deha$ sth+l@t sth+lo jan@j jana$ jj53jj icch@r+po hi yogandra$ svatantras tv
ajar@mara$ j kranati triXu lokeXu lalay@ yatra kutracit jj54jj (YB 51–54).
41 These verses are almost identical with YŚU 1.40–43. In fact, the whole first chapter
of this text is taken from YB (see Bouy 1994, pp.102–6). There is an interesting
change in YŚU 1.41a which reads devair api na lakXyeta, whereas YB 52a has devair api
na labhyeta.
42 The bh+taśuddhi is a preliminary part of a daily tantric ritual (it has been studied in
depth by Gavin Flood 2000, 2002, and in a wider context 2006, pp.106–113 and
passim), by which a new, ‘ritual body’ is constructed using a technique of visualisa-
tion. This body is temporary, whereas the yogic body described in the Yogabaja
seems to be permanent. More probably, these verses could refer to another yogic
technique called ‘mastery of the elements’ (bh+tajaya), already mentioned by
Patañjali (YS 3.44) and described in several yogic as well as Tantric texts (see e.g.

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Vasudeva 2004, pp.323–9; Śivas+tra 3.5). This skill is apparently essential for a yogin
who strives for the perfected body.
43 The full passage reads: pum@ñ janm@ntaraśatair yog@d eva vimucyte j na tath@ bhavato
yog@j janmamPty+ puna$ puna$ jj75jj pr@>@p@nasam@yog@c candras+ryaikat@ bhavet j
saptadh@tumaya deham agnin@ pradahed buddh@ jj76jj vy@dhayas tasya naśyanti
chedagh@t@dik@ vyath@$ j tath@ ’sau param@k@śar+po dehy avatiXbhate jj77jj ki: punar
bahunoktena mara>a: n@sti tasya vai j deho ’vadPśyate loke dagdhakarpabavat svayam
jj78jj (YB 75–78, in slightly different wordings included in YŚU 1.55–58).
44 Hindi and Bengali material does not seem to contradict the results of the Sanskrit
texts.
45 All these concepts are discussed in Flood (1993, pp.37, 39, 232–3, 240, 272–81).
46 The exposition of the Siddhasiddh@ntapaddhati by Akshaya Kumar Banerjea (1961) fits
very well into the doctrine of Kashmir Śaivism, but nowhere does the author make
any explicit connection or comparison. Nevertheless, dozens of such allusions are
found in Mallik (1950). It is true that from the monistic point of view the physical
body is identical with the pure consciousness of Śiva (see e.g. Flood 1992, pp.48–50)
and thus, it may be regarded as divine. Unfortunately, the historical context of
different Siddha traditions and their relation to the Tantric and Kaula milieu has
not yet been researched thoroughly enough and thus not much more can be said at
this point in time.
47 For the process of divinisation of the body in Tantrism, see esp. Flood (2006, pp.74–
6, 113–16 and passim), in Śaivasiddh@nta, see Davis (1992, pp.113–15), and for a
specifically Kashmiri Śaiva description, see Sanderson (1986, pp.174–6) (based on
the Tantr@loka) and Flood (1993, pp.275–81).
48 Avinashananda (1937, vol. 2, pp.303–19). Our quotations are from the second,
enlarged edition (Sastri 1956).
49 We should recall that the first edition of Dasgupta’s study Obscure Religious Cults was
published in 1946. Dasgupta quotes Sastri’s article at the very outset of his chapter
on the N@tha-Siddhas (see p.192, n. 1 and p.193, n. 2). Likewise, Mallik (1950) cites
Sastri’s study many times. The main source of information on Siddhas available in
English before Sastri’s article was published were entries in Hasting’s Encyclopædia
of Religion and Ethics: ‘Gorakhn@th’ by G.A. Grierson (Vol. 6, 1913, pp.328–30) and
‘Yogas’ by L.P. Tessitori (Vol. 12, 1921, pp.833–5).
232 Perfected Body, Divine Body

50 This confusion has also been observed by White (1996, p.401 note 117). One of the
modern authors appears to continue to use this designation of Tamil Siddhas as
M@heśvaras (Ganapathy 1993, pp.21–2; 1997, p.235). The Tamil Siddhas are simply
called cittar in Tamil, and the classification proposed by Kamil Zvelebil (1993, pp.16–
19) does not justify the use of the name M@heśvaras for them. In fact, there is a very
limited number of sources on the M@heśvara-Siddhas (they are discussed in White
1996, pp.101–3). According to my opinion, we do not have enough historical evi-
dence so far to establish the M@heśvaras as a separate and distinct Siddha tradition.
51 This concept is briefly explained in Zvelebil (1996, pp.20–8); Ganapathy (1997,
pp.241–4); and in more detail in the chapter ‘The Siddha Conception of the
Human Body’ in Ganapathy (1993, pp.115–40) (with numerous references to Tamil
Siddha texts).
52 This is not to say that the scholars are not aware of different Siddha traditions.

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They are, but the problem is that in their expositions they often do not distinguish
between them properly. Of course, it is not always easy to do so, since their teach-
ings overlap in many important points and they were not monolithic groups, but to
say that ‘[t]he doctrinal differences among the various groups of Siddhas are minor
and a genuine Siddha would not mind acquiring intiation [sic] in several of these
groups’ (Ganapathy 1993, p.21) is rather an extreme position. While it is true that,
for example, the N@tha and Rasa-Siddhas have much in common, they still used
different techniques, they had different texts and there were distinguishable trad-
itions. It is therefore unfortunate that in White’s impressive study (1996) it is not
always clear whether the author is referring to the N@tha-Siddhas, or the Rasa-
Siddhas, or both. Another source of confusion may be the fact that the scholars
discussed in the first part of this article had no direct access to the texts in Tamil,
and thus their knowledge about the Tamil Siddhas was highly, if not exclusively,
dependent on Sastri’s article.
53 I believe that the brilliant study by Ronald Davidson (2004) opens new horizons for
understanding the early history of the Siddha milieu in India. Kurtis Schaeffer
(2002) discusses one specific example of a Sanskrit N@tha text (AmPtasiddhi), trans-
mitted several times to Tibet, translated into Tibetan, and adapted for the Buddhist
teaching.
54 This article was written and submitted for publication in 2007. Since then no new
material has been added.