The Twilight :
“For those who remain in the mountain, dining the juice of mango,
Where is the need for coconut milk – Oh lass Kudambai?
Where is the need for coconut milk?”
During my stay in the Nambhi Mountains I visited the cave where Kudhambai Chittar, one of the ancient Siddhas and the author for the above verse, had carried out tapas (penance). In his verses, he refers to himself as ‘Oh lass Kudhambai’. The root word of Kudambai is Kudham, an ancient Tamil word meaning earthen earring, one which is boiling up, one which bubbles up, or one which is furious/ agitated. By this he, Kudhambai, could be referring to his own ‘agitated’ mind, to which he chooses to denote a feminine gender by calling it ‘maid’ or ‘lass’.
And according to the verse above, if the still/ stagnant water within a coconut symbolises the static-nature or ideational-experience, then the mango’s oozing full-bodied juice could cryptically represent the nature of one who lives in truth embodying the ever-fresh flow of Life. On the other hand, figuratively the coconut likens the shape of a woman’s breast and at an horizontal angle the mango likens the shape of a bowl. The milk from the breast could symbolise the passion that generates further craving while the mango could symbolise the bowl of nectar or the one who lives in the natural-state of Sahaja Sthithi.
Lets say after reading a verse such as this one and putting together all the nuances floating around every sentence, we could assume any one of the multiple emerging meanings, but beware because our interpretation might just be confining the experience of the original one. This is often true for every word of a verse in many of their songs making it even less likely for us to find a settled sense of the verse. Most likely we end up taking an intensive intellectual walk, which takes us even further away from the intended meaning. Since ancient times songs of the Siddhas are notorious for leading many impatient or overconfident ones down a long drawn dead end street. How then are we to read the twilight songs of our ancient Masters?
The Siddhas deliberate, cryptic and enigmatic songs are best left to their multifarious nature, instead of inappropriately tying them to any one interpretation. The twilight or figurative language style, typical to the Siddhas, converts every verse into a journey where our clumsy intellect is rarely needed. What we do need on this journey are visualisation, contemplation and time, before the verses begin to speak. If we keep the verses with us, the words tend to grow and evolve as we do and turn into our partners in life. That is how deep our involvement in the twilight zone must dive before we can call it our path. Each song carries multiple experiences that unfold according to our present moment in life, without disbarring the earlier ones. Claiming any one meaning would deprive us of the other hidden ones that tend to unfold only as we ripen. The songs are potent with teachings and are designed to transform us through our perceptive experience for which a Master’s guidance is imperative. A Master guides, prods, shapes, or expands our dulled perceptive sensitivity to help it connect with the teaching. As he does so, we can best move through every verse by feeling our way around the authorial intent and genre using our intuitive self. The Siddhas are masters at using symbols, similes, metaphors , personifications , hyperbole, litotes, metonyms, alliterations, allusions, etc. Our limited view could easily pick up a meaning, but it may not be the one our inner-self is waiting for, which makes the guidance of a Master invaluable. Often the proper understanding of even a single word can be transformative.
The delight of experiencing the unfolding of an insight that transforms us in that instant, altering the stale perception we have been tied to, is incomparable. As the same verse, a few years later unties something different within us, it humbles the mind in the face of its ignorance and fills our hearts filled with gratitude and awe at the authorial finesse of the Siddha Masters.
17, Dec, 2018.