P Karthigayan in his book "History of Medical & Spiritual Sciences of Siddhas of Tamil Nadu", published by Notion Press Chennai, 2016, explains in simple terms the concept of the body, soul and spirit that were systematically laid out in the teachings of the Siddhas for the enrichment of humanity. Karthigayan's well researched book covers extensively the origin and the teachings of the Siddhas as well as reveals many astounding findings.
Just as Tavayogi wrote in his book "Andamum Pindamum" where everything on the face of this earth is related to things in the cosmos and also within oneself in the inner sanctums of each individual, Karthigayan in the opening paragraph of his book writes that the Siddhas believed that the body and its components are closely related to the cosmos and its cosmic elements. Any imbalance of this cosmic elements in the body indirectly affects the Spirit too, we are told.
The Body is to Earth; the Soul is to the other elements water, fire and air; and the Spirit is to the Sky.
The cosmos renews itself while the Soul that binds the body with the Spirit, takes on another body on expiry of the existing. Throughout this reincarnation process the Spirit lives on. It is believed that we live in this body for a stipulated time after which the soul that carries all our qualities transforms into an astral body and either lingers around or goes through heaven and hell before it perishes leaving the spirit to lead the astral body to take another body and birth.
The spirit can be akin to the parent soul, experiences death and birth over and over again, known as mayapiravi - experiencing a short span in this body then another span of time in the astral plane before beginning another cycle of birth and death that goes on and on forever.
An opportunity is given for us to make good the present life and change our ways while alive, failing which we pay for it or enjoy the perks in afterlife in the astral planes, and come back to repent and rectify the remaining faults or exhaust the vasanas and desires that takes on a new appearance known as karma, fate and destiny in yet another birth.
All our aspirations and desires including that of merging with the divine is only possible with the aid of this body. Hence we can understand the determined efforts of the Siddhas to preserve the body and attaining immortality.
The body becomes a receptacle for cosmic energy just as it stores physical energy that is called on when the need arises. Karthigayan writes, "They (the Siddhas) devised a systematic method for storing these physical and cosmic energies by attaining an appropriate body first and then attracting the cosmic force into it with the help of the mind."
Acknowledging that the actions of the body have an impact on the spirit, the Siddhas laid out a life style that would help ensure the purity of the spirit. The birth cycle of the spirit is determined by our actions. Realisation of the spirit and its role will cut off the cycle of birth and death, it is believed.
Death is what will sever the body from the spirit hence the need to prolong life in the body arised that brought much experimentation by the Siddhas on the possibilities of prolonging life.
Just as creation is the effect of Panchabhoothas, the body too is a product of these five elements made in the ratio 1 1/2 part earth; 1 1/4 water; 1 part fire; 3/4 air; and 1/2 sky totally 5 in any given circumstances.
If the body is composited of the above five elements in their ideal ratios to sustain itself with good health, the functions of the body is dependent on 96 tatvas or principles, of which 36 formulate the soul and the rest the body, that in turn are dependent on the five elements that makes the body.
The Siddhas remind us to ensure the ratio of these elements are maintained well to prevent ailment and in worst cases death.
In the absence of water the earth will fill its space; in the absence of fire the water will take its place; in the absence of air, the fire will consume its place; and in the absence of sky the air will occupy its space, creating chaos in the body. When the sky is replaced with a vacuum, death occurs.
Here then is the secret remedy to keep away death, for as long as we are aware of this ratio and maintain it death that is only at arms length can only watch us.
Their discovery that the only "apparent difference between the living and the dead was the function of respiration", mooted the Siddhas to find ways to increase and retain the prana within the body. Tavayogi too once told me "Breath is God." Agathiyar has mentioned in numerous incidences that he gave his breath to save his devotee.
Korakar in his "Chandraregai 200", mentions the means in retaining the breath within and subduing the mind at the same time, making this body God's dwelling.
பான்மையுறப் பதினெண்பேர் நாதாக்கள் தாம்
பாலிதங்களான தொறு ஞான சூட்சம்
மேன்மையுட னோதிடுவேன் வாசி கூட்டி
முக்கோணம் அதனுள்ளே வட்டம் சோதி
ஆன்மமுடன் நீ பார்த்து அசையா துற்றால்
ஆதாரமாக மனம் அசையா துய்யும்
வான் மதியும் ரவியடங்கும் வட்டத் துள்ளே
வாசிவெளி யாகாது ஞான வீடே 192
வீடான வீடதுவும் சொந்தமாச்சு
வெளியாக ஓதிவைத்தேன் வினையம் ஏக
நாடான நாடதனிற் கடவுளென்று
நானிலத்தி லாட்டு வித்தல் காற்று காற்று
கோடான கோடி தெய்வம் காற்றுக்கே தான்
கூறி வைத்தா ரல்லாது வேறொன்றில்லை
ஆடாத ஆட்டமெல்லாம் காற்று மாகும்
அதுவகன்றா லகிலமுத லழிந்து போமே
Kalanginathar too reiterates the technique in his "Upadesa Gnanam 34".
ஆவியென்ற பிராணமது புருவமீது
அடங்கினால் மறுபிறவி யுண்டாம் பாரு
ஆவியென்ற பிராணனது முக்கோணத்தில்
அடங்கினால் மறுபிறவி யில்லை யில்லை 21
The Siddhas lead us on a well defined path beginning with Atma Siddhi or purification of Spirit and pushed it a step further to gain immortality of Spirit. For this purpose they delivered Astanga Yoga. Then they delivered Kaya Siddhi or physical immortality or the deathless physical state.
Karthigayan writes, "The former is achieved through ascetic life and practise of Astanga Yoga while the later is achieved through an inner secret and scientific process." The former is then known as a Yogi and the later a Siddha. He writes further distinguishing them both, "Yogis consider their body as a bag of sin suitable only for worldly life and reject the same; while the later considered the body as a means to achieve exalted spiritual heights and immortalized their body by scientific means."
The Siddhas preserved Body, Soul and Spirit to achieve their desire in prolonging the use of the body for God's purpose.
Karthigayan beautifully describes the process, "Death without dying, a status attained by Siddhas, is loss of substances related to earth except the form of their profile. In other words, substances of perishable nature will get replaced by substances of cosmic nature and complete the transformation known as Kaya Siddhi."
Karthigayan says knowing how God's network works, one should then aid the rule of God to go on smoothly. This shall lead to salvation.