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Perfected Beings in Human Form: The Siddha Tradition in Śaiva Tantra

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Duration: 0:49:15 | Added: 06 May 2022
Loading Video...
Duration: 0:49:15 | Added: 06 May 2022
John Nemec's talk on the origin of siddha and its polysemic application in Sanskrit textual sources.

It is well known that the term “siddha” comes to be used to refer to Śaiva, and other, masters who enter the earth in bodily form, as perfected beings thus authorized to teach. Often, they are described as having “crossed down” to this world, bringing teachings with them to share with humanity—thus the use of the term avatāraka to refer to such ones in the Krama literature. At the same time, the earliest date for use of the term siddha to refer to such incarnated teachers is indeterminate. The purpose of this talk is to begin to trace the development of the term “siddha” in Sanskrit textual sources, in order to identify how the term has changed in use over time and what the Śaiva tantric traditions had available to them to take up into their own uses of the same. In doing so, the non-tantric prehistory of the term siddha is examined, which originally referred to a class of beings and not to incarnated gurus, a use of the term that is adopted sometimes, too, in the tantric sources themselves.

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