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Pambatti Chittar: The Tamil Siddha

Pambatti Chittar was a renowned Tamil Siddha whose life and works are believed to span between the 15th and 18th centuries. The term "Pambatti" translates to "one who makes snakes dance," reflecting his intimate association with serpents. In his poetic compositions, Pambatti often alludes to the dance of snakes, a motif that has sparked various interpretations among scholars and devotees.

Life and Background

Pambatti Chittar's exact historical timeline is ambiguous, with his lifetime placed somewhere between the 15th and 18th centuries. This period in Tamil Nadu was marked by the flourishing of Siddha tradition, which is a mystical branch of Tamil Shaivism focused on spiritual and medicinal practices.

Interpretations of His Name and Symbolism

The name "Pambatti" suggests that Pambatti Chittar might have been a snake charmer by profession. This interpretation is supported by numerous references to snakes and their dance in his verses. However, there is a deeper, metaphorical layer to these references. Many scholars propose that the snakes represent Kundalini, a form of primal energy believed to reside at the base of the spine in yogic and tantric traditions. The awakening and ascending of this energy through the chakras is often likened to the movement of a snake, culminating in spiritual enlightenment.

Devotion to Shiva

Pambatti Chittar's poetic oeuvre is primarily devotional, with most of his verses dedicated to Lord Shiva. His writings reflect a deep spiritual connection with Shiva, whom he venerates as the ultimate reality and the source of all creation. His verses are rich in metaphors and imagery, drawing from the natural world and mystical experiences to express his devotion.

Example of His Verses

One of his verses exemplifies his devotional style and symbolic use of language:

Like the golden light that suffuses everywhere
Like the flowery fragrance that pervades by beauty bound
The bounteous One does mix with souls that supplicate
Worshipping His Feet, thou dance, O Snake!

In this verse, Pambatti Chittar describes the omnipresence of the divine (the golden light and flowery fragrance) and the intimate connection between the devotee and Shiva. The "dance of the snake" is a potent symbol, potentially representing the ecstatic state of the soul united with the divine, or the rise of Kundalini energy.


Pambatti Chittar's contributions to Tamil Siddha literature and spiritual practice remain significant. His verses continue to inspire and guide spiritual seekers, emphasizing the transformative power of devotion and the mystical union with the divine. His unique blend of literal and metaphorical elements creates a rich tapestry that encapsulates the essence of Tamil mysticism and Shaiva philosophy.