Since its beginnings, the Siddhgiri Matha has been the centre of the Kaadhsiddheshwar tradition. Situated just at the border of Maharashtra and Karnataka, it had no problem in remaining in contact with the other centres in Karnataka. Siddhagiri Matha is located in the foothills of the Sahayadris. It is still covered with forests. In the seventh century, it was covered with dense forests in which only forest dwellers and mendicants used to wander. As it was less frequented by the common people, it became a better haunt for the saints who wanted to meditate in peace,without the danger of getting disturbed by the hubbub of daily life.
Over time the area became famous for many saints like Revan Siddh, Amogh Siddh, Marol Siddh, Moor Siddh, Kari Siddh, Haal Siddh, Vetal Siddh etc. Many of them established sects and traditions in their names. Many others were worshipped by the simple village people and later on sects were created in their names. One of the most influential was the Kaadhsiddheshwar Tradition. Shri Nirvayav Kaadhsiddheshwar was the first Swami of the Kaadhsiddheshwar tradition. He was also called Adi Kaadhsiddheshwar. He was born in Karnataka, somewhere in the first half of the 7th century, at a place called Haliyal, Kulagi. It is near Karwar in Uttar Kannad. Roaming around,he once came to Kaneri. It was a dense forest at that time.The place was already famous for its spiritual value and for various sages who meditated there. Shri Nirvayav Swami Ji found it a nice place for meditation.
Establishment of Siddhagiri Matha
Gradually the place became more famous because of him, and he came to be known as Kaadhsiddheshwar. ‘Kaadh’ means forest and ‘Siddeshwar’ means the saint who is attaining ‘siddhis’ and salvation by doing hard penance.As he was denoted by his forest dwelling, he became Kaadhsiddheshwar. The people who started following his teachings formed the Kaadhsiddheshwar community. Even before him, there were Siddhas at Siddhagiri, but he one of
the greatest of the sages who meditated there.
In the time of Nirvayav Kaadhsiddheswar, a rudimentary temple was built and the Siddhagiri Matha was formally established. However it was not until the time of second Kaadhsiddheshwar Mathadhipati that a proper temple was constructed. With the help of disciples, he strengthened the institute of Siddhagiri Matha and the place became more famous during his time.Gradually, many disciples gathered around him. They learned meditation and Shastras and started going to different places for delivering lectures. Some of them established different ashrams and Mathas wherever they went and this is how Mathas of Kaadhsiddheshwar tradition spread everywhere. Siddhagiri had a warm relation with Basaveshwar. 18th Kaadhsiddheshwar, Shri Shivdev Kaadhsiddheshwar had lived in Kalyan, and worked with Basaveshwar. Due to this brief interlude when Shri Kaadhsiddheshwar Ji was in Kalyan with Basaveshwar, the philosophy of Basaveshwar found its way into the philosophy of Kaadhsiddheshwar tradition. After that, the true principles of Veershaivism as taught by Basaveshwar were incorporated and followed by Siddhagiri Matha.
The Institution of the Mathadhipati
All institutions need good leadership and guidance. The Siddhagiri Matha has been working under the guidance of an unbroken line of Mathadhipatis since its beginning in the seventh century C.E. In the beginning, the Matha grew around the spiritual personality of Shri Nirvayav Kaadhsiddheshwar, also known as Adi Kaadhsiddheshwar. After him, Kaadhsiddheshwar became a post and other worthy individuals ascended on the post one after other, over centuries.
Gradually the Matha became an excellent social institution along with being a spiritual centre. All along its history, it was guided by the wisdom and long-sightedness of the Mathadhipatis who held the post of the Kaadhsiddheshwar.To ensure that the institution of the Mathadhipati keeps working flawlessly over centuries, strict rules and regulations were constituted.The Matha has worked under the guidance of 49 Mathadhipatis so far. Since the 23rd Kaadhsiddheshwar Swami, it has become the tradition of the Matha to name its Mathadhipatis on some selected few names. There are seven names which keep circulating between the Mathadhipatis and hence reinforce the spiritual and psychological sense of the ancient origins of the Matha and the tradition. For the first time, the present Mathadhipati, Shri Adrushya Kaadhsiddheshwar has decided to vacate his post after satisfyingly serving on it for about two decades. He feels that his calling is now somewhere else too. He has chosen his successor, the 50th Mathadhipati of Siddhagiri Matha, Shri Muppin Kaadhsiddheshwar Swamiji !
The process of becoming Mathadhipati is long andcarefully ritualized. This process culminates in a ceremony called Pattabhishek Ceremony. It is a very important occasion in the Siddhagiri Matha. It is the auspicious occasion when the working Swami Ji appoints his successor, who will lead the Matha after him. The worthy heir is chosen by the working Kaadhsiddheshwar Swami Ji. He is free to choose whomever he thinks worthy.He has absolute authority to choose. The Lingayat community Mathas choose their Mathadhipati from a particular community called Jangam community. It has become a priestly class from which the Mathadhipatis of all the Lingayat Mathas are chosen. The Siddhagiri Matha is the only Lingayat Matha which has never followed this tradition. From its beginning, its Mathadhipatis have never come from the Jangam community. It has always chosen someone else who is worthy. Hence, its Mathadhipatis are said to be Jangamettar Mathadhipatis, those who come from outside the Jangam community. This time-honoured tradition has distinguished the Siddhagiri Matha from other Lingayat Mathas, along
with other things. The candidate for the Mathadhipati can either be a Sanyasi or non-Sanyasi at the time when he is chosen, another rule which distinguishes the Siddhagiri Matha from other Mathas. However, once he has been chosen, he has to take sanyas and follow the life of a sanyasi. When someone is designated as the Mathadhipati,he changes his name and forgets every connection to his previous life. This is done to discourage nepotism in the administration of the Matha. The Siddhagiri Matha follows the ancient tradition where the Mathadhipati breaks all ties with his family. He also changes his name and takes upon one of
the seven names which keep getting circulated among the Mathadhipati of the Siddhagiri Matha. The 49th Swami Ji has constituted another rule regarding the post of the Mathadhipati. If the trust of the Matha, at any time, finds that the candidate engages in misbehaviour or misconduct, then he can be deposed if the misbehaviour is proven. This is a revolutionary step aimed to make the Mathadhipati more responsible towards his duty to the
Matha and to the Indian society.