Siddha is the name attributed to those human beings who, through the practice of meditation and yoga techniques, have come to possess and manifest certain powers considered supernatural (siddhis).
Those who, understanding that these powers considered paranormal, belong, even they, to the world of illusions, being able to slow down or even stop the access to the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth – they managed to obtain the Supreme Liberation, were called mahasiddha-and or great spiritually realized masters.
The eighty-four mahasiddha were the founding fathers of the Mahamudra tradition, who revealed the techniques of meditation and passed them on to their disciples.
They lived in India and Tibet, between the VII and XII centuries, playing an important role in the formation of the esoteric traditions of tantric Buddhism.
The number eighty-four is considered a “perfect” number. Thus, the eighty-four mahasiddha can be regarded as archetypes of thousands of followers of the tantric path. Among them we can find followers belonging to almost all walks of life, starting with farmers, craftsmen, musicians, and poets, and ending with priests, yogis or kings.
However, the most famous of them – Tilopa, Naropa, Saraha, Luipa, Ganthapa – were sadhu-and, wandering yogis, who transmitted the spiritual teachings more through their personal example and through the impact that their life deeply dedicated to the Divine Absolute had on others.
The flexibility of the tantric tradition allowed from the very beginning those initiated to have a vision that did not exclude anything, but included everything as a means of achieving liberation, so that no form of institutionalization managed to compromise their inner freedom.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra represents both the highest tantric path and its ultimate goal.
Mudra represents in Tibetan Buddhism a gesture associated with an inner or outer attitude, but it also has the meaning of symbol (which, however, is improperly used to translate the expression Mahamudra).
The prefix Maha means “great.” Mahamudra could be translated as “the great attitude”–”the supreme attitude of being situated in the original vacuum of all things”.
In general, the structural pattern of the legends is the following: diagnosis, prescriptions, cure (sadhana) and healing, synonymous with the attainment of enlightenment.
Most often we meet, in these legends, a sick man, aware of his illness, disgusted with his way of life. He is unhappy and craves to heal. When he is ready, the Guru appears who, at the request of the disciple, offers him the initiation and the spiritual perceptions. The disciple realizes his sadhana and touches the mahamudra-siddhi, and in the process, the initial “disease” is cured.
Legends emphasize the importance of the Guru who should not only be regarded as an extraordinary human being who has to transmit a certain knowledge, but it is essential for the disciple to approach him with respect and adoration.
The essence of the initiation, which is conferred on the disciple at the right time and in a favorable conjucture, lies in the disciple experience of his identity with his Guru whom he identifies with the Buddha. After that, the fundamental practice of the disciple consists in reproducing this ultimate experience and integrating it into his daily life.
The whole spiritual practice is actually an alchemy, in which the yogi is an alchemist who transforms the metal of the impure and confused mind into the gold of pure consciousness. The philosopher’s stone that turns everything into gold is the full awareness of the poison that generated the initial confusion. Thus the poison turns into nectar, and obstacles become as many resources, because consciousness is all-occupying.
Realizing his intimate nature, the yogi realizes the ultimate nature of the entire universe, thus touching mahamudra-siddhi.