The Siddha System of Medicine is an indigenous medical system and one of the oldest medical sciences known to mankind. Sage AGASTHYAR (Prince of Indian doctors) is considered the father of Siddha medicine.
The word Siddha comes from SIDDHI, which means PERFECTION or heavenly bliss. So Siddha means Perfect Life Science.
The Siddha System includes Kayakalpam (preventive medicine against ageing), Jyothisham (astronomy), Yoga (Meditation and Yoga) and Varmam (stimulating vital bodily points).
The concept of Siddhars is “Food as Medicine”. Herbs and minerals found in nature are used for making Siddha medicines, which are highly effective in treating all types of ailments. Diseases are diagnosed by Naadi (Pulse reading), Sarapayarchi (Flow of respiration), Envagai Therve (8 types of testing), Manikadai Nool (Measuring the circumference of wrist).
Ayurveda and Siddha are two traditional life sciences. Both sciences have their own uniqueness, although the highlights of both systems are detoxification and rejuvenation therapies, along with yoga and natural deities that will purify the body and soul from all ailments and make you look young and fresh.
SIDDHA SYSTEM OF MEDICINE; THE PERFECT LIFE SCIENCE
Siddha medicine is a traditional system of healing that originated in South India and is considered to be one of oldest systems of medicine in the world.
Siddha system could be considered as the crown of all the traditional arts, due to its richness and simplicity. Siddha system is based on a combination of ancient medicinal practices and spiritual disciplines as well as alchemy and mysticism. Siddhars held that the object of their study was to preserve and prolong life. To do so, they believed, it required humans to live according to the laws of nature. They led simple lives themselves and were unconcerned with caste, creed, colour or nationality. They contributed not only to a system of medicine but also to the knowledge of eternity, alchemy, and Yogic living. Some believe that the Siddhars travelled widely to other countries to propagate their system of medicine and enrich the sciences. Siddhars possessed Ashtama Siddhi, the eight great supernatural powers. These powers may have been attained at birth (because of one’s previous karma), by chemical means, by the power of words, or through concentration. Meditation on the elements, beginning with the “gross??? and ending with the “subtle???, enabled the Siddhars to gain mastery over the elements. Many of the ancient philosophical tenets of the Siddha system continue to be relevant to modern practitioners.
According to tradition, there were 18 Siddhars (the person who has achieved some extra-ordinary powers): Nandi, Agasthiyar, Thirumular, Pathanjali, Pulasthiyar, Danwanthari, Idaikkadar, Bogar, Ramadevar, Pulikai Isar, Karuvurar, Konkanavar, Kalangi, Sattainathar, Azhugannl, Agappai, Pumbatti, Therayar and Kudhambai. Agasthiyar (Agastya) is considered the most prominent of all. He is regarded as the Father of the Siddha medicine .
Its origin also traced to my theological sources belonging to Shaiva tradition.
According to the tradition, Lord Shiva conveyed the knowledge of medicine to his wife Parvati. The knowledge was passed from her to Nandi and finally given to the Siddhas. The word Siddha denotes one who has achieved some extraordinary powers (Siddhi). This achievement was related to discipline of mind and its superiority over body, and was accomplished through both Yoga and Medicine. Thus Siddhars (practitioners of Siddha) became the symbols of psychosomatic perfection and the Siddha Medicine became a combination of Medicine and Yoga.
PRINCIPLES OF SIDDHA SYSTEM OF MEDICINE
All existing things in this world and the universe around it are made up by the five basic elements, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space, which are called the “Fundamental Boothas???. The origin of the five elements and the formation of different substances in the universe by various combinations of the elements are clearly described in Siddha Medicine. These elements constituting the human body and other worldly substances are explained as “Pancheekarana???. Anyone of these elements cannot act independently. They have to act only in co-ordination with the other four elements. The living creatures and the non-living things are made up of these five elements. Practitioners of Siddha medicine are known as Siddhars (or Siddhas).
The physical constituents which are identical to the various types of tissues are called “Udal Thathus???. They are also constituted by the “Five Elements???. Saaram, Senneer, Oon, Kozhuppu, Enbu, Moozhai and Sukkilam/Suronitham are the Seven Basic Constituents that form the “Physical Body???. The bone is predominantly formed by the Earth component; but other elements are also present in it.
The Physiological units of the Human Body are the “Vali (Vatam), Azha (Pittam), and lyam (Kapham). They are also formed by the combination of the five elements. “Vali??? or “Vata???, formed by the combination of “Air??? and “Space??? is the “Creative force???. “Azhal??? or “Pitta???, formed by “Fire??? is the “Force of Preservation???. “Lyam??? or “Kapha???, formed by “Earth??? and “Water???, is the “Destructive Force???. These three humours in the ratio of 4:2:1 are in equilibrium or normal condition. They are called the “Life Forces???. Siddhars described 96 principles as the constituents of the Human Being. They include physical, physiological, mental and intellectual components of a person. They are nothing but the manifestations of the “Five Basic Elements???.
Disease and diagnosis
The condition of the human body, in which the dietary habits, daily activities and the environmental influences keep the “Three Humours??? in equilibrium is considered as “Healthy Living???. ‘Disease’, is a condition in which there is derangement in the “Five Elements, which alters the “Three Humours???, which in turn reflect in the “Seven Physical Constituents???. The change could be an increase or decrease in the equilibrium.
It is always essential to identify the cause for any disease to be accepted as a “Scientific Method???. The Diagnostic Methodology in Siddha Treatment is unique as it is made purely on the basis of the “Clinical Acumen??? of the physician, examining the Naadi, tongue, complexion, speech, eyes, palpatory findings in a patient and also examines the urine, and stools. The diagnosis is then confirmed by the Naadi “Pulse Diagnosis???. The questioning plays only a very minimal role. The examination for the above is called the “Eight-Tools of Diagnosis’.
These diagnostic tools not only help to get the diagnosis but also to learn the prognosis and restoration of health. The “Pulse Diagnosis???, is very unique in Siddha Medicine, which was introduced to other Indian Systems of Medicine at a later period. The pulse is examined in the right hand for the males and the left hand for the females. The pulse is recorded at the radial-artery. The unit of pulse diagnosis is 1 for Vali (Vatam), ½ for Azhal (Pittam) and ¼ for Lyam (Kapham). This unit is equivalent to the size of a grain (wheat).
The Siddhars did extensive research on plants and devised methods by which plants could be harnessed medicinally. They also described the poisonous nature of some plants and the antidotes for them and classified plants based on the way they affected the body. Siddha gives topmost priority to herbal treatment. Siddha medicine gives importance to the collective use of plants and minerals. For simple ailments, the Siddha practitioner advises the initial use of herbs. If this does not prove effective, the judicious use of plants, minerals, and animal products is advised. Siddha medicine has been used for the management of chronic diseases and degenerative conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune conditions, collagen disorders and conditions of the central nervous system. Its effectiveness in those situations is varied.
The drugs used by the Siddhars are classified into three groups; Thavaram (herbal product), Thathu (inorganic substances) and Jangamam (animal products). The Thathu drugs are further classified as Uppu (water soluble inorganic substances or drugs that give out vapour when put into fire), Pashanam (drugs not dissolved in water but emit vapour when fired), Uparasam (similar to pashanam but differ in action), Loham (not dissolved in water but melt when fired), Rasam (drugs which are soft) and Ghandhagam (drugs which are insoluble in water, like sulfur).
In herbal drugs, Siddhars use herbs, which grow in the surrounding areas, and even herbs that grow in high altitudes of the Himalayas. It is note worthy that Siddhar Korakkar was the first to introduce Cannabis as a medicine: he used it as a powerful painkiller. They also used animal products as medicine. In mental diseases for example, Peranda Bhasma is used, which is made of human skull bones and the skulls of dogs.
Drugs used in Siddha medicine are classified on the basis of five properties; Suvai (taste), Guna (character), Veerya (potency), Pirivu (class) and Mahimai (action).
The internal medicines are thirty two in number. They include medicines with short life period to medicines which could be used even for hundreds of years. The metallic preparations that could be preserved and used for longer periods are considered as higher medicines. They come in a very small quantity and are capable of curing chronic illness. Sursam, Kudineer, Charu, Ney, Kudineer, Karkam, Adai, Parpam, Chendooram, Guru Gulikai etc, are among the 32 types of internal medicines.
The External Application and Manipulation:
Thirty-two types of external applications and manipulations are mentioned in Siddha text and most of them are in practice even today. Kattu, Patru, Ottradam, Poochu, Vedhu, Thokkanam, Pugal, Podi Thimirdhal, Kallikam, Nasiya, Keeral, Karam, Attai-vidal, Aruva, Kombu Kattal, Urinjal: Kuridhi Vangal, Peechu etc are some of the 32 types external therapies.
Varma is an area of practice in Siddha medicine that is concerned with Varmam. The Varmam are points of intersection of bone, muscle, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. The ancient Siddhars believed that disease emerged when these points were adversely affected by an external force. A manipulative technique used in Siddha medicine to restore health at the varmam is known as Ilakku Murai. There are believed to be 108 Varmam, according to Siddha tradition.
The treatment in Siddha medicine is aimed at keeping the three humors in equilibrium and maintenance of seven elements. Proper diet ???Unave Marunthu, Marunthe Unavu??? means “Food as medicine, Medicine as food.??? Medicine and a disciplined regiment of life are advised for healthy living and to restore equilibrium of humors in diseased condition. Saint Thiruvalluvar explains four requisites of successful treatment, namely patient, attendant, physician and medicine. When physician is well qualified and the other agents possess the necessary qualities, severe diseases can be cured easily. The treatment should be commenced immediately after assessing the cause of the disease. Treatment is classified into three categories; Devamaruthuvum (Divine method), Manuda Maruthuvaum (rational method); and Asura Maruthuvum (surgical method). In the Divine method medicines like parpam, chendooram, guru, kuligai made of mercury, sulfur and pashanams are used. In the rational method, medicines made of herbs like churanam, kudineer, vadagam are used. Inthe surgical method, incision, excision, heat application, blood letting, leech application are used. As per therapies the treatments of Siddha medicines could be categorized into purgative therapy, emetic therapy, fasting therapy, steam therapy, oilation therapy, physical therapy, solar therapy and blood letting therapy, Varma therapy, Yoga therapy etc.
Siddhars realized that to attain Eternal Bliss, it is essential to have a healthy body. Diet plays a very vital role in preserving the human body. No medicine is required if proper dietary methods are adhered to. “Kaya-Kalpa??? methods for a healthy, disease-free living without any senile changes are also described. The term Kaya Karpa includes Karpa Medicines, Asanas, Pranayama, Yoga and Muppu (universal solvent)
Muppu (classified into 3)
Vaidhya Muppu: means medicines used to treat diseases and restore health.
Vata Muppu (alchemy): medicines that make the soul immortal. These medicines are obtained by the conversion of base metals into higher ones.
Yoga Muppu: it is a nutrient which is secreted in the body like Siva Kundalini, as a result of performing yoga. Sage Patanjali, one among the 18 Siddhars, is considered the Father of Yoga, and the great sage Thirumoolar is considered the Father of Therapeutic Yoga. Apart from these, Amuri Dharanai (Urine therapy), Dasa Deetchai (Mantric philosophy) and Ashtanga Yoga are also included as Karpam.