In recent years, there has been a strong worldwide trend towards alternative systems of medicine especially for Non communicable diseases and chronic illness where modern medical science often encounters its limits. Pertaining to the textual and archeological evidences, Siddha system is one among the oldest traditional systems of medicines, taking root from south India around 5,000 BC. Siddha system of medicine originated from Dravidian civilization in Lemuria, a continent situated in the Indian Ocean, erstwhile land called kumarikandam submerged.
Siddha medicine, which has always been India’s pride, is the foot prints of ancient sages called Siddhars. They were imbued with divine power, knowing the past, present and future, rejuvenated their body, lived for thousand years and attained the stage of perpetual consciousness or Samadhi. Because of their thought provoking philosophies, temples sprang over their Samadhi and are centers of devout even today.
The word Siddha emerges from the word ‘Siddhi’ which means ‘perfection’. The treatment in Siddha also aims, not only to cure the ailment of the body, but the internal soul, to attain perfection.
Aseevaga and Sankya philosophies, which are the basic fundamental materialistic philosophies of Tamil cult, are the base of Siddha. Later, it blended with Buddhist, Jain philosophies and majorly with Saiva Siddhantham Cult. Siddha travelled with religions and philosophies of Indian cult as Siddhars, the stakeholders looked for truth and shape of healthy lifestyle.
The Siddha System was framed from the results of the ardent pursuit of Siddhars. The findings of historians and literary works of Siddhars, reveals that Siddha medicine was laid upon on strong fundamentals. Siddha science strongly believes that what exists in the microcosm is in the macrocosm, in which man is the microcosm and Universe, the macrocosm.
Cosmo genesis states that there are five principle elements in nature viz. Earth, water, fire, wind and ether. They are the origin of all corporeal things which then die out, resolving themselves in to these elements.
Hence, it is clearly laid down by Siddhars, that there is a very close and intimate connection between the external world and internal man. Six tastes ( sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, salt and astringent) are formed with the selective unification of these five elements.
Further dwelling in to Siddha science, it can be clearly untwined that three cardinal humours viz. Vali, Azahal, Aiyam (Vatham, pitham, kapam -Wind, Bile, Phlegm) are responsible for a person’s mental and physical qualities and dispositions. Treatment is aimed at the restoration of equilibrium of the three humours with the help of Six tastes.
The contribution of Siddha literature with its boundless therapies and pharmaceutical preparation is acclaimed excellence even in modern era. Siddha treatment is not only curative, but also preventive, endowed with philosophical thoughts which enrich the mind and body. The refined natural remedies designed in Siddha Materia Medica, states the uses of herbs, minerals, animal products and metal ores in combating diseases.
Heavy metals such as gold and silver have been used as Parpams, Chendoorams and Chunnams (metallic salts/metallic nano particles) to promote longevity, as well as to treat a variety diseases including even Non -Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The process of incineration converts the metallic salts into extremely fine emulsified particles, so that the body can absorb and process them.
Siddha Therapy is classified as
- Devamaruthuvam (Divine Method)
- Manidamaruthuvam (Rational Method)
- Asuramaruthuvam (Surgical Method)
Generally according to the mode of application, medicines are classified as internal and external, each having 32 categories.
The crown of Siddha medicine is “Muppu”, a method of preparation of Universal salt, which can potentiate the efficacy of medicine 100 times, even though added in very small quantities. It is not needed to mention that preparation of Muppu, needs wisdom rather than knowledge.
Siddha medicines revitalize and rejuvenate the organs ensuring their normal functions. The treatment in Siddha is aimed at keeping the humors in equilibrium with a proper diet and disciplined regimes of life. Siddha Therapies are a hallmark in successfully managing the chronic ailments like psoriasis, diabetes, hypertension, bronchial asthma, sinusitis etc.
Siddha system is a unique system compared to other systems as it is both medicinally, intellectually and spiritually enriched. Siddha system is bestowed with various specialties of which few are enumerated below.
No matter how each of us define wellbeing, what lies in the core concept is a healthy mind in a healthy body, empowered by an indomitable spirit. Yoga brings about this harmonious integration of mind, body and spirit. The term yoga is not only confined to physical postures, but it signifies union with the supreme universal spirit as the word “yuj” which means unity (union of the mind and body). Thirumoolar, a great Saint of Siddha, preached and advocated many Yogic Thanthraas in his very old Tamil text Thirumathiram.
Pranayamam, an integral part of yoga defined as a science of cleansing, balancing and gaining control over the life force (prana). With the amalgamation of traditional and modern concept, Pranayamam is considered as one of the best remedy to cure stress and anxiety disorder.
One can control the rhythms of pranic energy with pranayama and achieve healthy body and mind.
Patanjali in his text of Yoga Sutra mentioned pranayama as means of attaining higher states of awareness and holding of breath is an important practice of reaching Samadhi.Pranayama, not only tones the lungs, regulates the heart rate, rejuvenates the glands and improves the health of the nervous system by increasing oxygenation, but also regulates the bio energy flow of body and harmonizes the alleviated humors to restore good health.
It is a special branch of Siddha medicine which prevents age related degeneration and prolongs the healthy living. Kayakalpam means ‘transformation of the body’. But an analysis into the history and practice of Kayakalpam reveals much more, than just the descriptions of exotic and complex herbal formulas designed to bring about physical and mental rejuvenation.
Life, (the bio energic flow) flows in the body in a particular pathway. Certain key points in the body where life energy is concentrated (Vaasi ) is called Varma points. According to Siddha medicine there are 108 KEY points in human body through which Prana flows in a channeled way. Any trauma to these vital points may cause loss of consciousness or convulsions or even death. But gentle vibration or pressure applied in these points relieves the obstruction of the energy flow.
Varma therapy provides a complete natural healing to rejuvenate the toxic imbalances.
Alchemy is a complex science of converting lower metals to higher. It can be accomplished only when the atoms of a substance can be isolated and relocated. Alchemy still remains as a magical myth, but Siddhars who were devoid of earthly pleasure used these techniques to reveal the potency of the medicinal preparations.
HERBAL MASSAGE THERAPHY (THOKKANAM)
Massage Therapy is defined as a passive exercise, involving the use of medicated oils to rejuvenate the body cells. On scientific inclination, massage therapy increases the lymphatic flow, eliminating the toxic substances which cause ill health
Siddha theory states that massage (Thokkanam) strengthens blood circulation, facilitates lymphatic drainage, improves skin tone, promotes the vitality and relaxes the body on the whole. Massage therapy is a pioneer in treating stress, injury, pain and many major ailments. It helps in detoxification of the body favoring healthy body and soul.
PECULIARITIES OF SIDDHA
Amidst all other medical systems Siddha remains unique, since it gave equal importance to the external body and internal soul. Siddha medicine is based on the philosophy which gave rise to various theories.
PANCHEEKARNAM THEORY (Cosmogenesis)
The Pancheekarnam theory, scientifically called Cosmo Genesis states that the macrocosm is constituted by five basic elements in which the microcosm is an integral part. Hence, life and death are brought about by the convergence and divergence of these basic elements.
TRIDOSHA THEORY (humoural pathology)
Siddha science is based on three humors namely vali, azhal, iyam viz. Wind, Bile and Phlegm. They are the fundamental factors in the composition and constitution of the human body. In scientific parlance, Vali, comprehends all the phenomena which come under the influence of the central and sympathetic nervous system. Azhal, regulates the function of thermogenesis i.e. metabolism and process of digestion. Kapham comprehends the regulation of heat and the functioning of vital glands. Any imbalance contributes to the ailments which are cured by balancing the humours. This emphasizes the importance of humoural pathology, in the diagnosis of disease.
EIGHT FOLD INVESTIGATION (ENVAGAI THERVUGAL)
Amongst the varied traditional treatments, the Siddha diagnostic methodology is quite unique and interesting that includes eight important diagnostic methods namely,
- Naadi or pulse diagnosis
- Sparisam or touch
- Naa or tongue examination
- Niram or colour of skin
- Mozhi or speech
- Vizhi or eye examination
- Malam or faeces
- Moothiram or urine examination.
Science defines pulse as ‘beat of an artery’, felt at the wrist, with the fingertip. According to Siddha, the science of pulse is based on Tridosha theory and can be understood only when acquainted with immense knowledge. The three kinds of humors are ascertained from three kinds of movements of the pulse i.e swift, medium and slow. The textual evidence of Siddhars immensely helps in tracking down the diagnosis and prognosis of disease by the nature of pulse reading.
Diagnosis of disease is made by a unique method of measuring the wrist circumference with the help of simple cotton thread
All the influences that come from the Sun, the planets and the starts act on human beings. These influences from the planets are fully diagnosed and dealt under Astrology. Diseases may often occur without any assignable cause; and sometimes people get cured without the administration of any medicine. Such happenings are attributed to the planetary changes of whose action is upon the human system.
On conclusion any medical science, cannot be fulfilled unless the overall wellness of the human body is accomplished. A holistic approach involves seeking the wellness of the patient both physically and mentally. Holistic healing treats the physical and pschycological imbalances, choosing to live in harmony of mind and soul. It is not an alternative to conventional medical care, rather it’s an integrative option for the betterment of human life.
CONTEMPORARIES OF SIDDHA MEDICINE
With a march of time, Siddha medicine, which was constrained in palm leaf manuscripts had a reawakening. Many Indian universities have included the basics of Siddha medicine as a subject. In Tamilnadu and Kerala, there are eight collages which teach Siddha medicine as professional course, 1000 primary health care centers and several district and taluk level hospitals.
The pivotal role played by the department of Ayush under the centre council for Indian medicine, New Delhi, in promoting Siddha is the establishment of national institute of Siddha, Chennai. Private organizations like Arogya health care are indeed concerned with the promotion of research in Siddha medicine apart from clinical grounds.
On conclusion, Siddha system strives hard only to restore the blessing of nature to human beings.
For further details: Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH)