The pioneer of the system of medicine known as Siddha is believed to be the dwarf-sage or ‘kurumuni’ Agasthiyar. Developed by 18 ‘siddhars’, Siddha is a form of south Indian traditional medicine. Siddha medicine is considered to be 10,000 years old.
Siddha vaidyam is believed to have flourished in the Indian sub-continent before the advent of Aryans. It is believed that siddha vaidyam was taught first by Shiva to his consort Parvathy, who in turn taught it to her son Muruga. The knowledge was passed on to sage Agasthiyar, Tamil poetess Auwayaar and so on down the line. The teachings were in Tamil.
Strongly steeped in spirituality, Siddha vaidyam is said to derive its power of healing from nature itself, mostly from herbs. Not a single element used in the treatment, be it legyam, chooranam (digestive powders and medicinal powders) or herbal oils for massage, is of chemical origin.
There are three essential components in Siddha vaidyam — yoga, siddha and varmam, say the experts.
Therapeutic ‘yogasanas’ and ‘pranayama’ or breathing techniques are taught to relieve almost every type of ailment in the human body. Pulse reading by qualified experts and the ‘traction’ method, in which Siddha practitioner touches every point that triggers pain to relieve suffering, are components of Siddha vaidyam. Massages are done with oils made from herbs like tulsi, mint, fenugreek, hibiscus etc.
Siddha practitioners are of two types. One type comprises those who have secured a Bachelor’s degree in Siddha Medicine and Surgery (BSMS). The second type consists of persons for whom knowledge of this form of medicine has been handed down from generation to generation.
Jeevanandam and Tilaka, traditional practitioners of Siddha, have been treating people for a host of ailments ranging from back ache to kidney stones. Jeeva argues, “If the human body stands ramrod straight at 90 degrees (the essence of Sarvangasana and Halasana), why would there be high BP or spine problems or diabetes?”
Yoga & Siddha
Two sages of ancient India are known to have spread the word about the practice of yoga — Patanjali (the author of ‘Yoga Sutra’) and Thirumoolar (the author of ‘Thirumandiram’).
Guided by the teachings of Thirumoolar and his guru, Jeeva explains that there are “three types of eaters — rogi, the man with all ailments who eats three meals a day; bhogi who has two meals a day; and yogi, who practises yoga, meditates and consumes a fistful of rice only once a day”.
Dr Rajasekaran, who has graduated from the Government Siddha Medical College affiliated to Dr MGR Medical University in Tamil Nadu, says westerners are turning to yoga and vegetarianism, but are yet to warm up to Siddha. The predominantly Tamil sources of Siddha perhaps render it difficult to understand the principles and philosophy of this system of treatment, he says.