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Medicine of yore

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ACHYUT RAILKAR deconstructs the history one of Indias most ancient medical systems -the siddha system

Well, the world had been told that the DNA- based nanotechnology has found that man to become immortal by 2029. The siddha syste

m, the oldest traditional medical system that flourished during the period of Indus Valley Civilisation gave similar results during prehistoric period.

Both, the siddha and the ayurvedic systems have spiritual bases, and also many common procedures.


The word siddha is from the Sanskrit word siddhi, meaning perfect achievement in certain field or heavenly bliss. The siddha experts wrote their knowledge on palm leaf manuscripts mostly in Tamil. There are three types of treatments: divine, rational and surgical. It has several therapies: purgative, emetic, fasting, steaming, physical, solar, bloodletting or leech application, yoga etc. It also deals with vital points in the body, which form centres for boosting the vital flow through the intricate system. This vital point therapy is holistic and tackles the body, mind and spirit.

It is a mesmeric science which brings about indisputable healing.

From these manuscripts, the siddha system was developed into an Indian medical system.

Today, there are several siddha medical colleges, a few Tamil Nadu at Palayamkottai. It offers a rigorous four- year programme leading to a degree of doctor of medicine. Many ancient texts also lie with a few Tamil organisations.

A large numbers of siddha texts in unpublished form are also available in the British Museum and Copenhagens Royal Library, Paris, Lisbon and the Vatican Libraries.

After gathering and classifying all of these texts, a critical edition of at least the basic siddha works needed to be envisioned.

However without the guiding inspiration of the siddha practitioners themselves, the result of such effort will remain limited.

This is because the siddhas probably intend to omit key elements of their medicinal formulae as they prefer to transmit these orally to worthy students directly. The deciphering of these formulae will require a multidisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in biological science, medicine and the ancient Tamil language including dedication to the ideals of Yoga and the selfless service of humanity.

What may surprise us is the degree of insight these ancient mystical siddhas had. Without the aid of modern technological X- ray machines or CT scans, they realised the inner workings of the human body. The development of science for rejuvenation and immortality is really a metaphysical wonder. The siddhas, however, knew the art of application of metal powders in incinerated and crushed form or in a nano- size form during ancient time only. The government of India has established alt39 Ayush,alt39 an organisation to study ancient medical sciences covering siddha and we expect success through our dedicated efforts to bring out the beauty of siddha science.

The author is a former Project Management Consultant for local and abroad civil construction activities